Our fortunes were split with our picks last week. The good news was that the Rams played a good game as I hoped they would. Though they didn’t win, they kept it close and covered an over-inflated spread. The bad news was that Tennessee forgot to show up in Miami and were blown out despite facing three different quarterbacks. With a bit of luck these Week 11 NFL picks and odds will be one step more successful than last week.
Buffalo (+6) at Cincinnati (Sunday, Nov. 21, 1 pm ET)
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On paper these are two very bad teams - they have combined for just three wins in 18 games. Despite the struggles, these teams are in very different places right now.
Cincinnati has lost six straight, and has looked increasingly disorganized and unmotivated with each poor outing. Their coaching has been horrible - mainly because Marvin Lewis is the definition of incompetence - and the players just aren’t prepared to win games.
Buffalo, on the other hand, is playing very tough football - above their talent level. I was skeptical of the hiring of Chan Gailey, but he has his team ready to play each week, and they are clearly buying into what ever it is that he is selling them. They won their last game, and have lost the three before that by just a field goal against some decent teams. They have also covered the NFL point spread three times over that four-game stretch, and the fourth game was a push. They are gritty and committed, and that’s a dangerous combination against a team full of divas that already seem to have checked out.
Six points is a lot to give the Bills in a situation like this. I think they have a good chance of winning the game outright, but even if they don’t they should be able to keep this one as close as the ones in the past, and that would lead to a nice cover. Buffalo is a nice play.
Cleveland (+2) at Jacksonville (Sunday, Nov. 21, 1 pm ET) - The Jaguars have played themselves into contention in the surprisingly soft AFC South thanks to wins the last two weeks.
I’m not impressed by either win, though. They beat Dallas when the Cowboys were disastrous (not that they aren’t disastrous now), and needed a bizarre play to get past Houston and their historically awful pass defense at home. They have a win over the Colts, but beyond that this is not a team that has been overwhelmingly impressive - they are flattered by their record.
Cleveland has some talent issues that will still take a couple of years to fix, but they have two big things going for them - they are playing very focused football right now, and they have found a QB with swagger in Colt McCoy who they believe in and are willing to play behind.
Cleveland has played three very tough opponents in a row - New England, New Orleans, and the Jets. They have two wins and an overtime loss in that stretch. Something is clearly working, and there is a better than average chance that they are going to be able to come out on top here against a team that isn’t as good as the last three they have played in front of a crowd that is notoriously sparse and quiet.
Cleveland gets my support here.
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