NFL Betting Plays and Predictions – Week 11
21 November 2020
Thanks for stopping back for Week 11. This week has a bit of a different feel than previous weeks, particularly from the perspective of totals, as I believe we have easily the fewest amount of 50+ point total thus far this season.
Is it a coincidence that this is happening when weather starts playing hell with given games, particularly those in cold weather cities? Maybe, but weather has already struck some games this year, particularly in Cleveland.
The Browns last two home games have been truly plagued by wind, leading to low scoring affairs and their home game this week is sure to be a wet one. Wind could also play a factor, but that is currently not a certainty. We have also seen some defenses gel together over the course of the season after the absence of training camp, but we have also seen a handful implode.
This week was the toughest yet as I looked to the best plays to make. After running through the list of games, there was not a single total on the slate that jumped out as a point of attack. I did find two sides I was very interested in playing, and then on Friday morning the news cycle brought about another play during the writing of this piece.
Of course the big piece of news Friday morning was that the Saints would be passing over Jameis Winston and playing Taysom Hill in relief of Drew Brees. This creates a play in this game, but it just might not be on the side you’re probably expecting. Let’s get to the NFL picks and predictions of the week.
This Week’s Betting Plays
|Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints||Saints -3.5|
|Green Bay Packers at Indianapolis Colts||Packers +1.5|
|Miami Dolphins at Denver Broncos||Dolphins -3.5|
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints
Opening Line: Saints -7.5 and 52.5
Current Line: Saints -3.5 and 50
Without skipping a beat from the intro, we dive right into this game. We knew Drew Brees was going to miss this game for the Saints, and the assumption was that Jameis Winston would step in while Taysom Hill still ran a separate package of plays, as he does with Brees.
The news broke Friday morning that Winston would not be part of the game plan and that it would be Hill full time under center. I was wholly uninterested in the Saints with Jameis taking snaps, but that takes a full turn with Hill. Jameis is an inaccurate turnover machine that simply does not fit with the Saints skill player grouping.
We saw last year the terrible spots his turnovers put his defense in, and the difference is quite apparent with the play of the Buccaneers defense this season vs last. That was my worry for the Saints this week, but that worry has been alleviated. Now, is Hill an accurate passer? No he is not. But that is not what makes him effective. He is dual threat in the mold of some combination of Tebow and Lamar Jackson, and he and Kamara will make the offense hum. I certainly do not believe him to be any worse than Lamar Jackson as a passer, so the 2019 Ravens offense with better RB play might be a good measuring stick, and we know how effective that offense was.
The Saints defense has certainly picked up their play in recent weeks, allowing just 16 points combined in their last two wins. This is a bit of what I was talking about in the intro when I said some defenses were coming together later in the season, and that is not shocking given the timeline of 2020.
The Saints have forced seven turnovers in those last two games, after just two combined takeaways in their previous five games. The turnovers are a sign the Payton defense is playing at a higher level, and has been fairly consistent in his tenure when the team as a whole is playing at a high level.
The Falcons have also steadied their ship in 2020 after a disastrous start, partly because they moved on from the incompetent Dan Quinn at head coach. They have improved what started as a woeful defense, but the matchup with the current version of the Saints is going to be a problem for them. The steady ball control style while still bringing dynamism with Hill is going to grind down the Falcons defense, and they will be forced into a pass happy game plan. That is when the pass rush pressure on Ryan will begin to bring the sacks and turnovers and the Saints pull away in this game.
The opening line was accurate and the movement has created quite a value with the Saints, who will be our point of attack in this game. I think the figure could even get smaller, so it may be worth a dice roll to wait until Sunday to see is we can get added value on a shrinking line.
Betting Play: Saints -3.5
Green Bay Packers at Indianapolis Colts
Opening Line: Packers -2.5 and 49.5
Current Line: Colts -1.5 and 51
Seeing the line movement on this one was something of a shocker for me. The reasoning is Davante Adams is looking questionable, but I am completely unsold the Packers need him to beat the Colts.
The Colts continue to be a team not nearly as good as their 6-3 record, and their soft schedule was buoyed even more when they got easily the worst version of the Titans last week and added to their record, which I believe will easily be proven fraudulent as the season gets to its ending point.
The Titans were the first .500 or better team the Colts have beaten this season, and it seems probable they will be the last. The Colts simply have been able to do what they are supposed to do, feast on the weak, but they have had far too many opportunities to do so, and it has lead to inequity in this betting line. Aside from that Titans win, their other .500 or better opponents were the Browns and Ravens, and they lost those games by a combined 23 points.
