As each week passes, the playoff implications for every game become more profound. Aside form the obvious (i.e., Pats-Broncos), the Colts need a win on the road against a streaking Arizona team to keep pace for playoff seeding. The Ravens need a win to possibly keep close to the Bengals, and to improve their chances at a wild card spot. The Jets on the other hand are looking at closing the gap in the AFC East to one game with a victory and a loss by the Patriots, while at the same time opening up a two-game lead for that final wild card slot.
Brady – Manning XIV
Pittsburgh (4-6) at Cleveland (4-6)
Whichever team wins stays alive in the AFC North, two games behind Cincinnati, and also could possibly end up in a tie for the 6th wild card spot if the Jets and Dolphins lose.
Tampa Bay (2-8) at Detroit (6-4)
If the Lions win they could take over sole possession of the lead in the NFC North with a Bears loss at St. Louis; a loss could drop them a game behind Chicago.
Minnesota (2-8) at Green Bay (5-5)
With a win the Packers could end up in a three-way tied for the lead in the NFC North if Lions and Bears lose; if Green Bay loses and Detroit or Chicago win then they will be two games behind. The Packers are currently one game behind San Francisco for the final wild card spot, so they need a win to keep close for that as well.
San Diego (4-6) at Kansas City (9-1)
The Chiefs are looking for a win and then for the Patriots to beat Denver, as that would put them back in first place in the AFC West as well as put them in the #1 seed in the AFC. San Diego needs a win to keep their playoff hope alive; a victory plus losses by the Jets and Dolphins puts them in a three-way tie for the final AFC wild card spot.
Chicago (6-4) at St. Louis (4-6)
A victory by the Bears plus a loss by Detroit puts Chicago in sole possession of first place in the NFC North; a loss and a Packers win drops them into a tie for second place. The Bears also need a win to keep up with San Francisco for the last wildcard spot; right now SF has the tiebreaker in conference record (2-1 vs 2-2).
Carolina (7-3) at Miami (5-5)
The Panthers are only one game behind New Orleans in the loss column, with two games remaining on the schedule against the Saints. Besides the division race, a victory helps them maintain their one-game lead over the 49ers, Arizona and Chicago for the top wild card spot. Miami can pull within one game of the Pats in the division with a win, and pass the Jets for a wild card spot with a win and a victory by Baltimore.
NY Jets (5-5) at Baltimore (4-6)
The Jets are hoping for a win and a Denver victory, as that would put them one game behind the Patriots in the AFC East; it would also improve their 2-5 conference record if a playoff spot came down to a tiebreaker. A Jets loss could drop them out of the 6th seed as the winner of the Oakland-Tennessee game would tie them at 5-6, and be ahead on the conference record tiebreaker. The Ravens can pull within two games of Cincy in the AFC North with a win, and into a tie for the last wildcard spot with a win and a Miami loss to Carolina.
Jacksonville (1-9) at Houston (2-8)
A Jaguars loss puts them two games ahead of the Texans in draft positioning.
Tennessee (4-6) at Oakland(4-6)
Both teams are out of it in their division, but are only one game behind for the #6 seed. If the Jets and Dolphins lose then the winner of this game becomes the number six seed, while the loser could fall two games behind if either Miami or the Jets win.
Indianapolis (7-3) at Arizona (6-4)
The Colts have the AFC North wrapped up, but can take a one-game lead over the Patriots for the #2 seed with a win and a Pats loss. If Indy loses and New England wins then the Colts drop into a tie with the Bengals for the #3 seed. Arizona can move into a tie with Carolina for the #5 seed with a win and a Panthers loss; if they lose they could fall behind the Niners and Bears for the sixth seed, and alos behind the Packers and Cowboys based on conference record.
Dallas (5-5) at NY Giants (4-6)
With a win the Cowboys are tied with the Eagles at 6-5, and ahead based on both head-to-head record and division record; with a loss they fall one game back. If the Giants win they are just one game behind Philly, tied with Dallas for second; if the Giants lose they fall two full games behind and their division record drops to 1-3.
Denver (9-1) at New England (7-3)
Should Denver win and KC lose then the Broncos open up a one-game lead in the AFC West; if they win and the Colts lose then they own a three-game lead for the top seed in the AFC. If the Broncos lose and the Chiefs win then they fall one game behind in the AFC West, and drop back to the number five seed. If the Patriots win and Colts lose then the Pats reclaim sole possession of the #2 seed; even if Indy wins the Pats would then be tied with the Colts at 8-3 overall and 5-2 in the AFC. However, if the Patriots lose then their lead in the AFC East could drop to one game (if either the Jets or Dolphins win), and they would fall to the #4 seed as the Bengals would win that tiebreaker based on their victory over New England.
