Week 11 NFL picks against the spread

Let me steal a line from Mark McGwire to start this column: I’m not here to talk about the past.

Yes, last week was a bloodbath. that happens. But we have 14 new games on the Week 11 schedule, and it’s time to come back. Let’s just move on to the footage. My confidence is shaky now.

Fonts from FanDuel. Stats taken from TruMedia / Pro Football Focus unless otherwise noted.

Week 10 Scoring: 4-10

Season record: 77-69-4

Tennessee Titans at Green Bay Packers[-3)[-3)

Aaron Rodgers had just 14 completions in 20 attempts during the Packers’ 31-28 win over the Cowboys last week as Green Bay relied heavily on its ground game. At 4-6, the Packers aren’t quite cooked yet. They are +340 to make it to the playoffs, which equates to about a 22.7% chance.

Having said that, Green Bay could potentially rely on a different formula in this game. The Titans have the best defense in the NFL, as measured by Football Outsiders’ DVOA.

Packers in the house. their backs to the wall. Only three points difference. I hate going against Mike Vrabel as an underdog, but what the hell? I think I’m ready to get hurt again.

Pick: Packers (-3)

Carolina Panthers at Baltimore Ravens (-13)

The Crows come bye and look like a team about to take off. Their next four games will be against the Panthers, Jaguars, Broncos and Steelers. According to Inpredable, which measures roster strength based on how betting markets view teams, the Ravens have the easiest roster remaining in the NFL. At 6-3, they are one game away from the top seed, but Baltimore will lose a head-to-head tiebreaker against both the Dolphins and Bills.

The Panthers are 2-3 with Steve Wilkes as their coach and beat the Falcons last Thursday night. But with Lamar Jackson, the Ravens went 7-3-1 against points difference as the best players. I love crows to win big.

The Pick: Crows (-13)

Cleveland Browns at Buffalo Bills (-7.5)

If you’re a Bills fan, you were stung by last week’s loss to the Vikings. But think of all the things that had to go wrong for them to blow that game. Then remember, the most important thing is that Josh Allen looked healthy. The Bills are one of two teams (the Eagles being the other) that rank in the top five in both offensive and defensive DVOA. Their three losses came by eight points combined. This team is still really good.

Jacoby Brissett made it to his last two starts before Deshaun Watson took over. But barring a miracle, the Browns (3-6) will not be in contention for a playoff spot. Their odds of success in the postseason are currently +810, which equates to about an 11 percent chance.

It’s possible the Bills can take their frustration out on a leaky Browns defense and win by the 30. But Cleveland can at least run the ball, and Buffalo is dealing with injuries. I think it will be relatively soon.

Pick: Brown (+7.5)

Philadelphia Eagles at Indianapolis Colts (+6.5)

Jeff Saturday got a win in his debut as a coach for the Colts last week. Two things helped Indy’s offense. First, they went back to Matt Ryan as the starting quarterback (although reports out of Indy strongly suggested that it was owner Jim Irsay, not former coach Frank Reich, who wanted to try out Sam Ellinger in the first place). And second, they faced a Raiders defense that ranked 32nd in DVOA.

As for the Eagles, they lose to Washington as they turned the ball over four times. Tight end Dallas Goedert was playing at the All-Pro level, and is now injured. During 10 weeks, between tight ends, Goedert is:

  • Second in receiving yardage
  • First in yards per reception
  • First in the yards after the catch
  • Third place in yards per track

He was also one of the best tight ends in the NFL.

But the Eagles still have AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith on the outside. Defensively, their run-stopping ability will be tested in this game, but the Eagles have favorable tackles up front.

Reich was a friend and mentor to Nick Siriani. The Eagles win big, and Siriani throws a University of Maryland jersey to Reich in honor of his man.

Pick: Eagles (-6.5)

New York Jets at New England Patriots (-3.5)

Those two teams played each other in Week 8, and the Patriots left MetLife Stadium with a 22-17 victory. Zach Wilson threw three interceptions in that game.

Both groups identified their strengths and weaknesses. The Patriots defense is first in EPA per drive, while the Jets defense is fourth. The Patriots are 27 EPA offenses per drive, while the Jets are 23. Mack Jones is the 34th of EPA’s 35 quarterbacks per drive, while Wilson is 30.

Perhaps the smart move here would be to take the points. This is a low-scoring game where defense dominates. But for Wilson to show me he can get through a game like this without committing critical turnovers, I have to take the other side.

Pick: Patriots (-3.5)

Washington Leaders at Houston Texans (+3.5)

There were a lot of game running leaders (49 carries for 152 yards) in Monday night’s win over the Eagles, but WR Terry McLaurin really was the man who carried them. He finished with eight catches for 128 yards and kept several drives alive with impressive third-down conversions.

The Texans were competitive in their Week 10 loss and actually outgained the Giants by 20 yards. The leaders have a tough defense, but Dameon Pierce has been hard to slow down. The rookie currently ranks fifth in the NFL with 772 rushing yards.

Washington QB Taylor Heinicke will turn the ball over if you give him enough chances. I’m not comfortable taking the leaders to cover more than a field goal on the road here.

Pick: Texas (+3.5)

Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints (-3.5)

We talked a lot about these two teams An additional point has been obtained. The Rams had one of the NFL’s worst offenses, and now they’ll be without Cooper Cobb. Their season is over, and it’s hard to see how they can improve so much in 2023, aside from hoping for better injury luck.

