Week 12 NFL game picks, schedule guide, fantasy football tips and more

Cruz: 49ers' defense with be deciding factor vs. Packers (1:22)

Victor Cruz and Rob Ninkovich predict that the 49ers' defense is going to cause problems for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. (1:22)

The Week 12 NFL slate is stacked with great matchups. Our NFL Nation reporters bring us the keys to every game, a bold prediction for each matchup and final score predictions.

Additionally, ESPN Stats & Information provides a stat to know for each game, and the Football Power Index (FPI) goes inside the numbers with a matchup rating (on a scale of 1 to 100) and a game projection. ESPN Fantasy's Kyle Soppe and ESPN Chalk's Mackenzie Kraemer hand out helpful nuggets as well. It's all here to help get you ready for a loaded weekend of NFL football.

Let's get into the full Week 12 schedule, including an NFC showdown on Sunday night.

Jump to a matchup:

Thursday: HOU 20, IND 17

Seahawks (8-2) at Eagles (5-5)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 71.6 | Spread: PHI -1 (48)

What to watch for: While standout right tackle Lane Johnson remains in concussion protocol, the Eagles have been working rookie Andre Dillard, who has been trained at left tackle, on the right side in anticipation of Johnson's absence. Seattle defensive end Jadeveon Clowney lines up mostly on that side, which could make for a hairy day for Carson Wentz. -- Tim McManus

Bold prediction: The Seahawks will sack Wentz four times. That qualifies as bold for a pass rush that was a major disappointment until it got to Jimmy Garoppolo five times two weeks ago. The Seahawks are coming off a bye and finally have something close to the pass rush they envisioned with Quinton Jefferson healthy, Jarran Reed rounding into form and Clowney continuing to dominate. -- Brady Henderson

Stat to know: Seahawks running back Chris Carson has recorded a rushing touchdown in each of his past three road games. The only Seattle players to do so in four consecutive road games over the past 15 seasons are Shaun Alexander (seven straight in 2005) and Marshawn Lynch (four straight in 2011).

What to know for fantasy: Eagles tight end Zach Ertz is the only tight end to have caught at least nine passes in consecutive games this season, and three of the top four tight end performances against the Seahawks this season have come away from Seattle. See Week 12 rankings.

Betting nugget: Seattle has covered in seven straight games as a road underdog, including the playoffs. It is 3-0 outright this season as a road underdog. Read more.

Henderson's pick: Seahawks 27, Eagles 21
McManus' pick: Seahawks 28, Eagles 20
FPI prediction: PHI, 56.5% (by an average of 2.2 points)

Matchup must-reads: Wentz, soft schedule: Keys to an Eagles playoff push ... Former Patriots Hollister, Gordon provide boost to Seahawks' passing game

Buccaneers (3-7) at Falcons (3-7)

1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 52.2 | Spread: ATL -4 (52)

What to watch for: The Falcons have 13 sacks and 25 quarterback hits over the past three games. They should be able to keep up the pressure against the Bucs' Jameis Winston, who has been sacked a league-high 36 times. An improved pass rush has allowed the Falcons to start creating turnovers, with four interceptions last weekend. Winston also has a league-high 18 picks. -- Vaughn McClure

Bold prediction: Winston will throw two more interceptions against a rejuvenated Falcons defense that pressured Carolina's Kyle Allen heavily last weekend and picked him off four times. And Atlanta receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley will combine for over 200 receiving yards against a young Tampa Bay secondary that's giving up 371.8 yards per game. -- Jenna Laine

Stat to know: Bucs receiver Mike Evans is just seven yards shy of his sixth consecutive season with 1,000 receiving yards. He'd join Randy Moss (2003) as the only players in NFL history with 1,000 receiving yards in each of their first six seasons.

What to know for fantasy: Atlanta's Jones has gone seven straight games without a touchdown after scoring in seven straight. The most recent time he went seven games in a row in a season without a touchdown, he responded with 25.1 fantasy points and a WR4 finish for the week. See Week 12 rankings.

