Week 12 means we’re well on the run down to the play-offs and after three games of the Thanksgiving extravaganza we get a narrowed focus on the early Sunday games we’ll be looking at on NFL RedZone.
And there are some crackers, with record-breaking Colts running back Jonathan Taylor facing the champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and grabbing more headlines than Tom Brady! The GOAT will have something to say about that.
We’ve got the New England Patriots scaring the life out of the rest of the NFL as they look like the dominant Patriots of old, while the Philadelphia Eagles are also putting the frighteners on teams with some nasty ground-and-pound football that’s been blitzing teams all over the place in the last month.
Let’s pick the bones out of the early NFL Red Zone offering for Week 12 including our regular touchdown multiple below…
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Indianapolis Colts
Tom Brady has history with the Indianapolis Colts. During his legendary spell in New England, they regularly clashed heads with Peyton Manning’s Colts in the later stages of the play-offs, and Brady usually came out on top.
The GOAT has a 15-4 record against them with 38 TD passes against 19 interceptions and in his first game against them as a Buccaneer he arrives second in the league with 3,177 yards and an NFL-best 29 TD passes.
The NFL’s Passing Leaders 💪💪💪 pic.twitter.com/4w3hzsQyP3
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) November 23, 2021
For once, though, Brady is just cast in the supporting actor role with Colts running back Jonathan Taylor making all the headlines after his 204-yard, five-touchdown explosion against the Bills last week. The historic performance was good enough – throw in the fact it came on the road against the NFL’s best defence catapulted it into the stratosphere of eye-popping displays.
Taylor’s the first rusher to hit the 1000-yard mark this season and has eight straight games with 100 yards and a score, one more will break the NFL record, keep Brady off the field and also bolster his MVP chances. He’s currently around 25/1 but breaking more records in a season without one stand-out star QB means he has every chance.
And he’ll have earned it, as the Bucs now lead the league in allowing just 78 rushing yards per game and have let just one player reach 100 yards this season, but the way he ran the ball last week you have to back him to get his yards again even against this defence.
The Colts top the NFL in both first quarter points (76) and takeaways (25) so they’ll again look for a fast start and create turnovers to get the win as slight three-point underdogs. They’re 11/8 straight up to knock off the champs, but I like the 23/20 on them to win the first quarter in the draw no bet market.
Best bet: Jonathan Taylor over 79.5 yards & TD at 6/4
Tennessee Titans @ New England Patriots
We mentioned here a while back that the Patriots looked like they were on the way back and they’re now just 11/10 to win the AFC East and 14/1 to win the Super Bowl, when you could have named your price a month ago.
The dark overlord of the NFL, Bill Belichick, is building a new empire with QB Mac Jones as his new young apprentice and the rest of the league is quivering after an all-powerful five-game win streak suddenly has them in the race for the AFC’s top seed in the playoffs.
"This is not a new hope. This is the strike back."
New England, new order. pic.twitter.com/cviaGgsvmR
— Kyle Brandt (@KyleBrandt) November 25, 2021
Nobody, and I mean nobody, wants to try and go through Gillette Stadium in the playoffs, but it could look a lot more likely if they can defeat the 8-3 Titans, who made history when winning five straight games against playoff teams but go to Foxborough as 6.5-point underdogs. Even the bookies are running scared of these surging Pats.
Tennessee have won the last two against New England – and they did march into Gillette Stadium and win a playoff game in 2020 in what proved to be Tom Brady’s last game as a Patriot. But Derrick Henry did all the damage with 182 rushing yards in a monster game, and Derrick Henry isn’t playing this time around.
Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill is also coming off his worst game of the season after throwing four interceptions in a shocking loss to the lowly Texans last week, his 12 picks this season are the most in the league. New England’s defence has the most interceptions in the league with 18.
That’s a bad mix for the Titans, and their defence also suffered last week as they failed to register a sack or turnover for the first time this season against Houston – they’ll need to do better against Mac Jones, who has been doing everything he’s been asked to supplement New England’s power running game.
The complimentary football from New England has been exemplary with Damien Harris leading the rushing attack with touchdowns in five of his last six and 100-yard games in his last two home games, while tight end Hunter Henry has caught eight TD passes from Jones.
Tennessee are also banged up like no other team, with 17 players on IR they’ve used a league-high 82 players this season – they’re up against it and the Pats will be good enough to win by two scores, but if you want to play safe there’s no way in this world the Pats don’t go over their 24.5 points spread (20/23).
