Good Morning, Bolts From the Blue!
Week 12 got started early with an exciting Thanksgiving triple header and an extra Black Friday treat but Sunday’s games are equally as enticing with three games that stand out to me before our Chargers take on the Baltimore Ravens on prime time. The Bolts are 4-6 and if they lose this game at SoFi Stadium then I think the season is all but officially over. For a must win game there couldn’t be a more challenging opponent to face in all of football. John Harbaugh’s team had some of the best form in the entire league, defeating some division leaders handily along the way to becoming 8-3 and in position to be the number one seed in the AFC come January. Brandon Staley will have to pull off an incredible single game plan like Gus Bradley did in 2018’s wildcard playoff game in order to slow down Lamar Jackson and this Ravens’ offense. If that miracle happens then Justin Herbert will have the daunting task of dismantling one of the league’s best defenses who are conceding a mere 16.1 points per game. Needless to say, this is a steep mountain to conquer if the Chargers want to keep their season alive.
An AFC South showdown awaits us in the early window when the Houston Texans play host to the Jacksonville Jaguars in an exciting game for many reasons. The primary one being C.J. Stroud who has been an absolute revelation, his incredible rookie season has actually put him in the running for the MVP award on a team that finished 3-13-1 last season. DeMeco Ryans has done a great job turning this team around so quickly but his team are still below Doug Pederson’s Jacksonville Jaguars in the division but this game could set up an exciting finish as whoever wins this gains control over the lead spot going into the last month of the regular season. DraftKings Sportsbook have the Jaguars as narrow favorites and I’d agree with this stance as Trevor Lawrence and Calvin Ridley saw a renewal of the dangerous connection we saw earlier in the season when they combined for two touchdowns in their Week 11 rout of the Tennessee Titans. For me this duo gives them an edge over the Texans who, whilst playing admirably, are a less talented roster on both sides of the ball, therefore I’d take both the spread at -110 and moneyline at -122.
The next game I’ll be paying attention to is a defensive contest between the Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos. The Browns are another elite defense with Myles Garrett leading the charge by playing with the kind of dominant football to put him as favorite to win his first DPOTY award. The Broncos are not the same team that lost five of their first six games including a 50 point humiliation at the hands of the Miami Dolphins. Sean Payton has completely turned this team around to win four straight against potential playoff teams inclusive of huge wins against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills. Since their Week 5 loss to the Jets they haven’t allowed more than 22 points and over their last four games they have allowed only 205 passing yards per game and a total of five touchdowns conceded compared to six grabbing interceptions. Overall this game is going to be scrappy and ugly which might not appeal to the masses but it should be a good schematic battle. Dorian Thompson-Robinson, the Browns’ current starting quarterback, is under pressure to perform better than his recent outings due to Joe Flacco arriving in Berea this week and I think this makes a key difference. Russell Wilson and his offensive weapons have not faced a defense this strong on their win streak and I think it comes to a grinding halt. I’d take the point and a half spread at -110 and even though the total mark is a tiny 36 I would still take the under at -108.
Lastly, we have a midseason treat as the AFC’s Buffalo Bills travel to Lincoln Field to take on the NFC’s Philadelphia Eagles in a game many people thought would be a Super Bowl preview back in August. One team has held up their end of the bargain as the Eagles are 8-1 and leading the NFC race for the number one seed, they might not have blown teams away but they proved they know how to grind out wins when outlasting the Chiefs last week. The Bills however have been a disappointment on both sides of the ball, injuries exposed their defensive depth and their failure to turn yards to points led to Ken Dorsery losing his job as Sean McDermott’s offensive coordinator. Josh Allen’s heroics just haven’t been enough to make up for a lack of dynamic plays on third down and it has left this team reeling at 6-5. The Eagles are a tough team that can win in a variety of ways and Jalen Hurts’ legs will always bail them out even if A.J. Brown is double covered. I think they’ll win this one by more than the field goal spread on offer at -115 however the total is one I’ll be avoiding as this could go either way with Bills’ resurgence on either side of the ball.
Here is how the BFTB staff sees this game breaking down:
What do you think, BFTB? Are any of you placing bets across the holiday?