It is a sure sign that we are entering the final run towards the PlayOffs in the NFL as teams jockey for position in the final Seedings. January does have a feel of a 'new season' when teams are in the PlayOffs, but for now it is all about getting into a position to be able to play those games.
It is also a big time for Fantasy Players with a couple of weeks to go before most will enter their PlayOffs. I have a couple of teams in long-term Leagues, one that is Drafted every season and one which is Drafted with 'Keepers', and I look good to enter the post-season in both of those. Hopefully those positions can be locked up by the end of Week 12 and I can also rebuild the season when it comes to the NFL Picks too.
Before we get into the Picks, you can read a few thoughts I have from Week 11 of the 2019 NFL season as well as my updated Power Ranking.
Colin Kaepernick's workout debacle: I was pretty happy to hear that Colin Kaepernick was going to have a chance to impress NFL scouts last Saturday, but it seems like the Quarter Back and the League have agendas that can't be placed on the same page.
The late decision from Kaepernick's team to move the workout and open it up to the media meant seventeen of the twenty-five teams who had committed to come and watch in Atlanta decided not to make the hour trek to the new venue.
I have always supported what Kaepernick was taking a knee for and have separated it from the narrative that many wanted to run with in that he was offending the flag. However I don't know whether he is as keen to return to the NFL as he claims when he makes the kind of power move he did last week.
It will have reminded many teams of the kind of baggage they could be dealing with and for someone who is a borderline starter, but much likely to be a backup, it is simply not worth upsetting entire locker rooms or fan bases for.
Last week I was sure this was going to be the first step towards Kaepernick returning to the League in 2020, but now I am less certain. Some teams will need new starting Quarter Backs next season, but there are some big names that could be on the market and players who are considered better than Kaepernick.
This all feels like it has been a PR move from both sides and one that is not going to make supporters of either side feel very positive about it.
Lamar Jackson will win the MVP award: Another thought from last week was about the regular season MVP race and I thought Russell Wilson and Lamar Jackson were leading the way.
After the blow out of the Houston Texans Jackson looks to be the clear favourite now and I think he will be a runaway winner of the award if the Ravens are able to finish with a top two Seed in the AFC.
They are the hottest team in the NFL right now, with the only downside being of possibly peaking too early, and Jackson has been a huge part of that with strong stats both through the air and on the ground.
You can see what Jackson means to the whole team when hearing Mark Ingram introduce him last week and I have no doubt that the Quarter Back is key to the record Baltimore have so far this season.
Should New England be worried?: That might sound like a stupid question when a team is 9-1 and with the joint best record in the NFL, but the Patriots were far from happy with their Offensive performance in the win over Philadelphia last week.
Tom Brady is still playing well, but there is little support around him and Rob Gronkowski's rumoured return looks to have been shot down for good.
Others suggest Antonio Brown could be re-signed by New England, but it just goes back to the point that the Patriots need to be better from an Offensive point of view if they are going to win the Super Bowl again.
Defensively they have remained strong, but in the PlayOffs they will need more from the other unit if they are going to defend the title they won last season. The Patriots can get things right for sure, but I wouldn't be rushing out to add any of their Offensive pieces to my Fantasy team and I think the team are going to be well tested in reality on Sunday too.
It makes the points with the underdog look appealing in this Thursday Night Football game. The Texans have been a good team to back off a loss in recent seasons, but they have been struggling at home where they can be a touch overrated.
Denver Broncos @ Buffalo Bills Pick: There is a real opportunity for the Buffalo Bills to take control of one of the Wild Card spots in the AFC if they can beat another team with a losing record in Week 12. They can't really afford to overlook the Denver Broncos considering how the remainder of the schedule shapes up, but Buffalo have to also factor in the big Thanksgiving Day coming up this Thursday against the Dallas Cowboys.
The Broncos have to pick themselves up from a disappointing Week 11 effort which saw them blow a 20 point half time lead in the eventual loss to the Minnesota Vikings. That means Denver have lost three of their last four games to fall to 3-7 and it looks like a season after which the Head Coach and future of the Quarter Back position are going to have to be seriously considered.
