2021 Week 11 NFL Picks

Pick of the Week

PHI -2.5 vs. NO

High Confidence Picks

NYJ +3.5 vs. MIA

Medium Confidence Picks

NE -7 @ ATL

SF -6.5 @ JAX

IND +7.5 @ BUF

LAC -5 vs. PIT

LV +1 vs. CIN

MIN +1.5 vs. GB

NYG +11.5 @ TB

Low Confidence Picks

SEA +1.5 vs. ARZ

CAR -3 vs. WAS

CHI +1.5 vs. BAL

KC -2.5 vs. DAL

No Confidence Picks

CLE -12 vs. DET

HOU +10 @ TEN

Upset Picks

NYJ +150 vs. MIA

CHI +105 vs. BAL

MIN +105 vs. GB

SEA +110 vs. ARZ

LV +100 vs. CIN

New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2021 Week 11 NFL Pick

New York Giants (3-6) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3)

The Buccaneers are coming off of a loss last week, which has typically been a great spot to bet on a Tom Brady led team, as he is 47-24 ATS off of a loss in his career. However, that drops to 10-13 ATS when Brady is favored by a touchdown or more and the Buccaneers are 11-point favorites in this one. We saw the Buccaneers not cover in a similar spot last week, favored by 9.5 points in Washington, after a loss in their previous game to the Saints, ultimately losing their second straight game in an unfocused performance. 

I thought the Buccaneers would still be able to win big last week because they were coming off of a bye, a great spot for big road favorites, and facing a mediocre Washington team who had significant injury absences and previously had only beaten bad teams by one score, but the Buccaneers proved to be overvalued as big favorites. This week, I think that is even more the case, as the Buccaneers’ loss last week only pushed them down from 12.5-point favorites on the early line last week to 11-point favorites this week, against an underrated Giants team that looks to be a lot healthier coming out of their bye week.

The Giants are just 3-6, but three of their losses came by three points or fewer, while one of their big blowout losses came in Dallas in a game in which the Giants were tied with the Cowboys when quarterback Daniel Jones got hurt. The Giants’ point differential of -37 is better than their record suggests and, when you factor in their tough schedule, the Giants rank 19th, 11th, and 9th in offensive, defensive, and special teams efficiency. Their offense should be better going forward too, as they are getting much healthier on that side of the ball. 

They are still without wide receiver Sterling Shepard, but wide receivers Kadarius Toney (1 game missed), Kenny Golladay (3 games), and Darius Slayton (3 games) all missed significant time and have since returned to be the starters, as has tight end Evan Engram (2 games), while feature back Saquon Barkley (4 games) and top offensive lineman Andrew Thomas (4 games) are also expected back this week. Quarterback Daniel Jones is an underrated player who should perform better with more talent around him, so the Giants could easily be an underrated team the rest of the way if they can stay healthy on offense, with complementary units on defense and special teams.

The Buccaneers, meanwhile, continue to have injury issues. They’ll get top tight end Rob Gronkowski back, but he remains a perpetual injury risk, while talented wide receiver Antonio Brown and top cornerback Carlton Davis remain out and will be joined by top defensive lineman Vita Vea, who will miss his first game of the season this year. The Buccaneers are still one of the more talented teams in the league and I am hesitant to bet against them with Tom Brady coming off of back-to-back losses, back at home where they have been better this season, but this game could still prove to be tougher than expected for the Buccaneers, even if they are ultimately likely to pull out the victory and avoid a third straight loss.

My calculated line has Tampa Bay favored by 9 points, so we’re getting line value with the Giants at +11, and I think there is something to the fact that Tom Brady has failed to cover in all seven night games he has played with the Buccaneers, as Brady is used to going to bed early and may get more tired than most would in a night game, as a result. There isn’t quite enough here with the Giants to bet on them, but it’s possible that changes depending on what I hear about certain injury situations and how close to 100% certain players are. If I decide to place a bet on the Giants, I will give an update.

