2015 NFL Week 11 Bettor’s Guide
Last week ended up playing out very well against the spread. Some money lines didn’t hit due to unforeseen wins (Lions), bad officiating (Giants) and a disappearing act (Bengals), but many of the other games that were considered “reaches” not only hit, but went close to expected. Oddsmaking can have its fun moments, even if few and far between.
Prediction vs. Actual
Predicted: Buffalo 27, NY Jets 20
Actual: Buffalo 22, NY Jets 17
Notes: The Jets had massive injury issues that made this game somewhat of a bigger “handicap” for them, but the rematch in Orchard Park should be much better.
Predicted: Detroit 23, Green Bay 31
Actual: Detroit 18, Green Bay 16
Notes: We had figured the Lions to move the ball a bit against Green Bay, but the Packers’ offense, plus being home with favorable officiating would make the difference. Jared Abberderis got credit for a catch (in an almost exact situation to that of Odell Beckham, Jr. later in the day), but Mason Crosby was unable to kick the ball properly on a late field goal attempt.
Predicted: Dallas 19, Tampa Bay 28
Actual: Dallas 6, Tampa Bay 10
Notes: Not sure why Tampa was unable to muster more than the last second touchdown by Jameis Winston, but this was a called win five weeks in the making.
Predicted: Carolina 20, Tennessee 17
Actual: Carolina 27, Tennessee 10
Notes: The Titans will make games into dogfights with their front seven. Unfortunately, their secondary is rancid, and their offense is far too inconsistent. The Panthers are focused.
Predicted: New Orleans 17, Washington 24
Actual: New Orleans 14, Washington 47
Notes: Listen, we all know the Saints are average at best on the road, and that their defense had been porous all season, but not to THIS extent.
Predicted: Chicago 16, St. Louis 24
Actual: Chicago 37, St. Louis 13
Notes: This is probably the biggest shocker of the Sunday games (other than Lions over Packers). The Bears aren’t this good. But Nick Foles’ streak of awful play has finally resulted in his benching.
Predicted: Cleveland 13, Pittsburgh 24
Actual: Cleveland 9, Pittsburgh 30
Notes: It really did not matter who was at QB for Pittsburgh, the Browns were not going to do much against the Steelers active defense.
Predicted: Miami 26, Philadelphia 24
Actual: Miami 20, Philadelphia 19
Notes: No one can predict all the crazy twists and turns during a game, but this game was predicted to be close with the Fins edging the Eagles in the end, and that is precisely what happened.
Predicted: Jacksonville 25, Baltimore 23
Actual: Jacksonville 22, Baltimore 20
Notes: The Jags left at least 13-17 points on the field, as Joe Flacco turned over the football on three consecutive possessions. But this was also predicted to be close and a Jags win in tight, and such was the case.
Predicted: Minnesota 19, Oakland 23
Actual: Minnesota 30, Oakland 14
Notes: The Vikes are for real. Not even so much because they hung 30 on the Raiders, but because their vicious front seven and hard-hitting secondary held the Raiders to 14. At home.
Predicted: Kansas City 24, Denver 23
Actual: Kansas City 29, Denver 13
Notes: No one saw THAT coming. And “THAT” being the brutal four-interception game by Peyton Manning. Sure, we had the Chiefs winning a close one, but… wow.
Predicted: New England 27, NY Giants 30
Actual: New England 27, NY Giants 26
Notes: Just remember the Patriots got away with blatant pass interference on Myles White (and Jermaine Cunningham on the same play) in the end zone, resulting in a Giants field goal instead of 1st and Goal at the 1. Never mind the shifty call on the Odell Beckham, Jr. “incompletion” and the baffling non-review of the Landon Collins interception. Had the game been officiated properly, this could have indeed ended 30-27, Giants.
Predicted: Arizona 22, Seattle 24
Actual: Arizona 39, Seattle 32
Notes: Marshawn Lynch’s agent is right.
Predicted: Houston 20, Cincinnati 34
Actual: Houston 10, Cincinnati 6
Notes: WHAT WAS THAT???
