Top 5 Betting Takeaways From NFL Week 12

The Dolphins, Patriots, and Chiefs are catching fire, while the Titans, Rams, and Seahawks all limp their way to the end of the regular season. With just a handful of games left in the regular season, and no team standing out as the team to beat, we are going to see an epic finish to the 2021-22 NFL regular season. With that, let’s jump right into this week’s edition of the top 5 betting takeaways from week 12 of the NFL! Let’s get started!

The Lions Aren’t Going To Win A Game This Season

I guess it is only fitting that the worst franchise in NFL history is going to now also be the first franchise ever to go winless in a 17-game regular season. The NFL just added this extra regular season game this year, and the Lions wasted no time etching their names into the history books, as they are well on their way to a winless season.

Interestingly enough, the Lions have actually played quite a bit better as of late, as they have gone from a team that got blown out by double digits to teams like the Bears, Eagles, Packers, and Bengals to a team that has had a real shot to win in each of their last 3 games. But in a testament to just how dysfunctional the Lions are right now, they found ways to rip defeat from the clutches of victory in the last 3 weeks, to go 0-2-1.

This week’s loss was especially painful, as the Lions took the lead late in the 3rd quarter, and they still managed to have that lead intact with just 1 second left in the game. But in true Lion’s fashion, they allowed the Red Riffle, Bears QB Andy Dalton, drive down the field to win the game as time expired. That loss comes on the heels of another loss by just a field goal to the Cleveland Browns the week before, and with just a handful of games left on their schedule, the reality of a winless season is now smacking Lions fans, assuming there are any left, right in the face.

How bad are the Lions right now? They are full touchdown home dogs against the Minnesota Vikings next week. The very same Vikings team that has managed to blow several winnable games, as it seems they almost want to lose games in the 4th quarter. If you are getting that many points against Kirk Cousins and his Vikings, who will be playing this game without superstar running back Dalvin Cook, you are really bad.

Looking ahead on the Lion’s schedule the rest of the way out, the Lions have road games against the Broncos, Falcons, and Seahawks, and home games against the Vikings, Cardinals, and Packers. If they are getting a touchdown at home against the Vikings, they are going to be getting double digit points against both the Cardinals and Packers, and I just don’t see many scenarios where the Lions are winning a football game in another team’s stadium.

I am sure that this statement comes to no surprise to any of you out there, as we all knew that the Lions were going to be bad the minute that they traded away the best quarterback in franchise history, Matthew Stafford, but to go winless in what is the longest regular season in league history, is still a staggeringly bad outcome. If you have seen the Lions staying competitive in the last 3 weeks since their week 9 bye and have any inkling whatsoever to back them on the money line the rest of the way out, please slap yourself across the face for being so dumb and stay away! Far, far away!

The Panthers Are Done

The Carolina Panthers are officially done for the year, at least in terms of competing for a spot in the postseason. I know this is going to seem a bit hypocritical, as I proclaimed that the Panthers were a playoff team just a couple of weeks ago, but hear me out here, as things have changed.

Why the sudden reversal, you ask? Well, my thoughts that the Panthers were going to find a way to backdoor into the postseason in the NFC were mostly surrounding the fact that Christian McCaffrey had a clean bill of health, and with CMC back on the field, that made the Panthers dangerous. I also felt that bringing in former MVP Cam Newton to pair with McCaffrey was the right move, as Cam had a long history of playing well with McCaffrey in the backfield in Carolina.

But this week, tragedy struck in Carolina, as McCaffrey again found himself with an injury, this time a season-ending one, as he tore his ankle apart and won’t be seen on the field again this year. And for those of you out there that thought that maybe Cam Newton could carry the team without his best weapon, yeah, he can’t.

Newton posted one of the worst stat lines of the season, finishing an embarrassing 5-21 for 92 yards, no TDs, and 2 INTs. That is good for a QB rating of 5.8. No, that isn’t a typo, the best QB rating that Newton could muster was a 5, and he actually had McCaffrey for part of the game! Not only did the Panthers lose the game, they got obliterated by the Miami Dolphins, to the tune of a 33-10 final score.

A quick peek at the standings shows me that the Panthers are still in the hunt for the playoffs at 5-7, just a half of a game back of the Washington Football team for the final playoff spot in the NFC. But that says a lot more about how soft the cut line is in the NFC right now than it does about the Panther’s chances of making the playoffs. Right now, there are 8 teams within a game of that final postseason spot, and I see Carolina as one of odd men out at season’s end.

Carolina catches a break this week, as they take the week off with a bye, before hosting the Atlanta Falcons, which on the surface, is a winnable game for the Panthers. But after that, things get tough, really tough, as the Panthers have to play the Bills, the Bucs twice, and the Saints on the road, to close out the season.

