I thought Cincinnati was a worrisome home favorite in Week 11 and it lost to Buffalo. Believed the Dolphins were shaky at -2 in L.A. and they needed a wild comeback to win. Here are three NFL spreads that I deem too risky in Week 12.
Go back to the beginning of the season. Did you ever think you would see the Chicago Bears, one of the flagship franchises of the NFL, be a 5-point home underdog on NFL odds to a Titans franchise that had five combined wins the past two years? Me neither. But Tennessee is much improved and already has five wins. Marcus Mariota is growing into a Pro Bowl quarterback, and the Titans can run the ball on anyone with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. The Bears are probably the biggest mess in football right now, even worse than the Browns. Last week, top receiver Alshon Jeffery was suspended four weeks for PED use. This week, it was top tackler and linebacker Jerrell Freeman. There were also reports Monday that Jay Cutler has a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder and his season was over, but super-secretive coach John Fox says Cutler's simply day-to-day. Why don't I believe a word Fox says? The Bears also won't have No. 1 tight end Zach Miller and promising rookie linebacker Leonard Floyd due to injuries. So why should you worry at all about the Titans here? Well, they haven't been road favorites of at least 5 points in five years. And they haven't been road favorites at any number since 2013. I'm just saying.
Is Buffalo good enough offensively to deserve to be more than a touchdown favorite on NFL picks against anyone? I don't think so. Coach Rex Ryan probably would be happiest with a 3-0 victory. True, the Jaguars stink and have lost five straight games. The players might have given up on Coach Gus Bradley, who clearly will not be back next year. That said, the Jaguars' roster is actually more talented overall than Buffalo's. Plus the Jags could have won each of the past three games vs. the Chiefs, Texans and Lions, three playoff-caliber teams. Also, Jacksonville should have confidence it can beat this team as the Jags did beat the visiting Bills 34-31 last year in London. Blake Bortles threw a 31-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Allen Hurns with 2:16 remaining. The game should have never been that close as the Jags were up 27-3 at one point. There are some injury concerns for Buffalo as No. 1 running back LeSean McCoy had thumb surgery on Monday, although he plans to play. Receiver Robert Woods is certainly out. The Bills might get back No. 1 receiver Sammy Watkins, though. He is practicing this week after being taken off injured reserve. He landed there on Sept. 30 with a foot injury but was the team's player designated to return.
I guess records don't matter when looking at this spread. Houston leads the AFC South with a 6-4 mark, while San Diego is last in the AFC West with a 4-6 record. Do I prefer Philip Rivers and the Chargers' offense over Brock Osweiler and Houston's group? For sure. It should be noted that Osweiler has played much better at home, where the Texans are unbeaten. Houston's defense is also superior to San Diego's. I get why the Chargers are opening favorites as they come off their bye week and are set to get back guys like receiver Travis Benjamin (knee), safety Jahleel Addae (clavicle) and inside linebacker Denzel Perryman (hamstring) from injury. Chargers tight end Antonio Gates is two TDs shy of tying Tony Gonzalez's NFL record of 111 for a tight end. Gates has played in three career games against the Texans and he's caught 13 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns. Houston is on a short week after losing to Oakland in Mexico City on Monday. I trust neither team.