Every week, I am picking NFL games against the spread. And making bets that I think are profitable. The first few weeks, I tried to be a tough guy and make millions of bets. I lost lots of dollars. I started limiting myself and have been quite profitable ever since. I plan to continue this for eternity.
Here are my NFL Week 11 picks and bets.
(Last week, I lost $34 total, entirely due to a foolish three-team teaser, a bet I’d normally never tell any sane person to make.)
Realize: betting NFL is really hard. These picks are meant to hopefully help you out a bit, but mainly to entertain you. They AREN’T meant to be followed blindly. Listen, and hopefully be entertained by my childish jokes. Or at least say something mean about me so I can get a good cry in.
I will make a pick for every game. But if I don’t specifically recommend a bet, I’m just throwing darts. Don’t listen to my advice. The pick is there so I can have a record for picking every game, one that will undoubtedly suck. And then you can make fun of me. I’m a man of the people. As always, I hope you argue with me on Twitter.
For the actual bets, I will keep track of my record and profits/losses. Unlike my NHL/NBA “how not to lose your money gamblin’ “ series, a normal bet will be to win $100, for tracking purposes, because I’m a hypothetical high-roller, and you are too. There will be occasional double, triple, quadruple, and probably even quintuple bets.
Indianapolis Colts (-3) over Tennessee Titans*
I certainly didn’t see the Colts getting Rammed by the Saints, but I think that proved my point that they’re a bit overrated, because they’re probably worse than each of the three excellent teams that they impressively beat — the 49ers (on the road!), Seahawks and Broncos. They certainly have potential. They beat possibly the three best teams in the league. But they are not a top-three team.
The defense is OK at best (21st in DVOA), and Andrew Luck has been surprisingly MEH all year, despite having the aesthetics of a Quarterbacking God. Everybody overrates him because he looks so damn good. I mean, look at this interception.
If I were an announcer, I’d be like, “Luck back to pass, OH GOD LOOK AT THAT FOOTWORK AND THAT ARM STROKE, AND… UHHH… wait, it was picked? Must have been a COLOSSAL MISTAKE by the receiver on that route. Yeah, definitely ran the wrong route. Can’t put that one on Luck. Did you know he majored in architecture at STANFORD OH MY GOD WHAT A THROW THAT INTERCEPTION WAS HE THREADED THE NEEDLE.”
Take this, from ProFootballFocus:
Even the NFL’s best players are susceptible to the occasional off day, and Andrew Luck is no exception. Against the Rams, he was off target from the opening drive and eventually finished with the second-lowest graded game of his career at -4.5. He ranks in the bottom half of the league in both completion and Accuracy Percentage, which, as evidenced by the team’s six wins, hadn’t been much of a problem coming into this game.
I’m not saying Andrew Luck is bad. But he’s probably overrated.
The Titans probably have the better defense here, but clearly have the inferior offense, and they now have Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is truly awful.
I think there MIGHT be a tiny bit of value on the Colts, but I can’t pull the trigger. Their 7.6 yards per passing attempt allowed scares me, even against Mr. Hahvahd.
(UPDATE: I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and while I think the line is fair given the entire year’s stats, I think that the Colts coming off a loss plus the whole Fitzpatrick thing merits a small play. I hate being on such a popular side, but, Fitzpatrick is a turnover machine and REALLY FREAKING BAD.)
Bet: Colts -2.5 (-110), $55 to win $50
New York Jets (pk) over Buffalo Bills*
My bias is telling me to empty my wallet on my beloved Jets, but my bias hates me. I really don’t see any reason to take the Jets, besides my gut, and that’s not enough. They’re markedly better on defense, but you can certainly make an argument that the Bills have been better on offense than the Jets. The Jets have still been pretty bad advancing the ball with passes and rushes, and I just don’t see any value here. If you take out the games when E.J. Manuel was hurt, Buffalo’s offense hasn’t been too bad, especially at home. They nearly (should’ve?) beat New England, took out Carolina (yes, the same Carolina everyone’s drooling over), beat Baltimore and nearly beat Cincinnati. They also had the Chiefs beat if not for Jeff Tuel.
Truthfully, there might be value on the Bills, but my bias won’t let me see it.
Arizona Cardinals* (-6.5) over Jacksonville Jaguars
DVOA is not nearly the be-all-end-all of statistics, but it is certainly useful. The Cardinals are second in defensive DVOA. The Jaguars are 31st. These particular numbers aren’t misleading.
Yes, the Jaguars won last week. They also won the turnover battle 4-2, recovering three fumbles. They had just 214 total yards. They are still putrid. They should rejoice upon scoring a point in this game.
There is not a single area that the Jaguars have an edge in. They are markedly worse, everywhere. The Jaguars might be overrated, despite being widely-recognized as the worst team in the league. They are that bad. The Cardinals may be underrated. They are pretty good, besides Carson Palmer. I’m a bit uncomfortable taking Carson Palmer -6.5 points. But I don’t see how they lose this game. 6.5 points is a lot, but it’s probably not enough. You can also throw in the facts that the Cardinals need a win, badly, and the Jaguars just got off the schneid. That can’t hurt.