There is some talent throughout the roster and that has seen the Broncos at least be largely competitive in games throughout the 2019 season. They can continue that against the Bills especially if there is even a slight lack of focus from the home team and the match up might be one that works for the Broncos too.
Running the ball against the Bills Defensive Line has not been easy in 2019, but in recent games there have been a change in fortunes for them. Over the last three games Buffalo have given up 4.8 yards per carry when teams look to pound the rock against them and I do think Denver's Offensive Line will be feeling confident in establishing the run in this game.
It is the best way for Brandon Allen to get into a position to help Denver move the ball as the backup Quarter Back has struggled for accuracy. Any time he will be in third and long situations you have to give the Bills pass rush the huge edge in the match up and forcing Allen to throw from pressurised positions could lead to turnovers and drives stalling.
I expect some misdirection to be used as it was in the first half against the Minnesota Vikings, but Denver should have the ability to establish the run which will give them a chance to upset the odds in this one.
Clock management is going to be key for both teams as Buffalo will be looking to run the ball first and foremost themselves. However the Bills have just hit the wall on the Offensive Line which has seen them struggle for consistency when it comes to running the ball, and that could be highlighted against the Broncos Defensive Line which is allowing just 3.3 yards per carry in their last three games.
The Broncos have been strong up front for much of the season, but Josh Allen could have a little more success throwing the ball than you may imagine. The Denver Secondary has just been exploited by teams in recent games, although Buffalo don't have the same kind of Receiving weapons as Cleveland, Minnesota and Indianapolis have been able to call upon.
John Brown should be able to make some plays for this team and Josh Allen can make some plays with his legs, but the Denver pass rush has come alive in recent weeks and they should be able to stall some drives too. The Quarter Back has been looking after the ball a little better in recent games, but Allen might be forced into making big plays in this game and that could lead to more mistakes than we have seen.
My feeling is that Denver have a chance to keep this one close and getting more than a Field Goal worth of points is hard to ignore. The Broncos should be able to run the ball with some success and they have some decent numbers against the spread, while Buffalo have sometimes struggled to really impose themselves against teams they should be beating.
Taking the points in this one looks to be the right play.
Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints Pick: At the end of October many Carolina Panthers fans were not too concerned by the continued absence of Cam Newton at Quarter Back. Some even went as far as to say that Kyle Allen was a better fit for the team and at that point the Carolina Panthers looked to be in a very good position to try and battle for the NFC South Divisional title.
Three losses in four games have just stemmed the momentum the Panthers had been earning and the blow out loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 11 would have really hurt. It has dropped the Panthers to 5-5 and a loss in Week 12 would likely mean the team are also likely to be out of contention for the Wild Card spots in a top loaded Conference.
The Divisional race could be beyond them for sure by the end of this week as they get set to face the New Orleans Saints who are 3 games clear at the top of the NFC South. These two teams are facing each other twice in the final six weeks of the season, but the Saints will be the more confident team coming into Week 12 and being at home should be a huge boost for them.
Drew Brees looked much better in Week 12 as the Saints beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road, but they have to remain focused and not worry about earning a potential revenge over the Atlanta Falcons on Thanksgiving Day. The Quarter Back is likely to be aided by a big game out of both Latavius Murray and Alvin Kamara who are going to be establishing the run against a Carolina Defensive Line which has just struggled to clamp down on the run.
It will open things up for Brees who will have seen the holes that Carolina have had exploited in the Secondary in their recent games. Matt Ryan carved them up in Week 11 and Brees should have plenty of success either throwing the short passes to Kamara or hitting Michael Thomas further down the field.
The only real chance the Panthers have of getting into a position to earn the upset is through the pass rush and see if they can pressure Brees into forcing his throws. It won't be easy if they are struggling to contain the run though and instead the Panthers are going to need a big effort out of the Offensive unit.
Christian McCaffrey will earn his numbers as he has throughout the season, but the Saints have shown they can be stout on the Defensive Line which may limit the Running Back. New Orleans will focus their attention on trying to clamp down on McCaffrey and force Kyle Allen to beat them through the air and I think the Saints will be able to at least force the Quarter Back into some third downs where he will need his arm to convert the yards.
