It’s crunch time more than ever in the NFL.  Week 12 is getting started with the Browns facing Miami, and the countdown to the playoffs is seriously underway.  How the ball bounces at this point will make the determination and, with opening lines and spreads now being released, a couple of teams are definite standouts to strengthen their potential appearance in the playoffs.

Browns to Cover Miami In Week 12

The Cleveland Browns aren’t one of those teams.  They’re 4-6 and third in the AFC North, which makes them a longshot for the playoffs.  There is always the possibility that the division-leading Baltimore Ravens could fall out of the sky, but that isn’t very likely.   Still, the Browns are taking on the Miami Dolphins, one of the worst teams of the year.  The Browns are favored by 10.5 points, even though they have to play without Myles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi for last week’s brawl, and there’s little doubt that they’ll take the win against this terrible Miami team.

The Houston Texans will host the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday in an AFC South contest against the top two teams.  Both teams are 6-4 and this is one of those games that could go either way.  However, the Texans are 9-2 across their last 11 home games and are currently expected to win this week.  They’re -5.5 in the opening lines, but gamblers are going to want to keep an eye on the movement this week.

In another division game, the NFC South’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers will go up against the Atlanta Falcons this week.  Both teams are 3-7 and there isn’t much chance either will be headed to the playoffs, but it should still be a fun game worth a few bucks.  Just make sure to put it on the Falcons and their -5 advantage.

The NFL is forcing the Pittsburgh Steelers to take on the Cincinnati Bengals only because it needs a filler game and there isn’t yet a rule that makes a 0-10 team able to get a free pass for the rest of the year.  The Steelers aren’t going to have any difficulty and are -7 favorites.

The New Orleans Saints will host the Carolina Panthers in another divisional matchup that is equally as important for both teams.  The Saints rule the NFC South standings, but, were the Panthers to win, they could threaten that domination.  The Saints had a huge loss against the Atlanta Falcons a week ago and it’s too early for them to start thinking they’ve clinched a playoff spot.  Unless the Panthers find some extra mojo from somewhere, the Saints are destined to win and have opened at -9.

The Seattle Seahawks and the Philadelphia Eagles are both second in their divisions, the NFC West and the NFC East, respectively.  Both are also in a very good position to make it to the postseason, but the Seahawks are right behind the San Francisco 49ers, making their chances a little more difficult.  This doesn’t mean they won’t give it their best effort against the Eagles this week, though, but the Eagles are expected to take the victory and are -3 favorites.  This is another contest that needs to be closely watched as the big day approaches.

The 49ers have to go up against the Green Bay Packers as NFC West meets NFC North.  The two teams lead each of their divisions, with the Niners having only a slight advantage.  There’s a problem for the team, though, in that several key players are currently listed as questionable – the Packers aren’t expected to miss any of its starting line.  However, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers hasn’t been consistent when playing on the west coast and this is one of the reasons why the 49ers have opened at -3.