Update: All of the expected active players are active for the Giants, including Saquon Barkley and Andrew Thomas, and none of expected to be limited in a significant way. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers are confirmed to be without both Vita Vea and Antonio Brown, while tight end Rob Gronkowski is expected to be limited in his first game back. This was all expected, but there was always a chance something went different. Despite that, this line has moved up to 11.5, so I like the Giants for a small wager. They would be 6-3 if not for a trio of losses by a field goal or less and, with a solid defense and special teams, they could have easily won all of those games with a better offense. They should have that this week, arguably as healthy on that side of the ball as they have been since the start of the season. The Buccaneers are not good enough with their current injuries to be favored by double digits against a decent Giants team, with my calculated line now at Tampa Bay -8, before even taking into account that Brady has struggled in night games recently.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27 New York Giants 20

Pick against the spread: NY Giants +11.5

Confidence: Medium

Pittsburgh Steelers at Los Angeles Chargers: 2021 Week 11 NFL Pick

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3-1) at Los Angeles Chargers (5-4)

Typically the rule of thumb with the Chargers is to bet them on the road and bet against them at home. The Chargers hardly have any fans in Los Angeles and usually play in front of mostly road crowds, which means they don’t have a typical homefield advantage, but it also means they tend to be underrated away from home. Overall, the Chargers are 21-13 ATS on the road and 13-21 ATS at home since moving to Los Angeles.

However, the Chargers do have one big advantage this week, with this game being at night against an Eastern Time Zone opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers. A Pacific Time Zone team covers at about a 67% rate all-time in a night game against an Eastern Time Zone team, regardless of where the game is played. The Steelers are likely to be feeling much more tired in the second half because they are accustomed to a later time zone, which should allow the Chargers to pull away. It doesn’t help matters for the Steelers that they are coming off of a long overtime game, which resulted in a tie. There is limited history, but teams are just 11-17 ATS all-time after a tie, so the Steelers could be especially tired in this game.

The Chargers only have one win this season by more than six points and, dating back to the start of last season, they have just three wins by more than six points, with one coming against the Chiefs backups in a meaningless week 17 game and another coming against the eventual 1-15 Jaguars. That makes it tough to confidently bet on the Chargers as 6-point favorites, but the Steelers are missing some key personnel and, despite their record, might be among the worst teams in the league right now.

The Steelers have been outscored by 33 points in their three losses, while outscoring their opponents by just 25 points in their five wins and, of course, last week they played to a tie with the winless Lions at home in Pittsburgh. The Steelers did not have quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in that game against the Lions and he will return this week, but the way he has played this season, that barely matters, as he’s not much of an upgrade on Mason Rudolph. It’s very possible the Steelers would have still struggled to pull out a win over the Lions even with Roethlisberger in the lineup.

The Steelers went 12-4 a year ago, but they were not as good as their record, winning a lot of close games against an easy schedule, and they were carried by a dominant defense, with their offense being among the worst in the league. This season, their offense has been about the same, ranking 26th in schedule adjusted efficiency, but their defense has fallen to 20th in schedule adjusted efficiency. In general, it’s much tougher to maintain high level defensive play year-to-year than high level offensive play, but the Steelers lost significant personnel in the off-season and have continued to lose key players to injury, so they have had more regression than most top defenses and will likely see that continue as their injury list grows.

Already without key defensive linemen Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu, the Steelers will now be without Defensive Player of the Year candidate TJ Watt, talented safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, and top cornerback Joe Haden this week. Meanwhile, their offense, which already has one of the worst offensive lines in the league, will be without their best offensive lineman Kevin Dotson. A mediocre team even when not missing all these key personnel, I have the Steelers six points below average in my roster rankings. 

The Chargers didn’t have many blowout wins last season and don’t have many blowout wins this season, but they are still better than they were a year ago and their lack of blowout wins this season probably has more to do with their schedule, which has been among the toughest in the league. They haven’t faced an easy opponent since their week one trip to Washington and it’s arguable that this game against the Steelers at night is an even easier matchup than that.

The Chargers are only two points above average in my roster rankings and shouldn’t get the full homefield advantage adjustment, but we’re still getting good line value at -6 with the Chargers, who are in a good spot and have enough of a talent edge in this game to get a rare multi-score victory. I am not placing a bet on the Chargers right now, because I am hoping this line drops to 5.5 and I want to confirm that Joey Bosa, who still needs to clear COVID protocols, will play, but it’s very possible I will be doing an update and betting this game before gametime.

Update: There has not been confirmation on Bosa’s status, but heavy sharp action on the Steelers has shifted this line down to 5. Bosa will play unless he surprisingly tests positive today, so I want to lock this in before it goes back up as the Chargers are simply a much more talented team than the Steelers, given all that the Steelers are missing.

