Betting News & Analysis

NFL Week 12 Best Bets: Titans have significant schematic and statistical advantages vs. Panthers

2T8C3NW Tennessee Titans quarterback Will Levis (8) hands off the ball to running back Derrick Henry (22) during an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023, in Jacksonville, Fla. The jaguars defeated the Titans 34-14. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

• Lay the points with the Tennessee Titans against the Carolina Panthers: Tennessee is a matchup nightmare for a Panthers team that may be the worst in the league.

• Back the Buffalo Bills against the Philadelphia Eagles: Josh Allen and the Bills can keep up with an Eagles team that is fortunate to be 9-1.

Davante Adams is in a smash spot: Both scheme and game script factors should help Adams produce against the Chiefs.

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Sunday’s Week 12 slate looks a little lighter after three Thanksgiving games and the first-ever Black Friday game.

In this article, we’ll find valuable bets by identifying a small favorite that has an ideal schematic matchup. We’ll also continue to buy an elite team that the market continues to disrespect. Finally, we’ll back an elite receiver in a prime spot to rack up yardage. Let's get into it.

Carolina Panthers @ Tennessee Titans (-3.5, 36.5)

This game will feature two rookie signal-callers: the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, Bryce Young, and second-rounder Will Levis, who is making the fifth start of his career. After a strong debut against the Falcons in Week 8, in which he threw four touchdowns, Levis has struggled to produce. Fortunately, this Titans offense has a very soft matchup against a poor Panthers defense.

Tennessee is one of the most run-heavy teams in the league, with the seventh-lowest pass rate over expected on the season. Over the past three weeks, the Titans faced a difficult schedule of run defenses, including the Buccaneers and Jaguars, which limited their ability to stay ahead of the chains on early downs and put Levis in difficult third-and-long situations. Luckily, they get to face the lowest-graded run defense in the NFL this week. The Panthers have also allowed the highest expected points added per rush figure in the league. Derrick Henry should be able to get going and put this Titans offense in far more favorable situations than in recent weeks.

When they do decide to throw the ball, Tennessee will also have a significant schematic advantage, thanks to Carolina’s zone-heavy scheme. Levis has been far better when facing zone coverage in his young career and will see a lot of it against a Panthers defense that plays the second-most zone in the league and has been below average when deploying that coverage. On the other side, Bryce Young has an opposite schematic matchup. Young has actually been above average when facing man coverage but has been poor against zone, with the second-worst EPA+, ahead of only Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito.

Since Week 7, the Titans have played zone coverage at the fifth-highest rate in the league. If Young is to find success in this game, he’ll have to consistently beat the Tennessee zone, which he has demonstrated no ability to do thus far in his career. Carolina also will likely be unable to run the ball successfully against a solid Titans run defense, putting Young in difficult third-and-long situations.

In addition to the on-field matchup, the Panthers are worth fading because of their drastic overperformance on late downs. They have been the worst team in the league by NET EPA+ on early downs but have had their overall EPA numbers boosted significantly by solid performance on late downs. As their late-down outcomes begin to level out, their EPA numbers will look even worse. The opposite can be said for the Titans, who have been above average on early downs but have been killed by key late downs.

As these numbers start to balance out, we should see some positive regression for the Titans and some negative regression for the Panthers in terms of their overall EPA per play numbers.

Best Bet: Titans -3.5 (to -4.5)

From both schematic and statistical perspectives, the Titans are a very valuable bet against a lowly Panthers squad. Back Tennessee as a small favorite here.

Buffalo Bills @ Philadelphia Eagles (-3, 48.5)

We bet the Bills in this article last week, and they demolished the Jets as eight-point favorites. This week presents a far different challenge, but we remain just as high on an undervalued Buffalo squad.

Yes, the Bills have dropped some games recently, but they continue to display one of the strongest statistical profiles in the NFL. Using a weighted version of NET EPA+, which values offensive production twice as much as defensive production, Buffalo has been the third-best team in the league, whereas the Eagles sit fifth.

As we discussed last week, a lot of Josh Allen’s turnovers were the result of bad luck. He has limited his turnover-worthy plays this season, so we are still buying the Bills' offense as a top unit in the league that can compete with any team on any given Sunday.

Allen and company should find a lot of success against an Eagles defense that has taken a significant step back this season. Although Philadelphia held the Chiefs to just 17 points, Kansas City shot itself in the foot with drops and red-zone turnovers, which aren’t things a defense can rely on every week. Allen has also demolished man coverage this season and will get to see a lot of it against an Eagles secondary that plays man at the seventh-highest rate in the league.

Best Bet: Bills +3 (to +3)

The Eagles were fortunate to come away with a win against the Chiefs, which may be factored into the price here. Buffalo’s offense is good enough to justify backing the Bills at a field goal or better, as they can move the ball with any team in the league.

Player Prop Best Bet: Davante Adams OVER 62.5 Receiving Yards

It has been a somewhat disappointing season for the Raiders' star wide receiver, largely because of subpar quarterback play from both Jimmy Garoppolo and Aidan O’Connell. As a result, his receiving props are in a territory that should be unheard of for a talent like Adams. Fortunately, Adams is in a smash spot against a Chiefs defense that plays man coverage at the sixth-highest rate in the NFL.

Against man, Adams has had a staggering 37% target share, which is drastically higher than his 29% target share when defenses deploy zone coverage.

An increase in Adams’ target share against man makes intuitive sense, as he is able to win one-on-one matchups and get open at a high rate because of his elite route-running and ability to separate.

Although the Chiefs' defense has been stellar this season, their biggest weakness may be their outside cornerbacks. L’Jarius Sneed (59.9 coverage grade) has taken a significant step back, and no other perimeter player has thrived in coverage. Kansas City’s clear best cornerback is Trent McDuffie, who is the sixth-highest-graded cornerback in the NFL. However, McDuffie generally plays in the slot and will not match up with Adams often in this game.

The Raiders are nine-point underdogs and will likely fall behind early and be forced to throw the ball at a high rate. The game script should work in Adams’ favor and result in more targets and more opportunities to accumulate yardage. Additionally, this game will take place in the domed Allegiant Stadium, creating optimal conditions for passing offenses.

Back Adams to clear this relatively low yardage prop and look to bet him to clear higher totals at plus money.

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