It wouldn’t be a week in the NFL without drama, now would it? Le’Veon Bell did not sign his franchise tender by the deadline, meaning he’s out for the season, perennial coaching reject Hue Jackson, who went 1-31 over two seasons, was hired by the Bengals, a Shakira concert prevented the Mexico City game from happening, and elite Joe Flacco might get benched for RGIII. There are some really great games on the slate, so sit back, relax, and good luck with your NFL picks in Week 11!
Please keep in mind that by the time you’re reading this, the line may have shifted depending on breaking news during the week, or money flowing through the market.
Thursday 8:20 PM EST
Green Bay at Seattle, -2.5
The Packers are coming off of a Sunday night 31-12 win against a bad Dolphins team, in which running back Aaron Jones broke out and collected 172 offensive yards and two touchdowns. The Seahawks are coming off of a Week 10 loss in Los Angeles, but managed to keep it close and cover the spread. They’ll be home this week with one of the better home field advantages in the league (and the infamous “12th man”) and are only favored by a field goal. Additionally, the Seahawks are 14-3-2 against the spread in their last 19 home games at night and with the Seattle coming off of a loss and Green Bay coming off of a win, I think you’re getting value with Seattle in this spot. Seahawks win, Seahawks cover.
Sunday 1:00 PM EST
Tennessee at Indianapolis, -2.5
The Titans pulled off an impressive 34-10 upset against the Patriots last Sunday and come into this AFC South matchup in second place in the division. Their pass rushers kept Tom Brady on his toes all game and were really able to ignite their offense for the first time this year, due in large part to quarterback Marcus Mariota returning to full strength. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is also ramping back up after a shoulder injury and has thrown three touchdowns in each of his last six games. The Colts’ offensive line hasn’t allowed a sack in four straight games, which is the fifth longest streak in NFL history. A lot of the public will be on Tennessee after their blowout win against New England, but I really think Indy is trending in the right direction. I will pick the Colts to win and cover the spread.
Pittsburgh at Jacksonville, +5.5
It’s official as of Tuesday at 4PM EST: The Steelers will be without superstar running back Le’Veon Bell for the remainder of the season. While he is obviously an impact player, they’ve been doing just fine with James Conner as their lead back, having just humiliated the Panthers on Thursday night 52-21. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 328 yards and five touchdowns, and they’ll have a few extra days of rest to prepare for this game against a Jaguars team that is in sole possession of last place in the AFC South. Jacksonville’s defense has looked anemic this season and quarterback Blake Bortles has looked unapologetically bad. All this said, the line opened at 3.5 and was quickly hammered by the public up to 5.5. I wouldn’t be surprised if it inches closer to a touchdown by gametime. I would probably stay away from this game if I had the choice, but I’m taking the Jaguars as home underdogs to cover the points.
Cincinnati at Baltimore, -3.5
This game is off the board at most books amid the quarterback uncertainty in Baltimore. I am guessing CBS put this line under the assumption that Joe Flacco would be starting under center, but there is a legitimate threat that they go with rookie Lamar Jackson. There have even been whispers that Flacco could be benched for Robert Griffin III instead of Jackson, which would seriously confuse bookmakers. The Ravens are struggling after their good start to the season and have now lost three straight games. These two teams already met this year in September in a game in which the Bengals came out on top, 34-23. They’ll likely be without star wide receiver A.J. Green for this game and are in a bit of a slide as well, having lost three of their last four games. At this point in the week, it’s hard to pick this game but my gut says Cincinnati is the better team – I’ll take the Bengals with the points.
Dallas at Atlanta, -3.5
The Cowboys are coming off of a huge primetime upset against their NFC East divisional rivals, the Eagles, and will travel to Atlanta to face a Falcons team that just lost to the Browns. The Falcons are still in the hunt for the last NFC wild card spot and quarterback Matt Ryan is quietly having a MVP season. Their secondary has been absolutely hammered with injuries this season, but they’ll be getting linebacker Deion Jones back from injured reserve this week. I can see this being a letdown spot for Dallas and think Atlanta is the far superior team from both a coaching and talent standpoint. Give me the Falcons to win and cover the spread.
Houston at Washington, +2.5
These two 6-3 teams are both in sole possession of first place in their respective divisions. The Texans are on a six game win streak and will be well-rested coming off of their Week 10 bye. Washington is coming off of a 16-3 win against the Buccaneers, but have lost yet another offensive lineman for the season. I worry about their longevity from an offensive standpoint, as they have not had one lead change in the entire season. I anticipate the now healthy Texans pass rush gets after Alex Smith and Houston jumps out in front early. I will take the Texans laying road chalk.
