When looking up the definition of the word hero, you see phrases like “someone who is admired for courage” and “a person of superhuman qualities.”
So am I a hero for still pumping out a world class NFL blog and podcast (listen on iTunes!) in the same week that I started a grueling new job while also being more ill than I’ve been in the past five years?
That’s for you to decide. But in a word: Yes. When historians look back on week 11 of the 2016 NFL season, they’ll talk at length about my heroic efforts to perform in the face of incredible adversity.
If I had to give an unexaggerated estimate, I’d say that a normal week this season saw me researching my picks for roughly 10 hours, and this week I’d put it closer to one hour.
Maybe that’s what I needed. A “don’t overthink it” sort of week after suffering through my worst set of picks of the year last week.
Let’s cut to the chase and dive into the week 11 picks.
Teams on Bye: Atlanta, Denver, NY Jets, San Diego
New Orleans at Carolina (-3.5) | over/under 53.5
The Pick: New Orleans
The Score: Carolina 25, New Orleans 24
The Bets: None
Considering how the NFC South has been tightening up a bit over the last few weeks, the ending of the Saints/Broncos from week 10 looms LARGE. Make the extra point, and the Saints are looking at only a half game deficit for the division lead going into week 11. Get the extra point blocked, returned for two points by Denver (adding in the fact that the Broncos player who ran the ball back may have stepped out of bounds), and now the Saints are 1.5 games behind the Falcons.
The Thursday night factor is definitely keeping me away from betting this, but I’ll bite on the extra half point and assume this is a very close win for the Panthers (who are unofficially eliminated from playoff contention, but officially fighting to help Ron Rivera keep his job).
(Note: I wrote all of that before Carolina won 23-20 on Thursday night. Just didn’t get a chance to publish this until Friday. Looks like I’m spot on in my 1st prediction of the week.)
Pittsburgh (-9) at Cleveland | over/under 46
The Pick: Cleveland
The Score: Pittsburgh 27, Cleveland 24
The Bets: Cleveland (+19) in a 3-way tease / Over (36) in a 3-way tease
Pittsburgh on the road. Pittsburgh on the road. Pittsburgh on the road. Just keep repeating that if you get tempted by any sort of bet or teaser on the Steelers this week.
The perfect Pittsburgh script was supposed to be a big win at home against Dallas followed up by the most incredible letdown game against the 0-10 Browns. But now the Steelers are fighting for their playoff lives so you’d think that would short circuit any chance of them overlooking Cleveland. But don’t put anything past a Mike Tomlin team.
And I think all Browns fans would call Hue Jackson’s first season as head coach a success if they go 1-15 but the one win cripples their division rival’s chances of playing in January.
I think the Browns will come up just short.
Baltimore at Dallas (-7) | over/under 45
The Pick: Dallas
The Score: Dallas 26, Baltimore 17
The Bets: Dallas (-1 or +3) in a 2-way or 3-way tease
SuperContest: Yes with Dallas (-7)
Remember when the Cowboys went into Green Bay and smart people like me thought the vaunted Packers run defense would slow down Zeke & Pals? The Packers had the best run D in the league at the time, and Elliott went ahead and ran for more than 150 yards.
I bring this up because the Ravens currently have the best run D in football according to FootballOutsiders.com. I’m no longer convinced the Cowboys offense can be slowed down by anyone.
Baltimore will have to play perfect defense and try to make this game go by particularly quick, because as the 32nd ranked offense in football, they are particularly ill-equipped to get into a shootout or come back from a two-score deficit. I don’t think they’ll be able to do it.
Jacksonville at Detroit (-7) | over/under 47.5
The Pick: Jacksonville
The Score: Detroit 31, Jacksonville 25
The Bets: Detroit (+3) in a 3-way tease / Over (47.5) / Over (37.5) in a 3-way tease
Detroit has played four home games. They’re 3-1 and have outscored those four opponents by a combined six points. A Lions home game hasn’t been decided by more than three points yet.
Considering the Lions have the worst defense in the league, I think the Jaguars will get their points one way or another. So the teased over feels like the lock of all locks.
I don’t feel good about picking either team against the spread straight up because the Lions don’t win big, but the Jaguars lose big. But the teased Detroit line? I’ll take it.
Tennessee at Indianapolis (-3) | over/under 53
The Pick: Tennessee
The Score: Tennessee 33, Indianapolis 27
The Bets: Over (53) / Over (43) in a 3-way tease
If standings were determined by point differential, the Titans would be lapping the rest of the AFC South. They have a +13 point differential and the next best team in their division, the Colts, come into the week at -17.
But somehow the Texans are 6-3 and have two less losses than the two teams playing in this game. If Houston is going to crash & burn like they’re supposed to, this game between Indy and Tennessee could play a determining factor for which putrid AFC South team goes to the playoffs.
In Tennessee’s last three road games, they’re averaging more than 28 points per game. Those games were played against the 13th, 7th and 11th ranked defenses. Indy checks in with the 31st ranked D. So via the transitive property, the Titans should put up 35+ in this game.
Needless to say, I think the Titans come out of this with their 5th win in their last seven games. And the over really shouldn’t be a problem.
Tennessee’s game totals have exceeded 43 points (the teased over number) in seven straight games while the Colts’ game totals have gone over that mark in all nine of their games this year.