Tennessee Titans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
My Call: JAX -3
Over/Under: Over 42
Sooner or later, the Jags are going to play a complete game. This will be ugly and low-scoring (barring turnovers) early, but the Titans secondary is in shambles and Bortles does take chances with Allen Hurns, Allen Robinson and Julius Thomas downfield. Additionally, Bortles will also have FSU legend Rashad Greene back for this game, after coming off IR designation. If the Jags blow this, someone’s gonna have to answer questions. They have a shot to pull to within a half game of first place with games remaining against both Houston and Indianapolis for first place in the AFC South. Don’t think this won’t play a factor in how they play this game. Expect to see Telvin Smith making plays all over the field. A shame that the Jags lost Sen’Derrick Marks for the season, however.
Washington Redskins vs. Carolina Panthers
Bank of America Stadium
Charlotte, North Carolina
My Call: WSH +7
Over/Under: Over 45
Football is all about matchups. The Redskins front seven (out of a 3-4 alignment) matches up well with what the Panthers like to do with their running game. With Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy as outside linebackers, they have natural contain on zone-read/read-option running plays, and have enough athleticism to prevent Jonathan Stewart from beating them on the edges. Where Washington will be tested is in coverage, particularly with Greg Olsen. One would think that a mixture of Keenan Robinson and one of the defensive backs will bracket Olsen for most of the game, but that does leave space for the emerging Devin Funchess to operate. Will Kirk Cousins continue his recent stretch of solid play (even the New England game would have been within reach if not for a half dozen blatant drops by his receivers), or will he become turnover prone facing one of the more athletic and ballhawking defenses (with a rematch with his archnemesis Giants defense to follow). That will be the difference in this game. Cam Newton and company will get theirs. Will the Skins be efficient enough and avoid back-breaking turnovers? That should be your determining factor in wagering here. We tend to think the Skins will be in it until the end, but the Panthers rushing attack will wear the Skins down in the end.
New York Jets vs. Houston Texans
My Call: No Line (Jets)
Over/Under: No Line
Oddsmakers are holding out, but Brian Hoyer is not playing in this game. No idea why there aren’t lines at most outlets.
NY Jets 24
Oakland Raiders vs. Detroit Lions
My Call: OAK -1
Over/Under: Over 48.5
It is becoming increasingly difficult to handicap Raiders games. They’ve faltered at home when they were considered rightful favorites. They’ve had some baffling performances on the road against beat up teams. The Lions are short in the secondary, and that is not a good problem to have with Derek Carr, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree coming to town.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins
Sun Life Stadium
Miami Gardens, Florida
My Call: Pick ’em (MIA)
Over/Under: Under 47.5
A pick ’em, huh? Whatever. Tony Romo or no Tony Romo, Dallas has more issues than QB play.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Atlanta Falcons
My Call: ATL -5.5
Over/Under: Over 47.5
The Falcons are not invincible, we have found out that much in the past month preceding their Week 10 bye. Additionally, turnover machine Andrew Luck will not play in this game, which gives the Colts even more than a fighter’s chance. One has to believe that the Falcons added some wrinkles to their offensive game plan during the bye, however.
St. Louis Rams vs. Baltimore Ravens
M&T Bank Stadium
My Call: STL +2.5
Over/Under: Under 41
Talk about a bettor’s nightmare. Just stay away from this one. Even my call isn’t one of conviction here. These two teams are next to impossible to handicap.
St. Louis 19
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Lincoln Financial Field
My Call: TB +5.5
Over/Under: Over 45.5
Sam Bradford is almost certainly out for the next two weeks, at the very least, which leaves turnover-prone Mark Sanchez at QB for the Eagles. The offense has been inconsistent all year under Bradford, and while Sanchez runs it more fluidly in terms of timing (with an extra year in the offense under his belt), he takes more chances with the ball than Bradford does. Both are turnover machines. The Bucs’ staple is a lot of 2-man or straight Cover 2 defense, which does not provide much room for the Eagles to operate their perimeter offense without mistakes on the back end. Besides, Jameis Winston is better than Mark Sanchez, and Vincent Jackson has returned to practice, with the potential to play in this game. That is less pressure on Mike Evans, and more pressure on opposing defenses.