Allen should have some success moving the chains as he did in the loss to the Falcons in Week 11, but he has to be aware of the pass rush that New Orleans can generate. A bigger concern might be the Interceptions with nine thrown in the last four games as Allen has just struggled with his accuracy despite having some decent Receivers to target.
The Saints have been able to turn the ball over in recent games and they will feel they can make some big plays against the Panthers to give the team a chance to pull away for the win.
The underdog has dominated the recent series between these two Divisional rivals, but I think the Saints can cover what looks to be a big mark on paper. They are 4-1 against the spread when coming off a big win like they had over the Buccaneers in Week 11 and I do think New Orleans will have a bit too much for Carolina on both sides of the ball.
A couple of turnovers in favour of New Orleans should give them a chance to pull away in this one and I will back the home team to cover despite an upcoming Thanksgiving Day game.
Oakland Raiders @ New York Jets Pick: Jon Gruden might not have seen his second tenure with the Oakland Raiders get off to the start he wanted, but the team look a lot better in 2019 compared with 2018. This is happening despite the upheaval caused by Antonio Brown before the season even begun, while most expected the Raiders to be a year away from being competitive at the least, but Oakland moved to 6-4 with a third win in a row in Week 11.
They head east to take on the New York Jets in Week 12 and have to respect the hosts who have won back to back games. Those wins have come against two of the weakest teams in the NFL, but both times the Jets have been set as the underdog and they won't mind being in that situation again in Week 12.
Sam Darnold looks to be as healthy as any point in the 2019 season and he can lead the Jets to another upset this week. He should be aided by Le'Veon Bell who is facing up to the Oakland Defensive Line which is giving up 5.8 yards per carry in their last three games and that should at least give the Jets the chance to establish the run.
The Offensive Line has not really dominated as they would have liked, while Bell is not having the kind of season he would have wanted after signing a big contract with New York but this could be one of the better weeks the team enjoys on the ground. It may even take a few passes to just open things up on the ground, while Bell can also be a factor as a Receiver coming out of the backfield against this Oakland team.
Darnold will look to make the short passes to Bell and Jamison Crowder to open things up for the deep ball and he should have a decent enough outing against the Raiders Secondary. There are one or two things that will concern the Quarter Back and those who are backing the Jets and that is the Oakland pass rush which has generated a lot of pressure on opposing Quarter Backs in recent games.
If Sam Darnold 'sees ghosts' as he did in the Monday Night Football loss to the New England Patriots it could be a long day for him, especially as Oakland have also been turning the ball over with big plays in the Secondary. However the game plan should involve plenty of Le'Veon Bell and that should see the Jets just move the chains and give themselves a chance of the upset.
I have been impressed with what I have seen from Oakland, but this is a tough spot for them having to play the early game on the East Coast and with a big game against rivals Kansas City on deck. That game in Week 13 is huge to decide which way the AFC West Division may go so it could be a big distraction for Oakland, while the Raiders are also playing an improving New York Defensive unit.
Josh Jacobs has been huge for Oakland and the rookie Running Back has proven to be a key to the Offensive side of the ball, but this week he is facing a Jets Defensive Line giving up just 2.1 yards per carry in their last three games. The Jets have been able to clamp down on Running Backs all season and they will believe keeping the Raiders in third and long will be a big win for them.
You have to respect how well Derek Carr has been playing at Quarter Back for Oakland and I do think he can make some positive plays in this one too. However he has just found himself under more pressure from pass rushes in recent games and now faces a Jets team who have generated plenty of pressure on opposing teams in the last three games.
There are still one or two holes in the Secondary which can be exploited for Oakland, but the New York pass rush should be able to stall drives and I think it will be key in perhaps giving the home team enough opportunities to win outright, let alone cover with the points.
Neither team has been very impressive at home/on the road when it comes to the trends, but I think the whole spot favours New York in this one. It would not be a major surprise to see Oakland perhaps just be a touch distracted and having a full Field Goal start with the hosts looks too good to pass up.
