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NFL Week 12 Best Bets: Banking on favorites playing like favorites

Well, I managed to hit on a couple best bets last week. Of course, I also swung and missed at a few, too.

Unfortunately, that constitutes progress in this Friday exercise in futility. I'm going to ramp it up with a five-game format this week -- in desperation, perhaps -- and, with the assumption that this is the time of the season in which the cream begins to rise, I'm going heavy with favorites and taking the points in just one instance.

Tampa Bay (+9½) at Detroit: The Bucs are a scary team right now -- nothing to lose and a seeming desire to derail a season or two along the way. The QB is playing well, they are running it down people's throats and I think they can stay close even if Detroit's offense turns this into a shootout. The Lions need to bounce back and probably will, but they are generally caught up in close games and I don't see them running away with this tricky game.

Carolina (-3½) at Miami: Some will call this a trap game for the surging Panthers, with the Dolphins a team they will overlook. I'm not sure this team is built that way. If anything they seem intent on keeping this going and seeing where they end up. They should be able to out-physical Miami and grind their way to a win here even if they aren't having their best day. I don't think Miami's makeshift offensive line will hold up as the sample size continues to grow. Ryan Tannehill will have problems with this defense, especially if he's hit as much as is the norm.

Baltimore (-2½) vs. NY Jets: The Ravens and Jets are utterly inconsistent but I still like Baltimore at home, especially in a must-win game against a rookie quarterback. The Jets' defensive front will present issues for the Ravens' suspect offensive line, but I liked Ray Rice's wiggle last week and he should be a factor in the screen game. Joe Flacco will have options against this secondary and Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil should be able to force Geno Smith into a turnover or three.

Green Bay (-3½) vs. Minnesota: The Packers aren't this bad and might even have the best QB in this game even without Aaron Rodgers and with Scott Tolzien. Another week of practice will do the youngster good. With a beat-up Greg Jennings and Adrian Peterson there is no explosion in the Vikes' attack. Something of a must-win for the Packers and their star power, even sans Rodgers, should persevere.

NY Giants (-2½) vs. Dallas: The Giants put up 31 points and over 500 yards on Dallas in Week 1, despite six turnovers, at a time when the Cowboys defense hadn't been gutted by injury. Even out of the bye, the Cowboys are reeling and I don't like their ability to stop a three-receiver attack here. New York is hot, the defense has improved by the week and the Giants have a chance to pull into second place in their inept division and stay on the Eagles' heels. I see them taking advantage of it.

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