Week 11 NFL best bets: A play on every game

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Week 11 of the very unique 2020 NFL season is here. 

With COVID-19 concerns in several games, be sure to check injury reports as we get closer to kickoff. Our experts Drew Dinsick, Dave Tuley and Matt Youmans combine to give their opinions on every game.

All odds as of Friday morning, from VSiN's NFL odds page.

Philadelphia Eagles at Cleveland Browns (-3, 47.5)

Tuley: I know the NFC Least is a joke and the Eagles’ record says they’re a 3-5-1 team, but I still have them even with the Browns in my power ratings. I don’t think the Browns should be favored by more than a field goal, even at home. Home-field advantage has been negligible this season and road teams are 76-69-2 ATS (52.4%). Hopefully anyone with us on Philadelphia (especially as we made them one of our best bets in VSiN’s Point Spread Weekly) got the hook at + 3.5 as it’s down to + 3 at most books, though monitor the market to see if you can still find + 3.5. Regardless, I’m on the Eagles here because they have a great chance at the outright upset as well.

Pick: Eagles + 3

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints (-3.5, 52)

Tuley: Drew Brees is out with broken ribs and a collapsed lung, which has caused this spread to go from Saints -7.5 on the advance line to Saints -3.5 now. The Falcons were playing better before their bye week, but this number is too short for me to play them now even with Taysom Hill surprisingly taking over for the Saints. I expect the Falcons to score their share of points, along with New Orleans. Now, here’s yet another example of why it pays to check Point Spread Weekly when it comes out on Wednesday as the total is up to 52, but I still expect it to fly Over.

Pick: Over 52


Dinsick: Fun one on tap in the Big Easy with multiple betting angles at play. A divisional matchup, team coming off a bye and adjusting for a backup quarterback all add complexity to the handicap. 

I think the overall adjustment of two points between Brees and Winston is fair, however, the underlying separation between these two teams is off by my numbers. The Saints, albeit banged up, are playing like a top-10 NFL team but the Falcons are better than league average after their poor start (sixth in offensive EPA per play and 18th in defensive EPA per play since Week 5) which makes a separation between these two teams much closer to + 3 than the currently lined + 4.5. Add in the extra rest and divisional familiarity and there is substantial line value on Atlanta this week by my numbers. 

Pick: Falcons + 4.5

Detroit Lions (-2, 47) at Carolina Panthers

Youmans: It appears Carolina quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is unlikely to play because of a sprained knee, so it would be P.J. Walker or Will Grier getting the start. The Panthers were already without running back Christian McCaffrey. After a surprising 3-2 start, Carolina is falling apart with five consecutive losses. First-year coach Matt Rhule is 1-4 ATS at home, and the Panthers are 1-7-1 ATS in their past nine home games. Pay attention to the trends. The Lions are another poor ATS team at home (0-3-1), but they are 3-2 ATS on the road. Matthew Stafford injured his right thumb early in Detroit’s victory over Washington in Week 10 yet he stayed in the game and completed 22 of 30 passes the rest of the way. Definitely not my most confident play of the week, but if forced to pick a side, the pick is the Lions.

Pick: Lions -2

New England Patriots (-2, 48.5) at Houston Texans

Youmans: By upsetting the Ravens, the Patriots revived their slim playoff hopes. Just as everyone started to bury Bill Belichick, we were reminded not to count him out. New England rushed for 173 yards against Baltimore as Damien Harris (22 carries, 121 yards) did most of the work with some help from Rex Burkhead and QB Cam Newton. The emergence of WRiver Jakobi Meyers, who has 23 receptions in the past three games and tricked the Ravens by passing for a 24-yard touchdown, has made a big difference in the offense. The Texans are 2-0 versus Jacksonville and 0-7 against all other opponents. This is not a strong opinion, but I’ll side with Belichick instead of a flatlining home underdog.

Pick: Patriots -2

Pittsburgh Steelers (-10, 46) at Jacksonville Jaguars

Tuley: Gardner Minshew isn’t ready to return for Jacksonville, which is fine with us as Jake Luton has been good enough to cover for us the last two weeks in losses to the Texans and Packers. The latter improved NFL double-digit underdogs to 7-4-1 ATS this season with four straight covers (also including Giants vs. Buccaneers in Week 8; Panthers at Chiefs and Cowboys vs. these Steelers in Week 9). The Steelers are fully capable of blowing out the Jags like they did against the Bengals last week, but that was just their second win all season of more than 10 points, so I’ll take the double-digit head-start.

Pick: Jaguars + 10

Cincinnati Bengals at Washington Football Team (-1.5, 47)


Dinsick: The comeback is on for quarterback Alex Smith, who led the NFL in passing in Week 10 and came oh-so-close to leading the Washington Football Team to a special come-from-behind win. The competent play by the QB has inspired the market to buy on the Team as we’ve seen one-way action here from the lookahead of a pick ‘em to Washington as a 2-point favorite. This action is totally fair by my numbers and the Washington front seven will likely give young Joe Burrow fits as he operates behind the worst offensive line in football. The total looks somewhat low given the potential resurgence of the Washington passing attack and Cincinnati’s propensity for garbage time scoring. If this total drops below 47 then the over is in play (fair total is 48 by my numbers), but for now this is a pass. 

