NFL Power Rankings Week 12
Do you remember how early on this season the underdogs were covering the spread at an astronomical and completely unsustainable rate? Well, regression has struck - sort of - and NFL underdogs have been a lot less potent over the last five weeks than in the opening six weeks of the season. Well, some underdogs that is.
Overall, NFL underdogs are now 89-69 against the spread this season. That is a healthy 56.3 percent clip. Considering that they were covering at over 61 percent through the first month of the year, you can see that things have started to even out. And with six weeks remaining in the regular season, I would wager that favorites will beat out the underdogs down the stretch.
However, if you dig a little deeper, you will see that road underdogs are still beating the books at over a 60 percent rate. For the season, road dogs are 62-41, good for a 60.2 percent success rate. That is unheard of.
One of the long-time betting maxims in the NFL has always been to tout the home underdogs. Well, home dogs have been below 50-50 this year. They have gone just 18-36-1 straight up on the season while producing an ugly 27-28 mark against the spread.
Here is Doc's Sports NFL Power Rankings:
1. New England Patriots (9-1) - Bill Belichick lives for games like these against the Cowboys. The Patriots defense has the gaudy numbers this year. But the only time they faced a running game as potent as the Cowboys' they got lit up for 37 points by the Ravens. Can Belichick figure out a way to shut down the Dallas running attack? The Patriots are 22-10 ATS against teams with a winning record and 43-18 ATS in their last 61 games at home.
2. New Orleans Saints (8-2) - I think the Saints should be more careful with Alvin Kamara. I understand that they want to earn a first-round bye and (potentially) home-field advantage in the playoffs. But at what cost? I don't care how good Latavius Murray has been this year. He's not Alvin Kamara. The Saints are quietly on a 7-1 ATS run. They have as difficult of a week as anyone, taking on two division rivals (Carolina and Atlanta) in a five-day stretch.
3. Baltimore Ravens (8-2) - I said it the day after the draft: the Browns were idiots for taking Baker Mayfield No. 1. They could've had Saquon Barkley, Denzel Ward and Lamar Jackson instead of Mayfield, Ward and Nick Chubb. That's why the Ravens are the Ravens and the Browns are the Browns. Baltimore is 10-4 ATS in its last 14 games on Monday Night Football, and they are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games on the road.
4. San Francisco 49ers (9-1) - Don't be fooled by Jimmy Gaoppolo's numbers; he was not good against Arizona. Both of his interceptions were horrific. And that's the type of decision making that makes me think that the 49ers have a much lower playoff ceiling than their record suggests. San Francisco is just 9-21 ATS against teams with winning records.
5. Green Bay Packers (8-2) - If I'm a Packers backer this week, the thing that would worry me is their rushing defense. The teams that have had success against Green Bay this year are the teams that could run the ball on them. That makes this a bad matchup for the Pack against San Francisco's No. 2 ranked rushing offense.
6. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4) - I will give a tip of the cap to the Chiefs defense for how it played in the second half against the Chargers, holding Los Angeles to around 100 yards and generating enough turnovers to seal the win. But they still allowed nearly 350 yards in the first half! And it was by sheer ineptitude that they managed those turnovers. Kansas City has what I call an accidental defense. What that means is that any stop they get is almost purely by accident. You can only win so much like that.
7. Seattle Seahawks (8-2) - The public is absolutely all in on the Seahawks this week, with nearly 75 percent of the action in this game coming in on Seattle. The Seahawks are 6-3 straight up out of a bye week under Pete Carroll. They are 5-1 after a week of rest with Russell Wilson under center. Seattle is also 5-1 ATS in their last six road games.
8. Minnesota Vikings (8-3) - Yes, it is great that Kirk Cousins had another big game and that he led the Vikings to a dramatic comeback win. But what the hell are the Vikings doing falling behind 20-0 to the Broncos in the first place? This is a great time for the Vikings to have a bye week.
9. Los Angeles Rams (6-4) - Los Angeles' offensive yards per point over the last three weeks is at 20.0, which is dismal. Kick out the 37 points scored against the Falcons, and Los Angeles has scored an average of just 15 points per game in their other four games since Oct. 4. The Rams are 0-5 against the total in their last five and just 2-7 against the total in their last nine games. We'll see if the defense can hold up against Baltimore's overwhelming offense.
