Week 11 NFL best bets: Picks, odds for every game

By VSiN Staff  (VSiN.com) 

November 21, 2021 07:39 AM
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Welcome to another exciting weekend in the NFL.

Our VSiN experts -- Adam Burke, Dave Tuley, Will Hill, Wes Reynolds and Matt Youmans, along with Ben Brown of Pro Football Focus -- combine to give their opinions on every Sunday game in Week 11.

Note: Lines are from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Thursday night.

Here are our Week 11 best bets:

Detroit Lions at Cleveland Browns (-11.5, 43.5)

Tuley: Earlier this week in Point Spread Weekly, I picked the Lions + 10, but that was before Jared Goff missed Wednesday’s practice and might not be able to start Sunday. The Lions are fresh off an ugly 16-16 tie against the Steelers, but the Lions did cover after closing as 6-point road underdogs due to Ben Roethlisberger being out. The advance line on this game last week was Browns -10, and most books reposted it at the same number, though some oddsmakers lowered it to 9.5 after the Week 10 results. I think it should have been lowered even more as the Browns had an even worse performance.

Detroit is 5-4 ATS despite their 0-8-1 record and has been competitive in most games. They should have a few wins, most notably against the Browns’ AFC North division mates in Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Hopefully the Lions aren’t due for another down week (note: they’ve alternated ATS wins and losses in all nine games and are “due” for a loss), but I’m willing to take that chance.

Pick: Lions + 11.5

San Francisco 49ers (-6.5, 46) at Jacksonville Jaguars

Brown: After a brutal start to his NFL career, Trevor Lawrence has settled in as a quarterback capable of, at least, making the right decisions and reads within the confines of this Jaguars offense. His biggest improvement has been his turnover play rate, as he has only four such plays in the past six games. Defenses also haven’t taken advantage of his errant throws recently, which plays into previous research showing that turnover-worthy play percentage is the best way to predict future interceptions in a given matchup. Nonetheless, a turnover-worthy play doesn’t always lead to an interception, which is why this prop category consistently shows value if the right price is offered. 

Lawrence has not only been careful with the football, but he’s also hesitant to push the ball downfield. His 8.24-yard average depth of target (aDot) ranks 15th among starting quarterbacks. Although it’s not ideal to be a short aDot passer, it does help specifically within this prop category. 

Despite San Francisco’s high defensive ranking, it has been poor in areas that typically result in interceptions. The 49ers rank 30th in pressure rate on the season and haven’t been overly opportunistic at turning turnover-worthy throws into interceptions. Lawrence is capable of taking care of the football, which should result in a low-scoring affair that comes down to the final possession.  

Pick: Trevor Lawrence Under 0.5 Interceptions (+ 126)

Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills (-7, 50)

Youmans: Several sportsbooks are making the Bills the Super Bowl favorites, but this is a curious case in my eyes when looking at their resume. Buffalo is 6-3 with losses to the Jaguars, Steelers and Titans. The Bills’ impressive defensive numbers are deceiving when you consider they have faced seven below-average quarterbacks and weak offenses in nine games. Carson Wentz is capable of below-average play on any given day, of course, but the Colts can be physically punishing with their offensive line and the running of Jonathan Taylor, who’s tied for the league lead with 937 rushing yards.

The short Super Bowl odds on the Bills have a lot to do with the lack of elite teams in the AFC and the traffic jam of title contending-type teams in the NFC. Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen is not playing up to the media hype he has received this season. Aside from a win at Kansas City in Week 5, when the Chiefs were seriously struggling, Allen’s wins have come against the Dolphins (twice), Jets, Texans and Washington. The Colts can win this game if Wentz avoids major mistakes. With the line pinballing from 7 to 7.5, make sure to grab the good number.

Pick: Colts + 7.5

Miami Dolphins (-3, 45) at New York Jets

Hill: Joe Flacco, eh? Hard to believe this move by the Jets is in the best interest of winning. To me, it’s more about avoiding the possibility of Mike White playing well for the second time in three games (plus a solid quarter against Indy). The Jets want to go back to their golden boy Zach Wilson, and Flacco is not a threat -- unlike White, who, despite the poor game against the Bills, had become a crowd favorite.

Flacco has had a long and successful career, but is a shell of his former self and will be helpless against the pass rush and aggressive blitz schemes of the Dolphins, who made Lamar Jackson uncomfortable all game last Thursday. The Jets are really bad up front on the offensive line, but so are the Dolphins. New York’s strength on defense (if it has one) is the front four, so I look for a lot of negative plays, holding calls and bad offense. Bet the under 45, just don’t punish yourself by actually watching the game.

