NFL Week 12 Tips: Philadelphia to smack down the Pack

Man on the run: Aaron Rodgers will face a lot of heat from Philly's pass rush
Man on the run: Aaron Rodgers will face a lot of heat from Philly's pass rush

Neil Harvey's going all-in on Philadelphia to slay the Packers, and he likes the kickers more than the quarterbacks for what could be a thriller in Denver...

'The Packers D is bad. Really, really bad. It's given up an average of more than 40 points in its last three road games. So how can you expect them to win?'

Kansas City Chiefs @ Denver Broncos
Monday, 01:30

This is a crunch divisional game in the AFC West. With both teams on 7-3, whoever wins stays on the coat tails of leaders Oakland, The losers though will be left needing a huge amount of things to go right for them if they're to even grab a wildcard place.

Straight off the bat, my gut instinct says Denver win this. But perhaps that's because I'm still mentally scarred from watching how Pittsburgh dismantled the Chiefs at will, with a series of deep passes to the corners, earlier this season. It was brutal to watch a team being exposed like that.

Logic though suggests there's little chance of Kansas being exposed like that here. Denver's Trevor Siemian is no Ben Roethlisberger. According to the stats, his game does bear a strong resemblance though to that of his opposite number here - Alex Smith - with both QBs ranking near the bottom of the league at connecting on mid- to long-range passes. So we should expect a fair bit of dink and dunk in this one.

Both quarterbacks are fairly average if we're being honest. It's Smith though who faces the much tougher challenge, with the Broncos ranking second in the NFL against the pass, compared to KC's 17th, and giving up a whole yard per pass less than the Chiefs. The Denver pass rush also brings a lot more heat, having sacked the opposing QB almost 50 percent more times than Kansas. Smith will need to be getting rid of the ball especially fast here - again suggesting that we'll see a lot of short passes - with tight end Travis Kelce the obvious beneficiary, followed by running back Spencer Ware.

The teams stack up almost identically again in terms of their running games. So offensively there's little to split them. Devontae Booker got 24 carries last time out and should continue leading the way for Denver. Spencer Ware will dominate backfield possession for Kansas. Ware has failed to break 70 yards though in his last three outings, and so his quote of 76.5 looks on the high side.

The Broncos have only lost once at home, to Atlanta, and won their other games by an average of 10 points. Kansas though have taken some impressive scalps on the road, including Houston and Oakland, and so can't be ruled out. There's huge pressure on both sides to win and so victory of any kind will do. All this makes me think we're in for a desperately tight encounter where a field goal could decide it. A change of lead from half time to full therefore seems good value.

Both sides should struggle at quarterback, and so the points total of 39.5 looks high. I fancy the kickers to play a key role though and the odds on there being at least four field goals looks a particularly strong play. This might not be a high scoring game, but it should still have plenty of drama. And I'll even advocate a small play on overtime, just in case it goes to the wire.

Recommended Bets

4pts Total Field Goals Over 3.5 @ [11/10]
4pts Kansas (+3.5) to beat Denver @ 1.9520/21
4pts Total Points Under 39.5 @ 1.9420/21
3pts Spencer Ware rushing yards to be Under 76.5 @ [5/6] (Sportsbook)
3pts Travis Kelce receptions Over 5.5 @ [5/6] (Sportsbook)
3pts Devontae Booker rush attempts to be Over 17.5 @ [5/6] (Sportsbook)
1pt Kansas HT/Denver FT @ [5/1] (Sportsbook)
1pt Denver HT/Kansas FT @ [6/1] (Sportsbook)
1pt tie after normal time @ [14/1] (Sportsbook)

Green Bay Packers @ Philadelphia Eagles
Tuesday, 01:30

History and pundits tell us that the Green Bay recovery is just around the corner. But the truth is that there's a lot more money to be made from opposing them.

You could argue that at 5-5, Philadelphia are no great shakes and that they offer the perfect springboard from which 4-6 Green Bay can catapult themselves towards the play-offs. But if that's what you think, then consider this...the Eagles have played mostly on the road so far. But at home they've been invincible, winning all four games, and by an average of more than 17 points. Still fancy the Packers?

You might argue that Aaron Rodgers is peaking. But I've got two words for you - garbage time. Rodgers may be closing in on 3,000 yards for the season, but plenty of those yards came when the jig was up, such as last week in Washington. In reality, Rodgers is playing no better or worse than last year. Although his rushing yards have risen - again suggesting that he's having to chase the game more - I mean it's not like he'd be running out of choice.

Packers supporters will point out the array of receiving options at Rodgers' disposal - with Davante Adams, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Uncle Tom Cobley and all at his beck and call. What about the Pittsburgh passing offense though? Not too shabby? Plenty of good receivers? The Steelers scored just three points in Philly. And then there was Atlanta, and Matty Ice, who were held to 15 points. In all, the Eagles have conceded an average of just nine points per game at home. All but one of their opponents had winning records at the time.

The Philly defense has been average against the run, not that Green Bay pose a threat there, and above average against the pass. The Eagles rank near the top of the league for sacks and interceptions and look guaranteed to lay hands on Aaron Rodgers, whose starting to remind me of Arnold Schwarzenegger in 'The Running Man', such is the pressure he's been under.

So where will Philadelphia win it? Well, they've scored 10 rushing touchdowns compared to 11 through the air. That's an unusually heavy contribution from the run game. Ryan Matthews is out. But I never rated him. That leaves Darren Sproles and rookie Wendell Smallwood to prosper in his absence. Sproles' role has been more as a pass catcher and he's yet to find paydirt. And so it looks like we need to get with Smallwood, who came up with 79 scrimmage yards last week when coming in mid-game for the injured Matthews. Smallwood has looked lively in his few cameo appearances this season and looks set to make a big splash against a Green Bay defensive line that's been exposed as utterly useless in recent weeks.

Carson Wentz has blown hot and cold this year, but should have one of his better days against a Packers secondary that's conceded a league-high 8.6 yards per catch. The Packers D is bad. Really, really bad. It's given up an average of more than 40 points in its last three road games. So how can you expect them to win? Rodgers will huff and puff and chase garbage glory, but his luck is going to run out soon and he'll start getting picked off. And this looks like a good place for it to start.

The Packers were drubbed last week and I expect them to get another sound thrashing here. So for just the second time this season, I'm giving out a maximum recommendation bet (the last one won) - this time on the Eagles.

Recommended Bets

5pts Philadelphia to win @ 1.564/7
3pts Philadelphia to win H/T & F/T at [10/11] (Sportsbook)
2pts Philadelphia (-2.5) and Over 48.5 points @ [12/5] (Sportsbook)
2pts Philadelphia to win by 13 or more @ [3/1] (Sportsbook)
3pts Aaron Rodgers pass completions Under 26.5 @ [5/6] (Sportsbook)
2pts Zach Ertz receiving yards Over 58.5 @ [5/6] (Sportsbook)
2pts Jordan Matthews receiving yards Over 73.5 @ [5/6] (Sportsbook)
2pts Wendell Smallwood to score anytime touchdown @ 2.506/4 (Sportsbook)
1pt Wendell Smallwood to score 1st touchdown @ [11/1] (Sportsbook)
1pt Zach Ertz to score 1st touchdown @ [11/1] (Sportsbook)

Profit and Loss Record

Staked: 313 pts
Returned: 345.04 pts
Profit: +32.04

Staked: 261 pts
Returned: 295.21 pts
Profit: +34.21

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