NFL
November 18, 2020
BY Bryan Zarpentine

NFL Best Bets: Week 11

Well, we got back on the winning side of things last week, going 3-2. Of course, we can’t help but feel a little foolish at our lack of faith in Bill Belichick. Nevertheless, last week gave us a much-needed confidence boost heading into Week 11.

This week, we’ve gone mostly with games between teams in different divisions. We also stayed away from some of the more compelling games of the weekend like Seahawks-Cardinals, Titans-Ravens, Packers-Colts and Rams-Buccaneers. Sometimes it’s the games that nobody cares about where you can find the best value. With that in mind, here are our five betting picks for Week 11 of the NFL season.

Miami Dolphins -3.5 at Denver Broncos

Even though they’re on the road in a notoriously difficult environment, it’s a little surprising to see the Dolphins favored by just a field goal against the Broncos. Miami has won five straight games while making a seamless transition at quarterback from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Tua Tagaovailoa. The Dolphins are 3-1 on the road this season, so that’s not a concern for us. Also, only one of Miami’s losses this year came against a team with a losing record, and that was in Week 1 against the Patriots. On the surface, there’s no reason to think that the Dolphins won’t keep it rolling this week.

Meanwhile, the Broncos continue to be a disaster. A couple of garbage-time scores made their loss to Atlanta look a little more respectable. But there was nothing respectable about last week’s beatdown at the hands of the rival Raiders. There’s also some concern about the status of quarterback Drew Lock. And after throwing four interceptions last week, Lock is lucky he’s not getting benched for his performance.

There’s not much reason to expect the Denver offense to have much success against the Miami defense, which should make it easy for the Dolphins to gain some separation and cover the 3.5-point spread.

Cincinnati Bengals +1.5 at Washington Football Team 

It’s hard to tell if Washington is getting a slight edge here because they’re at home or if the oddsmakers think they’re the better team. Either way, we’re not buying it. As bad as the Bengals have been this season, they’ve shown a little more promise than the team that’s lost twice to the Giants. Granted, Alex Smith has put up some big numbers, but the Football Team's offense is still limited.

More importantly, the Washington defense isn’t good enough to take advantage of the flaws on the Cincinnati offense, most notably the offensive line. If the Bengals can provide halfway decent protection for Joe Burrow and get a little more out of the running game, the No. 1 pick could have a big game.

With Tyler Boyd and the emergence of Tee Higgins, the Bengals have superior skill players to Washington. That makes them better suited to take advantage of playing a subpar defense. While WFT has had opportunities to win over the last month, they lost three games by a combined seven points.

In a close game, the Bengals are more likely to come out on top.

Jacksonville Jaguars +10 vs Pittsburgh Steelers

This feels a little like a trap game for the undefeated Steelers. They’re on the road against a bad team and could find it difficult not to look ahead to next Thursday’s showdown with the Ravens. Granted, Pittsburgh had no problem putting the Bengals away last week, so they’re surely capable of dominating a bad team and covering a double-digit spread. But that was also a rivalry game, and if the Steelers aren’t at their best, the plucky Jaguars will find a way to hang around like they did against Green Bay last week.

Also, if there’s one soft spot on the Pittsburgh defense, it’s defending the run. This is where the Jaguars have excelled in recent weeks. Rookie James Robinson has rushed for at least 99 yards in three straight games. Even if the Jags can’t count on much from quarterback Jake Luton, they can at least shorten the game by being able to run the ball.

Despite losing eight straight games, five of Jacksonville’s eight losses have come by 10 points or less, which is enough to bet against a double-digit spread in the NFL.

Los Angeles Chargers -8.5 vs New York Jets

For the record, there’s something wrong when a 2-7 team is favored by 8.5 points. But that’s what happens when you play the Jets. Even with a bye last week, Sam Darnold still isn’t ready to return from a bum shoulder, so it’ll be Joe Flacco starting for New York again. Even if Flacco had a nice game against the Patriots two weeks ago and threw for three touchdowns there's no guarantee he’ll be able to replicate that kind of performance against the Bolts. This is still the same New York offense that’s been held to 10 points or less five times in nine games.

On the other side, there’s no way the Jets are going to hold Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles offense to fewer than 10 points. In fact, the Chargers are averaging 29 points per game over their last six games. For what it’s worth, the Chargers are just 1-5 in those games. However, they are always a safe bet to score plenty of points, which is not something that can be said of the Jets. The only game the Chargers have won during that six-game stretch was a 10-point win over the bottom-feeding Jaguars, and they should be able to manage a similar result against the Jets.

Kansas City Chiefs -6.5 at Las Vegas Raiders

Do you think that Andy Reid and the Chiefs haven’t had this game circled on their calendar since the Raiders beat them 40-32 in Week 5? If not for that game, Kansas City would still be unbeaten this season. The Chiefs will surely be motivated to head to Las Vegas and make a statement, especially since the Raiders are just two games behind them in the AFC West. More importantly, the Las Vegas defense isn’t good enough to keep the Kansas City offense contained for four quarters. The Chiefs weren’t anywhere close to their best in Week 5 and still scored 32 points.

Meanwhile, the Kansas City defense will be better prepared to stop the Las Vegas offense. They’ll make the necessary adjustments to keep Derek Carr better contained, especially with an extra week to gameplan. Remember that the Chiefs have allowed 20 points or less in seven of their nine games this season. As long as that trend continues, the Chiefs shouldn’t have a problem covering the 6.5-point spread.

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