Los Angeles Chargers 23 Pittsburgh Steelers 13

Pick against the spread: LA Chargers -5

Confidence: Medium

Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks: 2021 Week 11 NFL Pick

Arizona Cardinals (8-2) at Seattle Seahawks (3-6)

This game is a tough call because both quarterbacks have significant injury question marks. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson will play, but he returned very early from a hand injury and did not look close to 100% in his first game back last week, while Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is reportedly a gametime decision after being limited in practice all week and missing the past two weeks with an ankle injury. It sounds like he’s expected to play and he definitely practiced more than the past two weeks, but it remains to be seen how effective he’ll be. It’s very possible he’ll be closer to 100% than Wilson is because he wasn’t rushed back, but there is a lot of uncertainty here. 

The Cardinals may have the slight quarterback health edge, but the Seahawks are much better than their 3-6 record, as they faced a tough schedule early in the year, starting 2-3, then they went 1-2 without Russell Wilson, but outscored their opponents, with both losses being winnable games, and then last week they lost 17-0 in Wilson’s first game back, largely due to Wilson’s struggles. If he’s closer to 100% this week, the rest of this team is playing well enough for the Seahawks to be a tough opponent again. 

The Seahawks are also the healthier team overall, as the Cardinals’ injuries go well before Murray, as top wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, talented left guard Justin Pugh, and stud interior defender JJ Watt are all out once again this week, after being big parts of the reason for their early success this season. With both quarterback injuries factored in, I have this line calculated at even, with the Cardinals missing all of the other key players they are missing, so we are getting some line value with the Seahawks at +1.5. 

I also like getting Russell Wilson off of a loss, a spot he is 31-21 ATS in during his career, including 17-8 ATS at home, though his injury situation makes me less confident that he’ll bounce back than I would if not for the injury. The Seahawks are not worth betting against the spread, but they should be considered no worse than 50/50 to win this game straight up, so there is some value betting on the money line, especially on the off chance that Murray does not play. If that happens, the Seahawks will likely become the favorite and I could hedge by making a small bet on them as well, ensuring I would make at least some money regardless of who wins this game. Or I could just stick with the Seahawks and enjoy betting against Colt McCoy as a road favorite against Russell Wilson.

Update: Now it sounds like Murray will not be playing once again and this line has shifted to favoring the Seahawks by 3 points as a result. If you bet the Seahawks money line when the Cardinals were favored, you can now bet the Cardinals money line (+135) and ensure you make money either way. I am not heding and will be sticking with my original bet because I don’t have much confidence in Colt McCoy on the road in Seattle in a must win game for Russell Wilson and an underrated Seahawks team, who has lost three of their six games by three points each. My calculated line if Murray is out is Seattle -6.

Seattle Seahawks 24 Arizona Cardinals 23 Upset Pick +110

Pick against the spread: Seattle +1.5

Confidence: Low

Dallas Cowboys at Kansas City Chiefs: 2021 Week 11 NFL Pick

Dallas Cowboys (7-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)

The Chiefs got a huge win in Las Vegas last week, winning by a final score of 41-14 against a decent Raiders team. They have always seemed like they were going to break through at some point, but their offense had been uncharacteristically struggling across the Chiefs previous three games, a stretch in which the Chiefs scored just 36 points. That same stretch saw them have significant improvement on defense though, as they finally had top edge defender Frank Clark, top safety Tyrann Mathieu, top interior defender Chris Jones, and starting cornerback Charvarius Ward healthy at the same time for the first time all season and gave up just 51 points across three games.

Even with the Chiefs’ recent offensive struggles, they still ranked among the league’s best in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency going into last week, so if their offense bounced back as expected, paired with a much healthier and improved defense, the Chiefs were going to be a dangerous team. That seems to have happened. The Chiefs still rank just 30th in schedule adjusted defensive efficiency, but they should be significantly better than that defensively going forward, while their offense and special teams rank 2nd and 1st respectively in schedule adjusted efficiency. 

Aside from injuries, the Chiefs’ biggest problem thus far has been the turnover margin, as they rank third worst in the league in turnover margin at -8. Turnover margin is not a predictive stat on a week-to-week basis though and, though I would expect any team in the Chiefs’ turnover margin situation to bounce back going forward, the Chiefs are even better equipped than most teams to bounce back, as having an elite quarterback like Patrick Mahomes is the best way to consistently perform well in the turnover margin. Prior to this season, the Chiefs were +23 in turnover margin across Mahomes’ first three seasons in the league combined and it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see their turnover situation swing dramatically over the remainder of the season.

