With Thanksgiving just around the corner, weather will begin to become more of a factor in games and spreads. This weekend’s games seem to be fairly quiet on the weather front, however, with some key dome teams in action at home.
Without weather-related issues, there could be some high-octane shootouts on tap, potentially when the Broncos take on the Chargers, Packers face the Lions and Colts meet the Patriots.
Over in the “Pick Your Knows” department, it was another solid week, posting ten victories and upping my win total to 83, which leaves me twenty games over the .500-mark for the season.
Last Week: 10-4
This Season: 83-63
Last Two Seasons: 144-112 (2010) and 131-125 (2011)
It’s once again time to “Pick Your Knows” – the only time it’s not a disgusting habit – and here are Week 11’s scheduled games (with spreads as they appear through CBS Sports Fantasy).
Pick Your Knows: 2012 NFL Week 11 Picks Against the Spread
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (-1.5)
The weather will be partly cloudy and cold (30 degrees), with no conditions that should negatively change the game. Miami has won the last two meetings, scoring 30+ in each of those games. Neither team has distanced itself from the other regarding sacks or sacks allowed. Fred Jackson will be out with a concussion, leaving the Buffalo run game in the hands of C.J. Spiller. Many will sour on Miami after last week’s blowout loss to the Titans, coupled with the cold weather road game in Buffalo. But here’s the key stat that sits with me: Miami’s defense is 5th in the NFL in yards per carry allowed (3.8), while the Bills are dead last (5.5 ypc). Each team’s offense leans on its run game first, which would give the advantage to the Dolphins. Sure, the Bills showed the ability to score points last week, but that was against a New England defense that has given up a lot of yards. In a tossup spread, I’m taking Miami to pull out a key divisional road victory.
KP’s Pick: Miami
Update: Bills 19, Dolphins 14 – Clearly, I felt that the Dolphins would rebound from last week’s blowout loss, riding its solid run defense. However, the Miami offense struggled and Ryan Tannehill showed that he was a rookie with a few of the throws he made in the 4th quarter. In the end, this was a loss, but at least Tannehill’s wife is still hot.
Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions (+3.5)
Being in domed-in Detroit, the weather will not be a factor, but injuries might be. The Packers are looking to get Jordy Nelson back, but will likely be without defensive playmaker Clay Mathews. Therefore, the Packers could see a boost in the pass game, but a drop in defensive pressure. And this matchup screams shootout. The Packers are coming off a bye week and have had plenty of time to rest and prepare for Detroit. The Lions lead the NFL in passing yards (307 ypg) and have the home field advantage, but Detroit’s defense has been vulnerable all year long. Therefore, I like Green Bay with an extra week to prepare, plus the return of Jordy Nelson on offense. Packers cover.
KP’s Pick: Green Bay
Cleveland Browns at Dallas Cowboys (-7.5)
The Browns have had a week off to rest and prepare for the Cowboys. Cleveland’s offense has sputtered over the last three weeks, but its defense has performed well, holding opponents to less than 300 yards of total offense per game, which includes 155 passing yards per game. Dallas has been a pass first team, especially without DeMarco Murray, who is likely out again this weekend. The Browns will attempt to establish a ground attack with Trent Richardson, hoping to eat clock and keep the Cowboys offense off the field. Four of Cleveland’s seven losses have been by a touchdown or less. The Browns are also one of 11 teams in the NFL that has managed a double-digit total of interceptions. As many are aware, Tony Romo has been an interception machine this season. With the way some of these figures stack up, I’m more comfortable taking the Browns and the points, then to expect a Dallas home field blowout.
