NFL
November 25, 2020
BY Bryan Zarpentine

NFL Best Bets: Week 12

During Thanksgiving week, we should all take a few moments to be grateful for the 2020 NFL season. A few months ago, it was far from a certainty that we would have a season and that it would be able to unfold with only a few games being postponed due to the ongoing pandemic.

Clearly, this hasn’t been the typical NFL season for players or fans. But we’ve made it to Thanksgiving, where we will all have a chance to enjoy a double-header on our TVs.

With that being said, let’s take a gander at this week’s best bets with the NFL season heading into the final six weeks of the campaign.

Houston Texans -3 at Detroit Lions

It’s tough to find a team that’s a bigger mess right now than the Lions. They were shutout by the Panthers last game and now have to turn around and play the Texans on a short week.

To be fair, injuries to D’Andre Swift, Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola were a big reason why the Detroit offense was shutout. Unfortunately, the list of injured players has only grown, which will make it even more difficult for the Lions on a short week. Granted, the Houston defense isn’t that good, but with J.J. Watt, they should have enough to take advantage of an injury-ravaged Detroit offense.

Meanwhile, Deshaun Watson might be the best quarterback in the league that nobody is talking about because his team is 3-7. Behind Watson, the Texans should have no problem pouring it on against a Detroit defense that’s allowed 30.5 points over the last four weeks. The only reason they kept Carolina to 20 points last week is the Panthers were without Teddy Bridgewater and Christian McCaffrey.

Despite Houston’s offensive line woes and lackluster rushing attack, Watson will make enough plays to give the Texans a comfortable win.

Los Angeles Chargers at Buffalo Bills, Under 53 points

Admittedly, this is a little bit of a risk because Buffalo’s last two games have both gone over 60 total points. This is also a game between two subpar defenses, which is why the over/under is a little higher than the average NFL team. But the Bills are not a lock to score a massive amount of points.

Josh Allen can be up and down at times while the Buffalo rushing attack has been subpar all year. Meanwhile, the Bills defense has had two weeks to prepare for Justin Herbert and the Bolts' offense, which like the Buffalo offense, has a lackluster rushing attack.

We must also consider the weather in Buffalo, which can be unpredictable in late November. There have been several games in the northeast this season that looked like they’d be shootouts but were anything but because of the conditions.

With the weather being an X-factor, it’s even more reason for us to believe this game will stay below 53 total points.

New York Giants -5.5 at Cincinnati Bengals

Yes, we’re also surprised to see the Giants as 5.5-point favorites, and we’re even more surprised to be laying down the points for a 3-7 team. But this is all about the injury to Joe Burrow.

After Ryan Finley failed to impress after taking over for  Burrow, the Bengals will hand the reigns over to third-stringer Brandon Allen.  Allen along with a lackluster Cincinnati offensive line and running game that’s almost non-existent without Joe Mixon isn’t going to make it any easier for a team with 19 total points in its last two games.

Granted, the Giants still have to play a halfway decent game to cover the 5.5-point spread. But the G-Men have won three of their last five games, losing the other two games during that stretch by a total of three points.

The Giants are also coming off a bye and scored a 10-point win over the Eagles before that. Surely, they can beat a bad team that’s being forced to play a third-string quarterback.

We’ve felt all along that the New York defense is better than advertised. The G-Men should keep the Bengals out of the end zone, giving Daniel Jones plenty of time to put together a few drives that allow the Giants to cover the spread.

Minnesota Vikings -4 vs Carolina Panthers

It was nice to see Matt Rhule and the Panthers snap their five-game losing streak last week. But the Panthers don’t look like a team that’s going to put together two quality performances in a row.

Even with Teddy Bridgewater returning from his knee injury, Christian McCaffrey is still out with a shoulder injury. While the Panthers have grown accustomed to playing without McCaffrey this year, they are somewhat limited without him.

Meanwhile, let’s consider last week’s loss to the Cowboys a temporary setback for Minnesota. Prior to that, the Vikings had won three in a row, all against their division rivals. Since the team’s bye week, Kirk Cousins has looked like a completely different player, throwing nine touchdown passes and only one interception in four games.

The Vikings also have a top-flight rushing attack behind Dalvin Cook, who has rushed for a minimum of 96 yards in each of his last four games while scoring six touchdowns in November. That combination should be more than enough to deliver Minnesota a comfortable win.

Philadelphia Eagles +5 vs Seattle Seahawks

The first-place Eagles — yes, you read that correctly — are like the little engine that almost made it up the hill. They usually don’t win, but they always play with maximum effort which makes games more competitive than they should be.

In their last eight contests, Philadelphia has only lost by more than six points on two occasions, one of which was against the undefeated Steelers. Even if it doesn’t look good, Carson Wentz always does his best in the fourth quarter to make the final score look respectable.

At the same time, we have some lingering concerns about the Seahawks, who have lost three of their last five games despite an impressive win over Arizona last Thursday. Pete Carroll’s crew has lost three straight road games, and despite Russell Wilson’s brilliance, the Seattle defense remains a liability.

Even if it’s only a garbage-time score that brings the Eagles closer, six points is a lot to swallow for a bad defensive team on the road. The Eagles probably won’t win, but they’ll keep things closer than six points.

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