We’re previewing the Week 12 NFL slate with score predictions for each game from our Nation reporters, what to watch for in fantasy, Football Power Index projections from ESPN Stats & Information and much more.
Point spread: CAR -3.5 | Matchup quality: 62.8 (of 100)
Brady Henderson’s pick: The Seahawks’ defense has gone three consecutive games without a takeaway, something that could have helped turn narrow defeats to the Chargers and Rams into victories. Seattle has shown an ability to take the ball away from opponents, doing it 16 times over the first seven games, but ending the drought won’t be easy Sunday against Carolina, an offense whose 10 turnovers is tied for the third-fewest in the league. Panthers 30, Seahawks 28
David Newton’s pick: The Panthers are 5-0 at home and have a 10-game winning streak at Bank of America Stadium. The big difference is turnovers. Defensively, Carolina has forced 13 at home to only two on the road, and offensively, it has made only three at home compared to seven on the road. Stopping the Seattle run is also going to be key. The Panthers are giving up only 78.2 yards on the ground at home compared to 116.6 away. Panthers 21, Seahawks 17
Darren Woodson and John Fox say that the Panthers’ offense will get rolling again vs. the Seahawks in Week 12.
FPI win projection: CAR, 59.5 percent. This game will go a long way toward deciding the NFC wild-card race. The Panthers would have a 71 percent chance to make the playoffs with a victory, according to FPI, and a 28 percent chance with a loss. The Seahawks would have a 74 percent chance with a win and a 28 percent chance with a loss.
What to watch for in fantasy: In the past five weeks combined, the Panthers have allowed 109.3 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, second-most in the league. And Russell Wilson has been a much more effective passer in recent weeks after a slow start to the season, averaging 21.6 fantasy points in his past five games. Read more.
Point spread: BAL -11 | Matchup quality: 47.1 (of 100)
Paul Gutierrez’s pick: As Raiders veteran defensive end Frostee Rucker pointed out, facing a running quarterback like the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson will be a good thing for Oakland. It switches things up for the defense, Rucker said. Despite being 31st against the run this season, the Raiders essentially bottled up Russell Wilson last month, limiting him to 20 yards and sacking him once. But of course the rest of the Seahawks ran wild. Ravens 26, Raiders 17
Jamison Hensley’s pick: History is on the side of Jackson and Baltimore. The Ravens are 19-4 at home in the month of November under coach John Harbaugh, the NFL’s best mark. The Raiders are 3-10 on the road since the start of the 2017 season, which is tied for the fourth-worst over that span. Ravens 23, Raiders 17
FPI win projection: BAL, 86.9 percent. Jackson set records with his rushing totals in his first start, but his Total QBR for the game was just a 26.9. He’ll look to improve upon that against a Raiders team that has allowed the third-highest Total QBR in road games this season (71.4).
What to watch for in fantasy: If Joe Flacco is still sidelined in Week 12 with his hip ailment, Jackson could feast on an Oakland defense yielding the most points per drive to opponents in the NFL. Read more.
In case you missed it: Kolton Miller playing through the pain, pressure … John Harbaugh to critics: Ravens ‘not dead, sorry’
Point spread: PHI -6 | Matchup quality: 44.3 (of 100)
Jordan Raanan’s pick: The Eagles have owned this rivalry of late, winning eight of the past nine and waxing the Giants earlier this season. But they’re stumbling entering this one, having given up 75 points in their past two games. That should allow the Giants to score some, keep it close and cover the spread. But it won’t be enough. Philadelphia can rush the passer (26 sacks), while the Giants have allowed an NFL-high 36 sacks. That will be the difference. Eagles 26, Giants 24
Tim McManus’ pick: Injuries have hit the secondary so hard, it’s barely recognizable. There’s a plausible scenario in which the corners are Chandon Sullivan, De’Vante Bausby and Cre’von LeBlanc. Of that group, only LeBlanc has started a game in the NFL. The offense has failed to score in the first quarter in eight of 10 games. The Giants will have the opportunity to unleash Odell Beckham Jr. early and ride Saquon Barkley the rest of the way. Giants 27, Eagles 20
FPI win projection: PHI, 67.8 percent. The defending champs have an uphill climb to make the postseason, and winning this game against the Giants is a must. The Eagles would have a 5 percent chance to make the playoffs with a loss and are favored in only two of their final five games after this one, according to FPI.
Darren Woodson and John Fox see the Eagles snapping their two-game losing skid by ending the Giants’ two-game win streak Sunday.
