Week 11 Early Games: Le-What?

Week 11 – Sunday, November 19th

MINNESOTA (7-2) -2.5 vs. LA Rams (7-2)

No one would have guessed at the start of the season that the Week 11 match-up between Minnesota and LA Rams would be the game of the week. But it sure is. Rams are hot riding an NFL leading point differential of +134 into this game. Minnesota is 6-3 ATS including 4-1 ATS at home. LA is 6-3 ATS including 3-1 on the road. That’s a very even match-up. 59% of bets are on Minnesota -2.5 but 51% of the money is the Rams. Again, very even. Rams are 4th in the league in total offense, Vikings are 3rd in the league in total defense. This is going to be a fun game to watch.

But where is the edge? Does former Ram Case Keenum give an advantage to Minnesota since he is familiar with the Rams Defense? Or to the Rams as they know his weaknesses? Again, a toss-up. At the end of the day, he’s still Case Keenum. Definitely a disadvantage for the Vikings that he’s their starting QB.

The Los Angeles Rams have gone legit. Le-what?


Sure, they have played an easy schedule but aside from the Thursday night shootout with San Francisco, they are taking care of business vs. bad teams (ex: week 9 vs. NYG).  As mentioned, they are leading the league in net points (points for minus points against). In 3 of the last 4 years, the top 2 teams in net points have met in the Super Bowl. Good news for Rams fans (and shocking news for Jacksonville fans as they lead the AFC in net points).

This is an even match-up, but we are giving the edge to Minnesota’s defense at home. Give the 2.5 points and expect a very close, exciting ball game.


NEW ORLEANS (7-2) -7.5 vs. Washington (4-5)

 I’m still not accepting that the Saints are good. I just don’t get it. They are riding a 7-game win streak and have covered 6 of those 7 against the spread. But something doesn’t feel right. The Saints are winning with defense and special teams. Getting plays on the defensive side of the ball has allowed the Saints to control the game on the ground. Seems legit, but it’s not the Saints M.O. I’m just not buying it.

Washington on the other hand has suffered from significant injuries on the offensive line. They are getting some starters back this week which will definitely help. This is a letdown spot for New Orleans as they have a big game coming up next Sunday vs. Minnesota. Saints may keep the winning streak alive, but Washington keeps this within a touchdown. Take the 7.5 points and hope for a minimum of a backdoor cover.

PICK: Washington +7.5

Detroit (5-4) -2.5 @ CHICAGO (3-6)

 I have a strong affinity for Detroit. I love that the Lions have played on every Thanksgiving Day since I can remember. Some of my favorite players have been Lions including Billy Sims, Barry Sanders, Herman Moore, Eddie Murray and Calvin Johnson. And, although I don’t think he deserves to be the highest paid player in the league, I really like Matt Stafford. I even like the Lions uniforms. I want to take the Lions, I really do. But everything about this game points to the Bears.

  • Bears are a short home underdog

  • Look ahead game for Lions as they play Minnesota on Thanksgiving Day

  • Bears are 4-1 at home ATS with the lone loss last week vs. GB

  • Lions played a close game (aside from final score) with the Browns last week

  • Lions are 5-15 ATS after a double-digit win since 2011 (source: walterfootball.com)

  • Lions are 3-9 ATS before their Thanksgiving game since 2005 (source: walterfootball.com)

  • More than 80% of the bets in this game are on the Lions

Sorry Detroit. Hope this doesn’t ruin our Thanksgiving together this year.


Arizona (4-5) -0.5 @ HOUSTON (3-6)

Not much to be said about this game. Both teams started the season as playoff hopefuls. But both have suffered significant injuries, most notably to QBs Carson Palmer and DeShaun Watson. So instead of getting a great match-up between high powered offenses and opportunistic defenses, we get two injury riddled teams limping into this last season meeting.

Last week, Arizona lost back-up QB Drew Stanton to a knee injury as well as their starting left tackle who is out for the season. Next up, Blaine Gabbert. Backing up Gabbert, Matt Barkley. Not good news for Cardinals fans.

Houston will be without Will Fuller which is a big loss and Deandre Hopkins will have a tough match-up with Patrick Peterson. That being said, I think Houston’s d-line will be too much for Gabbert and a depleted offensive line. This is another game that provides a great opportunity for a bathroom or snack break if it happens to make it on the Red Zone channel. Take the home team in this pick’em match-up.


Kansas City (6-3) -10.5 @ NY GIANTS (1-8)

Start any Kansas City player you own in fantasy this week. I’d even go so far as to play as many Chiefs as possible in Daily Fantasy. Seriously, you could start this line-up made of 100% Chiefs players and have a pretty good shot at winning your match-up.

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Chiefs are coming into this match-up off their bye week. Prior to that, they have lost 3 of their last 4 games but still have one of the most potent offenses in the league. The Giants are coming off embarrassing losses to the Rams and 49ers and have all but given up this season. Seems like an easy pick. Especially since Andy Reid is 16-2 as a head coach coming off a bye. But this is essentially the same game the Giants played in week 5. No one gave them any chance as a 8.5 point underdog in Denver and they went in and won outright. This time, they are at home, getting 10.5 points. This is only the 3rd time since 1978 that the Giants are underdogs of more than 10 points at home. The last being in 2007 when they lost to the Patriots 38-35 in week 17.

