NFL Betting Predictions: Week 11 Opening Line Report and Picks
by Alan Matthews - 11/14/2016
I'm thrilled the New England Patriots were upset at home by Seattle on Sunday, and I'm not just saying that because it was my Sunday marquee game story here at Doc's in Week 10 and I took the points and over the total -- a double win. I didn't see the Seahawks going to Foxboro on a short week and actually winning against a Patriots team coming off a bye. But sometimes the bye week comes at the wrong time: when a team is playing its best football. Just ask the Minnesota Vikings about that. They entered their bye as the NFL's lone unbeaten at 5-0 and haven't won since.
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Why am I glad the Pats lost? Two reasons. First, I didn't want all their fans, and they sure are a whiny bunch, to be complaining all year that a 16-0 regular-season might have been possible again if Tom Brady hadn't been suspended the first four games because of you-know-what-gate (I refuse to type it any longer). And my second reason for being happy is that I don't believe Brady should win the NFL MVP by playing in just 12 games and after being suspended. That's just me. He still might win it, though.
The loss really didn't change much. The Patriots are still the Bovada favorites to win Super Bowl LI at +230. And they are still the biggest favorites to win their division at -5000. New England has a two-game lead over surging Miami in the AFC East. If you are going to lose a game in terms of playoff tiebreakers, make sure it's outside your conference as New England's was. The Pats would still be the AFC's top seed if they win out as they have a better record vs. the AFC (6-1) than the also 7-2 Chiefs (5-2) and Raiders (5-1) do; Oakland currently loses a tiebreaker for the AFC West lead with Kansas City.
New England, which doesn't play Kansas City or Oakland in the regular season, will be favored in every game remaining (assuming Brady stays healthy) except for possibly Week 15 in Denver. That Week 17 matchup in Miami could suddenly be interesting. Seattle (6-2-1) is now +625 to win the Super Bowl, also behind Dallas (+550), which has the NFL's best record at 8-1. If you are wondering about potential home-field advantage in an NFC title game between the Seahawks and Cowboys, those teams don't play in the regular season for a tiebreaker. Both Seahawks losses and their tie is in the NFC as is Dallas' lone loss.
Here are some Week 11 early lines that caught my eye. I won't touch on Thursday's game (Saints-Panthers), the marquee Sunday matchup (Cardinals-Vikings) or the Monday night game (Texans-Raiders) as I will be previewing them here individually. Atlanta, Denver, the NY Jets and San Diego are on the bye.
New England Patriots at San Francisco 49ers (-13.5, 51.5): Easily the biggest spread on the board and really the only interesting thing here is that it's Brady's first regular-season game in the San Francisco Bay area. He grew up not far from there and was a big 49ers fan. When the Pats visited the area in 2008, Brady was out for the season. I do wonder if there could be a bit of a letdown here off that great Seahawks game. And I don't happen to think Rob Gronkowski was held or interfered with on that fourth-down play to end the game. The Pats' passing game could get a boost with the season debut of running back Dion Lewis, who is a great receiver out of the backfield. He was deemed healthy enough to return vs. Seattle but the team played it safe. The 49ers have dropped eight straight. San Francisco coach Chip Kelly is friends with Bill Belichick as Belichick introduced some of Kelly's up-tempo principles to his offense a few years back. The pick: I guess under. I'll take the Pats at 14, but nothing over that.
Chicago Bears at New York Giants (-6.5, 45.5): The Bears' lost season just got much worse. Top receiver Alshon Jeffery it was announced Monday had been suspended four games for a PED violation. That makes it interesting what the Bears might do this offseason in terms of re-signing Jeffrey. He's set to become a free agent unless the team slaps the franchise tag on him a second straight year. Jeffery leads the team with 630 receiving yards. He is second on the club with 40 receptions. Meanwhile, top offensive lineman Kyle Long hurt his ankle in Sunday's loss in Tampa and is going to likely miss the season. Finally, promising rookie running back Jordan Howard suffered a possible ankle or Achilles injury Sunday. For what it's worth, Coach John Fox has said QB Jay Cutler will keep his starting job even though he was a turnover factory in the loss to Tampa and has lost the locker room. The pick: Giants and over.
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts (-3, 52.5): I'm starting to think the Titans are the best all-around team in the AFC South, not that that's saying much. They absolutely dominated the Packers in Nashville on Sunday, 47-25. Tennessee scored touchdowns on its first four possessions for a big lead. The last team to do that was the Dallas Cowboys in Week 16 of the 2014 season. Marcus Mariota threw for 295 yards and four touchdowns and was way better than Aaron Rodgers. Mariota became the first quarterback in NFL history to have three games with a 70.0-plus completion percentage, at least four touchdown passes and no interceptions in his first two seasons. At 5-5, the Titans already have matched their win total the past two years combined. The Colts are off their bye week. Andrew Luck has never lost a game to Tennessee as Indy's starter. Indy won in Nashville 34-26 in Week 7. The pick: Colts.
Dolphins at Rams (pick'em, 40.5): To no surprise, this has the lowest total on the board. Teams can go years not winning a game without scoring a touchdown, but Los Angeles now has two such efforts this year following a 9-6 win at the Jets on Sunday. The Rams have mustered only two touchdowns in their last three games and have gained 280 yards from scrimmage each of the last two weeks, nearly 80 yards below the league average.. Yet Coach Jeff Fisher still says he's not planning to turn to rookie No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff this week for the struggling Case Keenum. There were reports heading into the Jets game that this would be the week, and I believe it would have been if the Rams had lost to the Jets. The team wants Goff to make his debut in front of a home crowd. Los Angeles might be without very good defensive end Robert Quinn this week. He admitted himself to the hospital Monday with a non-football-related illness and is in stable condition, the team announced. Quinn has two sacks on the season. The pick: Dolphins and way under that small total.
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