Bleacher Report's Expert Consensus Week 11 NFL Picks
After bad beats and miscalculations poured down on Bleacher Report NFL correspondents Gary Davenport, Brad Gagnon, Kalyn Kahler, Matt Miller, Brent Sobleski and Master Tesfatsion in Week 9, the crew experienced a mild bounce back picking games against the spread in Week 10.
Now, they attempt to keep rebuilding everything that crumbled at the beginning of the month.
Here's where they're at:
1. Davenport: 76-69-2 (8-6 last week)
2. Gagnon: 74-71-2 (8-6 last week)
3. Sobleski: 73-72-2 (9-5 last week)
4. Miller: 70-70-2 (6-7 last week)
5. Tesfatsion: 70-72-2 (7-7 last week)
6. Kahler: 70-73-2 (5-9 last week)
Consensus picks: 64-62-1 (7-6 last week)
And here are 14 fresh selections for Week 11.
Arizona Cardinals (6-3) at Seattle Seahawks (6-3)
DraftKings Line: Seattle -3
Thursday night's highly anticipated NFC West showdown between the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks is tricky.
On one hand, the Seahawks are 8-1 straight up and 6-1-2 against the spread on Thursdays in the Russell Wilson era, and the Cardinals have lost three consecutive Thursday nighters. But on the other hand, sliding Seattle is a mere 4-4-1 straight up and 2-6-1 ATS against surging Arizona dating back to the 2016 season.
But right now, the Cards are riding an emotional high while the defensively challenged Seahawks look lost. That being the case, most of our writers aren't willing to risk a full field goal with the favorite.
"The reason behind a Cardinals selection is quite simple," Sobleski said. "No one can possibly trust the Seahawks defense. As former MVP front-runner Russell Wilson came down to earth in recent weeks, the inadequacies found within the Seahawks roster became more apparent. It's difficult to imagine any universe where Seattle's defense can even slow Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray."
Only Wilson has more combined passing and rushing touchdowns (29) than Murray (27) this season, but the former has thrown seven interceptions in his last four games while the latter has a 108.8 passer rating, 417 rushing yards and 19 total touchdowns (compared to three picks) in his last six starts.
And even if the Cardinals come down from a Week 10 buzz on the road on short rest, you'd have to think this game—just like six of those nine aforementioned previous meetings—will be decided by three or fewer points.
So take 'em here.
Consensus: Arizona +3
Score Prediction: Cardinals 30, Seahawks 27
Detroit Lions (4-5) at Carolina Panthers (3-7)
DraftKings Line: Carolina -1.5
Speaking of tricky, it's somewhat surprising there's even a line for Sunday's matchup between the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers, neither of whom know how healthy their starting quarterbacks will be on game day.
Detroit's Matthew Stafford has a partial tear in his throwing-hand thumb, which kept him out of practice Wednesday, while Carolina's Teddy Bridgewater was limited with a knee injury. But at least Bridgewater is out there and at least the Panthers have gotten used to life without injured back Christian McCaffrey.
At home against a squad that barely held on to beat a terrible Washington Football Team in Week 10, the majority of our experts are backing the Panthers in a quasi-pick'em scenario.
"Carolina is better than 3-7, and Detroit might be worse than 4-5," Gagnon said. "The home team here actually has a slightly higher total DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average at Football Outsiders) ranking than the Lions, but they're laying just 1.5 points. It's fair if you want to wait to see what happens this week with Stafford and Bridgewater, but right now it looks like Stafford's injury could be the more prohibitive of the two. I'll side with that."
Still, this is far from a confident selection from the crew.
Consensus: Carolina -1.5
Score Prediction: Panthers 26, Lions 23
Pittsburgh Steelers (9-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8)
DraftKings Line: Pittsburgh -10
Every predictor is rolling with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a 10-point favorite Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, which shouldn't be shocking considering that a comical eight games separate those two teams in the standings.
But as Davenport points out, that doesn't mean the gang is overflowing with confidence.
"I'm not going to lie," he said. "I was tempted to take the Jaguars and the points here—this has the makings of a trap game with the Steelers getting ready to face the rival Ravens on Thanksgiving night. But the gulf in talent between these two teams is just too great, and while the Jags gave the Green Bay Packers a run for their money last week, it's unlikely they will be able to hang with one of the league's best teams two games in a row. Pittsburgh cruises to a 17-point win ahead of Thursday's big showdown."
