Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) dives into the end zone during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)


Patrick Werkmeister

Now that it is Week 12 of the NFL, the playoff picture is finally starting to take shape as the regular season heats up. Although some have already definitively staked their postseason claim, even the best teams can lose on any given Sunday during the grind of the regular season. However, if the stars align correctly any team who’s still in the hunt could get in. November football is where the cream rises to the top and I think that will be reflected in some of the wins on Sunday. With that in mind, here are the best bets for this NFL slate.

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Steelers (+3.5) @ Bengals
From Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers look to steal one on the road against Joe Burrow and the Bengals. Cincinnati opened as four point home favorites and are currently favored by three and a half-points. While Pittsburgh is 4-1 ATS in their last five road games, the Bengals are an abysmal 0-3 ATS in their previous three games played at home. In Week 11, they were able to pull off a slim victory against the Las Vegas Raiders, whereas the Steelers were slimly defeated, 37-41, by the Los Angeles Chargers. Following one of the best performances he’s had in years, Ben Roethlisberger is seemingly back to his old self. Although he has obviously declined in the past few years, Roethlisberger still holds the longest active streak without an interception among starting quarterbacks. In that span, he has gone 4-1 SU and has played a big role in their offense. With their miraculous comeback vs the Chargers, he has shown that he still possesses that patented clutch gene of his and still has a little left in the tank. Despite their intimidating offense, Joe Burrow and the Bengals have gone from Super Bowl contender to in the playoff hunt because of their constant offensive inconsistencies. Although they haven’t looked great this year, they should be motivated enough to at least cover this inflated margin. Take Pittsburgh plus the points. 

Buccaneers (-3.5) @ Colts
In this interconference matchup, Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to Lucas Oil Stadium to do battle with Jonathan Taylor and the Indianapolis Colts. The Bucs opened as three point road favorites in this one and the current line favors them by three and a half-points. While Tampa Bay is 6-1 SU in their previous seven games vs AFC opponents, Indianapolis is a subpar 3-6 ATS in their last nine home games. Last week, Tampa Bay obliterated the Giants 30-10 whereas the Colts are also coming off of a blowout win over the Bills. However, Buffalo handed them the victory where they turned the ball over three times on their side of the 50. During the victory, Jonathan Taylor went full nuclear where he ran for five touchdowns. With the Bucs stifling run defense, the Colts will have to have success through the air with Carson Wentz to have a chance in this one. As long as Brady looks even somewhat like he did last week, they should have no problem securing a victory on the road. Take Tampa to cover in what should be a great game.

Browns @ Ravens (-3.5)
For this AFC North contest, Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens host Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns. The Ravens opened as five point home favorites, but are currently favored by just three and a half-points. While Cleveland is 1-3 ATS in their last four games, Baltimore is 4-1 ATS in their previous five games on primetime Sunday Night Football. Although the Ravens looked shoddy at best against the Chicago Bears in Week 11, they were without their MVP QB Lamar Jackson. However, they still pulled out a victory despite their long list of injuries. In Week 12, the Browns had a terrible performance of their own vs the Lions, where they were in a dogfight until the final whistle. Although they were able to get the W, this team has displayed rapid decline in their performances due to key injuries. However, one of the primary reasons for their substandard play lies with QB Baker Mayfield’s bizarre actions on and off the field. He is a huge distraction and not to mention, the Browns would probably be better off starting backup Case Keenum. Baltimore is in a position to dominate this match at home, where that should give them even more of an advantage. They should easily cover this slim margin. Take the Ravens minus the points. 

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