NFL Week 12 player props: Back to basics with big names
Going 2-8 last week was rough, and it was a harsh reminder that getting 61% right isn't sustainable long term.
Week 11 featured Jonathan Taylor hogging all the (five) touchdowns from the Colts' tight ends, the Titans giving nine carries to a washed-up Adrian Peterson before waiving him a few days later, the Browns needlessly throwing the ball despite leading big early on, and Jeff Wilson's inability to take advantage of a 19-carry workload. We deserved a better fate as we fell to just 65-47-1 on the season.
Jonathan Taylor under 79.5 rushing yards
It won't be that easy for Jonathan Taylor ever again. His five touchdowns gave the Colts a blowout win in Buffalo, but now he's got two hurdles to overcome in order to have a big game back home.
The Buccaneers' run defense is not to be trifled with, and they could see the return of Vita Vea to anchor their line. Meanwhile, Tom Brady will shred Indianapolis' pass defense, which creates a negative game script for Taylor volume-wise. On top of that, the cornerstone of the Colts' offensive line, Quenton Nelson, has missed some practice time this week and is listed as questionable.
With fewer carries and fewer holes to run through in this game, it's time to sell high on Taylor a week after the NFL's talking heads decided he's an MVP candidate.
Matt Ryan over 1.5 passing touchdowns
I expect Cordarrelle Patterson to play, and in turn, the Falcons to have more success on offense than they've had the last two weeks. However, the Jaguars' run defense is quietly tied for third-best in yards allowed per attempt and Atlanta isn't good on the ground. If the Falcons reach the end zone, I expect those touchdowns to come via the arm of Matt Ryan, even if it's just short passes to Patterson.
Cam Newton under 215.5 passing yards
One of our few winners last week came from fading Cam Newton, who emphatically announced he was "back" in Carolina but not back enough to top 200 yards passing. Now he's expected to surpass that number on the road against a Dolphins defense that's improved as of late. I might like the over if there was an expectation that Newton would have to pass his way back into this game, but the Panthers are 2-point favorites, so betting markets are expecting a closer contest.
Zach Wilson over 20.5 pass completions
Betting on a Jets quarterback to have success can be daunting. But in this case, the resistance is the Texans' defense, who'll allow Zach Wilson the time to find his receivers. Those pass-catchers will likely be open all over the field, but with Wilson returning after a month away due to injury, he's more likely to take the safer checkdown throws. So, I prefer this strategy over taking passing yardage volume.
Daniel Jones over 18.5 rushing yards
On "Saturday Night Live," the late Norm Macdonald used to say that "Germans love David Hasselhoff." Well, Daniel Jones loves running on the Eagles, totaling 16 carries and 182 yards in three games. There are plenty of interesting options in this game because Freddie Kitchens is taking over play-calling from the infuriatingly conservative Jason Garrett, which creates uncertainty in the New York game plan. I think Kitchens will put the ball in Jones' hands on the move, and he clears this number with one designed rush or multiple scrambles.
Joe Mixon over 72.5 rushing yards
The Bengals came out of their bye last Sunday with a plan: give the ball to Joe Mixon. The workhorse running back carried the ball 30 times and led his team to victory. Now Cincinnati faces the Steelers, who have been sneaky bad on a per-carry basis at 4.8 yards allowed, worst in the NFL. With the Bengals favored by four, the betting market thinks this is likely a game that needs to be salted away, and Mixon - 18 rushes and 90 yards in the first matchup against Pittsburgh - is the man to do it.
D'Onta Foreman over 45.5 rushing yards
Guess what? Adrian Peterson wasn't the answer after all, and unsurprisingly, he's out of Tennessee. Jeremy McNichols is also injured, so the carries have to go somewhere. Even against a good Patriots defense, the Titans will have to force the run game since A.J. Brown will be out as well. This number is low enough to clear, even if Foreman likely won't have a high per-carry average.
Justin Jefferson over 26.5 longest reception
The only thing that could prevent this from cashing would be a plethora of pass interference infractions from the 49ers' secondary. Kirk Cousins should take some shots to Justin Jefferson, so I expect at least one to connect.
Teddy Bridgewater under 244.5 passing yards
This is less about Teddy Bridgewater and more about the success the Broncos will have running the football with Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams, as well as the ball control game the Chargers will be forced to play when Justin Herbert is under center. "Teddy Two Gloves" won't need to throw the ball much and should have fewer drives in what is shaping up to be a close game.
Matthew Stafford under 37.5 passing attempts
Look for the Rams to run the ball more in a back-to-basics approach after the bye week gave them a chance to evaluate their two consecutive losses. Success on the ground means fewer passing attempts and more chunk plays via play-action shots. I expect Los Angeles to win and be able to close out this game without Matthew Stafford having to exert himself.
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.