NFL Week 12 is here, and the NFC East, or Least, if you prefer, has evolved into a great poker hand.
Nowhere on the planet did preseason odds exist to predict this late-November phenomenon. Through NFL Week 11, every division team has exactly three wins, essentially tied for first place.
There is a three-way tie for second place in the NFC East 👀
Washington: 3-7 pic.twitter.com/d3wi671uRt
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 23, 2020
In the poker analogy, who will draw the division’s next big card?
It means these three Week 12 games could significantly impact the standings:
- Washington Football Team at Dallas Cowboys (4:30 p.m. Thursday)
- New York Giants at Cincinnati Bengals (1 p.m. Sunday)
- Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles (8:15 p.m. Monday)
These matchups are prominent for the NJ sports betting crowd as well as fans.
The Eagles are home dogs, the Giants are road favorites and the Cowboys are slight home chalks to Washington.
It’s all fun to handicap.
Looking at NFC East futures market
Teams alternate mini-runs, sharply changing the NFC East futures market.
The Eagles are still the lukewarm DraftKings Sportsbook favorite at +140, down from nearly -250 just a couple of weeks back.
Washington surged from +800 to +450 Sunday night on the basis of one victory, highlighting the wisdom of betting early on a team that seems out of favor.
Dallas had been a deal at +800 but after Sunday’s triumph have become +300. The Giants, who were +2000 in early November, are now +325.
Don’t laugh too hard at these teams.
One of them will likely have the least number of wins ever for a division champion. And that team will host a playoff game.
The 3-6-1 Eagles are in first place against their 3-7 rivals by virtue of an earlier tie against the Bengals. However, they won’t stay there without a victory over the Seahawks next Monday. They look like a horse that ran out of gas around the final turn and is set to be overtaken in the stretch.
The Eagles took it on the chin again in Sunday’s frustrating 22-17 setback to the Cleveland Browns, while Washington and Dallas prevailed.
The Giants were idle during Week 11. They return to face a Bengals team that just lost top rookie Joe Burrow for the season. Cincinnati has nothing to play for, but the Giants do, and they are favored by their highest total all year.
Three wins and they’re giving nearly a touchdown as a road team.
What a wild ride.
Let’s look at some other key variables for this week.
Wentz and the Eagles need major work
Quarterback Carson Wentz is regressing. He is doing just enough each week not to be taken out of the lineup but failing to make important plays. He has thrown the most interceptions in the league.
The Pick 6 he surrendered in the second quarter against the Browns was an early dagger, a head-scratcher one would hardly expect from a fifth-year pro. He also inexplicably took a safety via sack when the Eagles only trailed by three points in the second half.
Wentz later threw another pick at the Cleveland two-yard line with 2:01 left when the Eagles trailed 22-10. That made his touchdown to Dallas Goedert with 30 seconds left cosmetic.
Wentz’s errors cost the Eagles anywhere from eight to 14 points.
He is taking too much time to make a decision, and receivers don’t break open. The Eagles haven’t played what could be considered a full solid game since their Week Four victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
And now they face the Seahawks in a Monday Night Football showdown.
Expect Wentz to remain the Week 12 starter.
Thanksgiving Day battle for the top
Washington and Dallas meet in an ultra-important Thanksgiving Day clash, not simply because of this rivalry. The winner of this game temporarily assumes first place via the rarified air of four victories.
DraftKings put the first Week 12 number up at Dallas -2.5. The line figures to fluctuate, enticing both sides. Dallas bettors will love that number; Washington backers will hit their apps whenever it hits 3.
The Football Team played inspired ball after Burrow’s departure in Sunday’s 20-9 victory over Cincinnati.
Here’s the question for Washington: Is a road win possible?
All three of their victories have occurred at home, including an earlier 25-3 pasting of the Cowboys. In that game, Washington knocked Dallas quarterback Andy Dalton out of the lineup with a vicious hit. He returned Sunday, and Dallas secured an unlikely first road victory this year at +7 against Minnesota.
All joking aside, whoever wins this division is in rare company. Ever wonder who were the weakest teams ever to make the postseason?
The 2010 Seattle Seahawks and 2014 Carolina Panthers each won only seven games.
And how did they do in their first playoff games?
Nothing in the NFL is a lock.
Week 12 opens with Turkey Day blitz
The Washington-Dallas saga is the middle-end of the Thanksgiving NJ sports betting feast.
The Houston Texans open the slate at the Detroit Lions, and the Pittsburgh Steelers try to preserve their unbeaten campaign Thursday night against the Baltimore Ravens in a game that will draw heavy action.
What a difference a month makes. The teams opened November with the Ravens 5-1 and Pittsburgh 6-0. As they close November, the Ravens are 6-4, scuffling for a playoff spot, and the Steelers are enjoying a franchise-best 10-0 start.
Tampa Bay-Kansas City and two gunslingers
In terms of Week 12 games to watch, here’s another great matchup:
Patrick Mahomes and the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tom Brady. Both quarterbacks are capable of putting up big numbers.
The Chiefs are coming off an exhilarating 35-31 shootout win over the Las Vegas Raiders, punctuated by a Mahomes-led touchdown drive in the final two minutes.
Jets reward backers
Never mind that the New York Jets are still winless. Bettors are sinking their teeth into the fact that this team is now playing hard. They covered for the third time in four weeks at +9.5 against the Los Angeles Chargers, who beat them 34-28.
The Jets return to MetLife Stadium to take on the formerly hot Miami Dolphins, who were doused by the Denver Broncos 20-13 on Sunday. Ryan Fitzpatrick replaced an ineffective Tua Tagovailoa in the closing moments of that game.
Will Fitz-Magic, a former Jet, became the starter this week.
photo by ASSOCIATED PRESS