Search icon

US Sports

23rd Nov 2014

Place Your Bets: NFL Week 12

JJ Watt and the Texans will shut down the Bengals

Gareth Makim

Only a horrendous performance by Robert Griffin and Washington’s offence prevented SportsJOE from a clean sweep of last week’s bets, so we’re going to stay well clear of the shambles in the US capital as we look through the Week 12 slate of games.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Houston Texans (Houston -1.5)
Houston have a new starter in Ryan Mallett and, while he didn’t set the world alight in his Texans debut last week against Cleveland, he was competent enough to make us think he won’t fall apart at home against the Bengals. On the other hand, it’s impossible to figure out which version of Andy Dalton will show up for Cincinnati, the one who threw three picks and couldn’t complete a third of his passes against the Browns two weeks ago or the guy who threw three touchdowns on the road in New Orleans last week. Given the presence of JJ Watt staring him down from across the line of scrimmage, I’m going for the former. Watch out for the status of Texans running back Arian Foster, who is a game time decision with a groin injury.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Chicago Bears (OVER 46 points)
Both these sides show up near the bottom five of Football Outsiders’ defensive efficiency ratings, with particular weaknesses to elite wide receivers, which happen to be the focal point of these two offences. The Bucs shut down Washington last week, but they remain a generous defence when faced with anything resembling a competent offence, and there were enough signs in last week’s win over Minnesota that Jay Cutler and receivers Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall were getting back on the same page to think the Bears can be a potent unit the rest of the season. Chicago have been equally porous at the back end (as anyone that witnessed the back-to-back 50-point humiliations in New England and Green Bay will attest), and with rookie Mike Evans emerging as a top-level deep threat with a 209-yard, two-TD explosion last week, this one could be a shootout.

St Louis Rams @ San Diego Chargers (UNDER 43.5 points)
After only putting up a single sack in the first month and a half of the season, the heralded Rams pass rush has gone into overdrive in November, racking up 13 sacks in their last three games, which have included wins over San Francisco and Denver, where they held a rattled Peyton Manning to just seven points. The Chargers are playing down reports that signal caller Philip Rivers is playing with injured ribs, but the early MVP frontrunner has noticeably cooled off in recent weeks and was never the most mobile passer to begin with, meaning he could be a sitting duck behind a patchwork offensive line. It’s hard to have much faith in the Rams offence either, as they have routinely struggled to get to 20 points for much of the season.

Tennessee Titans @ Philadelphia Eagles (Eagles -11)
This has all the makings of a big bounceback game for the Eagles after their horror show in Green Bay last week. Likewise, Tennessee are primed for a letdown coming off a short week and a big performance in a losing effort against the Steelers on Monday Night Football. It’s a lot of points to lay, so it’s fair to have a bit of caution about it, in which case the over of 48.5 points is also a decent shout.

All odds via Ladbrokes