NFL Betting Predictions: Week 11 Opening Line Report and Picks
At this point in my life, it has become abundantly clear that I will never own an NFL team. Shoot, probably not even a women's semi-pro bowling team. The reason I bring this up is that I was asking myself how long of a leash would I give a Super Bowl-winning coach and quarterback once things started going downhill. How much is one Super Bowl worth? Five years of loyalty? Ten?
Probably the most unlikely Super Bowl champion this decade was the 2012 Baltimore Ravens. Not that it wasn't a very good team as the Ravens had won 12 games each of the previous two seasons and lost in the AFC title game following the 2011 campaign in a game it could have easily won vs. New England.
However, the 2012 Ravens slipped to 10-6 and won an AFC North tiebreaker over Cincinnati. That Baltimore easily beat visiting Indianapolis in the wild-card round was no shock, but no shot the Ravens were going to Denver to upset Peyton Manning and the 13-3 Broncos … and even should that minor miracle happen, NO WAY they then go to 12-4 New England and knock off Tom Brady a week later.
Yet, of course, that's what happened and John Harbaugh's Ravens knocked off Jim Harbaugh's 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans (the blackout game). Joe Flacco had a postseason for the ages and got a mega-extension for it.
Here we are six years later, and the Ravens (4-5) are probably going to miss the playoffs for the fifth time in that span. Baltimore started well at 3-1, but cracks started showing in a 12-9 OT loss in Cleveland in Week 5. The Ravens won the next week at Tennessee, but entered their Week 10 bye on a three-game losing streak with the defense falling from its top-ranked perch and Flacco largely getting worse by the week.
What is Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti to do with Harbaugh and Flacco? And, to be sure, their futures are intertwined. This is highly-respected GM Ozzie Newsome's last season (his choice), and new GMs always prefer to hire their own guys. Newsome got his replacement the likely Flacco replacement in Lamar Jackson. The Ravens traded up to the end of the first round to nab the former Heisman winner. Most Ravens fans already are calling for Jackson.
Bovada has a prop on where John Harbaugh is Week 1 next year: head coach of Ravens (-110), head coach of any other team (+250), TV analyst (+700) or none of the above (+270). There's no shot Bisciotti fires Harbaugh now as he could have done it during the bye, but multiple reports surfaced over the weekend that the owner is likely going to make a change after the season barring a huge turnaround. Harbaugh has just one year left on his deal.
Baltimore will be favored in its four remaining home games, including this week vs. Cincinnati (also Oakland, Tampa Bay and Cleveland). There is no opening line because Joe Flacco was on crutches during the bye week, but he's expected to play. Baltimore likely will be an underdog in its three road games: Atlanta, Kansas City and LA Chargers. Going 8-8 probably gets Harbaugh fired. I would take none of the above on that prop as Harbaugh takes a year off to recharge, maybe helps his bro at Michigan, and then comes back as a coach in 2020. He won't be lacking offers in the NFL or college.
Here are some Week 11 early lines that caught my eye. I won't touch on Thursday's game (Packers-Seahawks), my in-depth Sunday matchup (likely Vikings-Bears) or the Monday night game (Chiefs-Rams - HELL YES!) as I will be previewing them here individually.
Texans at Redskins (+2.5, 43): Four teams entered Week 10 on winning streaks of at least five games - New Orleans, Houston, New England and the Los Angeles Chargers. The Texans were on the bye, the Saints and Chargers won, and the Patriots were upset at Tennessee. The Texans are the second team since 1970 to win six consecutive games immediately following a 0-3 start, joining the 1970 New York Giants. The bye probably came at an opportune time for new receiver Demaryius Thomas as it gave him extra reps with his new quarterback Deshaun Watson. Thomas was acquired at the trade deadline from Denver and had three catches for 61 yards in his Houston debut, a 19-17 win in Denver. Brandon McManus missed a 51-yard game-winning wide right. Thomas was a need after Houston lost speedy WR Will Fuller to a season-ending torn ACL. Can't say I expected the Redskins to win in Tampa on Sunday, but they did 16-3. I'm not sure I've ever heard of a team putting up 501 yards of offense and scoring just three points as the Bucs did (turns out it is a first). Four turnovers and two missed field goals played a major role. Tampa Bay reached the red zone five times. Amazing. Washington had just 286 yards. The pick: Texans.
Steelers at Jaguars (+5.5, 47.5): This was originally the Sunday night game but was flexed out for Vikings-Bears because no one wants to watch the Jaguars. Pittsburgh is on a five-game winning streak and played easily its best game of the season last Thursday night, a 52-21 destruction of a good Carolina team. Ben Roethlisberger finished with a perfect rating of 158.3 in completing 22 of 25 for five scores and no picks. James Conner rushed for a score and apparently will be the main man the rest of the way if the Le'Veon Bell rumors are true that Bell will not report to the team by Tuesday's deadline and thus be ineligible to play all season. Conner was placed in the concussion protocol after the game but having those few extra days obviously helps his chances of playing. The Jags' season continues to swirl in the toilet as they lost a fifth straight Sunday, 29-26 at Indy. That defense just isn't the same as the excellent 2017 version. Leonard Fournette played for the first time since Sept. 30 and had a rushing and receiving score each. Jacksonville was 2-0 vs. the Steelers last year, winning both in Pittsburgh. One was in the playoffs. In the regular-season game, Big Ben was picked off five times and talked about retiring. The pick: Steelers.
Panthers at Lions (+3.5, 51.5): Not shocked the Panthers lost in Pittsburgh on Thursday, but 52-21!? That was a surprise. Then again, this team just isn't the same away from Charlotte as all three of its losses are on the road. The points allowed tied a franchise record (also vs. Oakland on Dec. 24, 2000). Coach Ron Rivera called it a a humbling experience and says that it may be good for the team. Christian McCaffrey was about the only Panther who played well vs. the Steelers with a rushing score and two more receiving. Not all that surprised the Lions have mailed it in since the front office traded away the team's best receiver, Golden Tate, to Philadelphia. Detroit was clobbered in Minnesota its first game after that and then dominated again Sunday in a 34-22 defeat in Chicago that wasn't as close as the score. Matthew Stafford is going to get killed as he was sacked 10 times by the Vikings and six more by the Bears. The team's new No. 1 receiver, Marvin Jones, left with a knee injury. Not yet clear if that's serious. The pick: Lions.
Want free NFL picks? Doc's has you covered. New clients can take advantage of this great offer of $60 in free Doc's Sports members' picks for any handicapper on Doc's Expert Handicapper list. Just check out these guys' pages and see what great work they have done making money for themselves and their clients over the years. Get $60 worth of premium members' picks free . Also, get three handicappers for the price of one when you sign up for a full-season football package! Click Here for details . Get free NFL picks weekly on Doc's Sports free football picks page.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Get all of this Weeks NFL picks
Get all of this Weeks Guaranteed Expert NFL Picks