The last two weeks of the NFL season were as crazy and the last two minutes before halftime. It appeared to many as if someone took the standings and shook them like a snow globe, and teams that were preparing their 2022 Draft Boards are now looking to make a second half playoff run. As those at the top begin to slide and those in the middle are looking to pounce, here are my week eleven previews and predications for all the NFL action.
New England (6-4) at Atlanta (4-5): Patriots’ fans do not have the right to chant, tweet or even think about their 28-3 moment against the Falcons this week … what they do have the right to do is dream about winning the AFC East now that they and Buffalo have the same number of wins. New England is doing what it has done in prior seasons, come together as a team in October and started to win impressively in November. This Thursday they head south to Atlanta as a solid 7-point road favorite who is looking to increase the pressure on the Bills Mafia with a win. Even in this crazy season, it is hard to see the Falcons doing anything in this game despite having the home game on a short week. That’s because they are short on talent and long on time this season, but thankfully this should be the last time we see them in primetime. New England -7 to win/cover.
Baltimore (6-3) at Chicago (3-6): The bloom is once again off the Ravens and their one-man band offense named Lamar Jackson. With losses to the Bengals and Dolphins sandwiched around an overtime win against Minnesota, Baltimore has lost two of three games and has been in close contests all season long, winning some by the skin of their teeth. That is why despite being a 6-point road favorite, the computers see this game as a pick’em with most picking the Bears to cover if not win outright. It is clear to me that Jackson has been figured out by the NFL this season even more than last season, with the teams who have the players to counter-balance his physical gifts proving they can compete with Baltimore on both sides of the football. Chicago is going to likely face a buzzsaw in this game after the Ravens’ ugly loss to Miami, and with Justin Fields as their QB, I don’t see enough on either side of the ball to slow down Baltimore here. So, despite not having much faith in the Ravens, they are the smart play here, Ravens -7 to win/cover.
Detroit (0-8-1) at Cleveland (5-5): The Lions are getting closer to a win with a tie last week against Pittsburgh while the Browns need to string together some Ws in order to make a run in the AFC North. Many seem to be rooting for Detroit to post a win this season, or at least to do so before their Thanksgiving Day game next Thursday, but as they head to Cleveland, they are a 10-point underdog against the Dawg Pound. While the computers see a 20+point win for the Browns, the public is jumping on the Lions again this week at a 3-to-1 pace; all the more reason to run in the other direction and take the favorites here. Cleveland -10 to win and cover at home Sunday.
Green Bay (8-2) at Minnesota (4-5): The only thing pretty at Lambeau Field last weekend was the snow on the ground, because the football played by the Packers and Seahawks was terrible if you are a fan of offense. Nevertheless, Aaron Rodgers returned to the starting lineup for Green Bay and posted a win and moved back into the top spot in the NFC Playoff Picture. As for the Vikings, they are still mired around .500 and well behind the Packers in the NFC North, with even a win here not doing much for their postseason dreams. The Packers go to the twin cites a 2.5-point favorite with the computers predicted an equally close game. For me, this is Green Bay’s conference to lose this year, and a win here will help them move one step closer towards that goal. Taking Rodgers and the Packers in a divisional matchup is normally a wise choice, just as it is this week, so I am taking Green Bay -2.5 to win/cover, and stay atop the NFC North after Week 11.
Houston (1-8) at Tennessee (8-2): This AFC South matchup should prove one-sided for the top team in the conference with the Titans still appearing poised to run away with the division. It is the Tennessee defense that has impressed people as they have stepped up to guide the Titans to wins as much as the offense has. This game sees Houston traveling to Tennessee as a heavy 10.5-point underdog with bettors laying the double-digits at a 3-to-1 clip. It is difficult to remember that the Texans won their first game of the year before dropping eight straight just as, as a Jets fan, this team losing in MetLife Stadium to Gang Green. Nevertheless, the Titans are the play here and it is hard to justify any other play. Tennessee -10.5 to win and cover.
