Best NFL divisional bets ahead of Week 12: Seahawks can soar over Rams in NFC West
With only six weeks of the season remaining, we’re starting to have a clear picture of what the first two weeks of January could look like in the NFL. This weekend, the Jets became the first team in the league to be mathematically eliminated from postseason contention. Of the 31 that still technically have a chance, only half of them – possibly fewer – consider themselves true contenders, and the first immediate goal for all teams still in contention is to win their division.
This week, we won’t be making picks for all eight divisions. The Chiefs and Steelers have effectively locked up their divisions, the Packers don’t look like they will be challenged in the NFC North, and the Saints proved they can win without Drew Brees while widening their lead over Tampa Bay in Week 11.
The other four divisions are all extremely tight – the top two teams are separated by one game or fewer. If you’re looking to get the most value out of your futures bets as the season heads towards a thrilling finish, these are the four divisions you should focus on.
The Buffalo Bills enjoyed their Sunday as they sat back and watched Miami lose in Denver, gaining a half-game in the division and maintaining a full game lead as they return to play in Week 12 after their bye. The Patriots’ loss effectively makes the East between Buffalo and Miami, and the Bills have the edge with a 4-0 division record and a win over Miami in Week 2, in addition to their seven wins.
The Dolphins certainly have a shot to catch up, but they’ll need to win in Buffalo in Week 17 and make up another game along the way. Miami still have games still remaining against the Chiefs, Patriots and Raiders, while Buffalo face the Chargers and the injury-riddled 49ers in their next two. Odds of -550 might not seem like the friendliest price for Buffalo, but if you look at the math, it’s a pretty safe bet at this point.
The Titans and Colts are tied atop the South at 7-3 after both winning in overtime in Week 11, and they play each other in one of the most crucial matchups of Week 12 after Indianapolis won their prior meeting two weeks ago. If the Colts win again, they’ll be in prime position to run away with the division: they’ll have a game lead and the tiebreaker and play the Texans and Jaguars in three of their final five games of the season.
The Titans’ remaining schedule is of similar difficulty – sub out one of the Texans games for a Lions team that was shut out by Carolina this week. In other words, Tennessee will have a slight advantage going forward if they win this week, whereas the Colts, who are favored by 3.5, will have a nearly insurmountable lead with a win. Bet on Indianapolis to win the division at -170.
All four teams in the NFC East head into Week 12 with exactly three wins. The Eagles, for the moment, are rewarded with first place for their tie with the AFC North’s last-placed Cincinnati. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, they have arguably the most difficult remaining schedule in the division.
The winner of Thursday’s game between Dallas and Washington will take over first place with a fourth win. The Cowboys are favored and are coming off a good win in Minnesota, with veteran quarterback Andy Dalton healthy and ready for a playoff push the rest of the way. Their schedule is friendlier than the rest of the division – after playing the Ravens in Week 13, they’ll finish with the Bengals, 49ers, Eagles and Giants. Three more wins in the final six games should be enough for the division. Take Dallas at +225.
The Seahawks took the lead in the West with a Thursday night win over the Cardinals in Week 11, and the Rams rejoined them at the top after beating the Buccaneers on Monday night. While both teams have the same record at 7-3, the Seahawks have been the better team over the course of the season, and their defense has picked it up recently, allowing just 23 and 21 points to their two strongest division rivals after their dreadful performance in Buffalo three weeks ago. Barring any injuries or unexpected circumstances, they should be favored for each of their six remaining games.
The Rams still play Arizona twice and travel to Seattle in Week 16. If the Seahawks win four or five more games, they should win the division and could even lock up the top seed. Go with Seattle at +125.Last updated: Tue 24th November 2020