Welcome back for NFL week 11 picks. This is my 3rd week of putting my picks online for all the internet to see. I have cruised through different blogs, and it appears that websites take 1 of 3 routes for delivering picks:
1. A "strong feeling" handful. It is a list of 3-5 games that the person feels are sure bets.
2. The analyst route: this is a more technical approach with an eye on the bigger NFL picture.
3. The funny guy route: this is a rip off of Page 2's Sports Guy. People make up their own named games like his "Kitchen Sink" games, and they try to be witty. This can work on 1 out of 10 sites I have visited that employ this technique.
I like the first route because it shows the confidence someone has in a pick, which can be made to shame a person if that pick is wrong. The analyst route helps people the most, and is wonderful to use as a later reference point if a game mirrors another game from earlier in the season. Open to the public, I have gone 16-11-1. My tie came from using the worst line for the Panthers/Lions game. The Chiefs' no cover was because of a bad line, and the Falcons crapping the bed last week hurt my goal of being at 66%+. This week does not have the intriguing matchups of last week, but it does have one whopper of a game: the Colts vs the Bengals. When we get to the Bengals/Colts matchup, I will retell my favorite gambling moment with the Bengals.
Jacksonville (-4) over TITANS
Last week, Jacksonville kicked off the second half of the season by laying an elbow on the Ravens. Their easy 2nd half of the schedule continues with a matchup against the Titans. The Titans are throwing to no names, and they have no runnng game despite a talented backfield. The Titans defense is also hurting this year, which goes against Jeff Fisher's philosophy. I guess the salary cap catches up with everybody eventually. Jacksonville will beat the Titans, and I would take the under with this game. In the last ten games, the under is 8-2, and Jacksonville isn't going to give up big plays to the rag tag receiver corps of the Titans.
CLEVELAND (-2) over Miami
I changed this pick 3 times. I can't fathom how the Dolphins are going to win on the road and in the cold with Gus Frerotte at the helm. I also wonder how the Dolphins haven't called up Jeff George. I know he is a punchline to so many QB jokes, but he has to be better than Gus. I think with the talent that the Dolphins have at the WR, TE and RB positions, they have to be considering George. Miami is in a poor position right now offensively because they had an oustanding running back, Ricky Williams, who for a few years masked the inadequate QBs the Dolphins fielded. The QBs were bad enough to lose some games for you, but never good enough to win them.
New Orleans (+10) over NEW ENGLAND
New England is 0-3 against the spread in their last 3 home games, and these are the Saints who rely on their WRs now that Deuce is gone. No matter who the Pats have on their injury list, it does not put them at risk to lose outright to the Saints. My biggest concern is the passing game for the Saints. They have the receivers who could exploit the Pats secondary, and make this a track meet. They also have a QB incapable of making good decisions on a consistent basis, Aaron Brooks. The Pats lost their starting center, and we saw last Monday how that affected the Eagles. I'd wager on the Over in this game because the Pats can easily put up 20+, and the Saints should put up numbers on the Pats secondary.
WASHINGTON (-5.5) over Oakland
I like Randy Moss. I think he is a unique talent that could go down in history as one of the top 3 receivers to ever play. I think he also looks better this year with the dysfunction on the Vikings team, and the TO saga in Philly. Imagine if the Eagles had traded for Moss instead of TO? Despite my respect for Moss, the Raiders do not have a shot against the Redskins thsi week on the road. This is a cross country game, and the Redskins are in a great position for a playoff run. They are 5-4, have an easy schedule coming up, have everyone healthy, play an Eagles team without their no. 1 WR or QB, and have the Giants and Cowboys at home. Their next 3 division games are all easier than their first three were. I think Gibbs will get the Skins focused this week after last week's 4th quarter gag job.
NEW YORK (-7) over the Eagles
Philly is 1-6 ATS in their last 7 road games and that was with McNabb. The Giants are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 home games. Add to that the quarterback situation with the Eagles and the downward trajectory of their season. The starting QB for the Eagles was released from the Lions because they wanted to keep Joey Harrington. That is frightening and a sign to bet against him on the road. The Eagles don't have a receiver who can catch and explode anymore. While I think the Eagles will bring the heat on Eli Manning, the Giants have a healthy, effective running back to take the pressure off of him. Eli cannot have back to back games bad games, and if he does, it might be a warning for the road to the playoffs.
Tampa Bay (+6) over FALCONS
The Falcons had an easy home game last week and self destructed. Turnovers killed them, and they were playing a depleted team with no names at the skill positions. I think that Tampa Bay will stuff the line and force Vick to make throws and work on his 'pocket passing' game. That is not a good thing because he has no one besides his tight end to throw to. The Falcon receivers have to be the worst "healthy" unit of WRs in the NFL. Look at Vick's efficient game from last week; 8 of his 20 completions were to RBs. The Tampa defense is suited to controlling Vick with their speed, and I think Tampa will score on the Dirty Birds. The Falcons defense has not been good this year, and looked awful against the Packers ground game, which died in the offseason. If Simms can hit the deep balls he threw last week, it could be a romp. This game will start the shake out of the NFC South. As the Falcons play both the Bucs/Panthers 4 times in the next 7 weeks.
ST. LOUIS (-9.5) over Arizona
As I stated last week, Arizona is 1-9 as road dogs. They are without their no. 1 WR, and the rushing attack is the worst in the league. The Cardinals have a decent defensive line, but their defense overall is terrible. They will not be able to keep up with the Rams, and the Rams have to be feeling desperate after last week's loss. I think the question becomes, who do the Cardinals pick with their high draft pick? They have depth at WR, a decent RB, they have a good defensive line that is young, but they have a terrible offensive line. Do they pass up one of USC's Goldenboys and go for an offensive lineman? They have to unless they want to wait for another QB to develop. I think they will end up with a top 5 pick, and can grab a blue chip O-Lineman.