Indianapolis (5-5) at Buffalo 6-3): Does this game feel like it could have Wild-Card implications? Well, with the Colts once against raising their hand and asking for a seat in the AFC Playoff Picture and the Bills fighting to stay ahead of the Patriots in the AFC East, this game could be a tiebreaker come January. Buffalo will host this game as a 7-point favorite with two-thirds of the money on them to hold on to their divisional lead and the second seed in the conference. Indy has been a .500 team all year, lacking the consistency to put together a meaningful winning streak while still having enough talent to avoid a long losing streak. So, while these teams might be 1.5 games apart in the standings, the gap between their play is much wider. The Bills are the better team and, at home, are the better play despite the touchdown spread. Buffalo -7 to win and cover here.
Miami (3-7) at NY Jets (2-7): This AFC East basement battle featured a “streaking” Dolphins, winners of their last two and a Jets team who has already knocked off Tennessee and Cincinnati on their home field. Oddsmakers and bettors are choosing to go with the hotter team as Miami has been installed as a 3-point favorite and the public agreeing by nearly a 4-to-1 margin. The Dolphins had a QB controversy around the trading deadline as rumors of Deshawn Watson hovered over the team … that while Jets fans wonder if Mike White or Zach Wilson are the QB of their short-term future. Jets’ head coach Robert Salah has been able to get his team, especially his defense, to play well at home, and with this being a divisional game, that might be enough to help the team’s best unit pull off a few big plays to steal the win. Taking the Jets +3 to keep it close.
New Orleans (5-4) at Philadelphia (4-6): These two NFC teams are about what their record says they are this season. True the Saints took a hit when they lost Jameis Winston to a season-ending knee injury, but they were hot and cold during the early part of the season, even within games while their original starting QB was there. As for the Eagles, Jalen Hurt did the Crimson Tide faithful proud last week as he joined two other former Alabama starters (Mac Jones and Tua Tagovailoa) in posting wins last week. Despite Hurt’s recent success, the Eagles are barely (1.5-points) in this game, and with New Orleans set to host the third game on Thanksgiving Day, Philly fans might see a Saints’ team pacing themselves to play two games in five days. The Eagles don’t always play well at home, but this week I think they will. Taking Philly to win/cover here.
San Francisco (4-5) at Jacksonville (2-7): The schedule makers must have had it in for the 49ers this spring; why else would they play a Monday night game against the Rams before needing to fly all the way to Florida for an early Sunday start? San Francisco played very well against the Rams on Monday night, winning their fifth straight against their NFC West foes; perhaps proving that head coaches and teams often have each other’s number regardless of who is playing QB. In spite of what they are facing, the ‘Niners are a 6.5-point road favorite in North Florida, but it is about a 3-to-2 split in their favorite among bettors as to who will win. Can the 49ers really knock off Matthew Stafford and the Rams on Monday and fall to Trevor Lawrence and the Jags Sunday? With oddsmakers seeing a close, low-scoring game, leaving all those points on the table is too tempting for me to pass up, so I am taking Jacksonville +6.5 to keep in close for sixty minutes.
Washington (3-6) at Carolina (5-5): Well, look who the Panthers invited to their reunion game with a former head coach … None other than QB Cam Newton, who will be on the field for Carolina when Ron Rivera returns with Washington. Do the Panthers have enough to make the playoffs, and does adding Newton, who admitted he was eating cereal one week before helping Carolina win last Sunday, have enough left to help them win? Despite losing their young defensive standout Chase Young to injury, this is a bad matchup for the Panthers since no one will know better what Cam Newton can and can’t do on the field than his former head coach … and with Rivera’s background as a former defensive player, don’t expect him to turn aside any advantage he gains from watching Newton in warmups and during the game. The Panthers are a 3.5-point home favorite; but have always been able to look great and bad from week to week; and now that the NFL has seen what the Panthers are willing to let Newton do, the surprise factor is gone. Washington is the play here, and I will take the 3.5 points just in case a FG wins it either way.