The 7-2 Packers on the other hand, have essentially only been beaten when they did not play up to snuff. They have quite a quality road win in New Orleans already, and only have a road setback in Tampa. They are learning to get other wide receivers involved that are not Davante Adams, and actually have the luxury of getting Allen Lazard back this week, who has shown competence and will be paired with Marquez Valdez-Scantling if Adams were to miss.
The Packer defensive scheme is one that scream of being ready and able to force Rivers into mistakes, and have gotten a pick in each of their last two games. Fade the public once again here and roll with the superior Packers to notch a road win at the fraudulent Colts.
Betting Play: Packers +1.5
Miami Dolphins at Denver Broncos
Opening Line: Pickem and 45.5
Current Line: Dolphins -3.5 and 45
If you follow this column closely, you know that I enjoy fading the public more often than not, but this is simply not one of those spots. This line foolishly opening at a pickem was an invitation in neon lights for every bettor on the planet to steam the Dolphins upward. It is almost as if oddsmakers have not checked results any time in the last two months.
Since their Week1 loss in New England, the Dolphins 6-2, including a current five game winning streak. Their two losses in that span have both been at home, to the early season version of the Bills and to the Seahawks. They have won three straight on the road, including two on the west coast against the 49ers and Cardinals, and are one of if not the league’s hottest team right now.
The Broncos on the other hand are 3-7, have lost two in a row, have only notched wins against teams with losing records, and wait for it… have allowed at least 30 points in four straight games. This is a young team in a lost season that is having issues on both sides of the ball, and even at home, it is difficult to project how they are going to be competitive in this matchup.
The Dolphins defense is the biggest surprise as they have vastly exceeded expectations, and this soft matchup should act as their easiest in their winning streak, save for the Jets. Bronco quarterback Drew Lock will either play hurt or sit out, and that is even more reason to look to the Dolphins.
The Dolphin offense has shown they can plug and play at the running back position with no issues. Myles Gaskin carried the load prior to being injured, and now Salven Ahmed has taken over, and they have not missed a beat. Tua Tagovailoa has been as good as hoped under center, and this Bronco defense will be torched by Ahmed to the point that Tua may not have to do much at all.
I feel this line should be closer to double digits than it should be a field goal, and there is true blowout appeal on the Dolphins side.
Betting Play: Dolphins -3.5
Be sure to check back Saturday evening for prop plays and for the Monday night look early Monday. Also be sure to stop back early for the Thanksgiving slate of games next week!
NFL Week 11 – 2019
Thanks for stopping back for week 11. Still tilting over the horrific beats laid on the Chiefs and Panthers in week 10, and will be looking to get back on the correct plays except to mix them with some run good this week.
Week 11 NFL Picks
We have two fewer bye weeks this week than last, so we get one more game in comparison. There are a handful of high end teams in bounce back spots this week and they are favorable plays in big time bounce back spots and could be in offensive explosion and blow out spots against exploitable opponents. We also get a couple of the ugliest possible matchups and a big oddsmaker reaction to the new worst team in the league. Prime time again has a putrid game on Sunday night but we are rewarded for our resilience and struggling through that game with what will be quite an enjoyable one on Monday night. Let’s get to the games and against the spread plays.
Expert Picks Summary Week 11
|Game||Point Spread||Over/Under||$20 Free at Unibet.com|
|Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers||Panthers -5.5||Over 50.5|
|New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Saints -5.5||Over 50.5|
|Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts||Jaguars +3||–|
|Denver Broncos at Minnesota Vikings||Vikings -10.5||–|
|New York Jets at Washington Redskins||Jets +1||–|
|Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins||Bills -5.5||–|
|Cincinnati Bengals at Oakland Raiders||Raiders -10.5||–|
|Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers||Chiefs -3.5||Over 52.5|
Play Of The Week
Atlanta Falcons 2-7 at Carolina Panthers 5-4
Opening Line: Panthers -7 and 54
Current Line: Panthers -5.5 and 50.5
The Panthers took a horrific beat last week as Christian McCaffrey’s touchdown to end regulation cost them both a conversion attempt for overtime and more importantly, a cover. Referee botches have been especially kind to the Packers this year and that trend continued last week. The Panthers will surely have a sour taste in their mouth after their second loss of the season that saw a late game run from the league MVP come up just a bit short with the game on the line. They will also be returning home and won’t have to worry about an ice and snow covered field as they did last week. It feels too early in the season to worry about such things, but I digress. The Falcons defense played their best game of 2019 last week, but that unit is still a dumpster fire in terms of ability and they will regress back to their mean this week. The Panthers will score early and often and Matt Ryan and co. will be tasked with keeping pace in this one and Ryan will have to do it without top running back Devonta Freeman and top pass catcher Austin Hooper. The Panthers should get into the 30s in this one behind a balanced and effective offensive effort. The Falcons will score enough to get the over home, but it’s the Panthers that will roll in this one.