San Francisco (6-4) at Washington (3-7)
With a win and a Panthers loss the 49ers would tie Carolina at 7-4, though the Panthers would still be the #5 seed based on head-to-head record. If the 49ers lose then they could be passed in the wild card race by Arizona and Chicago, and Dallas could have the same record but be ahead based on conference record. Washington could creep to within two games of Philadelphia in the NFC East with a victory.
New Orleans (9-2) 17, Atlanta (2-9) 13
The Saints victory kept them within one game of Seattle, setting up next week’s game between these two clubs for number one seed in the NFC; it also kept them a game ahead of Carolina in the loss column for the NFC West. The loss put Atlanta in the number two position overall for the 2014 draft.
# # # # # # # # # #
Early Games on CBS
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
Pittsburgh has won four out of six and rebounded nicely from the shellacking they took in Foxborough, beating the Lions last week. The Browns looked shaky last week, giving up 31 2nd-quarter points en route to 41-20 loss at Cincinnati, as Jason Campbell threw three picks. Other than Joe Haden and Josh Gordon, the Browns seem to be regressing, while Pittsburgh is playing better, even on their beleaguered offensive line.
Pick • Upset: Steelers 27, Browns 24 ✔
Steelers +2½ ✔
Over 39½ ✘
Final Score: Steelers 27, Browns 11 … Pittsburgh covers by 18½ … under by 1½
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City will be without DE Mike DeVito and could also be without RT Eric Fisher and DE Tyson Jackson. The Chiefs are coming off an emotional loss to Denver, and play the Broncos again this week; that sets this up to be a classic trap game. Expect the Chargers to utilize Danny Woodhead to slow down the KC pass rush with screens and draw plays; for some reason he was hardly used last week at Miami, even on third down. I’m very tempted to go with San Diego in this game to win outright, but it’s tough to do so after three straight losses, and having to go on the road for the fourth time in their last five games.
Pick • Chiefs 23, Chargers 20 ✘
Chargers +4½ ✔
Over 42 ✔
Final Score: Chargers 41, Chiefs 38 … San Diego covers by 7½ … over by 37
New York Jets at Baltimore Ravens
Yeah, we all know that the Jets follow a loss with a win, and vice versa, and therefore that should win this game. I also see a team that is horrible on the road, being outscored by 99 points in the last five away games – and only one of those five teams has a winning record. While the Ravens are guilty of finding ways to lose – they are 1-4 in games decided by three points or less – they should be able to take this game and move into contention for the final wildcard spot in the AFC.
Pick • Ravens 27, Jets 20 ✔
Ravens -3½ ✔
Over 38½ (one unit) ✘ -110
Final Score: Ravens 19, Jets 3 … Baltimore covers by 12½ … under by 16½
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
Somehow or another this will mark the sixth time that the two-win Texans will be favored to win this year. Last week appeared to be the perfect storm to break their losing streak as they were at home against a Raiders team that was without their starting quarterback, without their starting running back, and was 1-11 in their last 12 road games. That didn’t work, so Houston now gets the ultimate NFL gift this week: a home game against the Jags. Of course they are so dysfunctional now, seemingly intent on creating a quarterback controversy, that they may find a way to screw this up and lose their ninth straight game; that makes it worth taking a flyer on the money line.
Pick • Texans 27, Jaguars 17 ✘
Jaguars +10 ✔
Under 43½ ✔
Jaguars +450 (one unit) ✔ +450
Final Score: Jaguars 13, Texans 6 … Jacksonville covers by 17 … under by 24½
Early Games on FOX
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions
For all the big names on defense, the Lions don’t get much production; their D ranks 25th in scoring (25.3 ppg), 30th in passing (284 ypg) and has just 14 turnovers (22nd). They do however have a good run defense, so despite the improved recent performance of the Tampa Bay offensive line, expect the Bobby Rainey hype to die down. The Lions may indeed be inconsistent, but they follow up bad games with a victory.
Pick • Lions 27, Buccaneers 24 ✔
Bucs +9½ (one unit) ✔ +100
Over 48½ ✘
Bucs +410 (one unit) ✔ +410
Final Score: Bucs 24, Lions 21 … Tampa Bay covers by 12½ … under by 3½
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Christian Ponder is now 1-6 this season, with 13 turnovers. Adrian Peterson is less than 100% with a groin injury, WR Greg Jennings may miss another game with his achilles injury, DE Brian Robison may not be available, and MLB Erin Henderson, TE Kyle Rudolph and CB Josh Robinson are all out for Minnesota. Green Bay has their own injury problems, with QB Scott Tolzien (1 TD, 5 INT) once again getting the start with Aaron Rodgers sidelined. The Packer offensive line dearly misses T Don Barclay and is not nearly as effective without him, and on defense they will be without DT Johnny Jolly and three corners: Sam Shields, Casey Hayward, and James Nixon. This may be the most unwatchable game of the day, with the outcome being decided by so many replacements.