Betting nugget: Tampa Bay is 2-8 against the spread (ATS) this season, the worst mark in the NFL. It has failed to cover in six straight games, the longest active streak in the league. Read more.

Laine's pick: Falcons 26, Buccaneers 21
McClure's pick: Falcons 28, Buccaneers 17
FPI prediction: ATL, 65.7% (by an average of 5.4 points)

Matchup must-reads: Bucs confident in TE Howard despite talent 'not showing up on Sundays' ... Can Falcons rebound from 1-7 start to save Quinn's job? ... Coaching staff shares blame for Buccaneers' rash of mistakes

Panthers (5-5) at Saints (8-2)

1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 51.7 | Spread: NO -10 (46)

What to watch for: This is about as "must-win" as it gets for the Panthers, who are now three games behind New Orleans in the NFC South after losing three of the past four. And they'll be relying on Christian McCaffrey to threaten one of the NFL's most underrated streaks: The Saints have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 36 consecutive games, including the playoffs. -- Mike Triplett

Bold prediction: McCaffrey will rush for 150 yards against a defense allowing only 85.3 per game. He'll do it because quarterback Kyle Allen will get back to being a game manager and relying on his playmakers instead of trying to make things happen as he has done the past four weeks, resulting in nine interceptions. -- David Newton

Stat to know: Carolina's Allen has a 1-3 record, 59% completion percentage, 6.3 yards per attempt and 3-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio over the past four games. He began his season as a starter with a 4-0 record, 66% completion percentage, 7.4 yards per attempt and 7-0 TD-INT ratio.

What to know for fantasy: Saints receiver Michael Thomas has been a top-15 receiver in each of his past seven games and is on pace for 379.5 fantasy points this season, a total among WRs that only Antonio Brown and Randy Moss have touched since 2003. See Week 12 rankings.

Betting nugget: Over the past five seasons, Drew Brees is 16-8 ATS in division games and 8-4 ATS at home. However, three of the four home losses came as at least nine-point favorites, including a Week 10 loss against Atlanta. Read more.


Cruz: Defeating the Saints at home is a tall task

Victor Cruz and Rob Ninkovich anticipate Drew Brees and the Saints will ultimately be too much for the Panthers to handle.

Newton's pick: Saints 17, Panthers 13
Triplett's pick: Saints 26, Panthers 19
FPI prediction: NO, 82.8% (by an average of 12.6 points)

Matchup must-reads: Panthers QB Allen gets reboot in place where it all started ... LB Davis making case as Saints' best free agent of the decade ... Big questions ahead on futures of QB Newton, coach Rivera ... Saints revive offense with heavy dose of Kamara

Dolphins (2-8) at Browns (4-6)

1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 34.4 | Spread: CLE -11 (45.5)

What to watch for: How will a depleted Browns defensive line cope without three starters, including tackle Larry Ogunjobi and end Olivier Vernon, assuming the latter remains out with a knee injury? Of course, not having star pass-rusher Myles Garrett will be a challenge to overcome too -- this game and beyond. -- Jake Trotter

Bold prediction: Cleveland's Nick Chubb will rush for a season high of 165-plus yards. The Dolphins have the 31st-ranked run defense, allowing 148.3 yards per game, and with recent injuries in the secondary, it seems possible they will overcompensate on the back end to protect their young defensive backs. -- Cameron Wolfe

Stat to know: Chubb has 607 rushing yards before first contact this season, the fourth most in the NFL. The Dolphins have allowed 653 (second most in the NFL).

What to know for fantasy: Six times this season has a receiver scored more than 21 fantasy points against the Dolphins. And Odell Beckham Jr. has seen double-digit targets in consecutive games for the first time this season. See Week 12 rankings.

Betting nugget: This is the second time since the franchise returned to Cleveland in 1999 that the Browns have been a double-digit favorite. The other time was in Week 17 of 2007, when Cleveland beat San Francisco 20-7 as a 13.5-point home favorite. That is the longest drought by any team without being a double-digit favorite. Read more.