KP’s Pick: Cleveland
Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons (-10.5)
Arizona is coming off a bye and has had plenty of time to prep for the Falcons. This matchup features a number of interesting statistics, mostly on the side of the Cardinals. In particular, it’s important to note that Arizona is 4th in sacks (27), last in sacks allowed (41), 4th in opponent third down conversions and 2nd in overall pass defense (195 ypg). Clearly, everyone knows that Atlanta has struggled in its run game, while having major offensive pass weapons. But Arizona has been borderline anemic in its run game, while struggling to keep up with opponents in the pass game. The Cards have also lost five straight games, including four by double digits. It’s a tricky line, since the Cardinals have had extra time to prepare, and have the talent to stay in this game. One also can’t help but wonder if Atlanta is slightly deflated after suffering its first loss, while the Cards are feeling desperation. My gut is pushing me to take Arizona and the points, but I may later regret that. Falcons don’t cover, but win by 10.
KP’s Pick: Arizona
New York Jets at St. Louis Rams (-3.5)
The Jets have been outscored 58-16 by the Dolphins and Seahawks over the last two weeks. Neither team has been lighting up the scoreboard, with the Jets 30th in total offense, while the Rams are ranked 26th. Again, here’s a game with a 3 ½ point spread, which is the toughest spread to call, in my opinion. I’m always tempted to go the way of the underdog. But in this situation, it’s tough to ignore the home team, especially when you look at the run game. The Jets are ranked 30th against the run, allowing 145 yards per game. Meanwhile, Steven Jackson rattled off 101 yards on the ground against a much better San Francisco run defense last week. That and there’s more: the Jets seem to be more interested in bickering about Tim Tebow, while starter Mark Sanchez continues to post mediocre numbers (52% completion percentage and a 70.4 QB rating). I’m sticking with the Rams at home.
KP’s Pick: St. Louis
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (-16.5)
The Jags are coming off a Thursday loss to the Colts, giving the team an extra few days to prepare for the Texans. Jacksonville, however, will still be without its best offensive weapon in Maurice Jones-Drew. Houston’s defense is relentless and will likely shut down a Jacksonville offense that is overall ranked dead last in the NFL. Hence, the high spread, with the Texans playing at home and clearly having more talent across the board. The Jags are last in the NFL in sacks, with just ten on the year, leaving plenty of time for Matt Schaub to throw the ball. Houston’s run defense is ranked 3rd in the NFL, and Arian Foster will likely run wild against Jacksonville’s 29th ranked run defense. There are plenty more stats to indicate that this one will be a blowout. No reason to add any more, and even with a spread this high, I expect the Texans to win big at home.
KP’s Pick: Houston
Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins (-3.5)
The Redskins are coming off a bye and have had time to prepare for the Eagles. Philadelphia will have rookie Nick Foles starting in place of the injured Michael Vick. Foles has the talent and the Eagles have the weapons, so success is still a good possibility, especially against Washington’s pass defense that is currently ranked 30th in the NFL. Still, Foles is a rookie and will likely have his share of mistakes and errant throws, too. Some of those mistakes could be caused by the Washington defense, which should have success against a Philadelphia offensive line that has really struggled (2nd most sacks allowed). Robert Griffin III is a nightmare for any defense and overall, while I expect this to be a close game, I like the Redskins playing at home, while having an extra week to prepare. That, plus the Eagles will have a rookie quarterback playing in a hostile environment. ‘Skins cover.
KP’s Pick: Washington
Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs (+3.5)
Kansas City will be playing on short rest after facing the Steelers Monday night. The Chiefs surprised a lot of people when they forced the Steelers into overtime. But Kansas City hasn’t scored more than 16 points over its last six games. The Chiefs do not allow a ton of yards in the pass game, but have allowed 18 passing touchdowns and a 102.1 rating to opposing quarterbacks. Those stats could mean a good day for Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. Cincinnati also has the fourth most sacks in the NFL, and could pressure a struggling Kansas City offense. With a spread this low, the safe bet is to assume that the Bengals will cover on the road.
KP’s Pick: Cincinnati
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers (+1.5)
The Bucs have a +11 turnover differential, which is good for the second best mark in the NFC. Carolina is a -5, which is 14th in the conference. Tampa Bay’s offense has been balanced and red hot, averaging more than 400 yards per game over its last three games. Cam Newton will have to use his arm against the Bucs’ vulnerable pass defense, as his quick feet may not find much space against a Tampa Bay run defense that allows the fewest yards per game in the NFL. Opponents are completing nearly 68% of passes against the Carolina defense. It’s a tossup spread and I’m riding the hot Tampa Bay offense. Bucs win on the road.
