A ton of money changes hands in Las Vegas sportsbooks on NFL Sundays.
They have crack teams of number crunchers who are way better than me and you when it comes to guessing likely scores of NFL games.
Many sports fans have joked about a team kicking a late field goal to finish just under or over the betting line, as if the game was fixed or something. And, well, the game bettors play is kind of fixed, because those aforementioned number crunchers are so darn good at what they do.
It would be foolish for the fantasy football community to ignore these experts. We are better when we take the sums of many parts to form our opinions about players and situations, and Las Vegas betting odds need to be one of the primary parts of the equation.
Here are the projected scores using the current (early) over/under and betting odds for Week 12 of the 2015 NFL season.
Week 12 daily fantasy: Draft Kings sleepers | FanDuel sleepers | Thanksgiving special
Week 12 projected scores
|Sun Nov 29||New Orleans Saints||22.25||Houston Texans||25.25||1:00 PM||47.5|
|Thu Nov 26||Chicago Bears||19||Green Bay Packers||27.5||8:30 PM||46.5|
|Sun Nov 29||New York Giants||24.5||Washington Redskins||22||1:00 PM||46.5|
|Sun Nov 29||San Diego Chargers||21.25||Jacksonville Jaguars||25.25||1:00 PM||46.5|
|Sun Nov 29||TB Buccaneers||21.75||Indianapolis Colts||24.75||1:00 PM||46.5|
|Thu Nov 26||Carolina Panthers||23||Dallas Cowboys||23||4:30 PM||46|
|Sun Nov 29||Minnesota Vikings||22||Atlanta Falcons||24||1:00 PM||46|
|Thu Nov 26||Philadelphia Eagles||23.25||Detroit Lions||22.25||12:30 PM||45.5|
|Sun Nov 29||Pittsburgh Steelers||20.75||Seattle Seahawks||24.75||4:25 PM||45.5|
|Sun Nov 29||Arizona Cardinals||27.75||San Francisco 49ers||17.25||4:05 PM||45|
|Sun Nov 29||Oakland Raiders||23||Tennessee Titans||21||1:00 PM||44|
|Sun Nov 29||New England Patriots||23.5||Denver Broncos||20.5||8:30 p.m.||44|
|Sun Nov 29||Miami Dolphins||19.5||New York Jets||23||1:00 PM||42.5|
|Sun Nov 29||St. Louis Rams||16.5||Cincinnati Bengals||25.5||1:00 PM||42|
|Sun Nov 29||Buffalo Bills||18||Kansas City Chiefs||23||1:00 PM||41|
|Mon Nov 30||Baltimore Ravens||19.25||Cleveland Browns||21.75||8:30 p.m.||41|
Games are listed from Las Vegas-implied highest- to lowest-scoring. No teams on bye.
Seven games are projected to have a combined score between 47.5 and 46 points this week. That seems like a lot. We also have two games with projected scores of 41. The difference between the highest scoring and lowest-scoring is 6.5 points, which seems small to me. It helps that the Patriots face the Denver Broncos this week and that some of the lowest-scoring teams are expected to lose in blowouts.
Let’s get into the blowouts and close games.
As always, remember a team expected to have a big lead, especially playing at home, usually represents a great matchup for its running back and defense. Quarterbacks and receivers on the losing end of a blowout are prime candidates for garbage time, again, especially at home. Meanwhile, in games that are expected to be close means we can expect the game script to follow suit. Top talents and matchups should be in full effect.
We use composite odds and over/unders from Vegas Insider to generate the projected scores. I will reference Defense-adjusted Value Over Average a lot, it is a Football Outsiders’ metric which can be a better predictor of future success than fantasy points allowed. All team rankings and yards allowed to receivers are referenced from Football Outsiders’ Defense Efficiency page. This is one of our first features of the week, so keep an eye out for late injuries and lineup changes.
