NFL Week 12 Early Game Previews


Cleveland Browns (3-6-1) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (5-5)

Preview

The Cleveland Browns march into Cincinnati as one of the healthiest teams in the NFL coming off their bye week. The Browns’ offense is starting to come around behind the offensive play calling of Freddie Kitchens. This may be a bit of a revenge game for Baker Mayfield and the rest of the organization, as former head coach Hue Jackson will be standing on the opposite sideline. The Bengals desperately need a win this week if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.


Players to watch

Baker Mayfield should have a solid game for the Browns, especially if they continue to open up their playbook for him. Mayfield will have opportunities to take advantage of the Bengals’ beat up secondary, and Rashard Higgins and Jarvis Landry should be able to make plays in the passing game. If they are able to get a lead, Nick Chubb will see a ton of carries in the second half. For the Bengals, Andy Dalton will have to play very well, especially if A.J. Green is out again this week. If he is out, Tyler Boyd will see a lot of Denzel Ward. Joe Mixon will once again be the focus of the Bengals’ offensive attack.


Keys to the game

Cleveland Browns

  • Attack the middle of the field through the air

  • Effectively run off the tackle

  • Utilize blitzes with man coverage

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Force Baker to win from the pocket

  • Win the turnover battle

  • Make plays down the field with or without A.J. Green

Injury list

Cleveland Browns

David Njoku, TE- Knee (Questionable)

J.C. Tretter, OL- Ankle (Questionable)


Cincinnati Bengals

A.J. Green, WR- Toe (Questionable)

Nick Vigil, LB- Knee (Out)

Josh Malone, WR - Hamstring (Out)

Adolphus Washington, DL- Knee (Out)

Cordy Glenn, OL- Back (Questionable)

Dre Kirkpatrick, DB- Shoulder (Questionable)

Josh Tupou, DL- Chest (Out)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Nick Chubb, RB (CLE)

Joe Mixon, RB (CIN)

A.J. Green, WR (CIN)

Baker Mayfield, QB (CLE)

Andy Dalton, QB (CIN)

Prediction

The Browns offense will make enough plays in Cincinnati to come away with a victory. Baker Mayfield will hook up with Rashard Higgins for a couple of big plays, and Chubb will salt the game away on the ground. Gregg Williams will dial up several blitz that will make Andy Dalton uncomfortable in the pocket, and that will lead to several turnovers. The Bengals’ playoff chances will be crushed after this week.


Final Score: Browns 31, Bengals 27


Written by: Jake Leicht


San Francisco 49ers (2-8) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-7)

Preview

Two teams just fighting for their honor is what will be at stake when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers welcome the San Francisco 49ers to Raymond James Stadium. Both teams, while not mathematically eliminated just yet, are basically out of the playoff picture and are just fighting for a good spot in the upcoming draft. San Francisco is coming off their bye week, so they’ll be rested for this contest. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, is coming off a shootout loss to the New York Giants, 38-35, which saw Ryan Fitzpatrick get benched for Jameis Winston. Ironically, both teams are coming off losses to Big Blue (SF lost 27-23 on the prior Monday night), so it’ll be interesting to see who can turn it around first.


Players to watch

It’s a homecoming of sorts, as Matt Breida returns to the area that produced him and his skills. Keep an eye on him to chew up the clock in the trenches, and George Kittle to continue establishing himself as a dominant tight end. Jameis Winston has been turnover prone since he entered the league, but this 49ers defense might be the best chance he’s had all season to come away with zero. Mike Evans has been silent these last few weeks, an anomaly for the Bucs, so look for him to hopefully come back to life in front of his home crowd. And maybe, just maybe, the Winston to Desean Jackson connection will finally come to fruition.


Keys to the game

San Francisco 49ers

  • Ride the Mullens train

  • Feed Matt Breida

  • Target Kittle early and often

  • Generate pressure on Jameis

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • No costly turnovers

  • Find Evans early

  • Generate pressure up the middle

  • Kicking game must show up

Injury list

San Francisco 49ers

Pierre Garcon, WR- Knee (Out)

Reuben Foster, LB- Hamstring (Questionable)

Joshua Garnett, G- Thumb (Out)


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jordan Whitehead, S- Concussion (Questionable)

Jason Pierre-Paul, DE- Knee/Shoulder (Questionable)

Justin Evans, S- Toe (Out)

Lavonte David, LB- Knee (Out)

Garrison Sanborn, LS - Knee (Questionable)

Ryan Jensen, C - Hamstring (Questionable)

M.J. Stewart, CB - Foot (Out)

Vinny Curry, DE - Ankle (Questionable)

Desean Jackson, WR (Thumb)

Ronald Jones, RB - Hamstring (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Matt Breida, RB (SF)

George Kittle, TE (SF)

Jameis Winston, QB (TB)

Mike Evans, WR (TB)

Cameron Brate, TE (TB)

Prediction

This game could easily be an ugly contest, primarily because both squads would prefer a loss more if it enables them to receive a higher draft pick. San Francisco is trying to eliminate this year and get Jimmy Garoppolo back, so they’re playing with more to gain. Tampa, meanwhile, is putting Jameis back at the helm, so expect some turnovers to happen. And it’ll be a late turnover on a game-winning drive that will seal the win for San Francisco. Breida scores twice in his return home.


