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3 bold predictions for NFL Week 12

NFL Week 12 kicked off with an AFC South showdown between the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans. By defeating the Colts, the Texans moved into sole position of first place in the division.

Ahead of Sunday’s slate of games, let’s make some predictions for the remainder of Week 12.

1. Matt Ryan throws 4 TDs

The Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers enter Sunday’s divisional contest with identical 3-7 records, but the two clubs are seemingly headed in opposite directions. The Falcons are riding their first winning streak of the season, having defeated the Saints and Panthers in decisive fashion on the road in successive weeks. The Bucs, on the other hand, have lost five of their last six games.

The defense has led the way for Atlanta in its two-game win streak. The Falcons held the Saints and Panthers out of the end zone, yielding only 12 points across the past two contests. Atlanta amassed 11 sacks in the blowout victories, outscoring their NFC South foes by a combined 43 points.

The Falcons picked off Kyle Allen four times last week. They have a great opportunity to produce more turnovers on Sunday against mistake-prone QB Jameis Winston, who leads the NFL in interceptions with 18. While Winston is likely to cough up the ball again, it’s unlikely the Falcons can go a third straight game without allowing a TD. The Bucs average 27.7 points per contest, the sixth-best mark in the league. Therefore, the Falcons are counting on their offense to pick up the slack.

Quarterback Matt Ryan has a mouth-watering matchup at home versus the Bucs. Tampa Bay has allowed the second-most passing yards this season. Its weak secondary has no one to guard All-Pro wideout Julio Jones, who could produce the best outing of his 2019 campaign. Ryan connected with Jones for six completions for 91 yards against the Panthers.

With starting running back Devonta Freeman sidelined with an ankle injury, the Falcons are going to be throwing the ball more often than usual. Brian Hill started in Freeman’s place last week and disappointed by rushing for 30 yards, despite getting 15 carries. Add in the fact that the Bucs actually possess one of the league’s premier run defenses, and it’s easy to foresee Ryan attempting over 40 passes Sunday.

Ryan ranks fourth in pass attempts and fifth in passing yards per game. He has eclipsed the 300-yard mark in seven of his nine starts this season. The over/under for this NFC South matchup is 53 points. Even with Atlanta playing elite defensively the past two weeks, this could be a shootout—and the biggest statistical beneficiary is Ryan.

The former NFL MVP threw a season-high 4 TDs way back in Week 6 and could replicate that performance against the Bucs. The Bucs have given up 25 passing TDs to QBs this season. That number will rise to 29 after Ryan tosses four touchdowns in a Falcons’ win.

2. Jets upset the Raiders

The Oakland Raiders (6-4) are one of the surprise teams of the 2019 season. They have won three in a row and are currently clinging to an AFC wild-card spot.

Trailing the Kansas City Chiefs by a half-game for first place in the AFC West, could the Raiders fall victim to a ‘trap game’ against the New York Jets? The Raiders play the Chiefs next week in a pivotal divisional contest. They would be wise not to look ahead to their Week 13 AFC West clash because the Jets are capable of pulling off the upset.

The Jets—who are 3.5-point underdogs for their home tilt against Oakland—engineered an upset at MetLife Stadium earlier this season when they defeated the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6. The Jets followed that win, their first of the year, with three consecutive ugly losses to fall to 1-7. However, the Jets (3-7) are now coming off back-to-back victories. More importantly, quarterback Sam Darnold has finally found his groove.

While the Raiders have six wins on the year, they are just 1-3 on the road. Their pass defense is suspect, ranking No. 27 in the league. Darnold will look to exploit the Raiders’ secondary by utilizing slot receiver Jamison Crowder. Quickly becoming Darnold’s most reliable target, Crowder has scored in three straight games.

Crowder has averaged 69.5 yards per contest in games started by Darnold, who missed three weeks dealing with mononucleosis. Crowder has 14 first-down catches on third-down plays this year, tied for seventh-most in the NFL. He has topped 75 yards in each of his past three outings and has collected 18 receptions in that time span. Expect Crowder’s touchdown barrage to continue Sunday.

The Raiders are a run-first team, led by rookie sensation tailback Josh Jacobs. But Jacobs and the Raiders face their stiffest test of the season on the ground against the Jets, who rank No. 1 in rush defense. The Jets have permitted an average of 79.1 rushing yards through 10 games.

Jets safety Jamal Adams could play an instrumental role in defeating the upstart Raiders. He has dominated opposing offenses over the past three weeks to the tune of 16 tackles, two forced fumbles, six sacks, a fumble recovery and a touchdown. He sacked Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins three times last Sunday.

Adams is two sacks away from tying the NFL’s single-season record by a defensive back. Adrian Wilson holds the all-time sack mark by a DB in a season with eight, which he accomplished in 2005. Fully aware that he is on the verge of history, Adams believes he can break the record.

Finding a way to slow down Oakland’s top-notch rushing attack, the Jets win their third straight contest and end the Raiders’ three-game win streak.

3. Sony Michel breaks out of slump, rushes for 100+ yards

The New England Patriots have struggled on offense lately. Their running game, in particular, has been nonexistent for most of the year. No running back has reached the 100-yard plateau this season. Second-year RB Sony Michel will buck that trend and rush for over 100 yards versus the Cowboys.

Michel is averaging a mere 3.3 yards per carry. He has amassed six rushing scores this season, but overall his sophomore year has been a letdown thus far. His season-high in rushing yards is 91. Michel has been held to 50 rushing yards or less five times.

The Patriots activated left tackle Isaiah Wynn from the injured reserve list on Wednesday. The 2018 first-round pick suffered a toe injury in Week 2 and has not played since. He is a major upgrade over Marshall Newhouse. Wynn’s return should help Michel get back on track.

Three of the Cowboys’ four losses have come away from home. Their road woes are likely to continue against the Patriots, who haven’t lost at Gillette Stadium since 2017. The Patriots will build a lead and pound the rock with Michel, who could be fed 20+ carries if things go New England’s way. Dallas is giving up an average of nearly 125 rushing yards over its past four games. This is the perfect spot for Michel to turn things around.