Miami Dolphins at Los Angeles Rams: 2016 Week 11 NFL Pick

Miami Dolphins (5-4) at Los Angeles Rams (4-5)

Despite a few wins, the Rams are one of the worst teams in the league. Their 4 wins have come by a combined 18 points, with none coming by more than 6 points, while their 5 losses have come by 52 points, giving them a -34 point differential that ranks just 27th in the NFL. In terms of first down rate differential, they’re even worse, entering this game 30th in the NFL in that metric. The Dolphins are a much better team, entering this game 17th in that metric, but the Rams luck out because the Dolphins are very banged up right now. They will be without starting outside linebacker Jelani Jenkins, starting left tackle Branden Albert, and starting center Mike Pouncey this week, while starting cornerback Xavien Howard remains out with injury. As long as this line is still less than 3, the Dolphins are the pick, but I can’t be confident in them as banged up as they are.

Miami Dolphins 16 Los Angeles Rams 13

Pick against the spread: Miami -2

Confidence: None

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Chicago Bears at New York Giants: 2016 Week 11 NFL Pick

Chicago Bears (2-7) at New York Giants (6-3)

This is one of the games I’m torn on this week. On one hand, the Giants are the significantly superior team and they have an easy upcoming game, a trip to Cleveland to take on the winless Browns, so they don’t have any upcoming distractions. The early line has them at least favorites of 6 or more next week and favorites of 6 or more are 89-50 ATS since 2012 before being favorites of 6 or more again. Meanwhile, in terms of first down rate differential, the Giants enter this game 5th, while the Bears enter in 23rd.

Things were looking up for the Bears before their bye, as they were getting guys back from injury and they pulled the home upset victory over the Vikings, but things fell apart again for the Bears last week in their first game back from the bye in a 36-10 loss in Tampa Bay. Not only did they get blown out, but they’ve since lost talented guard Kyle Long for the season with injury, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery for 4 games with suspension, and possibly nose tackle Eddie Goldman, who is questionable this week after tweaking his ankle injury in his return last week. The Bears are one of the worst teams in the league, while the Giants have actually been one of the best this season.

At the same time, this line is pretty big at 7.5, after a significant line movement in the past week (the early line was 5.5). As a result, we’re not really getting any line value with the Giants. Teams also tend to bounce back off of embarrassing losses like the Bears’ loss last week. The Bears lost by 26 last week as 2.5 point road favorites, an against the spread loss of 28.5. Teams are 92-54 ATS since 2002 off of an against the spread loss of 28 or more, as teams tend to be overlooked, underrated, and embarrassed in that situation.

It also helps the Bears that they’re in their 2nd of two road games. Teams are 136-103 ATS as road underdogs off a road loss since 2008, including 108-71 ATS when it’s their 2nd of 2 road games. This is because teams tend to do better in their 2nd straight road game than their first one, but lines don’t really adjust for this. Teams are 229-245 straight up in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.86 points per game, as opposed to 329-459 straight up in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 3.00 points per game. I’m still taking the Giants, but this is a no confidence pick.

New York Giants 27 Chicago Bears 17

Pick against the spread: NY Giants -7.5

Confidence: None

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Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns: 2016 Week 11 NFL Pick

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-5) at Cleveland Browns (0-10)

The Browns are in a tough spot here. They are 9 point home underdogs here against the Steelers and figure to be big home underdogs again next week when they host the 6-3 Giants. Teams are 38-90 ATS since 2012 before being home underdogs of 4.5 or more, as huge upcoming home games tend to serve as a distraction for a team. On top of that, underdogs of 6 or more are 48-76 ATS since 2012 before being underdogs of 6 or more. Normally, I go against teams in that spot, but the Browns are different because they are winless and desperate. Teams that are 0-8 or worse are actually 12-5 ATS before being 4.5+ point home underdogs. Believe it or not, betting on winless teams this late in the season has actually been a winning bet in the past, as teams that are 0-8 or worse are 34-17 ATS since 1989.

With that in mind, I’m actually picking the Browns this week. In addition to being hungry for their first win, the Browns are a little undervalued because of back-to-back blowout losses. Teams are 44-28 ATS since 2002 off of back-to-back losses by 21 or more, as teams tend to be undervalued in that spot. The Steelers’ have a strong offense, but their defense is a major problem, especially with arguably their best defensive player, defensive end Cameron Heyward, now out for the season. They shouldn’t be laying 9 points here. They also have to turn around and play another game in 4 days on Thanksgiving and favorites are 50-82 ATS before Thursday Night Football. The Browns are the pick here, though I’m not confident.

Pittsburgh Steelers 27 Cleveland Browns 20

Pick against the spread: Cleveland +9

Confidence: None

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Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals: 2016 Week 11 NFL Pick

Buffalo Bills (4-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-5-1)

This line has shifted from 4.5 in favor of the Bengals on the early line last week to 3 in the past week, a huge shift considering about 3 in 10 games are decided by 4 points or fewer and about 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal. Typically, I like to fade significant week-to-week line movements because they tend to be overreactions to a single week, but we’re not really getting line value with the Bengals at 3 either. I have these two teams more or less even. In fact, they’re just one spot apart in terms of first down rate differential, Cincinnati entering in 20th and Buffalo entering in 21st. This line suggests these two teams are even, so this line is exactly where it should be. Neither side is really in a better spot than the other one either. I’m taking the Bengals because the public is on Buffalo and the public always loses money in the long run, but this is a pure public fade and a pick ‘em pool pick only. I wouldn’t touch this game. A push seems likely.

