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WEEK 12 Record: 2-2
YEAR-TO-DATE Record: 28-21
A Rest Advantage in the NFC East
We’re in a bit of a dog days time of year in the NFL. Approximately three months of the regular season have been played but there’s still over a month to go. Therefore this profiles as the perfect time of year where we’ll look to exploit rest advantages in the NFL schedule, particularly involving the small handful of teams that have yet to go on their bye week. The Washington Commanders are one of those teams, sitting at 7-5 and currently occupying one of the NFC wild card slots. Washington got a bit of a fortunate break late in its game last week against Atlanta as Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota had a ball deflected and intercepted in the end zone with just over a minute to play in regulation. The Commanders went on to run out the rest of the clock and win 19-13 for their seventh victory of the year. It was easily a game Washington could have lost and phony final scores are always worth fading in the following week. Now factor in Washington playing for the 13th consecutive week in the NFL season, traveling to MetLife Stadium for a critical divisional bout with the New York Giants, a team that had to sit on a Thanksgiving divisional loss in Dallas for a while and enters with a week and a half to prepare. That’s not exactly a recipe for success for the Commanders. The wrong team is favored in North Jersey on Sunday. Back the Giants +2.5.
Let’s stay in the NFC East and make the short trip from MetLife Stadium to Lincoln Financial Field for our next spot. The Philadelphia Eagles host the Tennessee Titans in the marquee game in the early window on Sunday afternoon. While the Eagles sit at 10-1, if you’ve watched them for the last few games, you might have noticed a dip in quality. For starters, their first loss came in Week 10 against Washington. They’ve struggled to defend the run, something we chronicled in a situational spot a couple weeks ago when the Eagles failed to cover in Indianapolis against the Colts as touchdown road favorites. The run defense problems for the Eagles continued last week against the Packers as the Eagles gave up five yards per carry and over 100 rushing yards and were fortunate that Green Bay’s run defense was 10 times worse in the 40-33 win for Philly. Jordan Davis might return on Sunday in the middle of Philly’s defense line, but does this sound like a defense prepared to face Derrick Henry? Now consider Mike Vrabel is 21-7 against the spread as an underdog of at least three points and the Titans feel like the only side you can play in this game. Tennessee burned us last week, but we’ll go back to the well with the Titans in Week 13 and take them +5.
Fat and Happy Jags
There were not a ton of signature moments or storylines from NFL Week 12. But one of the better games was played in Florida as the Jacksonville Jaguars rallied in the 4th quarter behind Trevor Lawrence and converted a two-point conversion in the final seconds to upset the Baltimore Ravens 28-27. After a disjointed rookie season for Lawrence thanks in large part to Urban Meyer’s ineptitude, the hiring of Doug Pederson was supposed to bring some much-needed stability to Lawrence’s development. Sunday was the first real sign Lawrence showed of being that can’t-miss prospect everyone raved about when he was at Clemson. It was a come-from-behind win against a playoff team that should give Jags fans hope for the future under Pederson with Lawrence under center. As for the immediate future, are the Jags prepared to match the intensity they had last week against Baltimore when they travel to Detroit to take on the Lions? I tend to think they are not. Detroit has continued to play hard for Dan Campbell, as last week was its fourth straight cover, losing by three points at home to Buffalo on Thanksgiving. The Lions won the three games prior to the Bills game and the wins have given Campbell some clear evidence of progress as opposed to having to continue to note the team’s effort always being good in losses. Now that the Lions have a taste of winning, and nearly got another one against a Super Bowl contender last week, I’m betting on them being the hungrier team on Sunday at home and taking them +1.
An AFC East Team With Some Added Rest Too
Let’s end with another rest note that we want to attack in Week 13. The Miami Dolphins returned from their bye week last week with a blowout win over the Houston Texans. The 30-15 final score is not indicative of the kind of game that was in South Florida as Miami got up 30-0 and pulled several starters including quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in the third quarter. It might as well have been a second bye week in a row for the Dolphins. This week, Miami travels cross country in a matchup of two coaches that know each other well as Mike McDaniel squares off with Kyle Shanahan. It will be fascinating to see McDaniel’s offensive weaponry go up against DeMeco Ryans’ defense which just pitched a shutout last week against New Orleans. My money is going to be on the rested offensive skill players for Miami making enough plays to cover as short road dogs. We’re on Dolphins +4.
By Greg Frank
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