NFL Week 11: Picks and Predictions

It has been a while since I started off the week with a win, but damn it feels good. I really couldn’t have drawn this one up any better, picking up the trifecta (winner, spread, and over/under) as the Seahawks beat the Cardinals 28-21 at the newly minted Lumen Field in Seattle. 

Seattle looked good right away, scoring on the game’s opening drive on a scramble drill touchdown from Russell Wilson to DK Metcalf. The Seahawks’ defense seems to have figured something out on defense as they stopped Arizona on their first two possessions and sacked Kyler Murray twice in the process, one of those resulted in a minor injury to Murray’s throwing shoulder. The Hawks were looking to add to their 7-0 lead near the end of the 1st qtr, but a 40-yd bomb to Metcalf was erased by a terrible holding call on new starting center Damien Lewis. He got completely run over by a linebacker, which may be embarrassing, but the replay didn’t show any hold. As a result, Seattle would end up punting and was flagged for a 15-yd unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Ryan Neal who was pushed out of bounds on kick coverage and “did not come back in until much too late” according to referee Tony Corrente. The highly questionable penalties took Seattle out of scoring position and gifted the Cardinals the ball at the 50-yd line to start their next drive. Zona didn’t waste much time and cashed in a Kenyan Drake TD in less than 3-minutes to tie the game.

Seattle’s two star receivers both had TD grabs in the first half.

After that sequence, I didn’t have much faith things were going to go Seattle’s way but they responded nicely with a Wilson to Tyler Lockett TD on their ensuing drive, but Jason Myers missed the extra point attempt. The defense shut down the Cards’ offense for the rest of the half and Myers banged through a field goal to make it 16-7 at halftime. Things were looking good for the Hawks, but also very similar to the Bills’ game against AZ the week before and we all know how that ended. 

The Cardinals got the ball to start the 2nd half and were about to give the ball back to Seattle less than 2-minutes into the 3rd quarter, but a needless hit by Quandre Diggs on DeAndre Hopkins drew a 15-yard defenseless receiver penalty to bail AZ out of an incomplete pass on 3rd & 11. It didn’t look as though Diggs actually hit D-Hop in the head, but he definitely targeted above the shoulders and it was unnecessary, so the penalty it was correctly enforced. It was the kind of play that can really change momentum and I felt that if Seattle wound up losing, that penalty was going to stand out. A few plays later, SEA linebacker Bobby Wagner horsecollar tackled AZ running back Chase Edmonds for another 15-yd penalty. Three plays later, Murray found Dan Arnold for the TD to make it 16-14. 

Dre Kirkpatrick and DK Metcalf had to be separated, but it was Kirkpatrick who got the flag for taunting

Seattle needed a drive to answer, and it appeared that Arizona had held them to a long FG try, when Dre Kirkpatrick picked up an unsportsmanlike taunting penalty for an altercation with Metcalf. Both teams were getting into it on the field, but the penalty gave SEA a new set of downs and 15-yards. I’m sure they were glad to get Carlos Hyde back as his presence anchored their ability to balance the attack on offense as he put together a pair of big runs to put Seattle up 23-14 after the penalty. 

Having Carlos Hyde provide a solid run attack made a world of difference for Seattle

The Cards responded with an incredible 15-play, 90-yd drive of their own that culminated with a Murray to Edmonds TD to cut the lead to 23-21. Arizona is tough to keep down with their explosiveness and offensive versatility and every time Seattle looked to take the momentum, the Cards were right there to get it back. They even forced a quick punt by SEA but were starting from their own 14-yd line when Jamal Adams blitzed and forced a killer intentional grounding penalty on Murray after Zona’s big stop midway through the 4th quarter. It backed AZ up to their own 2-yd line and led to a holding call in the endzone and a safety for Seattle. It wasn’t the most egregious hold, but definitely worse than the one on Damien Lewis earlier in the game and it put the Hawks up 25-21.

The safety was a huge play and a greta sign for a Seattle pass rush that’s struggled in 2020

Seattle got the ball on the free kick after the safety and was driving to put the game away but for some stupid reason, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer came up with the terrible idea to run a pitch play at the AZ 12-yd line with 2:31 left in the game. Hyde couldn’t secure the pitch but was luckily able to recover the fumble for an 11-yd loss. The run game had been working well all game, but the one thing you can’t do is turn the ball over. Running a pitch play there was just asking for trouble. The Seahawks would end up kicking the FG to go up by a TD, but the botched pitch play almost gave AZ the opportunity to win the game. 