Cincinnati (5-4) at Las Vegas (5-4): This late AFC showdown has the potential to play a part in at least one if not two playoff spots and seeds. Both of these teams have had their troubles recently, with the Raiders making headlines for all the wrong reasons off the field and the Bengals just finding out that postseason berths are not handed out at the end of October. As their records suggest, these teams are close in talent and productions this season, which is why oddsmakers opened this game as a pick’em, with bettors turning Cincinnati into a one-point road favorite. The line moved the way it did since three quarters of the early bettors took the Bengals to beat the Raiders, something that is a clear knee-jerk reaction to how much Las Vegas struggled in their last game, a 41-14 loss to Kansas City. The Raiders are close to having their season go out of control when, in the aftermath of losing head coach Jon Gruden, the team looked ready to rally around QB Derek Carr, who has now regressed again to a QB who makes bad decisions. As a result, I am taking the Bengals on the road to win this game, pushing Vegas deeper away from the postseason.
Arizona (8-2) at Seattle (3-6): This NFC West game will be all about pride for the hosting Seahawks who were shutout against the Packers last week and saw their 2021 season shutdown by the Green Bay defense. Didn’t feel like Tony Romo has much respect for Russell Wilson, saying during the game that the Seattle QB needs to spread out the defense with formations to see where the blitz is coming from … I wonder if he will feel the same way about other quarterback who often use similar offense formations as the season goes one. Not often you see a road favorite in Seattle, however the Cardinals are a 2.5-point favorite against the Seahawks with two-thirds of the early money giving up the points to take Arizona. Those bettors might be banking on Cards’ QB Kyler Murray returning from injury, something the team said Tuesday “would be close.” Either way, the Cards are a better team, and they will prove in on Sunday; Arizona -2.5 to win/cover.
Dallas (7-2) at Kansas City (6-4): Don’t say it, please don’t say Super Bowl preview when you are thinking about this game, because there’s one thing we know about the Cowboys since Jimmy Johnson was fired, this team, thanks to Jerry Jones, has a hard time getting out of their own way in the postseason. The ‘Boys are getting lots of respect the Sunday before Thanksgiving as they are only a 2.5-point underdog, which means oddsmakers believe this is a fairly even matchup. The bettors are evenly divided in early action, with equal amounts of money coming in for both teams and the computers are not impressed by Kansas City’s three-game winning streak as the hard drives foresee a Dallas upset win. Kansas City is normally more difficult to prepare for when you don’t play them as much, which is why teams in the AFC West have given them fits while teams from the NFC seem to struggle more often than not. I still don’t by Dallas on the road this year and playing once every eight years in Arrowhead Stadium means that most of the players on the Cowboys’ roster don’t know what they are in for. That’s why I am taking KC -2.5 to win here.
Pittsburgh (5-3-1) at LA Chargers (5-4): Can I really take the Steelers seriously when they played to a tie at home against the Lions last week … And can I really take the Chargers seriously when facing a good team their offense seems to struggle, even at home? This game opened with the hosting Chargers a 3.5-point favorite, but with QB Ben Roethlisberger starting the week on the Covid list and doubt about his playing status lingering all week, bettors have taken the line up to 5.5-points. Those same bettors are going against the Steelers by a 3-to-1 margin as the market doesn’t have faith in backup QB Mason Rudolph, and with good reason. LA needs this win to keep their place among the AFC’s playoff contenders, and with a weakened Steelers team coming to town, they have few excuses why they can’t win this game on their home field. Taking the Chargers -5.5 to win and cover in what may be an ugly game at times but one that could potentially produce some big plays and lots of points.
NY Giants (3-6) at Tampa Bay (6-3): Hey, ESPN, I have a great idea: Let’s take a team that has been out of the playoff picture before Thanksgiving each of the last five years and let’s put them on in primetime at the start of Thanksgiving week. WTF was Mickey Mouse thinking when they selected this game for Monday Night Football so late in the season? When you add to how bad the Giants are the fact that Tampa Bay was embarrassed in Washington last week off their bye week, Tom Brady and Bruce Arians will have the Buccaneers ready to play under the lights. Bettors have taken the point spread down from 12.5 to 11 in early betting, but that’s another reaction to how unfocused the Bucs were last week and not a tribute to the greatness of Giants head coach Joe Judge, who may or may not be back for the 2022 season with Big Blue. If Tampa Bay struggles here, the doubters will be out in full force next week saying that the Buccaneers will never make it past Green Bay in the NFC … but I think they will win easy, Tampa -11 easy.
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NFL Week Eleven Previews And Predictions | TooAthletic.com