Final Score: 49ers 24, Buccaneers 19


Written by: Joe Carlino


Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7) vs. Buffalo Bills (3-7)

Preview

Two months ago, if I told you that the Jaguars would be going into their Week 12 matchup with the same record as the Buffalo Bills, you would have most likely called me crazy. And for good reason. But that is exactly where we are in this weekend’s matchup. These teams’ troubles with winning games this year don’t come from their lack of defense, as both teams sport top 5 squads in terms of yards. Rather, their struggles stem from their poor offenses. Blake Bortles has 5 games with under 200 yards this season, one of which was under 70 yards, and the Bills are statistically the worst passing offense in the league. This game should be about as boring as they come. Two teams that have been struggling to score all year with very good defenses doesn’t exactly strike me as a game that will have us at the edge of our seats.


Players to watch

There won’t be much to watch on either team’s offense, but I guess we’ll have to try. Leonard Fournette will have to have a day if Blake Bortles and this offense is going to have any success. Trumaine Edwards and Kyle Williams will have something to say about that. So will Lorenzo Alexander, Buffalo’s leader in sacks, who will be in Bortles’ face all day. With Josh Allen back, this Bills offense could have some life breathed into it, but I wouldn’t bank on it. The Bills offensive line is still horrendous, and the Jaguars front 7 is stacked with the likes of Calais Campbell, Marcell Dareus, and Yannick Ngakoue. We will likely see a heavy dose of LeSean McCoy in this game, but volume doesn’t always mean production, especially with Myles Jack and Telvin Smith on the field.


Keys to the game

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Don’t ask Bortles to do much

  • Control the game with Fournette

  • Keep Allen in the pocket


Buffalo Bills

  • Let Josh Allen use his feet

  • Make Bortles beat you

  • Contain Fournette


Injury list

Jacksonville Jaguars

DJ Chark, WR - Quad (Out)

Lerentee McCray, DE - Hamstring (Out)

Quenton Meeks, CB - Knee (Out)

Josh Walker, OL - Foot/Ankle (Out)

Eli Ankou, DT - Calf (Questionable)

A.J. Cann, OL - Hamstring (Questionable)

Marcell Dareus, DT - Back (Questionable)


Buffalo Bills

Derek Anderson, QB - Concussion (Out)

Charles Clay, TE - Hamstring (Doubtful)

Russell Bodine, C - Shoulder (Questionable)

Taron Johnson, CB - Shoulder (Questionable)

Shaq Lawson, DE - Elbow (Questionable)

Trent Murphy, DE - Knee (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Leonard Fournette, RB (JAX)

Jaguars, D/ST (JAX)

Bills, D/ST (BUF)

LeSean McCoy, RB (BUF)

Josh Lambo, K (JAX)


Prediction

No matter how you cut it, this game is going to be boring. There’s going to be a lack of offense from both teams, and a ton of great defense. This should be low scoring, which should bode well for the Jaguars. Although not by much, the Jags are the more talented squad on offense. Josh Allen should struggle against a very good defense and the likes of Jalen Ramsey, which will make scoring for the Bills an issue. The Jaguars will use Fournette and their defense to put Bortles in the right situations and come away with a win in this one.


Final Score: Jaguars 16, Bills 10


Written by: George Haraktsis


Oakland Raiders (2-8) vs. Baltimore Ravens (5-5)

Preview

The Baltimore Ravens are coming off an impressive victory against the Cincinnati Bengals last week. In Lamar Jackson’s first career NFL start, he had 27 rushes for 119 yards. He also played decently well from the pocket, but the Raiders will try to contain him from there once again this week. Oakland will have a week of film on him, so they might be able to craft a defensive game plan to slow him down. Derek Carr will have to play very well if the Raiders are going to keep up the pace in this game.


Players to watch

Lamar Jackson is already one of the most exciting players to watch in the NFL. He played very well against the Bengals last week, and now he will be playing against the porous Raiders. Michael Crabtree will be looking for some revenge against his former team, and he is the perfect security blanket for Jackson. Undrafted rookie running back Gus Edwards will look to continue his breakout performance from last week. Derek Carr will be looking to Jared Cook early and often, and he may also have to check the ball down to the likes of DeAndre Washington.


