NFL Power Rankings Week 11
Frankly, I’m in a pretty foul mood.
I’ve had two of the worst weeks of my career as an NFL handicapper the last two weekends. I was on the wrong end of both the Arizona and the Cleveland bad beats last week and have gone 1-5 against the spread with my last six top plays in the pros.
Losing streaks aren’t rare for anyone that gambles as a profession. The pendulum swings both ways. And after 14 years of making my career based on the bounce of a funny shaped ball, I know that it comes with the territory.
Still, it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with when it happens.
The key during times like this is acceptance. You can’t freak out. You can’t get angry. You can’t try to double-down or bet yourself hot again. That’s not how it works. As I always say: gambling isn’t magic, it is mathematics. And that means that even a 60 percent handicapper is going to lose 40 percent of the time. That’s a lot of losing.
The good news is that the pendulum always swings back. Always. As long as you have a solid, proven process and a long-term strategy, you can weather the storm. Time, the enemy of existence, is actually your friend, for once. The best way to beat a losing skid is with patience and calm.
That said, if I lose again this week, I’m going to put my goddamn fist through another wall.
Here is Doc’s Sports NFL Power Rankings:
1. Kansas City Chiefs (8-1) – Andy Reid is a stellar 14-6 ATS (70%) after a bye week. He's 8-3 ATS on the road and is 10-5 ATS record as a favorite. Also, Reid has a little chip on his shoulder from how the Raiders celebrated in their early season win over the Chiefs.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-0) – This is a clear letdown-look ahead situation for the Steelers this week in Jacksonville. Pittsburgh is coming off a peak performance in a blowout win over division rival Cincinnati. And next Thursday they have a monster game with division nemesis Baltimore. Smack in the middle the Steelers are double-digit road favorites against a pushover Jaguars team. Caveat emptor.
3. New Orleans Saints (7-2) – If I were the Saints, I would go with Taysom Hill. Drew Brees is tough as nails; I don’t see him missing more than four games. The Saints went 5-0 without Brees last season, and this team is good enough to tread water. I think they need to see what they have in Hill and if he is a viable replacement after Brees’ likely retirement following this season.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3) – Tom Brady had monster numbers on Sunday. But he missed way, way too many throws. I like the fact that he was forcing the ball to Mike Evans. That is 100 percent what the Bucs should be doing to one of the best receivers in football. He had a couple drops, and Brady missed him for open touchdowns twice. These two still aren’t on the same page.
5. Baltimore Ravens (6-3) – I don’t think that it should be all that surprising that the Ravens aren’t nearly as dominant as they were last season. Teams that win 14 or more games in a season historically only average around 10 wins the following year. That means don’t be surprised if the Ravens take at least two more L’s this regular season. And with tough games against Tennessee and Pittsburgh on deck, they could take two L’s in a span of four days.
6. Green Bay Packers (7-2) – There is really no excuse for such a sloppy effort against an overmatched Jaguars team last week. The Packers did still win the game, though, and that’s always a good sign when a team can win on weekends when they don’t play well.
7. Indianapolis Colts (6-3) – It hasn’t gotten the recognition of some of the other high-profile maneuvers of the offseason, but Indianapolis signing Xavier Rhodes was one of the biggest free agent acquisitions in the NFL this year. The Colts secondary is No. 2 in the NFL in interceptions, and Rhodes has been playing lockdown defense. He is in the Top 10 in pass breakups, catch rate allowed, passer rating against and touchdowns allowed (just one). How Rhodes and the rest of the secondary play this week will determine who cashes ATS in the Packers game.
8. Tennessee Titans (6-3) – The Titans have outscored their opponents by a total of only 14 points this year. They got slapped around by the physical Colts, and now they are facing an even more physical Ravens team that – oh by the way – may be out for revenge after losing to Titans last year in the playoffs. The road team in this series is 5-3 SU dating back to 2006.
9. Buffalo Bills (7-3) – There’s no shame in that loss in Arizona. That was a spot where the Bills had every reason to come out flat, and they fought tooth and nail. It is mildly concerning that they have given up the third-most points in the AFC, and this team is 7-3 despite just a +7 point differential.
10. Arizona Cardinals (6-3) – I suppose Cardinals bettors shouldn’t be too upset with a ‘push’ (or even a loss) last Sunday. I mean, the only reason the Cardinals even had a chance to cover the spread was because of one of the best Hail Mary’s you will ever see. Also, as much as I hate to admit it, because I took the bullet on this game as well, Kliff Kingsbury’s decision to forego the extra point was technically the right call.
11. Los Angeles Rams (6-3) – Monster Monday Night Football game this week between the Rams and the Bucs. These two teams boast, statistically, two Top 5 defenses. Yet because of the offensive firepower, this total, set at 48.0, is one of the highest of the weekend. The Rams have gone ‘under’ in six straight games. But they are 5-0 against the total in their last five games as an underdog.
12. Seattle Seahawks (6-3) – Yes, Rusty Wilson has been a turnover prone mess over the last two weeks. But give the guy a break. This roster is a mess. Seattle would be a 4-12 team if Wilson were not at the helm. He is pressing because he has to do so much for this team to compensate for their flaws. The Seahawks are 34-17 ATS in their last 51 games after a loss, and their last three-game losing streak was in 2011.
13. Las Vegas Raiders (6-3) – The secret to the Raiders offensive surge this year has been elite production on third down. Las Vegas is No. 1 in the league in third down conversion rate at 50.4 percent. Only two other teams – Buffalo and Kansas City – are above 49 percent on the year.
14. Miami Dolphins (6-3) – Emmanuel Ogbah is a beast. He has posted at least a half of a sack in eight straight games and has a full sack in six straight. The last guy to do that in Miami was Jason Taylor. This young team is on an absolute heater right now, and we’re essentially to the point where we should be blindly betting the Dolphins until they lose to someone.
