Arizona Cardinals at Houston Texans: 2017 Week 11 NFL Pick

Arizona Cardinals (4-5) at Houston Texans (3-6)

Both of these teams have had their season derailed by injuries to their starting quarterback, as Carson Palmer and Deshaun Watson are out indefinitely with a broken arm and a torn ACL respectively. As a result, these two teams are starting Blaine Gabbert and Tom Savage respectively, two of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL. Quarterback isn’t the only place these two teams are banged up though. The Cardinals have lost left tackle DJ Humphries, running back David Johnson, left guard Mike Iupati, outside linebacker Markus Golden, and safety Tyvon Branch for the season with injuries, while the Texans are missing defensive end JJ Watt, outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus, defensive end Christian Covington, and wide receiver Will Fuller.

With all that these two teams are missing, they are two of the worst teams in the entire NFL. I have them more or less even in my roster rankings, suggesting that the hometown Texans should be favored by about a field goal. Given that, we are getting line value with them as just 1 point home favorites, but it’s not enough for me to bet on Houston confidently. For pick ‘em purposes, the Texans should be the pick, but I would not recommend betting on either of these teams.

Houston Texans 20 Arizona Cardinals 17

Pick against the spread: Houston -1

Confidence: Low

Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota Vikings: 2017 Week 11 NFL Pick

Los Angeles Rams (7-2) at Minnesota Vikings (7-2)

Case Keenum and Jared Goff were the two starting quarterbacks for the Rams last season, on a team that went 4-12. Now Keenum and Goff face off against each other as quarterbacks of 7-2 teams in the middle of a race for a first round bye in the NFC. The #1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Goff lost all 7 of his starts for the Rams last season after taking over for the veteran Keenum mid-season, but he’s taken a huge step forward in his 2nd season in the league and he has a lot more talent around him on an overall much better coached team.

They’ve won with convincing margins of victory and rank 4th in first down rate differential. Their easy schedule has been a big part of their success though, as 5 of their 7 wins have come against the Cardinals, Colts, 49ers, Texans, and Giants. Beating the Cowboys and Jaguars is impressive, but the Cowboys were without top linebacker Sean Lee in that game and the Rams scored two special teams touchdowns against the Jaguars. In addition to that, they’ve also lost at home to the Seahawks and Redskins.

The Vikings are arguably the toughest team they’ve faced this season, surprisingly led by Case Keenum. When the veteran journeyman Keenum signed with the Vikings this off-season, he looked bound for a backup job at best. Sam Bradford was coming off of a solid, healthy season as the starting quarterback, while Teddy Bridgewater looked like he could be ready to return as a reserve at some point in the season. However, Bradford hasn’t played much since week 1 due to a knee injury and Keenum is playing so well in his absence that the Vikings are keeping Bridgewater on the bench even though he is now healthy enough to play. Like Goff, Keenum isn’t doing this by himself, as he has a strong supporting cast, but this is the best football he’s played in his career and it’s tough to bench him at this point.

That being said, in the long run benching Keenum is probably the best decision. This team has the supporting cast to compete for a Super Bowl if they have strong quarterback play in the post-season. Keenum is hot right now, but he’s probably not the quarterback who can take them where they want to be. Bridgewater is more of a question mark, but he has the upside to take this team on a run and they should try to get him back into the lineup as quickly as they can so he can have a few starts under his belt by the post-season.

If Bridgewater was starting this game, I’d pick the Vikings, but, with Keenum, I calculated this line exactly where it is, at -2.5, so we’re not getting any line value with Minnesota. Given that, I’m taking the Rams because, unlike the Vikings, they have a normal week of rest on deck. The Vikings, meanwhile, go to Detroit on a short week for a Thanksgiving game. Favorites are just 61-95 ATS since 2008 before Thursday Night Football, as it’s understandably tough to be focused for an inferior opponent with another game right around the corner. This is a no confidence pick, but the Rams are the choice for pick ‘em purposes.

Minnesota Vikings 17 Los Angeles Rams 16

Pick against the spread: LA Rams +2.5

Confidence: None

Jacksonville Jaguars at Cleveland Browns: 2017 Week 11 NFL Pick

Jacksonville Jaguars (6-3) at Cleveland Browns (0-9)

The Browns led the Lions 24-17 in the 3rd quarter last week, despite allowing a return touchdown earlier in the game and getting no points out of a goal line opportunity at the end of the half, but they ended up losing 38-24 when the Lions scored three straight touchdowns. Despite numerous screw ups, the game was one of their best of their winless season. One of the reasons for that is that their defense was fully healthy coming out of the bye, after defensive end Myles Garrett, outside linebacker Jamie Collins, and cornerback Jason McCourty all missed time in the first half of the season.

Collins unfortunately got hurt again last week and now is out for the season, but he wasn’t playing that well, so the Browns still have a decent defense out there. They’re obviously not fully healthy on offense without perennial All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas, but they do get #1 receiver Corey Coleman back from a 7 game absence this week. The Jaguars, on the other hand, are without a pair of starters on the offensive line, left guard Patrick Omameh and right tackle Jermey Parnell, and stud running back Leonard Fournette is at less than 100% with his ankle injury. Given that, we’re getting some line value with the Browns at +7.5, but not enough to pick them confidently as they still figure to have a major problem scoring on the Jaguars’ tough defense.