The trap game is always a possibility in spots like these, but the Steelers have cut it close pretty often of late, and head coach Mike Tomlin has been extremely vocal about the fact that his team is far from perfect beyond its record. You don't get the feeling Tomlin will let his players sleep on Jacksonville, especially considering that the Jags led the Packers in the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field in Week 10.
Consensus: Pittsburgh -10
Score Prediction: Steelers 34, Jaguars 10
Cincinnati Bengals (2-6-1) at Washington Football Team (2-7)
DraftKings Line: Washington -1.5
It takes a lot for the crew to unanimously back the Cincinnati Bengals, which indicates Cincinnati isn't getting enough respect as a 1.5-point underdog Sunday against a Washington Football Team that has won just once after Week 1.
"One week after being embarrassed by the Steelers, the Bengals have a winnable rebound game in which rookie quarterback Joe Burrow will be tested," Miller said. "But those of us who have watched Burrow for the last two years know that he's at his best when he's pressured and has been knocked around. Expect a big one from Burrow as the Bengals can at least cover the spread if not win it outright."
Most books actually had the Bengals as a small favorite on the advance line here, so this is very much a reaction to Cincy's blowout loss to the league's top team. And while Washington's defense is quite stout, it isn't on Pittsburgh's level.
The Bengals are pretty banged up, but the WFT could be down to their third left tackle with Cornelius Lucas dealing with an ankle injury. It's hard to trust Cincinnati but arguably harder to trust Washington—especially when it is laying points.
This probably isn't one to spend your holiday savings on because it's so hard to get a feel for either team with a delicate line, but the Bengals are probably the safer bet.
Consensus: Cincinnati +1.5
Score Prediction: Bengals 26, Washington 20
Tennessee Titans (6-3) at Baltimore Ravens (6-3)
DraftKings Line: Baltimore -6.5
At one point earlier this season, the Baltimore Ravens were riding a 14-game regular-season winning streak. Now, though, they've lost three of their last five home games dating back to last year's playoff defeat at the hands of the Tennessee Titans.
When the two meet again Sunday at the scene of that crime, nearly all of our pickers will be taking 6.5 points with Tennessee.
"The Ravens just aren't the same team this year," Gagnon said. "Lamar Jackson has regressed, the running game is out of rhythm, and the offensive line has been crushed by injuries and an overall lack of continuity. They've also taken several hits up front on defense, which really allowed Cam Newton and the New England Patriots to set the tone Sunday night. Now, they have to deal with Derrick Henry and a resilient Tennessee team that beat a much stronger version of the Ravens in last year's playoffs. The Titans might win outright and should at least easily cover in a close game."
Henry leads the AFC in rushing by a margin of 246 yards, and the shorthanded Ravens D was gashed by Damien Harris and Rex Burkhead last week. If Henry is on his game, it's hard to see Baltimore pulling away here.
But, for what it's worth, Davenport—who has the best ATS record in the crew—is lone-wolfing it with the Ravens.
His dissenting opinion: "Do I feel great about laying almost a touchdown with a Ravens team that has sputtered a bit offensively? Not even a little. But any faith I had in the Titans just about evaporated last week against the Colts. The Tennessee defense just isn't good—they can't pressure the quarterback, and that's leading to a shaky secondary getting exposed. The Baltimore offense is going to get on track here ahead of a huge showdown with the Steelers. Ravens by at least 10."
Consensus: Tennessee +6.5
Score Prediction: Ravens 24, Titans 23
Philadelphia Eagles (3-5-1) at Cleveland Browns (6-3)
DraftKings Line: Cleveland -3
Our only split of the week comes in a fittingly unpredictable matchup between the talented but oft-lifeless (but potentially desperate?) Philadelphia Eagles and the talented but astonishingly inconsistent (but possibly rejuvenated?) Cleveland Browns.
Sobleski on Philly: "Cleveland's defense is a major concern. If Myles Garrett doesn't make multiple game-changing plays, the defense isn't capable of holding a lead. Joe Woods' unit is far too reliant on turnovers and/or adverse conditions to be successful on a consistent level. If Carson Wentz remains calm and doesn't panic in the pocket, he could easily pick apart the Browns D."
Gagnon on Cleveland: "Wentz is a mess, and the Philly defense made Daniel Jones, Alfred Morris and Wayne Gallman look good in Week 10. Baker Mayfield is due for one of his sporadic strong performances, and there's little reason to believe Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt can't keep rolling in this spot. The COVID-19 situation is worthy of some caution here, but it's only a field goal with the much better team at home."