Point spread: NE -9.5 | Matchup quality: 33.8 (of 100)
Mike Reiss’ pick: The vibe from the Patriots’ locker room all week has been that the team is capable of more consistent performances on the road, and now the players want to prove it. Getting healthier — with the projected returns of Rob Gronkowski (back, ankle) and starting right guard Shaq Mason (calf) — should also help. Patriots 31, Jets 17
Rich Cimini’s pick: The Jets say they haven’t quit on the season or coach Todd Bowles, and recent history suggests this will be a competitive game. In fact, the past five meetings at MetLife Stadium have been decided by seven points or less, including two Jets victories. Another upset? Let’s not get crazy. The Jets have averaged only 10 points per game over their past four, all losses. Patriots 24, Jets 16
FPI win projection: NE, 80.0 percent. The Patriots are a large favorite on the road, projected to win 80 percent of the time by FPI. There has only been one game so far this season with a larger road favorite, according to FPI: Patriots over the Bills in Week 8.
Point spread: TB -3.5 | Matchup quality: 28.1 (of 100)
Nick Wagoner’s pick: No team in the NFL has more turnovers than the Bucs’ 29, and no team in the NFL has fewer takeaways than the 49ers’ five. Both teams should be able to put up points, and this has the makings of a big day for Niners running back Matt Breida, but the bet here is that the Niners, who must travel across the country for this one, won’t come up with the takeaways needed to break a five-game losing streak against NFC South teams. Buccaneers 31, 49ers 27
Jenna Laine’s pick: This is the easiest game that remains of the Bucs’ final six, and it’s at home, where they’re a somewhat palatable 2-2 this season. It’s also what could be Jameis Winston‘s final shot to prove he deserves to stick around after getting benched earlier in the season. Jason Pierre-Paul is a half-sack away from breaking the Bucs’ 12-year double-digit sack drought, and the kicking situation might be solidified after Cairo Santos went 5-for-5 on his extra point attempts Sunday. Buccaneers 27, 49ers 23
Darren Woodson sees the 49ers scoring 30-plus points in their Week 12 game but John Fox prefers the Bucs’ offensive potential.
FPI win projection: TB, 65.5 percent. Nick Mullens has posted a 70-plus Total QBR in each of his first two starts for the Niners. They’ve seen only two QBs post a 70-plus Total QBR in three or more consecutive games (min. 20 action plays) since QBR was first tracked in 2006: Colin Kaepernick had a four-game streak in 2011 and Jimmy Garoppolo had a three-game streak last season.
What to watch for in fantasy: Breida’s big-play ability (eighth in the league in carries going for over 10 yards) combined with the Bucs’ inability to stop big plays (eighth-most 10-plus-yard carries allowed per game) is a recipe for success in Week 12. Read more.
Point spread: CIN -3 | Matchup quality: 23.8 (of 100)
Pat McManamon’s pick: The Browns can win consecutive outings for the first time in 65 games. Baker Mayfield played well against Atlanta and Kansas City, which rank No. 29 and No. 32 in the league, respectively, in pass defense. The Bengals are 31st. Browns 27, Bengals 23
Katherine Terrell’s pick: The Bengals could and probably will struggle to contain both Mayfield and Nick Chubb, especially now that linebacker Preston Brown is out for the season. However, the potential return of A.J. Green could swing things back in their favor. If Cincinnati’s offense can look like it did at the beginning of the season, it might be able to elevate the Bengals to a win despite the struggles of the defense. Bengals 28, Browns 21
FPI win projection: CIN, 66.8 percent. Mayfield had a career-high 94.7 Total QBR in his previous game and will look to carry that momentum on the road, where he has posted a 31.7 Total QBR this season, second-worst among qualified QBs. The Bengals have allowed a 64.2 Total QBR to opposing QBs this season, third-highest in the league.
What to watch for in fantasy: Darqueze Dennard has been heavily targeted (23 percent of coverage snaps) and has struggled in coverage (0.38 fantasy points per snap) this season. Jarvis Landry aligns inside 71 percent of the time and has a shot to get back on track in Week 12. Read more.
