Not a single week has gone by without at least one upset taking place this season, which leads us to believe things won’t be any different in NFL Week 12.
The Cincinnati Bengals have been pretty awful this year, but they haven’t held a candle to the Cleveland Browns. Up until now, at least.
It’s a battle of downtrodden AFC West teams in Oakland this Sunday, and only one team can continue taking the plunge.
We’ll look at those games and a few more as we identify the teams that could fail to live up to expectations as they take on underdogs looking for a fight.
Note: Odds courtesy of Bovada
Tennessee Titans (-3.5) vs. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are coming off a bye and are expected to have quarterback Jacoby Brissett in the lineup (concussion). Well rested, and at home, they should be highly competitive and have a real chance to win their fourth game this year.
Tennessee has given up more touchdown passes to opposing offenses than all but three teams this year (21 total). The Titans struggle to keep receivers from going the distance, which means T.Y. Hilton could have one of his signature monster games (take notice, fantasy fans).
Throw in the fact that the Titans are struggling to throw the ball, and that Indy has a run defense that’s not half bad, and you have the recipe for a good, old-fashioned AFC South upset.
Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals (-8)
The Bengals are lucky to have four wins this year. The Browns are a bit unlucky to have not won a single game. Both teams have some serious issues on the offensive side of the ball, and their defenses have been up and down at times.
Cincinnati has won twice in its last five games. By four total points. To the ailing Denver Broncos and the Colts. It’s not going to be a huge stunner if they take a tumble in this one.
It’s anyone’s ball game.
The biggest reason we think the Bengals could lose at home is that they have no rushing attack to speak of, and the Browns are one of the best at stopping the run. Andy Dalton is already prone to turning the ball over multiple times in a game, and he’s even more likely to do it when he has to engineer a one-dimensional attack.
Seattle Seahawks (-7) vs. San Francisco 49ers
It seems unlikely that the 49ers will win their second game of the year this weekend at home against the Seahawks. San Francisco has been one of the most snake-bitten teams this season in terms of injuries and was already talent poor to begin with.
However, the 49ers can bring pressure defensively, and Seattle’s Achilles heel is that there is nobody protecting Russell Wilson, who’s been sacked 26 times this year. San Francisco had three sacks of Wilson in Week 2 and was constantly in the backfield. Even though the 49ers scored just nine points, they lost by only three points, and that was due to some magic by Wilson at the end.
Now the Legion of Boom is in tatters due to injury, and the Seahawks have next to nothing going on the ground offensively. The 49ers are coming off a bye and have been game planning the past two weeks for this one. Don’t be surprised if the home team knocks off the Seahawks, handing them their third loss in four games.
Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders (-5)
This is your classic weakness vs. weakness clash. The Broncos have one of the most anemic offenses in the league lately, and the Raiders can’t stop anyone from scoring these days.
Paxton Lynch will get his first start of the season as Denver looks for a spark after benching Brock Osweiler and Trevor Siemian, and after firing offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. Assuming he can do a semi-decent job and doesn’t throw a handful of interceptions, the Broncos have a real shot to win.
The reason is that Oakland’s defense is truly abominable. The Raiders still haven’t intercepted a single pass this year, and on top of that they aren’t getting to opposing quarterbacks with just 14 total sacks.
On top of that, Derek Carr seems to have forgotten where he left his marbles, and the entire Raiders offense is below average in 2017. This is the week for Denver to get back on the winning track and regain “mind-control” over the AFC West.
Jacksonville Jaguars (-5.5) vs. Arizona Cardinals
Blake Bortles on the road is always iffy. Especially when he has to make plays because his running backs are getting stymied. This absolutely could be what Jacksonville’s offense ends up looking like Sunday against the Cardinals, who feature one of the more formidable run defenses in the league.
And while the Sacksonville crew could potentially win this game all by itself, it will be missing a critical cog in cornerback Jalen Ramsey. The star cornerback jammed his hand on Friday and declared he won’t be able to play. This can only mean good things for Larry Fitzgerald and Co.
If Adrian Peterson can get back to having one of his good games after two awful outings in a row, Arizona could romp.
The big X-factor here is whether the Cardinals can protect Blaine Gabbert from the best pass-rushing defensive front in football. If they can, then Arizona should win.
Houston Texans vs. Baltimore Ravens (-7)
For all Houston’s faults right now, the Texans still do one thing very well — they shut down opposing rushing attacks as well as any team in the league. They’re allowing just 3.7 yards per carry so far in 2017 and have ceded just three rushing scores all year long.
This doesn’t bode well for Joe Flacco and the Ravens Monday night. The veteran quarterback has been simply awful this year, to the point where it’s safe to say Baltimore really has to be asking itself if Flacco is really the guy to build around next year and beyond. He’s averaging 173 yards per game, 5.44 yards per attempt while throwing nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 10 games.
Baltimore’s defense is amazing, so we’re not expecting Tom Savage to be awesome on the road. However, if he can simply not turn the ball over and moves the chains, field goals might do it in this game.