No one enjoyed the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Thursday night 40-17 blowout win over the Tennessee Titans more than the Jacksonville Jaguars — with the possible exception of Antonio Brown’s fantasy football owners. Very much a fan of Antonio Brown statistics himself, the star wideout beamed on the sidelines on a night in which he caught 10 receptions for 144 yards and three touchdowns.
The game also brought a small dose of comfort to New York Giants (1-8) fans as Brown made a beautiful “Helmet Catch,” which should have reminded Big Blue nation of better times: Super Bowl XLII. Ben Roethlisberger tossed four touchdown passes while Marcus Mariota tossed four balls to Steelers defenders on just 33 attempts. As a result of Tennessee’s loss, the Jaguars (6-3) take a half-game lead in the AFC South and gained better position to reach the postseason for the first time time in a decade. Dominating on both sides and improving to an AFC-best 8-2, the Steelers now have an inside track to a first round playoffs bye and home field advantage. Incidentally, the Jaguars whooped the Steelers 30-7 at Heinz Field in Week 5. But the playoffs are a much different animal.
The highlight of the game? A Roethlisberger/Steelers audible call referencing one of Bud Light’s hilarious commercials. Here it is and then we’ll get to the rest of the Week 11 betting slate.
Ben Roethlisberger with the "Dilly Dilly" audible pic.twitter.com/copJwHrDnh
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) November 17, 2017
NFL Week 11 Picks, Projections, Saints March, Vikings Sink Rams, Eagles Conquer Cowboys, Patriots Pointsplosion
Detroit Lions (-3) at Chicago Bears: In the first meeting between Matthew (Stafford) and Mitchell (Trubisky), the Bears are catching three points at home. Chicago has fared beautifully in that position this season with a perfect 4-0 against-the-spread record as home underdogs with an ATS margin of +7.6. The strength of this Bears team has been its underrated defense, which ought to depress the familiar Lions’ middling offense; although Detroit’s previously-terrible rushing offense actually showed life last week against Cleveland’s No. 2-ranked rushing D.
Since installing Trubisky under center, the Bears have scored on just six of 57 possessions (10.5%). That’s real bad. The Bears, who for some reason have reduced speedy rookie scatback Tarik Cohen’s usage, have also re-entered the 21st century by allowing Trubisky to attempt double digit forward passes in recent weeks. But his receiving corps remains lackluster at best, even with the recent addition of Dontrelle Inman. This figures to be a defensive slog with a bit of wind and a thermometer that says freezing. I’m on board with the home dog and wish I had banged the under when it opened at 44 (now 41). Score projection: Bears 21, Lions 20
Kansas City Chiefs (-10.5) at New York Giants: Good grief. This Giants fan has seen enough and apparently the Giants players have too — of head coach Ben McAdoo and this season. Big Blue’s embarrassing no-show in San Francisco last weekend caused usually-collected Giants owner John Mara to pace in his luxury box and issue a statement indicating that they will not fire McAdoo before season’s end. The Giants now get to suffer the abuse of the Kansas City Chiefs’ No. 3-ranked offense (per Football Outsiders’ DVOA figures) and TE Travis Kelce, who is going to “Fist of Zeus” punch his way down the field against a tackling-adverse Giants squad that’s allowed at least one touchdown to an opposing team’s TE every single week this season.
KC has a very beatable defense too that’s ranked dead last against the rush. I want nothing to do with that 10.5 spread and instead would look at the OVER of 45.5. Score projection: Chiefs 31, Giants 23
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+1) at Miami Dolphins: Oh hey, it’s a pair of disappointing Florida teams. Miami hosts the Bucs on a short week after getting torched by the Panthers 45-21 on Monday Night Football. The Bucs will get stud WR Mike Evans back on the field after he served a one-game suspension and he ought to be drooling to line up against the dreadful, 31st-ranked Dolphins pass defense. Remember Ryan Fitzpatrick is under center now for Tampa but he’s certainly willing to chuck the ball downfield. Miami’s red zone defense is a hot mess, allowing opponents to score TDs on 77% of red zone trips, which is dead last in the league. The Bucs defense is picking things up after a rocky, injury-riddled start to the season. Jay Cutler will tally some yardage but I think this is Tampa Bay’s game. Score projection: Bucs 27, Dolphins 20
Baltimore Ravens (-2) at Green Bay Packers: Certainly not used to seeing the Packers as home dogs… but that’s life with Aaron Rodgers on the mend. Backup Brett Hundley at least has some experience now and has shown a connection with WR Davante Adams, but Hundley’s facing the toughest defense he’s seen to date against a Ravens unit that ranks third against the pass. The Packers are up against a stiffening run defense as well and they’re undermanned in the backfield. After losing rookie performer Aaron Jones (knee), it’s looking like Ty Montgomery will be a no-go (ribs) on Sunday, meaning it’s down the depth chart to fellow rookie Jamaal Williams. Not ideal. Not much to say about the Ravens’ Joe-Flacco-impaired 27th ranked offense, which probably won’t get back pass-catching RB Danny Woodhead this week (knee) as they had hoped. Score projection: Ravens 20, Packers 17