10. Houston Texans (6-4) - I'm not going to overreact to one game. If the officials had called that obvious pass interference early on, that entire Baltimore game may have gone differently. Houston just blew too many early chances. The Texans will have to overcome some ugly trends this week. They are 0-7 ATS at home against the Colts and 1-5 ATS in the last six meetings. The Texans are just 2-7 ATS on Thursday games and just 2-8 ATS against teams above .500.
11. Dallas Cowboys (6-4) - A win is a win. But the Cowboys did everything they could to try to blow that game to Detroit. The Cowboys still don't have a win over a team that is currently over .500 on the season. This is their first trip to Foxboro since 2011, and I think that the weather, the coaching disparity, and Tom Brady are going to put these Boys in their place.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (5-5) - That was yet another terrible drop by Nelson Agholor late in the game against the Patriots. Would it have been a somewhat difficult catch? Sure. But that was an amazing throw, and Agholor has to make that play. Pro Football Focus has Agholor rated as the No. 124 receiver (of 124) in the NFL. Maybe the question shouldn't be, "Why can't a receiver catch?" But maybe the question is, "Why are they trying to make that throw to him?"
13. Indianapolis Colts (6-4) - The Colts are now 1-7 straight up without T.Y. Hilton in the lineup. He is still questionable for this Thursday's huge game with Houston . Marlon Mack is already listed as out, and Jacoby Brissett is still not 100 percent. The secondary has also been shredded by injuries in recent weeks, and I just don't know that Indianapolis will have enough healthy bodies to go on the road and sweep the Texans.
14. Carolina Panthers (5-5) - The wheels have come off the Kyle Allen train. And it looks like this derailment might be what takes down Ron Rivera and ends his tenure in Carolina. Forget Cam Newton: the Panthers first need to make a decision on Rivera's future. The Panthers are 3-0 ATS in their last three games against the Saints, and the underdog is 9-1 ATS in the last 10 in this series. The road team is 25-11 ATS, and the Panthers are 14-5 ATS in New Orleans.
15. Oakland Raiders (6-4) - This is a really tough spot for the Raiders. They have to travel across the country for the dreaded 10 a.m. PST start. And they are in a killer look-ahead situation this week with a big game against the Chiefs on deck. This might be the week that all of Oakland's travel this season catches up to them. Oakland is just 3-8 ATS on the road and 5-16 ATS after a win.
16. Buffalo Bills (7-3) - I simply refuse to move the Bills up any further than this. They just haven't played anyone. And the fact that this week's game against 3-7 Denver marks some kind of 'test' for them tells you everything you need to know about their schedule. That said, Buffalo is on a 9-3 ATS run overall, and they are 7-2 ATS in their last nine conference games.
17. Los Angeles Chargers (4-7) - I don't know how coaches can teach ball security and just, you know, catching and holding onto the ball. But whatever it is, Anthony Lynn needs to practice more of it. Chargers games should feature the Benny Hill soundtrack. Dropped passes, fumbled punts, interceptions; these guys just can't ever seem to hang onto the ball.
18. Tennessee Titans (5-5) - Be sure to check the injury report this week for the status on Delanie Walker and Jurrell Casey. Not only are they two of Tennessee's best players, but also they are two of the leaders of the team. If the Titans are going to make a legit run down the stretch - and they have the schedule to - then they will need all hands on deck. The home team is 8-2 SU and ATS in the Jaguars series, and the Titans have covered four straight at home against Jacksonville.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5) - Lost in the ending of that Cleveland-Pittsburgh game is the fact that Mason Rudolph looks really, really bad. I know that the Steelers skill position players have been banged up and inconsistent. But Rudolph misses way, way too many throws. He is airmailing balls that any competent NFL quarterback should be completing, regardless of who is on the receiving end. I think that this Steelers team is going to bottom out over the next month, and this looks like a team to bet against.
20. Chicago Bears (4-6) - Mitch Bortles is a broken man. But I don't believe the Bears should bench him the rest of this season. It think just getting reps and gaining experience is important for a quarterback that really hasn't had a ton of time under center in his career, dating back to college. The Bears play three weak defenses the next three weeks (Giants, Lions and Cowboys) and this could be a stretch for Trubisky to gain some confidence.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-6) - There is no way in hell that Jacksonville should've gone back to Nick Foles right away. They know what they have in Foles, who is not healthy and not at all in rhythm after 10 weeks on the shelf. They need to know what they have in Gardner Minshew, who had provided a spark for this offense. Doing so would set up a legit quarterback competition for next year and also give you a potential trading chip to a QB-needed team (Tampa Bay!) this offseason.