In case you missed it: Advantage, Hue Jackson’s Bengals? Not necessarily, Browns say
Point spread: JAX -3 | Matchup quality: 22.0 (of 100)
Mike DiRocco’s pick: Leonard Fournette has had 59 touches in his first two games back from a hamstring injury, and there’s no reason to expect his workload to decrease significantly in Week 12. The Jaguars won the playoff matchup in January by being conservative on offense and relying on the defense. That will be the strategy Sunday, especially if Josh Allen is back for Buffalo. They’ll try to force the rookie quarterback into a couple mistakes, grab a few turnovers and keep LeSean McCoy from breaking off any big runs. Do that, and they’ll be able to snap their six-game losing streak. Jaguars 13, Bills 7
Mike Rodak’s pick: The last time Blake Bortles faced the Bills’ defense, he passed for 87 yards and led the Jaguars to a 10-3 AFC wild-card playoff win. In predicting this game, the question is less about whether Bortles can beat the Bills’ defense and more about whether the Bills’ offense can prove the 41 points it hung on the Jets in a Week 10 victory was not a fluke. In a game in which one touchdown could decide the result, I will give the edge to a Jacksonville defense that has allowed a 56 percent conversion rate in the red zone compared to a 67.7 percent rate allowed by Buffalo. Jaguars 14, Bills 10
FPI win projection: BUF, 51.7 percent. There might not be a lot of offense to be found in this game. Both teams rank in the top 10 in defensive efficiency this season and in the bottom five in offensive efficiency, according to FPI.
Darren Woodson and John Fox have the Jaguars pulling off a win on the road in Week 12 in Buffalo.
What to watch for in fantasy: Opposing passers have averaged just 5.66 yards per dropback facing the Bills’ defense this season, the second-lowest rate in the NFL. Read more.
Point spread: LAC -11.5 | Matchup quality: 49.3 (of 100)
Josh Weinfuss’ pick: The Cardinals reached new depths Sunday with a loss to the lowly Raiders and it won’t get easier in Week 12 against the Chargers, who boast one of the NFL’s most prolific offenses. Even with a new coordinator, the Cardinals’ offense is still struggling mightily: It’s ranked 32nd in seven major categories and 31st in five. Even though Arizona’s defense has been improving week by week, led by Chandler Jones‘ 10.5 sacks, it won’t be able to keep the Chargers tamed for long. Chargers 34, Cardinals 17
Eric D. Williams’ pick: The Bolts gave away the game to the Broncos in Week 11, and they will take out their frustrations on the Cardinals and rookie quarterback Josh Rosen. Joey Bosa should have an even bigger presence on the defensive side of the football in his second game. That means bad things for Rosen, who’s already been pressured on 37.3 percent of his dropbacks this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information data. The Cardinals have beaten the Chargers only once on the road in franchise history, way back in 2001. Chargers 28, Cardinals 13
FPI win projection: LAC, 93.0 percent. The Chargers are the biggest favorite in Week 12, projected to win 93 percent of the time, according to FPI. The Chargers have been bigger favorites only once in our data set (since the start of the 2008 season), more than a decade ago, in Week 10 of 2008 against the Chiefs.
What to watch for in fantasy: Larry Fitzgerald runs a significant number of his routes out of the slot, but the Chargers boast the third-best defense against slot receivers for the season, in large part due to the play of cornerback Desmond King. Read more.
Point spread: PIT -3 | Matchup quality: 72.4 (of 100)
Jeremy Fowler’s pick: The Steelers’ offense is motivated to start quickly after a woeful first half in Jacksonville, and given Ben Roethlisberger‘s 719 total yards in his two most recent matchups with Denver, Mile High might serve as a springboard. The Steelers are 15-1-1 in their past 17 road games, and they usually perform well defensively against middle-of-the-road quarterbacks. Steelers 27, Broncos 20
Jeff Legwold’s pick: The Broncos have struggled to hold up in pass defense at times, and the Steelers throw the ball plenty. Denver can get an upset with a big day from its own offense, especially running the ball, to go with some heroics from Von Miller and Bradley Chubb on defense, but the Broncos will need their best effort of the season to do that. Steelers 24, Broncos 20
FPI win projection: PIT, 60.0 percent. The Steelers will have greater than a 95 percent chance to make the playoffs, win or lose, according to FPI, but whether or not they would be playing on wild-card weekend hinges greatly on this game. Pittsburgh would have a 53 percent chance for a first-round bye with a victory, and a 26 percent chance with a loss, according to FPI.
Darren Woodson and John Fox agree it’s difficult to win in Denver, but see the Steelers pulling off that task.
What to watch for in fantasy: The Steelers rank third in PPR (36.0), second in sack rate (10.8), fifth in average time allowed in pocket (TIP, 2.1 seconds) and fourth in GBR (40.4). The Broncos’ offense rates 31st in PPR (37.6), 29th in TIP (2.1) and 27th in GBR (40.5). Read more.