The Cards had one more drive to go down the field for the game-tying TD and after what we’ve seen from Murray this season, I was holding my breath. They started from their own 21-yd line but were across midfield in 5-plays and still had more than a minute left on the clock and two timeouts. Murray almost hit Larry Fitzgerald near the goal line but the ball was just past his outstretched hands. On 3rd & 10, Murray looked to the endzone but couldn’t connect with Andy Isabella in traffic. On 4th & 10, with the game in the balance newly acquired Seahawk Carlos Dunlap sacked Murray (his 2nd of the game) to seal the win for Seattle. 

Carlos Dunlap ended the game with a 4th down sack of Kyler Murray

Both of the games between these teams have been entertaining and with plenty of young talent on both sides, this promises to be a thoroughly enjoyable rivalry for years to come. Based on how things are going this season, we may see the third meeting between these two teams come playoff time. 

(3-6)Atlanta Falcons vs. (7-2)New Orleans Saints (-4.5, 50.5)

Breakdown: With Drew Brees out due to the rib injury suffered against the 49ers, Saints’ head coach Sean Payton surprised us all win naming Taysom Hill as their starter over Jameis Winston. Hill obviously knows the playbook much better than Winston, but he wasn’t the one who came in last week when Brees went down. That was Winston, and maybe his performance is what led to this decision. It’s a bad time to have to make this call as the Falcons have been playing better lately, winning three of their last four. Atlanta is coming out of their bye week, plus it’s a division game. New Orleans is the better team but I expect a heavy dose of Alvin Kamara to lighten the load. ATL could very well be 6-3 right now so, without Brees, I think 4.5-points is kind of a big spread. 

Pick: Saints

ATS: Falcons

Over/Under: Over 50.5

(2-6-1)Cincinnati Bengals vs. (2-7)Washington Football Team (-1, 46.5)

Breakdown: People are diggin’ the new Alex Smith-led offense in Washington I guess because that’s the only reason I could think of as to why they are favored to win this game. Despite the records being fairly even, the Bengals have been playing better all season. All their losses are close except to the teams at the top of the AFC food chain and their best win is more impressive than both of Washington’s combined. Even the Detroit game last week wasn’t very competitive until the Lions defense folded down the stretch to blow the spread as they almost always do. I’m glad to see Smith out there under center for Washington too, but I just don’t see them winning this game.

Pick: Bengals

ATS: Bengals

Over/Under: Over 46.5

(4-5)Detroit Lions vs. (3-7)Carolina Panthers (-3, 48)

Breakdown: Nobody needs a bye week as bad as the Panthers as they’ll be without Christian McCaffrey again and Teddy Bridgewater is banged up now too. After an 0-2 start, they had won 3 in a row and beat AZ in the process but have now lost 5 straight. It just seems like the air has been let out of the Panthers’ tires. Danny Amendola, Kenny Golladay, and D’Andre Swift are all out for Detriot as well but the Lions are still trying to scrap their way into Wild-Card contention. Both team’s defenses have struggled but Carolina just looked spent against Tampa last week. I’ll take Matthew Stafford and Adrian Peterson to get the job done as road underdogs.

Pick: Lions

ATS: Lions 

Over/Under: Over 48

(4-5)New England Patriots vs. (2-7)Houston Texans (+1.5, 49)

Breakdown: Riding back-to-back wins, the Patriots are right back in the Wild-Card hunt. Houston surely is not. While New England hasn’t been the most impressive, the Texans have only beaten the Jaguars. It says a lot that HOU in a home underdog in this game. Not to say they can’t win, but NE matches up well against them. They run the ball well and defend the pass, plus they are getting Sony Michel returning to the backfield mix so they should have even more options to wear the Texans defense out on the ground. The Patriots have more to play for than Houston, so it’ll be interesting to see how they approach trying to get a road win. 

