NFL Analysis


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2023 NFL Week 12: Expert Picks, Predictions for Every Game

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Every week, we’ll provide analysis and score predictions for every game on that week’s slate. This week we get a three-game Thanksgiving slate, along with the first Black Friday game in history.

Thanksgiving Day Slate

Packers at Lions

Spread: Lions -7.5

Total: 46

The Detroit Lions are 1-2 against teams with winning records, and they are 7-0 against sub-.500 teams. That includes a 34-20 Week 4 win against the Green Bay Packers. The Lions’ offense is top-five in rushing yards and passing yards per game, and the team's balanced attack is more than enough to beat Green Bay.

Detroit’s defense has struggled against average or better offenses while beating up on the more volatile ones. The Packers’ offense has been unreliable all season — if Jordan Love’s offense continues to be mediocre, this one could get ugly.

Score Prediction: Lions 27, Packers 17

Commanders at Cowboys

Spread: Cowboys -11

Total: 47.5

The Dallas Cowboys have now won six games by three scores or more, and they have two major advantages against the Washington Commanders. The first is Dak Prescott’s passing attack could dismantle Washington’s third-worst pass defense. The second is the Cowboys’ pass rush has a significant advantage. From a talent standpoint, Dallas has multiple paths to a decisive victory.

Sam Howell is coming off a three-interception game against the Giants. While, Howell has largely been a bright spot this year, if Washington is going to compete with Dallas, the Commanders need a bounce-back game from their quarterback. 

Score Prediction: Cowboys 30, Commanders 20

49ers at Seahawks

Spread: Seahawks +7

Total: 42.5

This Thursday night, there’s a solid chance Drew Lock will fill in for the injured Geno Smith. With Smith, the Seattle Seahawks have at least some potential to exceed expectations. If Lock plays, the San Francisco 49ers are the last team you want to face with a volatile quarterback. In general, Seattle’s offense has been underwhelming for more than a month now.

For the 49ers, Chase Young has added to their already dominant pass rush. Smith struggles in muddy pockets, and Lock could have multiple turnovers if consistently pressured; San Francisco has the raw materials to derail Seattle’s struggling offense.

Since the 49ers' bye, Brock Purdy has shredded the Jaguars and Buccaneers. When San Francisco is firing on all cylinders like it is right now, they might be the league’s best team. 

Score Prediction: 49ers 24, Seahawks 13

Black Friday

Dolphins at Jets

Spread: Jets +10

Total: 41

The Miami Dolphins exited their bye and played a sluggish game on offense against the Raiders where the Dolphins’ defense largely carried the team to victory. Miami has enough talent to win this week's game decisively, but that can’t be the expectation after its showing last week.

The New York Jets’ offense continues to be among the worst in the league. It’s gotten bad enough that Tim Boyle will start over Zach Wilson — and it wouldn't be a surprise if New York’s offense is actually worse with Boyle. Like in all games this season, if the Jets are going to keep this contest competitive, it's on their defense.

Score Prediction: Dolphins 20, Jets 10

Sunday Afternoon Games

Jaguars at Texans

Spread: Texans +1.5

Total: 48.5

C.J. Stroud’s Houston Texans vs. Trevor Lawrence’s Jacksonville Jaguars could develop into one of the NFL’s best rivalries.

This week’s installment will determine who sits on top of the AFC South. Back in Week 3, Houston blew out the Jaguars 37-17 in Jacksonville. While there were a few bizarre, unsustainable plays that changed the course of that contest, Houston won that game decisively, and Stroud is better now than in Week 3.

There’s no reason to doubt that Stroud is the real deal, which means this game is on Lawrence to go out and win. Expect this matchup to be closer than the first between these AFC South rivals.

Score Prediction: Jaguars 27, Texans 24

Steelers at Bengals

Spread: Bengals +1

Total: 34

The Pittsburgh Steelers fired OC Matt Canada this week. That change provides some hope Kenny Pickett’s offense can improve in the coming weeks. Pickett’s highest scoring output of his career came last season in a 37-30 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals — against Joe Burrow, who is on the opposite end of the quarterback spectrum from this week's starting quarterback, Jake Browning.

The Bengals’ offensive line is better today than it was on opening day, which matters against Pittsburgh’s premium pass rush. Still, it’s hard to envision Browning significantly exceeding expectations against the Steelers’ defense. Pickett might not need to do much to walk away with a win.

Score Prediction: Steelers 20, Bengals 9

Patriots at Giants

Spread: Giants +3

Total: 33.5

Bill Belichick is coming off a bye to face the New York Giants' volatile, rookie quarterback: Tommy Devito. Belichick’s defenses have consistently dominated in these positions throughout this century, so the problem for the New England Patriots is their nonfunctioning offense.

The best defense likely leads its team to victory.

Score Prediction: Patriots 13, Giants 10

Panthers at Titans

Spread: Titans -3.5

Total: 36.5

This game is a matchup between two underperforming teams with two rookie quarterbacks. The Tennessee Titans are a well-coached team with a talented front four. But teams that give their quarterback stable pass protection can shred the Titans’ beatable secondary.

The Carolina Panthers will likely struggle in that area this week. Very few things have gone well for Carolina this season, to the point that coach Frank Reich may be on the hot seat in his first season. (Reich used to be the Colts’ coach, so he’s very familiar with the Titans.) This game likely plays out as a low-scoring affair between two extremely volatile offenses.