Carolina (-3) over CHICAGO
The Bears are having a wonderful season after hopes were lost with the injury to their starting QB and the holdout of their top draft pick. Similar to 2001, the Bears are winning with the NFL's best defense (which is incredibly young), a decent running game, and few mistakes from their passing game. They are getting good production out of their TEs, and around the goalline they are putting up 7 points rather than 3. Despite all of this, I think that Carolina will win because they are the best team in the NFC. Carolina has an excellent defense, a more potent offense, and has beaten much tougher competition. A concern I have is that the Bears will be able to stuff the Panthers run, and it will force the Panthers to be one dimensional. That one dimension is still excellent when it's Steve Smith. Forcing them to throw can create 3 & outs, the Bears could control the clock with their run game and keep it close. Chicago has run up their 6-3 record against a collection of ragtag teams, and their win streak will come to an end Sunday.
DALLAS (-7.5) over Detroit
After last Monday's exciting win, Parcells will have the Cowboys focused on winning this game, setting themselves up for the home stretch with the Thanksgiving game next week. They were outplayed for most of the game, but pulled it out with an efficient 2 minute drill and a stellar play from no. 31. The Lions are on the road, have an injured alien-looking man to lead them or a brainless mannequin. Harrington did have a good game last week, but it was against the Cardinals, who he has lit up the last 3 times he has played them. My hint to triple cover Roy Williams was overlooked by the Cardinals. Dallas's defense will bring the blitzes at Harrington and force him to make quick reads. Since he reads defenses poorly, he will probably throw instinctively to Roy and not the "Hot Route" leading to incompletions/interceptions. Julius Jones is supposedly feeling better after another week of rest and practice. They need him to start producing to take pressure off of the passing game if they want to get to go deep in the playoffs.
BALTIMORE (+3.5) over Pittsburgh
The Steelers are down to possibly using Slash the Sequel as a QB, and are missing key pieces to their rushing attack and defense. This is one of those road division games that trip up a divison leader. While the Steelers do have an outstanding rush defense, I am worried about their ability to put up points. I just have a bad feeling about this game for the Steelers.
Seattle (-12) over SAN FRANCISCO
This is one of those games where Shaun Alexander puts up 175 yards, 3 TDs and still has to wait until the offseason for a big contract. The Seahawks are in prime position to end up even better than I expected and get home field advantage in the playoffs. I think that the 49ers should just throw the rest of the season and look to get some help for their offensive line or defense. I don't know if Reggie Bush would be a great pick up for the 49ers because they already have two decent backs. I think the more pressing need is on their offensive line or defensive backfield.
SAN DIEGO (-10) over Buffalo
I would take Buffalo and the points at home, but ther eis no reason to trust J.P. Losman on the road. The Chargers are in a difficult position of needing to win out or go 6-1 to make the playoffs, and they still have to play the Broncos and at Indy and KC. These are the games (Buffalo, Miami, Oakland, etc.) that they will cruise through because of the difficult road ahead (KC, Indy, Denver).
DENVER (-13) over NY Jets
This has to be the year from hell for Jets fans. Their offense has been terrible with the QB carousel and the rapid decline of Curtis Martin. The defense has played well, but because their offense cannot sustain drives, they get worn out late in games. NY is 0-5 on the road this year, and will have just come off a humiliating defeat in Carolina. Denver at home is always a good bet; they are 5-0 at home this year and 3-1 ATS in their last 4 home games. I think the 2 headed monster rushing attack of Denver is going to destroy NY's rush defense which is one of the worst in the league.
CINCY (+6) over Indianapolis
Favorite Cincy Gambling Moment: I was in Vegas for the weekend the Bengals hosted the undefeated Chiefs in 2003. I had Chad Johnson & Jon Kitna on my fantasy team and had seen them light teams up throughout the season. The Bengals were getting a decent line, and the Moneyline was paying well also. The Bengals were not intimidated by the Chiefs undefeated record (neither was I). No matter what people say about the Colts being a soft undefeated team, they have smoked their opponents. The Chiefs that year were squeaking by teams every week. The Bengals beat them, helping the Son of Brock Landers salvage a rough weekend in Vegas.
The Bengals have a similar attitude about the Colts this week. I think they have the horses to run with them and at them. The Bengals rushing attack can control the clock, and wear down that defense. The two teams mirror each other in that they have good pass defenses, bad run defenses, great offenses and have played easy schedules. The Colts will carry the day, but the Bengals will keep it close. I think 30-27 or 28-24 will be the final score.
Chiefs (-6.5) over HOUSTON
KC should take out their anger and frustration against the bad Texans defense. The Texans are done for the year, and they have all the offensive skill pieces in place for an offensive guru to come in and turn them around. In April, Houston needs help on defense, but they also have to look for someone to plug up their offensive line. They can't move the ball, and this stems from their inability to win battles at the line.
GREEN BAY (-4) over Minnesota
Minnesota is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games. This is Monday Night Football and a chance for Brett Favre to shine. Minnesota won in NY last week with every single break going their way. Green Bay can get some momentum from their win in Atlanta, and they will pound at the Vikings. The Vikings just do not play well on the road or the cold, and their rush defense is weak enough for the Packers to exploit. This is Favre's last big stage game, and I think he will deliver. The Packers run as division champs and a perennial playoff team is over. Last offseason, the Pack lost their two outstanding guards, and were in denial about their overall situation when they chose to draft a QB rather than plug any of their defensive holes. It's over; they should have realized it then. No one really knows if Ahman Green will be back next year, and with Favre possibly retiring, the Pack will have to replace all of their skill positions and seriously tweak their defense. That isn't reloading, it's rebuilding.