Now the biggest problem for the Chiefs is they have another tough game this week, despite having one of the toughest schedules in the league thus far, as they play host to the 7-2 Dallas Cowboys. The Chiefs actually probably have the better defense in this matchup, with the Cowboys ranking 24th in schedule adjusted defensive efficiency and missing their two best edge defenders DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory due to injuries, but the Cowboys are also the only team who ranks higher than the Chiefs in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency.

The Cowboys are also healthier than they have been on offense for most of the season, with their two stud tackles Tyron Smith and La’El Collins set to play with quarterback Dak Prescott in the same game for the the first time week one, as well as the return of starting wide receiver Michael Gallup for the first time since week one, to offset some of the absence of fellow starting wide receiver Amari Cooper, who is on the COVID list and will miss his first game of the season. The Chiefs, meanwhile, are missing starting right tackle Lucas Niang and will likely be without starting running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire again as well. 

Overall, I have these two teams about even, so we aren’t getting any value with either side, with the Chiefs favored by 2.5 points at home. The most likely outcome of two evenly matched teams like this facing off against each other is the home team winning by a field goal, so I am taking the Chiefs for pick ‘em purposes, but this line is right about where it should be and there are no situational edges for either team, so there is nothing worth betting on here.

Update: Tyron Smith will be out for the Cowboys and yet this line has stayed put at 2.5. I am going to up the confidence here a little bit.

Kansas City Chiefs 31 Dallas Cowboys 27

Pick against the spread: Kansas City -2.5

Confidence: Low

Baltimore Ravens at Chicago Bears: 2021 Week 11 NFL Pick

Baltimore Ravens (6-3) at Chicago Bears (3-6)

This is one of the toughest calls of the week. The Ravens are 6-3, but have just a +14 point differential and are not blowing teams out, winning just twice by more than six points, which is very relevant, considering they are 6.5 point favorites here in Chicago. On the other hand, the Bears might be bad enough to justify this line being that high, even with the Ravens not blowing teams out. The Bears are just 3-6 and rank just 26th in point differential at -74, while ranking 28th, 18th, 13th in schedule adjusted offensive, defensive, and special teams efficiency.

Things are only getting even worse on defense too, with both Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks now out for an extended period of time. This once dominant defense is a shell of its former self, due to several key off-season departures in recent years and now some in-season injuries, most impactfully the ones suffered by Mack and Hicks. Meanwhile, their offense has struggled as much as it has in recent years, led by rookie quarterback Justin Fields and a subpar offensive line and skill position group. My calculated line has the Bears as 5-point favorites, so we are getting a little bit of line value with Chicago, but I don’t have much confidence in them.

Update: There have been several injury updates that will effect this game significantly. Previously listed as questionable, #1 wide receiver Marquise Brown was ruled out on Saturday, despite getting a limited practice in on Sunday. The Ravens will be without a pair of cornerbacks in Anthony Averett and Jimmy Smith, who were both also questionable. More importantly, quarterback Lamar Jackson has been ruled out with an illness, despite returning to practice on Friday as well. Without two those on the Ravens’ offense, I have these two teams about even in my roster rankings, so it’s surprising to see the Ravens still favored by 1.5 points on the road. Ravens backup quarterback Tyler Huntley is not a bad option, but he’s an obvious downgrade from Jackson and will be without his top receiver. I wouldn’t bet on the spread, but the money line is worth a bet higher than +100. You may need to lock this in quickly as news spreads of Jackson being inactive and spread bets bet push this line.

Chicago Bears 19 Baltimore Ravens 17 Upset Pick +105

Pick against the spread: Chicago +1.5

Confidence: Low

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings: 2021 Week 11 NFL Pick

Green Bay Packers (8-2) at Minnesota Vikings (4-5)

The Packers are 8-2, a year after going 13-3, but they aren’t the same team as a year ago, primarily due to injuries. Already without left tackle David Bakhtiari, edge defender Za’Darius Smith, and cornerback Jaire Alexander, three of the top players in the league at their respective positions, who have missed most or all of the season, the Packers are now without talented lead back Aaron Jones with a knee injury he suffered in last week’s game. Green Bay’s record is obviously impressive, but they rank just 10th in point differential at +36 and, even if you exclude their two losses, one a somewhat fluky week one game and the other a game in which they lost by one score to the Chiefs without Aaron Rodgers, they would still rank just 5th in point differential at 77, so they are definitely not dominating teams.