Wolfe's pick: Browns 31, Dolphins 16
Trotter's pick: Browns 28, Dolphins 14
FPI prediction: CLE, 86.4% (by an average of 14.6 points)

Matchup must-reads: Replacing 'once-in-a-generation player' Garrett won't be easy for Browns ... WR Parker's breakout season with Miami is finally here

Broncos (3-7) at Bills (7-3)

1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 33.5 | Spread: BUF -4 (37)

What to watch for: Despite sporting the league's 23rd- and 25th-ranked passing offenses, the Bills and Broncos feature the AFC's top two wide receivers by receiving yardage in John Brown and Courtland Sutton, respectively. Both teams also possess elite cornerbacks in Tre'Davious White and Chris Harris Jr., who could make things difficult for the wideouts. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques

Bold prediction: If the Broncos keep Bills quarterback Josh Allen under 50% in completion rate, they'll pull the upset. The Broncos have the league's No. 4 pass defense and rank No. 8 in scoring defense, but they have allowed a 66% completion rate overall this season. In the Bills' three losses, Allen has been held to 46.4%, 47.1% and 53.7%. Those are also the only three times he's been below 60% this season. -- Jeff Legwold

Stat to know: The Broncos have a 28.5% conversion rate on third down this season (third worst in NFL), while the Bills have the sixth-best rate allowed (34.6%).

What to know for fantasy: The Bills' Brown was the top-scoring player in fantasy last week and has over 50 receiving yards in all 10 of Buffalo's games. See Week 12 rankings.

Betting nugget: Seven of 10 Buffalo games have gone under the total this season, while 14 of the past 18 Denver games have gone under. Read more.

Legwold's pick: Bills 16, Broncos 13
Louis-Jacques' pick: Bills 17, Broncos 9
FPI prediction: BUF, 60.1% (by an average of 3.5 points)

Matchup must-reads: Inside the Bills' turnaround: Culture-first approach fuels progress, yields wins ... Broncos' Fangio molding Simmons into a top safety ... LB Edmunds' message sparks Bills as they begin pivotal stretch ... How virtual reality training is helping Broncos rookie Drew Lock

Giants (2-8) at Bears (4-6)

1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 31.0 | Spread: CHI -6 (40)

What to watch for: The Giants have allowed 34 sacks on the season, but Chicago's star pass-rusher, Khalil Mack, is in a funk. Mack has just one sack over the past six games, and he failed to record a single tackle in the Bears' loss to the Rams last weekend. -- Jeff Dickerson

Bold prediction: Yes, Mack might have only 5.5 sacks this season, but he gets three Sunday against the Giants. The Giants' offensive line hasn't played well, and right tackle Mike Remmers has struggled while dealing with a back injury. It sets up for Mack to do some major damage. -- Jordan Raanan

Stat to know: The Bears have scored the fifth-fewest points per game this season (16.9), but the Giants' defense is allowing 28.9 (third most in the NFL).

What to know for fantasy: Golden Tate's WR25 average weekly finish this season is the ninth-best among qualified receivers. See Week 12 rankings.

Betting nugget: New York is 9-4 ATS on the road over the past two seasons. One of the "road" ATS losses came in Week 10 when it was the road team against the Jets. Ten of the 13 games went over the total. Read more.


Cruz: Giants will be prepared after bye

Victor Cruz thinks the Giants will be well rested and prepared after the bye and will get the victory against the Bears.

Raanan's pick: Bears 23, Giants 13
Dickerson's pick: Bears 17, Giants 13
FPI prediction: CHI, 78.2% (by an average of 10.4 points)

Matchup must-reads: Subtle changes on way for Giants in final six games ... Bears' Nagy: Trubisky to be QB starter when healthy

Raiders (6-4) at Jets (3-7)

1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 18.8 | Spread: OAK -3 (45.5)

What to watch for: The Jets can validate their two-game winning streak over bad teams with a victory over a quality opponent. Their top-ranked run defense will be tested by rookie running back Josh Jacobs. Since allowing a 66-yard run by Leonard Fournette in Week 8, the defense has allowed only 183 rushing yards on 88 carries for a 2.1 average. -- Rich Cimini

Bold prediction: The Raiders will not allow a sack by Jets safety Jamal Adams, who is coming off a three-sack game and has six on the season. "If you don't account for that guy," Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said, "he can ruin a football game." -- Paul Gutierrez

Stat to know: Le'Veon Bell has not rushed for more than 70 yards in any game this season, and his 1.6 rushing yards before first contact is the worst in the NFL (minimum 75 rushes).