Carolina at Detroit, +3.5
The Panthers are hoping to bounce back after an embarrassing loss to the Steelers on Thursday night. They’re road favorites against a Detroit team that has fallen to last place in the NFC North. Detroit has traded away slot receiver Golden Tate to the Eagles, and with their season looking to be pretty much over, it feels like only a matter of time until they turn on new coach Matt Patricia. I really don’t like this game, and the Panthers have only covered one game this year on the road, but with the Lions losing three straight, I think it’s a lay it or don’t play it spot with Carolina. I’ll begrudgingly take the Panthers to cover the spread on the road.
Tampa Bay at NY Giants, -0.5
The Buccaneers made history on Sunday, but not in the way they would have liked: quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was benched earlier in the season, picked up 441 offensive yards but somehow only scored three points in the game. They’ll go on the road to face the Giants, who are coming off of a big Monday night win against the 49ers. That said, the G-Men have a myriad of issues, from their quarterback, to their offensive line, to their defense and need to continue to tank to have any shot of beginning their rebuild. With the Buccaneers coming off of a loss and the Giants coming off of a win, I think you’re getting value at a pick ‘em. I will take the Buccaneers to win and cover the spread.
Sunday 4:05 PM EST
Oakland at Arizona, -4.5
The Raiders, who are unapologetically tanking at this point, come into this game off the bye and with a 1-8 record. The Cardinals aren’t much better with a 2-7 record, but new offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich looks to have given a little bit of life to the Arizona offense. They’ve gotten running back David Johnson involved more in the passing game and continued to develop rookie quarterback Josh Rosen. I think coach Jon Gruden has completely lost the locker room, and this Raiders team has put up 10 or fewer points in four of their last five games. It’s Arizona or nothing here – give me the Cardinals to win and cover.
Denver at LA Chargers, -7.5
The Chargers come into this AFC West divisional matchup 7-2 and in first place in the AFC wild card race. They’ve looked like strong playoff contenders, but with one of the weaker home field advantages, they’ve only covered the spread once this year out of four games at StubHub Center. The Broncos lost 19-17 in their Week 10 matchup against the Texans at home, but have managed to keep a lot of games close this year. While the Chargers did win and cover last week 20-6, they played a Raiders team that has no interest in winning. I love this Chargers team long term, but these are too many points to lay for a divisional matchup. Give me the Chargers to win, but the Broncos to cover the spread.
Sunday 4:25 PM EST
Philadelphia at New Orleans, -7.5
The Eagles were embarrassed on primetime against the Cowboys and will head to New Orleans to face a Saints team that in their last two games casually put up 51 points against the Bengals and 45 points against the Rams. At 4-5, the Eagles can still claim this soft NFC East division, but their secondary has been absolutely decimated by injuries, including the most recent loss of cornerback Ronald Darby due to an ACL injury. New Orleans has covered their last seven straight games and with Drew Brees’ bevy of offensive weapons and Philly’s struggling defense, I can see this game getting out of hand quickly. I will take the Saints to win and cover by more than a touchdown.
Sunday 8:20 PM EST
Minnesota at Chicago, -2.5
The Bears won handily against the Lions in Week 10 and come into this NFC North divisional matchup in sole possession of first place. They are 6-3 straight up, 6-3 against the spread, and have covered three straight games. They will face the Vikings, who will be well-rested off their Week 10 bye and who also most recently won against the Lions. Running back Dalvin Cook returned from a hamstring injury in Week 9 and clocked the top speed of any player this year. He looks to be back at full strength, and Kirk Cousins should have wide receiver Stefon Diggs back in his arsenal of weapons as well. I am tempted to ride the hot hand with Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears, but my logic says that Minnesota is the better/more complete team and should win this game. Give me the Vikings to cover the spread and eke out a win.
Monday 8:15 PM EST
Kansas City at LA Rams, -2.5
This game was originally slated to be played in Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, but due to field conditions (apparently exacerbated by a Shakira concert) and serious protestations from players on both sides of the ball, the game has been relocated to Los Angeles. Because it is no longer a neutral field, this line has moved up to 3.5 at most books. Relocation drama aside, this is shaping up to be one of the best games of the year between two teams with a combined 18-2 record. Both teams have explosive offenses, and bookmakers have put the over/under at 63.5, which is the highest over/under in the Super Bowl era. It is worth noting that the Rams have looked slightly more mortal in the last few games, having lost to the Saints and failing to cover against the Seahawks. They haven’t covered their last three games against the spread, and they’ll have an even harder time without wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who is out for the season due to an ACL injury. Against the spread, the Chiefs are 5-0 away, 3-0 as underdogs, and lead the league at 8-2. I like this game much better at 3.5, but even at 2.5 points, I think Kansas City is the only way to look. I predict the Chiefs win this game and cover the spread.