Pick • Upset: Vikings 27, Packers 24 -Tie-
Vikings +5 (one unit) ✔ +100
Over 43½ ✔
Vikings +210 (one unit) -Push-
Final Score: Vikings 26, Packers 26 in OT … Minnesota covers by 5 … over by 12½
Chicago Bears at St. Louis Rams
The Chicago defense has been ravaged by injuries, losing starters such as DT Henry Melton, DT Nate Collins, LB Lance Briggs, LB D.J. Williams, and CB Charles Tillman for all or extended parts of this season. However, they have shown a bit of life recently: since the bye they have not allowed more than 20 points in their last three games, after having allowed 29.4 points per game in their first seven games. The Rams looked tremendous in their victory over the Colts two weeks ago, but they have been terribly inconsistent this year. Zac Stacy could have a big game for St. Louis running between the tackles against all those Chicago backups.
Pick • Upset: Bears 24, Rams 20 ✘
Bears +1½ ✘
Under 46 ✘
Final Score: Rams 42, Bears 21 … St. Louis covers by 22½ … over by 17
Carolina Panthers at Miami Dolphins
After emotional wins against the 49ers and Patriots, Carolina now has a game against a lesser opponent on the road. I would say that this would be a perfect trap game, except for the circumstances of the team they are facing. It was one thing for Miami to ignore the noise of the media and fans when the Richie Incognito story first broke out, but how difficult is it to prepare for a game when players and coaches are being interviewed all week long by investigators into the incident?
Pick • Panthers 24, Dolphins 17 ✔
Panthers -4 -Push-
Under 41½ ✔
Final Score: Panthers 20, Dolphins 16 … Push … under by 5½
Late Games on CBS
Tennessee Titans at Oakland Raiders
In the 2013 NFL battle of attrition, here is another game between backup quarterbacks. The Raiders will be without three key offensive players, QB Terrelle Pryor, RB Darren McFadden and WR Denarius Moore, while Ryan Fitzpatrick attempts for the fourth time to get his first win as a starter this year. Fitz-pick has actually been okay the last two games, completing 72% of his passes with three touchdowns and no picks – though it should be noted that one of those games was a loss to Jacksonville. The Tennessee defense has been floundering of late; after a strong start to the season they have allowed 137 or more yards rushing in four of the last five games. The Raiders will certainly test that run D with Rashad Jennings, who has rushed for 340 yards in the last three games.
Pick • Raiders 27, Titans 24 ✘
Raiders +1 ✘
Over 41 (one unit) ✔ +100
Final Score: Titans 23, Raiders 19 … Tennessee covers by 3 … over by 1
Indianapolis Colts at Arizona Cardinals
Carson Palmer has played much better recently, apparently finally getting a firmer grasp of the Arizona offense after making what appeared to be one bad read after another early in the season. He’ll need to be quick with his decision making Sunday, as Indy’s Robert Mathis (13½ sacks) has a decided advantage against Cardinal LT Bradley Sowell. The Colts have struggled with their run defense (126 yards per game and 4.4 yards per carry, both 26th), so Arizona should run the ball to slow down that pass rush. Andre Ellington got nothing done against Jacksonville (9 carries, 3 yards), but he is still averaging 6.2 yards per carry this year; the problem is that Arizona doesn’t give the ball often enough (only 63 carries this year). The Cardinals have a good defense and a nice three-game winning streak, but this will be a more difficult task: the combined record of those three teams is 5-26. Patrick Peterson should be able to keep T.Y. Hilton in check, so Andrew Luck may be looking towards TE Coby Fleener often.
Pick • Cardinals 27, Colts 24 ✔
Cardinals -2½ ✔
Over 45 ✔
Final Score: Cardinals 40, Colts 11 … Arizona covers by 26½ … over by 6
Late Game on FOX
Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
It seems surprising to write this, but since Dallas’ week one victory over the Giants, both teams have gone 4-5. With a victory New York will be tied with Dallas, just one game behind Philadelphia in the NFC East; on the other hand if the Cowboys win they will have a two game lead over the Giants, plus win a tiebreaker over them by virtue of sweeping them this year. The Giants defense is improving, in part because Jason Pierre-Paul is getting healthier – but how much of their four-game winning streak is due to facing backup quarterbacks? Dallas has been horrendous defensively, especially with Sean Lee out, but does get a lift with the return of DeMarcus Ware. The G-men have pulled a 180 during the two streaks: they turned the ball over 23 times in their six-game losing streak en route to a minus-16 turnover differential; in the last four wins they have forced 11 turnovers, for a plus-five turnover differential.