Pick: Under 45

Washington Football Team at Carolina Panthers (-3.5, 43)

Youmans: It’s never a good feeling to be late to the party as a sports bettor. This line was sitting at 2.5 on Sunday and moved to 3 early in the week, but I agree with the move. Cam Newton brings a clown act and a goofy wardrobe, but he also will bring a lot of energy to a Carolina team in need of it. His first start in his return to the Panthers happens to be against his former coach, Ron Rivera, who did not offer an unemployed Newton a job in Washington. “Superman” will be out to put on a show and, though he might not admit it, he wants revenge on Rivera. The are other factors — running back Christian McCaffrey’s return makes the Panthers much tougher to defend, and Washington’s underachieving defense is now without Chase Young — but this is basically a bet on the Newton-McCaffrey combo. I bet this at -3, but that number is gone late in the week, so it’s obviously a smaller play with the hook attached.

Pick: Panthers -3.5

Tuley: The advance line was Panthers -2 last week. In the meantime, Cam returned to Carolina and then combined with P.J. Walker to upset the Cardinals 34-10 as McCaffrey did his thing and the defense looked like it did early in the season (albeit against Colt McCoy). Washington was arguably more impressive in a 29-19 upset of the Buccaneers as its defense looked more like it did last season despite losing Chase Young. Yet, after all that (and the announcement that Newton would start this Sunday), the line is now up to Panthers -3.5. I’m not buying it. In fact, I’m buying the other side on the Football Team. Taylor Heinicke has been serviceable and now doesn’t have to look over his shoulder as Ryan Fitzpatrick has been declared out for the season. And if Rivera could coach up the defense to shut down Tom Brady and Co., I’m assuming he’ll know how to contain Newton, his former protege.

Pick: Football Team + 3.5

Baltimore Ravens (-6, 45) at Chicago Bears

Burke: The Ravens are really fortunate to be in the position that they are in. Despite allowing 6.2 yards per play on defense, Baltimore has the best second-down defense and the top red zone defense in the league. Without those two things, it’s fair to wonder what this team’s record would actually look like.

Lamar Jackson is a special player, but we are seeing signs week after week as to why Justin Fields was one of the top prospects in the 2021 NFL draft. Fields has 26 carries for 186 yards the last three weeks and has made some really special throws while working with a below-average set of pass-catchers.

Baltimore’s defense has missed a ton of tackles and has allowed the most yards per reception and most passing yards per game in the league; the Ravens’ seven takeaways are tied for the second fewest in the league. The Bears offense may not be the best equipped to take advantage of these things, but the Ravens are ripe for regression on third down and in the red zone.

Rather than attack the side here, since this game does have the chance of getting out of control, the over makes some sense. Both defenses miss a lot of tackles and have to face mobile QBs that make it hard to defend wide receivers for long stretches. Chicago has allowed at least 29 points each of the last three games and Baltimore has allowed 31 or more in four of nine games. With a low total here of 45, points are a definite possibility.

Pick: Over 45

New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles (-1.5, 43.5)

Tuley: This is where I’m choosing to start our six-point advantage teasers (aka Wong teasers) by moving the Saints from + 1.5 through the key numbers of 3 and 7 to + 7.5. Both teams are playing well lately, and I’ve actually been impressed more by these teams in losses, the Eagles vs. the Chargers and the Saints vs. the Titans. Still, the line is too short for me to take the Saints + 1.5 (or even + 2 as some books have moved to that number), but the teaser looks solid. Use in combination with the later slate of games that offer the same betting value on the Vikings (from + 2.5 to + 8.5 vs. the Packers), Raiders (from + 1 to + 7 vs. the Bengals), Seahawks (from + 2.5 to + 8.5 vs. the Cardinals) and Cowboys (from + 2.5 to + 8.5 at the Chiefs).

Pick: Two-team teaser on Saints + 7.5/Cowboys + 8.5 

Brown: Jalen Hurts has been a near lock to exceed his rushing yardage prop this season, going over the closing number in seven of 10 games. Things may not be as easy in Week 11, especially since Hurts has a slightly inflated number after consistently going over his rushing yardage props this season. 

His usage could be changing slightly with Miles Sanders back in the fold this week. Sanders was responsible for 54 percent of the Eagles’ rush attempts when healthy and returns to a now crowded backfield. It has been Hurts' designed rush attempts that have resulted in high rushing yardage weeks, as he has exceeded 10 rush attempts in four of the past five games. Eleven percent of his dropbacks have resulted in scrambles, which is high for an average NFL quarterback but puts him below the Justin Fields and Lamar Jackson tier. If Hurts isn’t inclined to take off on passing downs, then he could struggle to exceed this rushing yardage number if his rush attempts are diminished. Given the expected game script based on the spread and total, this game could be a low-scoring affair with few offensive chunk plays.

