The NFL’s Week 12 schedule is a full one with all 32 teams in action. After the holiday games are over, don’t sleep on what’s coming Sunday with matchups like Steelers-Bengals, Chiefs-Raiders, and the true game of the week in Bills-Eagles.
Will Steelers Fall to Backup QB Again?
The Steelers were 6-3 when they got the news that Deshaun Watson (Browns) and Joe Burrow (Bengals) were out for the season with injuries. Those were their next 2 opponents. But Pittsburgh already blew the Cleveland rematch, losing 13-10 to rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
Now, the Steelers draw Cincinnati’s Jake Browning, who has been floating around the league since he went undrafted in 2019. This will be his 1st start, but do not expect a cakewalk for the Steelers. Browning could even outplay Kenny Pickett if the last few weeks are any indication.
The Bengals are a 1-point home underdog with a small total of 34.5 points. We are looking at the over for this one.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Sunday, November 26, 2023 – 01:00 PM ET at Paycor Stadium
Why the Steelers Should Score More
The AFC North is known for its physical and tough brand of football. But if you look at some of the games this year, the Browns beat the Ravens 33-31, and the Ravens then beat the Bengals 34-20. Even the first Browns-Steelers game this season in Week 2 ended 26-22 thanks to a pair of defensive return touchdowns by Pittsburgh.
An AFC North game is not an automatic under, and for the Steelers, they better start scoring more points, or offensive coordinator Matt Canada and quarterback Kenny Pickett are going to lose their jobs.
Things were especially bad for Pickett in a 13-10 loss in Cleveland where Jaylen Warren did all the work for the few points Pittsburgh scored. Pickett is supposed to be clutch, but he was not on Sunday, throwing 3 straight incompletions in a fast 3-and-out drive that led to Cleveland’s game-winning field goal.
A lot of people have turned on Pickett and are starting to see how the quarterback with the lowest touchdown pass rate (1.9%) in NFL history is a huge part of the problem in Pittsburgh.
Pickett has started 22 games in the NFL and only has 1 game with multiple touchdown passes. Even Tommy DeVito, an undrafted rookie on the Giants, has thrown 5 touchdowns over his last 2 games, so this is not something you can just blame on Pittsburgh’s coaching staff. Pickett is struggling and missing throws left and right – but never in the middle of the field since he never uses it.
To Pickett’s credit, he has one game in his career where he led the Steelers to 30 points, and it was his only start against Cincinnati last season. Don’t expect him to repeat that total, but he should be able to deliver more points this week.
His job security depends on it.
Why the Bengals Are Not Dead Without Joe Burrow
If you go back to the 2020 season when the Steelers were also in an offensive funk after starting that season 10-0, you’ll find an embarrassing loss in Cincinnati as a 14.5-point road favorite.
Zac Taylor’s Bengals lost rookie Joe Burrow for the year to a torn ACL, but they still had games to play. Ryan Finley started at quarterback and Taylor had him throw only 13 passes that night. The Bengals leaned on the run, played aggressive defense, and they won 27-17 in one of the worst losses for Mike Tomlin.
That was with Ben Roethlisberger too. The Bengals know they have a shot in this one against Pickett, and even if things look bleak for the playoffs in a crowded AFC, knocking out their hated rival from Pittsburgh is important to this team.
The Bengals still have one of the best wide receivers in the league in Ja’Marr Chase. They have Tyler Boyd, who has some big plays against Pittsburgh in the past. They have Joe Mixon in the backfield, and he’s had some strong games.
This is not like the Jets, who were going to fall apart once Aaron Rodgers went down in Week 1. Browning flashed a few good completions in his first real work in a real NFL game after Burrow was injured against Baltimore. It’s not likely that Browning has a big game, but again, when Tommy DeVito is dropping 3 touchdowns on a defense in this league for the Giants, anything is possible this season.
We thought the final score was a little generous for the spread, but do not underestimate the Steelers making Browning look good. The Browns weren’t afraid to let a rookie throw 43 passes against T.J. Watt and the defense last week despite never trailing in a very low-scoring game. The Bengals need to trust Browning too and show the team has a little more than just Joe Burrow to it.
With another absurdly low under for the 2023 season, we will take the over to hit this week for your NFL picks.
Score Prediction: Bengals 20 – Steelers 16
Chiefs in Trouble?
The Kansas City Chiefs (7-3) blew a 10-point lead to the Eagles on Monday night in one of the more stunning games in the Patrick Mahomes era. Once again, Kansas City’s limited receivers let the offense down. The Chiefs look to rebound against a Vegas team it usually has great success against, but this is the first meeting for interim coach Antonio Pierce, who has the team playing hard and 3-0 ATS under his watch.
The Chiefs are a 9-point road favorite with a total of 44 points. We are going to approach this game from 2 angles to show why the under is setting up nicely here.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Sunday, November 26, 2023 – 04:25 PM ET at Allegiant Stadium
Why a Vegas Cover Favors the Under
If the Raiders (+9) are going to make things difficult on the Chiefs in this one, they must keep the score down. There is no way rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell can be trusted to win a shootout with Patrick Mahomes, who rarely loses 2 in a row.
