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NFL Week 12 picks: Steelers, Eagles, Patriots cover big spreads; Saints lock of week

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady passes against

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady passes against the Oakland Raiders during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017, in Mexico City. Credit: AP / Eduardo Verdugo

Thanksgiving is known for its big spreads, and Week 12 continues with that theme. The Patriots, Steelers and Eagles are huge favorites, which should not be a surprise considering they’re at the top of the list for Super Bowl odds. Don’t let the big numbers scare you away. These teams are hot and could all win in routs. Favorites went 8-4-1 against the spread (ATS) last week, continuing a hot stretch. Underdogs still lead, at 77-72-8 for the season. My most confident picks ATS this week are the Saints, Colts and Steelers. Tricky games to avoid: Broncos-Raiders and Panthers- Jets.

PANTHERS (7-3) AT JETS (4-6), 1 p.m.

TV: Ch. 5; Radio: ESPN (98.7)

Panthers by 4.5; O/U: 40

This is one of the more difficult games to break down because both teams are inconsistent. Will we get the Panthers team that won at New England or the one that scored three points at Chicago? Will the Jets team that nearly upset the Patriots and Falcons show up or will it be the one that scored 10 points at Tampa Bay two weeks ago? Both teams are off the bye. The extra week off should benefit a Panthers team dealing with injuries. There’s a strong chance the Jets repeat what they’ve done against more talented teams this season: keep it close for three quarters, then falter in the fourth. If the Jets lose by a field goal, it won’t be a surprise. But it’s hard to see Josh McCown and the Jets offense moving the ball much against Luke Kuechly and Carolina’s second-ranked defense.

The pick: Panthers



TV: Ch. 4, 8:20 p.m.

Steelers by 14; O/U: 43.5

Before we get to this matchup, could we take a minute to talk about Antonio Brown’s “hold the phone” TD catch last Thursday night. He pinned the ball against his helmet with one hand, looking as if he was making a call: “Hey, David Tyree, what’d you think?” Brown and the Steelers are catching the Packers at the right time. If Aaron Rodgers were playing, this would be close. But with Brett Hundley in, expect a rout. The Steelers will turn him over, and the ‘O’ will score 30-plus. Pittsburgh enjoys the spotlight: It’s covered six straight prime-time games and has won nine in a row by an average margin of 16.

The pick: Steelers




BEARS (3-7) AT EAGLES (9-1)

Eagles by 13.5; O/U: 44

Philly’s eight-game win streak includes seven straight covers. The home games haven’t been close: 34-7 over Arizona, 34-24 over Washington, 33-10 over San Francisco and 51-23 over Denver. Chicago is 2-4 since Mitchell Trubisky took over, but it’s 4-1-1 ATS, including covers in his only two road games. Still, the way the Eagles are playing — the average score has been 34-18 during the streak — it’s hard to pick against them. Alshon Jeffery shows his former team what it is missing as Carson Wentz & Co. roll to 10-1.

The pick: Eagles

BUCS (4-6) AT FALCONS (6-4)

Falcons by 10; O/U: 48

With back-to-back impressive wins over Dallas and Seattle, Atlanta is looking like the contender we all expected. Still, in two previous spots as a big home favorite, the Falcons lost outright. The Bucs have won two in a row and can keep this inside the big number.

The pick: Bucs


Patriots by 16; O/U: 47

This is the biggest point spread of the season, and for good reason. New England is one of the elite and Miami, despite its four wins, is a bottom-5 team. The Pats were 0-3 ATS as a big home favorite earlier this season, but that was before the defense turned things around. The Pats are allowing 12.5 points per game during a six-game win streak (4-1-1 ATS). They’re fresh off back-to-back 25-point wins over Denver and Oakland. Miami already has lost 40-0, 20-0 and 45-21. Lay the big number as Tom Brady and the Pats win by 20-something.

The pick: Patriots

BILLS (5-5) AT CHIEFS (6-4)

Chiefs by 9.5; O/U: 47

With Sean McDermott wisely going back to Tyrod Taylor, this game is a little less easy to pick. Both teams are reeling — Buffalo has been blitzed in three straight losses and KC has lost four of five. Neither team can stop the run, so expect LeSean McCoy and Kareem Hunt to rule. KC could win big, but something tells me Taylor & Co. keep this interesting.

