NFL Week 12 Picks: Brady questionable vs. Cowboys

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November 23rd, 2019

It’s a very bare late-afternoon slate this weekend in the NFL, but both games are important. The Jaguars and Titans square off in a divisional matchup that will likely see the loser eliminated from the playoff hunt. Meanwhile, the Cowboys and Patriots face off in what both fanbases hope might be a Super Bowl preview. We are here to give you some insight and help you with a couple of free picks!

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tennessee Titans (-3.5), 4:05 p.m. ET (CBS)

Jaguars fans everywhere (myself included) have been utterly perturbed by this season. There have been moments where you think the team has gotten things figured out, and then there are games like last weekend, where the Colts absolutely dismantled the defense en route to a 33-13 win. That was with the Jaguars coming off a bye, no less, and Nick Foles regaining his job as starting quarterback following his injury in week 1.

The “Sacksonville” defense simply cannot stop the run, ranking fourth-worst in the NFL in rushing yards allowed at just under 135 per game, and they have allowed nearly 500 yards rushing over their last two games. This negates their pass-rushing prowess and forces their offense to play keep-up much of the time. With so many players injured on the offensive side of the ball, especially at the tight end position, it has been difficult for them to do that. When the defense is able to keep them in games, they’re able to run with Leonard Fournette and set up the play-action passing game.
However, their weaknesses at the moment play right into the strengths of the Titans. Tennessee is 3-1 since giving the starting QB job to Ryan Tannehill, and they have stopped turning the football over. This has allowed them to feed the ball to Derrick Henry, who ran for 188 yards and two touchdowns in their victory over the Chiefs two weeks ago. Now with a bye week under their belts, they will be rested and ready for revenge over a Jaguars team that defeated them earlier in the season, as they sacked Marcus Mariota nine times in miserable weather on a Thursday night.

With the Jaguars’ defense seemingly lost, and a Titans offense that has made large strides without Mariota giving the other team the ball nonstop, it is unlikely that the visitors will get the win they desperately need to turn around their season. The Titans are 7-2 ATS in their last nine home games against division foes, while the Jaguars have lost their last five games in Nashville, and have covered the spread only once in their last five matchups with the Titans. Look for all of those trends to continue this weekend, unfortunately for yours truly.

NFL free pick: Titans -3.5

Dallas Cowboys vs. New England Patriots (-6), 4:25 p.m. ET (FOX)

This is arguably the marquee matchup of the NFL Week 12 schedule, and it could potentially be a preview of a game in February. The Patriots are sitting at 9-1 and in great position to have home field advantage throughout the playoffs, yet again. Their defense has been outstanding, allowing Tom Brady to make due with a changing cast of characters each week and somehow guide them to another great start. However, he voiced some displeasure with the offense in an interview with Chris Collinsworth, as explained on the Dan Patrick Show this week. Those frustrations could bubble over this week, as Mohamed Sanu, Philip Dorsett and Julian Edelman are all injured and may miss, or be limited in, the game against Dallas. Even Brady himself is questionable due to concerns with his elbow.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys are at 6-4 but have shown flashes of being a dominant team, when they’re able to stay healthy. They are fourth in the league in scoring offense, and lead the league in passing yards per game. They also rank seventh in rushing yards, and gain more yards per play than any other team in the league. Much of that success has come against lesser foes, as they are now 0-6 ATS on the season against teams with a winning record. This will be their biggest test of the year, on the road against a vaunted pass defense that ranks first in scoring defense, passing yards allowed, and scoring. While that defense was somewhat exposed two weeks ago by the Ravens, the Patriots had issues with Baltimore’s tight ends rather than their wideouts. As such, don’t expect Amari Cooper to suddenly get loose constantly.

A wise friend of mine once told me, Vegas makes more money on people betting that streaks will end, than they do on any other sports bet. The Patriots have won their last twenty games at home, and they have won their four home games this season—albeit against lesser opponents than the Cowboys—by an average of just over 20 points per game. They also have failed to cover at home just three times in their last twenty games when the spread was seven points or less. This should be a very competitive and enjoyable contest, but as long as the line stays under seven, take the Patriots and lay the points, especially if Brady is available. If it gets up to a full touchdown, look to the total, as the over 44.5 shows value as well.

NFL free pick: Patriots -6

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