NFL Week 12 Underdogs: Where Can You Feast On Value Thanksgiving Week?

Written By Stephen Andress on November 24, 2021

NFL underdogs are 92-69-1 (57.1%) against the spread for the 2021 season. If a bettor wagered $100 on every underdog this season, that’d be equivalent of around a $1,500 profit. So which Week 12 NFL underdogs are most intriguing? Let’s break them down.

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Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions

Let’s get Thanksgiving started with one of Eli Hershkovich’s NFL Week 12 best bets.

Las Vegas Raiders at Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys got some very welcome news with LT Tyron Smith returning to full practice participation Tuesday, but could still be without WR CeeDee Lamb (concussion) with Amari Cooper also out (COVID-19).

Meanwhile, the Raiders are in a death spiral. It’s hard to trust Las Vegas will put up enough points to keep this close with the No. 20 DVOA offense against the No. 3 DVOA defense.

Conclusion: Pass

Buffalo Bills at New Orleans Saints

The Saints offense has serious talent issues, and now it also has injury concerns. Both running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram missed practice Tuesday. Starting tackles Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk both missed last week and were DNPs Monday, in addition to one of their fill-ins Landon Young hitting IR. Starting TE Adam Trautman will also miss 4-6 weeks.

This and below average quarterback Trevor Siemian is a frightening combination against a Buffalo defense that still ranks top two in EPA/play allowed and success rate. This appears to be a good bounce-back spot for the Bills.

Conclusion: Pass

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals

The Steelers may have covered the spread last week but needed a blocked punt, deflected ball off a helmet for an interception and a 4th and 1 stop to do so. Pittsburgh’s defense was gashed in Los Angels, allowing 7.7 yards per play to the Chargers and 41 points. But star pass rusher T.J. Watt and cornerback Joe Haden should be back this week to give a significant lift to the defense.

Cincinnati may have gotten back on track off its bye week in Las Vegas, but it still gained fewer than five yards per play and ranks outside the top 20 in DVOA offensively. A familiar divisional defense should pose a tougher challenge, and with both teams ranking bottom five in first half pace, along with the Bengals ranking 31st in situation neutral pace, the elements are here to keep this game close.

The Bengals already beat the Steelers by two touchdowns earlier this year, but look for an in-game opportunity to take the Steelers at a touchdown or more if you want to back this NFL Week 12 underdogs option.

Potential Underdog Angle: Steelers +7 or better live
Best Available Line: Steelers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Indianapolis Colts

Is there a hotter team among NFL Week 12 underdogs than Indianapolis? Probably not, but this is a more difficult matchup for the Colts high-powered rushing attack. Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians said star defensive lineman Vita Vea should play this week for a unit that ranks No. 4 in rush defense DVOA. Even Dak Prescott was calling audible after audible out of run calls Week 1 with an elite offensive line and elite backs against this Tampa Bay defensive front.

For the Colts defense, it’s also a much stiffer test. Tampa Bay is the top DVOA offense in the league. Buffalo had red flags even before last week’s loss and is now down to the No. 18 DVOA offense. It’s not the same matchup for the Colts ninth-ranked DVOA defense that just feasted on a unit with injured offensive linemen.

Conclusion: Pass

Carolina Panthers at Miami Dolphins

Cam Newton was an improvement over Sam Darnold in his return to the NFL, but that was also one of the lowest bars ever. Ultimately, Newton could not beat the No. 30 DVOA Washington defense. Now he has to face a Dolphins defense that is looking more like the 2020 version of itself. Over the past four weeks, Miami ranks No. 4 in EPA/play defense, a stretch that includes games against the Bills and Ravens defenses.

The Miami offense will likely have its own issues too though against the Panthers’ top-10 defense. The line has moved from a pick ’em at re-open to Carolina as a slight road favorite. With the total at a lowly , this sets up nicely to tease the home dog through the key numbers of three and 7.

Potential Underdog Angle: Dolphins teaser leg +8 or better
Best Available Line: Dolphins

Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots

The look-ahead line of Patriots -3 was never correct. Flaws in the Titans offense since losing Derrick Henry and Julio Jones coupled with an elite New England defense is a horrible combination.

Conclusion: Pass

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants

The Eagles have played incredibly well over the past month. Philadelphia’s offense is No. 2 and No. 6 in its last four games in EPA/play and Success Rate, respectively. Jalen Hurts appears to be evolving and improving as well, with the No. 2 dropback EPA over that span.

The Eagles have gone run heavy since demolishing the Lions, sitting top-five in rush EPA/play and SR over the past month and face a Giants front that’s 30th and dead last against the run in those advanced metrics.

