Bleacher Report's Expert Week 11 NFL Picks
The home stretch of the 2021 NFL season is just about here, and we wouldn't fault you for losing hope that a semblance of normalcy will emerge in this league before the new year arrives. It's been an incredibly weird season in which favorites have gone just 63-83-4 against the spread, home teams have gone just 75-74-1 straight-up and nobody has won more than 80 percent of their games.
Seven teams have already lost despite being favored by more than a touchdown, and five have lost while laying nine points or more (compared to just one at this stage last season).
Still, Bleacher Report national NFL writers Gary Davenport, Brad Gagnon and Brent Sobleski, B/R Gridiron editors Ian Kenyon and Wes O'Donnell, and B/R Betting host Connor Rogers are doing their best to make sense of it all.
Here are their ATS picks for every game on the Week 11 slate.
New England Patriots (6-4) at Atlanta Falcons (4-5)
DraftKings Line: New England -7
The New England Patriots have found a groove with four consecutive wins straight-up and against the spread, while the Atlanta Falcons continue to be one of the most inconsistent and unreliable teams in the NFL.
With that in mind, it was difficult for the majority of our pickers to justify fading the public Thursday night. Nearly 80 percent of bets have come in on New England -7 on short rest on the road, and five of the six members of this crew are on board with that.
"The Pats just shellacked Cleveland, have won five of six and look like a legitimate playoff contender," Davenport said. "The Falcons just got blasted by Dallas and could be without Cordarrelle Patterson on Thursday night. Bill Belichick is going to bracket Kyle Pitts and take Atlanta's only passing game weapon away, and without him or Patterson, the Falcons will be lucky to score 17 points. This has the makings of a second consecutive blowout win for New England."
But the Patriots did bomb on Thursday night away from home last year (albeit against a much tougher Rams team), and you do never know what you're going to get from Atlanta. So it's probably best this isn't a clean sweep, and it's worth noting that the lone wolf on the Falcons leads the pack picking games this season.
Davenport: New England
Kenyon: New England
O'Donnell: New England
Rogers: New England
Sobleski: New England
Score Prediction: Patriots 30, Falcons 17
New Orleans Saints (5-4) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-6)
DraftKings Line: Philadelphia -1
Not gonna lie—this is a deadlock-heavy week. And the splits start in Pennsylvania, where the unreliable but improving Philadelphia Eagles are laying a single point against the somewhat depleted and inconsistent New Orleans Saints.
Kenyon on New Orleans: "The Eagles have been one of the more Jekyll-and-Hyde teams of the 2021 NFL season as they ride the Jalen Hurts rollercoaster. Hurts is coming off an impressive performance on the road against the Broncos but faces a much stiffer test this weekend against the Saints, who have allowed the fewest points of any team in the NFC. This game should be viewed as a toss-up which is why I would take the point for the Saints."
Gagnon on Philly: "Hurts has a 108.3 passer rating the last two weeks, and I believe in him far more than I believe in Trevor Siemian, who lost the benefit of the doubt earlier in his career with the Broncos and Jets and was never as talented as Hurts anyway. The Saints might be a slightly better team beyond that, but not enough for me to take them in a virtual pick 'em situation on the road following back-to-back losses."
Obviously, we wouldn't fault you for waiting on Saints running back Alvin Kamara's status to become more cemented before rolling the dice either way here, even if that might cost you value one way or another.
Kenyon: New Orleans
O'Donnell: New Orleans
Rogers: New Orleans
Score Prediction: Eagles 21, Saints 20
Miami Dolphins (3-7) at New York Jets (2-7)
DraftKings Line: Miami -3
At least we can offer you a clean sweep elsewhere Sunday afternoon because nobody on our panel understands why the Miami Dolphins are laying just a field goal against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.
Sure, the two teams are tied in the loss column. But Miami is generally viewed as a far more talented team, and it has rebounded from a horrendous start with back-to-back wins. The Jets, meanwhile, have surrendered a ridiculous 90 points in consecutive losses and are down to their third quarterback in Joe Flacco.
"Miami's recent success is predicated on how well its defense is currently playing," Sobleski said. "The Dolphins allowed 19 total points over the last two weeks. The Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens averaged 288 yards per game during Miami's two-game winning streak. The Jets now face the same defensive buzzsaw with plenty of uncertainty at the quarterback position."
And so you can see why three points just won't suffice for Gang Green, even at home and with a public fade on the table.
Score Prediction: Dolphins 28, Jets 17
Washington Football Team (3-6) at Carolina Panthers (5-5)
DraftKings Line: Carolina -3.5
Another deadlock comes in Carolina, where the Panthers are laying a field goal plus a hook against a Washington Football Team that hasn't been impressive but is coming off a shocking victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Rogers on the WFT: "Taylor Heinicke has run hot and cold since taking over for Washington at quarterback, but he's coming off one of his best performances yet. Speaking of backup quarterbacks, Carolina got a boost from both Cam Newton and P.J. Walker after a dreadful stretch from Sam Darnold. That home crowd is going to be loud for Cam's return, but Washington knows it's now or never to make a run. This should come down to the wire, and I don't see either team winning by more than a field goal, making Washington a wise underdog selection."
O'Donnell on the Panthers: "The Football Team just played its best game of the season in knocking off the Bucs. However, they lost star defensive player Chase Young in that game, and a hangover was coming with or without him. Coupled with the Panthers seemingly recommitting to Newton, Christian McCaffrey apparently back at full strength and the team sitting in pole position for the final NFC wild-card spot, I expect a very motivated home side in Carolina this weekend to cover that dangerous hook."
