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NFL preview capsules — Week 12

Steelers (4-6) at Browns (4-6)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

Line: Browns by 1½.

The skinny: These are two of the six AFC teams with a 4-6 record. The Jets and Dolphins are 5-5. All eight are battling for the sixth and final playoff spot. The Steelers are 1-5 against the spread (ATS) in their past six road games, but they looked great last week. Call it a hunch.

The pick: Steelers.

Jets (5-5) at Ravens (4-6)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

Line: Ravens by 3½.

The skinny: I’m not sure this is a great spot for the Jets, but if their pattern of win, loss, win continues, they are on course for a win. The Jets have covered four consecutive games after a loss. The main reason I’ll pick Rex Ryan & Co. is his old team, which has won or lost five of their past seven games by three or fewer points. Translation: They don’t win big and usually play close games. I’ll take the points.

The pick: Jets.

Buccaneers (2-8) at Lions (6-4)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

Line: Lions by 9.

The skinny: After last week’s loss, which included a botched fake field-goal attempt, Lions coach Jim Schwartz made like the Lion in The Wizard of Oz: “Don’t say I’m scared because we ain’t,” he said. “When I say we, I mean me.” Scared, no. A bit misguided, yep. I’m not afraid to take the Buccaneers, who have won two in a row and covered three in a row.

The pick: Buccaneers.

Bears (6-4) at Rams (4-6)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

Line: Rams by 1.

The skinny: Quick: Name the No. 3 offense in points per game behind Denver and New Orleans? I was surprised it was the Bears. The Rams are 3-7 against the spread in their past 10 home games.

The pick: Bears.

Vikings (2-8) at Packers (5-5)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

Line: Packers by 4½.

The skinny: Aaron Rodgers held his usual midweek news conference and told the reporters in attendance: “I just missed you guys a lot.” I imagine the Packers feel the same way about their injured starting quarterback as the Packers are mired in a three-game skid. The Pack will find a way to get it done.

The pick: Packers.

Chargers (4-6) at Chiefs (9-1)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

Line: Chiefs by 4½.

The skinny: How will the Chiefs respond after their first loss? San Diego, which has lost three in a row, is going to find out. Kansas City, which has something to prove, will get back on track.

The pick: Chiefs.

Panthers (7-3) at Dolphins (5-5)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

Line: Panthers by 4½.

The skinny: I’m not sure there’s a team I’d want to face less than the Panthers, who boast a tough no-name defense and a well-rounded offense. They’ve won and covered six games in a row. No letdown here. Miami is just trying to keep things together amid the chaos.

The pick: Panthers.

Jaguars (1-9) at Texans (2-8)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

Line: Texans by 10.

The skinny: How is a 2-8 team favored by 10 points?

The pick: Jaguars.

Colts (7-3) at Cardinals (6-4)

Time: 4:05 p.m. today.

Line: Cardinals by 2½.

The skinny: I’d love to be on the sidelines before this game and listen to the banter between Cardinals coach Bruce Arians and his former Colts players. Remember, Arians was Indianapolis’ offensive coordinator and took over as interim head coach last season when Chuck Pagano battled leukemia. Arizona is 4-7 against the spread in its past 11 home games. Indianapolis is 7-3 ATS in its past 10 as an underdog.

The pick: Colts.

Titans (4-6) at Raiders (4-6)

Time: 4:05 p.m. today.

Line: Titans by 1.

The skinny: Could there by a quarterback controversy in Oakland? Penn State product Matt McGloin threw for three touchdowns and no interceptions in his debut last week as the Raiders scored a season-high 28 points in a win over the Texans. The Titans are 4-0 against the spread on the road this season. Worth a shot.

The pick: Titans.

Cowboys (5-5) at Giants (4-6)

Time: 4:25 p.m. today.

Line: Giants by 2½.

The skinny: The winner here still has a good shot at winning the NFC East, which is the only way a team in this once-proud division makes the playoffs. Looking at the Giants’ past four games, and I know they were probably owed a few breaks. But, boy, have they been fortunate with four consecutive covers and victories — all against teams with below-average quarterbacks. They won’t be so lucky against Tony Romo. I think the Cowboys are the most talented team in the division. They’re also 5-2 against the spread in their past seven NFC games.

The pick: Cowboys.

Broncos (9-1) at Patriots (7-3)

Time: 8:30 p.m. today.

Line: Broncos by 2½.

The skinny: This is a game I’ll tape and keep on my DVR for historic purposes. When Peyton Manning (470 touchdowns) and Tom Brady (348 touchdowns) meet, this game will have starting quarterbacks with the most combined touchdown passes (818) in NFL history. Brady is 9-4 all-time vs. Manning, who is 2-9 overall — including playoffs — in New England.

The pick: Patriots.

49ers (6-4) at Redskins (3-7)

Time: 8:40 p.m. Monday.

Line: 49ers by 5½.

The skinny: The Redskins probably had their playoff hopes dashed in Philadelphia. The 49ers have lost two in a row and need to rebound quickly with the playoffs nearing. This line scares me because everyone seems to love the 49ers. Tread softly.

The pick: 49ers.

Bye week: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Seattle

— John Boell, Newsday


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