What to know for fantasy: Since Week 5, there are two running backs with multiple games of 110 rushing yards and at least three receptions: Christian McCaffrey and Jacobs (both have three such games over that stretch). See Week 12 rankings.

Betting nugget: This is the second time in the current Jon Gruden era (since 2018) that Oakland has been a road favorite. Last season, it lost 34-3 as a 1.5-point favorite at San Francisco. Overall, Oakland is 4-8 ATS in all road games in that span (3-8 in past 11 games). Read more.

Gutierrez's pick: Raiders 17, Jets 16
Cimini's pick: Raiders 27, Jets 24
FPI prediction: OAK, 53.1% (by an average of 1.1 points)

Matchup must-reads: Jets S Adams on a new mission, blitzes his way into record book ... Raiders control destiny in path to (gulp) playoffs ... RB Bell rips NFL for 'random' HGH blood tests ... DT Williams must deliver or else Jets will be haunted by what-ifs ... Crosby, Collins creating one (Raider) nation under a groove

Lions (3-6-1) at Redskins (1-9)

1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 7.9 | Spread: DET -3.5 (40)

What to watch for: The Redskins can tie a franchise record (1960-61 seasons) if they lose their 10th straight game at home Sunday. But the Lions are 1-3-1 on the road this season and 1-21 all time when playing at Washington. -- John Keim

Bold prediction: Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins will throw three touchdown passes and two interceptions. The Lions have allowed two or more passing touchdowns in each of the past six games and haven't recorded an interception since Oct. 14. Detroit's poor pass defense continues and will give Haskins confidence, but it's not enough for Washington to win. -- Michael Rothstein

Stat to know: The Redskins' offense is dead last in efficiency (16.5), passing yards per game (169.8) and points per game (12.5).

What to know for fantasy: The Lions' Jeff Driskel is QB6 over the past two weeks, but Kenny Golladay sits at WR35 in those two games. See Week 12 rankings.

Betting nugget: Washington is 1-7 ATS in its past eight games as a single-digit underdog, including 0-4 at home and 0-3 this season. Read more.

Rothstein's pick: Lions 31, Washington 21
Keim's pick: Lions 27, Redskins 17
FPI prediction: DET, 68.9% (by an average of 6.6 points)

Matchup must-reads: Stafford says going on IR hasn't been discussed ... Lions have one of the NFL's worst defenses, but answers are hard to find

Steelers (5-5) at Bengals (0-10)

1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 7.6 | Spread: PIT -6.5 (38)

What to watch for: The winless Bengals host a Steelers team that has won four of its past five but is coming off last week's controversial loss at Cleveland. Both offenses are averaging less than 20 points per game. -- Ben Baby

Bold prediction: Benny Snell will rush for 100-plus yards. The rookie has missed the past three games after minor knee surgery, but he practiced fully Wednesday. With James Conner's aggravated shoulder injury, the Steelers once again need a running back to step up and fill his spot. The winless Bengals have the worst run defense in the NFL, allowing 167 rushing yards per game. -- Brooke Pryor

Stat to know: The Bengals are already eliminated from postseason contention. Week 11 matches the earliest a team has been eliminated since at least 2002 (the 2014 Raiders and 2008 Lions are only teams since 2002 to be eliminated earlier by date).

What to know for fantasy: Pittsburgh's Jaylen Samuels is poised for an increased role and is averaging 16.6 fantasy points for his career in games during which he gets at least 10 touches. See Week 12 rankings.

Betting nugget: In the past four seasons, home teams that are 0-5 or worse outright are 4-13 ATS. Cincinnati has lost 12 consecutive games outright (0-10 this season) but is 6-6 ATS in that span (4-6 this season). Read more.