It’s no secret the Saints have been exceptional defensively, as they rank third overall in PFF’s opponent-adjusted defensive ranking. Their run defense grade is the best mark in the NFL, and they've shut down both running backs and mobile quarterbacks. Typically, we would see a slight adjustment to prop numbers based on the matchup difficulty, but Hurts' props have roughly remained the same over past four weeks. Week 11 looks like the perfect spot to sell Hurts at the top of his rushing game, as everything is pointing toward a down performance in this matchup. 

Pick:  Jalen Hurts Under 47.5 Rushing Yards (-115)

Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans (-10.5, 44.5)

Burke: The Texans are off of their bye, which, admittedly, has not been great for teams this season. Teams off the bye are 5-11 ATS and they are 3-9 ATS if you eliminate games with both teams off the bye. A lack of offensive rhythm has been the root cause of the problem.

A team like Houston never had any to begin with, so I’d be less worried about that. In fact, I’d actually have a higher projection for their offense here with Tyrod Taylor in his second game off the injury. He threw three picks and was sacked five times in the start against Miami. He’s had some more time to work with the first team in practice now.

This is more of a fade of the Titans than anything else. Tennessee is being asked to cover as a double-digit favorite while gaining 4.6 YPP against the Saints and 3.5 YPP against the Rams. Houston’s defense isn’t on that level, but the Titans clearly miss Derrick Henry and teams are not worried about Ryan Tannehill with the way that he’s been playing.

Julio Jones is on IR and AJ Brown is still not healthy. Eighteen different players have a reception for the Titans because they still can’t figure out what works at the wide receiver position or the tight end spot. Brown is the only player with more than 25 catches, while backup running back Jeremy McNichols (who is barely playing in the absence of Henry), is second with 25 catches.

This is just not an efficient enough offense to trust laying a number like this in what amounts to a bad spot with New England on deck and a lot of close, emotional games of late.

Pick: Texans + 10.5

Reynolds: After winning four straight games outright as an underdog, Tennessee returned to the favorite’s role last week and won outright but allowed the Saints in the backdoor. The Titans are just 2-3 ATS as chalk this season and look overpriced here.

Tennessee has been outgained by a combined 720-458 over the course of the last two games. The Titans’ defense is banged up, especially on its front seven. All four starting linebackers either have not practiced or been limited participants, as has defensive line stalwart Jeffery Simmons. 

The Titans have a league-high 21 players on injured reserve, and wide receiver Julio Jones was added to that list this week. Plus, Tennessee has a surging New England on deck next week as Mike Vrabel faces his former head coach Bill Belichick. 

Houston is off a bye week and Tyrod Taylor is an upgrade at quarterback. 

Pick: Texans + 10.5

Green Bay Packers (-2.5, 49) at Minnesota Vikings

Burke: The Packers and Vikings meet in a game that could basically cement the NFC North champion. A win for Green Bay and the Packers will lead by 4.5 games in the division. Aaron Rodgers looked iffy in his return from COVID-19 on an ugly weather day at Lambeau Field, but the Packers defense shut out Russell Wilson and the Seahawks.

The Vikings had to scratch and claw to hold on to a lead against the Chargers. Every Minnesota game but one has been decided by one score and you really have to wonder how much this team has left in the tank going forward, especially next week against San Francisco (spoiler alert for Week 12).

Minnesota’s six turnovers are the fewest in the NFL, but the Vikings still rank 19th in points per drive and 17th in percentage of drives ending in points. Interestingly, Green Bay is also just 15th in points per drive and 14th in scoring percentage, despite only have nine turnovers. These are two teams that just don’t like to score, even though they both take good care of the football.

Green Bay’s defense is a top-five unit in yards per play allowed and ranks fifth in percentage of opponents’ drives ending with points. Minnesota is 17th in scoring percentage against and has allowed a full half-yard more per play than the Packers.

I actually have two plays in this game. One is Packers -2.5. If the line doesn’t hit -3 with all the Packers love, I’ll be a bit concerned, but Green Bay is clearly the better team and hasn’t lost a game started by Aaron Rodgers since Week 1. The Packers are too good to be 25th in the league in red zone efficiency. That has to change soon.

The second play is the under 49. Green Bay’s defense is legit. The offense is pretty slow and methodical, which keeps the Packers from putting up boatloads of points. They’re also now missing Aaron Jones, who is a big part of the passing game out of the backfield. I think that will mean more traditional running with AJ Dillon, which is something that the Packers can have success with against a Vikings defense allowing 4.7 yards per carry.

Picks: Packers -2.5; Under 49

Cincinnati Bengals (-1, 49) at Las Vegas Raiders

Brown: Bryan Edwards’ boom-or-bust nature has resulted in him eclipsing his receiving yardage prop in six of nine games this season. His 16.6 average depth of target (aDot) is the third highest among wide receivers with at least 25 targets this season. His receiving yardage prop basically boils down to whether or not his deep targets connect -- over 75% of his targets have occurred 10 or more yards downfield. There are a few reasons why betting the under on Edwards' receiving yardage prop is the best approach in Week 11.