The Browns are indeed dealing with some COVID-19 exposure and are actually about as banged up as their depleted opponent in this spot. But can anyone trust Wentz and the Eagles at this point? Sit this one out if you can.
Score Prediction: Browns 24, Eagles 21
New England Patriots (4-5) at Houston Texans (2-7)
DraftKings Line: New England -2.5
The New England Patriots roster is riddled with holes, but Bill Belichick's pesky team just won't go away. After back-to-back prime-time victories to jump back into the playoff conversation, the Pats are now favored to make it three in a row Sunday against the Houston Texans.
With the Texans looking like they are toast following a two-game road trip in which they barely beat the Jaguars and scored seven points in Cleveland, the vast majority of our experts are keeping it simple with the Pats minus less than a field goal.
"Who are the Patriots? This team has barely beaten the New York Jets, run all over the Ravens and otherwise been very inconsistent this year," Miller admitted. "But maybe, just maybe, Belichick's squad is jelling (and getting healthy) at the right time. With a 2.5-point spread this week, it's a smart bet to take New England given its ability to run the ball and dominate time of possession. Plus, we all know how well the defense is capable of playing."
Indeed, New England has the league's No. 2 running game in terms of DVOA, while Houston's run defense ranks dead last in the same metric. And the Pats definitely have top-notch defensive talent that could be on the verge of putting it together again after a strong performance against Baltimore.
But we don't have unanimity thanks to Gagnon, who makes this case for Houston: "New England is 1-3 on the road, with the lone victory coming by three points over the winless Jets. They've remained alive as a result of a fortuitous schedule the last couple of weeks (the Ravens aren't themselves), and now a pass defense with the third-worst DVOA in the NFL has to deal with the league's sixth-highest-rated passer in Deshaun Watson. The Texans win a close game and put the talent-deprived Pats back in their place."
Davenport: New England
Kahler: New England
Miller: New England
Sobleski: New England
Tesfatsion: New England
Consensus: New England -2.5
Score Prediction: Patriots 27, Texans 20
Atlanta Falcons (3-6) at New Orleans Saints (7-2)
DraftKings Line: New Orleans -5
The New Orleans Saints have won and covered handily in back-to-back weeks and are riding a six-game winning streak overall, but they might be running into the wrong opponent at the wrong time with the Atlanta Falcons coming to town in Week 11.
The banged-up Saints are likely to be without quarterback Drew Brees against the Falcons, who hammered the Brees-led Saints at the Superdome last November and have won outright in their last four divisional road games as an underdog.
Oh, and the Falcons are coming off their bye, which might have bought wide receiver Calvin Ridley enough time to nurse his foot injury ahead of a potential return. That shocking win in New Orleans also came off a bye in 2019, and they've won nine of their last 11 post-bye games by at least six points each.
I guess it's obvious at this point that the gang is backing the road 'dog.
"I hate picking Falcons games with a passion that burns like the fire of a thousand suns," Davenport admitted. "If I pick Atlanta, they lose by 20. Pick against them, they win by 10. It's intentional, and I do not care for it one bit. But the fact is that we don't know what the New Orleans offense will look like with Jameis Winston under center. We do know that the Falcons can score points. I don't necessarily think the Falcons will win outright, but I do think they can keep it close enough that I'll take the points."
Sobleski was blunter in his assessment that "Taysom Hill is nothing more than an overpaid gadget player, while Winston didn't exactly light it up when he replaced an injured Brees last week. Besides, the Falcons have played well under interim head coach Raheem Morris, having won three of their last four games."
That said, it's appropriate this isn't a unanimous decision because the Falcons just love to Falcon.
Tesfatsion: New Orleans
Consensus: Atlanta +5
Score Prediction: Saints 24, Falcons 23
Miami Dolphins (6-3) at Denver Broncos (3-6)
DraftKings Line: Miami -3.5
For the first time in more than three years, the Miami Dolphins are a road favorite. But that isn't scaring off the vast majority of our writers, who are so down on the Denver Broncos that they're willing to risk a field goal and a hook with the streaking Dolphins on Sunday in Colorado.
"The Dolphins and Broncos are trending in opposite directions," Sobleski said. "Denver has lost three of its last four games while surrendering at least 30 points in all of those contests. Miami, meanwhile, won five in a row with a top-five scoring defense. With Drew Lock's bruised ribs thrown into the mix, the Broncos aren't in a good position to end the Dolphins' winning streak."
