NFL Week 12 picks: Titans vs. Patriots, Rams vs. Packers highlight slate


Even with two first-place teams on their bye week, the stage is set for Week 12 of the NFL season to be one of the most pivotal weeks of the year.

As the Chiefs and Cardinals enjoy some time off, the rest of the NFL’s division leaders enter critical matchups. The Patriots face the Titans with the No. 1 seed in the AFC up for grabs. The Packers and Rams will do the same for NFC positioning. Tampa Bay is tasked with stopping the red-hot Colts. Baltimore must fend off the division-rival Browns on Sunday Night Football.

Perhaps the easiest matchup for a first-place team will be the Cowboys, but they’ll still have to manage a short week before taking on the Raiders on Thanksgiving afternoon. However these games do shake out, it’s no hot take to say the playoff picture will look very different come Tuesday morning.

Each week, NBC Sports Washington’s Ethan Cadeaux and Matt Weyrich will run through every NFL game and make their predictions for the final scores. Below are their picks for Week 12. All game times listed are EST.

BEARS (3-7) at LIONS (0-9-1)

Thursday, 12:30 p.m. on FOX

The Bears have lost five straight and they expect to start Andy Dalton under center due to a rib injury that quarterback Justin Fields suffered last week. The Lions have yet to win a game this season and QB Jared Goff is a “gameday decision” after Tim Boyle started for them last week. This isn’t the Thanksgiving matchup many fans are looking forward to.


Ethan: Bears 23, Lions 6 | Matt: Bears 17, Lions 16

RAIDERS (5-5) at COWBOYS (7-3)

Thursday, 4:30 p.m. on CBS

Dallas endured a humbling loss to the Chiefs in Week 11, scoring fewer than 10 points in a game for the first time since Ben DiNucci was starting for them on Sunday Night Football last season. The Cowboys will look to get right against a Raiders team that’s unraveled as the off-the-field issues have piled up.

Ethan: Cowboys 31, Raiders 21 | Matt: Cowboys 31, Raiders 28

BILLS (6-4) at SAINTS (5-5)

Thursday, 8:20 p.m. on NBC

Has New Orleans already hit rock bottom, or are the Bills about to show them what it really looks like? The Saints’ offense is a skeleton crew of the group they expected to have at the start of training camp, but the defense can still keep them in games. Whether or not that happens will just depend on what version of the Bills shows up Thursday night.

Ethan: Bills 27, Saints 17 | Matt: Bills 36, Saints 25

STEELERS (5-4-1) at BENGALS (6-4)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. on CBS

The Steelers and Bengals meet for the second time after the Bengals pulled out a 14-point victory in Pittsburgh three weeks into the season. Both teams have shown flashes of a playoff team, but Cincinnati’s defensive issues and the Steelers’ offensive limitations have kept them from moving up into the heavyweight tier. Sunday’s game should show which side has more to worry about.

Ethan: Steelers 27, Bengals 24 | Matt: Bengals 21, Steelers 14

BUCCANEERS (7-3) at COLTS (6-5)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. on FOX

The Buccaneers have not played a single game over the last seven weeks against a team that currently has a winning record. That streak will end in Indianapolis, where the Colts are rolling after beating the Bills to stretch their winning streak to three. Both offenses are capable of putting up points in bunches, but one key defensive stop late is all it takes.

Ethan: Colts 30, Buccaneers 24 | Matt: Colts 38, Buccaneers 35

PANTHERS (5-6) at DOLPHINS (4-7)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. on FOX

Cam Newton’s return to Carolina may have resulted in a loss to Washington, but the veteran QB showed he still has some of the two-way abilities that made his first Panthers tenure such a success. He’ll look to build off that performance against Miami, which has allowed just three touchdowns in its last three games.

Ethan: Panthers 26, Dolphins 16 | Matt: Panthers 18, Dolphins 10

TITANS (8-3) at PATRIOTS (7-4)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. on CBS

It’s a travesty this game isn’t in primetime, but the Titans and Patriots will jockey for the top spot in the AFC on Sunday afternoon in a game that promises some smash-mouth football. Both defenses have been key to their respective teams’ success, which is no surprise given Bill Belichick and his former linebacker Mike Vrabel are leading the way.

