Week 12 NFL Picks: Sides & Totals

Dalvin Cook #33 of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball against the Baltimore Ravens during the first half at M&T Bank Stadium on November 7, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Image Credit: Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Each week, BetPrep NFL Sharp “Tommy The Hitman” discusses every game through the eyes of a professional sports bettor with host and 30-year sports talk radio vet Jody McDonald of CBS Sports Radio.

Here are some recent highlights from the latest episode of Hot Read Hits, the official NFL podcast of BetPrep:

Falcons (minus-1.5) at Jaguars, Sunday, 1 pm. ET

The Jaguars have scored on a league-low 25.2% of their offensive drives. Jacksonville has forced 2.3 sack- plus-turnovers per game, the fewest in the league. The Jaguars are averaging 1.7 fewer yards per passing play than their opponent, ahead of only the Lions (-2.3 yards). Lawrence is regressing; he hasn’t thrown a TD in three straight games and has 6.3, 4.6 and 4.4 yards per attempt (YPA) in his last three games.

This is a good matchup for Ryan: The Jaguars rank 31st in completion rate (71.8%) and 29th in yards allowed per attempt (8.0 Y/A).

The Falcons also have had 10 days to prepare for this game. Jacksonville is not only without WR Chark from earlier in the season but now WR Jamal Agnew.

Atlanta has fared well against weaker competition, beating the Jets, Giants, Dolphins and losing a tossup game to Washington. These are similarly poor rosters but Matt Ryan is the far superior quarterback to Trevor Lawrence. Back the Falcons.

Jets (+3, minus-120) at Texans, Sunday 1 p.m. ET

My Power Rank has the Jets +1 on a neutral field.

The Jets are averaging 76.5 fewer yards per game than their opponent (30th) while the Texans are averaging 118.2 fewer yards per game than their opponent, last in the league. Zach Wilson is back at quarterback for the Jets, who have him healthy with their three starting receivers — Elijah Moore, Jamison Crowder and Corey Davis — for just the second game this year.

The Texans are last in the league in expected points added via their rushing offense (-43.8 points). Journeyman Rex Burkhead, 31, got the lion’s share of the touches for the Texans last week and Phillip Lindsay was released. Houston is averaging a first down or touchdown once every 4.4 offensive plays, the lowest rate in the league.

Houston was minus -2.3 yards per play (YPP) in the win against the Titans. The Jets were +0.6 YPP against Miami last week. The Jets defense has been horrendous in 2021, but for the season Houston’s offense is 29th in YPP and 26th in YPA.

Are the Texans fat and happy after their upset win? Regardless, they don’t deserve to be laying three points to anyone. I actually have the Jets as the very slightly better team.

Vikings (+3.5, minus-120) at 49ers, Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET

My Power Rank has MIN +1.5 on a neutral field. .

The Vikings are first in the league in sack differential (+17) over their opponents. Minnesota has turned the ball over just 5.4% of their possessions (six times in 111 possessions), the lowest rate in the league.

Jimmy Garoppolo is first in the NFL in EPA per play (0.411) among quarterbacks over the past four weeks after ranking 20th prior (0.137). The entire key for Garoppolo staying hot is avoiding pressure. Under pressure, he has completed 50% of his passes for 6.5 YPA compared with a 71.5% completion rate and 8.8 YPA  when kept clean. Even during this hot streak, Garoppolo is 13-of-23 (56.5%) for 6.3 YPA  under pressure with one touchdown pass. Minnesota is fourth in the league in pressure rate (27.9%), which bodes badly for the Niners.

Kirk Cousins on fire this year with 21 touchdowns versus just two interceptions. As a result of their turnover and sack strength (sacks are similar to turnovers in ending drives), Minnesota has led by seven or more points in every game this season. That’s despite facing abrutally tough schedule including Cincinnati, Arizona, Seattle (with a healthy Russell Wilson healthy), Cleveland (with a healthy Browns team including Baker Mayfield), Baltimore, the Chargers and Green Bay. This is a team that just doesn’t  lose by margin. With SF’s home field being worth about 1.5 points, the Niners should be at best minus-1.5 for this game. Back the Vikings.