15. Minnesota Vikings (4-5) – I think that win on Monday night was more about what the Bears didn’t do than anything Minnesota actually did. The Vikings were nonthreatening on offense the entire night – with a key touchdown set up by a fumbled punt – and their defense still has a ton of holes in it. Nothing about this group suggests that it will make a late season charge back to the playoffs.
16. Chicago Bears (5-5) – Bill Lazor’s early game script was the best I’ve seen the Bears offense look all season. However, Chicago’s complete and total obliviousness when it comes to in-game adjustments is astounding. Every team is going to continue to blitz the Bears, especially on third down, because they know the Bears line can’t withstand the pressure. And instead of countering with a steady diet of screen passes and quick hitters, the Bears continue to have Nick Foles take five- and seven-step drops that lead to sacks or wide incompletions.
17. Cleveland Browns (6-3) – Here’s another game for the bad beat highlight reel. Nick Chubb’s decision to step out of bounds at the one-yard line to end the game was, again, technically the smart play. But that was an absolute killer for anyone that took the Browns since that spread was anywhere from 3.0 to 4.5. Just brutal.
18. Atlanta Falcons (3-6) – This is a season-defining game for the Falcons, who will be taking on their hated rivals, the Saints, without Drew Brees. The road team has won seven of the last 14 meetings in this series, including both games last year. The underdog is 10-4 ATS in this series, and Atlanta is a solid 7-1 ATS in their last eight games as a road underdog.
19. New England Patriots (4-5) – That was a potentially season-saving win for the Patriots on Sunday night against a powerful Baltimore team that has been a long-time nemesis. But the Patriots can’t blow it this week by having a letdown against a weak Texans team. New England is just 3-9 ATS in its last 12 games as a favorite, and they are just 1-7 ATS after a win. New England is 8-3 ATS in its last 11 games against the Texans but just 1-4 ATS in their last five games in Houston.
20. San Francisco 49ers (4-5) – The 49ers needed about four bye weeks this season. Alas, it looks like the defending NFC champions will be watching the playoffs on TV this year.
21. Carolina Panthers (3-7) – Teddy Bridgewater doesn’t have any structural damage to his knee and is questionable for this week’s matchup with Detroit. Given his past injury history, and the fact that Carolina is decidedly not in the playoff race, I will be surprised if Carolina isn’t overly cautious with Bridgewater.
22. Los Angeles Chargers (2-7) – It’s not all that often that you see a 2-7 team that is on a three-game losing streak posted as an 8.5-point favorite. However, that’s where the Chargers find themselves this week. That number is actually down from its open of 10.0, and less than 40 percent of the action on this Chargers-Jets game is coming down on the side of the home team.
23. Cincinnati Bengals (2-6-1) – Cincinnati has a big-time cluster injury problem at cornerback. Trae Waynes is on the COVID list, and both LeShaun Sims and Mackensie Alexander are in the concussion protocol. Don’t be surprised to see that total (currently 46.0) tick up a bit this week if the Bengals don’t get some good news on the injury front.
24. Detroit Lions (4-5) – Once again, the Lions got outplayed. They were outgained by nearly 100 yards and they had a -11-minute time of possession deficit. Were it not for Chase Young’s ridiculous roughing penalty, that game was headed to overtime. Bottom line: this team, despite nosing near .500, is still complete garbage.
25. Denver Broncos (3-6) – This is now the fourth straight year that the Broncos have started the season 3-6, and John Elway has established himself as one of the worst executives in the NFL. There are already rumbles about Drew Lock, who may miss this week’s game with sore ribs. Even if he plays, he won’t be 100 percent against a red-hot Miami team.
26. Philadelphia Eagles (3-5-1) – The Eagles are just 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games, and they are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games against a team with a winning record. Philadelphia is also just 1-6 ATS in its last seven games after a loss.
27. Houston Texans (2-7) – The Texans are just 4-10 ATS in their last 14 home games. They are 1-5 ATS as a home underdog, and they are 1-7 ATS in their last eight games as an underdog overall. I don’t see Houston’s league-worst rush defense, which is allowing 167 yards per game, holding up well against New England’s No. 3 rushing attack.
28. New York Giants (3-7) – It’s almost time to sell any stock that you have in the Giants. They’ve covered the spread in four straight and six of their last seven games. This is a pretty public team, though, and their numbers aren’t going to stay juicy for very long.
29. Washington Football Team (2-7) – Alex Smith put up some great numbers in Detroit, but he definitely missed some throws that would’ve been big plays. It’s understandable that he would be rusty after so much time off. But it was still odd to see Smith miss some wide-open throws. I still think that this team would be in first place in the division if they had started Smith from Week 1.
30. Dallas Cowboys (2-7) – Andy Dalton was a full participant at practice on Monday, and he will be back under center this week in Minnesota. Dalton wasn’t even playing at a replacement level since taking over for Dak Prescott and has missed valuable time familiarizing himself with the offense and his teammates. My expectations are low.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8) – I’m not buying into the “look at how hard the Jaguars fought and they almost pulled the upset” narrative around that Packers game. Jacksonville scored one touchdown on a 91-yard punt return fluke and another touchdown was set up on a short field by a fumble. The Jags are still garbage. And were it not for those two fluke plays, they would’ve gotten run out of Lambeau.
32. New York Jets (0-9) – Last week I opened my Power Rankings talking about how betting on teams coming off a bye has been a losing proposition over most of the past decade. Last week the four teams coming off their break – Philadelphia, the Rams, Cleveland and Cincinnati – combined to go 1-3 ATS. That also means that since the start of last season, teams coming off a bye week have gone 21-32 ATS.
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