SOUTH FLORIDA, November 19, 2014 — This is the time of year where the contenders normally start separating themselves from the pretenders. While Arizona survived at home last week against Detroit and New England kept rolling, Denver stumbled badly. Green Bay walloped Philadelphia and Kansas City survived Seattle, but both of those games could have had different results had the home field advantage been switched. The only thing we know for sure is that we do not know anything. This is the competitive balance, “any given Sunday,” aspect of the NFL that makes it the great game it is. With that, here is the NFL 2014 Week 12 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by FootballLocks.com and all times Eastern.
Thursday, November 20, 2014, 8:30 p.m.
Kansas City Chiefs (-7) at Oakland Raiders — The Chiefs are 7-3 and the Raiders are 0-10. While it would seem crazy not to take the Chiefs, Oakland is hungry for a win. In the national spotlight of prime time television, this is the week the offense does just enough to help the defense for the shocker of the year. Upset special, Raiders win outright.
Sunday, November 23, 1:00 p.m.
Cleveland Browns at Atlanta Falcons (-3) — Just when people were beginning to trust the Browns, they lose badly at home to Houston. Atlanta is nothing special, but at home they may do just enough. Falcons cover.
Tennessee Titans at Philadelphia Eagles (-11) — Tennessee fought hard in prime time before losing last week, while Philadelphia got throttled by 33 points. An angry Eagles team at home should decimate the Titans. Eagles cover.
Detroit Lions at New England Patriots (-7) — The Lions are much improved, especially on defense. New England has been unstoppable the last six weeks on offense. In the cold New England weather, Tom Brady and company should continue rolling. Patriots cover.
Green Bay Packers (-9.5) at Minnesota Vikings — Green Bay is clicking on all cylinders and Aaron Rodgers has been playing lights out football. Minnesota has been a house of horrors for the Packers over the years, but this Minnesota team does not have the firepower to keep up. Packers win, but fail to cover.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts (-14) — The Jaguars are awful and the Colts are an angry bunch after getting beaten badly at home by New England. Jacksonville is not New England. Colts cover.
Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans (-2) — One week Cincinnati is losing at home by 21 to Cleveland. Then they go on the road and smack around New Orleans by 17 points. Houston just beat that same Cleveland team in Cleveland. Ryan Mallett provided a lift for the Texans. Texans cover.
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (-4.5) — Michael Vick has given the Jets some hope while Kyle Orton has had a bad couple games after a strong start. The Jets are still fighting hard for Rex Ryan, but Buffalo has much more to play for. At home that should be enough. Bills win, but fail to cover.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Chicago Bears (-5.5) — Both teams finally came to life last week, although Tampa did so on the road. Nevertheless, when Jay Cutler plays well the Bears win. Bears cover.
Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks (-6.5) — Arizona can all but wrap up the division with a win, but a desperate Seattle team fighting for a playoff spot will clamp down at home against Drew Stanton. The defending champions will unleash the Legion of Boom. Seahawks win, but fail to cover.
St. Lous Rams at San Diego Chargers (-5) — The Rams had a shocking win at home against Denver last week while San Diego looked awful in barely surviving winless Oakland. That said, the Rams are primed for a letdown. Chargers win but fail to cover.
Miami Dolphins at Denver Broncos (-7) — An angry Denver team at home coming off their worst loss of the year will be enough motivation for Peyton Manning to take his wrath out on Miami and rip the Dolphins defense to shreds. Broncos cover.
Washington at San Francisco 49ers (-9) — Washington is awful, and looked like a high school team at home last week against woeful Tampa Bay. The 49ers are getting healthy on defense. RGIII is playing miserably and he may have lost the locker room. 49ers cover.
Dallas Cowboys (-3.5) at New York Giants — As bad as the Giants have been, they gave San Francisco all they could handle. Dallas has superior talent, but the Sunday night lights will be enough for this team to play inspired football for Tom Coughlin. Upset special, Giants win outright.
Monday, November 24, 8:30 p.m.
Baltimore Ravens at New Orleans Saints (-3.5) — The Saints looked awful at home last week in their worst loss of the season. A loss here would all but eliminate them from playoff contention. At home, with a national Monday night spotlight, the Saints should save their season against a beatable Baltimore team. Saints cover.