Cincinnati Bengals 23 Buffalo Bills 20

Pick against the spread: Cincinnati -3

Confidence: None

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New England Patriots at San Francisco 49ers: 2016 Week 11 NFL Pick

New England Patriots (7-2) at San Francisco 49ers (1-8)

The Patriots lost last week at home to the Seattle Seahawks. It was just their 2nd loss of the season, but there’s reason for concern. The Patriots’ defense got gashed all game in their first game since the controversial Jamie Collins trade. Also controversially, the Patriots are not even bringing defensive end Jabaal Sheard on this trip with them, even though he was a starter 3 weeks ago before their bye and arguably their best defensive lineman last season. Sheard was relegated to backup snaps last week and now won’t play at all, even though he’s healthy. Between Collins, Sheard, and Chandler Jones, who was controversially traded this off-season, the Patriots are missing a big chunk of last year’s strong front 7, so how they played defensively last week is concerning. The Patriots will also be without tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Chris Hogan with injuries in this one. Gronk’s injury is obviously the more important one and he’ll miss at least this week with a chest injury.

All that being said, the Patriots get about as soft of a landing spot after last week’s loss as possible with this trip to San Francisco. The 49ers enter the game 31st in both first down rate differential and point differential, only ahead of the Browns in both categories. They also lead the league in double digit losses with 7 and their average margin of defeat is 15.5, so the Patriots don’t even really have to play that well to cover this line. The Patriots’ defense has issues, but their offense has been incredible this season, even in last week’s loss. On the season, they rank 4th in first down rate and 2nd in first down rate percentage, despite being without Tom Brady for the first 4 games of the season with suspension. Since returning, Brady has played better than any quarterback in the league and the Patriots figure to have a big offensive performance once again this week, even without Gronkowski.

The Patriots are also in a much better spot than the 49ers, as they have an easy game on deck, a trip to New York to face the Jets, while the 49ers go to Miami, which isn’t easy. The early line has the Patriots as 9 point favorites in New York, while the 49ers are 8 point underdogs in Miami. Underdogs of 6 or more are 48-76 ATS since 2012 before being underdogs of 6 or more again, while favorites of 6 or more are 89-50 ATS since 2012 before being favorites of 6 or more again. Combining the two, favorites of 6 or more are 7-31 ATS before being favorites of 6 or more again, when their opponent will next be underdogs of 6 or more again. The Patriots are also 45-24 ATS off of a loss in the Bill Belichick era (since 2010). The Patriots are battling some adversity right now, but this game still has blowout written all over it.

New England Patriots 31 San Francisco 49ers 13

Pick against the spread: New England -12.5

Confidence: Medium

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Baltimore Ravens at Dallas Cowboys: 2016 Week 11 NFL Pick

Baltimore Ravens (5-4) at Dallas Cowboys (8-1)

The Cowboys pulled off a huge upset victory in Pittsburgh last week to improve to 8-1, the only team in the entire NFL with only one loss. Now they are 7.5 point favorites here at home over the Ravens and the early line has them as 6.5 point home favorites for the Redskins next week. Big favorites tend to cover before being big favorites again because they have no upcoming distractions and can take care of business against an inferior opponent. Favorites of 6 or more are 89-50 ATS since 2012 before being favorites of 6 or more again. However, it hurts the Cowboys that next week’s game is on Thursday Night, their annual Thanksgiving home game. Favorites are 50-82 ATS before Thursday Night Football since 2008.

With that in mind, I’m actually going to take the Ravens this week. Not only do the Cowboys have a game upcoming in 4 days, this line is a little bit too high when you consider the Cowboys haven’t had much homefield advantage in recent years. The Cowboys are 31-21 ATS on the road since 2010, which is impressive, but just 18-34 ATS at home over the same time period, including 10-26 ATS as home favorites. Over that time period, they’ve been outscored opponents by 0.02 points per game on the road and outscored opponents by an average of 0.96 points per game at home, meaning home field advantage hasn’t even been worth a half point for them in recent years.

That makes sense, as the Cowboys have fans throughout the country and get great support on the road. They’re 3-1 ATS at home this year, but that’s because they’ve been underrated all season. That’s no longer the case, as evidenced by this line. They could have easily lost to the Eagles, while their other 2 wins came against the Bears and Bengals (both by 14). The Ravens are a set up from those 2 teams and should be able to keep it close here. There’s not quite enough here for me to put money on the Ravens, but they’re the pick.

Dallas Cowboys 23 Baltimore Ravens 17

Pick against the spread: Baltimore +7.5

Confidence: Low

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Houston Texans vs. Oakland Raiders: 2016 Week 11 NFL Pick

Houston Texans (6-3) vs. Oakland Raiders (7-2) in Mexico City

The Texans are 6-3, but rank just 26th in first down rate differential. That’s because their 5 wins have come by a combined 36 points, while their 3 losses have come by a combined 63 points. Their -27 point differential is also just 26th in the NFL. The Raiders have also had a lot of close wins, as 5 of their 7 wins have come by a touchdown or fewer, and they rank just 18th in first down rate differential. They’ve played a lot better in recent weeks though, with 2 of their last 3 wins coming by double digits, including a huge 10-point home victory over the Broncos before their bye. Coming into the season, I thought they were one of the most talented teams in the league and they’re finally playing like it.

That being said, this line is pretty high at 6, considering this isn’t even a true home game for the Raiders. From what I’ve heard, the Raiders have a relatively strong following in Mexico, but the Texans are one of the closest teams to the border, so they probably have some support there as well. Even if we give the Raiders a point for homefield advantage, that means the Raiders are 5 points better than the Texans. At their best they might be, but they’ve been inconsistent this season and are not exactly blowing teams out regularly, so the points are the safer bet in this game.

Oakland Raiders 17 Houston Texans 13

Pick against the spread: Houston +6

Confidence: Low

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