Amazingly, my picks against the spread last week didn’t end in disaster after I put them on the internet. 8-6? I’ll take it. Here are my picks for week 11:
MIAMI (+1) at Buffalo
To make this pick, I first looked at the weather forecast for tonight in Buffalo. It’s going to be about 38 degrees, which is cold, but not so cold that it motivates me to change my initial pick of Miami. Many are likely squeamish to pick the Dolphins after they got creamed by Tennessee (of all teams) last week, but I see it as a good “buy low” moment. And the Buffalo defense has a way of making teams look better.
PHILADELPHIA (+3.5) at Washington
Last week, I mentioned that there were three quarterback changes I wanted to see. Nick Foles starting instead of Michael Vick was one of them, although I would have preferred for the Eagles to have simply promoted Foles instead of Vick being concussed. But I think Foles will make the Eagles a better team despite being a rookie. It helps that the Washington defense gives up huge passing games almost every week. I like the Eagles to cover in this one.
DETROIT (+3.5) vs. Green Bay
Home underdog special! The vast majority are likely to see the Packers as only a 3.5 point favorite and jump all over it. I understand the sentiment, but Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson are both performing at a high level, and the Packers defense is only OK. I can totally see the Lions giving the Packers a very tough game in Detroit.
ARIZONA (+10) at Atlanta
The Falcons may have been undefeated as of last week, but I think their loss to the Saints illustrates that they’re merely a good team, not a great one. They’ve had to skate by in a number of games this year, including a very narrow win against the Raiders. Put simply, I’m not sure the Falcons should be a 10-point favorite against anybody. I don’t like Arizona to win this game, but I do like Arizona to cover.
CAROLINA (+1.5) vs. Tampa Bay
Home underdog special #2! Picking the Panthers didn’t work too well for me last week, as they got embarrassed by the Denver Broncos. This week, they’re the underdog again, but by only 1.5 points against a quality Tampa Bay Buccaneers team. But it’s hard for me to get over Tampa Bay giving up the most passing yards per game in the NFL this season. I say Cam Newton bounces back in this one and the Panthers win outright.
CLEVELAND (+7.5) at Dallas
It’s not that I think the Browns have a great chance of winning this game. It’s that the Browns pass defense is actually pretty good, and the Cowboys have had real difficulty scoring a lot of points this season. Say the Cowboys end up winning 16-10… you can see that happening, right? Well, if that’s the final score, then the Browns cover. I just don’t like the idea of taking Dallas to win by more than a touchdown.
ST. LOUIS (-3) vs. New York Jets
It seems clear that the Jets aren’t going to Mr. Tebow anytime soon. That means I have to take the Rams in this one. St. Louis has a much improved pass defense this season, which means we’re likely to see Mark Sanchez struggle to move the ball once again. Meanwhile, the Jets defense has gone from very good to fairly average without Darrelle Revis. I think the Rams win this game and put a lot of people in the Jets organization on some very hot seats.
INDIANAPOLIS (+9.5) at New England
Last week, the Patriots were the favorite by 11 against a team with offensive firepower in the Buffalo Bills. New England won by six. This week, the Patriots are the favorite by 9.5 against a team with offensive firepower in the Indianapolis Colts. I just can’t take the Patriots to cover that kind of point spread as long as they have such a porous defense.
JACKSONVILLE (+16) at Houston
That’s a lot of points! It’s totally warranted, as the Texans are the most complete team in the NFL. Great defense, good offense. But that’s a lot of points! Let’s say the Texans win 24-10. If that’s the case, the Jaguars cover. And I get that this is Blaine Gabbert against a ferocious defense in Houston. Houston absolutely should win this… but I’m just not comfortable with that kind of point spread.
KANSAS CITY (+3.5) vs. Cincinnati
Home underdog special #3! With game results like the Bengals’ destruction of the Giants last week, it’s easy to think they should smash Kansas City this week. It’s also easy to forget that the Bengals defense is not good. I say Matt Cassel looks better than usual (which is to say, not horrible), the Chiefs lose 20-17, and there continues to be much gnashing of teeth in Kansas City.
OAKLAND (+4.5) vs. New Orleans
Home underdog special #4! It seems like I pick against the Saints every week. But don’t forget just how bad the Saints defense is. They’re… really bad. And this is a dome team going outdoors against a Raiders team that, for all its flaws, can put some points on the board. I like Oakland’s chances in this one.
SAN DIEGO (+7.5) at Denver
I’m torn about this one. On one hand, I do think the Broncos are a much better team than the Chargers, on both sides of the ball. On the other hand, they’re favored by more than a touchdown, and that makes me nervous. I’m taking the Chargers to cover the spread here, but I don’t like it.
PITTSBURGH (+3.5) vs. Baltimore
Home underdog special #5! Yes, Byron Leftwich is a huge downgrade from Ben Roethlisberger. But what would the point spread be if Roethlisberger was healthy and playing? Pittsburgh by 3.5? Is the drop from Roethlisberger to Leftwich really seven points? It very well might be, but I’m going to lean towards “no” at this point. The Ravens might be coming off their annihilation of the Raiders, but their defense has been quite mediocre without Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb, so I think the Steelers can win this one outright.
SAN FRANCISCO (whatever the line is) vs. Chicago
This game has no line posted yet, but I have a feeling the 49ers will be underrated after playing the Rams to a tie. The Bears have a phenomenal defense, but the 49ers defense is still very good, and Chicago is a team much more prone to turning the ball over than San Francisco is. With the 49ers playing at home, I think the stage is set for a nice bounce back performance.