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Point spread: IND -10 | Matchup quality: 42.9 (of 100)
Cameron Wolfe’s pick: Ryan Tannehill‘s return has added extra intrigue to a Dolphins season that has been teetering after a 3-0 start. But Tannehill isn’t 100 percent after missing the past five games with a right shoulder capsule injury, and it might be too much to ask him to compete with Andrew Luck in a shootout. Miami is 1-4 on the road this season, and a surging Colts offense with a stellar offensive line is a tough matchup for a defense that has struggled to rush the passer (29th in sacks, with 17) or stop the run (30th in run defense, giving up 142 yards per game) all season. Colts 33, Dolphins 24
Mike Wells’ pick: The Colts are currently tied for the fourth-longest winning streak in the NFL at four games. During that time, they’re averaging 36.5 points and have turned the ball over only once, and Luck has 13 touchdown passes. Scoring shouldn’t be an issue for Indy on Sunday because the Dolphins are 22nd in the NFL in points allowed (25.6) and 27th in total defense. Colts 34, Dolphins 17
FPI win projection: IND, 82.5 percent. This game features two teams heading in opposite directions. The Colts have won four consecutive games and lead the NFL in offensive efficiency in that span, according to FPI (93 on a 0-to-100 scale). The Dolphins have lost three of four and have a defensive efficiency of 25.3 in that span, sixth-worst in the league.
What to watch for in fantasy: Luck has been tremendous, so there should certainly be some opportunities for Jack Doyle to cash in on the touchdown upside that’s out there for the Colts’ offense. Read more.
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Point spread: MIN -3.5 | Matchup quality: 70.5 (of 100)
Rob Demovsky’s pick: The Packers either led or were tied in the fourth quarter of their past three road games and couldn’t win any of them. At some point, that has to become deflating. That point could be Sunday night at Minnesota, where the Packers haven’t won since the Vikings opened their new stadium in 2016. After three straight “almosts” on the road, this one could be ugly. Vikings 28, Packers 17
Courtney Cronin’s pick: While there might be no magic answer for why Kirk Cousins has largely underachieved in prime time (4-12), the Vikings will have to find a way to work around that against Green Bay. This game not only decides a potential tiebreaker for the NFC North, but could be Minnesota’s final shot at proving itself as a playoff team. The defense plays better at home and is coming off a strong outing in Chicago, and the Vikings have run the ball reasonably well at U.S. Bank Stadium in recent weeks. Against a banged-up Packers team, they might finally establish a screen game. Vikings 24, Packers 19
FPI win projection: MIN, 56.3 percent. This game is another one with huge postseason implications for both teams. The Packers would have a 61 percent chance to make the playoffs with a win, according to FPI, and a 17 percent chance with a loss. The Vikings would have a 71 percent chance with a win, and 26 percent with a loss.
What to watch for in fantasy: Minnesota is allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to perimeter receivers, including the third-fewest over the past eight weeks. Davante Adams is borderline matchup-proof, but this is certainly one of his toughest challenges of the season. Read more.
In case you missed it: Aaron Rodgers’ numbers don’t add up to Packers’ record … Frequent-flier miles, hotel points only thing Packers win on road … Vikings struggling to generate room in run game, protect Cousins
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Point spread: HOU -6 | Matchup quality: 45.1 (of 100)
Turron Davenport’s pick: The Texans are white-hot heading into their Monday night game against the Titans, having won seven games in a row and averaging 28 points per game over the past three. Other than the hiccup against the Colts, when the unit gave up 37 points, Tennessee’s defense has been solid, allowing only 18.9 points per game. But with or without Marcus Mariota, the Titans’ offense has been erratic. Texans 24, Titans 17
Darren Woodson and John Fox agree that the Texans will win their eighth straight overall vs. the Titans.
Sarah Barshop’s pick: This will be a matchup of good defenses, as both teams are ranked in the top six in scoring defense. Tennessee is allowing an average of 18.9 points to 20.5 for Houston. The Texans will continue their winning streak and avoid getting swept by Tennessee for the first time since 2007. Texans 23, Titans 13
FPI win projection: HOU, 74.2 percent. Mariota is questionable after re-injuring his elbow in Week 11. The Titans are underdogs on the road with a 30 percent chance to win, according to FPI. But if Blaine Gabbert starts, their chance to win would drop to 20 percent.