That is despite the fact that the Packers have the 4th best turnover margin in the league at +7, which is not a predictive stat that they can rely on going forward. More predictive stats like yards per play and first down rate show this Packers team isn’t as performing at the same level as a year ago, ranking 14th, 13th, and 30th in schedule adjusted offensive, defensive, and special teams efficiency. The Vikings are just 4-5, but they have been competitive in every single one of their games, losing at most by 7 points, just once by more than four points, and totalling a +10 point differential on the season. 

I have not picked the Vikings lately because of all of their defensive absences, but, while they are still without stud edge defender Danielle Hunter, they will get stud safety Harrison Smith, top cornerback Patrick Peterson, and talented linebacker Anthony Barr all back from multi-game absences this week, which is a significant amount of talent that is being re-added to this lineup. 

My calculated line has the Vikings as the slight favorite to win this game, favoring them by 1.5 points and that is not even taking into account that the Packers typically drop off more on the road than the average team, in large part due to Aaron Rodgers having a well above average 10-point quarterback rating drop off between home games and road games in his career. 

Unfortunately, we are not getting much line value with the Vikings, who are underdogs of just 1 point. When this opened at 2.5, I was hoping we would get a full field goal at some point, but the line has moved the other direction, with sharp bettors recognizing that the Vikings are significantly healthier on defense than they have been in recent weeks. The money line is still worth a play, but there isn’t enough line value with the spread for that to be worth betting.

Update: This is a late bet, but Rashan Gary will be out for the Packers, despite practicing in limited fashion all week. He has been a big part of their defensive success without Za’Darius Smith, so having both him and Smith out will really limit this defense, in contrast to Minnesota being much healthier on defense. Despite that, this line has moved up to +1.5. I like both the spread and the money line in this game, as my calculated line has the Vikings favored by a field goal.

Minnesota Vikings 31 Green Bay Packers 27 Upset Pick +105

Pick against the spread: Minnesota +1.5

Confidence: Medium

Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans: 2021 Week 11 NFL Pick

Houston Texans (1-8) at Tennessee Titans (8-2)

Expected by many to be the worst team in the league this season, the Texans surprisingly won their week one game by double digits, but everything has been downhill since then. Their win no longer looks impressive, as their opponents, the Jacksonville Jaguars, have proven to also be one of the worst teams in the league and, on top of that, the Texans haven’t won since, losing 8 straight games with most of them not being close, averaging a margin of defeat of 18.3 points.

The Texans are coming off their bye week and got starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor back from injury in their last game before the bye, for the first time since week 2, but the Texans still lost to the lowly Dolphins even with Taylor back in the lineup. It was primarily Taylor’s strong play that led the Texans to their week one victory, but the career journeyman can’t be counted on to play that well for an extended period of time and, while he was out, the Texans lost left tackle Laremy Tunsil to injury, knocking out arguably their best player and one of their few building blocks. At least until Tunsil returns, it’s hard to find situations where the Texans would be worth picking.

This seems like one of them though. The Titans are 9-2, but most of their wins have been close, with just two of their wins coming by double digits, relevant considering they are 10-point favorites in this matchup. Their offense also isn’t nearly as good without injured feature back Derrick Henry and, to a lesser extent, injured wide receiver Julio Jones. The Titans have won both of their games without Henry, but their offense did not perform effectively in either. 

They beat the Rams convincingly on the scoreboard, winning by 12 for one of their two double digit wins on the season, but the Titans also gained just 3.5 yards per play and it would have at least been a much closer game if the Titans’ defense did not get two pick sixes, which won’t happen every week. That game was then followed up last week to a near loss at home to the Saints, who were missing several key offensive players. They should move to 10-2 with a win here, but I would question if their offense can be effective enough to win this game by double digits, even against a terrible Texans defense. 

My calculated line still suggests we should take the Titans, but the Titans are also in a terrible spot, with a much bigger and tougher game against the Patriots on deck next week. Favorites of a touchdown or more cover at just a 42.5% rate all-time before facing an opponent with a winning percentage that is 50% higher or more than their current opponent’s winning percentage and that is the case in this matchup. I definitely would not recommend betting the Texans, but this seems like a rare case where they make a little bit more sense for pick ‘em purposes, as the Titans are likely to look completely past the Texans, on a long winning streak, with a huge matchup on deck.

