Wednesday, November 13, 2013

NFL Picks For Week 11

By Kevin Beane

I'm seeing a lot of strange lines this week, which has compelled me to write this column. Of course, if you're really looking to Sports Central for NFL Picks, then I would encourage you (including this week) to rely on the estimable Jeffrey Boswell, who forecasts every game each week and has forgotten more about football than I will ever know. My pick is capitalized.

COLTS (-3) at Titans

Both these teams are coming off insanely embarrassing losses, but at least the Colts can, with some plausibility, call theirs an isolated incident. Not so for the reeling Titans, and the Colts are just more talented. They are the pick.

Falcons(-1.5) at BUCCANEERS

Well, this line seems about right. I'm a Bucs fan and thrilled to see them get into the win column last week, and these two teams probably are two of the three worst teams in the NFL right now, and the Bucs have a bit of momentum after nearly knocking off the Seahawks on the road and finally picking up the W last week. This game could go either way, so I will pick the team that's a bit, using an extremely relative term here, hotter.

JETS (+1.5) at Bills

First off, don't ever bet money at any point in 2013 on a game involving the Jets, they are too schizophrenic. They lose to bad teams and beat good teams. If that holds, then yes, the Bills should win. But I have to think that a team such as the Jets, rookie quarterback and all, is going to figure out how to start beating the bad teams before they start losing to good ones.

LIONS (-1.5) at Steelers

The Lions are clearly the better team and are coming off a hugely important road win. The Steelers have struggled and it's hard to see beating the Bills 23-10 at home as anything more than holding serve. I like the Lions big in this one.

REDSKINS (+3.5) at Eagles

The Redskins seem to sort of play to the level of their opponents. In the last three weeks, they led the Broncos in Denver going into the fourth quarter, beat the Chargers, and lost to the Vikings. I realize how sexy the Eagles are right now, but the win over Green Bay earns kind of an asterisk with the Pack missing Aaron Rodgers. The bottom line is, after their horrible starts, I remain unsold on the Eagles even after these last two weeks, these NFC East matchups tend to go either way, and the Redskins are more rested; never a small thing when your quarterback is Robert Griffin III.

RAVENS (+3) at Bears

This is a momentum pick for me. The Ravens resurgence looks more sustained, and sustainable, than the Eagles and Giants. The Bears are coming off a tough loss at home after beating the Packers at Lambeau the week prior.

Browns (+5.5) at BENGALS

Cleveland should consider it a win that they are picked by Vegas to be within a touchdown of the prohibitive division favorites on the road. While the Bengals have been devastated by injuries on defense, I still think there's a talent gap between the Bengals and the Browns that is more than 5 1/2 points in Cincinnati.

RAIDERS (+7) at Texans

So the 2-7 Texans, who have lost seven in a row, are the third largest favorites this week. Doubtlessly this is because their top-ranked D is going up against the Raiders bottom-ranked O, but that has gotten them the same amount of covers against the spread this year as it has actual wins. The Raiders are 5-3-1 against the spread (a team's record against the spread is important in measuring how a team has done against expectations) and have a decent defense of their own against a rookie quarterback. This spread, like the rent in New York, is too damn high.

CARDINALS (-6.5) at Jaguars

Arizona has quietly been putting together a good season, and there's no reason to think it will be sidetracked against the Jags. Props for winning on the road last week, Jacksonville, but I do not think you have improved enough to get within a touchdown of a team with a winning record.

CHARGERS (-1.5) at Dolphins

The Dolphins just lost to the lowly Bucs, have a short week, and until they put this Martin/Incognito mess behind them and win a game (I know they beat the Bengals the week prior, but this issue hadn't reached critical mass yet) you'd be nuts to put any money on them.

Vikings (+13.5) at SEAHAWKS

This is one of those lines where Vegas says, "This is gonna be a blowout, but we're not really willing to set lines higher than this, and when we do, like Broncos by 28.5 over Jacksonville, it doesn't work out." This is gonna be a blowout.

49ers (+3) at SAINTS

Why the hell is this line only three points? Did the Niners not just lose at home? Has Colin Kaepernick not looked horrible this year? Are the Saints not at home? Are they not coming off a face-stomping win against a likely division winner? I do not understand this line at all.

PACKERS (+6) over Giants

I know these two teams are headed in opposite directions. I know that Green Bay just lost by two touchdowns at home to the Giants-esque Eagles. I know these things. I just can't bring myself to pick a team led by 2013 Eli Manning to beat a 5-4 team, Aaron Rodgers' injury be damned, by 6 or more.

Chiefs (+8) at BRONCOS

This line seems about right. I'm guessing Manning will play and quiet the doubters about his ankle, and doubts about the Chiefs are legitimate, with too many close wins over bad teams playing their backup QB.

Patriots (+2.5) at PANTHERS

Now this here is a great and intriguing game, maybe ever more so than Chiefs/Broncos. It's possible the Panthers will be hung over after their big win in San Francisco, but they have two things to help ameliorate that possibility. One is, they are at home, and two is, they have a chance to not just repeat the statement they made last week, but do it on Monday Night Football and national television.

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