Dallas Cowboys 5-4 at Detroit Lions 3-5-1
Opening Line: Cowboys -2.5 and 51.5
Current Line: Cowboys -4.5 and 49
The Cowboys travel to Detroit with a 2-2 road record with three of those games already coming against the bottom of the barrel the league has to offer. In their lone difficult matchup, the offense only mustered 10 points in New Orleans and they additionally lost to the lowly Jets. Their wins have come against the Giants and Redskins and the offense has been wildly inconsistent and inefficient away from home. The Lions enter the week with the availability of Matthew Stafford being an unknown and it seems he is more probable to sit than he is to play. Jeff Driskel didn’t play terribly in relief last week but the offense’s ceiling is fully capped with him under center and the defense will have some pressure to show up in this one. The Lions defense continues to be exploitable by the running back position and Ezekiel Elliott could be in for a real bounce back spot. When the Cowboys lean more on the passing game they have a bad habit, like the Falcons, of accumulating empty statistics and not having it translate to efficiency in wins and losses. With there still being potential of Stafford suiting up and the potential for the Cowboys to lay a road egg again, this is a spot to sit out of.
New Orleans Saints 7-2 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3-6
Opening Line: Saints -5 and 51
Current Line: Saints -5.5 and 50.5
The Saints were without a doubt the biggest disappointment and letdown of any team in any matchup on the week and perhaps even on the season. The dud off the bye against the Falcons at home was a true shocker, but it has happened more than once in the Sean Payton era and can be expected once a year or so. The good news is we get to get that one back in just as soft a matchup this week. The Bucs continue their ineptitude against opposing passing games last week as Kyler Murray and Christian Kirk racked up the yards and points. The Bucs won 30-27 but they allowed at least 27 points for the eight time in nine games this season and this week will keep that streak going. It cannot be understated how inept the Bucs are in terms of passing defense and it will be a typical week where their own passing game sees high volume as they try to keep pace with what their defense allows. Michael Thomas, Jared Cook and company will be in for a fun afternoon as the Saints roll to a high scoring win in Tampa. Take the Saints and the over here.
Jacksonville Jaguars 4-5 at Indianapolis Colts 5-4
Opening Line: Colts -3.5 and 44
Current Line: Colts -3 and 44
The Colts passing game struggled last week with Brian Hoyer in relief of injured Jacoby Brissett, and they lost to the still low end Dolphins, albeit a drastically improved version of the team we saw early in the season. Brissett is truly questionable for this game, but the availability of wide receiver TY Hilton is perhaps the more impactful unknown. The Colts have amazingly seen all nine of their games this season end with a one score differential, so note the favorable nature of the underdog in any game they play in. The Jaguars come off a bye and get starting quarterback Nick Foles under center. Gardner Minshew performed admirably in relief but the change back should be viewed as a net positive for the team. With Foles back the Jaguars should be trending upwards while the Colts are trending downwards as talent limitations on the roster are becoming more of a factor than coaching and scheme. Take the underdog in this contest and the more likely team to win.
Betting Pick: Jaguars +3
Denver Broncos 3-6 at Minnesota Vikings 7-3
Opening Line: Vikings -10.5 and 38.5
Current Line: Vikings -10.5 and 39
The Vikings showed they are a true contender last week with a win in prime time at Dallas while missing top pass catcher Adam Thielen. They are a balanced team with a high end running game spear headed by Dalvin Cook and one that will be a nightmare for the Broncos this week as they play from behind. Brandon Allen will make his second career start at quarterback and his first one on the road, and more will be asked of him than he can deliver. The Broncos will have real difficulty running the ball and Allen will need to elevate a mostly untalented pass catching corps to try to keep pace, and he will fall short. The Vikings will be able to implement a run heavy attack in this one that the Broncos won’t have an answer for and the Broncos additionally are simply unequipped to play from behind. This one could het very ugly from a lopsided score perspective.