The pick: Bills

TITANS (6-4) AT COLTS (3-7)

Titans by 3.5; O/U: 46

It’s been so long since Tennessee won at Indianapolis — Dec. 30, 2007 to be exact — that the game was played at the RCA Dome and not Lucas Oil Stadium. The Titans beat the Colts, 36-22, in Week 6 this season, but the final score was misleading: The Colts led 19-15 to start the fourth. Indy is 4-1 ATS at home, and before its bye gave Pittsburgh all it could handle in Week 10. The Colts keep this close and maybe even win it outright.

The pick: Colts

BROWNS (0-10) AT BENGALS (4-6)

Bengals by 7.5; O/U: 38

When the Bengals barely won as a 10-point favorites at home vs. the Colts in Week 8, the thought here was: Never trust them again laying a big number. But if there’s one thing the Bengals excel at, it’s beating the Browns. Cincy’s 31-7 win in Week 4 was its sixth straight ‘W’ in the series, with the average margin of victory by 22.6 points. The Browns have been feisty of late, but expect another double-digit win for Cincy.

The pick: Bengals





SAINTS (8-2) AT RAMS (7-3)

Rams by 2.5; O/U: 53.5

For the second straight week, the Rams are featured in the game of the week. And for the second straight week, they’ll be overmatched. They’re a great story, but they’ll struggle against the Saints the same way they did at Minnesota and in previous home losses to the Seahawks and Redskins. The Saints average 144 rushing yards per game, third best in the NFL. Mark Ingram (806 yards, 8 TDs, 5.2 yards per carry) and Alvin Kamara (459 yards, 4 TDs and 6.4 YPC) will run all over a Rams ‘D’ allowing the fifth-most rushing yards (123.3). The Saints play from in front this week, dictate the tempo and win their ninth straight.

The pick: Saints

SEAHAWKS (6-4) AT 49ERS (1-9)

Seahawks by 6.5; O/U: 44.5

San Fran lost, 12-9, at Seattle in Week 2. Rested off the bye and not having to worry about being winless anymore, the 49ers will put up a fight against a banged-up Seattle ‘D’.

The pick: 49ers


TV: Ch. 2, 4:25 p.m.

Raiders by 4; O/U: 43.5

In Week 4, these AFC West rivals met in Denver as a pair of 2-1 teams. Since that game — a 16-10 Broncos win — Denver has lost six in a row, while Oakland has dropped four of six. Both teams just fired a coordinator and Paxton Lynch will get the start for Denver. If the Broncos couldn’t beat the Bengals at home last week, it’s hard to pick them on the road. Derek Carr and the Raiders get payback to keep their playoff hopes alive.

The pick: Raiders


Jaguars by 5; O/U: 38

It’s the Blaine Gabbert Revenge Bowl! The former Jags QB will have trouble against his old team’s new-look, top-ranked defense. But Blake Bortles will struggle, too, likely making this a close game in the desert.

The pick: Cardinals


TEXANS (4-6) AT RAVENS (5-5)

TV: ESPN, 8:15 p.m.

Ravens by 7; O/U: 38

This is a lot of points to lay with Baltimore’s 31st-ranked offense, but its defense should feast on Tom Savage. Baltimore has three shutouts, including 40-0 in its last prime-time home game.

The pick: Ravens

Staff picks and standings

(Best bets in bold)


69-83-8, 3-8 best bets

Last week: 9-4-1

Panthers Eagles Bucs Patriots

Bills Colts Bengals Saints 49ers

Raiders Cardinals Steelers Ravens


67-85-8, 5-6

Last week: 6-7-1

Jets Eagles Falcons Patriots

Chiefs Titans Bengals Rams 49ers

Raiders Cardinals Steelers Ravens


72-80-8, 3-7-1

Last week: 6-7-1

Panthers Eagles Bucs Patriots

Bills Titans Bengals Saints Seahawks

Raiders Jaguars Packers Ravens


65-72-7, 5-5

Last week: 6-7-1

Panthers Eagles Falcons Patriots

Chiefs Titans Bengals Saints Seahawks

Broncos Jaguars Steelers Ravens

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