If they had a healthy CMC, they would be a sexy dark horse pick to pick up some upsets, but without him, they may have won their last game of the regular season already. Sorry Panthers fans, but it is time to start looking towards next year. And with McCaffrey again slated to miss a big chunk of the season, you have to wonder how much tread the oft-injured star has left on his tires. Things are going to get worse before they get better in Carolina.

Indy To Win The Division Is A Steal At (+1000)

The Tennessee Titans did a remarkable job of winning games without their best player, Derrick Henry, when Henry went down with a season ending injury. Next, they lost their best receiver, as Julio Jones was lost to a long-term injury as well, and even without their top playmakers, the Titans managed to knock off the New Orleans Saints and stretch their winning streak to 6 straight games.

But the hits kept coming for Tennessee, as they have now lost their best remaining playmaker, AJ Brown, as he was placed on IR, and will sit out at least 3 games. With the trio of Henry, Brown, and Julio all out, the Titans have now lost in back-to-back weeks, with an unforgivably bad home loss to the Houston Texans, followed up by a blowout loss to the streaking New England Patriots.

Despite having one of the best records in the AFC at 8-4, the outlook is bleak for Tennessee, as they just don’t have the guys right now, with all of the injuries starting to really add up. The struggles couldn’t come at a worse time for Tennessee, as the Indianapolis Colts have caught fire, with wins in 5 of their last 6 games before losing a nail-bitter against the Tampa Bay Bucs this week.

The Colts are now just 2 games back with 5 to play, and they show outrageous value to win the AFC South Division at 10-1 odds with the Titans in freefall and no reinforcements coming in the near-term future. What makes the Colts an even more intriguing team is when you look at their 6 losses, several of those games could easily have been wins.

This week, they led by 10 points at halftime before losing late in the game. Their last lost before that one came to the Titans, losing in overtime, after leading by 7 points with less than a minute left to play in the game. Their week 5 loss to Baltimore came after they were up 25-9 in the 4th quarter, eventually losing in overtime.

Indy is just a couple of bounces in the right direction away from already being in 1st place, and with the Titans so shorthanded, a play on the Colts to win the division is a sharp one. The Titans have a soft finish to their schedule, with games against the Jaguars, Steelers, 49ers, Dolphins, and Texans, but after watching them lose to Houston at home, it wouldn’t at all be shocking to see the Titans implode and finish the regular season without winning another game.

Tennessee owns the tiebreaker against the Colts, having beaten them twice already this season, but if the Titans do finish out winless the rest of the way out, that means that the Colts will only have to go 3-2 to pass them for the division title. Even if the Titans find a way to win a game, which they likely will, the Colts schedule lays out nicely for a 4-1 finish with games against Houston, New England, Arizona, Las Vegas, and Jacksonville.

Indianapolis will be favored against Houston, Las Vegas, and Jacksonville, and with Arizona playing with Colt McCoy and not Kyler Murray, they too are vulnerable. And even with as hot as the Patriots have been recently, the Colts get them at home, and it is hard to not like their chances as home dogs in a game that is going to mean so much to them. When you are making bets, it is all about the price, and right now, the price is right for a play on the Colts to sneak past the Titans and take home the AFC South Division title.

Turns Out Tua Is The Guy In Miami

Earlier this season, the Miami Dolphins seemed to be all in on a push to trade for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. The only thing that eventually stopped Miami from grabbing Watson was that the league would not confirm whether or not he was going to be suspended for his off-the-field transgressions. Watson is facing several counts of sexual assault, and if he is found guilty, he may never play football again.

The uncertainty about Watson was what killed that deal, not the Dolphins all of the sudden deciding that they wanted to give former Heisman Trophy winner Tua Tagovaiola another shot. Tua came into the league with as much hype as any signal caller in the last decade, but between injuries and inconsistent play, many Miami fans were starting to look in other directions for their franchise quarterback.

With Tagovaiola out with yet another injury, the Dolphins had turned to journeyman Jacoby Brissett to run the offense in South Beach. But after seeing Brissett struggle against the Houston Texans, the Dolphins called on the still injured Tua to lead a late charge to win the game. That performance was enough for Tua to win the starting job back, and since then, he has led his Dolphins to back-to-back wins and 4 straight overall, to get Miami right back into the playoff conversation in the AFC.

The play calling has been a bit conservative at times, but his stats have been solid. In his last 2 starts, Tagovaiola has completed 54 of 64 passes, good for a blistering hot 84% completion percentage, while throwing for 3 scores and only 1 pick. His former college teammate, Jaylen Waddle, has quickly emerged as a big-time playmaker, racking up 17 catches for 202 yards in the last 2 weeks.