Arizona Cardinals (-10.5) at San Francisco 49ers — Road favorites are usually a candidate for a let down, but the Cardinals have the highest implied total of the week and we have to consider them and Carson Palmer almost matchup-proof after they beat up on the Seahawks. The 49ers, of course, are horrible against the run and the pass. They’ve allowed 99.4 yards per game to No. 1 wide receivers, the most in the NFL and rank 31st and 30th in overall pass and run DVOA. While the matchup seems to be big for Larry Fitzgerald and the 49ers have allowed one of the smallest averages to No. 2 wide receivers, I still wouldn’t be against running John Brown or Michael Floyd (or J.J. Nelson if either of them don’t play) out there. The issue begins when we try to figure out how long they will have to compete. The line suggests we could see backup running backs closing out the contest with a huge lead in the fourth. If I’m starting a running back from this game it will likely be David Johnson. He has a nose for the end zone and the Cardinals project to be in there a lot this week. On the 49ers side, Blaine Gabbert showed signs of competence last week as did WR Anquan Boldin, RB Shaun Draughn and TE Vance McDonald. If this becomes a letdown game for the Cardinals I don’t expect them to lose, just for the 49ers to play closer than the line suggests, and any one of those players could provide the spark. But it’s a longshot at best.
St. Louis Rams at Cincinnati Bengals (-9) — The Rams are third in DVOA against the run and the pass, even better than the Cardinals above. Still they are expected to lose by nine points and give up the third-highest score of the week. What gives? This is an uncommon, out-of-conference opponent, the kind of matchup Andy Dalton has been able to take advantage of in the past. St. Louis has allowed the least yards to No. 1 wide receivers and have been strong against all wide receivers this season. Their weakness is against tight ends and pass-catching running backs, two categories in which the Bengals have triple-checkmarks in Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard. Any sort of domination from those two will likely open up passing lanes for star WR A.J. Green and WR2 playmaker Marvin Jones. The implied high score also suggests Jeremy Hill is capable of one of his patented 40 yards and two touchdown lines. The Bengals rank 10th against the pass and 12th against the run in DVOA. That’s a tough matchup for an offense that is mostly Todd Gurley and Tavon Austin. Gurley will likely struggle, especially if the game gets out of hand as suggested. He doesn’t play on passing downs. Because of the concussion concern on Case Keenum and the overall mess of the QB situation in STL, I can’t recommend any garbage time plays here despite the expected blowout.
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-8.5) — Now, let’s talk about garbage time. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this game ends up significantly closer than the projected line. It’s a division rivalry, on Thanksgiving Day. The game is tied for the second-highest projected over-under of the week and the Packers are projected to have the second-highest score of the week and the Bears are projected to have the fourth-lowest score of the week. Both teams could step up in big ways. Matt Forte is expected to return for the Bears. Jay Cutler had a tough game last week in a tough matchup, but he was stellar in the previous two games and the Packers have a middle-of-the-road defense according to DVOA. Their one weak spot in the passing game is tight ends, to whom they’ve allowed 77.1 yards per game, the second-highest total in the NFL. Eight-year pro TE Zach Miller disappeared last week, but had been emerging as a new threat for the Bears. They also still have Martellus Bennett, a former top-line TE, but he has been disappointing. The Packers get to face a Bears defense that’s 24th against the pass and 31st against the run in DVOA. Aaron Rodgers hasn’t been his usual stellar self, but in the holiday spotlight he should shine throwing to Randall Cobb, Davante Adams and James Jones. The Bears defense hasn’t allowed many yards to any receiver types this year, which indicates they funnel the ball to the running game. That could be huge news for a renewed Eddie Lacy, who rushed for 100 yards last week.
Carolina Panthers at Dallas Cowboys (Pick’em) — This is the first time all year I couldn’t find a line at Vegas Insider to push a consensus pick’em in a direction. The Panthers have been crushing it. They face a defense that is 25th in run DVOA — Jonathan Stewart has just been a lock for 100 yards and has found the end zone far more often than I expected of late — that has allowed 58.8 receiving yards to running backs — Stewart’s been involved there a bit too. They’ve also allowed 87.8 receiving yards to No. 1 wide receivers, fifth-most int he NFL. Devin Funchess‘ ascendance to viable fantasy option couldn’t have come at a better time for himself and Cam Newton, who could put on a show in the holiday spotlight Thursday. The Panthers rank second in pass DVOA and fourth in run DVOA, but they’re on the road and Tony Romo appears fresh and prepared to pick up the Cowboys and carry them into contention. Carolina has allowed the fifth-lowest receiving yard total to No. 1 wide receivers, but they are middle of the road against the rest. Indicating a low ceiling for Dez Bryant, but the potential for big games from Terrence Williams, Cole Beasley, Jason Witten and Darren McFadden, who all have shown they can put up big fantasy days. The game is projected to be the sixth-highest scoring of the week.