Best bet: Patriots -7.5pts at 11/10
Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants
The Philadelphia Eagles are just running over teams for fun right now after finally finding their identity as a nasty, brutal, smash-mouth running team – and that could well carry them all the way to the play-offs.
Nobody is running the ball better than the Eagles right now, they have the second-best rushing numbers in the league despite a slow start, with nobody running it harder or better as they won three of the last four (and it possibly should’ve been four out of four).
It’s their best spell running the ball since the 1950s which all came to a head last week as they dismantled the Saints’ top-ranked rush defence to the tune of 242 yards on 50 carries! This Philly time just keep punching teams in the mouth until they can’t take any more – and it makes them a problem.
Philly enter this game at 5-6 but face a Giants side who just sacked offensive coordinator Jason Garrett after some anaemic displays and who have lost nine of the last 10 against the Eagles.
"When Joe Judge was quarterback at MSU, Freddie Kitchens was the TE coach. When he was a GA the following year, Kitchens was the RB coach. The @Giants have 7 weeks left to figure things out with Jones, Barkley, and if the offensive ineptitude was Garrett's fault." – @PSchrags pic.twitter.com/i7q47qUqXN
— Good Morning Football (@gmfb) November 24, 2021
Philadelphia play the Giants twice in the next five weeks and in fact have a very generous schedule that won’t see them have to take a major flight for the rest of the season, facing just two trips to New York and one to Washington. That lack of travel could be a huge factor and while you can still back them at odds-against to make the play-offs then you best do it now!
They’re just 3.5-point favourites here but have earned four of their five wins on the road and there’s a distinct chance this dominant Eagles line just mows down the Giants defence, which is 22nd against the run, and runs up a decent margin of victory.
QB Jalen Hurts is playing everything right at the moment and being smart on when to run – he’s so elusive when down in the red zone and showed that perfectly last week when running in three TDs against the stunned Saints.
I’m happy to roll with the running Eagles here to win by a touchdown, but it could be more, while you can go high on Miles Sanders’ rushing yards and back Hurts to find his way into the end zone once again.
Best bet: Eagles -5.5pts at 11/10
Carolina Panthers @ Miami Dolphins
You can be forgiven for not realising the Miami Dolphins had somehow managed to string three wins together, yet here they are going for four in a row against Cam Newton’s inconsistent Carolina Panthers.
Newton returned to the Panthers in a blaze of glory by beating the Arizona Cardinals, but followed that up by losing to Washington, and while Miami have beaten fellow strugglers Houston and the Jets, those wins came either side of a huge upset victory over the Baltimore Ravens.
CAM NEWTON TOUCHDOWN
Takes helmet off and yell at the camera
— Savage (@BOSTONSPORTSB) November 14, 2021
So it’s a case of will the real Panthers and Dolphins please stand up!
The Panthers are narrow 1.5-point favourites on the road in Miami and much will depend on how Newton and star running back Christian McCaffrey perform. McCaffrey is a unicorn in terms of his dual-threat ability having already recorded 11 games with 100 receiving yards – an all-time record for a running back.
And he averages the most total yards per game (134), of any other player in the league since his debut in 2018. Miami have tightened up defensively of late but they really don’t have the answer for what a full fit McCaffrey can serve up.
Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa has been decent enough but now comes up against the best pass defence in the league and many are still not convinced that the second-year man is the future of the franchise. Their recent winning streak has been built on a defence that’s allowed just 12 points per game during that stretch.
But Newton, who had 254 yards and four TDs in a 45-21 win last time he played Miami in a Carolina uniform, McCaffrey and the Panthers defence should have enough here in what is pegged as one of those low-scoring arm wrestles of a game.
Best bet: Panthers -2.5pts at 17/20
Jonathan Taylor, Ja’Marr Chase to score receiving TDs at 11/1
Do we need to say more about Jonathan Taylor? He’s on a roll here and even against Tampa Bay’s strong rush defence he can still find his way into the end zone. The Bucs will try and shut down the run and put pressure on QB Carson Wentz, but as Taylor showed last week he’s a great option in the passing game two and his nifty catch-and-run TD last week is the blueprint for beating the Bucs here. He’s a big price to score a receiving TD but the match-up here presents the ideal scenario.
Bengals rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase had a down week last week and still managed to score his eighth TD in 10 games as he puts up unheard off numbers as a first-year pass catcher. He scored twice against the Steelers in their first meeting and will find space to score again.