Week 12 is upon us in the NFL, which means we are another week closer to the NFL playoffs. The contenders and the pretenders are starting to separate, with the NFL playoff picture getting tighter.
Right now, BetMGM’s NFL odds have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the favorites to win the Super Bowl at +500.
Do they deserve to be favorites, and will that change next week? First, we’ll look at the playoff standings, and then we’ll look at three exciting games between playoff contenders.
Week 12 Playoff Standings
In the NFC, the top seven teams are:
- Arizona (9-2)
- Green Bay (8-3)
- Tampa Bay (7-3)
- Dallas (7-3)
- Los Angeles (7-3)
- Minnesota (5-5)
- New Orleans (5-5)
Five teams are still in playoff contention in the NFC; San Francisco, Philadelphia, Carolina, Washington, and Atlanta are legitimate contenders to me.
In the AFC, the top seven teams are:
- Tennessee (8-3)
- Baltimore (7-3)
- New England (7-4)
- Kansas City (7-4)
- Cincinnati (6-4)
- Los Angeles (6-4)
- Buffalo (6-4)
Five teams could still compete for playoff spots in the AFC; I think Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Las Vegas, and Denver have a shot.
Now let’s look at three of the best games this week that will also impact playoff standings.
Raiders at Cowboys (-7.5)
Las Vegas has lost their last three games and is in danger of falling out of the playoff race. However, they look to bounce back against the Cowboys, who are coming off of their worst offensive performance of the season, with a season-low nine points. They may also not have their two best wide receivers (Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb).
The Raiders have an excellent opportunity to climb back into the playoffs with this game. Las Vegas has the 10th best pass defense (220.8 yards allowed per game). If Cooper and Lamb are both out this week, Dallas will have a hard time throwing the ball, which could give Vegas a chance to win.
Bills at Saints (+5.5)
Like Las Vegas, New Orleans has also lost their last three games. They host Buffalo on Thanksgiving night, who recently lost their division lead. That game will be a battle of two teams slowly falling out of the playoff race looking to get back on track.
Over the past five weeks, the Bills have been an inconsistent team. They’ve gone 2-3, losing to the Titans, Jaguars, and Colts while beating the Dolphins and Jets. Even though they’re still second in scoring defense (17.6 per game) and scoring offense (29.5), they do have some issues.
First, they rank fifth in total offensive penalty yards and tenth in defensive penalty yards. In their losses, they also have a problem with turnovers. Against the Jaguars, the Bills had three turnovers and had 118 penalty yards, and in their loss against the Colts, they had four turnovers and 56 penalty yards.
I believe that the Bills will win, but that it will be a close game. Buffalo has more talent at their skill positions, and Josh Allen should have time in the pocket to make plays against a Saints’ defense that blitzes on 23.1% of their plays but only hurries the opposing quarterback on 6.6% of dropbacks.
Bucs at Colts (+3)
Tampa Bay is looking to build another winning streak and stay in the hunt for the top seed in the NFC as they go on the road to face Indianapolis. The Colts have won their last three games and are just half a game out of a wild card spot in the AFC playoff race.
To me, this game will come down to two things: Jonathan Taylor vs. the Bucs’ defense and Tom Brady.
This season, Jonathan Taylor leads the NFL in rushing yards with 1,122 yards, but he’s going against the top-rated Tampa Bay rushing defense, which only gives up an average of 79.8 yards per game.
Meanwhile, Tom Brady and the Bucs are the best passing team in the NFL, averaging 315.6 passing yards per game. The Colts give up the 16th most passing yards per game and rank last in QB hurry percentage with 5.5%. I expect Tom Brady to pick the Colts defense apart while the Bucs limit Jonathan Taylor and force Carson Wentz to beat them.
I like the Bucs to win by a touchdown in this game.
Follow the NFL Playoff Picture
Week 12 is full of big games that may change the look of the NFL playoff picture significantly. So who do you think will rise and fall?
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