Shapiro's Week 12 NFL picks: Bills, Chargers shoot it out in Buffalo
Pittsburgh and Kansas City have separated themselves as the top teams in the AFC.
In Week 11, the Steelers took care of business as a double-digit road favorite and ran their record to 10-0, while Patrick Mahomes again proved his record-breaking contract was well worth it, in the Chiefs' 35-31 win in Las Vegas.
I will be surprised if one of these two clubs do not represent the AFC in Super Bowl LV.
The NFC is much more wide open. The Saints have rattled off seven wins in a row and hold the top seed, with the Rams, Packers, and Seahawks just one game behind. The Buccaneers and Cardinals are probably a cut below the NFC’s best, but they are not hopeless. The last six weeks are sure to provide plenty of drama.
On to Week 12!
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Buffalo Bills
Sun, November 29 2020, 6:00 PM
Los Angeles Chargers
Once again, the Chargers have found all sorts of ways to lose games in 2020.
Head coach Anthony Lynn’s in-game management has been questionable, but the good news for Bolts fans is they drafted Justin Herbert with the sixth pick in this year’s NFL Draft.
The former Oregon star has looked the part. Herbert can make all the throws, has great mobility, and has led the Chargers to 26 or more points in six of their last seven games. Expect him to move the ball consistently against a Buffalo defense that isn't terrible but has underwhelmed, after it was one of the better units in the NFL a season ago.
Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen was nowhere near as good as Herbert in his rookie campaign, but Allen got better in his second year and has taken a massive step forward in his third. Allen still makes his share of mistakes, but offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has “let him cook” in 2020 and the 24-year-old has delivered. Look for Allen to find Stefon Diggs, John Brown, Cole Beasley, and Gabriel Davis early and often.
The Bills and Chargers both rank toward the top of the NFL in plays per game and have quarterbacks who can beat you with their arm and legs. There should be points a plenty in upstate New York.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Los Angeles Rams
Sun, November 29 2020, 9:05 PM
Los Angeles Rams
San Francisco 49ers
The Rams are back home, after a huge, primetime victory in Tampa Bay on Monday night. Sean McVay’s group holds the lead in the NFC West but could be in a flat spot against a desperate division rival.
San Francisco has been crushed by injuries this season, and the 49ers will head south on Interstate 5 three games behind the Rams and without a slew of key contributors, but they are capable of hanging in this game, if they can avoid mistakes.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan has had plenty of time to prepare, while the Rams enter off two huge victories and on short rest. Look for Shanahan to devise a game plan that keeps his team in it from start to finish.
The Niners are 7-3 straight up and against the spread in their last 10 games against the Rams, and while they are short on talent due to injuries, they should play with desperation off their bye week.
Take the points.
Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets
Sun, November 29 2020, 6:00 PM
New York Jets
Miami’s five-game winning streak came to an end Sunday, with an ugly, 20-13 defeat in Denver. Fortunately for the Dolphins, they get the winless Jets in Week 12.
Brian Flores’ squad shut out New York in their Oct. 18 meeting in South Florida and should have its way once again. Normally, this might be a difficult game for Miami to get up for, but that should not be the case off the poor performance in Colorado.
Miami will turn the Jets over multiple times, sweep the season series, and win its seventh game of the year.