As well as Oakland have done to get to 6-4, I do think they have been involved in very close games all season and the Jets have turned a corner with back to back wins. Those have come against two of the weaker teams in the NFL so I don't want to give them too much weight, but the Jets look in a good spot to cover here.
Dallas Cowboys @ New England Patriots Pick: No team has won more games than the New England Patriots in the 2019 NFL season and the defending Super Bowl Champions are very much on course for at least a Bye into the Divisional Round of the PlayOffs.
With that in mind it might be something of a surprise to see the Patriots as frustrated as they were out of their win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 11. The win would have been one that was appreciated by their opponents this week as the Dallas Cowboys were able to move a game clear of the Eagles in the NFC East.
There is no doubt that the Patriots have the edge when it comes to the Coaching match up, but Tom Brady is the latest player on the injury report and I do think a banged up Patriots team will have a test in Week 12. Brady is going to play, but the Offensive unit have struggled for consistency and they don't figure to have a much easier day when facing this Dallas Defensive unit.
Offensive Line problems have meant Sony Michel has not really been able to get going on the ground as he would have liked and that has put more pressure on Brady at Quarter Back. The Patriots continue to use a committee at Running Back, but the Dallas Cowboys will feel they can at least make enough plays up front to limit the damage any of the players used by New England can do on the ground.
Tom Brady has to hope the run game can at least put his team in third and manageable spots because he won't really want to face the Dallas pass rush while searching for open Receivers. Mohamed Sanu is the latest New England Receiver to go down with an injury and the only consistent threat will be Julian Edelman, although Dallas have a Secondary which can at least prevent the Receiver from doing significant damage to them.
In Foxboro it is difficult to imagine the Patriots are completely shut down Offensively, especially with Tom Brady likely wanting to prove a point after a below par performance in Week 11. Brady has enjoyed playing the Cowboys in his career and has openly admitted this is a team he has rooted against throughout his life having grown up a 49ers fan. It should mean he is motivated for a big outing, but New England have to find a consistency Offensively which has been lacking throughout the season.
The Patriots Defensive unit have really been the key to the 9-1 start and they will be looking to slow down a Dallas team who have been pretty strong for much of the season. One aspect in which New England have just struggled of late is stopping the run and it should be an opportunity for Ezekiel Elliot to get back on track after some disappointing performances in recent games.
Elliot himself has said he is not bothered by personal stats as long as the Cowboys are winning and three wins in four games during a time when the Running Back has not been at his best is the most important thing. I do think Elliot may be in line for a better performance in this game and Dallas are going to need him to release some of the pressure that will be heaped on Dak Prescott's shoulders if the Cowboys are not able to at least rip off some big gains on the ground.
Dak Prescott has had some very big outings for Dallas in recent weeks, but this Patriots Secondary is not easy to throw against. They are scheming very well and have players that can erase the impact a banged up Amari Cooper may have on the game.
However we did see Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb have big games for Dallas in the win over Detroit last week and I do think Prescott will have a better day than Carson Wentz. He has been well protected by the Offensive Line and that should give Dallas a chance of keeping this one close with Prescott also capable of making some plays with his legs.
On paper this does look like a lot of points to give to the road team when you think of the issues New England have had Offensively. My one concern has to be how Dallas have played when meeting teams with winning records and the lack of covers in those games, while New England are very strong at home.
However I do think Dallas can control the clock by getting the run going behind this Offensive Line and even the upcoming Thanksgiving Day should not provide a distraction for the Cowboys. This is a huge game for Dallas to show they can compete with the top teams in the NFL and I think they are worth backing with the start on the spread.
Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers Pick: With the way things are shaping up in the NFC, these two teams are going to be playing PlayOff Football in January. It could be a game of huge importance when it comes to working out the Seeding in the NFC too and both the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers are also trying to hold off teams chasing them in their respective Divisions.
