NFL Would You Rather? Breaking down Week 12 betting lines

Thanksgiving is in the rear-view mirror, which means the NFL season is approaching the stretch run.

Week 12 of the season got underway on Thursday with the Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings picking up victories.

While all three favorites on Thanksgiving won outright, only the Vikings covered the number for bettors. With no teams on bye this week, we still have 13 games on this weekend's schedule. Today, we're taking a look at three pairs of games with similar point spreads and talking through which side we'd rather be on if we were forced to make a choice.

Baltimore Ravens or Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers haven't lost since Oct. 27. Sure, they've had a bye week in between but they've also picked up back-to-back wins. Are Tom Brady and company beginning to figure things out? Tampa Bay is a 3.5-point road favorite in Cleveland this weekend against the Browns. Elsewhere, the Baltimore Ravens travel to Jacksonville where the 7-3 Ravens are just 3.5-point favorites against the 3-7 Jaguars. Lamar Jackson has been on the injury report for parts of the week but will he be healthy enough to lead the Ravens to a cover? Which road favorite would you rather back?

Greg: The Bucs have gotten most of their key players back and are in position to make the run you predicted they would make a few weeks ago. This may be the final game they fly under the radar. Cleveland is giving up the most points per drive and has allowed at least 30 points in four of their last six outings. How have they not fired defensive coordinator Joe Woods yet? He’s like a reverse Jesus, out there turning wine into creek water. Akiem Hicks and Tampa’s defensive line holds Nick Chubb in check like they did Kenneth Walker, Tom Brady carves up the Browns’ turkey defense and the Bucs leave Cleveland with an easy win.

I’m not terribly concerned about Baltimore’s sluggish performance last week versus a decent Panthers defense, but I am worried about Lamar Jackson’s current state of health. Dude picks up more stomach bugs than a Victorian orphan. This week, he’s dealing with a hip injury. The last time he missed practice due to his hip was a few weeks ago before playing the Browns. He finished that game with 59 yards on the ground and 120 through the air. The Jags may not make the playoffs, but they have the perfect team to play spoiler and I can see them winning an ugly game here. I’m sailing with the Bucs.

Pete: I don't want to overreact to Tampa Bay the last few games, but we've seen this episode with Brady in the past. He slowly but surely figures things out, they get hot at the right time and they become a real problem. I don't think this Browns defense will be the one to shut him down. Cleveland is especially susceptible against the run, and Rachaad White looks to be in line to start, which I think is an upgrade from Leonard Fournette. It's the last episode of Jacoby Brissett's season, and I think it'll be a depressing finale.

When I saw the lines when they first came out, the Ravens-Jaguars line was the first one to catch my attention from a "stinky" perspective. However, the more I looked into it, the more I could see it. The Lamar Jackson injury certainly doesn't help. I'm staying away from this one, so give me Tampa as well.

Washington Commanders or New York Jets?

Since being forced to make a change at quarterback, the Washington Commanders have won four of five games and gone 4-0-1 against the spread. Taylor Heinicke looks like he'll keep his job even with Carson Wentz healthy. This week, Heinicke and the Commanders are 4-point home favorites over the Atlanta Falcons. Speaking of quarterback changes, the New York Jets are benching Zach Wilson after one of the worst performances you'll see at the NFL level. In Mike White's season debut, the Jets are 6-point favorites against the Chicago Bears. The line has moved up in recent days due to uncertainty surrounding Justin Fields. Which home favorite would you rather back?

Greg: I picked Atlanta at first look, but I’m coming around to the Commanders in this game. Their defense ranks fifth in rushing success, sixth in dropback success rate, and third in QB pressure percentage. Taking away the run game from Arthur Smith is like taking away a kickboxer’s legs. We’re about three games past the point where Desmond Ridder should be the starting quarterback. Washington’s offense is nothing to write home to your congressperson about, but the Falcons rank 28th in defensive DVOA and are more acquiescent than a five-star concierge.

The Mike White era is upon us. Again. For a few weeks, at least. How many NFL games does Zach Wilson start for the rest of his career? I’m not sure they would have benched him if it weren’t for his postgame comments following the Patriots loss, but this was the right move, either way. New York has one of the league’s best defenses and can sneak into the playoffs with average offensive production. They’ll put up points against an awful Bears defense this week. As for Chicago’s offense, it will either be Trevor Siemian under center, or Justin Fields with a separated shoulder. I’ll take the Jets in a tone-setter for the back half of the season.

Pete: When people think of Mike White, they instantly remember the remarkable 400-yard, three-touchdown performance in an upset win over the Cincinnati Bengals. However, in three other appearances last season, he threw two touchdowns and six interceptions. You couldn't possibly talk me into laying 6 points in an NFL game with Mike White. I just have no interest. It's a principle thing.

That makes Washington my choice by default. A lot of people thought the Commanders were in a trap-spot last week against the Houston Texans, but they boat raced Houston. The defense is playing extremely well and the vibes of the offense are immaculate with Taylor Heinicke under center. After being a darling for bettors early in the season, Atlanta has fallen off. I'll take command with Washington here.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 11: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT)  Mike White #5 of the New York Jets looks on against the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Ravens defeated the Jets 24-9. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Mike White gets his first start of the NFL season on Sunday, replacing Zach Wilson at quarterback for the Jets. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Kansas City Chiefs or Miami Dolphins?

Kyle Allen is back as a starting quarterback in the NFL and his first test will be the Miami Dolphins. Miami is a 14-point favorite against the down-bad Houston Texans. However, that's not the biggest spread of the week. FOX probably thought they were going to get one of the best games of the season when they scheduled a Chiefs-Rams Week 12 game. Instead, Bryce Perkins will be under center for the 3-7 defending champions and Kansas City is favored by 16. Which massive favorite would you rather lay the points with?

Greg: If I were an oddsmaker, I probably would have set the Chiefs line at a million. Maybe half a million and then just hope bettors don’t tease it down to -499,993. The Rams have scored more than 20 points once in their last seven outings, and it’s the only game they’ve won during that span. Their offensive line is full of third and fourth-stringers, they have zero offensive threats with Cooper Kupp on IR, and their quarterback this week is a guy who couldn’t make it off the practice squad the last two seasons. Meanwhile, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in November and December are like the Harlem Globetrotters versus Jimmy Carter.

Kyle Allen is the OG Taylor Heinicke. Houston’s best chance at winning (or covering) this game is to let their new starting quarterback loose and live with what happens. Miami’s defense ranks 27th in dropback success rate, so the table is set for a shocker if Pep Hamilton lets Allen sling it. You can pencil the Dolphins in for at least a trio of touchdowns against a terrible Texans defense. I can’t see the Rams mustering enough points to cover in the Chiefs game, but there’s a world where Allen gets hot and helps the Texans cover here. Give me the Chiefs.

Pete: I don't love laying double digits in the NFL, but I think the Chiefs-Rams game is a well-earned exception here. Bryce Perkins against what is arguably the best offense in the NFL? Even if Kansas City has an average offensive game by their standards and only scores 28 points, I'm not sure how the Rams score more than 10 points. No Cooper Kupp, no Matt Stafford and no hope. Give me Kansas City.

That doesn't mean I'm rushing to bet the Texans. However, at least with Houston, I can envision a scenario where they hang around and stay within the number. I don't see that possibility with Bryce Perkins throwing to Tutu Atwell trying to keep up with Patrick Mahomes.