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Los Angeles Rams (+2) at Minnesota Vikings: Jared Goff and Case Keenum face off in the game of the week between a pair of 7-2 NFC squads angling for a playoffs bye. The reborn Rams hold the top spot in DVOA rankings right now but this will be a much stiffer test than previous foes against a tough defense and a raucous crowd in Minnesota. Keenum has played admirably (92.6 passer rating) and has clicked with Stefon Diggs and especially Adam Thielen, but apparently Minnesota is eager to go back to the future with Teddy Bridgewater. Anyhow, the Rams’ offense has been very balanced and still leads the league in scoring (32.9 ppg) but it’s come against a relatively soft schedule. The Vikes have been limiting chunk plays and the Rams defense is improving, though susceptible on the ground, so I think this is actually a lower scoring game (total is 46). Score projection: Vikings 23, Rams 20
Arizona Cardinals (+1) at Houston Texans: It’s a matchup between two teams with real playoffs aspirations that have been crippled by injuries to stars. Texans QB Tom Savage is really a terrible NFL quarterback. The statuesque QB is a pick-six waiting to happen and Houston simply cannot score with him leading the way, and RB Lamar Miller has faded as well. Who knows what’s inside Bill O’Brien’s mind except a deep longing for Deshaun Watson’s full health. It’s only a matter of time before backup QB T.J. Yates gets the nod. And speaking of QB woes, the Cards are now onto their third with Blaine Gabbert (Drew Stanton sprained his knee). Gabbert does have a solid amount of experience and the ability to scramble. Houston’s Jadeveon Clowney-led defense is fighting but they’re beatable on the back end. We just have no clue if Gabbert can really take advantage. This total is really low at 39 and given the high pick-six potential and terrible special teams on both sides, which may create some short fields if not a touchdown, I’d look at the over as opposed to a side. Score projection: Cardinals 24, Texans 20
Jacksonville Jaguars (-7.5) at Cleveland Browns: Last week the Browns (+12) pulled off a mind-numbing non-cover at Detroit thanks in part to DeShone Kizer’s incredibly misguided QB sneak audible near the goal line with 15 seconds before halftime last week — stuffed — ending the half. Then after leaving with a rib injury he returned. With the game at 38-24 after 12 plays that brought Cleveland to the Lions’ four-yard line with 1:23 remaining, Kizer lobbed a terrible fade pass to Ricardo Louis that only Lions DB Darius Slay could make a play on. He did and the INT ended the game.
The Browns are simply un-bettable. Or just bet against them. The Browns are 6-19 ATS under Hue Jackson and have won ONE of 25 games. At this rate Browns ownership will have to extend Jackson through the 2033 season to collect 10 total wins. By that time the Browns will be in Los Angeles and Barron Trump will be leading America’s oligarchy. I’ve got nothing else to say other than the Jags defense is awesome and Blake Bortles is bad, although he did have some solid quarterbacking advice this week for Kizer. Score projection: Jaguars 34, Browns 8
— Mike Kaye (@mike_e_kaye) November 15, 2017
Washington Redskins (-7.5) at New Orleans Saints: What were the odds on the Saints scoring 47 points in Buffalo with Drew Brees throwing for just 184 yards and zero touchdowns? Those odds didn’t exist but would have been what, 800:1? That’s a testament to the Saints’ incredible No.1-ranked rushing attack and offense in general. They’re possessing the ball over 32 minutes per game on average (ranked third) and are second in the league with 37.9 yards per drive. At Buffalo for one stretch they rushed the ball for a comical 23 plays in a row. Oh, and they’ve covered seven games in a row. The Redskins have continued to perform admirably on both sides despite getting ravaged with injuries and this week they’re hurting badly at linebacker, which doesn’t bode well for their run defense. Kirk Cousins has shown he’s worth every bit of that franchise tag sticker price. The Saints have improved on D but they’re liable to get worked on the ground. I’m tempted to take that 7.5 but still reluctant to bet against the Saints, even as the market adjusts for how well they’ve played. It’ll be a fun watch. Score projection: Saints 31, Redskins 24
Buffalo Bills (+5) at Los Angeles Chargers: This line was off the board pending Philip Rivers’ (concussion) status but it appears he’s a go. Things have unraveled for the Bills (5-4) who, by pulling Tyrod Taylor at QB in favor of fifth-round rookie Nathan Peterman, have tacitly admitted that they’re probably out of the playoffs hunt. Barring a miracle they will once again fail to reach the playoffs in this millennium (last time was 1999). The Chargers present a solid pass rush and tough secondary, which is a tough spot for a rookie to make his first career start. And would-be security blanket TE Charles Clay (knee) is still a healthy click from 100%. But the bigger problem is the Bills rush defens without Marcell Dareus (the Jaguars gain). I think the Bills get smashed here, although the Chargers reliably find ways to lose if nothing else. Score projection: Chargers 30, Bills 17