Pick • Giants 31, Cowboys 24 ✘
Giants -2½ ✘
Over 44½ ✔
Final Score: Cowboys 24, Giants 21 … Dallas covers by 5½ … over by ½
Sunday Night on NBC
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots
There are just too many injuries on defense, from season-ending casualties to Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly and Jerod Mayo, to now having four defensive backs at less than 100% for this game. That’s not a good recipe for success against an offense that is as prolific and efficient as Denver’s is.
Pick • Broncos 30, Patriots 27 ✘
Broncos -1½ ✘
Over 53½ ✔
Final Score: Patriots 34, Broncos 31 in OT … New England covers by 4½ … over by 11½
Monday Night on ESPN
San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins
The Redskins seem to be in a downward spiral, and now their is internal bickering. The 49ers are a good team despite losses to quality opponents in the last two weeks, and are getting healthier on both sides of the ball. The Niners are more than good enough to overcome the coast-to-coast travel to earn a much needed victory.
Pick • 49ers 31, Redskins 20 ✔
49ers -5 (one unit) ✔ +100
Over 47 ✘
Final Score: 49ers 27, Redskins 6 … San Francisco covers by 16 … under by 14
Thursday Night on NFLN
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons
The anticipated blowout did not materialize as Atlanta hung tough, and were in a position to win it with less than three minutes to go. With the loss the Falcons are officially eliminated from the playoffs, and just ten months removed from playing in the conference championship game they are guaranteed of their first losing season since 2007.
Pick • Saints 38, Falcons 17 ✔
Saints -8½ (one unit) ✘ -110
Over 53 ✘
Final Score: Saints 17, Falcons 13 … Atlanta covers by 4½ … under by 23
125 Indiana (+79½) at Ohio State (one unit) ✔ +100
The Hoosiers are absolutely horrid, but come on – this line is ridiculous.
Final Score: Ohio State 42, Indiana 14 … Indiana covers by 51½
127 Michigan State (-6) at Northwestern (one unit) ✔ +100
The Wildcats won’t be able to get anything going against a Spartans defense that leads the nation in yardage (228 yards per game) and are number one against the run (57.3 yards). MSU RB Jeremy Langford will wear down the Northwestern defense; he has five straight 100 yard games, is averaging 4.7 yards per carry, and has rushed for 13 touchdowns.
Final Score: Michigan State 30, Northwestern 6 … MSU covers by 18
132 Florida State (-58½) vs Idaho (one unit) ✔ +100
The Seminoles just defeated two vastly superior teams by identical 59-3 scores, they should be able to go well above a 60-point differential here.
Final Score: Florida State 80, Idaho 14 … FSU covers by 7½
151 Vanderbilt (+2½) at Tennessee (one unit) ✔ +100
The 6-4 Commodores are the better team, with wins over Georgia and Florida. The 4-6 Vols rank 88th in points scored and 96th in points allowed; I cannot for the life of me comprehend how they defeated South Carolina.
Final Score: Vanderbilt 14, Tennessee 10 … Vandy covers by 1½
Top Play Of The Week
184 #10 Oklahoma State (+9½) vs #4 Baylor (three units) ✔✔✔ +300
184 #10 Oklahoma State (+280) vs #4 Baylor (one unit) ✔✔✔ +280
Oklahoma State has lost only one game this year, and Baylor has never once won in Stillwater. While Baylor has deservedly received plenty of attention, the Cowboys are very good as well: they’re averaging 40.4 points per game and allowing 19.0, both of which rank 19th best in all of the FBS. On defense Oklahoma State leads the nation with 19 interceptions, is ninth in the red zone (44%), and is 12th on third down conversions (32%). Add in expected sloppy weather to slow things down, and I would not be surprised if the Cowboys hand Baylor their first loss of the year.
Final Score: Oklahoma State 49, Baylor 17 … Oklahoma St covers by 41½
203 #8 Missouri (-1½) at #24 Mississippi (two units) ✔✔ +200
Missouri is exceptionally deep on offense, with four players with at least 60 carries and five with more than 200 yards receiving. On top of that the Tigers now get quarterback James Franklin back after missing four games with a shoulder injury. Defensively they are stout, led by DE Michael Sam (10 sacks and 16 tackles for a loss). If not for a double overtime loss to South Carolina, the Tigers would be undefeated and in the conversation for the national championship. Ole Miss is not bad at all, but Missouri doesn’t get much consideration because of last year’s 5-7 season and not being a traditional power.
