NFL Week 12 Early Betting Lines. Identifying Market Adjustments.
In NFL betting, getting the right number can be almost more important than getting the right teams. If you’re constantly getting the worst numbers — i.e., getting negative closing line value (CLV) — it can be the difference between winning and losing on a handful of bets each season.
The best way to attack the NFL market is early in the week, before the sharps have had a chance to grab all the value for themselves.
That’s the goal of this piece — to highlight the bets you should be locking in early, gobbling up as much sweet, sweet CLV as possible.
Let’s take a look at five games that have my eye for Week 12.
Buffalo Bills (+3.5) at Philadelphia Eagles:
- Current Line: Bills +3.5 (-115; FanDuel)
- Lookahead Line: Bills +2.5
- Target Range: Bills +3.5 or better
Will Week 11 go down as the week the Bills got their mojo back? To quote Austin Powers: “Yeah, baby!”
There’s nothing ultimately that impressive about beating the Jets. However, it’s no secret that the Jets have had Josh Allen’s number over the years. They forced him into four turnovers in Week 1, and they limited him to less than 4.6 adjusted yards per attempt in two games last year.
Under new offensive coordinator Joe Brady, Allen was able to finally vanquish Gang Green. He racked up 275 yards and three touchdowns through the air, and he added another 15 yards on the ground. He did throw his usual interception — he has a pick in nine of 11 games this season — but it came at the end of the second half on a desperation heave toward the end zone.
Ultimately, this was one of the best games we’ve seen from Allen this season, and he was already playing at an MVP-caliber level. He entered Week 11 second in EPA + CPOE composite and fourth in QBR, so his game is peaking at the right time.
The Bills will face a brutal schedule over the next three weeks, starting with a matchup vs. the Eagles in Week 12. However, they’re catching Philly at an ideal time. The Eagles will be on short rest after playing on Monday night, and they could be a bit hungover after a Super Bowl rematch vs. the Chiefs.
The Bills are listed as 3.5-point road underdogs, which feels a bit disrespectful. The Massey-Peabody Power Ratings have the Bills as more than a full point better than the Eagles on a neutral field, so getting more than a field goal here is a gift.
I don’t expect the 3.5s to hang around for long, so I’m grabbing this now before this line dips to 3.0. It’s already down to three at some locations, so the stragglers could quickly follow suit.
You can tail the +3.5 on FanDuel, where you can get $200 in bonus bets when you sign up below and make a first bet of at least $5.
San Francisco 49ers (-6.0) at Seattle Seahawks:
- Current Line: 49ers -6.0 (-110; FanDuel)
- Lookahead Line: 49ers -1.5
- Target Range: 49ers -6.5 or better
For my money, there’s not a better team in football than the 49ers. You could make a case for a few other squads, but they each have some question marks. The Ravens just lost Mark Andrews. The Chiefs haven’t been nearly as explosive on offense this season. The Eagles have been massively exploited against the pass. The Bills defense has had some key contributors go down on offense.
Meanwhile, the 49ers check every box. Offensively, they’re first in the league in EPA/play. Defensively, they’re fifth.
Brock Purdy does have the same name recognition as some of the league’s other top QBs, but he’s been a certified baller in 2023. He’s first in EPA + CPOE composite, and he just posted a perfect passer rating in Week 11. The last Niner to do that? Joe Montana.
Nov 19, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) passes against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
With Deebo Samuel and Trent Williams back in the fold, this team simply has no weakness. They have rolled teams basically all season when at full strength, outscoring their opponents by an average of 20.4 points in their seven wins.
The Seahawks are not a bad team, but they’re not in the same weight class as San Francisco. They beat the Seahawks by eight points in Seattle last season, and that was in Purdy’s second career start. I have no problem laying the points in this spot, especially with Geno Smith suffering an injury vs. the Rams.
Cincinnati Bengals (+1.0) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers:
- Current Line: Bengals +1.0 (-110; Caesars)
- Opening Line: Bengals -5.5
- Target Range: Bengals pick’em or better
I felt pretty strongly about fading the Steelers in Week 11, and it worked for the most part. I technically didn’t win my bet since I locked in the Browns -4.0 before DeShaun Watson was ruled out, but the Browns covered basically every other number out there. I listed the Browns as my favorite moneyline play on the Sunday morning Betting Life livestream with Matthew Freedman and Geoff Ulrich, so I didn’t really care that Dorian Thompson-Robinson was going to be at quarterback.
Unsurprisingly, I don’t really care that Jake Browning will make his first career start against the Steelers in Week 12.
The truth is, this Steelers squad isn’t any good. They’ve been outgained in every game this season. They have a point differential of -29. They may be 6-4, but they are a complete mirage.
Overall, this team entered Week 11 30th in yardage differential, so I going to continue to fade them whenever possible. Road favorites in a divisional matchup definitely apply.
You can tail the Bengals on Caesars, where your first bet of up to $1,000 is on the house when you sign up for your new account below!
Arizona Cardinals (+1.0) vs. Los Angeles Rams:
- Current Line: Cardinals +1.0 (-110; Caesars)
- Opening Line: Cardinals +2.5
- Target Range: Cardinals pick’em or better
The Cardinals managed to hang on for the slimmest of covers in Week 11, making them a perfect 2-0 ATS with Kyler Murray at quarterback.
Now, they get to take on a significantly banged-up Rams squad in Week 12. Cooper Kupp exited the game with an ankle injury, while Matthew Stafford was shaken up after a massive hit on an interception:
Stafford was able to stick it out because he’s a tough guy, but he wasn’t particularly efficient from that point on. The Rams did manage to squeak out a one-point win after Seattle missed a field goal attempt with the clock ticking down, but it was far from an impressive performance.
There isn’t a ton of value in line moves around zero, but I firmly expect the Cardinals to close as favorites in this spot. You could certainly lock in the Cardinals as one-point favorites, but the better move might be +100 on the moneyline. They’re already up to -116 on FanDuel, so you could save a nice bit of juice by the time kickoff rolls around.
Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders Under 44.5
- Current Total: 44.5 (-105; FanDuel)
- Lookahead Line: 45.0
- Target Range: 44.0 or better
Just like this is a potential letdown week for the Eagles, it’s a potential letdown week for the Chiefs as well. They will have to play one of their biggest rivals, but they know they don’t have to bring their A-game to the table to secure a victory.
Even without factoring in motivation, this number seems significantly high. The Raiders have been a strong defensive team of late, and they limited an explosive Dolphins’ offense to just 20 points. They were definitely a bit fortunate — the Dolphins rolled up more than 420 yards of total offense — but the Raiders forced some timely turnovers when needed.
The Chiefs offense isn’t nearly as good as the Dolphins, so I like the Raiders' chances of slowing this unit down a bit.
On the other side, the Raiders should be able to control time of possession with their run game. The Chiefs defense has been excellent this season, but they’re still a bit vulnerable against the run.
Add in the fact that these teams know each other well, and points should be at a premium. I expect this line to close lower, so it’s another one I’m locking in early.