NFL Week 11 Picks
By Zach Zaffos (Twitter: @zachzaffos)
Season To Date Against the Spread (ATS):
Best Bets: 7-3 (70%)
Units: 23.5-14 (63%)
All Bets: 16-11 (59%)
Week 10 Recap:
1.5 units (Best Bet): Detroit (+7) OVER CHICAGO
Detroit came out flat in this one, and just couldn’t recover. While the final score reflected a 12-point loss for the Lions, it was truly far worse. Clearly, our position that Detroit was undervalued in the marketplace was off base.
1.5 units: CINCINATTI (+6) OVER New Orleans
Oof. This one was even worse. Cincinnati’s combination of porous defense and cluster injuries to offensive playmakers was too much to overcome. On the flip side, this was a game most past Saints teams would have lost (coming off three consecutive hard-fought games; playing in a cold-weather road versus a team off a bye).
But – they didn’t.
I’ll finally admit it: This could be a Super Bowl team in the making.
Side note: Did you know we’re 0-4 on this column betting on Saints games this season? We’re still crushing it for the season, but I can’t imagine where we’d be with a better handle on New Orleans.
1 unit: PITTSBURGH (-3) OVER Carolina
Finally – we got a win! This was yet another instance of the underrated home-field advantage Thursday Night teams receive. While we were planning to jump on the Seahawks in a similar spot this week, the line shifted from -2.5 to -3 prior to the posting of the column. However, if you’re interested in hearing our take on Seattle -2.5, refer to my Twitter account @zachzaffos.
In any case, it’s important to recognize that while we unfortunately had a downturn last week – these weeks happen. With that being said, we’ll use the same mid-season approach we’ve been using throughout the past month (i.e., evaluating rest, motivation, public overreactions, and other miscellaneous trends). Let’s get to the picks! (HOME teams in all caps).
Minnesota (+3) OVER CHICAGO – 1.5 units
For the second consecutive week, we’ve decided to fade the Chicago Bears in a divisional game at Soldier Field. While Detroit couldn’t get it done last week, this week’s handicap has more to do with Minnesota than Chicago:
• The Underrated Vikings: Though Minnesota started its season 5-3-1, the team has come on strong of late – winning four of five. Its only loss in that span was against the surging New Orleans Saints, and the Adam Theilen fumble in that game changed everything. Minnesota would not be an underdog this week if it had beaten the Saints, and that screams value for us here.
• The Bye Week: As we’ve mentioned in the past, bye weeks are key for two reasons. First off, the extra week off gives teams a chance to recover from nagging injuries. (I’m looking at you, Stefon Diggs). However, perhaps the more important aspect of bye weeks is the ability to put extra preparation into the next game. The Vikings have a top-five coaching staff, and it’s safe to say that extra week of prep will pay dividends.
Based on the aforementioned two key points for Minnesota, coupled with our take on Chicago last week (i.e., soft schedule, unsustainably great turnover margin), Minnesota plus the three points is an easy best bet.
OTHER BET I’LL DABBLE WITH
Two-Team Six-Point Teaser – 1 unit
LA CHARGERS (-1) OVER Denver
Tennessee (+8) OVER INDIANAPOLIS
To be frank, I believe the Chargers could be the best teaser play of season so far. It’s really hard to imagine the Broncos winning this game outright. After all, we’re talking about a team who is 3-9 against the spread on the road over the past two seasons.
And yes – I’m aware the Broncos are coming off a bye, and I touted that as a reason to play ON Minnesota.
However, did you know that Denver’s coach is Vance Joseph? As in, the guy who is arguably the worst head coach in the NFL.
So that’s as close to a lock as they come.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a second game quite as juicy as the Chargers, but I believe the first leg is so profitable that we can afford to mix it up with which team we put in the second leg. I like Tennessee – a team that has lost exactly one game by greater than seven points this season. Relatedly, although Colts’ games often have big halftime margins, Andrew Luck and Co. always seem to make every game close at the end.
And with that, our Week 11 picks are in the books. Let’s get back on track!
“Money won is twice as sweet as money earned.” (The Color of Money). Good luck this weekend and may the picks be with us.