Philadelphia Eagles (-1) at Detroit Lions — One Packers blowout and two nail-biters to watch as we digest massive amounts of turkey here in the United States. This one is projected to be the eighth-highest scoring game, meaning Las Vegas thinks all of our turkey day contests will be in the top half of highest scoring games this weak. The Lions’ Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate have to be absolutely salivating at this matchup. The Eagles have allowed 94 yards receiving to No. 1 wide receivers, second-most in the NFL, and their 60.4 yards to No. 2 wide receivers is one of the highest totals as well. They’re also middle-of-the-road against slot/bench wide receivers, which means Lance Moore could provide some flex help in deep leagues. Meanwhile, the Eagles get to face a Lions defense that is 22nd against the run and 20th against the pass in DVOA. They’ve been mostly susceptible to No. 2 wide receivers, however, if the Eagles win this thing it’s going to be on the shoulders of DeMarco Murray and, maybe, Mark Sanchez has a little fantasy value too.
Minnesota Vikings at Atlanta Falcons (-2) — The Vikings are fifth-worst in the NFL in run DVOA, but the Falcons backfield of Tevin Coleman and Terron Ward were hardly effective after Devonta Freeman left the game. In order for Vegas to be right, Matt Ryan-to-Julio Jones has to happen as it has so many times this season. Atlanta is middle-of-the-road in both run and pass DVOA, but they have given up large yardage totals to both tight ends — Kyle Rudolph stepped up big for the Vikings last week — and receiving running backs — Adrian Peterson is as all-universe a player as you can start on your fantasy team.
Oakland Raiders (-2) at Tennessee Titans — Marcus Mariota is my top play in this one by a long stretch. He’s shredded bad defenses this season and he may get his No. 1 wide receiver (Kendall Wright) back this week as they face a Raiders defense that has allowed the third-most receiving yards to No. 1 wide receivers. They’ve also allowed a big number to No. 2 wide receivers, which means Dorial Green-Beckham could be in for a day. Mariota’s top receiver has been TE Delanie Walker and I don’t expect he’ll have much trouble against the Raiders this week. Despite all the love for the Titans home, the Raiders are the favorites here. Tennessee has been tough against the pass, funneling to the running game, but the Raiders strength is the passing of Derek Carr to Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Latavius Murray could be in for a solid week and Tennessee has been among the worst against tight ends, so Clive Walford could pay off as a what-the-heck sleeper.
New York Giants (-2.5) at Washington Redskins — This is the third-highest scoring game of the week. I’m surprised it wasn’t higher. Neither team is particularly good at stopping the pass, which means huge things for both Eli Manning and Kirk Cousins. Cousins, coming off a bad week, has shredded bad pass defenses in the past, particularly when his tight end, Jordan Reed, has a good matchup. The Giants are worst in the NFL against the TE. Pin your ears back, Ninja, and go Cousins and Reed in GPPs. DeSean Jackson‘s fresh legs and the emerging Jamison Crowder also present nice options in the Redskins pass game. Manning, of course, will make sure Odell Beckham Jr. gets a ton of targets against a defense that is 26th in pass DVOA. Dwayne Harris, who had a big game last week, and Rueben Randle also will be in play.
Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns (-2.5) — Cleveland is one of the NFL teams you target for running back play this week, a good spot for Javorious Allen, who will step into a starting role with Justin Forsett‘s season-ending injury. The loss of Joe Flacco — and likely start of Matt Schaub — does limit the Ravens offense quite a bit despite a cushy matchup. The Browns are 29th in both pass and run DVOA. The Ravens are 27th in pass DVOA and indicate they funnel plays to the passing side of things, where Josh McCown should be able to get things going to the teams top targets, Travis Benjamin and Gary Barnidge. The Ravens have given up a high total to No. 2 wide receivers, but are middle of the road against all other receiver types.