As much as people seem to love to hammer on Tua, his QB rating of 94.7 has him tied with reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes and ahead of guys like Ben Roethlisberger, Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, and Matt Ryan. And remember, he has still only played in 18 games in his career, which makes all of the haters seem completely unreasonable, as this guys has really only played what amounts to 1 season’s worth of games in the league.

I know we have grown accustomed to seeing guys come into the league and dominate right away, with guys like Russell Wilson, Justin Herbert, and Kyler Murray hitting the ground running early in their careers, but some guys take a little more time to get up to speed, and it’s looking like Tua is one of those guys.

The competition has been admittedly soft, but a 4-game winning streak is a 4-game winning streak, and if the Dolphins can ride Tagovaiola to the postseason, they are currently just a game and a half back of the cut line in the AFC, he will have more than earned himself another year at the helm in Miami.

I wouldn’t expect this winning streak to end any time soon, as Miami hosts the New York Giants this week, before they hit their bye week, and then host the New York Jets in week 15. They are going to be heavy favorites in both of those games, and wins in both contests would run their winning streak to 6 straight games. That will be an awful lot of momentum as the Dolphins try to sneak into the playoffs.

It might have taken a little bit longer than some people expected, but if you ask me, Tua Tagovaiola has things moving in the right direction, and he still has plenty of time to establish himself as an elite quarterback in the NFL. He has completed north of 80% of his passes in 3 of his last 4 starts and entering play this week, he is 2nd in the NFL, behind only Kyler Murray, in passing completion percentage. Watch out NFL, as we are finally starting to see the Tua we all thought we were going to get when he came out of Alabama in the 1st round.

You Can Get Dog Money On The Patriots To Win The AFC East

The regular season is not over, and there is certainly a lot of football left to be played. But it is fairly shocking to see that a team currently sitting all alone in 1st place in their division is getting dog money to win their division title. That is the situation that the New England Patriots find themselves in right now, as they are (+115) to win the AFC East Division, despite holding a half of a game lead over the 2nd place Buffalo Bills.

Now, I am a huge fan of the Buffalo Bills, in fact, they were my pick to win the Super Bowl coming into the season, but Buffalo just hasn’t played consistently enough to stay in 1st place. The Bills are just 3-3 in their last 6 games, including laying an egg against the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars. The Pats, on the other hand, have won 6 straight games and are shooting up the standings in the AFC.

What makes this race even more interesting is the fact that these teams have yet to play each other. The squads are scheduled to square off this week in Buffalo and again in week 16 in Foxboro. If either team can sweep that regular season series, they will all but wrap up the division title.

Both of these teams are far too good at home to expect a home loss in the division, so I am going to just call those games a wash, with the home team winning each game. But when I look at the rest of the schedules for these teams, I see New England as showing some strong value for a play to win the division title.

First and foremost, the Patriots have their destiny in their own hands. They are in the lead now, and if they win out, they can’t be caught. That alone gives them a significant advantage. Second, they have the greatest coach of all time in Bill Belichick, who has made winning the AFC East Division title a birthright for an entire generation of Patriots fans. And finally, rookie quarterback Mac Jones is finally starting to get comfortable in the New England system, throwing 9 TDs against just 2 INTs in his last 6 games.

The Patriots could have the division title all but locked up 2 weeks from now if they can win this week against Buffalo on the road, as the Bills then have to play the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, on the road no less, the following week. While Buffalo will have to try and upset Tom Brady and his Bucs on the road, the Patriots will be sitting at home enjoying a well-deserved bye week. A win by New England and 2 losses by Buffalo would have the Pats a full 2 games up with just 3 games left to play, which would see them drop to massive betting favorites to win the division.

Even if Buffalo wins this week, and that absolutely might happen, the Pats will still have a shot to even things back up in Foxboro later in the season. For those of you that read my weekly betting takeaways articles, you will know that I sounded the alarm bells on New England well over a month ago, as I saw this run coming, and now that they are officially the hottest team in the NFL, the rest of the league is on notice. Make your plays on New England now, as the odds are going to plummet if and when they can knock off the struggling Bills in week 13.

Wrap Up

There you have it, folks, my top-5 betting takeaways from week 12 of NFL action. Things move quickly in the NFL, and you have to make sure that you are staying on top of all of the latest news each week. Thanks for reading, and make sure that you swing by TheSportsGeek’s NFL picks page, where our team of expert handicappers bring you free NFL picks for each and every game this season!

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Jason Gray / Author

Jason is a true Las Vegas insider as he has called the sports betting capital of the world his home for sixteen years. Jason started out his career in gaming by running the biggest poker tournaments in the world and managing some of the biggest sportsbooks on the strip. Jason has transitioned out of casino operations and has been covering sports betting for the sports geek for just over two years. His main focus is on baseball, college basketball, and the NFL

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