We are back in Week 11. The picks have gone kind of stale. Back to back 3-3 weeks have brought us to 35-27 on the year.
As for the NFL season as a whole, underdogs continue to roll - they went 9-5 last week, the third consecutive week they’ve finished above .500. In addition six of the nine underdogs that covered - won outright. There is simply a lot of parity in the NFL right now. I don’t know about you, but there does not seem to be a clear consensus team right now. We will navigate through the parity again this week.
As always a reminder - the point spreads are presented by DraftKings Sportsbook, which has an incredible deal for new users below.
Indianapolis at Buffalo
Spread: Buffalo (-7)
We get a playoff wildcard rematch from last season in this one. It will be a windy day in Buffalo. But that won’t bother Josh Allen.
It seems most people are on Indianapolis here. After an 0-3 start, they are 5-2 in their last seven with losses against Tennessee and Baltimore. While this number seems high, I feel it’s right on point. Buffalo rebounded from a 9-6 loss at Jacksonville. They rank first in the NFL in DVOA, they are first against the pass and third against the run. Carson Wentz has struggled under pressure. I think the Buffalo's defense dominates.
Indy's defense has been great against the run (2nd in DVOA), but their defense is vulnerable against the vertical passing game. This is where Buffalo should take advantage. Buffalo is 2-2 ATS in their last two and we are buying them at a low spot.
I feel comfortable laying the seven with Buffalo at home.
The pick: Buffalo (-7)
Houston at Tennessee
Spread: Tennessee -10
Probably my favorite play of the day. Don’t be afraid to take the ugly dog. Yes Tennessee has gotten two wins without Derrick Henry. However, the Titans offense hasn’t done much since Henry went down, averaging just 229.0 total yards and 16.5 first downs over the past two games.
Houston is coming off a bye, after losing to Miami a couple weeks ago. Houston quarterback Tyrod Taylor is quietly completing 70 percent of his passes and averaging over 9 yards per attempt. Taylor’s mobility can deter the Tennessee pass rush. Don’t give up on Houston yet, they keep this one close on the road.
The pick: Houston +10
Green Bay at Minnesota
Spread: Green Bay (-1.5)
We got an epic NFC North showdown going on the 1pm eastern slate. Minnesota returns home for the first time in several weeks while Green Bay travels to play their fourth straight marquee game. Aaron Rodgers should be better after failing to throw for a touchdown in last weeks win against Seattle.
Really though, the story for Green Bay has been the play of the defense. Despite missing their two best defensive starters, Jaire Alexander and Z'Darius Smith for the last several weeks, Green Bay’s defense has allowed under 270 yards over their last three games and only Arizona eclipsed 20 points. They will get a test against a Minnesota offense that ranks 12th in DVOA and 7th in total offense.
Minnesota is looking to pull off their second consecutive upset as an underdog. Mike Zimmer is a career 62 percent ATS as an underdog including a 4-1 ATS mark this year. Another, interesting stat is that Minnesota is the only team in the NFL to hold a lead in every single game they have played this year. It’s one of the reasons why Minnesota ranks ninth overall in total DVOA. In addition, Green Bay has quietly struggled with this divisional matchup going 4-6-1 straight up in their last 11 against Minnesota. In order to win this game, Minnesota will need consistency out of their starting quarterback Kirk Cousins. Dalvin Cook should be able to run the ball on a Green Bay front that allows 4.6 yards per rush.
We have seen a resurgence from Minnesota defense that ranks eighth overall in DVOA. This is mainly due to their pass rush that ranks first in the NFL in sack percentage and fifth in pressure rate. The key to beating Aaron Rodgers is getting pressure on him. Rodgers loses won of his main outlets, with Aaron Jones being sidelined. I think Minnesota’s pressure and cover two looks can make Aaron Rodgers look uncomfortable early.
Green Bay has been up and down, and this is Minnesota’s season, which is largely on the line here. A prime spot to jump on them this week. Minnesota scored on every opening drive until last week. Minnesota has carried a lead into halftime in six out of their last seven games. While there is value on the full game, I’m going to bet that Minnesota gets off to a hot start.
The official play is Minnesota first half in this one. Expect the team that will be playing with better sense of urgency to start strong.
The pick: Minnesota first half +0.5
Baltimore at Chicago
Spread: Baltimore -5
Chicago welcomes the Baltimore to Soldier Field. Chicago (3-6) comes into this game rested, refreshed, and recharged after their bye week last week. They'll need it to break a four-game losing streak. Baltimore (6-3), on the other hand, is looking to get back in the swing of things after an uncharacteristic loss last week in Miami.
But back to Chicago, where Justin Fields showed us some potential in his last outing against Pittsburgh. This will be a tough matchup for Fields. Baltimore’s defense blitzes at the highest rate in the NFL. While, Fields has improved over the last two weeks, he has just a 35.3 percent passer rating when under pressure. Fields has gotten some help from his running game that ranks 14th in rushing DVOA. But stopping the run is what Baltimore does well ranking 14th in rush DVOA. This is a good get right spot for Baltimore defense. Chicago is averaging just 16 points per game. On defense, Chicago will be missing Khalil Mack and Akeim Hicks. I expect Baltimore to implement a ball control running strategy. Chicago gets shut down.
More than anything though, it will be a windy day in Chicago with wind gust blowing over 20 miles per hour. Points will be at a premium.
The pick: under 43.5
Dallas at Kansas City
Spread: Kansas City (-3)
We get an epic matchup against the public’s two favorite teams. So which one do we choose? The raw power numbers favor Dallas. However, the stylistic matchup between the teams favors Kansas City.
It has looked pretty, but Kansas City has gotten back on track. They beat Las Vegas 41-14 last week and while the offense has looked pedestrian (up until last Sunday), the defense has gotten a lot better. Over the last five games Kansas City is allowing opponents to score 15.6 points per game. The unit has gotten healthier, Juan Thornhill is getting a lot more reps at free safety. The addition of Melvin Ingram has allowed Chris Jones to move inside, making them somewhat competent against the run. I’m not saying they are going to stop Dallas’ offense here. America’s team ranks fourth in offensive DVOA and first in total offense. What I am saying, Kansas City will be able to make key stops when it needs to. They will only have to make a handful, since the offense is going to shed Dallas’s overrated defense.
On the defensive side of the ball, Dallas will be missing defensive end Randy Gregory. This loss is a huge blow. Dallas was already missing Demarcus Lawrence. Quinn’s defense is predicated on the ability to get pressure off the edge. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn still runs a lot of cover three scheme (the type of defense Kansas City shreds.) We haven’t seen Dallas implement soft cover 2, the scheme that has given Kansas City trouble this year. Dallas’ corner’s are ultra aggressive, and I expect Andy Reid to attack Trevon Diggs with Tyreek Hill. Hill is going to win that matchup 8 out of 10 times. Dallas ranks 26th in DVOA against deep passes. I expect Kansas City to shred this defense at home.
While there is a lot of flack about Kansas City not covering numbers. That happens when the line is overinflated and they are giving more than a field goal. When Kansas City is favored by a field goal or less, KC is 10-2-1 (83.3%) ATS while Patty Mahomes has been under center. This is a solid buy low spot on Kansas City, and we are selling high on Dallas after one of their best performances of the year.
Give me KC at home.
The pick: Kansas City -3
Follow Austin on Twitter @AMontgomeryLive
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