And it's not as though Lock has inspired much confidence anyway. Dating back to Week 2, the second-year signal-caller has jarringly terrible numbers, including a completion percentage of just 53.2, a 6-to-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 61.9 passer rating.
Now, with Lock hurting, tight end Noah Fant dealing with a rib injury and wide receiver Jerry Jeudy popping up on the injury report with an ankle injury, it's hard to get behind the Broncos against a pass defense with a top-10 DVOA.
Five of Denver's six losses have come by at least five points, and the last four have come by an average of 19.3. This might not even be close, but it's not shocking that the group fell short of unanimity considering Miami's broader history of untrustworthy play.
Consensus: Miami -3.5
Score Prediction: Dolphins 24, Broncos 17
New York Jets (0-9) at Los Angeles Chargers (2-7)
DraftKings Line: Los Angeles -8.5
Considering that the banged-up, choke-happy Los Angeles Chargers are just 2-7 this season with wins by an average of 6.5 points over the weak Bengals and weaker Jaguars, it's hard to justify laying 8.5 points with L.A. against anybody at this point.
But the New York Jets aren't just anybody. Eight of their nine losses have come by at least eight points. The knock on the Chargers—as always—is that they can't finish, but that's unlikely to be a concern against a squad that appears to be tanking.
"Laying 8.5 with a two-win team feels unwise until you see that the Chargers are playing the winless Jets," Davenport said. "Yes, the Jets showed signs of life two weeks ago against the Pats. But they are still the worst team in the NFL by a fair margin, and the Bolts should be able to more or less move the ball at will. Justin Herbert gets win No. 2 as a starter, and the Jets get one step closer to Trevor Lawrence telling them he wants no part of playing for the franchise."
But again, this isn't unanimous. This time, it's Gagnon playing the role of lone wolf.
"I waffled a lot here," he said, "and there's no way to feel good about taking the Jets when even they don't likely want to win. But if they can hang with the Patriots and Buffalo Bills, they can hang with the mistake-prone Chargers. New York has been particularly terrible on the road, but the Chargers haven't had much of a home-field advantage since they resided in San Diego. The Jets should hang around off their bye, and the backdoor cover is likely to be in play anyway."
Davenport: Los Angeles
Gagnon: New York
Kahler: Los Angeles
Miller: Los Angeles
Sobleski: Los Angeles
Tesfatsion: Los Angeles
Consensus: Los Angeles -8.5
Score Prediction: Chargers 30, Jets 17
Green Bay Packers (7-2) at Indianapolis Colts (6-3)
DraftKings Line: Indianapolis -2.5
The majority of our panel seems at least a tad surprised the 7-2 Green Bay Packers—fresh off a scare against the Jaguars that could easily act as a wake-up call—are getting points from the inconsistent Indianapolis Colts on Sunday in Indy.
"The Colts defense is stellar, but Aaron Rodgers is a different animal compared to other quarterbacks Indianapolis faced this year," Sobleski said. "The Packers' signal-caller is the league's most efficient with a 116.4 quarterback rating, an 84.8 QBR and a 26-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Plus, left tackle David Bakhtiari is now a week removed from his return to practice after suffering broken ribs, and the organization activated wide receiver Allen Lazard from injured reserve this week."
In fact, the Colts haven't faced any of the league's six highest-rated passers this season, and they recently had some trouble with Joe Burrow and Matthew Stafford. This will be a whole new challenge, and the Packers could be dangerous after potentially overlooking Jacksonville in a sleepy performance. They followed up their previous two dud showings this season (against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings) with blowout road victories.
In those games, Rodgers had eight touchdown passes to zero interceptions and posted a 140.9 passer rating.
Still, two panelists are on board with Indy. Their case is likely that the home team looked strong on the ground in a Week 10 victory over the Titans, while the Green Bay run defense has again been a major vulnerability this season.
It's worth considering, but the crew is still leaning toward taking the points with Rodgers and Co.
Davenport: Green Bay
Gagnon: Green Bay
Sobleski: Green Bay
Tesfatsion: Green Bay
Consensus: Green Bay +2.5
Score Prediction: Packers 28, Colts 27
Dallas Cowboys (2-7) at Minnesota Vikings (4-5)
DraftKings Line: Minnesota -7
In what appears to be one of the most lopsided in-game matchups of the week, the Minnesota Vikings' third-ranked run game in terms of DVOA will go up against a Dallas Cowboys run defense that ranks 28th in that area.
With that in mind and the Vikings on fire in general right now, the vast majority of our correspondents are willing to lay a full touchdown with Minnesota in Dallas on Sunday.