The Saints, meanwhile, are in a dire situation. Ages 3 to 7 and pay Jameis Winston $15.2 million to sit on the bench. They’ve already traded the Eagles’ first-round pick next year. This would be the fourth overall pick if the season ends today.

I’ve been getting killed by the Rams with these punts all year, but the Saints are too motivated to give more than a field goal here.

Pick: Rams (+3.5)

Detroit Lions at New York Giants (-3)

The Giants were itching to blow the lid last week against the Texans, but somehow they held on for an eight-point win. Saquon Barkley rushed 35 times for 152 yards in that game. The Giants defense allowed 387 yards and 22 first downs.

The Lions look like a very different offense when wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown on the field. He had 10 catches on 11 targets for 119 yards in Detroit’s win over the Bears last week.

The Giants are currently tied for a league-best 7-2 record against the spread. They’re a well-coached team, and they should be 7-2 going into the playoffs. But with St. Brown, the Lions have shown they can move the ball around. I don’t think these teams are as far apart as their records indicate.

Pickaxe: Black (+3)

Chicago Bears at Atlanta Falcons (-3)

Over the past five weeks, the Bears offense has ranked fifth in the EPA per drive, and Justin Fields has been completely electric as a runner.

Marcus Mariota looked terrible during the Falcons’ Week 10 loss to the Panthers, but all indications are that head coach Arthur Smith isn’t ready to turn to rookie Desmond Reader.

The Bears are currently fielding one of the NFL’s least talented defensemen. Mariota and the Falcons are probably back here. But Fields’ legs are a dynamic weapon at the moment. I love Chicago.

Choice: Bears (+3)

Las Vegas Raiders at Denver Broncos (-2.5)

Derek Carr is emotional after the Raiders’ loss to the Colts last week. the athleteTashan Reid concluded that Carr could be the fall guy after the season, and that seems like the most likely scenario. The Raiders went all in for 2022, trading for Davante Adams and signing Chandler Jones. They are 2-7, and only Texas have fewer wins. Just a complete disaster for Josh McDaniels.

Before the season, if you were to tell me the Broncos defense would rank second in the EPA per drive in 10 weeks, I would have assumed they were Super Bowl contenders. Not the bag, not the case! Denver’s offense is 31st in the DVOA, ahead of only the Colts.

There’s no reason to trust either team, but the Raiders offense seemed to at least be able to move the ball around at times. I’ll take the points.

Picking: Raiders (+2.5)

Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings (+1.5)

After last week’s stunning win against the Bills, the Vikings are now 5-0 in games decided by seven points or fewer. If you’re a Vikings fan reading this and exclaiming “Who cares?!” I’m with you! Base Sports is about being entertained by the team you support. Do the Vikings perform as a typical 8-1 team? no. But they would win the NFC North, and have a chance at no. 1 stub in NFC. If you rooted for Vikings, you’re enjoying this season. Nothing else should really matter.

The Cowboys fell to the Packers last week. They are 6-3 and would be the 6th seed in the NFC if the playoffs started today. They need this game quietly, or things could start to tighten with teams like the Packers and Commanders hovering around .500.

I’m still a big believer in the Cowboys and believe they have a ceiling on the Super Bowl. Really love the Dallas bounce back at this place.

Picking: Cowboys (-1.5)

Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (+3.5)

The Steelers recovered TJ Watt last week and limited the Saints to 10 first downs and 186 yards in a 20-10 victory. Pittsburgh’s defense is an entirely different unit with Watt on the field. Few defensive players in the NFL consistently make the impact that he does.

As for the Bengals, they seem to be sleeping a bit as we go into the last eight weeks. Cincinnati is one of three teams (the Eagles and Phils being the others) that currently ranks in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive DVOA. They have shown that they can win in different ways. Having said that, the Bengals’ remaining schedule is brutal. It’s the toughest in the NFL, according to Indictable.

The Steelers beat the Bengals in Week 1. It’s a division game, and they’ll have watts on the field. I like Pittsburgh to keep it close.

Pick: Steelers (+3.5)

Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers (+5.5)

The Chiefs continue to boast the best offense in the NFL. They are first in expected points added for each engine. The gap between heads and dolphins (No. 2) is about the same as the difference between dolphins and no. 16 (Vikings).

The Chargers were shut out in the second half of their loss to the 49ers last week. It’s hard for Justin Herbert to do much, given his supportive team of pass catchers. As of this writing, it’s not clear if the Chargers will get wide receivers Mike Williams and Keenan Allen back for this game.

Herbert has looked healthier over the past two weeks and has made a number of high-level throws. The Chargers have been playing leaders hard the past couple of years. I’ll take the points.

Picking: Chargers (+5.5)

San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals (+8.5)

It’s not clear if the Cardinals will have Kyler Murray (hamstring injury) or Colt McCoy (knee injury) as their starting quarterback for this game in Mexico City.

The 49ers didn’t quite light it up last week, but they held on to a 22-16 win over the Chargers. Only the Eagles currently have better odds in the Super Bowl than the 49ers among NFC teams.

It’s always uncomfortable to take the 49ers on big lines like this because Kyle Shanahan is one of the more conservative NFL decision makers in the game. But I don’t believe in this Cardinals team.

Pick: 49ers (-8.5)


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