NFL Week 11 Picks: Underdogs Who Will Cover the Spread

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistNovember 14, 2012

JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 08:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts hands off to Vick Ballard #33 during a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on November 8, 2012 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

It's been a grand year for NFL underdogs, who have driven favorite-betting gamblers insane with their success in 2012.

And while that success has slowly begun regressing to the mean since a fast early-season start, it's still worth combing each week's lines for the underdogs with the best shot.

Even though Week 11 features one of the year's biggest lines (Jacksonville +14.5 in Houston), it also features a number of close, close contests. There isn't too much value to be had on the board, but there's enough to make some profit for those who do their due diligence.

Here are the three best underdog bets on the Week 11 docket:


Pittsburgh Steelers (+3.5) vs. Baltimore Ravens

You can't articulate how much Ben Roethlisberger means to the Steelers offense. But if I had to try, it would sound something like this: He means as much as Ray Lewis and Ladarius Webb mean to the Ravens defense.

And they won't be playing in this one either.

Yes, the Steelers might have to run a more conservative playbook than usual. And yes, the Ravens are one week removed from laying a 50-burger on the woeful Raiders. It doesn't matter––this is still Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore.

This game, like almost every game in this rivalry, will come down to toughness, physicality and late-game execution. The Steelers won't be able to move the ball like they usually can, but they'll survive because the Ravens can't stop the ball like they usually can.

On the other side of the ball, Pittsburgh's defense always comes to play in Roethlisberger's absence, knowing that their role will be even more paramount than usual.

Getting more than a field goal, at home, in a series that almost always comes down to a fourth quarter kick, is too juicy to pass up.


Cleveland Browns (+8) at Dallas Cowboys

Wait. Are we supposed to be impressed that the Cowboys beat the Eagles last week? With Nick Foles under center behind a JV offensive line? And weren't they still losing in the second half?

This line is off because the Cowboys aren't nearly as good as people give them credit for, and the Browns aren't nearly as bad. The scrappy bunch from Cleveland have subtly been in every single game they've played this season, and they're also coming off a bye.

If you exclude the Eagles' meltdown last week, the Cowboys haven't won a game by more than seven points all season. Their trajectory has been eerily similar to that of their Week 11 opponents: They can hang in against any team, but they blow close games at the end.

And the spread here is eight?

The Browns should be able to keep it close against team that's almost certainly looking ahead to divisional games against Washington and Philly.


Indianapolis Colts (+9) at New England Patriots

It lacks the cachet it once had when these games featured Brady vs. Manning, but watching Brady square off against Andrew Luck should still provide enough torch-passing potential to be intriguing.

The Pats haven't been shellacking teams at home this season. They lost to Arizona by two, beat Denver by 10, beat the Jets by three and beat Buffalo by six. That last one came a week ago in a game that, pending a couple of breaks, could have actually gone the Bills' way.

On the other side of the line, Andrew Luck and the Colts are coming off their second consecutive road victory. Sure, Tennessee and Jacksonville don't even belong in the same sentence as New England––it doesn't matter. NFL road wins are always impressive.

If Kevin Kolb, Mark Sanchez and Ryan Fitzpatrick are capable of covering in Foxboro, then so is Andrew Luck. Especially with the playoffs locked in his sights.