Pryor's pick: Steelers 14, Bengals 10
Baby's pick: Steelers 17, Bengals 14
FPI prediction: PIT, 66.2% (by an average of 5.6 points)

Matchup must-reads: Bengals receivers need a little space -- and an upgrade in talent ... Steelers' injuries exacerbate offensive weaknesses

Jaguars (4-6) at Titans (5-5)

4:05 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 46.4 | Spread: TEN -3.5 (41.5)

What to watch for: The Jaguars' 29th-rated run defense (134 yards per game) will be determined to keep Derrick Henry from having another outstanding performance against it. Even though Jacksonville held Henry to only 44 yards in the previous meeting, this weekend should give offensive coordinator Arthur Smith another opportunity to focus on the running game. -- Turron Davenport

Bold prediction: Leonard Fournette will get 20 carries for the Jaguars. The Jags have neglected him the past two games (over that time, 11 first-half carries and 19 total); coach Doug Marrone said they'll be recommitted to the running game, so Fournette will get a heavy workload. It won't be easy, though. The Titans are giving up 102.5 yards per game on the ground and have allowed just five rushing scores all season. -- Mike DiRocco

Stat to know: Since Henry entered the league in 2016, no running back has scored more touchdowns against the Jaguars than Henry. In fact, his eight touchdowns are five more than the closest backs (Lamar Miller and Christian McCaffrey, with three each).

What to know for fantasy: Fournette has never rushed for 70-plus yards against the Titans, and he has failed to score in three straight matchups with the division rival. See Week 12 rankings.

Betting nugget: Since Ryan Tannehill became the starter, all four Tennessee games have gone over the total. When Marcus Mariota was the starter, the under was 5-1 in Tennessee games. Read more.


Cruz: Titans' dominant running game will be the difference

Victor Cruz and Rob Ninkovich agree the Titans' running game will power them to victory against the Jaguars.

DiRocco's pick: Titans 21, Jaguars 7
Davenport's pick: Titans 27, Jaguars 17
FPI prediction: TEN, 66.5% (by an average of 5.7 points)

Matchup must-reads: Jaguars aim to save season in their house of horrors: Nissan Stadium ... How the Titans became the NFL's hottest red zone team ... Jaguars have no margin for error, and Foles has to deliver ... Who's best at FIFA 20? Titans bond, trash-talk over video-game tourney

Cowboys (6-4) at Patriots (9-1)

4:25 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 85.9 | Spread: NE -5.5 (44.5)

What to watch for: Cowboys coach Jason Garrett noted the Patriots' knack for winning the turnover differential (No. 1 in the NFL at plus-18), while the Cowboys are minus-1 on the season (12 takeaways, 13 giveaways). The turnover battle could be key Sunday. -- Mike Reiss

Bold prediction: Tom Brady will pass for 300 yards against the Cowboys. Brady has five 300-yard games this season but none in the past four. Since 2010, Brady has had just three five-game spans of not having at least 300 yards passing. -- Todd Archer

Stat to know: The Cowboys lead the NFL in total offense this season (444.6 yards per game) and have the most efficient offense per FPI. But the Patriots lead the NFL in total defense (249.9 opponent yards per game) and have the most efficient defense per FPI. The Patriots have allowed just nine offensive touchdowns.

What to know for fantasy: The Cowboys have three of the top 12 receivers over the past three weeks, but they face a Patriots defense this weekend that is allowing a league-low 22.5 fantasy points to receivers this season and is on pace to have the lowest WR fantasy points per game average against since the 2009 Jets. See Week 12 rankings.

Betting nugget: New England has covered seven consecutive games against NFC opponents, including the Super Bowl (7-1 ATS since the start of last season). Overall, Brady is 44-24-2 ATS in his career against NFC teams in the regular season. Read more.