Cincinnati Bengals (+2.5) at Denver Broncos: The Broncos have two really bad units — offense is 25th, special teams is dead last — and one really good one. That’s proven to be a losing formula. Led by the quarterback they didn’t really want, Brock Osweiler, what can we expect against a disappointing Bengals team that at least has played well on defense since LB Vontaze Burfict returned? (Note: CB Adam Jones remains in concussion protocol as of Friday morning.) The Bengals (copies and pastes) have a very porous, Andrew Whitworth-less offensive line that offers no push in the running game and gives Andy Dalton little time to operate in the pocket. Their adjusted sack rate is 10.2%, ranking 31st. The game total of 38.5 tell us to expect little scoring and the outlook in general says to watch another game. Score projection: Broncos 20, Bengals 16
New England Patriots (-6.5) “at” Oakland Raiders (Mexico City): Points, points, points. We’ve got the week-high total of 54.5 here in a game for fellow daily fantasy players to stock up lineups. Although the difficulty is guessing which Pats running back — Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis, James White, some other dude — is going to spike their stats. It may get so ugly that Patriots Ring of Honor RB Kevin Faulk will record 7 catches for 93 yards. And speaking of spikes, good luck to Oakland’s terrible defense stopping monstrous tight end Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots have spent the past week “altitude training” (practicing in Denver) for Azteca Stadium, which sits at 7,280 feet above sea level. I think the biggest risk for backing New England -6.5 is a backdoor cover given the Patriots’ struggles in the secondary and Derek Carr and the Raiders’ capability to air it out. Score projection: Patriots 34, Raiders 27
Sunday Night Football
Philadelphia Eagles (-4.5) at Dallas Cowboys: How’s this for the latest Cowboys sideshow: Jerry Jones’ angry crusade against Roger Goodell’s contract extension prompted him to pen a letter in which he wrote, according to the Wall Street Journal:
The NFL “has undergone unprecedented upheaval in the last two years, including a significant decline in television ratings, increased advertiser discontent, high-profile litigation concerning player suspensions, and decreasing ticket sales,” says the letter, which is on Cowboys stationery with the team’s star logo at the top. It adds: “This is not the time for the League to undertake massive contractual obligations which are inconsistent with the League’s performance.”
Only the NFL! Jones isn’t feeling good these days as the Cowboys are missing cornerstones everywhere: LT Tyron Smith (back, groin) is officially out for this contest and the defense’s glue, LB Sean Lee (hamstring), is also out. Of course so is Ezekiel Elliott and special teams have taken a hit too with kicker Dan Bailey (groin) still on the shelf.
The Eagles are coming to town fresh off a bye and have had more time to incorporate recently-acquired RBJay Ajayi into their serious rushing attack by committee. They’ve broken off 100+ yards rushing in eight straight games. If the Cowboys cover or win, it’s on Dak Prescott to avoid a potent pass rush, and on the Cowboys’ own pretty good pass rush to harass and/or strip-sack Carson Wentz. I’d love to grab the home dog in a divisional game but really don’t know what to expect from a limping Cowboys team. Bettors so far are in heavy agreement that Philly will cover and improve to 9-1, although if it gets out to six I’m sure wiseguys will pounce. Score projection: Eagles 27, Cowboys 21
Monday Night Football
Atlanta Falcons (+3) at Seattle Seahawks: The Legion of Boom is at just 33% strength with Richard Sherman (Achilles) done for the year and safety Kam Chancellor (neck) likely out this week. Although stud safety Earl Thomas (hamstring) is back in the fold so realistically LoB is at about 42% strength. At least Seattle’s defense won’t have to contend with Falcons RB Devonta Freeman (concussion). Atlanta has racked up yards on offense but hasn’t been finishing drives. Once unbeatable at home in the Russell Wilson-Boom era, Seattle has proven much more vulnerable at CenturyLink and is only 1-3 ATS at home in ‘17. The Falcons are going to have a tough time defending Wilson’s play-extending wizardry and probably can’t count on Adrian Clayborn to rack up six sacks in a single game again. Add everything together and I think the Falcons are a decent bet to cover and even win outright. Score projection: Falcons 24, Seahawks 23
Happy Week 11 to you all. Before you place any wagers, check the weather and check for any key injuries/inactives on Sunday. Also, check your bias. Hit me up on Twitter with any thoughts, comments, concerns, questions, compliments or dad jokes.