Pick: Patriots

ATS: Patriots

Over/Under: Under 49

(3-5-1)Philadelphia Eagles vs. (6-3)Cleveland Browns (-3, 47)

Breakdown: I don’t know that we’ve seen just how bad the Eagles are yet. According to their coach Doug Pederson, they work hard in practice but something just isn’t translating to gameday. Coming out of their bye week, they looked terrible against the Giants…even with Alshon Jeffrey, Miles Sanders, and Dallas Goedert back on the field. Carson Wentz is playing like a burning heap of garbage (most INTs, most sacks, 2nd lowest completion %) and if Philly wasn’t somehow leading the NFC East he probably would have been benched by now. However, I haven’t seen Jalen Hurts run a single play for positive yards this season either. I’m sure he has at least once, but every time I see him in there the play gets blown up for a loss and a wasted down. Cleveland may not be world betters, but they do their thing very well. That’s run the ball and play defense, which has been doing pretty well as of late. Philly will still lead the division even if they lose this game but they have a lot to play for. Cleveland has done well against the bad teams this season and should bring more than enough to the table to win at home. I don’t know why I picked the Eags to cover but I gotta roll with it.

Pick: Browns

ATS: Eagles 

Over/Under: Under 47

(9-0)Pittsburgh Steelers vs. (1-8)Jacksonville Jaguars (+10.5, 46.5)

Breakdown: Beware the 1-8 Jags. Staying undefeated in the NFL is almost impossible to sustain and you know Jacksonville is looking at this game like “why not us?” It’s going to be a muggy day in Florida and Pittsburgh may just want to get the game over with and head home. Jake Luton, playing with poise and showing off a big arm, has looked like he’s going to be the guy even when Gardner Minshew is healthy. James Robinson is the breakout player of the year and a fantasy football league winner if you were lucky enough to get him. So, I’m totally back on the Jacksonville express. Are the Jags going to pull the huge upset? Almost certainly not, but 10.5-points is a big spread. 

Pick: Steelers

ATS: Jags

Over/Under: Over 46.5

(6-3)Tennessee Titans vs. (6-3)Baltimore Ravens (-5.5, 49)

Breakdown: In a rematch of last year’s AFC Divisional round, this is maybe the best game of the week. The winner here will take an important step towards the top tier while the loser will be left to sort things out with the other Wild-Card contenders. Both squads have a lot of questions to answer after recent primetime losses. All Lamar Jackson’s passing numbers are down across the board because defenses are basically daring him to throw. Baltimore can mostly get away without him being the best passer because they run the ball so well as a team, have a top-10 defense, and don’t shoot themselves in the foot with penalties. The Titans defense hasn’t been great and when their receivers aren’t getting separation, it’s a long day for Ryan Tannehill. Derrick Henry is the snowplow in the winter and TEN has to get him warmed up early. The Titans could easily be 4-5 right now, so I’ll lean towards the dynamic ability of Jackson and the Ravens’ defense.

Pick: Ravens

ATS: Titans

Over/Under: Over 49

(7-2)Green Bay Packers vs. (6-3)Indianapolis Colts (-1.5, 51.5)

A pair of Hall of Fame QBs go head-to-head in this matchup

Breakdown: I have come around to believing the Colts are actually a pretty good team. They play a good brand of football, even without the kind of star power that the Packers have. However, of the 6-3 teams, Indy has the 2nd weakest strength of schedule. Green Bay’s defense is incredibly vulnerable to a dynamic back like Nyheim Hines and Davante Adams is banged up with an ankle injury which could help Xavier Rhodes even the playing field. We’ve seen defense rattle Aaron Rodgers with pressure and Indy is capable of doing just that. Even so, there’s no way I can’t take Rodgers over Philip Rivers in this matchup with the Pack as road underdogs. 

Pick: Packers

ATS: Packers

Over/Under: Over 51.5

(0-9)New York Jets vs. (2-7)Los Angeles Chargers (-9.5, 46.5)

Breakdown: Beater Alert! Chargers bad. Jets really, really bad. Los Angeles isn’t as bad as their record may suggest but you’re only as good as your record. The Jets have played better recently but I don’t envision them winning this game. Justin Herbert should shine in this matchup but it’s a big spread, even in a game such as this. 