Archer's pick: Patriots 30, Cowboys 20
Reiss' pick: Patriots 27, Cowboys 17
FPI prediction: NE, 70.4% (by an average of 7.2 points)

Matchup must-reads: Classic matchup: Cowboys' 'America's Team' vs. New England's 'We are all Patriots' ... Brady jokes he has disliked Cowboys 'since coming out of the womb' ... DE Bennett on facing Patriots: 'It's never personal in the NFL' ... Patriots' D makes corrections, now bracing for explosive Cowboys

Packers (8-2) at 49ers (9-1)

8:20 p.m. ET | NBC
Matchup rating: 84.9 | Spread: SF -3 (47.5)

What to watch for: This will be a battle of the NFC's top two seeds and one that pits two of the sharpest young branches of the Shanahan coaching tree against each other: Kyle Shanahan and Matt LaFleur. Expect two offenses that look similar, but the team that emerges with a huge victory in the NFC playoff picture will be the one that takes better care of the ball. -- Nick Wagoner

Bold prediction: Two trends will be broken in this game: The Packers will hurt the 49ers with at least one deep ball, and it will come at the hands of Marquez Valdes-Scantling -- who despite ranking tied for second in the NFL with five catches of 40-plus yards this season has only one reception of any kind in the past three games. -- Rob Demovsky

Stat to know: The Packers have played man coverage 56% of the time this season, the sixth-highest rate in the NFL using ESPN's coverage metrics. Niners QB Jimmy Garoppolo ranks top five in the NFL in completion rate, yards per dropback and Total QBR against man.

What to know for fantasy: Excluding the injury-plagued 2017 season that saw him miss time around the bye week, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has failed to score even 16 fantasy points in the week following a bye three consecutive times. See Week 12 rankings.

Betting nugget: Green Bay is 6-0 outright and 5-1 ATS against teams that entered with winning records this season. That includes two games as an underdog, which Green Bay won outright both times. Read more.

Demovsky's pick: 49ers 31, Packers 28
Wagoner's pick: 49ers 34, Packers 27
FPI prediction: SF, 60.8% (by an average of 3.7 points)

Matchup must-reads: Rodgers: Have to beat 49ers 'once at their place at some point' ... What the 49ers need to fix with challenging schedule ahead ... California, here we come -- a day later for the Packers this time

Ravens (8-2) at Rams (6-4)

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET | ESPN/ESPN App
Matchup rating: 89.6 | Spread: BAL -3 (46.5)

What to watch for: The Rams' defense has allowed a league-low 11 points per game over its past four games, which happens to coincide with the arrival of cornerback Jalen Ramsey. However, most of those games were against teams with struggling offenses, including the Bengals, Steelers and Bears. The Ravens come to Los Angeles as the NFL's top-scoring team, averaging 34.1 points per game. This will be the new-look Rams defense's first true test, and it'll be against a quarterback who is the front-runner to win MVP. -- Lindsay Thiry

Bold prediction: Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters exacts some revenge against his former team and sets an NFL record with another pick-six. Peters would become the first player in league history to score defensive touchdowns in three consecutive road games, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. -- Jamison Hensley

Stat to know: The Rams run the second-most plays per game with at least three wide receivers (52.4 per game). Without Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods last weekend, they ran just 17 snaps with three wide receivers, by far their fewest in a game in the Sean McVay era. Without those receivers, L.A. had designed runs on 62% of plays, its highest mark in the past two seasons.

What to know for fantasy: The Ravens' Lamar Jackson has been a top-three quarterback seven times this season and is on pace to score 16.7 more fantasy points than Patrick Mahomes did in his historic 2018. See Week 12 rankings.

Betting nugget: Since moving to Los Angeles, the Rams are 1-7-1 ATS as a home underdog (0-7-1 in their past eight games), including 0-4 with Jared Goff and 0-2 under McVay. Read more.

Hensley's pick: Ravens 24, Rams 23
Thiry's pick: Ravens 30, Rams 28
FPI prediction: BAL, 53.0% (by an average of 1.1 points)

Matchup must-reads: Inside the Rams-Chargers marriage as the NFL fights for Los Angeles ... Why Jackson and Harbaugh needed each other, and football needed them together ... S Weddle says he won't share Ravens intel with Rams ... After rolling another playoff contender, Ravens are NFL's scariest team ... Ravens CB Peters: No hard feelings that Rams traded him