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Reply To: NFL Week 12 • Previews, Articles, Info. • Sunday 11/29/15

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Public Fades – Week 12
By Kevin Rogers

Heading into Thanksgiving weekend, 23 of 32 teams in the NFL own records of 5-5 or worse with limited elite squads at the top of the food chain. Cincinnati belonged to that elite club two weeks ago with a perfect 8-0 record prior to back-to-back losses to Houston and Arizona, but the Bengals are still in control of the AFC North. Meanwhile, the Giants are atop the NFC East in spite of a 5-5 mark, as the Eagles and Redskins are one game behind and the Cowboys are ready to make a charge with Tony Romo back under center.

The Bengals and Giants are two of the biggest teams that the public will be backing on Sunday, as Cincinnati hosts struggling St. Louis while New York goes for the season sweep of Washington. We’ll take a look at why you should back the underdogs in this week’s edition of “Public Fades.”

Rams at Bengals (-9, 42) – 1:00 PM EST

Three weeks ago, St. Louis (4-6 SU, 4-5-1 ATS) was in the mix for a Wild Card spot in the NFC at 4-3. The Rams lost in overtime to the Vikings and have spiraled out of control ever since by dropping games to the Bears and Ravens the past weeks. To make matters worse, controversy surrounded the Rams as Case Keenum left last week’s setback at Baltimore with concussion-like symptoms even though the team wasn’t made aware of his injury. The Rams’ offense has been poor regardless of who’s at quarterback, scoring 18 points or less in all six losses, while reaching the end zone once in each of the past three defeats.

Cincinnati (8-2 SU, 8-1-1 ATS) leads the AFC North in spite of losses the last two weeks, as the Bengals dropped a 34-31 decision at Arizona last Sunday night as four-point road underdogs. The Bengals will battle it out with the Broncos for the second seed in the AFC playoffs behind the Patriots over the next month, as Cincinnati had allowed a total of 30 points in the previous three games prior to the Arizona game. Marvin Lewis’ team has won 17 of the past 21 regular season games at Paul Brown Stadium, while posting a 4-0-1 ATS and 3-1-1 SU record against NFC foes at home since 2013.

So why back the Rams?

Handicapper Joe Nelson says in spite of St. Louis’ recent struggles, this could be a look-ahead spot for the Bengals, “A Cincinnati squad that is reeling with back-to-back losses will face a tough matchup coming off a marquee Sunday night game with the offense showing a decline in the past month, scoring just over 22 points per game in the last four games after scoring over 30 points per game in the 6-0 start. Cincinnati has division games the next two weeks and with a comfortable two-game lead plus the tiebreaker in the division standings this is a game the team may not be quite as focused for.”

For all the problems the Rams have experienced of late, Nelson believes St. Louis is worth a strong look, “St. Louis is just 1-4 on the road but the one win came at Arizona and the Rams also played Green Bay and Minnesota very tough in narrow road defeats. Only twice in five home dates have the Bengals won by more than five points and this will be a steep spread for Cincinnati, with the Bengals on a 5-12-2 ATS run as a favorite of seven or more points going back to 2007.”

Giants (-2 ½, 47) at Redskins – 1:00 PM EST

The NFC East race isn’t done yet, with New York (5-5 SU, 6-3-1 ATS) leading the pack in spite of a 2-3 record the last five games. The Giants are fresh off the bye week after a heartbreaking 24-23 loss to the Patriots at home two weeks ago on a last-second field goal. Tom Coughlin’s club has lost three of five games away from Met Life Stadium including divisional matchups at Dallas and Philadelphia. The Giants have owned the Redskins the last few seasons, winning five straight matchups, including a 32-21 home triumph back in September as three-point favorites.

Out of all the teams below .500 in the NFL, the Redskins (4-6 SU, 4-6 ATS) own the best home record at 4-1. Following an opening week loss to the Dolphins, Washington has run off four consecutive home victories, capped off by a 47-14 blowout of New Orleans two weeks ago. The Redskins were chased by the undefeated Panthers last Sunday, 44-16, while being held below 21 points in all five road losses. Washington has cashed in three of four games as a home underdog this season, which includes an outright victory over division rival Philadelphia last month.

So why back the Redskins?

Nelson says the New York defense has been exposed over the past month, “While the Giants are in first place in the NFC East, they are just 5-5 and only the Saints team that Washington blew out in Week 10 has allowed more yards per game on defense as the Giants have surrendered 421 yards per game and over 25 points per game this season despite being a first place team. While any division road game is a big game and this is a big rivalry, a highly anticipated matchup with the Jets is up next for the Giants, a series that occurs only every four years in the current scheduling format despite the teams sharing the same home stadium.”

NFL expert Vince Akins ties in an angle supporting both St. Louis and Washington thanks to recent fumbling issues, “Fumbles are for the most part a random occurrence. Occasionally a player will have true fumbling issues, but for teams, the amount of fumbles throughout the year and year-over-year is mainly a subject of luck. So it stands to reason that teams that had bad fumble luck last game will regress to the mean next game. We indeed see that is the case, as teams which lost at least four fumbles last game have covered 58% of the time next game.”

Akins continues, “What is particularly amazing about this angle this week is that it is active with BOTH games featured in this article. St Louis fumbled five times last week and lost all four and it was definitely the difference in handing the Ravens a 16-13 win. Likewise, Washington fumbled five times and lost four as they were blown out in Carolina. Considering that this fumble factor has only been active twice so far this season and was active a mere two times total in the 2013 and 2014 seasons combined, this is definitely something to take advantage of while the opportunity is available.”