The NFL season is 10 weeks old, Thanksgiving is days away and snow is about to fly. And as the league gets set to hit its stretch run, all we really know is that we don’t know much.
The Vikings have to be feeling pretty good about themselves after a dramatic Week 10 overtime win over the Buffalo Bills that improved Minnesota to 8-1. But there still are questions about just how good that Vikings team is given their proclivity for playing tight games. On the flipside of that coin, Buffalo has gone from the clear-cut Super Bowl favorite to a team that might have to fight just to win its division.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Entering Week 11, roughly 2/3 of the entire league still has a legitimate case to make a playoff spot. Not only that, seeding is far from a sure thing, especially in the AFC where the Chiefs are the only team in the entire conference with fewer than three losses. The NFC might look like a two-team race for the No. 1 seed between the Philadelphia Eagles — who just lost their first game of the season — and Minnesota, but the upstart New York Giants are lingering at 7-2.
There’s a lot to be settled, and NESN.com’s Mike Cole and Ricky Doyle did their best to sort things out on this week’s episode of “The Spread,” NESN’s football picks podcast. In addition, they gave their weekly three best bets, which you can hear in the podcast below.
As always, Mike and Ricky have made their against-the-spread picks for each and every game on the Week 11 slate. Before we get to those, though, here’s how they fared last week.
Now, here are their Week 11 ATS picks based on consensus betting lines from the NESNBets live odds page.
THURSDAY, NOV. 17
Tennessee Titans at (-3) Green Bay Packers, 8:15 p.m. ET
Mike: Titans. The Packers opened as favorites on the lookahead lines, which was a bit surprising given how these teams’ seasons have gone. That the number jumped to -3 after the Packers beat the Cowboys at home feels like too much of a leap for a team that probably shouldn’t have been favored in the first place.
Ricky: Titans. The Packers, a team that struggles against the run, just went to overtime in a late-slate game in which their defense was on the field for 79 plays, and here comes Derrick Henry. Good luck.
SUNDAY, NOV. 20
Chicago Bears at (-3) Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bears. Chicago has scored an average of 31 points the last two weeks against Miami and Detroit, two bad defenses. The Falcons’ defense is even worse than those two — and it doesn’t have the same offensive firepower. Justin Fields should run for 100-plus yards, and the Bears should at least be able to keep it close as they did in those other two games.
Ricky: Bears. Fields’ skill set presents a nightmarish matchup for an Atlanta defense that isn’t good against the run or the pass. And the Falcons’ offense has been no great shakes in recent weeks, either, which could lead to a quarterback change sooner rather than later.
Carolina Panthers at (-12.5) Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m.
Mike: Ravens. Baltimore is 19-1 straight-up as a double-digit favorite since 2011, and it has been profitable recently against the spread. The Ravens are 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight games laying 10 or more points. A Baker Mayfield-led Panthers team doesn’t seem likely to buck that trend.
Ricky: Ravens. And here’s a prop bet I’d consider: +475 that Baltimore’s defense or special teams scores a touchdown (DraftKings Sportsbook).
Cleveland Browns at (-8) Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m.
Mike: Browns. I’m banking on the weather thing being an actual issue, more so the wind than anything else. If that’s the case, it’s a major benefit to a Browns team that boasts an elite rushing attack against a bottom-of-the-league Bills run defense that’s allowing more yards per carry than any other team over the last three weeks.
Ricky: Bills. Following this matchup — the total, in particular — has been a rollercoaster given the forecast in western New York. But now that the game has moved to Detroit, I feel better about laying the points and Josh Allen feasting on Cleveland’s defense.
(-3) Washington Commanders at Houston Texans, 1 p.m.
Mike: Texans. Everything went Washington’s way in Week 10, as the Commanders converted 12 (!) third downs and benefited from four Eagles turnovers and 75 yards of Philly penalties. The Texans, despite their record, are a disciplined team that plays opponents tough. This could be an outright upset.
Ricky: Texans. Classic letdown spot for the Commanders — the second leg of back-to-back road games and on a short week after an upset win Monday night. And the Texans, for all their flaws, aren’t exactly pushovers. Sometimes, they randomly find a way.
(-7) Philadelphia Eagles at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m.
Mike: Colts. Washington’s Monday night gameplan was clear, with 49 run plays versus the Eagles. Indy should be building a similar game plan with an elite running back and a former offensive lineman as head coach. The Eagles’ offense also might struggle a bit without Dallas Goedert.
Ricky: Colts. Perfect spot for Philadelphia to bounce back and for Indianapolis to regress after last week’s new-coach jolt… right? Well, maybe. But the Colts’ defense has been stingy of late, whereas the Eagles’ defense — ranked dead-last in rush success rate — could play right into what Indianapolis wants to do offensively. This has the makings of a street fight.