Final Score: Missouri 24, Ole Miss 10 … Missouri covers by 12½
247 Georgia Southern (+28½) at Florida (one unit) ✔ +100
247 Georgia Southern (+870) (half unit) ✔ +435
Obviously the Gators are the far superior team, but I just don’t think that their 113th-ranked offense can score enough to cover the spread. After last week’s upset though, who knows; perhaps it is worth taking a flyer on the money line.
Final Score: Ga Southern 26, Florida 20 … Ga Southern covers by 34½
Three-Game College Parlay (one unit) ✔✔✔✔✔✔ +600
Oklahoma State (+9½) vs Baylor ✔
Missouri (-1½) at Ole Miss ✔
Michigan State (-6) at Northwestern ✔
Three-Game NFL Parlay (one unit) ✔✔✔✔✔✔ +600
Tampa Bay (+9½) at Detroit ✔
San Francisco (-5) at Washington ✔
Oakland-Tennessee over 41 ✔
Three-Game NFL Teaser (one unit) ✔ +100
Tampa Bay (+18½) at Detroit ✔
San Francisco (+4) at Washington ✔
Oakland-Tennessee over 32 ✔
Tale Of The Tape
Week 11 Results
Straight Up: 12-3, 80%
Underdogs to win straight up: 2-1, 67%
Against the Spread: 6-6-3, 50%
ATS picking favorites: 4-2-3, 67% (1-1, +90)
ATS picking underdogs: 2-4, 33% (0-1, -220)
ATS Confidence Picks: 1-2, 33% (-130)
One Unit Plays ATS: 0-1, -110
Two Unit Plays ATS: 1-1, -20
Three Unit Plays ATS: none
Four Unit Plays ATS: none
Five Unit Plays ATS: none
550 risked, net -130; -23.6% ROI
Over Under Total: 5-10, 33%
Picking Over: 2-4, 33% (1-1, -10)
Picking Under: 3-6, 33% (0-2, -330)
O/U Confidence Picks: 1-3, 25% (-340)
One Unit Plays O/U: 1-2, -120
Two Unit Plays O/U: 0-1, -220
Three Unit Plays O/U: none
Four Unit Plays O/U: none
Five Unit Plays O/U: none
550 risked, net -340; -61.8% ROI
Best Play of the Week: correct (Vanderbilt -12 vs Kentucky); +300
3-Game Teasers: 1-1, -20
2-Game Parlays: none
3-Game Parlays: 0-2, -220
4-Game Parlays: none
College Games: 6-4 (one unit: 5-2; two unit: 0-2; three unit: 1-0); 1540 risked; net +140; 9.1% ROI
Week 11 Grand Total: 9-12; 3300 risked; net -570; -17.3% ROI
Straight Up: 112-50 (69%)
Underdogs to win straight up: 16-13 (55%)
Against the Spread: 74-82-6 (46%)
ATS picking favorites: 40-43-5, 48% (18-19, -740)
ATS picking underdogs: 34-39-1, 46% (8-7, +90)
ATS Confidence Picks: 26-26, 50% (-650)
One Unit Plays ATS: 14-12, 54% (+80)
Two Unit Plays ATS: 9-10, 47% (-390)
Three Unit Plays ATS: 1-2, 33% (-360)
Four Unit Plays ATS: 1-2, 50% (-480)
Five Unit Plays ATS: 1-0, 100% (+500)
Over Under Total: 82-80 (51%)
Picking Over: 43-34, 56% (14-10, +550)
Picking Under: 39-46, 47% (12-13, -290)
O/U Confidence Picks: 26-23, 53% (+260)
One Unit Plays O/U: 16-13, 55% (+170)
Two Unit Plays O/U: 7-9, 44% (-580)
Three Unit Plays O/U: 2-1, 67% (+270)
Four Unit Plays O/U: 1-0, 100% (+400)
Five Unit Plays O/U: none
Best Play of the Week: 7-3, 70% (+1500)
3-Game Teasers: 7-6 (+510)
2-Game Parlays: none
3-Game Parlays: 2-6 (+320)
4-Game Parlays: 0-1 (-110)
College Games: 37-17-1, 69%; net +2910
Grand Total: 98-79-1; 55%; 30,480 risked; net +3,240; 10.6% ROI
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