Pick: Chargers

ATS: Jets

Over/Under: Under 46.5

(6-3)Miami Dolphins vs. (3-6)Denver Broncos (+3.5, 45)

Breakdown: Miami has been on fire lately, winning 5 in a row, but all good things must come to an end. Whether or not that happens in Denver remains to be seen, especially with Drew Lock among the several questionables for the Broncos. The altitude is taxing, especially when you’ve never experienced it and this will be Tua’s first time in Mile High Stadium. Denver has a number of banged-up players on defense so making the rookie QB feel the pressure of the environment will be tough, especially without fans being allowed for the rest of the season. The Fins’ defense has been leading the charge and that won’t change but I expect them to fade a little down the stretch. I needed an outlier pick ATS so I took Denver at home. 

Pick: Dolphins

ATS: Broncos

Over/Under: Under 45

(2-7)Dallas Cowboys vs. (4-5)Minnesota Vikings (-7, 48.5)

Breakdown: Minny has been one of the hotter teams in the NFL thanks to the “Let Dalvin Cook” era. Having Cook in dominant form really takes the pressure off of Kirk Cousins who has the highest INT% in the league and the 2nd most INTs total. Dallas gets Andy Dalton back, but it’s not like he was playing all that great before. The Vikings are the better team and their defense has been much improved the last month. Gotta go Vikes.

Pick: Vikings

ATS: Vikings

Over/Under: Under 48.5

(8-1)Kansas City Chiefs vs. (6-3)Las Vegas Raiders (+7, 56.5)

I’m hoping for a shootout in the AFC West as the Patrick Mahomes takes on Derek Carr

Breakdown: This could also be the game of the week and gets the Sunday Night Football spotlight for that reason. Vegas has won three straight and has had an incredibly tough schedule so far, by far the hardest of the 6-3 teams, and they already beat the Chiefs earlier in the season. You know Andy Reid wants some get-back, especially with all the talk about the Raiders’ buses circling Arrowhead Stadium on the way out of town. Kansas City is the defending champs for a reason and coming off the bye, I would think they’ll be prepared. I’ve seen a bunch of teams come out of the bye week looking out of sync this season, but this is Reid’s team. A loss here would legitimately open the door for the Raiders to take the division, and I can’t see KC letting that happen. Vegas is good and this will be a game, but I gotta go Chiefs.

Pick: Chiefs

ATS: Raiders

Over/Under: Over 56.5

(6-3)Los Angeles Rams vs. (7-3)Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-4, 48.5)

Mike Evans going up against Jalen Ramsey has fireworks written all over it

Breakdown: We get another good matchup to close out the week on Monday Night Football as the Buccaneers get the spotlight once again. With Drew Brees out for the Saints, the door is suddenly reopened for Tampa Bay to win the division once again. The Rams are pretty solid, but Jared Goff is no Tom Brady. Both teams are bringing top-5 defensive units into this game, so I expect a competitive game. This is a Super Bowl rematch of sorts for LA who gets to exorcise some demons against Brady once again. They actually did a great job against him in the SB but the offense wasn’t there and the Rams’ offense definitely isn’t better this time around. One interesting thing of note, the Bucs have not played well in primetime. Two of their three losses came in primetime slots and they narrowly beat the Giants in a game they should have lost on Monday Night Football three weeks ago. Even their first loss to the Saints was in America’s Game of the Week on Fox. this should be a good game…but…food for thought. 

Pick: Bucs

ATS: Rams

Over/Under: Under 48.5

NickNick ATSOver/UnderChristenVanger ATSToast ATS
SeahawksSeahwaks -3Under 57SeattleCards +3Cards +3
SaintsFalcons +4.5Over 50.5SaintsFalcons +4.5Falcons +4.5
BengalsBengals +1Over 46.5BengalsWash -1Wash -1
LionsLions +3Over 48PanthersLions +3Lions +3
PatriotsPats -1.5Under 49TexansPats -1.5Pats -1.5
BrownsEagles +3Under 47EagsBrowns -3Eags +3
SteelersJags +10.5Over 46.5SteelersSteelers -10.5Jags +10.5
RavensTitans +5.5Over 49RavensTitans +5.5Titans +5.5
PackersPackers +1.5Over 51.5PackersPackers +1.5Colts -1.5
ChargersJets +9.5Under 46.5ChargersJets +9.5Chargers -9.5
DolphinsBroncos +3.5Under 45FinsFins +3.5Fins +3.5
VikingsVikings -7Under 48.5VIkingsVikes -7Vikes -7
ChiefsRaiders +7Under 56.5ChiefsChiefs -7Chiefs -7
BucsRams +4Under 48.5RamsBucs -4Rams +4

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