Patriots (7-3) at Jets (3-7): 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Point spread: NE -9.5 | Matchup quality: 33.8 (of 100)
Mike Reiss’ pick: The vibe from the Patriots’ locker room all week has been that the team is capable of more consistent performances on the road, and now the players want to prove it. Getting healthier — with the projected returns of Rob Gronkowski (back, ankle) and starting right guard Shaq Mason (calf) — also should help. Patriots 31, Jets 17
Rich Cimini’s pick: The Jets say they haven’t quit on the season or coach Todd Bowles, and recent history suggests this will be a competitive game. In fact, the past five meetings at MetLife Stadium have been decided by seven points or fewer, including two Jets victories. Another upset? Let’s not get crazy. The Jets have averaged only 10 points per game over their past four, all losses. Patriots 24, Jets 16
FPI win projection: NE, 80.0 percent. The Patriots are a large favorite on the road, projected to win 80 percent of the time by FPI. There has been only one game so far this season with a larger road favorite, according to FPI: Patriots over the Bills in Week 8.
What to watch for in fantasy: The Jets are allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to slot receivers this season. Julian Edelman has aligned inside on 71 percent of his routes this season.
New England Patriots 35, New York Jets 17
Who knows if Sam Darnold will play this Sunday? I do know who is lining up under center for the visitors, though. And if we know anything about Tom Brady in Year 19, the Hall of Famer-to-be was quite pissed off after the way the entire Pats offense played against the Titans. Darnold’s first season in the bigs has been up and down; before he got hurt, he was creating more turnovers than the Jets‘ defense could mitigate. Tell you what is really hurting Gang Green, though: a complete absence of the ground game. Yardage totals over the past four weeks: 71, 57, 73, 83. Of course, going minus-10 in turnover differential over those very games can make trying to run an afterthought.
Jaguars (3-7) at Bills (3-7): 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Point spread: JAX -3 | Matchup quality: 22.0 (of 100)
Mike DiRocco’s pick: Leonard Fournette has had 59 touches in his first two games back from a hamstring injury, and there’s no reason to expect his workload to decrease significantly in Week 12. The Jaguars won the playoff matchup in January by being conservative on offense and relying on the defense. That will be the strategy Sunday, especially if Josh Allen is back for Buffalo. They’ll try to force the rookie quarterback into a couple of mistakes, grab a few turnovers and keep LeSean McCoy from breaking off any big runs. Do that, and they’ll be able to snap their six-game losing streak. Jaguars 13, Bills 7
Mike Rodak’s pick: The last time Blake Bortles faced the Bills’ defense, he passed for 87 yards and led the Jaguars to a 10-3 AFC wild-card playoff win. In predicting this game, the question is less about whether Bortles can beat the Bills’ defense and more about whether the Bills’ offense can prove the 41 points it hung on the Jets in a Week 10 victory was not a fluke. In a game in which one touchdown could decide the result, I will give the edge to a Jacksonville defense that has allowed a 56 percent conversion rate in the red zone compared to a 67.7 percent rate allowed by Buffalo. Jaguars 14, Bills 10
FPI win projection: BUF, 51.7 percent. There might not be a lot of offense to be found in this game. Both teams rank in the top 10 in defensive efficiency this season and in the bottom five in offensive efficiency, according to FPI.
What to watch for in fantasy: Opposing passers have averaged just 5.66 yards per dropback facing the Bills’ defense this season, the second-lowest rate in the NFL.
Jacksonville Jaguars 17, Buffalo Bills 14
Bortles … Allen … It’s the NFL on CBS! The Jaguars lost any chance of winning the AFC South — in all likelihood, anyway — by blowing that 16-point lead against the Steelers. Meanwhile, the Bills are getting Josh Allen back in the saddle this week after riding the Matt Barkley Express to a rollicking victory in New Jersey. Surprisingly, the Jags’ secondary let them down last week against Ben Roethlisberger late, but it is highly doubtful Allen will be able to manufacture those same splash plays down the field. The rookie is averaging a sub-mediocre 6.0 yards per attempt. With sacks figured in, the yards per dropback drops to 5.2. Interesting game for Doug Marrone, who returns to Buffalo as a head coach for the first time since exiting stage left during the Bills‘ ownership change in late 2014.