Betting Pick: Vikings -10.5
New York Jets 2-7 at Washington Redskins 1-8
Opening Line: Redskins -1.5 and 37.5
Current Line: Redskins -1 and 38
The Jets were able to win last week’s ineptitude bowl against the Giants and now get to run it back with the Redskins. While the same cannot be said for the Giants, the Redskins are one of just two or three teams in the league we can label the Jets objectively better than. It was announced early in the week the Redskins will be sticking with Dwayne Haskins as their starting quarterback and with this information, there is absolute zero reason they should be favored against another team, point blank period, Bengals and Jets included. Haskins is objectively a sub caliber quarterback at this juncture, and the Jets are stout against the run, meaning it will be up to Haskins to produce offense, which I’m happy to bet against. On the Jets side, quarterback Sam Darnold is looking to have established a rapport with possession receivers Jamison Crowder and Demaryius Thomas and this is the reason the Jets will be able to move the ball more effectively and ultimately win the game. The Redskins will have a laughably high amount of rushing attempts with a laughably low yard per carry average in a loss.
Betting Pick: Jets +1
Buffalo Bills 6-3 at Miami Dolphins 2-7
Opening Line: Bills -7.5 and 39
Current Line: Bills -5.5 and 40
Dolphins coach Brian Flores deserves some kudos for turning this Dolphins team from an unmitigated disaster to begin the season to the reasonably competitive one we are seeing as the current version. They now have consecutive wins after an 0-7 start and have actually been bet down to an underdog of fewer than one score after opening. This is likely too aggressive of a move on them and the Bills team has a stout defense and balanced offensive attack. The Bills are coming off a road loss to the Browns and they allowed 7 and 9 points the week after their previous two losses. As I mentioned, the line probably opened in the correct spot in this one but has moved in the wrong direction as the Dolphins will have difficulty putting points on the board as they will be unable to run the ball in this one and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will be in a rough spot where mistakes will come. While it’s true the Bills generally play to the level of their opponents, the offense won’t have to do an incredible amount in this one to get the cover as they hold the Dolphins under 14 points.
Betting Pick: Bills -5.5
Houston Texans 6-3 at Baltimore Ravens 7-2
Opening Line: Ravens -5 and 49
Current Line: Ravens -4 and 50
It’s been fun to watch what Lamar Jackson and the Ravens have been able to do on offense. They are currently on a five game win streak with impressive wins coming over the Seahawks and the Patriots in that span. Their two losses on the season are to the Browns and Chiefs and there was a common denominator in those games. Running backs crushed them late in games and that is likely not a worry in this matchup. What is a worry is the high end passing attack from the Texans and their resilience. All of their losses have been by one score or fewer and they aren’t a team easily put away. They also have had two weeks to prepare coming off the bye and that is more significant in this matchup than most as the Ravens offense is truly different than any other offense in the league and a different defensive approach is warranted. The achilles heel of the Texans defense has been wide receivers beating them but that seems like a far fetched outcome in this one. Over the last three games, Raven wide receivers have seen 23 targets. No, not per game, 23 total. The truth of the matter is these teams are an excessively fun matchup with a wide range of outcomes and is a dog or pass spot. Sit this one out and enjoy watching it.
Arizona Cardinals 3-6-1 at San Francisco 49ers 8-1
Opening Line: 49ers -14 and 44
Current Line: 49ers -11.5 and 46
This game is a divisional rematch from just two weeks ago when the 49ers had a narrow 3 point win at Arizona. That was a Thursday night game and the 49ers were potentially caught off guard late in the game when Andy Isabella broke an 88 yard touchdown as the electric rookie had been moth balled by Kingsbury to that point. Kenyan Drake was also quite effective for the Cardinals in his team debut, but it wasn’t enough to overcome an efficient performance from Jimmy Garropolo and it will be an even more difficult task for the Cardinals traveling to San Francisco and facing a team coming off their first loss of the season. The 49ers offense is banged up with Matt Breida set to miss time and George Kittle and Emmanuel Sanders questionable to play. Even if they don’t play, the 49er defense is elite and a rough matchup for rookie quarterback Kyler Murray. This game is favorite or pass and with the line still in double digits, passing is the prudent move.
