Hello friends! It’s Week 11 and we’re in the middle of a Louisville basketball/football doubleheader as I write this, so let’s get right to the picks!
Sunday, November 20
Tennessee at Indianapolis (-3)
I expected the Titans to be down in the cellar of the NFL with teams like the Cleveland Browns & San Francisco 49ers. Other than the addition of DeMarco Murray, whose stock was at an all-time low after his lost season in Philadelphia, the Titans didn’t seem to make much of an attempt to make their team better. They hired a coach that Dustin James & I thought wasn’t qualified to coach our high school teams. Things looked really, really bad for the Titans before the season started, yet they sit here at 5-5 and sorta kinda maybe in contention for a playoff spot. Who would have thought that? Heck, they could lose the rest of their games and 5-11 would still be better than what I expected from them this season.
I don’t like them this week in Indy though. Marcus Mariota & company will probably keep it close in a high-scoring game, but the Colts are coming off a bye after a nice win over the Packers and should be ready to light up the scoreboard.
Jacksonville at Detroit (-6.5)
The Detroit Lions are tied for first place in the NFC North. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? It’s a thing thanks to the Vikings falling off the face of the Earth the last few weeks, the Packers not really knowing what the heck is going on, and the Bears being the Bears. The Lions, meanwhile, won 4 out of 5 prior to their bye week, and come back to two home games this week.
The first being against the sorry, no-account Jaguars. Jacksonville was a trendy pick to win the AFC South this season thanks to the lack of great teams in the division and the perceived improvement of the team overall. I would say they’ve regressed, but they really haven’t. They’re the Jags. They’re not good. They end up having some close games but usually find ways to lose because that’s what bad teams do. You got two teams heading in opposite directions here, and I think the Lions continue in their direction while the Jaguars continue in theirs. Two ships passing in the night.
Tampa Bay at Kansas City (-7.5)
The Chiefs are 4-0 at home so your first reaction is to pick them & move on. Then you see that the Buccaneers are 3-1 on the road and you kinda go “Hmmmm.” The Bucs are a fun little team, but the Chiefs aren’t #2 in the USB Power Rankings for nothing.
Chicago at NY Giants (-7.5)
The Giants are due for a clunker at home. It happens every year. But it can’t happen this week against this team.
Arizona at Minnesota (-2.5)
I can’t pick the Vikings over anybody at this point, quite honestly. The wheels have fallen off, it’s a mess, a dumpster fire, shit has hit the fan, use whatever phrase you want to to describe the Vikings’ recent play and it would fit. I’m not particularly high on the Cardinals either, but at least they’ve proven capable of winning a game in the past month.
Buffalo at Cincinnati (-3)
As a Bengals fan, I had a difficult time caring about the regular season last year because it was all about what would happen in the playoffs. This year, I have a difficult time caring about the regular season because the team is so tough to watch. Monday night, for instance. The Bengals only lost by one point to the New York Giants, but it felt like at least ten. I never thought the team had any kind of a chance of winning thanks to poor execution by the quarterback & wide receivers, poor blocking by the offensive line, lackadaisical play by the defense and horrible time management & decisions from the coaching staff. This stands to continue as long as the current head coach is in charge.
Sure, the Bengals will find their way into some victories during the rest of this season. There’s another Cleveland game on the schedule. But there’s no reason to believe that at 3-5-1, the Bengals can win five out of their last seven games to get to 8-7-1, where I figure they will have to be at in order to have a chance of winning the AFC North. The division’s bad, but Baltimore or Pittsburgh will get to eight wins. The wild card isn’t an option with the way the teams in the AFC West are racking up wins. The Bengals will miss the playoffs for the first time in five years.
Then I’ll actually be interested, because something might end up happening.
The Bills are coming off a bye and will be fresh & ready to go. Andy Dalton’s banged up, Tyler Eifert’s banged up, AJ Green didn’t look 100% on Monday night…this has the makings of a home loss that sends the Bengals fanbase even further into despair. Or, in my case, even further into apathy.
Baltimore at Dallas (-7)
You can’t help but notice that all the NFC East teams are looking better this season. One of the reasons for this that I think has flown under the radar is the fact that the NFC East gets to play the AFC North this season. The Dallas Cowboys are the talk of the NFL at 8-1, as they should be. HOWEVA, it should be pointed out that three of those wins came at the hands of the Bengals, Browns & Steelers, all of whom are experiencing down seasons. Some are more down than others.
The Cowboys get their fourth AFC North team this week, and I expect them to get their fourth victory. I also expect the Ravens to keep this game close & to keep it lower-scoring than the Cowboys’ other AFC North games have been so far. Ezekiel Elliott’s running over everybody & Dak Prescott looks like the man, but they’re going to find things a little more difficult this week.
Pittsburgh (-8) at Cleveland
It’s not impossible for the Browns to win this one. Pittsburgh is 0-2 since Ben Roethlisberger came back. That’s all I got, really. It’s getting close to that time of year where the Steelers kick it into another gear and become playoff contenders. This seems like as good a week as any for that to start happening.
Miami (-1.5) at Los Angeles
Don’t look now, but the Dolphins have won four straight and are right in the middle of wild card consideration. They won’t win the AFC East, obviously, but as those AFC West teams beat each other up they stand to benefit if they can keep on winning. The Rams are running Jared Goff out there and it’s probably about time they did, but I can’t tell you to put your money on them until we see him in action.
New England (-13) at San Francisco
You could not make this line too high for me to take the Patriots. New England is coming off a loss and is going to be PISSED OFF. San Fran loses by more than thirteen points more often than not. If they hadn’t inexplicably shutout the Rams in Week 1, I’d be saying they have a better chance of going winless than the Browns do. They’re that bad.
Philadelphia at Seattle (-6.5)
The Eagles step their game up against good teams. But the thing about that is they’ve been playing all of these good teams in Philadelphia. They’re going to Seattle this week. I like the Seahawks‘ chances.
Green Bay at Washington (-3)
This is your SUNDAY NIGHT IS FOOTBALL NIGHT game. Jeez, no wonder Al Michaels decided to take the week off. This is the best they could do? A 4-5 Packers team looking for answers against a Washington team that might be ok but no one will ever believe it because the organization seems like such a train wreck? Granted, this might end up being a playoff preview because the Packers will probably still win the NFC North because they almost always do & Washington could find themselves in a playoff spot. But man, I can promise you right now I will be watching 0 minutes and 0 seconds of this game. I’ll take Washington because at least I’ve seen them play well recently.
Monday, November 21
Houston vs. Oakland (-6)
Monday Night Football heads south of the border this week, as this Raiders home game will be taking place at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. A lot of teams would complain about losing a home date, but the Raiders have performed so well on the road this season that I’m sure they’re pleased with the arrangement. 5-0 on the road, 2-2 at home. Not that Oakland is a home, we know they’re heading to Las Vegas eventually, but the point remains that the Raiders are a team that thrives on adversity. They have their entire existence. They were at their best when Al Davis was convinced that the deck was stacked against them, and it usually was. I’ve always said that the NFL is better when the Raiders are good, and it’s nice to see them doing things again.
The last time the Texans appeared on Monday Night Football was a complete disaster. They were in Denver and Brock Osweiler looked like the worst quarterback in the history of quarterbacks. He should look better this week, as Oakland’s defense isn’t anywhere near Denver’s. I get the feeling this is going to be a close game, so while I think the Raiders will win I think the Texans are a good bet this week.