Betting

To Fade or Not to Fade: Week 12 Betting Narratives

Week 11 NFL Betting

Every week I’ll dissect various narratives that affect NFL betting lines. This is vital, considering that most bettors digest these same narratives weekly. The betting public is more grandiose than ever. While that’s exciting, it also means sportsbooks can lure and fool action junkies into taking a lousy wager based on repeated narratives purported by the media. My job is to ensure these narratives do not trick you. 

We’re off our best week of NFL betting yet, winning over 16 units in Week 11. Typically we thrive the second half of the NFL season, which means the below assertions may hold more credence than usual. Let’s keep it rollin’!

From a real-life perspective, stick a knife in the Jets, Rams, and Browns – their seasons are over. But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t bet on them.

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The Jets are 6-4 but they’re at the bottom of a stacked AFC East, and their offense is showing no signs of improvement. Barring a miraculous uptick in QB performance, they will not be making the postseason. This probably isn’t the week to fade the Jets – I don’t think Justin Fields will be playing with a separated shoulder and Mike White has some moxie – but moving forward this isn’t a team you can trust week-to-week in your wagers. Look for under-bets if the number is right, though. Bad offense + exceptional defense typically creates many unders, as we’ve seen.

The Rams are now 3-7 and a solid four games back in the NFC West, since they already lost to the 49ers twice. Matthew Stafford is concussed again, and their schedule is not accommodating for the rest of the season. The fact that they’re two-touchdown underdogs this week against the Chiefs says it all. This is one of the worst falls in history for a former Super Bowl champion. I’m not sure I would touch any wagers on the Rams moving forward. The Rams are done. 

The Browns’ defense has been an incredible liability this year. The Bengals and Ravens are a solid 3.5-4 games ahead of Cleveland in the AFC North, and I wouldn’t count on Deshaun Watson making an instant difference. If anything, sportsbooks may overvalue the Browns and give them more credit once he assumes the starting QB role. I would continue to look at Cleveland as an over-team, however. Their defense had one good game all year (against Cincinnati on Monday Night Football on Halloween), and their offense is talented enough to continue putting up 24 points per game (10th overall). 

The total in the Broncos/Panthers (36) game is too low.

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At some juncture in every season, bettors can stop anticipating or projecting regression. Maybe a team or one unit on a team just isn’t very good. The Broncos, Panthers, Steelers, and Colts all share something in that regard – they have one unit that really lets them down on a regular basis: Their offense.

The Broncos’ defense has been keeping Denver in games all season. Their offense scores a league-worst 14.7 ppg. They’re also last place in touchdowns scored in the red zone (36%), and their 326.4 average yards per game puts them in the bottom third of the league. An injury to Javonte Williams, who was ready to break out this year, and a true lack of chemistry between Russell Wilson and his wide receivers hasn’t helped. 

The Panthers will start Sam Darnold at QB this week. It’s their third QB-change this season. P.J. Walker, who’s been Carolina’s best option this year, is banged up with an ankle injury, and Baker Mayfield has been abysmal as a starter. We saw some moments of positive regression when they got their run game going, mostly in two games against the Falcons, but this spot against the Broncos doesn’t feel pristine. Like the Patriots, the Broncos take away your best skill players and limit their opponent’s production. Denver’s defense is top-five in opponent points per game, yards per game, points per play, yards per play, and third down, fourth down, and red zone conversion rate, and is first in opponent touchdowns per game (1.4). Yeah – the total makes sense, and I might even consider an under-play. Where in tarnation are the points coming from? 

The San Francisco 49ers (+290 at FanDuel) are a great bet to win the NFC Conference.

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Not so fast, my friends! There’s a big difference between a futures bet that has a good chance to hit and has fantastic value, and a futures bet that simply has a good chance to hit. Right now, if you choose to bet on San Francisco at +290 to win the NFC, you’re betting on the 49ers at the height of their powers.

San Francisco looked like a Super Bowl team last week against the Cardinals in Mexico City. They went 6-11 on third down, ran the ball efficiently, committed no egregious mistakes or turnovers, and their defense played incredibly well. Winning by 28 points against a division foe is no easy feat. But after this weekend, the road to the top of the NFC will get much more difficult for the surging Niners.

