NFL Free Picks: Week 11

9 in 9, 10 in 10, does that make 11 in Week 11 a lock? Hardly. However, I’m on to something here and we’ll see if I can’t make it work three weeks in a row. Here goes something big…

New York Jets (+3.5) @ New England Patriots: New England has lost just once to the Jets since 2004 – that’s 9 wins and 1 loss. New England has taken the last four contests, and the games haven’t been closer than 9 points. That being said, I don’t think the Patriots have been this decimated by injuries since, well, forever. The Jets come in 2-2 on the road, a beatdown at the hands of San Diego and a pathetic loss to the Raiders, but a couple solid wins over Miami and Buffalo. They are winners of 3 straight, and they seem to have their running attack going pretty good lately. I don’t think the Patriots will be able to run against Kris Jenkins and his marry men. I also know that the Patriots can’t gang up to stop just one part of the Jets offense, as the run and the pass are both options for Brett and the Jets. This is a tough one for me, that’s right folks, I’m not beaming with confidence on my side here, but I’ll take the healthy road team in this one. That extra half a point will make me a winner in case of a field goal loss, and that’s enough for me in this even battle. I also like the thought of New York splitting this series. I don’t think this game will have many fireworks, so don’t expect a repeat of the Browns/Broncos from last Thursday night. Both of these teams play defense.

Denver Broncos @ Atlanta Falcons (-5.5): Once again, if the Falcons can run, they’ve shown they can win. They have just three losses on the season, and those games were against Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, and Carolina – three very good run defenses. The Broncos can’t bring pressure, they definitely can’t stop the run, and the can’t run the ball either. Don’t sleep on the Falcons just because they are the Falcons – this is one of the better stories in football, and a Mike Smith team will always take advantage of turnovers. The Broncos are bound to give the ball away a few times. Also – the Falcons are undefeated at home – lots working in their favor here.

Oakland Raiders @ Miami Dolphins (-10): Like the Falcons and the Panthers, the Dolphins have shown that if they can run on you, they will beat you. But by 10? 11? 12? That makes it a little tougher – so while I’m surely on the Dolphins to oust the Raiders for a surefire Survivor pool pick here, I need more reasons to bet on them as a big favorite. I know that the Raiders are 1-3 as an underdog of 9 points or more. Their losses come to San Diego (lost by 10 in a 9 point spread, but it was a late LT touchdown that did it, a TD that was unneeded really), Baltimore (beat 29-10, easily), and Carolina last week in a game they had covered until a late field goal put the Panthers up 11. So, overall, they’ve actually played well as a big dog this year. The Dolphins have been a favorite in 3 games, they are 2-1 but 1-2 ATS. Last week they barely beat the Seahawks, they lost to Baltimore 4 weeks ago, and they beat Buffalo at home as a 1 point favorite 3 weeks ago. The Dolphins do play well against bad rushing defenses, though, upsetting the broncos by 9 in Denver and taking down the Chargers by a touchdown in Miami. Still, the Fins have won by 10 or more just once all season long, and while the Raiders are indeed bad, they have played better defense lately and haven’t played that bad on the road this season. I also don’t think the Dolphins should be a double digit point favorite against anyone in the league, besides maybe the Rams. I hate taking the Raiders, they have so many things going wrong that they are never a safe bet. After nearly losing last week, I think the Dolphins come out with a sense of urgency, and having the Raiders fly across the country to play them in the morning doesn’t hurt either – Oakland hasn’t been so hot crossing the midwest and they’ve lost 6 of their 9 games by 10 or more points. Take Miami. One more thing, Al Davis just took play calling away from the offensive coordinator – what a joke – who is he giving it to then? Wow.

Houston Texans (+10) @ Indianapolis Colts: When Houston can run, they’ll be alright. Sure, the Colts came back late in the game against the Steelers, and beat a very good PIttsburgh team on the road – they also got a couple gimmies and managed a 3 point win at home against the Patriots two weeks ago. That’s two wins in a row – and now everyone and their ESPN analyst wants to announce that the Colts are back. Please. They still look sloppy and not as confident as they’ve been. That worries me against a Texans team coming off a really bad game, a Texans team that is pretty decent and in big trouble. What does that mean? That means they’ll fight. The Texans do alright against teams that don’t stop the run really well. They barely lost to Jacksonville, they barely lost to Indy (by 3 and 4 points respectively), and their 4 other losses come against very good defensive fronts. The Colts will need to play very well to cover a 10 point spread against the Texans, and I don’t see that happening. They’ve played 2 good games all season long, last week against PIttsburgh and 5 weeks ago against Baltimore. 2 good games. That’s it. I’ll take the Texans and 10, thank you very much.