Buffalo at Cincinnati (-3) | over/under 47
The Pick: Buffalo
The Score: Buffalo 29, Cincinnati 26 (in OT)
The Bets: Over (37) in a 3-way tease
SuperContest: Yes with Buffalo (+3)
I hate to correctly predict once again that a Cincy game is going to overtime and that I have no confidence either team will ultimately win, but that’s where this one is heading.
They’re two very evenly matched teams across all key stats. Both teams have soft defenses, and even though both like to run, I still like the teased over.
With both teams coming into this game with five losses, whoever comes up short in this one can probably kiss any playoff dreams goodbye.
Tampa Bay at Kansas City (-7.5) | over/under 45
The Pick: Tampa Bay
The Score: Kansas City 21, Tampa Bay 18
The Bets: None
I know the Chiefs are quietly stringing together a great-looking season and a game at Arrowhead should allow them to beat up on the overmatched Bucs, but the stats simply don’t show Kansas City to be a dominating force.
I’m really not sure if this Tampa team puts up a fight in this game or just rolls over, so I’m staying away completely (ok, I’ll probably put a small bet on the Bucs +7.5 simply because the Chiefs don’t really blow teams away with their scoring that often).
Chicago at NY Giants (-7.5) | over/under 44.5
The Pick: Chicago
The Score: NY Giants 23, Chicago 16
The Bets: Under (44.5) / Under (54.5) in a 3-way tease
The Bears are averaging 15.7 points per game (31st in the NFL), and the Giants are averaging 20.2 points per game (24th). How about we don’t try to figure out who will win and by how much (a hopeless effort for any Giants game), but instead we drop a bunch of cash on the under? Who’s with me?
Arizona at Minnesota (-1.5) | over/under 40
The Pick: Minnesota
The Score: Minnesota 20, Arizona 17 (in OT)
The Bets: Under (50.5) in a 3-way tease
This game opened as a pick, and It really seemed odd that Minnesota wouldn’t be favored by a couple points, but sure enough after diving into my research, I get it. Rather than each team putting up about 20 points as the line and total suggests, I think we’ll see yet another overtime game with a 17-17 score at the end of the fourth. Will anyone score in overtime? Your guess is as good as mine, but I’m giving the nod to the home team.
And even though you shouldn’t have to ask at this point…yes, I love the under teased between these two inept offenses.
Miami (-2) at Los Angeles | over/under 39.5
The Pick: Miami
The Score: Miami 25, Los Angeles 13
The Bets: Miami (-2) / Miami (+8) in a 3-way tease / Under (49.5) in a 3-way tease
SuperContest: Yes with Miami (-2)
Jared Goff’s making his long-awaited debut and gets to face the 7th ranked Dolphins defense.
The Rams are already averaging a paltry 15.4 points per game. I don’t think that’s going to improve in this game.
New England (-14) at San Francisco | over/under 51
The Pick: San Francisco
The Score: New England 29, San Francisco 20
The Bets: New England (-4) in a 3-way tease
This is a really bad matchup for the 49ers. They’re actually decent running the ball on offense, but the Patriots rush D has been awesome. Meanwhile, the Niners are below average on pass defense and horrible against the run. The Patriots will gladly run the ball over & over & over in this game. (And is Dion Lewis making his season debut? If so, the Pats will have an even easier time on offense.)
Having said that, Gronk is probably missing this game, and New England is unable to play anything resembling decent defense. This tells me the Niners will get enough points to cover.
Philadelphia at Seattle (-7) | over/under 43
The Pick: Seattle
The Score: Seattle 23, Philadelphia 16
The Bets: Seattle (-1 or +3) in a 2-way or 3-way tease / Under (53) in a 3-way tease
SuperContest: Yes with Seattle (-7)
I will be shocked if the Eagles exceed 16 points in this game. But I’ll also be shocked if Seahawks are able to dictate the game on offense.
I’m liking the under teased and LOVING the Seahawks teased.
Green Bay at Washington (-3) | over/under 50.5
The Pick: Washington
The Score: Washington 29, Green Bay 24
The Bets: Washington (-3)
SuperContest: Yes with Washington (-3)
Washington’s won its last three home games, each by six or more points. They faced the best team according to DVOA (Philly), the worst team (Cleveland) and an almost exactly average team (Minnesota) in those three games.
The Skins’ lone weakness is run defense, and the Packers haven’t had more than 65 rushing yards in five straight games.
I really like Washington to get their mini-revenge for last year’s wildcard game that they could have won against Green Bay.
Houston vs Oakland (-6) | over/under 46 (in Mexico City)
The Pick: Houston
The Score: Houston 23, Oakland 20
The Bets: None
Call it a hunch, but I think this is the surprise loss that the Raiders are due for. What I’m most excited for regarding this game is all the jokes that’ll be floating around on Twitter about building a wall to keep Brock Osweiler in Mexico.
And even though I’ve put in this heroic effort to make my week 11 picks, I’m running out of steam so you don’t get anymore analysis on this game.
Here are the season-long stats I’m tracking:
- Favorites are 58-82-7 against the spread through 10 weeks (including 3-11 in week 10)
- The Point Total has landed on Over 78 times, Under 66 times, and Pushed 3 times
- I’m 74-69-4 against the spread.
Enjoy week 11.