(This is also probably good teaser/survivor pool material, and the Jaguars team total under is probably worth a look.)
Note: The line is now at 7. I won’t be shocked if it goes to 7.5.
Bet: Cardinals -6.5 (-110), $110 to win $100
Baltimore Ravens (+2.5) over Chicago Bears*
This line says that the Bears are almost even with the Ravens, without Jay Cutler. Interesting. Truthfully, I don’t know what to think about that. But I don’t really care. I will ignore it.
I do care that this total is 46.5, though. Why is this total 46.5?
Jay Cutler is not playing. The Bears average 28.8 ppg, but they typically are quarterbacked by Jay Cutler. And as much shit as the Ravens get and deserve, their defense has been good. This is a borderline top-5 defense (6th in DVOA). They’ve kept every team not quarterbacked by Peyton Manning to 24 or fewer points. They’ve given up fewer than 20 in 5 of 9 games.
(And their offense sucks. The Bears defense is not good, but the Ravens average 2.8 yards per carry. They are awful.)
Good offense without its quarterback vs. good defense. Bad offense vs. mediocre defense. Under.
Bet: UNDER 46.5 (-110), $220 to win $200
Philadelphia Eagles* (-3) over Washington Potato Skins
At first glance, I do not understand why oddsmakers are implying that these teams are equals on a neutral field. Haven’t the Eagles been way better than the Potato Heads?
Let’s try to somehow construct an argument that would make these teams seem equal:
Offensive yards per play: Eagles (6.3), Jeff Skinners (5.8)
Defensive yards per play: Eagles (5.6), Epidermises (6.1)
Offensive DVOA: Eagles (5th), Redlegs (15th)
Defensive DVOA: Eagles (28th), Ron Burgundies (24th)
RZ scoring %: Eagles (41.94), Minorities (64.52)
Alright, now I almost get it. But if you take out the Eagles’ Matt Barkley-led disasters, the numbers would favor them even more. This line should easily be -3.5, and probably higher. (Note: It moved to -3.5. I still like it, but, ugh, it sucks to get the worst of a number.)
Oh, and remember Week 1 when the Eagles scored 18,000 points in the first half against the Rubies and everyone thought Chip Kelly would take over the world?
I could also see an argument for the over. The total is quite high. But I can see the argument quite clearly. Not like the Obamas give up over 30 points per game or anything…
Bets: Eagles -3 (-110), $220 to win $200 AND OVER 53 (-110), $55 to win $50
Houston Texans* (-6.5) over Oakland Raiders
Oh, yum. I hate that I start these early in the week, because I feel like this will go to 7.5 by gametime. Certainly 7. I hope you get it at -6.5, or 7, at least.
Houston is still underrated, especially now led by Case McCoy Football. They’ve been reaaaalllly unlucky, they get their coach back, they’re desperate, there’s just not much to dislike here. They have an OT loss, another two 3-point losses and a one-point loss. They could be 6-3 quite easily. They probably should be something like that. They’re not bad. I don’t care that Arian Foster is out. Ben Tater Tots Forcier is delicious.
I have said all year that Terrelle Pryor is bad at quarterbacking. He is Tim Tebow but faster and with a bigger arm. So I suppose he isn’t entirely useless. But he is bad. He can only hurt bad defenses. The Texans had a slow start but are above average. I like them, can you tell? I don’t like hiding my feelings.
(Note: It looks like Matt McGloin might start, and I am doubling this bet, hoping that happens. Matt McGloin is like Tim Tebow if you removed the athleticism.)
Texans -6.5 (-110), $220 to win $200
San Diego Chargers (-1) over Miami Dolphins*
Philip Rivers is playing near-MVP level. I cannot stress this enough. This is such a quarterbacking mismatch that I cannot contain myself. And I HATE Philip Rivers. Trust me when I say I’m not biased, as I would easily shove Philip Rivers into the Grand Canyon if vacationing with the fellow.
It’s an issue that the Chargers might have the worst defense in the NFL. But the Dolphins defense is bad, too, and the offensive mismatch is so vast that I do not care.
But, wait. I do care. Why wouldn’t I care? For this reason, I will do a favorite play of mine, the Chargers’ team total over. It should be 23.5, maximum. Then I don’t have to worry about this putrid defense. 23.5 is right about their season average, but I think that’s fluky, and they should roll (on offense, at least).
Chargers team total over (probably 23.5), to win $200
Denver Broncos* (-7) over Kansas City
This is fun. Weird, and fun. Like eating fried pickles.
The Chiefs have a mediocre offense. Any non-biased fan can admit this. They have quite a good defense, but they have a weird defense. They sack opponents on over 10% of dropbacks (though that number has been dropping), and they give up just 5.8 yards per pass. They are as good as anyone at defending the pass.
