NFL Betting Odds: Week 11 Line Movements & Last-Minute News
The Buffalo Bills clearly don't know what they want to be in 2017.
The team hired former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott as the head coach this offseason and essentially gave him full control over the roster. McDermott started cleaning house almost immediately, with his biggest moves in August when he traded No. 1 receiver Sammy Watkins to the Rams and top cornerback Ronald Darby to the Eagles. OK, fine, the Bills were in a rebuilding mode and loading up on draft picks.
Then in a surprise, the Bills were 5-2 and leading the AFC East after an impressive Week 8 34-14 win over the Raiders. So to improve one of the worst groups of receivers in the NFL, McDermott sent away 2018 third- and seventh-round picks to Carolina for Kelvin Benjamin even though he's only under contract through next season and has proven a bit injury prone. But you understood the move as Buffalo has the longest playoff drought in the NFL.
Alas, the Bills then dropped their next two in blowout fashion. Now McDermott is apparently shifting gears back to rebuild mode by announcing he was benching starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor for fifth-round rookie Nathan Peterman for this week's game at the Chargers, who are -4. Pick a lane McDermott!
It's a surprising move considering Buffalo currently holds down the AFC's final wild-card spot and that Taylor is pretty good. He was completing 64.2 percent of his passes for 10 touchdowns and three picks, a rating of 91.4. He also had run for 237 yards and two scores. He's not a Top 10 guy, but he's not a Bottom 10, either. There had long been talk that Taylor wasn't McDermott's type of quarterback and that the team always planned to move on from Taylor this offseason when it would save around $9.5 million in salary cap space by releasing him. Why not at least trade Taylor before the Halloween deadline? And why did McDermott say on Monday that Taylor was still his QB, only to change his mind on Wednesday?
"We're here for more than five wins," McDermott said of his decision. "That's why I'm here. That's why I was brought here. That's the vision. It's nothing more than that. It's about getting us to where we're trying to go to win a championship."
A lot of scouts liked Peterman out of Pittsburgh and were surprised he dropped to Round 5 - but there's not exactly a history of fifth-round picks becoming franchise QBs. Bovada has specials on Peterman this week: "over/under" 190.5 passing yards, 1 TD pass and 1 interception. I'd probably go under the first two as Buffalo is run-heavy and the Chargers are a good defensive team. Also from that game, it's expected Philip Rivers will play despite being placed in the NFL's concussion protocol on Monday. He's progressing well.
Here are some line moves or potential game-changing injury notes for Week 11.
Eagles at Cowboys (+4, 48.5): Here's hoping you got this number when it was at 3. I touched on this game Monday so won't go into major detail here, but there was news this week regarding Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott. He dropped his appeal of a six-game suspension, and I officially never have to write about this again! Smart decision by Elliott as at a minimum he had to serve the first four games before getting another hearing in federal court, which was unlikely to go his way regardless and a decision was likely going to take a while. Elliott returns Christmas Eve vs. Seattle. Bovada offers a special this week on how many sacks the Eagles have in the wake of Dallas allowing eight last week: "over/under" 2.5, with the over a -140 favorite. Cowboys Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith will sit again, and he was the main reason most of those sacks were allowed vs. Atlanta. Chaz Green started in place of Smith but was terrible, eventually replaced by Byron Bell. He apparently will get the call this time. Bell gave up two sacks on the Cowboys' final two drives. Philly has 24 sacks on the season. I'd go over.
Chiefs at Giants (+10.5, 46): This opened at Chiefs -13.5, which would have been their biggest road spread ever. The only time on record that Kansas City was a double-digit road favorite was Nov. 22, 1992 in Seattle when the Chiefs were -11.5 and won 24-14. The Giants have been double-digit dogs five times on record, last at +14.5 on Dec. 29, 2007 vs. that unbeaten New England team. The Pats escaped 38-35 but of course would lose to New York in the Super Bowl. I talked about the Giants on Monday and still can't believe Coach Ben McAdoo still has a job. Bovada offers a prop on New York asking whether it will score more than 24 points this week ("no" -300, "yes" +200) or any game this season (yes -2000, no +750). Big Blue hasn't topped 24 points in 15 straight games including playoffs. Naturally, they last did was against the sorry Browns in Week 12 last year. The Giants are 6-0 at home all-time vs. the Chiefs. But K.C. coach Andy Reid is an obscene 16-2 in his career following a bye week.
Cardinals at Texans (-1, 38.5): Houston opened as a 1.5-point dog and I'm sure this line move is because Arizona is starting Blaine Gabbert at quarterback. Of course, Carson Palmer is out for the season (probably) with a broken arm. In last Thursday's injury-filled loss to Seattle, Cards backup QB Drew Stanton suffered a knee sprain. Coach Bruce Arians has named Friday after practice as the deadline to make a decision, but all signs point to Gabbert, who might be better than Stanton anyway. Gabbert's last NFL action was Dec. 4 last year while with the 49ers in Chicago. Gabbert has made 40 starts in his career, way more than Stanton. Houston coach Bill O'Brien is sticking with Tom Savage even though he has been awful the past two weeks in place of Deshaun Watson. In last Sunday's loss at the Rams, Savage completed only 3-for-13 on passes of 10-plus with one interception, the second-worst completion percentage by a Texans quarterback on such throws (minimum 10 attempts) in the last 10 years. Savage won't have No. 2 receiver Will Fuller, who injured his ribs vs. L.A. In six games this season, Fuller has 17 catches for 326 yards and seven touchdowns.
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