The 2021 NFL season has proven that anything can happen any single week. We've seen teams with double-digit lines attached to them lose outright. Super Bowl contenders have also endured embarrassing losses after a hot start, leaving us to question everything we thought we knew.
Maybe there aren't any great teams relative to our expectations. This parity is supposed to be a good thing. Ask Tampa Bay, Buffalo, and Kansas City, though, and they've been frustrated with their own uneven play.
Week 12 of the NFL season usually means we have a good idea of how the last seven games of the regular season will finish. Some divisions look well in hand despite the blips of chaos. We'll try to take advantage of the uncertainty and buy or sell the best NFL season win totals available on DraftKings.
Buy: Chiefs Over 11.5 (+125)
It's not a secret the Chiefs have stepped their game up recently. Their maligned defense has allowed no more than 17 points over the last month of play. Some of that can be attributed to playing Daniel Jones and Jordan Love, but their play against the Raiders and Cowboys was stellar.
The Chiefs are almost back to being Super Bowl favorites. Moving Chris Jones from defensive end to tackle after acquiring Melvin Ingram was a massive upgrade that has sparked this jump. All the defense needs to do is take the step from bad to average for the Chiefs to make a deep run again.
It's easy to forget the offense was on a historic pace in the first month of the season before drops that turned into interceptions and fumbles caused panic. With seven wins at this point of the season, and upcoming games against the Broncos (twice), Raiders, Chargers, Steelers, and Bengals, it's possible the Chiefs win out. Each of those teams has key weaknesses the Chiefs can exploit so long as their defense is done laying down.
Sell: Raiders Over 7.5 (-110)
This Raiders team was mediocre before the injury bug hit en masse, and the surprisingly effective defense early in the season helped propel hope with the fan base. But the Raiders crashed back down to Earth quickly, and have lost three straight games. I don't see how this team will recover at this point.
Key players across the roster are out for the season and opponents have found the major cracks in the foundation as the depth has eroded. The few stars on this roster can no longer make up for the backup-level starter next to them. This is why both Kansas City and Cincinnati destroyed the Raiders despite being two-point favorites each week.
I'm selling the Raiders' ability to win three games against Dallas, Washington, Kansas City, Cleveland, Denver, and Indianapolis. I see two winnable games in there, and the rest are in the middle of playoff races. I love that we're getting near-even value here, too.
Buy: Eagles Over 8.5 (-165)
The key to the Philadelphia Eagles' run of three wins in four games has been the running game. The Eagles embraced their athletic offensive line, skill rushing quarterback and backfield, and started to rely on the ground game. Its possible head coach Nick Sirianni has saved his job with this stretch.
The Eagles are relying less on Jalen Hurts as a passer, and the strategy has paid off. Wins against some quality teams give reason to believe Philadelphia will establish consistency against the bad ones coming on their schedule. It may seem daunting to bet on the Eagles winning four games to close out the year, but anything less would be telling of the staff.
Two games against both the Giants and Washington Football Team should be winnable, and the Jets in Week 14 should be a pushover. Dallas in the season finale may be against backups as well. This over is my top play because their strength of schedule is so reasonable.
Sell: Panthers Under 7.5 (-150)
There's a lot to like about the Carolina Panthers' roster and overall direction. The issues with the quarterback position and passing game overall, even with Cam Newton back with the franchise, have usurped much of their potential in 2021, though. Offensive coordinator Joe Brady hasn't been able to produce a 200-yard passing game since October.
It's impossible to win in today's NFL with that production. Nevertheless, I think this team will find traction with Newton against a schedule we can find three wins on. The next two weeks against Miami and Atlanta are favorable. Their final two games against the Saints and likely resting Buccaneers also offer coinflip games.
How quickly Newton settles into the job can change my confidence a lot. I'm expecting Newton to be solid but nothing close to the star he once was. He has so much talent around him and is a quality offensive play-caller, so projecting one upset and two coinflip wins should be reasonable for the veteran passer Newton, and possible future head coach in Brady.
Buy: Titans Over 11.5 (-110)
Seeing Adrian Peterson be waived after landing in Tennessee was disappointing because of what Peterson had accomplished in his waning years and the team's need for a Derrick Henry replacement. There's not a replacement possible, though, and the Titans will need a lot more from Ryan Tannehill than what he gave last week. I'm buying he'll step up.
Four wins will be needed for this over to hit. Matchups against the Jaguars, 49ers, Dolphins, and Texans are not only winnable but should be expected wins. Tougher battles against New England and even Pittsburgh are also not completely unfavorable for Tennessee.
This team's tough defense will allow the offense to simply focus on being efficient and limit turnovers. Tennessee won't win in sexy ways, but if they can survive until Julio Jones and Henry are available, then they can win the AFC.
Sell: Jets Under 3.5 (+125)
With just two wins thus far and a defense performing as horribly as any in the league, the Jets are an embarrassment. Head coach Robert Saleh had a point when he recently said the Jets at least have a direction in mind despite being bad, but this cannot take away from the fact his supposed strength, the defense, has regressed. Even with games remaining against the Texans, Dolphins, and Jaguars on the schedule. I think the Jets go under.
The problems on offense are just as concerning as the bottom-ranked defense. Zach Wilson has struggled so much that the team must be worried about his ability to establish himself over the next two years before heads roll. If nothing else, offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur has offered little in terms of difference-making game plans.
I could see the Jets getting a win against the Texans this week or Jaguars towards the end of the year and otherwise losing out. We're also getting plus value, which is a nice incentive to bet on the trend of their downward spiral to continue.
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