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DraftKings is offering up a new free-to-enter pool for the 2022 NFL season. It runs for the first 17 weeks of the season, and users are allowed to pick their five favorite spreads each week. You’re also allowed one self-appointed bye week, meaning each player will pick 80 games by the end of Week 17. The players who do the best will have a chance to take home part of a $100,000 prize pool, plus millions in bonus prizes.
Let’s take a look at my five favorite picks for NFL Week 12.
The Pick: Bengals -1.5
The Bengals and the Titans will square off in one of the most important matchups in Week 12. The Titans have established a comfortable lead in the AFC South, but the Bengals are locked in a dogfight in the AFC North. They’re currently sitting in second place at 6-4, leaving them 1.0-game behind the Ravens in the division standings. The Ravens are expected to pick up a win vs. the Jaguars, so the Bengals need a win over the Titans to keep pace.
That’s going to be easier said than done. The Titans have been rolling recently, winning seven of their past eight games. The lone exception was an overtime loss to the Chiefs, and that was with backup Malik Willis at quarterback.
However, the Titans haven’t really been tested in that stretch. Outside of Kansas City, each of their previous eight games have come against teams that are not in the playoff picture. They’ve beaten the Raiders, Commanders, Texans, Broncos, Packers and Colts twice. That’s not exactly a murderers’ row.
They’ve relied on their defense during their winning streak, limiting their opponents to 17 points or fewer in all seven wins. Don’t expect a repeat vs. the Bengals. Even without Joe Mixon, the Bengals are capable of putting points on the board in a hurry. The Titans have found themselves in a ton of favorable game scripts recently, which has allowed them to lean on Derrick Henry and the run game. They might need to lean on the passing game a bit more in this spot, and the Titans have not shown the ability to consistently win games through the air. Ryan Tannehill put together an embarrassing performance against the Bengals in the playoffs last year, so I’ll take my chances with the short road favorites.
The Pick: Browns +3.5
The Buccaneers are coming off a bye in Week 11, and they picked up back-to-back wins in their two previous contests. They’re currently sitting in first place in the NFC South, and it appears as though the momentum is starting to go in their favor.
That said, it’s worth examining their two recent wins in closer detail. The first was against the Rams, and that game can only be described as ugly. They ended up pulling out a 16-13 win, but the team trailed against a mediocre Rams squad for basically three full quarters. They followed that up with a win over the Seahawks in Germany, and Tampa had a massive advantage in terms of their biological clocks. That game kicked off at 6:30 a.m. PT, so it’s not surprising that the Seahawks basically sleepwalked through the first half. Seattle made a run in the fourth quarter, but they were ultimately unable to close the gap.
Despite their 3-7 record, the Browns have been a competitive football team all year. Four of their seven losses have come by three points or fewer, so they have not played in many blowouts. They managed to keep things competitive vs. the Bills for four quarters last week, so I think the Buccaneers are overvalued as 3.5-point road favorites.
The Pick: Ravens -3.5
The Ravens are coming off a disappointing performance last week vs. the Panthers. They managed to pick up a 13-3 win, but they were listed as 12.5-point favorites. I’m not a mathematician but covering a 12.5-point spread when you only score 13 points seems basically impossible.
Fortunately, the Ravens are in a good spot to redeem themselves vs. the Jaguars. Jacksonville has been frisky of late, but they’re going to need to be better than frisky to cover this number. They’ve lost six of their past seven games, and all six of those losses have come by at least four points. They’ve lost to the Texans, Colts, Giants and Broncos in that stretch, and the Ravens are clearly better than all of those teams.
Ultimately, Baltimore ranks third in overall DVOA, while Jacksonville is all the way down in 19th. This seems like an excellent buy-low spot for the Ravens.
The Pick: Saints +9.5
The Saints have been one of the most targeted sharp sides of the week. They’ve racked up 83% of the spread dollars on just 48% of the bets, which is a massive discrepancy. That’s caused the line to dip as low as Saints +8.5 at some locations.
We can still grab the Saints at +9.5 in this contest, and that seems like too many points. This team has played in a lot of competitive football games this season, losing by four points to the Bengals and three points to the Vikings. They’ve also managed to win three games against the NFC West, which was considered the best division in football before the start of the year.
San Francisco is absolutely rolling at the moment, but they did list Deebo Samuel as questionable for this contest. Deebo is a huge part of their offense, so his absence would be felt. The 49ers are also coming off a short week after playing in Mexico City, and while that’s not a ton of traveling, we still might not see their best effort. They also have a big matchup coming up vs. the Dolphins, so this could be a bit of a lookahead spot.
The Pick: Steelers +2.5
The Steelers were not able to get the job done last week vs. the Bengals, but their offense actually looked pretty solid in the first half. They actually led 20-17 at halftime, but their defense uncharacteristically let them down in the second half.
Still, if the Steelers can continue to put points on the board, they’re going to win football games. Their defense is extremely dangerous with T.J. Watt back in the lineup, and while the Bengals were able to get the best of them, the Colts are not nearly the same caliber of opponent. They put forth a valiant effort of their own last week vs. the Steelers, but they managed just 284 yards of total offense. The Steelers are undervalued with Watt back in the lineup, so I have no problem grabbing them as small underdogs.
Year-to-Date Results: 40-15 (4-1 last week)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mlamarca) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.