New Orleans Saints at Houston Texans (-3) — New Orleans is the worst team in the NFL against the pass and 26th against the run, meaning there should be some openings for the Texans, particularly for all-universe receiver DeAndre Hopkins and his QB, Brian Hoyer. Cecil Shorts III and Nate Washington also have to be considerations. Alfred Blue might also find more room than usual to run. Houston is 11th in DVOA against the pass and middle of the road against the run, which indicates this might be a big week for Mark Ingram. The Texans have allowed one of the highest totals in the league to WR2s, which means we may get more out of Willie Snead than we’d normally expect. Although it’s not a great matchup on paper, the Drew Brees-to-Brandin Cooks combo is almost always in play in daily fantasy tournaments.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Indianapolis Colts (-3) — Tampa Bay is fifth against the run but 20th against the pass in DVOA, which indicates they funnel to the passing game. Matt Hasselbeck is more of a game manager than a gunslinger, but he may be able to find T.Y. Hilton for a big pass or three this week. The Colts have been strong against the run and not particularly weak against the pass this season, according to DVOA. However, yards per game averages indicate huge weaknesses against No. 1 and No. 2 wide receivers and tight ends. That could spell big things — although, let’s not expect another 5 TDs — for Jameis Winston and his receivers, WR Mike Evans, WR Vincent Jackson and TE Cameron Brate. Monitor the status of TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins who was questionable as of this writing.
New England Patriots (-3) at Denver Broncos — Although it may not be great for your fantasy teams, this is the matchup of the week. Tom Brady and the top passing offense in the NFL vs. the top passing defense in the NFL. The Broncos are also good at stopping the run, 9th in DVOA. New England hasn’t been defensive slouches either, ranking eighth in run DVOA and 12th in pass DVOA. Here’s where it gets interesting. The Broncos one weakness has been against tight ends (58.7 yards per game). Wouldn’t it be like Bill Belichick to withhold targets from Rob Gronkowski almost all season then have him blow up for 12 catches, 200 yards and three TDs against the top pass defense in the NFL? New England has been susceptible to No. 2 and bench/slot wide receivers this season, which means the emerging WR Cody Latimer and QB Brock Osweiler could take a star turn on a pretty big stage this week.
Teams with a higher projected score should also have higher projected fantasy points, so it doesn’t hurt to see which teams are expected to go bananas and which ones are supposed to drop an egg.
We’ve covered most of the big spots on this list already, but there are a couple we need to discuss.
Jacksonville Jaguars at home vs. San Diego Chargers — Blake Bortles burned almost everyone in the fantasy industry a few weeks ago. Now the Jaguars are tied for the projected fifth-highest total of the week against a Chargers defense that just can’t stop anything. We have to put Bortles and his top receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns in play. T.J. Yeldon could put up a huge game as well. Jacksonville is also 30th against the pass, and particularly ineffective against Philip Rivers‘ top receiving threats, TEs Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green and RB Danny Woodhead.
Seattle Seahawks at home vs. Pittsburgh Steelers — I wouldn’t be surprised if this game turns into a shootout. Pittsburgh has been staunch against the run, but Thomas Rawls will likely get a lot of work running out the clock, if the Las Vegas prediction holds up. The Steelers have given up quite a few yards to No. 1 and No. 2 wide receivers, which means Russell Wilson, Tyler Lockett and Doug Baldwin (if he plays) could provide sneaky help this week. Seattle has one of the best defenses in the NFL. They haven’t been as dominant as in the past. They have given up quite a few yards to opposing tight ends, putting Heath Miller in play. No matchup could scare me away from Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown as long as the duo are on the field together. They’ll make for a good stack in daily fantasy tournaments as well because people will avoid them over the matchup concern.
|Green Bay Packers||27.5|
|New York Giants||24.5|
|New England Patriots||23.5|
|Kansas City Chiefs||23|
|New York Jets||23|
|New Orleans Saints||22.25|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||21.75|
|San Diego Chargers||21.25|
|San Francisco 49ers||17.25|
|St. Louis Rams||16.5|