KP’s Pick: Tampa Bay
New Orleans Saints at Oakland Raiders (+4.5)
The Raiders gave up 97 points combined over its last two games and now face off against one of the league’s elite offenses. Darren McFadden is out again for the Raiders, leaving Oakland without its best offensive weapon. The Saints are beatable on defense, but have improved over its last two games. Oakland’s defense has just 11 sacks on the season, which sits as the second fewest in the NFL. When you give Drew Brees time to throw, good things happen for the Saints. New Orleans covers.
KP’s Pick: New Orleans
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos (-7.5)
Denver’s offense is on a tear, scoring 30-plus points in five of its last six games. One of those games included a 35-24 win over the Chargers, where San Diego blew a huge first half lead. Yes, Norv Turner is once again feeling the heat for his team’s performance. But two key stats jump out in this game: 1) Denver leads the NFL in sacks, with 31 and 2) San Diego is second in rushing yards allowed (82.9 ypg). That leaves the Chargers likely putting a lot of attention on limiting Peyton Manning’s opportunities, while the Denver defense tries to force key mistakes by pressuring Philip Rivers. The Chargers have the offensive horses to stay with the Broncos, and in a divisional rivalry game with a spread this high, San Diego is the safer pick. Chargers keep this at a one-score game.
KP’s Pick: San Diego
Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots (-9.5)
Indianapolis played last Thursday and has had a few extra days to rest. This is an interesting spread, considering that the Patriots are at home and scoring in bunches. New England managed to hold off Buffalo last week, as its defense has been unable to shut down opponents, especially in the pass game, where New England is ranked 26th in the NFL. The Pats have given up 19 passing touchdowns on the year. Indianapolis is not a running team and will attempt to exploit the New England pass defense. The Patriots have recently acquired Aqib Talib, and it’ll be interesting to see if he’ll be able to boost the team’s overall defensive performance. Andrew Luck has been playing well, and should have some success. But Tom Brady has been elite as usual, and will have success of his own against an Indianapolis defense that has managed just four interceptions. In the end, I like the Colts to score enough points to keep this game at a single digit deficit. Take Indy and the points.
KP’s Pick: Indianapolis
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5)
Pittsburgh played on Monday night and will be without Ben Roethlisberger, which is clearly a huge loss. Byron Leftwich will start for the Steelers, likely leaving Pittsburgh to rely more on its run game and home field advantage. Baltimore (26th in run defense) can be run on, and the Steelers are expected to get Rashard Mendenhall back. But with Leftwich in the pocket, the Ravens may stack the box to stop the run. Troy Polamalu will be out again for the Steelers, leaving better opportunities for Baltimore to have success offensively. But its Pittsburgh’s pass defense that is ranked 1st in the NFL in yards allowed (171 ypg). This matchup is always a battle and it could be decided by a late field goal. I like the Ravens, especially since Roethlisberger will be out due to injury.
KP’s Pick: Baltimore
Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers (-5.5)
Two talented defenses will be battling each other in what is likely to be a low-scoring, run-heavy game. The biggest key will be the quarterback position, as each team’s signal caller had to leave last week’s game due to a concussion. Alex Smith is expected to play, despite last week’s concussion, while Jay Cutler has been officially ruled out, leaving Jason Campbell to start for the Bears. With Smith healthy, the advantage would go to the 49ers. Again, the game’s focus will be on the defenses. Each team’s offensive line has allowed its share of sacks (Niners tied for 2nd most and Bears the 5th most). With a low scoring game expected, my gut pushed me towards the Bears to keep this close, simply because there will not be a lot of points put on the board. The announcement of Campbell and Smith starting has swayed me some, but with guys like Forte and Marshall on offense, I still believe that Chicago has the weapons to hang with San Francisco. Take the Bears and the points.
KP’s Pick: Chicago
Bye Week: Tennessee Titans, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants and Seattle Seahawks