Edwards has seen his receiving yardage prop continue to rise throughout the 2021 season. Las Vegas moving on from Henry Ruggs hasn’t resulted in the increased usage most projected, as Edwards returned to his early-season snap rate in Week 10. His target share also hasn’t changed, as he hasn’t seen over four targets in any of his past four games. 

Cincinnati’s defense has played worse than expected and sits 28th in PFF’s opponent-adjusted defensive ranking. Its coverage unit is the lone bright spot and has seen the ninth-lowest opposing aDot of any team this season. Basically, the Bengals' safety play is focused on limiting deep shots, which is the one thing that Edwards brings to this Raiders offense. With a heightened focus on that in this matchup, expect Edwards to once again finish well short of his receiving yardage prop on Sunday. 

Pick: Bryan Edwards Under 47.5 Receiving Yards (-115)

Arizona Cardinals (-2.5, 50) at Seattle Seahawks

Reynolds: Russell Wilson is off the first shutout loss of his career. “Let Russ cook” has been a common refrain over the years, and off losses Russ is a multiple-time James Beard Award winner (for culinary excellence) as he is 21-3 SU and 16-5-2 ATS at home off a loss. 

Kyler Murray, Colt McCoy and DeAndre Hopkins have either not practiced or been limited this week for Arizona. If McCoy is the starter, he is 8-24 SU and 9-22-1 ATS in his last 32 starts. If Murray returns, expect some rust just like Wilson had in Green Bay last weekend.

Seattle is 3-6 on the season and clearly in desperation mode. The Seahawks are 14-6 ATS overall in their last 20 spots as an underdog.

Pick: Seahawks + 8.5/Vikings + 8.5 (six-point teaser)

Dallas Cowboys at Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5, 55.5)

Tuley: This number is a little short, but I’m still willing to take it on the Cowboys (or, more accurately, against the Chiefs). Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs have gotten back over .500 and into the playoff chase, but at this point I still have the Cowboys as the better team and believe they should be favored. Even though the Chiefs’ offense now looks capable of keeping up with the Cowboys, I still trust the KC defense (still allowing 24.1 points per game even after giving up only 14 points to the Raiders last week and 7 to the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers the week before) a whole lot less. The Cowboys defense should pave the way for the outright upset.

Pick: Cowboys + 2.5, plus using in teasers

Brown: Death, taxes and Mahomes going over 2.5 passing touchdowns. Mahomes started off the 2021 season on a frantic pace, going over his passing touchdown prop in each of the first four weeks. The lull then set in, as he failed to go over his prop number the next five weeks before finally getting back on track against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 10. 

The midseason collapse is still being priced into this prop, as Mahomes is seeing the second-highest plus price after last week’s + 170 print. The + 140 offering means Mahomes only needs to go over this 41.7% of the time in order to break even. 

Against a Cowboys defense that has been big-play dependent, PFF’s betting model prices this closer to a 50/50 proposition. Dallas ranks 22nd in PFF’s opponent-adjusted defensive grade, as its coverage unit sits 17th overall. One of its big struggles has been allowing yards after the catch, as the Cowboys defense has allowed the fourth-highest yards after the catch average per reception of any defense in the NFL. And this is where the Chiefs win: Kansas City has 200 more raw yards after the catch than the next closest team, as its offensive scheme is focused on getting its playmakers the ball in space. This is a classic strength versus weakness matchup. Mahomes is set to take full advantage on Sunday. 

Pick: Patrick Mahomes Over 2.5 Passing TDs (+ 140)

Pittsburgh Steelers at Los Angeles Chargers (-6 47)

Tuley: As Point Spread Weekly editor Steve Makinen wrote in this week’s issue, the Under is 21-3-1 (87.5 percent) in Pittsburgh’s last 25 games on the road against weak defensive teams that are allowing more than 24.5 PPG: “For whatever reason, the Pittsburgh offense just rarely clicks on the road anymore. It doesn’t matter who is at quarterback either. However, the Steelers are still playing very good defense on the road. The result has been a lot of Unders. Looking at this year’s numbers alone, the three Pittsburgh road games have produced an average of just 36 points per game. This week’s total is over 10 points higher than that, and the Chargers’ offense isn’t clicking like it did earlier in the season.”

I concur with all of that, and add the fact that the Chargers only managed six points against the Ravens, which is closer to a mirror of the Pittsburgh D. In addition, as of this writing Thursday night, it was still uncertain if Roethlisberger will be able to return from the COVID-19 list by gametime. Regardless, the Steelers will certainly be trying to establish the run against the Chargers’ No. 32 rushing defense (allowing 155 yards per game) and keeping the clock running with short passes. I would grab the Under ASAP as the total will plummet if Big Ben is declared out.

Pick: Under 47

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