Jacksonville Jaguars 16 Cleveland Browns 10

Pick against the spread: Cleveland +7.5

Confidence: Low

Baltimore Ravens at Green Bay Packers: 2017 Week 11 NFL Pick

Baltimore Ravens (4-5) at Green Bay Packers (5-4)

This line was Green Bay +3 a week ago, but the Packers’ upset victory in Chicago caused this line to move to +2. That’s unfortunate because I would have had some interest in the Packers at +3. The Packers are obviously banged up, losing their top-2 running backs last week after already being without quarterback Aaron Rodgers, right tackle Bryan Bulaga, and defensive back Morgan Burnett for an extended period of time. However, they still have a strong receiving corps and are above average on both the offensive and defensive lines and new quarterback Brett Hundley is coming off of his best start of the season.

The Ravens, meanwhile, are a mediocre team with major offensive issues, especially with talented left tackle Ronnie Stanley injured. In fact, I have the Ravens just a couple spots ahead of the Packers in my roster rankings and I have this line calculated at -3. Unfortunately, the Packers are in a tough spot with a much tougher game in Pittsburgh on deck. Teams are 48-78 ATS since 2002 before being 10+ point underdogs, as Tough upcoming games tend to present a distraction for teams. Given that, I’d need the full field goal to bet the Packers confidently. This is a low confidence pick, although the money line makes some sense at +110.

Green Bay Packers 19 Baltimore Ravens 17 Upset Pick +110

Pick against the spread: Green Bay +2

Confidence: Low

Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos: 2017 Week 11 NFL Pick

Cincinnati Bengals (3-6) at Denver Broncos (3-6)

The Broncos have lost 5 straight games by double digits and have lost their last 2 games by a combined 53 points, but teams tend to bounce back pretty well after back-to-back blowout losses. Teams are 45-31 ATS since 2002 off of back-to-back losses by 21 or more, as teams tend to be overlooked, undervalued, and embarrassed after two straight big losses. The schedule also gets a little easier for the Broncos, with the Bengals coming to town, following games against the Chiefs, Eagles, and Patriots.

Not only has the Broncos’ schedule been tough, but they have done very poorly with turnover margin. Through 9 games, they rank last in the NFL in turnover margin at -14, but they should be better going forward, given how inconsistent turnover margins are on a week-to-week basis. Despite a 3-6 record and a tough schedule, they rank 21st in first down rate differential. However, we aren’t getting much line value with the Broncos as 2.5 point home favorites because, like the Broncos, the Bengals are also underrated as a result of a poor turnover margin. They are -9 in turnover margin, 3rd worst in the NFL, but they rank 17th in first down rate differential. They also have a significant edge at quarterback and a comparable defense to the Broncos.

The Bengals are also in a good spot as they only have an easy game against the Browns up next, meaning they should be focused. The Broncos, meanwhile, have to travel to Oakland after this one and could get caught looking forward a little bit. Underdogs are 65-40 ATS since 2014 before being favorites when their opponent will next be underdogs, which the Broncos will be next week in Oakland. That trend might not apply to the Broncos this week because they’ve been embarrassed in back-to-back weeks, but I can’t be confident at all in the Broncos this week as 2.5 point home favorites. They could win by a field goal or more, but Cincinnati is a slightly superior team who could win outright. This is exactly where I have this line and there are offsetting trends, so this is a really tough one.

Denver Broncos 16 Cincinnati Bengals 13

Pick against the spread: Denver -2.5

Confidence: None

Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks: 2017 Week 11 NFL Pick

Atlanta Falcons (5-4) at Seattle Seahawks (6-3)

The Seahawks beat the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday Night Football last week to improve to 6-3, but their season could be in serious trouble. In cruel irony, the Seahawks, always a vocal opponent of Thursday Night Football for safety reasons, lost stud cornerback Richard Sherman for the season with an achilles tear and stud safety Kam Chancellor for the season with a neck injury in that win over the Cardinals. They’ve already lost talented defensive end Cliff Avril for the season with a neck injury, so this defense is not nearly what it used to be.

On top of that, the Seahawks will also be without talented left tackle Duane Brown, who also went down against Arizona, a big blow to an offensive line with serious problems at other positions. Even before the injury, the Seahawks only ranked 18th in first down rate differential. The Falcons, meanwhile, rank 8th, and have a significant talent edge on paper right now too, even more so than when the Falcons blew out the Seahawks 36-20 in Atlanta last season in the post-season. The Falcons are not as well coached this season, especially on offense, but they still have largely the same personnel.

This one is in Seattle though, which hurts the Falcons’ chances of winning, as does the fact that this is a night game. West coast teams cover about two thirds of the time in night games against East coast teams. In the second half of this game, the Seahawks’ internal clock will be at about 7 PM, while the Falcons will be at 10 PM, which puts them at a significant disadvantage. The Seahawks are also in a big statement game spot given all of their injuries and they tend to be a great second half of the season team (35-14 ATS in regular season games 9-16 in the Pete Carroll era). With only an easy game against the 49ers on deck, the Seahawks have no upcoming distractions and could play one of their best games of the season. I’m still taking the Falcons, but this is a no confidence pick at +3. This seems like a field goal Seattle win.

Seattle Seahawks 27 Atlanta Falcons 24

Pick against the spread: Atlanta +3

Confidence: None