Another week in the books and it is hard to believe it is Week 12 already. The Ravens continued their tear as they crushed the Texans in a rout where Lamar Jackson threw and ran all over the Texans defense. The Patriots earned a tough road win and the 49ers survived the Cardinals in a very entertaining game. The Chargers self-destructed again as usual in Mexico City, which has put a serious dent in their playoff chances. Going into Week 12, there are a number of matchups that could affect the playoffs. The NFC has 5 teams over 8 wins with the lone deciding spot coming down to the winner of the NFC East. In the AFC, the wildcard is still open and will continue to be solidified in the coming weeks. Let’s get into the three matchups that are the most intriguing this week.
Seattle Seahawks vs Philadelphia Eagles
Seattle comes in off their bye week fresh and traveling across the country for this inter-conference clash. The Seahawks have a tough matchup here as the Philadelphia defense has been very stout since getting Mills and Darby back in the secondary. The run defense has been good all year long and the defense as a whole is #6 in DVOA. Seattle will have to put the ball in the hands of their MVP candidate in this one as Chris Carson will find it tough against this front. That may be difficult with Lockett coming back from what was thought to be a serious leg injury. They will have to rely on newly acquired Josh Gordon and rookie DK Metcalf if Lockett is hampered.
The Eagles offense will have to find a way to make explosive plays again as their offense has been bogged down especially last week as they couldn’t move the ball. The good news for Philly fans is that Seattle’s defense has struggled this year and ranks 21st in DVOA. Despite the injury to Lane Johnson, the Eagles line should be able to hold up against this Seattle pass rush which is formidable and pick apart this secondary which has given up huge numbers to subpar quarterbacks. I believe this will be a back and forth game that anyone could win and the line portrays that as the Seahawks are getting 1.5 points on the road. Some desperation at play here as the Eagles pull out all the stops and find a way to win this one at home.
My pick is the Eagles cover at home -1.5.
Dallas Cowboys vs New England Patriots
Cowboys and the Patriots get together in New England should be a fun game to watch. The Patriots have won 20 straight home games including the playoffs. The Cowboys come in after winning a game against the struggling Detroit Lions. Dak Prescott has been simply amazing this season despite the negative conversations you often hear among fans around the NFL. He is having the greatest season ever by a Cowboys quarterback by yards per passing attempt according to FiveThirtyEight and based on success rate he ranks 2nd ever trailing only Tom Brady and the ’07 Patriots. He leads the league in yards and the number of other categories. He and the Cowboys will face their stiffest competition versus this New England Patriots defense which is still #1 in the league. Teams are literally getting more yards rushing the ball (4.6 yards per attempt) than passing (4.1 yards per attempt), which is a ridiculous stat.
In this matchup, I expect the Patriots to put Stephon Gilmore on Michael Gallup and double cover Amari Cooper and dare Dak to throw to Cobb and Witten all game. Another test for the Pats defense will be if they can slow down Ezekiel Elliott in this game. The Cowboys love play-action and if they can get the run game going it could cause problems for the Patriots in this game. On the other side of the ball, the Cowboys come in with a top 10 defense. They have played very well throughout the year versus slot WR’s and will get a big test with Julian Edelman in this one. It sounds like Isiah Wynn will return for this game which is an added boost as Brady has been pressured a lot this season. With Wynn coming back and Muhammed Sanu likely out for this one look for the Patriots to attempt to run the ball in this game. They badly need the run game to come to life and with the lack of WR on the roster, this is a good time to start. I expect this game to be more of a drag it out kind of contest similar to what we saw last week in Philadelphia with the Patriots. If the Cowboys can take care of the ball I think they cover the spread but lose a close one.
My pick is the Cowboys +6.5
Green Bay Packers vs San Francisco 49ers
Green Bay is coming off of a bye week and will have to travel to play the vaunted 49ers defense on the road in Week 12. The Packers come in with a top 5 offense according to weighted DVOA. Aaron Jones and the run game has been sensational this season and has really helped upgrade this offense. Similar to the Patriots defense the 49ers are better against the pass than the run which sets up for an interesting battle. The Packers have been very good running the ball but will they commit to it with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. If the Packers stay committed to the run in this game I believe they can win it. If they attempt to win this game through the air, they will come up short.
The 49ers offense comes in after an up and down win last week beating inter-divisional foe the Arizona Cardinals. Jimmy Garoppolo will have to play better this week and prove he is the quarterback of the future of this team. There have been rumblings that Nick Mullens could run this offense just as well as Jimmy G for less the cost. Garoppolo has a good matchup here and his receivers seem to be getting better by the week. Kendrick Bourne and Deebo Samuel have stepped up and with the likes of Emmanuel Sanders also in the fold, the passing game is getting better. The running game will hope that Matt Brieda comes back soon as Tevin Coleman who flashed a few weeks ago hasn’t been able to produce the way they paid him to do in the off-season. I expect the 49ers and the home crowd to be fired up for this one. If the 49ers can take care of the ball and survive the 1st quarter barrage from the Packer offense they can win this game. The line sits at -3 for the 49ers which says that Vegas thinks that the Packers and 49ers are even teams. The 49ers are a better team and they will show it Sunday night.
My pick is the 49ers -3.
These matchups will prove to be vital in the final standings that are closing in every week. Excited to watch the MVP candidates dish it out on Sunday and Monday to see where public opinion lies at the end of it. As a little bonus pick without the breakdown, I absolutely love the Ravens against the Rams this week and believe they will win by double digits. That will wrap this week, be sure to check out unwrappedsports.com for more articles and podcasts covering your favorite topics. We also have live content from myself @semiproUSN and others on www.sportscaster.com. Lastly, follow @betsunwrapped on twitter for all your gambling needs throughout the week.
Corey Easley is a Contributor for the Unwrapped Sports Network website. Follow him @Cmoney52 on Twitter.