22. Cleveland Browns (4-6) - You don't need to hear my hot take on the Myles Garrett situation. There has been an abundance of them over the past week. I thought most of it was hilarious, frankly, topped only by the pearl-clutching responses over the past seven days. Football is violent. Don't be stunned when people act violently. The Browns are absolutely undisciplined losers and no level of their stupidity surprises me at this point. I have no idea how they are favored by 11 points over anyone.
23. Denver Broncos (3-7) - That is now three games this year that the Broncos have blown in the final minutes. Is that a symptom of what will be a Vic Fangio game management problem? I don't really think so. I think it has been a combination of shaky quarterback play, inferior talent, and bad luck. Denver is on a 5-1 ATS run and probably should be 5-1 SU in those games rather than 2-3. They are a potential spoiler this December.
24. Detroit Lions (3-6-1) - I have no idea why Matt Patricia punted on 4th-and-26 with his team down eight and 2:13 to play. Were the Lions going to pick up 4 th-and-26? Probably not. But a defensive penalty or a big grab by beast Kenny Golladay is at least a chance. Just have Jeff Driskel throw it up there. If it gets intercepted 30 yards down field, who cares? It's as good as a punt. But at least you were giving yourself a chance. Matt Patricia is slowly but surely entering Romeo Crennel territory.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-7) - I will continue to scream it until people stop writing articles wondering, "What will Bruce Arians do with Jameis Winston?" Winston is a loser. He has always been a loser. He will always be a loser. He is the singular reason that I will not bet on the Bucs, even if I like their value. The guy is just a turnover waiting to happen, and absolutely no amount of coaching is ever going to change that.
26. Arizona Cardinals (3-7-1) - Despite their records, Denver and Arizona are the two teams that I wouldn't want to have to deal with if I were a touchdown or double-digit favorite down the stretch.
27. Atlanta Falcons (3-7) - Matt Ryan credited Dan Quinn for the Falcons resurgence the last two weeks. That's a problem. Because if the Falcons continue to play well down the stretch, that may just convince Art Blank to keep Quinn on when it is blatantly obvious that he needs to go. I give the Falcons defense one, maybe two more weeks of playing well. And we will see if Dirk Koetter can help his new team prepare to face his old team here in Week 12 .
28. New York Jets (3-7) - Wins over the Giants and Redskins - in which the defense allowed 44 points - does not count as a resurgence. The Jets do have a situational advantage over the Raiders this week. And a third straight win, even if it is just Oakland, would at least draw some attention. The home team is 9-2 ATS in the Raiders series. The Jets are still just 6-14 ATS in their last 20 games and 2-7 ATS against teams above .500.
29. Miami Dolphins (2-8) - This is all you need to know about how helpless the Dolphins are this year: they are No. 32 in the NFL in rushing with just 60.3 yards per game and defensively they are No. 31 against the run while allowing 148.3 yards per game. They are getting outrushed by 90 yards per game! That is total physical domination at the hands of your opponents. Somehow this team is on a 5-1 ATS run, but they are just 5-12 ATS in their last 17 road games.
30. New York Giants (2-7) - It's tough to know what to expect out of the Giants this week. I mean, do you really think that Pat Shurmur put that extra week to good use formulating some diabolical scheme to crack the Bears defense? And do you really think the players on a 2-7 team that is going nowhere kept any of their focus on football over the last two weeks? Assuming teams coming off a bye will be "fresh" and "ready to go" is the most overrated betting angle in football.
31. Washington Redskins (1-9) - That was a breathtaking display of total football incompetence by the Redskins on Sunday. They have scored just six offensive touchdowns over the last eight weeks. Four of those six touchdowns have come in garbage time, starting when the Skins were down 28-3 to the Bears and when they were down 34-3 to the Jets. Washington is just 1-6 against the total in their last seven games.
32. Cincinnati Bengals (0-10) - There should be some kind of Emily Post-type standard for how early you can put up your Christmas tree. My wife made me drag ours out last week while she and the kids decorated the rest of the house. Nov. 16 seems a little excessive. But then again, it is with 40 days of Our Lord and Savior's birth. And 40 days does seem to be a magic number in Christianity. So maybe that's it. Maybe I just solved it. Any decorating within 40 days of Christmas is acceptable. Oh, and the Bengals? Yeah, they still suck.
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