The Giants finally fired Jason Garrett as offensive coordinator, but I still fear for Daniel Jones’ life with an offensive line that is a complete mismatch against Philadelphia’s front four. Philly is middle of the pack in hurry and QB knockdown percentage, despite ranking bottom three in blitz percentage.

Conclusion: Pass, but consider the Eagles live at -3 or better

Atlanta Falcons at Jacksonville Jaguars

I just don’t want to watch this terrible game, nor do I want to back Urban Meyer.

Conclusion: Pass

New York Jets at Houston Texans

I think the Jets are live here. Early-season interception machine Zach Wilson is back, but perhaps some time learning the offense while he was recovering from injury will do him good in a soft landing spot here. New York’s offensive scheme has proven effective in moving the ball with THREE DIFFERENT QUARTERBACKS!

New York posted 6.6, 6.5 and 6.4 yards per pass against the Bengals, Colts and Dolphins, respectively, with Mike White, Josh Johnson and Joe Flacco all playing the majority of snaps in one of those games. 

Meanwhile, Tyrod Taylor’s return has not been as successful as the first couple of weeks of the season. Taylor struggled in posting 4.1 YPA and three picks for just nine points against the Dolphins. Last week, Houston won, but that was despite 4.5 YPA from the QB. The Texans upset win over the Titans was more about a +5 turnover differential.

Potential Underdog Angle: Jets +3 or if line is +2.5, a +8.5 teaser leg
Best Available Line:

Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos

Mo’s midseason NFL power ratings had the Chargers about four points better than the Broncos before last week’s games. With the Los Angels offense getting back on track and dropping 40+ on Pittsburgh last week, it’s hard to back Denver right now at less than a field goal, even in Mile High.

Conclusion: Pass

Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers

This underdog is another one of Eli Hershkovich’s best bets this week.

Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers

Going into last week, TheLines senior writer Mo Nuwwarah posted his midseason NFL power ratings based on closing spreads so far this season. He had the 49ers and Vikings rated evenly. Since then, the Vikings beat the Packers, and the 49ers thumped the Jaguars.

That was enough to move the 49ers off -2.5 on the look-ahead line to a key number and maybe even to -3.5? I disagree with that line move.

San Francisco has been extremely run heavy its past two games, with Jimmy Garoppolo not even reaching 25 pass attempts in either game. Long offensive drives have taken a physical toll on defenses, but those long drives have also relied on 3rd down efficiency. The 49ers are 14 of 26 (54%) on 3rd down in their back-to-back wins and top three in the league on 3rd down over their past three games. For the season, the Niners rank just 23rd. Is regression coming against the Vikings?

Meanwhile, Kirk Cousins is putting together a dark horse NFL MVP campaign with only two interceptions and the second-best passer rating in the league. Cousins ranks top five in dropback EPA and will face a 49ers defensive unit ranked 21st in dropback EPA/play allowed.

Potential Underdog Angle: Vikings +3.5
Best Available Line: Vikings

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens

The Browns have failed to score 20 points in five of their past six games, and Lamar Jackson returned to practice to prepare for a team he has posted 12 total touchdowns against in his last four games against them. There are NFL Week 12 underdogs with more reliable offenses to consider.

Conclusion: Pass

Seattle Seahawks at Washington Football Team

This opinion is based on Russell Wilson not popping up with any injury report concerns, but among NFL Week 12 underdogs, this looks like a potential all-time buy low spot on Russell Wilson. Yes, he’s look horrible since coming back, but it was also against solid Green Bay and Arizona defenses. This week, he faces a defense ranked 30th in dropback EPA, overall DVOA and pass DVOA.

Either D.K. Metcalf or Tyler Lockett should have plenty of opportunities for big plays against No. 2 CB William Jackson III, who is graded outside the top 100 corners by PFF. Star pass rusher Chase Young is also on IR for the Football Team.

Potential Underdog Angle: Seahawks ML
Best Available Line: Seahawks

 

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Written by
Stephen Andress

Stephen Andress joined Catena Media as Managing Editor of TheLines.com in March 2021. He began his career as a sports anchor and reporter in Eugene, OR before moving to Louisville, KY. There he covered the Kentucky Derby, Sugar Bowl and three consecutive Final Fours. Stephen later won an Emmy award while working for the Indianapolis Colts. More recently, he produced content for the PGA TOUR and multiple fantasy football and sports betting websites. Nothing has excited him more in his career than seeing legalized sports betting in the United States and the opportunity to share his knowledge and enthusiasm for it. His hobbies include kicking his high school friends' butts in fantasy football, Japanese whisky and Kentucky bourbon, golf outrights and supporting RIP Medical Debt, a charity which works to wipe out medical bills for those who have been unable to cover the cost of getting sick.

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