Tennessee Titans 23 Houston Texans 14

Pick against the spread: Houston +10

Confidence: None

San Francisco 49ers at Jacksonville Jaguars: 2021 Week 11 NFL Pick

San Francisco 49ers (4-5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-7)

The 49ers are just 4-5, but they have a positive point differential at +4, despite dealing with a significant amount of short-term injury absences, many of whom have since returned, and despite a -7 turnover margin, 5th worst in the NFL. Turnover margin is highly non-predictive on a week-to-week basis though and the 49ers rank 9th, 7th, and 11th in offensive, defensive, and special teams efficiency, when adjusted for schedule. Overall, that 49ers schedule has been one of the tougher schedules in the league and their only really easy games both came on the road in Chicago and Detroit, both of which resulted in wins by the 49ers of more than 7 points.

That is relevant because the 49ers are favored by just 6.5 points in this game in Jacksonville, against a Jaguars teams that is comparable to the teams the 49ers have already beaten with ease on the road. The Jaguars are one of the worst teams in the league and the 49ers are much better than their record, so this line isn’t high enough. My calculated line has the 49ers as 8.5-point favorites and at the very least the 49ers should be giving more than a touchdown in this game.

This could be a bit of a tough spot for the 49ers, after a huge divisional upset win over the Rams last week, as teams cover at just a 41.3% rate after a win as divisional home underdogs of more than a field goal. However, because that game came on Monday Night Football and was not even close, it might bode well for the 49ers this week, as teams cover at a 60.2% rate all-time after a Monday Night Football win by 21 points or more. This isn’t a big bet because there are conflicting trends, but we are getting some line value with the 49ers, who are still a bit underrated even after last week’s big win, so they are worth a play.

San Francisco 49ers 27 Jacksonville Jaguars 17

Pick against the spread: San Francisco -6.5

Confidence: Medium

Washington Football Team at Carolina Panthers: 2021 Week 11 NFL Pick

Washington Football Team (3-6) at Carolina Panthers (5-5)

SInce cutting Cam Newton at the start of the 2020 off-season, the Panthers have paid Teddy Bridgewater 31 million for one season of decent play, before salary dumping him on the Broncos in a trade that netted Carolina just a sixth round pick. The Panthers then sent a second round pick to the Jets for Sam Darnold and guaranteed his 18.858 million dollar option for 2022, effectively locking him into a fully guaranteed 2-year, 23.63 million dollar deal, after already giving up a premium pick to acquire him. 

They passed on both Justin Fields and Mac Jones in the draft and entered the season with just Darnold and inexperienced PJ Walker under center. Because of that, when Darnold somewhat predictably struggled and eventually got hurt, the Panthers had to turn to a street free agent at quarterback. It just so happens that street free agent is Cam Newton, their original starting quarterback, who was available after a failed one-year stint as the starter in New England. It’s embarrassing for the Panthers that they committed all these resources to replace Newton only to end up with him anyway and Newton is definitely not the quarterback he was in his prime, but he was also their best option and it wouldn’t be hard for him to be an upgrade for the Panthers.

If he can be that upgrade, even if only by default, the Panthers all of a sudden become a solid team. They’re 5-5 despite their horrendous quarterback play, led by a defense that ranks 2nd in schedule adjusted efficiency on the season and that has been even better since getting cornerback Stephon Gilmore and linebacker Shaq Thompson, two of the best players in the league at their respective positions, back from injury. They rank 31st in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency, but I would expect that to improve going forward, not only because of the addition of Newton, but also because of the recent return of stud feature back Christian McCaffrey from injury.

Unfortunately, we’re not really getting line value with the Panthers, as this line has shifted from favoring the Panthers by two points last week on the early line to favoring them by three points this week, a more significant shift than it seems, given that about 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal. If Newton hadn’t just arrived a week and a half ago and was more familiar with the system, we would still be getting line value with the Panthers at three, but Newton isn’t even expected to play the whole game, meaning the overmatched PJ Walker will likely continue seeing some action.

That line movement happened despite the fact that Washington pulled a huge upset over the Buccaneers last week, a much more surprising upset than the Panthers’ win over the Cardinals and their backup quarterback Colt McCoy. Normally teams are a bad bet after a huge home upset victory, as teams have covered at just a 40.9% rate all-time after winning as home underdogs of 5 or more (Washington was +9.5 last week), but that’s mostly due to teams being overvalued or overconfident in that spot. Washington could be overconfident, but they don’t seem to be overvalued as 3-point underdogs. I’m still taking Carolina for pick ‘em purposes, but they’re not worth betting.

Carolina Panthers 20 Washington Football Team 16

Pick against the spread: Carolina -3

Confidence: Low