Tampa Bay 26
Denver Broncos vs. Chicago Bears
My Call: CHI -1.5
Over/Under: Over 41
Too difficult to speculate how effective Brock Osweiler will be for Denver. Chicago has found something with the triumvirate of Cutler-Langford-Miller producing of late.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Diego Chargers
San Diego, California
My Call: KC -3
Over/Under: Over 44
The Bolts are down Keenan Allen and, while Malcom Floyd is holding out hope to play in this game, don’t count on it. That means Steve Johnson moves up to top receiver for the Chargers, while the rest of the team continues to be beat up on both sides of the ball. Even punter Mike Scifres, who got rolled up on a few weeks ago has had lingering effects on his punts in the games since.
The Chiefs have a system working with Charcandrick West and it has resulted in three straight wins, when the Chiefs appeared to be dead in the water after a brutally difficult early schedule and a season-ending injury to Jamaal Charles. Alex Smith is even passing the ball downfield more. Shocking. This game would have looked better if Charles were healthy and the Bolts weren’t ravaged by injury. Thank God it was flexed. As for bettors, it is a pretty good game to avoid, because you never know how the Chargers are going to respond following a bye week.
Kansas City 27
San Diego 23
Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings
TCF Bank Stadium
AMERICA’S GAME OF THE WEEK
My Call: MIN -1
Over/Under: Over 44.5
The Packers enter this game reeling after a three-game losing streak. The Vikes are for real, and here at OMW HQ, do not consider it to be a fluke. See here: August 2015: Vikes to Win NFC North.
As for the game, the Vikes’ strengths are the Packers’ weaknesses. The Vikes have the leading rusher in the NFL, who needs no name recognition. The Vikes do not turn over the football. The Vikes have young, fresh, healthy receivers. The Vikes pass rush is vicious. The Vikes linebackers are fast and ballhawking. The Vikes secondary is hard-hitting and ballhawking. Other than Clay Matthews and Micah Hyde, none of those things really apply to the Packers. Aaron Rodgers may or may not be smarting right now, but he sure does not look imposing to opposing defenses these days.
Green Bay 19
San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks
My Call: SF +12.5
Over/Under: Under 40
Hope Blaine Gabbert’s insurance is paid.
San Francisco 6
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Arizona Cardinals
University of Phoenix Stadium
SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
My Call: ARZ -5
Over/Under: Over 48.5
Carson Palmer is definitely looking forward to this game for obvious reasons (we shall not get into that here), but that can work for or against you, depending on how you channel your energy. The Cards have laser focus right now, as exhibited on Sunday night in Seattle, after it appeared that the Seahawks had the Cards shaking in their boots, only for Palmer to stare down the Seattle defense and lead them to two important scores after two turnovers of his own. We don’t know what to make of the Bengals right now. Andy Dalton can write his own story here, shaking off Monday Night’s debacle against the Texans as an aberration, or have it be the first crack in the dam before the Bengals revert back to doing Bengals things, as in years’ past.
We’d like that possibility a lot more if the Bengals were home, which they seemingly have been for a month straight, but this is on the Cards’ turf in front of a loud crowd. Good luck.
Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
My Call: BUF +7
Over/Under: Over 48.5
There is mutual exclusivity between the amount that Rex Ryan talks (or doesn’t) and how well his teams play. He hasn’t begun yapping in lieu of this game (yet), which bodes well for Buffalo. What — more importantly — bodes well for Buffalo is that they had extra time to get Mario Williams and others on defense healthy, while giving Tyrod Taylor’s knee time to heal. New England is extremely beaten up on offense, ranging from most of their offensive line, Julian Edelman out for the remainder of the regular season (if they’re smart, the rest of the season period) and you wonder how much Jamie Collins will have in the tank if he even manages to play in this game, coming off two missed games due to illness. While these are several injuries, they pale in comparison to those suffered by the teams in the NFC East that they have wins over, it should be noted. Edelman’s loss is significant, because it moves Danny Amendola into that role, which is not as easy as plug-and-play.
Buffalo has the athleticism at the LB and DB level to take away Amendola and limit Rob Gronkowski. Are they disciplined enough to avoid foolish personal fouls (Jerry Hughes)? We will have to see. If the Bills are ever going to beat the Patriots, this is their best shot. And New England cannot use injuries as an excuse, because there are teams with more important losses to personnel who went on to beat good teams, as well. As always, in New England games, pay attention to officiating, as if you have a wager on the line, it could skew your play sheet.
New England 23
BYE: Cleveland (2-8), New Orleans (4-6), NY Giants (5-5), Pittsburgh (6-4).