NFL Football Predictions: Week 11 Opening Line Report and Picks
by Alan Matthews - 11/11/2014
One of my best weeks of the year in Week 10 as I was 4-1 on my selections in this space last Tuesday, hitting on the Lions covering vs. Miami, the Cowboys doing the same against Jacksonville in London, the 49ers pulling an upset in New Orleans -- thanks in part to the Saints' game-winning Hail Mary being called back due to offensive pass interference on Jimmy Graham (it probably was the right call) -- and the Jets upsetting Pittsburgh. Stupidly, however, I thought Oakland could cover a big number at home vs. Denver.
This week on my individual previews I will look at Thursday's Bills-Dolphins game as well as Sunday's potential NFC title game preview between the Lions and Cardinals and Monday's Steelers-Titans matchup. Frankly, I see no way the Cards do much in the playoffs now that quarterback Carson Palmer is out for the season, but I'll touch on that more later.
Here are a few games and interesting opening WagerWeb Week 11 lines.
Texans at Browns (-3, 42.5): I'm still not ready to buy the Browns, but they absolutely shocked me last Thursday with a 24-3 win in Cincinnati. I was nearly positive the Bengals would win that game. Instead, the Browns snapped their streak of 17 straight losses to division opponents on the road. And there Cleveland is atop the AFC North by itself after the Steelers' loss Sunday to the Jets. Houston was on the bye last week but did make news: Ryan Fitzpatrick is out as starting quarterback and Ryan Mallett in. Mallett has thrown four regular-season passes in his career but is familiar with defenses run by Browns coach Mike Pettine, who was with the Jets and then the Bills, both organizations in the same division Mallett spent the first three seasons of his career with New England. I think he's going to be an upgrade on Fitzpatrick. Houston running back Arian Foster suffered a groin injury in Week 9 but should play. Rookie No. 1 overall draft pick Jadeveon Clowney is still iffy. You hear some reports that the Texans are already tired of his act and they believe he should have returned a few weeks ago. The pick: Cleveland and under.
Eagles at Packers (-5, 55.5): This one is a potential playoff preview and could go a long way in determining whether Philadelphia or Green Bay gets a top-two seed in the NFC playoffs or has to open on wild-card weekend against someone like perhaps a Seattle, Detroit or San Francisco. The Eagles didn't miss Nick Foles on Monday night, routing the Panthers 45-21. Mark Sanchez looked very good, completing 20-of-37 for 332 yards, two scores and no touchdowns. The Philly defense/special teams was at it again with a Darren Sproles punt return for a score and a Bradley Fletcher interception return for a TD. The Packers came off the bye and destroyed Chicago 55-14 on Sunday as Aaron Rodgers threw for six TDs in the first half! The 55 points tied a Packers record at Lambeau Field. This should be an entertaining offensive game if the weather cooperates. The pick: Green Bay.
Seahawks at Chiefs (-1.5, 42): This probably is the most surprising line of the week as I'm fairly shocked that Kansas City is a favorite. Yes, the Chiefs are 6-3 and have won four straight games. But I don't see how one of the NFL's worst passing offenses is going to score much on Seattle. The Seahawks seem to be finding their rhythm in winning three straight. They dominated the visiting Giants 38-17 on Sunday behind 140 yards and a career-high four touchdowns from Marshawn Lynch. The Seahawks rushed for a franchise-record 350 yards. Kansas City is No. 1 against the pass defensively but No. 20 vs. the rush. Here's an interesting stat: The Chiefs have won six of their last nine games against the previous season's Super Bowl champions. They have won the last three times they've played against the previous season's winner at Arrowhead. The pick: Seattle.
Patriots at Colts (-3, 57.5): Huge total on this game, which should be an offensive extravaganza between MVP candidates Tom Brady and Andrew Luck. Both guys are +400 on Bovada's updated NFL MVP odds, trailing Peyton Manning (+200) and Rodgers (+300). Both clubs come off a bye week. Brady has 18 touchdown passes, three games of at least 333 yards and just one interception in New England's very, very impressive five-game winning streak. The Colts have won six of seven, and Luck has thrown for at least 300 yards in all seven, which is two shy of matching the NFL consecutive games mark. I have no doubt that the Pats win the AFC East (two-game lead) and the Colts do the same in the South (also a two-game lead). The winner here thus has a huge head-to-head tiebreaker for a top-two seed. You know the 7-2 Broncos are going to be in the mix there. New England would hold it over Denver, while the Colts and Broncos don't play in the regular season. The Patriots beat visiting Indy 43-22 in last year's divisional round. Luck threw for 331 yards and two scores but was picked off four times. Brady didn't do much statistically but didn't need to as the Patriots rushed for 234 yards. The pick: Indy and the under (even though everything points to over -- that number is just too high and may climb this week).
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