The San Francisco 49ers have the best record in the NFC at 9-1, but they are only a game ahead of the Seattle Seahawks in the West Division having lost to them a couple of weeks ago. Their visitors the Green Bay Packers are at 8-2 which has them half a game ahead of the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North, but this is a game that could see the Packers move into a strong spot to take a Bye through to the Divisional Round of the PlayOffs.
Injuries have just slowed down the dominance of the 49ers in recent weeks, but they should have George Kittle and Emmanuel Sanders available to spark the Offensive unit. Jimmy Garoppolo has been playing well at Quarter Back and will need to be at his best in this one too, but the 49ers might be able to go back to basics in Week 12 and that is running the ball effectively.
In the last three games San Francisco have really struggled to establish the run, but I think the Packers Defensive Line has proven to be one that can struggle to stop teams on the ground. The return of Kittle and Sanders will mean the Packers can't sell out to stop the 49ers on the ground and I do think we will see the 49ers get back to what was successful earlier in the season.
The recent performances of Garoppolo have to be encouraging anyway as he has given the 49ers a chance to win games even with some problems on the ground. Green Bay's pass rush could cause issues if the 49ers are not able to keep Garoppolo and the Offense in third and manageable spots, but I do think the Quarter Back can have a strong showing against a Packers Secondary that has struggled at times throughout the season.
Of course it can be hard to oppose the Green Bay Packers when you think they are coming out of a Bye Week and the extra preparation for this game makes them dangerous. This feels like the kind of game in which Jamal Williams and Aaron Jones can really put their stamp on things as they will establish the run against a San Francisco Defensive Line which has not been able to stop teams on the ground.
Throughout the 2019 season San Francisco have struggled to clamp down on the run, and I do think Green Bay can have success in this one too. And that just makes things a little more comfortable for Aaron Rodgers at Quarter Back who will need to be kept in third and manageable spots if the Packers are going to win this game.
Any time Green Bay are in obvious passing spots or behind the chains you can expect the San Francisco pass rush to be unleashed against an Offensive Line struggling in pass protection. The 49ers should be able to get to Rodgers even though the Quarter Back is a pretty mobile one and that pressure can only aid what has been a very good Secondary for San Francisco.
I don't like opposing Aaron Rodgers who is capable of making some big throws to move the chains, but this does feel like a game in which he may struggle for some consistency. If the Packers do have some issues in staying in front of the chains then it could be difficult to maintain drives and I do like San Francisco in this Sunday Night Football offering.
My feeling is that San Francisco will be more balanced when it comes to the Offensive play-calling and that can be the key to the outcome of this game. Green Bay are out of a Bye Week, but they are only 1-3-1 against the spread the last five times in that situation and the 49ers should be motivated to show they are as good as the record would suggest.
The public are behind the visitors but the spread looks to be trending in favour of the 49ers which suggest the sharp money is on the home team. I tend to lean that way too and will look for San Francisco to win and cover.
Denver Broncos + 4 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
New Orleans Saints - 9.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
New York Jets + 3 Points @ 1.95 Bet365 (2 Units)
Dallas Cowboys + 6.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
San Francisco 49ers - 3 Points @ 1.83 William Hill (2 Units)
Week 10: 4-3, + 1.10 Units (14 Units Staked, + 7.86% Yield)
Week 9: 4-4, - 0.64 Units (16 Units Staked, - 4% Yield)
Week 8: 2-4, - 4.20 Units (12 Units Staked, - 35% Yield)
Week 7: 2-4, - 4.10 Units (12 Units Staked, - 34.17% Yield)
Week 6: 6-3, + 4.84 Units (18 Units Staked, + 26.89% Yield)
Week 5: 4-5, - 2.72 Units (18 Units Staked, - 15.11% Yield)
Week 4: 3-6, - 6.54 Units (18 Units Staked, - 36.33% Yield)
Week 3: 5-2, + 3.28 Units (12 Units Staked, + 27.33% Yield)
Week 2: 3-4, - 2.70 Units (14 Units Staked, - 19.29% Yield)
Week 1: 4-4, + 0.16 Units (15 Units Staked, + 1.07% Yield)
Season 2019: 41-42-1, - 10.04 Units (165 Units Staked, - 6.08% Yield)