After their Week 12 home game against the Saints, these are the 49ers’ next three matchups:

  • Week 13: At home against their ex-offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel and a white-hot Miami Dolphins’ offense.
  • Week 14: At home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are starting to look in-rhythm.
  • Week 15: A short week on the road in Seattle, in a revenge game for the Seahawks.

From there, things get a bit easier against the Commanders, Raiders, and Cardinals to end their season, but I would consider a futures’ bet on the 49ers sometime after Weeks 14 or 15. 

Betting on the 49ers is a smart idea – this is a loaded team on both sides of the ball and Jimmy Garoppolo is clearly comfortable guiding his offense. When Garoppolo is in-rhythm, it’s almost impossible for their offense not to shine. The combination of Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell, and George Kittle will be a matchup nightmare for any defense. And if their offensive line can stay healthy – we’re looking at you, Trent Williams – there’s little reason to suggest they can’t keep their momentum going.

They’re healthier than ever on defense, too. Futures betting is about who and what you’re betting on, sure, but it’s also about timing. Don’t impulsively pull the trigger on a futures bet fresh off a fantastic showing from the team you like. Anticipate how good they can be, and execute the bet after they stumble. The plus-money-odds will rise in your favor.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are good value at +1800 to win the Super Bowl.

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Now this is a great example of excellent timing on a futures bet. Can anyone reading this article assert, with any certainty, that this version of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cannot win it all again? I can’t. They have everything you need to win a championship. Allow me to explain.

First of all, ahem, they have the greatest QB of all time. No big deal. And in case you haven’t noticed, Tom Brady’s physical capabilities haven’t waned at all. He’s also 2-0 and has played nearly flawless football since his divorce was finalized. You don’t have to recognize things like that, but in my opinion, that’s an error in your own handicapping if you choose not to. Going through a divorce is one of life’s greatest psychological stressors. With that episode behind Brady, there’s a chance we see an even more renewed and fiery TB12 than ever. 

The Bucs’ ensemble is also full of players that were part of the Super Bowl roster two seasons ago. AKA — they know what it takes to get the job done. 

At every level of their defense, they have veterans who’ve been to the big dance as a Buccaneer: Vita Vea, William Gholston, Anthony Nelson, Lavonte David, Devin White, Jamel Dean, Antoine Winfield Jr., Carlton Davis, and Sean Murphy-Bunting, to name a few. On offense, their stars are intact, too: Brady, Leonard Fournette, Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Scotty Miller, Cameron Brate, Tristan Wirfs, Donovan Smith, and there’s still a chance they can get back Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen in the postseason. 

The biggest question mark is Todd Bowles. At times this season, the Bucs have seemed uncharacteristically clumsy. Their offense hasn’t looked as explosive, their run game has only improved recently, and their defense has been a letdown and played undisciplined football on too many occasions. When a team just has a different feel on-screen and we know their capabilities from previously successful seasons, that stands out as a coaching issue.

Bowles comes across as a quiet guy. He’s not as bombastic or expressive as Bruce Arians, the coach who led Tampa to its first title. Personally, I never thought Bowles would impede the Bucs’ success. Tom Brady has such an incredible ability to lead his teammates, and I figured Bowles could simply double down on his defense. Right now the Bucs don’t have the same identity that we’ve seen in years past, but they have plenty of time to still figure that out. That’s especially true in the NFC South, where even at 5-5 the Bucs are very likely to win their division and at least get a shot at more greatness.

But this is why Tampa at +1800 to win it all is great value. It’s not about what it’s shown us so far, it’s who it could become. Those are the futures bets that make more sense. Remember – over the course of a season or any longer period of time, the volatile nature of NFL football means that no future bet holds inherently “good” value. That’s just not a thing – I don’t care what any “betting expert” says. That’s why it’s important to get the best lines possible. Expect the worst, and capitalize big time if you win. 

WATCH MORE: The 15 Best Player Props for Week 12

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