"While the Vikings are on a roll with three straight wins, the Cowboys are pitching and lurching their way through a hot mess of a season," Davenport said. "The Dallas O-line is bad. The defense is worse. Dalvin Cook and Adam Thielen should be able to feast in this one. Minnesota is still trying to keep its playoff hopes alive, while Dallas is just trying to think of reasons not to fire Mike McCarthy after one year. Vikings roll."
During that aforementioned streak, Cook has averaged a ridiculous 197 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns per game, while Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has recovered from a rough start with a 123.0 passer rating. It's hard to imagine the putrid Dallas defense slowing those guys down, and an improved Minnesota D likely isn't afraid of the depleted Cowboys offense.
But again, Gagnon is here to spoil everything.
"Cook might just light up a bad Dallas defense," he said, "but we're due for an appearance from bad Kirk Cousins. The Cowboys should also have both Andy Dalton and Chidobe Awuzie back after a bye week, which was preceded by a surprisingly competitive performance against the unbeaten Steelers. Plus, star guard Zack Martin is getting healthier as well. If they could hang with Pittsburgh then, they can hang with a Vikings team operating on short rest."
Consensus: Minnesota -7
Score Prediction: Vikings 30, Cowboys 17
Kansas City Chiefs (8-1) at Las Vegas Raiders (6-3)
DraftKings Line: Kansas City -7.5
The only loss suffered by the Kansas City Chiefs in the last calendar year came last month at Arrowhead against the feisty division-rival Las Vegas Raiders. That's likely a big reason the Chiefs spent the first half of the week as a mere 6.5-point fave to beat the Raiders on the road in Week 11.
That line has since moved, presumably a result of another COVID-19 scare in the Raiders organization, but the majority of our experts are still under the impression Kansas City will be inspired to make a statement in this spot.
"There are a few things working in Kansas City's favor," Davenport said. "The first is the bye week—Andy Reid-led teams are 18-3 following a week off. The second is the revenge factor—it's a safe bet that the Chiefs haven't forgotten the Raiders dropping a 40-burger on them at Arrowhead. The Raiders are good, but the Chiefs are the best team in the NFL. Visitors by 10 or more in a payback game."
Plus, there's only so much oddsmakers can do to account for the unknown associated with the fact that the Raiders added a slew of key defensive players to the reserve/COVID-19 list midway through the week.
"The Chiefs could face the Raiders' second-string defense since the majority of the starting unit has been placed on the COVID-19 list," Sobleski said. "Good luck trying to stop Patrick Mahomes and Co. while relying primarily on backup players."
Still, that's a scary number considering what happened in Week 5, the location of the game and that the offensively efficient Raiders have won four of their last five games. They certainly have the running game to score some points against a soft run D, so it's not surprising that Kahler and Miller are on Team Vegas in this case.
Davenport: Kansas City
Gagnon: Kansas City
Kahler: Las Vegas
Miller: Las Vegas
Sobleski: Kansas City
Tesfatsion: Kansas City
Consensus: Kansas City -7.5
Score Prediction: Chiefs 34, Raiders 24
Los Angeles Rams (6-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3)
DraftKings Line: Tampa Bay -4
We're as close to a hung jury as you can get on the Monday nighter between the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but that was also the case when the Bucs were laying just a field goal. The spread has shot up a critical point, and Kahler, Miller and Sobleski are happy to take advantage of that.
One potential factor? The Bucs are 0-3 against the spread in three dud-like prime-time games this season, while the Rams defense has turned it on with seven takeaways in their last three games. That could make it hard for Tampa Bay to pull away, especially if Rams head coach Sean McVay can dial up ways for the Rams offense to take advantage of an all-or-nothing Tampa defense.
The Bucs have allowed more than 30 points three times this year, with two of those poor performances coming at home.
Still, it's a close call. Davenport and Gagnon are on the other side. They'd note that Tom Brady was operating on short rest in two of those three aforementioned duds, and that in this case he's had extra time to prepare for a top-heavy defense. Plus, we know the Bucs defense can bring it, and Jared Goff is one of the worst quarterbacks in football under pressure.
So, consider watching the final game of the week for entertainment purposes only.
Davenport: Tampa Bay
Gagnon: Tampa Bay
Kahler: Los Angeles
Miller: Los Angeles
Sobleski: Los Angeles
Tesfatsion: No pick
Consensus: Los Angeles +4
Score Prediction: Buccaneers 24, Rams 23
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