November 19, 2019 - by Jason Lisk
Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers can finish anywhere from the No. 1 seed to the No. 6 seed in the NFC (Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire)
Our projected win odds favorites rolled last week in the NFL, winning 12 of 14 games. Those results didn’t come without plenty of drama, though. Minnesota rallied from a 20-point halftime deficit, San Francisco got a late touchdown to take the lead against Arizona, and Oakland held off winless Cincinnati by only a touchdown. We’ll get to the value opportunities this week shortly, but first, let’s quickly summarize last week’s selections in this piece.
Last week, we highlighted two potential upset picks, the Eagles over Patriots and Falcons over Panthers, and also highlighted three different favorites (Browns, Colts, and Bills). The Eagles lost both of their offensive tackles over the course of the game, and could not get a final touchdown against the Patriots, losing 17-10. The Falcons, on the other hand, pulled off the largest upset of the week by point spread, as they dominated Carolina 29-3.
Cleveland was being picked by less than half the public, but Myles Garrett and the Browns smashed the Steelers. The Colts and Bills (like most other favorites in the week) also won. As a result, the highlighted picks went 4-1, while the public would have averaged 2.9 wins in those same games, based on public picking data.
Using Vegas odds, data-driven predictions, and pick popularity data from national football pick’em contests, we’ve analyzed the entire NFL Week 12 slate and identified the best value picking opportunities. This week, early pick popularity numbers show several games where the public is strongly on one side in matchups that the oddsmakers think are far closer to even.
Keep in mind that we are not saying that you should make all five of the picks below. The best Week 12 picks for your NFL pool depend on characteristics such as its size, rules, and prize structure; our Football Pick’em Picks product will recommend weekly picks for you based on all those factors.
What we are saying is that the teams mentioned in this post either offer some of the best opportunities to differentiate your Week 12 picks from your pool opponents, or they serve as prime examples of when picking against the crowd is most likely a bad idea.
Note: Win odds and pick popularity estimates below may change between publication time and kickoff time. If you want to see the latest numbers, our product updates multiple times per day.
Week 12 features two favorites that the public is picking at a lower rate than their chance to win. These types of teams are as close as you can get to “no brainer picks” in NFL pick’em contests, since both win odds and value are on your side.
The San Francisco 49ers lost their first game two weeks ago at home to Seattle, then survived last week against Arizona, so they don’t appear to be coming in on their best form, and maybe the public is a little down on San Francisco. They are still third in point differential at +140 for the season, well ahead of their opponent this week, Green Bay.
The point spread on this game is San Francisco by 3 points at home, and our models put their win odds at 59%. The public, meanwhile, is picking the 49ers 54.5% of the time in early public picking data. The public is picking the 49ers less less often than their win odds, a situation that gives you both the favorite and the chance to gain on a significant chunk of the public if you win.
San Francisco is not the only value favorite this week where that is the case, though, as there is one favorite that is being picked by less than half the public.
When we last saw Seattle, they were winning in overtime at San Francisco in primetime, to move to 8-2. The Eagles left a less appealing taste in the public’s mouth on Sunday, as the offense struggled against the Patriots and the best defensive unit in the league. That struggle was partially due to injuries on offense, both prior to the game and during the game.
But these two teams are separated by less than a point in our predictive power ratings, with Seattle at No. 10 in the rankings, and Philadelphia at No. 12. The primary difference here is performance in close games, as Seattle is an incredible 7-1 in close one-score games, while Philadelphia’s performance is near average.
That has 60% of the public taking Seattle in the cross-country game in Philadelphia. The Eagles, though, are favored by two points (which is in line with our predictive ratings, once you account for home field). Our models give the Eagles a 55% chance of winning this one, but you get a situation where more than half the public is going the other way.
Most favorites are overrated by the public, but the team below looks more fairly valued in Week 12. You should think twice about picking against them, not because we think they are a lock to win (we certainly don’t), but because other games offer more compelling upset pick opportunities.
Atlanta has rebounded from their rough 1-7 start by winning the last two games in very impressive fashion. They look to complete the NFC South trifecta this week against Tampa Bay, where they are a 4-point favorite. The public picking data shows that 80% are going with Atlanta. Nevertheless, Atlanta represents some value if you select them in all formats, and bump up their value a little in confidence pools. That public picking rate puts them as the 8th-most popular choice this week, but our models have them at 71% win odds (4th-highest for the week). So relatively, Atlanta is being picked a little less often than other favorites of a similar size, or even teams that have lower win odds.
If you’re going to make a gamble on an underdog, you need to make sure that the potential reward (that is, how much your odds to win your pool will increase if your gamble pays off) is as big as possible. Take a bunch of extra risk on a super trendy upset pick, and the joke is on you.
The picks below are not appropriate for all pools. If you’re in a smaller, season-long pool with lots of games left, they may not be worth the risk. However, if you’re in a single-week pool with a larger number of entries, or if you only care about winning weekly prizes, highly unpopular underdogs have a compelling profile.
Jacksonville has lost two straight games, by a combined 59-16 scoreline. Tennessee on the other hand is coming off a bye and before that a wild win over Kansas City at home. The Jaguars have already beat the Titans once this year.
Our models have the Jaguars at 42% win odds against Tennessee, while they are a 3-point underdog on the road. The public is only picking the Jaguars 21% of the time so far, so that does provide some decent value in playing the upset, and bumping up the confidence point level, in larger weekly contests.
Which New York Jets team will show up? We’ve seen the Jets look absolutely terrible at times, and at other times (beating Dallas in Week 6, quarterback Sam Darnold throwing four touchdowns last week) look decent. The Raiders, meanwhile, are a surprise darling at 6-4. However, they have still been outscored on the year, are only No. 26 in our predictive power ratings, and could be looking ahead to a potential AFC West title showdown next week in Kansas City.
The point spread is only Oakland by 3, and our projections give the Jets a 45% chance of victory. The public is going with the Raiders 70% of the time, so you can get some decent value by playing the slight upset.
If you are a pick’em subscriber, you have access to the customized pick’em picks for your specific pools. Remember that the information here is written earlier in the week, is a more general summary of the week that may not be applicable to your pool rules, and some information could be outdated by Sunday. Pick popularity can change over the course of a week, and injury news and line movements can alter which picks are the best for your pool. So don’t forget to visit our Football Pick’em Picks before your deadline to submit picks and see your customized pick advice, and also visit the NFL Survivor Picks and NFL Betting Picks.
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