NFL Betting Predictions: Week 11 Opening Line Report and Picks
The biggest injury of Week 10 in the NFL was to Seahawks Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman, but I'll address that in my preview of the Week 11 Monday night game between Atlanta and Seattle from the Pacific Northwest.
What was arguably the second-biggest story of Week 10? I think it's how the one-win Giants went out to winless San Francisco and laid a total egg in a 31-21 loss. I watched much of that game and it was pretty evident a few times that some Giants players were loafing. ESPN reported last week from a couple of anonymous players that McAdoo had lost the locker room. It sure looked like that was the case.
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It would be moderately surprising if McAdoo is still employed by the time you read this. Pro Football Talk had reported he could be fired if the Giants lost on Sunday even though the team said last week that it wouldn't make any in-season changes. San Francisco hadn't led any of its previous nine games by more than three points at any time. That New York defense made rookie C.J. Beathard look like Joe Montana. The Giants are +11 at home this week vs. a rested Chiefs team.
The Giants are a pretty stable franchise and thus don't make a habit of firing guys midseason. They haven't since 1976 when Bill Arnsparger was dumped after a 0-7 start and replaced by John McVay. The team went 3-4 the rest of that year but then won only 11 games the next two combined before McVay was a goner. Ray Perkins followed him and was 23-34 in four seasons. The Giants then got it right by promoting defensive coordinator Bill Parcells to the top job.
Incidentally, that Giants-49ers matchup was historically bad. It was only the third time in the Super Bowl era that two teams entered a game taking place in Week 10 or later with just one combined win (not including the strike-shortened 1982 season). It last happened in 1984 (Browns vs. Bills).
Two names you hear mentioned with the Giants opening - and it will be open by the end of the season if not Monday - are Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich and Patriots OC Josh McDaniels. Maybe the agents for Jon Gruden and Jim Harbaugh get a call, but landing either of those two is unlikely.
Here are some Week 11 early lines that caught my eye. I won't touch on Thursday's game (Titans-Steelers), my in-depth Sunday matchup (likely Rams-Vikings) or the Monday night game (Falcons-Seahawks) as I will be previewing them here individually.
Jaguars at Browns (+7.5, 38): This currently has the lowest total on the board, and it's the first time that the Jaguars are favored by at least 7 points since 2010. The Jags have failed to cover their past seven as at least a TD favorite. It's the first time on the road they are favored by that much since November 2008 at Ohio other's pro football team. Frankly, Jacksonville had no right winning Sunday's home game vs. the Chargers - that was fascinating TV watching each club try as hard as possible to give it away. I believe the Jaguars would be legit Super Bowl contenders if they had someone even league average at quarterback. Blake Bortles is far from that. He had two picks in the win, including a horrid throw late in the fourth quarter that should have salted it away for the Bolts. Instead, Jacksonville is tied for first in the AFC South and on its first three-game winning streak in four years. Cleveland actually had its first double-digit lead of 2017 in Detroit but of course ended up losing yet again, 38-24. The Browns did win in one regard on Sunday, though, as the 49ers got their first victory. So now the Brownies need to simply lose out and that top pick in the 2018 draft is all theirs. Cleveland WR Corey Coleman is eligible to come off IR this week and should play. The Pick: Browns and "under."
Bucs at Dolphins (-2.5, TBA): This line could change depending on what the Dolphins do on Monday night at Carolina. So it's not just a short week for the Fins, this was to be their bye week (and Tampa's) but the postponement of the teams' Week 1 game by Hurricane Irma changed all that. The Bucs might have temporarily taken Coach Dirk Koetter off the hot seat by ending a five-game losing streak Sunday with an ugly 15-10 home win over the Jets. Jameis Winston was out with a shoulder injury, and he's not playing for a while. Ryan Fitzpatrick was so-so against his former Jets teammates, completing 17 of 34 for 187 yards with a TD and pick. Fitzpatrick didn't have No. 1 WR Mike Evans, but he'll be back from suspension here. Tampa's defense has had trouble getting to the QB this year but hit Jets QB Josh McCown 14 times and sacked him six. The Pick: Dolphins.
Eagles at Cowboys (+3, 48): I was going to preview this Sunday night game because it's going to do monster ratings and likely be the most-wagered game of the season thus far with it matching the NFL's most popular team in the Cowboys it its best one in the Eagles. However, I really don't want to talk about Ezekiel Elliott any longer and his back-on six-game suspension. That Dallas offense wasn't the same whatsoever Sunday without him in a 27-7 loss in Atlanta. Yet Zeke might not have been the guy who was missed the most. That would be All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith, who sat with groin injuries. His replacement, Chaz Green, was treated like a ragdoll by Atlanta's Adrian Clayborn, who had six sacks. It got to the point that you had to almost feel sorry for Green being publicly humiliated play after play. Dak Prescott, who hadn't been sacked more than twice in any other game this year, was under siege the entire day. It's not clear yet if Smith will return this week. Or whether top linebacker Sean Lee will play after leaving early with a hamstring strain. Philly, off its bye week, could all but wrap up the NFC East with a victory here. The Pick: Eagles.
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