Ethan: Patriots 23, Titans 13 | Matt: Titans 17, Patriots 7

EAGLES (5-6) at GIANTS (3-7)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. on FOX

The Giants will have a new voice making play calls on offense this week after offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was fired Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Eagles’ offense looks revamped following an increased reliance on the running game in recent weeks. Anything can happen in a divisional matchup, but Philadelphia holds all the momentum heading into the weekend.


Ethan: Eagles 23, Giants 16 | Matt: Eagles 34, Giants 17

FALCONS (4-6) at JAGUARS (2-8)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. on CBS

Amid a week full of top contenders going head to head, there are always going to be a few dud matchups. The Falcons have scored three points over their last two games while the Jaguars are in contention for the No. 1 seed. It’s not often Jacksonville is given a fighting chance on Sundays this year, but Atlanta’s defense hasn’t been able to stop anybody.

Ethan: Jaguars 16, Falcons 13 | Matt: Jaguars 24, Falcons 21

JETS (2-8) at TEXANS (2-8)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. on CBS

Speaking of duds, the two-win bowl is set for NRG Stadium in Houston as the Jets and Texans look to show their season has new life. Zach Wilson is back under center for New York, even if it was forced by injuries. The Texans are coming off an upset win over the Titans with hopes of building a winning streak for the first time this season.

Ethan: Jets 20, Texans 14 | Matt: Texans 27, Jets 13

CHARGERS (6-4) at BRONCOS (5-5)

Sunday, 4:05 p.m. on CBS

The AFC West has been the toughest division in the NFL thus far this year. Los Angeles and Denver haven’t played yet, making their Week 12 showdown a good measuring stick for where each stands in the division. Neither team is short on offensive weapons, but there’s plenty of talent on the defensive side of the ball as well.

Ethan: Chargers 24, Broncos 13 | Matt: Chargers 35, Broncos 28

RAMS (7-3) at PACKERS (8-3)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. on FOX

Who is the team to beat in the NFC? The Buccaneers and Cardinals might have a share of that claim, but the Rams and Packers are just as much conference heavyweights. Matt Stafford and Aaron Rodgers should provide one of the best quarterback matchups of the season. This game very well may come down to which team has the ball last.

Ethan: Packers 31, Rams 28 | Matt: Rams 31, Packers 30

VIKINGS (5-5) at 49ERS (5-5)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. on FOX

Vikings-49ers may get overshadowed by the other 4:25 p.m. game, but there’s plenty of intrigue with two teams looking to salvage their seasons after slow starts. The Vikings, fresh off an upset win over the Packers, have been nothing short of prolific on offense that last few weeks. The 49ers, winners in three of their last four, appear to have turned a corner on defense.

Ethan: Vikings 27, 49ers 24 | Matt: Vikings 29, 49ers 24

BROWNS (6-5) at RAVENS (7-3)

Sunday, 8:20 p.m. on NBC

The Browns have been one of the most up-and-down teams that the NFL has seen this season, alternating between wins and losses each of the last six weeks. With two games against the Ravens essentially back-to-back (with a bye in between), Cleveland can’t afford inconsistency. Baltimore escaped disaster in Chicago without Lamar Jackson and now gets him back in hopes of making a statement.


Ethan: Ravens 35, Browns 10 | Matt: Ravens 41, Browns 35


Monday, 8:15 p.m. on ESPN

The Washington Football Team has a winning streak, a feat that had eluded them for the first half of the season. The same cannot be said for Seattle, which has dropped two in a row despite Russell Wilson returning from injury. Washington boasts better personnel on both sides of the ball, but it will be up to Ron Rivera and Co. to play a complete game and keep the streak going.

Ethan: Washington 23, Seahawks 20 | Matt: Washington 20, Seahawks 14

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