Dolphins (5-5) at Colts (5-5): 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS
Point spread: IND -10 | Matchup quality: 42.9 (of 100)
Cameron Wolfe’s pick: Ryan Tannehill‘s return has added extra intrigue to a Dolphins season that has been teetering after a 3-0 start. But Tannehill isn’t 100 percent after missing the past five games with a right shoulder capsule injury, and it might be too much to ask him to compete with Andrew Luck in a shootout. Miami is 1-4 on the road this season, and a surging Colts offense with a stellar offensive line is a tough matchup for a defense that has struggled to rush the passer (29th in sacks, with 17) or stop the run (30th in run defense, giving up 142 yards per game) all season. Colts 33, Dolphins 24
Mike Wells’ pick: The Colts are currently tied for the fourth-longest winning streak in the NFL at four games. During that time, they’re averaging 36.5 points and have turned over the ball only once, and Luck has 13 touchdown passes. Scoring shouldn’t be an issue for Indy on Sunday because the Dolphins are 22nd in the NFL in points allowed (25.6) and 27th in total defense. Colts 34, Dolphins 17
FPI win projection: IND, 82.5 percent. This game features two teams heading in opposite directions. The Colts have won four consecutive games and lead the NFL in offensive efficiency in that span, according to FPI (93 on a 0-to-100 scale). The Dolphins have lost three of four and have a defensive efficiency of 25.3 in that span, sixth worst in the league.
What to watch for in fantasy: Luck has been tremendous, so there should certainly be some opportunities for Jack Doyle to cash in on the touchdown upside that’s out there for the Colts’ offense.
Indianapolis Colts 34, Miami Dolphins 17
Ryan Tannehill makes his long-awaited return to the Dolphins lineup after a month and a half of Brockball. The issue for Tannehill, besides the obvious worry about rust, is that he will face a defense that has been vastly underappreciated. Statistically, Indy’s defensive unit is no great shakes, ranking 18th in points allowed per game (24.9). However, that is a viable number when your quarterback is playing at an MVP level and his offensive line is not allowing him to get hit. Yes, Andrew Luck has not been sacked in his last 214 pass attempts, and Miami’s pass rush has darn near been absentee, with only 17 sacks all year.
Trivia: Luck’s sack-less streak is the second-longest since 1991. Which former Super Bowl MVP went 244 passes without being sacked back in 1991?
Two weeks ago 1-2, Season total 19-12
Patriots @ Jets: 17-34
The Jets come of age this week, after the bye week, they shock the crap out of BB/Tom and the short fat dude that sleeps with young girls, Krafty! This game is easily the one the Pats overlook!!!
Ok….for real now…
Jets have zero shot to win, unless the Patriots really do suck. My actual prediction is 37-17 Patriots. The Jets DBs have been a mess all season, and once again Maye is not playing. The Patriots are fine tuning for their #3 seed in the AFC, something they are not used to.
Jaguars @ Bills: 13-17
I will totally go against the picks up above, none are giving the Bills a shot, and I disagree! The Jaguars offensively are pathetic at best, and unless they can run Fournette (with the hope his fragile body doesn’t break) all day, they will not outscore the Bills O. Bills D is way better than experts give them credit for.
Colts @ Dolphins: 36-17
Yes, 17 again, all three games have that magic number. I just cannot picture the Dolphins stopping the Andrew Luck/TY/Mack Train! BTW, all three are members of the world famous FF team called the WolfPack. Indy with a healthy Luck and a much improved D, but most importantly OL, is very hard to stop. I also think teams called Pats/Chiefs/Chargers/Steelers better hope this team doesn’t make the playoffs, they will be hard to beat.
Dolphins have had way better a season than I expected, but it’s time for the boat to start sinking.