Pick: Pass 

Youmans: Smith’s amazing comeback story is missing one thing — a win. Smith completed 38 of 55 passes for 390 yards with no interceptions in Washington’s 30-27 loss at Detroit. The Football Team is 1-3 in its past four games with each of the losses by three points or fewer. Burrow also has been a good story, but he has taken a physical beating and took four more sacks (32 for the season) while the Bengals were getting blown out at Pittsburgh. Washington’s defensive front will be all over Burrow. Cincinnati’s defense is bad in all areas, and back-to-back road games put the Bengals in a bet-against spot. Washington coach Ron Rivera says he’s trying to change the team’s miserable culture, and that does not happen by continuing to lose.

Pick: Washington -1.5

Tennessee Titans at Baltimore Ravens (-5.5, 49.5)

Tuley: Both of these contenders are coming off losses (and Ravens are 1-2 in their last three while Titans are 1-3 in their last four), but I’m counting on the Titans to keep this close. I liked them better at + 7 on the advance line and when re-opened, but I think those early bettors had the right side. All those reports of teams calling out Baltimore’s plays show how much defensive coordinators have adapted to contain Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense, and I expect Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel to have a solid game plan in place.

Pick: Titans + 5.5

Miami Dolphins (-3.5, 45) at Denver Broncos

Dinsick: The Vic Fangio Era has shown us a coach that has a propensity for conservative game planning coming off a turnover-prone performance which helps set the stage for an ugly, slow football game in Denver in Week 11.  Drew Lock had his worst day as a pro last week, throwing four picks and amassing the worst QB ranking of any active passer since returning from injury Week 6; he is currently the only QB with a negative EPA per drop back over that time frame (-0.015 points per play).  

The Dolphins are coming in hot with their rookie QB still undefeated as a starter, but in the elements at altitude this will be his toughest test of the season and it is unlikely the Dolphins air it out, especially if they can win with defense like they have in recent weeks. The Miami defense is by far the strongest unit taking the field Sunday, ranking No. 7 in the NFL in EPA allowed with -0.015 points per play. They likely set the tone in this contest and it comes in well under the total.  The fair price is 43 by my numbers, so the under is a strong look.


Pick: Under 45


New York Jets at Los Angeles Chargers (-9.5, 46.5)

Youmans: Never trust the underachieving Chargers as favorites -- 1-7-1 ATS in their past nine in the role -- whether it’s rookie sensation Justin Herbert or former Bolt burnout Philip Rivers at quarterback. On the flip side, who wants to bet on the Jets’ dynamic duo of coach Adam Gase and quarterback Joe Flacco? With Sam Darnold still sidelined by a shoulder injury, Flacco will get another start after piloting the Jets to a rare close call in a 30-27 loss to the Patriots on Nov. 9. The 0-9 Jets should have a shot to win this one, believe it or not.

Pick: Jets 9.5

Tuley: OK, which Jets team is going to show up on this trip to the Left Coast? The one that was blown out in Kansas City, or the one that lost only 30-27 to the Patriots the last time we saw them on Monday night in Week 9? I’ll go with the latter as Flacco played better than expected and should keep the Jets in this game. Besides, as much as Herbert has impressed in his rookie season, the 2-7 Chargers shouldn’t be favored by more than a touchdown.

Pick: Jets 9.5

Green Bay Packers at Indianapolis Colts (-1.5, 51.5)

Dinsick: The Aaron Rodgers experience has been nothing short of spectacular so far in 2020, he is currently the No. 1 QB in the NFL looking at composite EPA per play and completion percentage over expectation. If you isolate his games with a healthy offensive line and good weather conditions, the statistics are even more superlative, which spells trouble for the Colts as Rodgers heads indoors to Lucas Oil Stadium with his full complement of protection and weapons (assuming Davante Adams plays). 

The Indianapolis defense has been excellent this season when facing inferior competition, but this will prove to be their toughest test by far and truly test their No. 4 ranking in DVOA. Philip Rivers has been inconsistent at best this season and has been especially suspect playing from behind, which gives Green Bay a nice match-up edge as they continue to shine in early-game play calling and offensive success. Fair price in this contest is a pick ‘em by my numbers, so I will happily take the ‘dog on the moneyline. 

Pick: Green Bay ML 110

Kansas City Chiefs (-8, 57) at Las Vegas Raiders

Tuley: The Sunday nighter is a rematch of the Raiders’ 40-32 upset of the Chiefs in Week 5 as 12-point underdogs and + 400 on the moneyline. And now they get them at home. If you missed the Raiders + 7 on the advance line or earlier this week, it looks like we’re getting it again as the public is all over the Chiefs (and we assume it’s because of Andy Reid’s well-established track record of covering off a bye and not the silly revenge angle of the Raiders’ bus taking a victory lap around Arrowhead Stadium). Either way, the Raiders showed they could match the Chiefs score for score in the first meeting and I expect this to come down to the final gun as well with the points coming in handy, just in case. 

Now, definitely monitor the news out of Raiders camp as they had to put a number of players (including seven defensive starters) on the COVID-19 reserve list. The hope is that all or most will continue to test negative and be eligible to play Sunday. What I’m saying, basically, is that I’d rather have the Raiders + 8 with all those players as opposed to + 10 or more if they’re out.

Pick: Raiders + 8

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