So, what happens when the best passing offense in football, and one of the best passing offenses in history, faces an incredible pass defense? I’m not sure. My instinct would be that since Peyton Manning can neutralize the Chiefs’ pass rush, he should be mostly fine. Manning gets sacked on about 3% of dropbacks. That’s superb. But, who knows?
The other interesting wrinkle is that the Chiefs aren’t especially good at stopping the run (they give up 5 ypc!). The Broncos have been very good running the ball, but is that because they’re good at it, or teams are so focused on Manning that they can’t stop a crappy rushing attack? If the Chiefs contain Manning a bit, will that stifle Knowshon Moreno? Maybe.
The Broncos can stop Jamaal Charles (they give up just 3.4 ypc), but they typically can’t stop anyone throwing. Is Alex Smith good enough to take advantage?
The main reasons I lean strongly towards Denver are:
– The Broncos have scored 35+ in every home game this year, and scored 30+ in every home game last year.
– The Chiefs have scored 30+ just once this year and are typically way worse on the road (and didn’t score 30+ last year, even though that’s mainly irrelevant).
– Tony Romo managed 6.7 yards per attempt against the Chiefs, and the Eagles moved the ball quite well (6.8 yards per play!) against them. It can be done.
– Like I said, Peyton Manning’s sack allergy should weaken the Chiefs normally-excellent Pass Immune System.
Mainly, I find it hard to believe that the Broncos can be held under 30 points at home. I was quite surprised they were held to 28 on the road last week, but I think that was an aberration; they moved the ball fine. I also find it hard to believe they lose if they score 30+. But I don’t completely trust their defense. I will tease these fools. TWICE. Once for each one of my balls.
Bet: TEASER, Broncos -1 AND Texans -1 (-110), $220 to win $200 AND Broncos -1 AND Cardinals -1 (-110), $110 to win $100
Atlanta Falcons (-1) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers*
If I told you this was going to be the line before the season, you would have assumed the Bucs outperformed their expectations. That is slightly false.
Detroit Lions (-1) over Pittsburgh Steelers*
Both of these teams confuse me. I think that the Lions are either the best OK team in the NFL, or the worst good team in the NFL, depending on which edition of the Webster’s Sports Overgeneralizations Dictionary you’re using. And I think that the Steelers are probably the best worst team in the league. Or maybe they’re the worst mediocre team. Again, depends on the edition.
Big Ben is still doing his thing. They can’t run the ball at all, but Le’veon Bell makes Franzia out of wilted grapes, or something out of nothing, or whatever analogy tickles your butt at the pleasurable angle.
The weird thing is that the Steelers play little defense. The Lions probably play slightly more defense, but I’m not sure. I don’t know what to do here. Why am I still trying to figure this out?
When you’re this confused, just stay away.
Cleveland Browns (+5.5) over Cincinnati Bengals*
I thought this was high at first, but the Bengals have been reaaaaaaally good at home. Wins over: Steelers, Packers, Patriots, Jets. All in impressive fashion. Losses to: Nobody.
New York Giants* (-6) over Kelp Packers
Ha. This makes me laugh. If Aaron Rodgers were playing, this would probably be Packers -3.5, minimum. The Giants are getting tons of respect, because their luck is evening out, and the Packers are not, because of obvious Scott Tolzien reasons.
Fun fact: Scott Tolzien preceded Russell Wilson.
Funner fact: Scott Tolzien is to Russell Wilson as Golden Corral is to Ruth’s Chris. Scott Tolzien will probably not be able to afford to eat at Golden Corral after two more starts, because he’ll be living on the street.
The Giants have been genuinely good on defense. No. 8 in DVOA. Allowing 4.8 yards per play. The Packers’ secondary is a joke. But, the Giants offense has been a joke, too. For that reason, I must pass. But this is Giants or nothing.
Seattle Seahawks* (-13) over Minnesota Vikings*
The Vikings have a passable rushing defense, a good rushing offense (duh), and an awful everything else.
The Seahawks are better in every facet of the game, but they can be beat a bit on the ground. I will not back them -13, because Adrian Peterson can cover the spread by himself.
New Orleans Saints* (-3) over San Francisco 49ers
Fun fact: Betting on the (presumed) best game of the week is typically a bad idea.
Carolina Panthers* (-2.5) over New England Patriots
See above. Good games = bad bets.
Good luck, friends. Please hit me up on the Twitters to argue, call me names, ask a question, or say anything else that comes to mind. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to hear from you, friend.
LATE ADDS: Giants -3 (-125), Chargers TT O 23 (-120), Broncos/Minnesota Wild ML Parlay (-102)… all to win $100.
Last Week’s Betting Record: 3-2 (.600) (-$34)
Since Limiting My Crazy, Overextended Self: 24-12 (.667) (+1,331.76)
Overall Betting Record 44-35 (.557) (-$636.58)
Dart-throwing record: 76-69 (.524)