New England Patriots 8-1 at Philadelphia Eagles 5-4
Opening Line: Patriots -3 and 46
Current Line: Patriots -3.5 and 44.5
Both teams are coming off a bye but the timing of the matchup is a tough one for the Eagles, as the Patriots suffered their first loss of the season heading into the bye against the Redskins. This game will be a measuring stick of sorts for the Patriots as they had a cake schedule leading up to the Baltimore loss, and the Eagles are likely to be a playoff team. The Eagles should be healthier in the secondary but they will remain a pass funnel and Tom Brady will likely shred them with the typical quick hitting passing game. What won’t be normal for the Pats is they will likely have difficulty running the ball and may have to abandon their typical balance. On the Eagles side of the ball, Carson Wentz may have to be about perfect in this one as the athleticism of his pass catchers is not high end after losing Desean Jackson for the season. Alshon Jeffery wins with size at this point in his career and with the next two best pass catchers being tight ends, the elite Pats secondary will be on these receivers like glue. Where the Pats are exploitable however, is with the run game and Jordan Howard leads a committee that’s been better than expected in that area. This is a favorite or pass spot and I don’t want to risk anything on the Pats in this road spot, so pass it is.
Cincinnati Bengals 0-9 at Oakland Raiders 5-4
4:25 PM EST
Opening Line: Raiders -8 and 48
Current Line: Raiders -10.5 and 48.5
When the Bengals announced going into their bye that quarterback Andy Dalton would be replaced by rookie Ryan Finley, we didn’t know with any certainty if this meant they had seen enough of stopgap Dalton or if they were prepared to lose out if necessary to secure the number one overall pick in the 2020 draft. We got our answer on Sunday as Joe Mixon got 30 carries in a game they lost by 36 points. It’s clear they are well aware of Finley’s limitations and no longer have any interest in winning a game this season. On the other side, the Raiders have proven to be a competitive team this season with low end playoff hopes and will eagerly welcome the tanking Bengals and accept the gimme win. Their run game is sharp with rookie running back Josh Jacobs and tight end Darren Waller is the moveable chess piece they can call upon for a go to player in the passing game. The deep ball is the weak link for the Raider defense and it’s a reasonable thought they won’t even have to defend one in this game. Laying double digits with the Raiders is a brand new concept, but it makes a lot of sense in this matchup.
Betting Pick: Raiders -10.5
Chicago Bears 4-5 at Los Angeles Rams 5-4
8:20 PM EST
Opening Line: Rams -7.5 and 42
Current Line: Rams -6.5 and 41.5
What a disgusting football game. Truly an abomination. A year ago head coaches Sean McVay and Matt Nagy were the toast of the league, but that year has seen them be exposed as somewhere between unadaptive as the rest of the league caught up to full blown fraudulent. The next 22 games will show us where each falls inside that spectrum, but for the time being we have two inept offenses lead by two quarterbacks who have had quite the fall from grace. We knew Mitchell Trubisky was never high end, but the prevailing thought was he was serviceable and Nagy would make it work. Not to be as Trubisky has cemented himself as a sub replacement level player. The more surprising development is Jared Goff has been at best a bottom half starter in the league. He truly only goes as far as slot stud Cooper Kupp can take him and this once feared offense is no longer a real threat. Also in stark contrast to 2018 is the defensive ineptitude for both teams. There simply isn’t any fear from opponents on either side. This game is sure to be a blooper reel and a disaster that we won’t be able to look away from, but also not making any bets on it.
Kansas City Chiefs 6-4 at Los Angeles Chargers 4-6
8:15PM EST Monday Night
Opening Line: Chiefs -3 and 49
Current Line: Chiefs -3.5 and 52.5
In the intro, we touched on the high end teams in bounce back spots. We already covered the Saints and Panthers and on Monday we get the third one in the Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes hadn’t missed a beat and was his normal elite self in his return last week, that ridiculously bad defense and true misfortune spoiled as the Titans eeked out enough points for a late win. The Chiefs have made the switch back to their best running back, Damien Williams and the offense has been all the better for it, and back to 2018 form. This week’s opponent, the Chargers, find new ways to lose games every week and remain an atrociously coached team with a good deal of wasted ability. Even if their mediocre defense finds a way to slow Mahomes and the Chiefs offense, they will come up short late in the game behind poor play calling and Philip Rivers making bad decisions when it counts the most. If I made that sound like there’s more than a variance level chance of the Chiefs not scoring plenty in this one, that was not the intent and is not the case. The Chiefs will get a lead in this one they will not blow. Take the Chiefs and the over on Monday night.
TJ Calkins – Expert
TJ Calkins was raised in a gambling loving household. He knew how to handicap horse races and follow line movements well before his tenth birthday. Follow@tjcalkins