Keys to the game

Oakland Raiders

  • Attack the middle of the field with Jared Cook

  • Contain Lamar Jackson in the pocket

  • Stop the run


Baltimore Ravens

  • Get Lamar Jackson comfortable early

  • Establish the run

  • Get to the quarterback

Injury list

Oakland Raiders

Martavis Bryant, WR- Knee (Out)

Leon Hall, DB- Back (Questionable)

Jordy Nelson, WR- Knee (Questionable)


Baltimore Ravens

James Hurst, OL- Back (Out)

Tim Williams, LB - Ankle (Questionable)

Joe Flacco, QB- Hip (Out)

Alex Collins, RB- Ankle (Questionable)

Alex Lewis, OL- Shoulder (Questionable)

Anthony Levine, LB- Ankle (Questionable)

Tavon Young, OL- Groin (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Lamar Jackson, QB (BAL)

Gus Edwards, RB (BAL)

Derek Carr, QB (OAK)

Jared Cook, TE (OAK)

Michael Crabtree, WR (BAL)

Prediction

Lamar Jackson will break the Raiders’ defense early and often. Their defense does not have great defensive speed, so Jackson will run wild. Gus Edwards will have plenty of carries to do some damage as well, and Michael Crabtree will score once in his revenge game. Carr will make it interesting at the end, but ultimately this game means too much for the Ravens to lose. They keep their playoff hopes alive, and the Raiders continue to compete for the 2019 Draft’s #1 overall pick.


Final Score: Ravens 27, Raiders 17


Written by: Jake Leicht


Seattle Seahawks (5-5) vs. Carolina Panthers (6-4)

Preview

Two teams in the thick of the NFC wild card picture square off as the Panthers host the Seahawks in the best 1:00 contest of Week 12. Carolina is coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Lions that saw them fail a game-winning two-point conversion, while the Seahawks narrowly defeated the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night. A win by either team is critical for tie-breaking purposes, so expect a knock-down, drag-out contest that just might come down to whoever has the ball last.


Players to watch

This is a matchup of scrambling quarterbacks, with Cam Newton and Russell Wilson looking to lead their teams to victory. Cam will have some extra help in the trenches, as Christian McCaffrey can not only feast in the running game, but also do so as a reliable passing target. Greg Olsen will probably be Cam’s favorite target, but look out for DJ Moore to try and replicate his 7-157-1 game from the week prior. Seattle might be without Doug Baldwin, so if he’s not good to go, it’s up to the other receivers to step up and make the most out of their opportunity


Keys to the game

Seattle Seahawks

  • Let Wilson run free

  • Contain Cam and CMC

  • Don’t get beat vertically

Carolina Panthers

  • Let Cam loose

  • Find open receivers

  • Don’t let Wilson run

Injury list

Seattle Seahawks

K.J. Wright, LB- Knee (Out)

Doug Baldwin, WR- Groin (Questionable)


Carolina Panthers

Torrey Smith, WR- Knee (Questionable)

Devin Funchess, WR- Back (Doubtful)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Russell Wilson, QB (SEA)

Cam Newton, QB (CAR)

Christian McCaffrey, RB (CAR)

DJ Moore, WR (CAR)

Greg Olsen, TE (CAR)

Prediction

This might be the best game of the entire week, just because it’s part of a loaded NFC playoff picture. Both quarterbacks should have great days in the passing game, but I look for the battle up front to be the difference. Seattle is riding high, but their offensive line to me is still questionable. Also, Carolina’s is a tough group to bet against. Panthers win a close game, and it’ll be because of a critical third-down conversion by Cam with his legs.


Final Score: Panthers 31, Seahawks 27


Written by: Joe Carlino


New England Patriots (7-3) vs. New York Jets (3-7)

Preview

These two teams have more things in common than one would think. They’re in the same division, they’re both coming off a bye, and both teams got whooped by more than 23 points in their last games. But that’s exactly where the commonalities stop. The Patriots are one of the best teams in the NFL at bouncing back after tough losses and winning after the bye. Tom Brady is 10-1 after losses of 20+ points, 22-4 since 2003 after his week off, and now they get their best offensive weapon back in Rob Gronkowski. On the other hand, New York is 1-1 in games after losses of 19+ points, the Jets are a below average team after the bye and sport one of the league’s most turnover prone offenses. Even at Metlife, this should be a breeze for New England and a tough beatdown for New York.