This week was full of closed door meetings where Ben McAdoo and the defense had the opportunity to air their grievances. Teams usually respond positively coming off meetings like this and we think the Giants might do the same.  Either way, a home dog getting 10.5 points earns this game our MeUndies Backdoor Cover of the Week.


 Baltimore (4-5) -1.5 @ GREEN BAY (5-4)

 Sometimes, when things aren’t going good, you need to do something out of the ordinary. After losing every one of my picks last week, it’s time to change things up. Baltimore is on my short list of teams that definitively hate. I pick against them every chance I get. I laugh every time I write “Flacco” in a text and it autocorrects to “Flaccid”. I think Ray Lewis got away with murder, double murder that is and hate seeing him on the ESPN broadcast each week. Given the choice, I either pick against Baltimore or I stay off the game.

But this week is different and it all comes down to a stat from RJ Bell of Pregame.com. Short road favorites coming off a bye are 61-23 ATS. Even better, when that road favorite is under .500, they are 20-5 ATS. Well, Baltimore is 4-5, coming off a bye and heading into Green Bay. We think Baltimore wins this Field Goal fest so we’re taking the points on the road.

 PICK: Baltimore -1.5

Jacksonville (6-3) -7.5 @ CLEVELAND (0-9)

 DeShaun Kizer has thrown 12 INTs this year on only 250 attempts. That is an INT every 20.8 attempts or approximately 1.5 per game. For his short career, Blake Bortles has thrown 58 INTs in 1,991 pass attempts. That works out to 1 INT every 34.3 pass attempts or approximately 1 per game. This match-up is like the student meeting the master.

Speaking of INTs, the ending of Jacksonville’s game last week was one of the craziest finishes I have ever seen.

  • Trailing 17-14 with 2:40 left, Jacksonville gets the ball at its own 29. All they need to do is drive down and at a minimum kick a FG to go to OT.

  • After moving the ball into San Diego territory, Bortles throws an INT on the first play back from the two-minute warning. Chargers ball at their own 37, 1:51 left.

  • Not to be out done, San Diego takes a delay of game penalty on the first play of their drive.

  • On the second play, JAX recovers a fumble and returns it for a TD. After review, the refs say down by contact after the fumble but JAX has the ball at the edge of FG range.

  • First play, defensive pass interference. Jags at the 22 now.

  • After an incomplete pass, Bortles throws an incomplete pass over the middle to Marquis Lee who gets absolutely blasted by the DB at the goal line drawing a flag. Lee turns, faces the DB and taunts him drawing a flag. Refs convene and pick up the flag for unnecessary roughness but keep the taunting flag. Jags are now out of field goal range.

  • Next play, Bortles throws an INT and the Chargers DB dances his way out of bounds thinking they have won the game. But the Jags have all three timeouts.

  • Chargers run the ball 3 times, gaining a total of 6 yards and only using :26 seconds. Jags use all three timeouts, still 1:08 left.

  • Jags get into FG range and then Joey Bossa gets flagged for a late hit moving the Jags to the 20.

  • 34 yd. FG – tie game and into overtime

  • Jacksonville has the ball first but they go nowhere and are forced to punt

  • Chargers, now only needing a field goal for the win, move the ball 1 yard before Rivers throws a 3rd down INT that gets returned to the 2-yard line.

  • Rivers makes the tackle and hurts his shoulder

  • Jags get a taunting penalty moving the ball back to the 17

  • 3 plays later, Jags kick the game winning FG barely making through from 30 yards out

A crazy finish indeed, and we can only expect more of the same this week. Cleveland is playing for pride only at this point and they are not doing a very good job of it. They’ve been close the past few weeks but have not yet managed to get a win. With the way Jacksonville’s defense is playing, we don’t think it comes this week. The Jags will look to get an early lead allowing them to keep Bortles grounded. Kiser will likely add to his league leading INT total and the Jags will come away with an easy win. Something in the neighborhood of 17-6. Give the points until Cleveland shows they can cover.

PICK: Jacksonville -7.5

MIAMI (4-5) -2.5 vs. Tampa Bay (3-6)

This is a game we all would have preferred to watch week 1 as scheduled. But Hurricane Irma forced the NFL to postpone the game to week 11, a week when conveniently both teams were on bye. So instead of getting a one week reprieve from these terrible offenses, we get to watch this battle for Florida supremacy.

Somehow Miami is 4-5 and still in the hunt for the playoffs. Tampa is 3-6 even though they gave up on this season once the Hard Knocks cameras stopped rolling.

We already spent too much time talking about this one. Mike Evans is back from suspension. Without Jameis Winston in the game to blatantly overthrow him, we expect Evans to have a big game. Suh is likely out for the Dolphins which hurts the pass rush, but saves them 30 yards in unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Addition of Evans > Subtraction of Suh. If you must bet this game, take the Bucs and the points and think about getting help for your gambling problem.

PICK: Tampa Bay +2.5