Conventional wisdom suggests that betting on NFL games should get much easier as the season wears on since it gives bettors an opportunity to get a feel for the league and the teams in it. That isn't necessarily the case, however, because the oddsmakers sharpen their skills along the way as well.
That much is clear heading into Week 11. The vast majority of this week's slate seems too close to call, but that isn't necessarily true of every game. There are a few that sport questionable lines, and if those spreads end up being inaccurate as expected, there is plenty of money to be made.
With that said, here are the three biggest locks against the spread in Week 11 that you shouldn't hesitate to roll the dice on.
|Away Team||Home Team||Spread||Pick ATS|
|Atlanta Falcons||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||ATL (-1.5)||TB|
|New York Jets||Buffalo Bills||BUF (-1)||NYJ|
|Detroit Lions||Pittsburgh Steelers||DET (-2.5)||DET|
|Washington Redskins||Philadelphia Eagles||PHI (-3.5)||WAS|
|Baltimore Ravens||Chicago Bears||CHI (-3)||BAL|
|Cleveland Browns||Cincinnati Bengals||CIN (-6)||CIN|
|Oakland Raiders||Houston Texans||HOU (-7)||OAK|
|Arizona Cardinals||Jacksonville Jaguars||ARI (-7)||JAC|
|San Diego Chargers||Miami Dolphins||SD (-1.5)||SD|
|Minnesota Vikings||Seattle Seahawks||SEA (-12.5)||SEA|
|San Francisco 49ers||New Orleans Saints||NO (-3)||NO|
|Green Bay Packers||New York Giants||NYG (-5)||NYG|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Denver Broncos||DEN (-8)||DEN|
|New England Patriots||Carolina Panthers||CAR (-2.5)||CAR|
Spreads courtesy of Vegas Insider
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+1.5 vs. ATL)
It took them until Week 10, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finally picked up their first win of the season by upsetting the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football. The Dolphins are clearly a team in disarray, but it was an impressive win for Tampa nonetheless.
Now that the Bucs have some positive momentum behind them, it isn't a stretch to think that they could be a very pesky team down the stretch. They'll host one of the season's most disappointing teams this week in the form of the division rival Atlanta Falcons, and there is no reason why they can't win their second straight game.
Despite the fact that the Falcons have lost three consecutive games by significant margins and allowed at least 23 points in every contest this season, the Falcons are actually favored by 1.5 points on the road.
Atlanta has yet to win a road game this season, and it can be argued that there are very few teams in the league that they should even be favored over at home. Perhaps the one thing working against Tampa is that running back Mike James, who was filling in admirably for the injured Doug Martin, is now out for the season, according to Pro Football Talk.
Bucs confirm Mike James is out for season with broken ankle http://t.co/qCKCm6WoO2— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) November 12, 2013
There is no doubt that James' injury hampers Tampa's offensive balance, but the combination of Brian Leonard and Bobby Rainey should have some success against the league's No. 27 run defense. Most importantly, though, rookie quarterback Mike Glennon has settled in as the starter for the Bucs, and he should continue to get better as the season progresses.
Atlanta only beat Tampa 31-23 at home in Week 7, and the Bucs looked like a much worse team back then. The Buccaneers are a very safe bet to score a win over the Falcons at home.
Detroit Lions (-2.5 @ PIT)
Few knew what to make of the Detroit Lions heading into the season after they underachieved in a big way last year. The Lions are currently 6-3, though, and they are in control of the NFC North with both the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears dealing with injuries to their quarterbacks.
They have a golden opportunity to separate themselves from the field in the coming weeks, and it starts in Week 11 when they travel to Pittsburgh to take on a Steelers team that has performed well below expectations this season.
While the Steelers are coming off a strong showing against the Buffalo Bills, they allowed over 600 yards of total offense one week earlier to a New England Patriots squad that had been struggling to move the ball. The Lions certainly haven't had any trouble marching down the field and putting up points regardless of who they have played.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford is having a bounce-back season, and wide receiver Calvin Johnson has not only established himself as the best pass-catcher in the game, but it can be argued that he is already among the best of all time as evidenced by this stat courtesy of Numbers Never Lie:
Calvin Johnson is on pace for his 3rd straight 1,600 yd season. No other receiver has even had 2 in a row.— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) November 13, 2013
The Steelers are actually No. 4 against the pass this season, but Tom Brady and the Pats clearly exposed some vulnerabilities in the secondary. Also, Detroit suddenly has a balanced offense thanks to the play of running back Reggie Bush. Pittsburgh has been awful against the run this year, so the Lions have the tools to succeed offensively one way or another. Betting on a road favorite is always risky, but it's hard to imagine Detroit winning by less than three points or even losing for that matter.
Baltimore Ravens (+3 @ CHI)
Which team is most likely to cover the spread in Week 11?
Expectations are always high for defending Super Bowl champions, but they were tempered a bit for the Baltimore Ravens this season. They lost a great deal of talent through free agency and retirement, and they've also had to deal with injuries on top of that.
The Ravens have definitely struggled, but they're 4-5 after outlasting the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 10, and they now trail the Bengals by just 1.5 games in the AFC North. Not only would a win this week help the Ravens keep pace, but it would make them major players in the AFC Wild Card race as well.
The Ravens will engage in a hard-hitting battle on Sunday when they take on the Bears in Chicago. Playing at Soldier Field is never ideal for a visiting team, but the Bears are clearly compromised right now. Not only is Chicago's defense a shell of its former self without linebacker Brian Urlacher, but the offense isn't the same without quarterback Jay Cutler. According to Rachel Nichols of CNN, Cutler won't play this week after suffering an ankle injury in Week 10:
Bears announce QB Jay Cutler (high ankle sprain) will NOT play vs Baltimore this week.— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) November 11, 2013
Josh McCown has done some good things in Cutler's absence, but he isn't capable of utilizing guys like Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery in the same way that Cutler does. Baltimore's Achilles heel this season has been its inability to run the ball. Neither Ray Rice nor Bernard Pierce has had much success, but the Bears are allowing nearly 130 rushing yards per game this season. If Rice is able to finally hit his stride, not only will the Ravens win this game outright, but they'll be very dangerous moving forward.
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