I went 1-4 in Week 10, and I’m now 22-27-1 on the season. The biggest surprise was my lone win, which was Titans +3.5 against the Chiefs — and that number moved up to Titans +6 when QB Patrick Mahomes was ruled in. I picked the Titans to be a contrarian bettor, and they pulled off the outright win. Unfortunately, that was my only victory in the contest where I pick five sides, and I now have some work to do to get back over .500.
As always, my picks will be separated into five categories. Keep in mind that some game theory could factor into my selections because of the large-field NFL “picks” contest I’m in. For example, I might avoid a game in an attempt to be contrarian (like the aforementioned Titans bet) if I think a large amount of the field will be on a certain side.
At this point of the week I don’t like many games, so I’ll reveal a lot of my decisions either Saturday or early Sunday on my Twitter. Looking ahead, I’m already excited to handicap the loaded Week 12 schedule.
Here’s what I’m currently thinking for the Week 11 slate.
Note: My picks could change based on information and any injury news that is not factored into the contest line.
[RELATED: College Football Betting Roundtable: Week 12’s Best Picks and Advice]
Sides I’ll use unless there’s an injury
Dolphins (+6) over Bills: This is one of my least confident picks of the season that I’m putting in this section. I said harsh things about the Dolphins earlier this season, and the betting market reacted quickly to their ineptness. However, since a Week 5 bye they have covered five straight contests and won their first two games of the season during the last two weeks. Brian Flores seems like he has the players believing, and Ryan Fitzpatrick is a good enough NFL quarterback to keep this team in games. This bet is also more of a fade on the Bills, who have six wins but the combined record of the teams they have beat is 12-44. The Bills are still an overvalued team, and I’ll roll with the red-hot Dolphins at home.
Sides I’ll likely use
Texans (+4) over Ravens: The Ravens were in a terrible spot last week against the Bengals, but pulled off a 36-point road win as 10-point favorites. Even though Lamar Jackson is playing at an MVP level, I’m going to look to fade Baltimore once again this week against Deshaun Watson and the Texans. Houston is off their bye week, so they will be prepared for this game. The Texans have covered three road games this season (Saints, Chargers, Chiefs) where they have been an underdog between 3 and 7 points. I like Watson in the underdog role, and I believe Houston has a chance to win this game.
Eagles (+3.5) over Patriots: I make my own point spreads for each game and have the Patriots as a two-point favorite on the road in Philadelphia. There are some factors that favor the Patriots, including that they suffered a loss before their bye week, and they could have Super Bowl revenge on their mind from the last time they met the Eagles, but I believe all those factors are built into the number. I’m not sure if the Eagles, who are also coming off a bye, will win, but I really like Philly getting over a field goal in a game I expect to be very closely contested.
Picks I’m considering
Lions (+6.5) over Cowboys: This line implies that Matthew Stafford won’t play, and it will be Jeff Driskel starting at QB for the Lions. If Stafford can play, I’ll elevate the Lions to a side that I’ll likely use. If he doesn’t play, I would likely stay away from using it in a contest or betting it.
Buccaneers (+5.5) over Saints: Everyone is going to expect the Saints to bounce back after an embarrassing home loss. They might be able to do that, but that’s where the point spread comes in play. New Orleans could win this game but fail to cover the spread, and I believe this number is too high. Saints starting cornerback Marshon Lattimore might be out for this game, which would be an issue for the Saints’ secondary with wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin having great seasons for the Bucs.
Falcons (+5.5) over Panthers: There might be something to the Falcons having a better second half now that Dan Quinn gave up defensive play-calling duties to two of his assistants. They held Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense to nine points last week, which is why I expect this game to go under the total of 49.5. Keeping that in mind, I tend to look towards the underdog when I don’t expect as many points as the market does. The Panthers are coming off a tough loss to the Packers, and I don’t trust them to win this game by over six points.
Colts (-2.5) over Jaguars: I’m keeping this in consideration because I believe this line will increase to -3 if QB Jacoby Brissett is ruled active. If he’s ruled out or the market line stays under -3 then I’ll pass.
Cardinals (+11) over 49ers: Two weeks ago these two teams played in Arizona, and the spread was 49ers -10. Now this game is a home game for the 49ers, and it’s only -11 in my contest. NFL teams typically get three points for home field, so the line would’ve been around 49ers -16 if the matchup two weeks ago was a home game for San Francisco. There is value lost in the current number — especially after the 49ers lost their first game of the season, but I would only take the Cardinals here. The 49ers will likely be without TE George Kittle again, and WR Emmanuel Sanders could miss after leaving Monday’s game with a rib injury. San Francisco’s offense struggled after Sanders departed, only totaling 3.9 yards per play against a below average Seahawks defense.
Chargers (+3.5) over Chiefs: This is the Mexico City game, so there’s no home-field edge for either team. On a neutral field I would make the Chiefs a 2.5-point favorite, so I likely won’t bet on this game, but I’ll consider it as a contest pick because I have to pick seven sides.
Games I’ll likely avoid
Jets at Redskins (-1): With Dwayne Haskins named the starter for the rest of the season, I’m either going to bet against the Redskins or pass on their games throughout the remainder of the year. The Jets aren’t a team I want to bet in a game with a close spread, but they make an attractive teaser leg if you can get them over a touchdown. The total in this game is 38.5, so don’t expect either team to win by margin.
Bears at Rams (-6.5): The Rams could be the second leg of your teaser on Sunday night. I think they will win this game, but I don’t trust them to cover this number in a game with a total of 40. Jared Goff had a disastrous performance last week off a bye at Pittsburgh, but he plays much better at home than on the road.
Games I’ll definitely avoid unless there’s a major injury
Steelers at Browns (-3): This is the Thursday night game, so I’m going to leave it alone. I would slightly lean towards the Browns if I had to play it and would’ve liked the Browns more at -2.5. The Steelers have played their last three games at home and struggled offensively despite winning all three, so they aren’t as good as their 5-4 record indicates.
Broncos at Vikings (-10.5): I’m not sure what to expect from this game. The Broncos are coming off a bye with a backup quarterback starting, while the Vikings just had a huge primetime win and have their bye on deck. With a double-digit spread involved, it’s an easy stay away game.
Bengals at Raiders (-10.5): I learned my lesson last week not to bet on the Bengals. The Raiders have been surprisingly good this season, but don’t have the talent required in order for me to be betting on them as double-digit favorites.
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