Chicago Bears (+5) @ Green Bay Packers: The Bears have won three straight games in Green Bay, and have taken 5 of the last 6 against the Packers. Interesting. All of those games were against Brett Favre and the Packers, though. Aaron Rodgers will be happy to get out of that Dome – not only was the pass rush from Minnesota causing him to run for his life, but it looked like the lights in that Dome were playing evil tricks on his perception as well. Green Bay has lost 5 of their last 7 games, including two home losses (24-27 to Atlanta; and 16-27 to the Cowboys). However, Green Bay has played well enough to win in all four of their most recent games, losing their last two contests by a total of 4 points. If they would have pulled their offensive coordinator’s head out of his own ace, they probably would have beaten the Vikings last week. However, they seemed happy with a 50+ yard field goal to win it. How happy are they now? Taking all things into account, I have to go with the Bears, despite the fact that I really liked the Packers coming into the season. Chicago may have 4 losses, but all 4 came to good teams, and 3 of those losses were by a field goal or less (Atlanta by 2, Tampa by 3, and Carolina by 3). Their only “big loss” came last week to Tennessee by 7, and it was closer than that. I see Chicago taking full advantage of the Packers weak run defense, and while I hope Green Bay gets to 5-5, I like the Bears and 5 points.

New Orleans Saints @ Kansas City Chiefs (+5.5): This is an interesting one, because there are some conflicting numbers – but I’ll get to the bottom of it. Here goes what I see: The Chiefs have played good football lately. Say what you will about this 1-8 team, they’ve taking the Jets, Bucs, and Chargers to the limit over the past three weeks, and all of it has been done without the guy everyone said was their best player to start the year. They did get killed by Carolina and Tennessee just before that, but these New Orleans Saints are a lot less like the Titans and Panthers, and a lot more like the Denver Broncos. They aren’t that bad defensively, but they are a team that can’t really run the rock, depend solely on Drew Brees’ arm, and have a secondary that has the stamina and staying power of the first guy you fight on Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out. That said, whenever they’ve been dogs of 9 points or less, they’ve gotten hammered. Basically, they haven’t thrived when given a shot in hell to win the game. Then you have New Orleans, a team that has absolutely taken advantage of the leagues “not so elite” teams. They beat Oakland 34-3 and smoked San Francisco in a game they ended up winning by 14. I think KC would fit into that group of the “not so elite”. But Tyler Thigpen has been so good, the Saints have been bad, even worse on the road, and despite all the injuries and the losing, Herman Edwards has the Chiefs playing as good a football as they’ve played this year. They also have played pretty well against Pass-heavy teams this year. Ah, forget it, I’ll take the Chiefs in this one +5.5, but I bet if YOU wait long enough you can get 6.

Baltimore Ravens (+7.5) @ New York Giants: I’m all for taking the Giants, I’ve done my fair share of it and reaped the benefits this season. However, I see this game being within a touchdown, so I have to take the Ravens with that nice 7.5 line I got. Despite winning against Pittsburgh earlier in the season, the Giants didn’t play very well against that stellar defense. I think that the Ravens will be the second team to shut down the Giants rushing attack, and while Baltimore will have their fair share of trouble trying to score against New York, their running game will give them enough balance and short yardage conversions to keep this game close. Baltimore has played 1 bad game so far this year, a 31-3 drubbing at the hands of the Colts. Their other two losses were to Pittsburgh by an overtime field goal, and the Titans by a regulation field goal. Those last two teams are on the same level as the Giants, this game should be close as well.

Detroit Lions (+15) @ Carolina Panthers: An interesting match-up here. The Panthers have dominated as a big favorite this season, (which is rare for them), covering spreads of 10 (Oakland), 9.5 (Kansas City), and 7 (Atlanta). However, look at these tricky Lions for a second and you’ll see that in every game that they’ve been dogged by double digits, they’ve covered easily. What else? Everyone of those “big dog” ATS wins have come on the road. At Chicago they almost pulled one off and ended up losing by 4 (they were 12.5 point dogs), at Houston they were 11 point dogs and lost by a touchdown, and in Minnesota they were 13 point dogs and they lost by 2 and only because of a phantom pass interference penalty. I’ve said all year long that if the Panthers can run they they are one of the best teams in football. Conflicting stats? You bet. But I’m going to forget stats this week and just take the team that is winless thus far against a team that historically struggles at home as a big favorite. Plus, the Lions are getting 15 freaking points here – that’s a good thing if you’re betting the dog. Go Daunte, go!!!

Minnesota Vikings @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3): Boy, the Vikings sure are tempting fate this year. four of their five wins have come by a touchdown or less and they’ve only lost one game by more than a touchdown (against Tennessee, weird). But away from Minnesota, the Vikes are just 1-3. Playing in Tampa Bay where the Bucs are 4-0, I have to say I like the home team. Tampa Bay’s defense may not be big, but they are playing very well against the run,  and have beaten every run-heavy team they’ve faced. (They did lose to Dallas without Tony Romo, but that game was so flukey and weird, I don’t know what to call it). Both teams are coming off of wins in which they didn’t play very well, but Tampa is coming off a bye. Minnesota should have lost to Green Bay last week, and you all know how I feel about teams that should have lost but won – bet against them in a hurry. I’m taking the Bucs.