Players to watch

Tom Brady will always be the focal point when he’s on the field, but he’s nothing without his teammates. No. 12 will be finding James White out of the backfield all game, so the likes of Avery Williamson should have a tough time with him on Sunday. Williamson will also have to look out for Sony Michel, who figures to be the Patriots’ back between the tackles. With Gronk back and Josh Gordon getting more comfortable every game, Jamal Adams and Trumaine Johnson figure to have their hands full. McCown has a bad week against the Bills and it seems he will not have an easy day again. He will have to deal with Tre Flowers and Deatrich Wise in his face all game, which should make it tough to find WRs Enunwa and Anderson. They match up against Stephon Gilmore, who has been one of the league’s best corners. If the Jets want to win this one they’ll have to rely on Isaiah Crowell quite a bit, but Kyle Van Noy and Dont’a Hightower should make that tough to do.


Keys to the game

New England Patriots

  • Protect Brady

  • Get Gronked involved

  • Utilize White

  • Force McCown outside the pocket

New York Jets

  • Control the clock with the run

  • Protect McCown

  • Force Brady into mistakes

  • Do not give the Patriots second chances

Injury list

New England Patriots

Dwayne Allen, TE - Knee (Out)

Tom Brady, QB - Knee/Illness (Questionable)

Nate Ebner, DB - Knee (Questionable)

Rob Gronkowski, TE - Ankle/Back (Questionable)

Shaq Mason, OG - Calf (Questionable)

Sony Michel, RB - Knee (Questionable)


New York Jets

Sam Darnold, QB - Foot (Out)

Marcus Maye, S - Shoulder/Thumb (Doubtful)

James Carpenter, OL - Shoulder (Doubtful)

Brandon Copeland, LB - Elbow (Questionable)

Robby Anderson, WR - Ankle (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Sony Michel, RB (NE)

Rob Gronkowski, TE (NE)

James White, RB (NE)

Tom Brady, QB (NE)

Isaiah Crowell, RB (NYJ)

Prediction

I am never going to bet against a pissed off Tom Brady coming off of a humiliating loss, after a bye. Just seems like the wrong choice. The Jets also just lost to the Bills, one of the worst teams in the NFL, who were led by journeyman QB Matt Barkley. They’re not exactly clicking right now. The Patriots should come into New Jersey and lay a smackdown on the lowly Jets and re establish themselves as one the league’s best.


Final Score: Patriots 38, Jets 13


Written by: George Haraktsis


New York Giants (3-7) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (4-6)

Preview

Both of these teams are at the bottom of the NFC East division, but neither are out of the playoff race yet! The Eagles are coming off two bad losses at the hands of the Cowboys and Saints, but they still have 4 divisional games remaining. The Giants are riding a two game winning streak, but essentially have to win out if they want a chance to take 1st place in the division. This game will come down to Philly’s defensive line against New York’s offensive line. Whichever team wins that battle will take the W.


Players to watch

Eli Manning has played turnover-free football during the team’s last two wins, and that trend will hopefully continue against a Philly team that ranks 28th in the league in interceptions. The Eagles have four injured defensive backs, which means De’Vante Bausby, Chandon Sullivan, and Cre’Von LeBlanc will be tasked with covering Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram. New York’s offensive line has been performing far better in recent weeks, but they haven’t faced players like Michael Bennet, Fletcher Cox, and Brandon Graham. To neutralize this, they must utilize the play action off of Saquon Barkley. The Eagles need to get a running game going, and it looks as though undrafted rookie Josh Adams will take the first crack at it. The passing game had nothing going last week, so Alshon Jeffery will need to win his battle against Janoris Jenkins.


Keys to the game

New York Giants

  • Set up the play action

  • Give Eli time to throw

  • Contain Philly’s interior run


Philadelphia Eagles

  • Establish the run

  • Find an established #1 receiver

  • Contain Saquon (as much as possible)

Injury list

New York Giants

Kerry Wynn, DE - Concussion (Out)


Philadelphia Eagles

Jordan Hicks, LB - Calf (Out)

Sidney Jones, CB - Hamstring (Out)

Avonte Maddox, CB - Knee/Anke (Out)

Jalen Mills, CB - Foot (Out)

Darren Sproles, RB - Hamstring (Out)

Rasual Douglas, CB - Knee/Ankle (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Saquon Barkley, RB (NYG)

Odell Beckham Jr., WR (NYG)

Zach Ertz, TE (PHI)

Carson Wentz, QB (PHI)

Josh Adams, RB (PHI)

Prediction

Given Philadelphia’s decimated secondary, I don’t think they will be able to match up with New York’s offensive weapons. Saquon Barkley will win any battle against a linebacker and make it really tough on Philadelphia’s defense. I expect New York’s offensive line to struggle, but to give just enough time to Eli to get the ball out, especially as he is getting increasingly comfortable in the pocket. The Eagles will allow the Giants to key in on the pass, and the Giants will squeak out a tight one.

Final Score: Giants 26, Eagles 23


Written by: Alexander Amir

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