Score Prediction: Titans 16, Panthers 13

Saints at Falcons

Spread: Falcons +1

Total: 41

Through the season's first 11 weeks, it seems like no one wants to win the NFC South. Now, the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints are coming off their byes to play each other for the first time this season.

Both offenses have talented skill groups with average, but underachieving offensive lines. The quarterback has been the primary problem for the Falcons, and they’ll go back to Desmond Ridder for this matchup. They’ll face a Saints’ defense that’s giving up the eighth-fewest points per game.

For New Orleans, Derek Carr is still in the concussion protocol coming off the bye week. If Carr can’t go, the far more volatile Jameis Winston will start. The Saints have the better overall roster and, regardless of who starts, the better quarterback. This is their game to lose, which has been the case in a few of their losses this season.

Score Prediction: Saints 21, Falcons 20

Buccaneers at Colts

Spread: Colts -2.5

Total: 42.5

This contest has some borderline shootout potential because both defenses are beatable through the air. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' running game has been ineffective for two years now. While Baker Mayfield can’t be counted on to carry an offense every week, he’s in a plus matchup against Indianapolis.

You could argue the 5-5 Indianapolis Colts are the most overachieving team in the league this season. No one could have asked for more from Gardner Minshew. Jonathan Taylor has a tough matchup, but Minshew is capable of the occasional spike week.

Score Prediction: Colts 27, Buccaneers 23

Rams at Cardinals

Spread: Cardinals +1

Total: 44.5

These are two similar teams with high-quality quarterbacks supported by below-average rosters. Kyler Murray has two games under his belt after returning from last year’s season-ending knee injury. He has been mobile and explosive in each start, but the Arizona Cardinals' offensive outputs have been middling so far.

Meanwhile, for the Los Angeles Rams, Matthew Stafford missed a few throws last week he normally makes; his throwing hand injury appeared to limit his effectiveness against Seattle. Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua are on the injury report, and if either misses this contest, that’s a big swing in Arizona’s favor.

Score Prediction: Cardinals 24, Rams 23

Browns at Broncos

Spread: Broncos -2.5

Total: 35

The Denver Broncos' defense was atrocious through the first month of the season, but it's been a top-10 unit since. That makes this a game between two of the league’s best defenses.

Rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson is the Cleveland Browns’ quarterback. He’s a limited passer who brings some rushing upside to the table. With Deshaun Watson and Nick Chubb out for the year, the Browns’ defense carries the team's success.

Similarly, Denver’s defense has driven the team's four-game winning streak. Russell Wilson has been more of a game manager, but he’s still capable of winning games late. Wilson can be the standalone difference in this matchup.

Score Prediction: Broncos 13, Browns 10

Chiefs at Raiders

Spread: Raiders +8.5

Total: 43.5

The Kansas City Chiefs' pass-catchers cost the team another game Monday night against the Eagles. But the Chiefs’ defense continues to play at a high level, and Patrick Mahomes is generally scary in bounce-back spots like this one.

The Las Vegas Raiders’ defense has exceeded expectations since Antonio Pierce took over as the coach three weeks ago. Aidan O’Connell’s offense, on the other hand, is an unreliable unit. It would be shocking if Mahomes and the Chiefs lost to O'Connell's Raiders this week.

Score Prediction: Chiefs 24, Raiders 13

Bills at Eagles

Spread: Eagles -3.5

Total: 48.5

The Philadelphia Eagles went into Kansas City and left with a win Monday night, which warrants some praise. That said, the Chiefs’ wide receivers dropped passes in some extremely high-leverage spots. Philadelphia is 9-1 with a loaded roster, but it has had a few things bounce its way this season.

The Buffalo Bills need to go on a tear the rest of the way after their 6-5 start. The Eagles are giving up the fifth-most passing yards per game this season, so if Philadelphia has one weakness, it’s its secondary. That gives Josh Allen a realistic path to carrying Buffalo to an upset in Philadelphia.

Score Prediction: Bills 26, Eagles 23

Sunday Night Football

Ravens at Chargers

Spread: Chargers +3.5

Total: 47

The Baltimore Ravens are a model of consistency, while the Los Angeles Chargers are the most underachieving team in the league.

Los Angeles is also a desperate 4-6 team, with five of its losses coming by three points or less. The Chargers have enough talent to upset the Ravens, but will Brandon Staley’s defense be able to limit Lamar Jackson?

Los Angeles is giving up the most passing yards per game this season. While Jackson gets a lot of praise for being efficient, Baltimore still doesn’t have a voluminous passing attack. This is an excellent opportunity for Jackson to show some ceiling as a passer, but he’ll have to do it without Mark Andrews.

Score Prediction: Ravens 26, Chargers 24

Monday Night Football

Bears at Vikings

Spread: Vikings -3.5

Total: 43

The Minnesota Vikings beat the Chicago Bears 19-13 back in Week 6, which started the Vikings' five-game winning streak. Chicago is a more dangerous team today than it was when these two teams first played — the Bears have been steadily improving since that matchup, Tyson Bagent’s first start. In Justin Fields’ return last week, Chicago outplayed Detroit for 57 minutes, but the Bears couldn’t close.

If the season ended today, the Vikings would be the NFC’s seventh seed. Brian Flores’ defense and Josh Dobbs are keeping Minnesota’s playoff prospects very alive. With that in mind, though, the Bears are far from an easy out right now.

Score Prediction: Vikings 23, Bears 20

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