Philadelphia Eagles (-9) @ Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals have lost 8 games this year (1 win), and in 7 of those 8 losses, they’ve been outscored by a touchdown or more. The Eagles are really good, good enough to be a 3 point favorite against the Giants last week and play pretty well down the stretch. They’ve lost 4 games this year, all to pretty good teams. Washington, Chicago, Dallas, and last week New York (Giants). The Eagles have been favored by a touchdown or more 3 times, they are 3-0 in those games. The Eagles dominate teams that don’t have good run defenses – like, fore arguments sake, the Bengals. This is a HUGE spread for a 5-4 road team to cover, but I like my chances with Philly this week. What’s a bye week going to do for the Bengals besides make them realize how pathetic they really are? No longer winless, I don’t think they have a chance to do anything worthwhile against the Eagles.

St. Louis Rams @ San Francisco 49ers (-5.5): The Rams beat the Redskins and then the Cowboys (or the shell of the Cowboys without Tony Romo). That’s it. Over the last two games they’ve been absolutely embarrassed by the Cardinals and then the Jets. The 49ers also have 2 wins, but I like the way they played on Monday Night. Despite all the penalties and the turnovers, they fought until the last second and finished 2 yards shy of a huge upset. The Rams don’t pass well, and thus they won’t be able to take advantage of the Niners shaky secondary. I actually like San Francisco’s run defense enough to take them in a game where they are as big a favorite as they’ve been all season long. Go Samari Mike!

Arizona Cardinals (-3) @ Seattle Seahawks: Matt Hasselbeck is back this week, or so the fortune teller says. Regardless, my magical bald brother Matt or not, I don’t think the Hawks match up well against the Cardinals. Arizona is coming off a game that should have snapped them back to reality, and they have a passing attack that should pay dividends, even against a solid Hawks secondary. Too much size for the little Hawk corners. The Cardinals have been favored in 5 games this season – they are undefeated in those contests. That’s just a stat, and honestly, it means nothing to me except it helps me argue my point. Which is this – to start the season I didn’t expect the Seahawks to win the West- I thought there was a Cardinal team that was better than them. That was when the Hawks were relatively healthy. Right now, they are still beat up, and while they have some players coming back, they still aren’t as good as the Cards. The Cardinals may be 2-3 on the road, but they’ve played well away from home. They lost to Carolina by just 4 points, and while they took 6 touchdowns from Brett Favre right on the chin, they played within a touchdown of a tough Redskin team in Washington. I know Seattle is historically solid at home in that rainy and unbelievably loud stadium, but throw history out the door and while you’re at it, look at how much better the Cards are than the Hawks. They’ll stuff the Hawks rushing attack and make plays against a stagnant Hawks offense. I’ll take the Cards – even with 70% of the public following me here.

Tennessee Titans (-2.5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars: I would love to take the Jaguars here. The Titans can’t win them all, and despite the Titans defensive presence, they can be run on. But, that doesn’t mean the Jaguars can run on them. Jacksonville is still missing offensive linemen, and 4 wins against bad rushing defenses doesn’t a win against the Titans make… errr.. something like that. Basically, here it is. The Titans have struggled a little bit against legit passing attacks, Indy, Green Bay – they won, but they struggled. They also struggled against a couple very good run defenses in Chicago and Baltimore. THey won, but they struggled. The Jaguars happen to be nothing that the Titans struggle with. Jacksonville has a reputation of being a good run defense, but that’s just not true this season. Look for Tennessee to keep on winning this week in Jacksonville – that’s the only bet that makes sense.

San Diego Chargers @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-4): I wrote a nice write-up about why I was taking the Chargers, and then I did a little bit more research and realized that San Diego’s defense isn’t good enough to upset the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The Steelers lost last week to Indy, but they played awesome defensively. They should be too much for the Chargers offense, especially against the run. I like Pittsburgh here. I’m trying real hard not to think too far into this one.

Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins (+2): The Redskins haven’t played well over their last 4 games. They are 2-2, but their wins come against Cleveland by 3 and Detroit by 8. They lost to St. Louis and then to PIttsburgh two weeks ago. They looked lost against the Steelers defense. Tony Romo comes back this week, and you can bet the Cowboys are ready to make a playoff push after struggling without their signal caller. I even like the Cowboys talent level. But I can’t even think about taking the Cowboys as a favorite in Washington. The Redskins have done enough to show me that they can pick apart a bad secondary, and there has to be some rust on Tony’s Cowboy machine. Look for the Redskins to come back with a huge win that should cripple the Boys in Week 11.

Cleveland Browns (+5.5) @ Buffalo Bills: I like the Browns in this one. I think the Bills will have a hard time rushing against the Browns front line, and I think Brady Quinn gives the Browns enough accuracy to stay on the field that much longer. He didn’t look as great as everyone likes to say he did, last week against a bad Broncos defense, but he is accurate enough – and that’s huge for the Browns. This should be a close one, like most Brown and Bill games, so those 5.5 points should come in handy on Monday Night.

One thought on “NFL Free Picks: Week 11

  1. Blake from FanYard here. Would you believe that I had every single game called the same as you if you don’t count two where I had a different line? I have NE minus-three and NYG -6.5. Add on the extra points you have here and I may have picked those two the same as you as well. Hard to say now, but I thought it was pretty cool how close our thoughts on this week are. Best of luck, man…here’s to going 16-0! Damn, that would rock…and I feel much better about my picks now.

Leave a Reply