New York Jets at (-3) New England Patriots, 1 p.m.
Mike: Patriots. I so badly want to take the Jets, but I am a coward. The New England offense has looked just as bad as the Jets’ this season, but I ultimately think Zach Wilson versus Bill Belichick is likely to flip this game in the Patriots’ favor at some point Sunday.
Ricky: Jets. Probably an incredibly stupid bet, seeing as New England has completely flummoxed Wilson to this point in his young NFL career. But the Jets’ defensive front has game-wrecking ability, especially against a vulnerable Patriots offensive line.
Los Angeles Rams at (-4) New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m.
Mike: Rams. The number just seems too high, especially considering New Orleans might be down a trio of offensive linemen. The Cooper Kupp injury obviously hurts, but the Saints’ defense has not been very good and is among the NFL’s worst tackling teams, which should help get the offense going in some way for LA.
Ricky: Rams. The Saints just aren’t disciplined enough — 31st in giveaways per game (1.9), 29th in penalties per game (7.2) and 29th in penalty yards per game (60) — to lay more than a field goal here, even with the Rams’ injuries and offensive struggles. Let’s see what you’ve got, Sean McVay.
Detroit Lions at (-3) New York Giants, 1 p.m.
Mike: Lions. Went back and forth on this one way more than any person should for a Lions-Giants game, but ultimately, I think these teams are really quite similar. If that’s the case, I’ll just grab the points and hope the backdoor stays open for Detroit — just in case.
Ricky: Lions. Is it me or do the Giants play a crappy team every week? Nevertheless, they could be in the Super Bowl and I’ll still be questioning how good they really are this season.
Las Vegas Raiders at (-2.5) Denver Broncos, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Broncos. Since we’re all in the trust tree, my main reason for picking Denver is that I’ve taken too many underdogs this week. This is not actionable advice or insight.
Ricky: Broncos. If there’s anything that can cure Denver’s woeful offense, it’s a matchup with Las Vegas, which ranks last in the NFL in defensive DVOA. The Broncos scored 32 points — their highest output of the season by 11 points — the last time these teams hooked up. Denver’s defense, meanwhile, remains very good.
(-1.5) Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Cowboys. We’re getting closer to the point where I’ve just gotta accept the Vikings find ways to win, but I can’t shake the fact that basically all of their advanced stats say they’re middle of the pack, and it has to catch up at some point. This week feels like a real possibility against a very good Dallas defense that will be even tougher if Justin Jefferson is at all hampered.
Ricky: Cowboys. The Vikings have five wins in which they trailed with under three minutes remaining. Dangerous way to live. The Cowboys (second in pressure rate and fifth in blitz percentage) will do enough to throw off Kirk Cousins’ timing. Of the 39 quarterbacks with at least 29 dropbacks vs. the blitz, Cousins is ranked 34th on Pro Football Focus’ grades (as well as 35th in adjusted completion percentage and 34th in passer rating).
(-4) Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Steelers. Cincinnati just can’t seem to solve the AFC North with a 0-3 divisional record this season, including a loss to the Steelers in Week 1. The Bengals’ main source of offense that week was Ja’Marr Chase, who had 10 catches for 129 yards, but Pittsburgh still sacked Joe Burrow seven times and forced five turnovers. Without Chase this week, Burrow could be under fire again.
Ricky: Steelers. The T.J. Watt effect is real. And so, too, is Pittsburgh’s ability to thrive when catching points under Mike Tomlin. From Action Network: the Steelers are 14-2-1 ATS (88% cover rate) as home underdogs from Week 5 forward with Tomlin at the helm.
(-6.5) Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers, 8:20 p.m.
Mike: Chargers. The Chargers have actually won two of five matchups versus Kansas City since the start of 2020, and those three losses have been by an average of four points. They should have both Keenan Allen and Mike Williams back and at Justin Herbert’s disposal this week, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see a tight, high-scoring track meet.
Ricky: Chargers. The Chiefs rank 31st in receptions allowed to running backs and 30th in receiving yards allowed to running backs. Not ideal for a matchup with Austin Ekeler, who leads the NFL in both categories among RBs. Ekeler has 67 catches on 81 targets. The next-highest in those areas: Christian McCaffrey, with 47 catches on 60 targets. That’s a wide margin.
MONDAY, NOV. 21
(-8) San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. (in Mexico City)
Mike: Cardinals. San Francisco hasn’t been especially impressive of late — or at any point this season, really. The Cardinals have major issues themselves, especially with Kyler Murray questionable, but I just think the 49ers will be unable to fully put Arizona away, and the number is too high.
Ricky: 49ers. Not only did San Francisco beat the Chargers in Week 10. The Niners also walked away unscathed on the injury front, a rare occurrence for Kyle Shanahan’s group. Now, time for the Super Bowl hopefuls to build some momentum on a neutral field.
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