The Raiders hung around this way on the road last week in Miami, holding the No. 1 scoring team to 20 points. They only lost 20-13 and had their chances late. This is the kind of game the Raiders need this week.
Kansas City’s defense is still great. The Raiders are going to struggle to score as the Chiefs have corners who can limit Davante Adams the way they held Philadelphia’s A.J. Brown to 1 catch and kept Tyreek Hill under 70 yards in Germany. Josh Jacobs has struggled to run the ball for most of the year.
A close game for Vegas means Maxx Crosby is putting the pressure on Mahomes and making him rush throws to those receivers who aren’t making plays right now. The Chiefs also have not scored after halftime in 3 straight games.
Why a Kansas City Cover Favors the Under
If the Chiefs are going to win this one by double digits to cover the spread, they will likely do it by dominating a Vegas offense that averages 16.8 points per game this year. Now they have a rookie quarterback, and veterans like Jalen Hurts, Russell Wilson, and Tua Tagovailoa have struggled with the Chiefs in the last month.
The Chiefs have not scored more than 21 points in 4 of their last 5 games. They already have more games this season (6) without more than 21 points than they’ve had in any other season under Mahomes since 2018.
But we have seen the Chiefs win a 19-8 game against Denver this year. They beat the Raiders 31-13 last season in Week 18, a total that would push this year’s mark. But the Chiefs were much stronger offensively at that point than they are now.
If they are going to win by double digits now, it’s more like 24-14 for this team in this condition.
The high-scoring Chiefs just may be taking the year off until they find better receivers. Maybe they should have traded for Davante Adams before the deadline. We saw the computer score and it felt like a good one for a divisional game for a team coming off a rough loss. We’ll trust the Chiefs to go under again as they hold the Raiders down on the scoreboard and look to figure things out offensively.
Score Prediction: Chiefs 22 – Raiders 16
Will Bills and Eagles Turn into a Shootout?
There is still plenty of room on the Buffalo bandwagon after the Bills (6-5) won their first game after firing offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey. But we will see how much of an issue that was when they take on the Philadelphia Eagles, who continue to win the close games with an 8-1 record in them this year.
The Bills love winning blowouts, the Eagles love winning close games this year. But our best bet is not with the 3.5-point spread that favors the Eagles. We are looking at the over 47.5 points.
Buffalo Bills vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, November 26, 2023 – 04:25 PM ET at Lincoln Financial Field
Lest We Forget, Buffalo Is Very Good
Statistically, Buffalo is one of the best teams in the league this year. The Bills just struggle with turning the ball over, which comes back to haunt them in close losses to teams like the Jets, Patriots, Bengals, and Broncos.
But with one more stop in New England and one fewer player on the field for the field goal against Denver, this team would be 8-3 right now and right up there for the Super Bowl odds. Funny how that works, because none of those moments involved fired offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, who became the scapegoat for this team’s loss to the Broncos.
In their first game without Dorsey, the Bills won 32-6 over the Jets, a team about to fall apart. The Bills only had 1 turnover, and it was Josh Allen throwing an interception on a Hail Mary to get to halftime. No big deal, but that’s not the first time this year he threw a low-risk pick. It’s not about the number of turnovers. It’s about the impact on winning and losing the game.
The Bills still moved the ball at a high rate and consistently under Dorsey. They can do it in this game if they avoid those pesky turnovers. The Eagles forced the Chiefs into a couple of red-zone turnovers, which is why Kansas City only scored 17 points. Not to mention all the dropped passes on the last drive, including that dropped bomb by Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The Eagles could have easily allowed 24-plus points in that game, and we’ve already seen them allow 31 twice to Sam Howell and the Commanders, and Kirk Cousins and Dak Prescott also had games with 23-to-28 points on the road in Philly this year.
The defense is not as strong in Philadelphia this year as it was in last year’s Super Bowl run. Fortunately, the offense makes up for that. So, Josh Allen better come prepared, because this can be a real high-scoring game.
Eagles Will Enjoy Going Home
The Eagles looked rough for 3 quarters in Kansas City on Monday night, but maybe things will get better at home. There shouldn’t be rain like there was on Monday, the crowd will be for them instead of one of the loudest going against them, and they are facing a Buffalo defense that plays spirited football, but it has lost some key contributors to injuries.
This could be a good rushing game for the Eagles as the Bills are ranked 28th in yards per carry allowed. Jalen Hurts and his receivers will look to bounce back after everyone but DeVonta Smith was silent against Kansas City’s secondary. The Bills lost corner Tre’Davious White, so they lack that top assignment taker in the secondary.
The Eagles have scored at least 28 points in every home game this season. If the Bills can allow 29 points to Mac Jones and the Patriots, 28 points to the Eagles in Philly is more than possible.
When we saw the computer predict 28-23 and a Philadelphia win, it reminded us of the Eagles’ 28-23 win at home against Dallas. That was a very fun game to watch with both offenses showing up. Maybe this game can be the same way.
The other nice thing is this will be a late-afternoon game as the prime-time games have just been horror shows for overs and good offense this year. It’s a shame more people won’t get to see this one live, but maybe it will be for the better if the offenses can deliver a classic shootout in an important game for both conferences’ playoff races.
Score Prediction: Eagles 28 – Bills 23
NFL Pick: Over 47.5 (-110) at BetOnline
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.