Young's injury is indeed daunting, but do consider buying half a point to cover off that hook if you're leaning Carolina and that option is on the table. Better safe than sorry.
Score Prediction: Panthers 23, Washington 20
Indianapolis Colts (5-5) at Buffalo Bills (6-3)
DraftKings Line: Buffalo -7
This is another fitting split because while the Indianapolis Colts haven't lost by more than seven points since Week 3, all six of the Buffalo Bills' wins this season have come by a heck of a lot more than seven. Something has to give in terms of recent trends. Our crew is divided on which side will give.
Gagnon on Indy: "The Colts haven't lost a game in regulation since Week 3. The defense has really come on, Carson Wentz has generally avoided killer mistakes, Jonathan Taylor is killing it in the Indianapolis backfield and the Bills eventually have to win a close game against a strong opponent. This feels a lot like that situation."
Kenyon on Buffalo: "It feels like this line would have been closer to 10.5 or 11 two weeks ago if it weren't for the Bills' egregious loss to the Jaguars in Week 8. The Bills still boast one of the league's most complete rosters and the third-best rushing defense in the league, which should help stop the red-hot Taylor. If the Colts end up in negative game script, this game could get ugly with the Colts relying on Wentz to throw their way back against a terrific Bills secondary. Bills win big."
You might want to consider avoiding this one entirely. The Bills either lay an egg or win big, and the Colts could easily allow for either event. It's too much of a toss-up, and the lack of hook might not bring much comfort.
Score Prediction: Bills 28, Colts 21
Detroit Lions (0-8-1) at Cleveland Browns (5-5)
DraftKings Line: Cleveland -11
The gang is also divided on a Detroit Lions-Cleveland Browns tilt that has spent much of the week off the board at a lot of sportsbooks. Earlier, the Lions—riding high off of their first non-loss of the year—were getting an even 10 points from a superior but roughed-up opponent. Now, with both quarterbacks' statuses up in the air, that number has risen to 11.
Davenport on taking the points with Detroit: "Could this be the week that the Lions finally get a win?. That's a rhetorical question, and the answer is no. But Detroit has managed to stay close against the Rams and Ravens this season, and the Browns aren't exactly firing on all cylinders on either side of the ball. The Browns will get a win here to get back above .500, but it's not going to be especially pretty."
Sobleski on Cleveland: "The Browns' selection is relatively simple: Their season hangs in the balance, and the Lions find ways to lose (or tie). Cleveland isn't as good as the team that trounced the Bengals two weeks ago, nor is it bad as the squad the Patriots thumped this past Sunday. However, the team remains loaded with talent and is more than capable of handling business in a must-win situation."
Still, 11 points? It's fair to be scared. Cleveland has just one win by a double-digit margin since September. On the other hand, the Browns might be due. If you're undecided, stay away or at least watch to see how Jared Goff (oblique) and Baker Mayfield (knee) hold up in the days to come.
Score Prediction: Browns 28, Lions 17
San Francisco 49ers (4-5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-7)
DraftKings Line: San Francisco -6
The Jacksonville Jaguars have covered back-to-back spreads in closer-than-expected matchups with quality opponents. Now, they draw a seemingly untrustworthy San Francisco 49ers team operating on short rest following a critical divisional game Monday night.
But those dynamics aren't convincing many of our pickers to side with the Jags with only six points in their back pocket. The 49ers have their backs against the wall, and an argument could be made Jacksonville is due for a dud.
"San Francisco's defense has come alive, and it doesn't look like there's a team in the league that can slow down Deebo Samuel right now," Rogers said. "Trevor Lawrence has thrown for 288 yards combined over the last two games. In that same stretch, he has no touchdowns or interceptions. There's just nothing going in the air for this Jaguars offense right now. I think they're running into a buzzsaw this week with the 49ers."
Still, O'Donnell has fared well this year and is a notable lone wolf. Samuel is dealing with a shin injury, and a San Francisco team that has covered just three spreads all year is traveling across the country. Bettor beware.
Davenport: San Francisco
Gagnon: San Francisco
Kenyon: San Francisco
Rogers: San Francisco
Sobleski: San Francisco
Score Prediction: 49ers 30, Jaguars 17
Houston Texans (1-8) at Tennessee Titans (8-2)
DraftKings Line: Tennessee -10
If you believe in momentum at all, it isn't easy to get behind the Houston Texans on the road against the Tennessee Titans—even if oddsmakers are giving you 10 points. The Texans haven't won a game since Week 1, while the Titans haven't lost in regulation since that same week.
Five of our six panelists are joining the public on Tennessee -10.
"Since the Titans' mind-numbing loss to the Jets back in Week 4, Tennessee has ripped off six straight Ws even whilst losing Derrick Henry," O'Donnell said. "One could argue they're due for a letdown at some point, but it won't be this week. The Texans haven't won a game on the road this season and haven't covered a spread since Week 2. A trip to Tennessee is not the time for that trend to end."
Divisional games with big spreads can be tricky, though, and Jeremy McNichols (concussion) and Bud Dupree (abdomen) have been out of practice for the Titans. With the backdoor cover also in play and Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor more than capable, this is far from a no-brainer.
Score Prediction: Titans 31, Texans 14
Green Bay Packers (8-2) at Minnesota Vikings (4-5)
DraftKings Line: Green Bay -2
The Green Bay Packers have covered the spread in nine consecutive games. On Sunday, they're laying less than a field goal against an inferior Minnesota Vikings team. It takes some real guts to back the Vikes because you have to believe they can win straight-up and cover by multiple points. The backdoor is off the table for a Minnesota squad that would be 2-7 if not for toss-up wins over the Lions and Panthers in October.
Our crew is predictably leaning Green Bay's way, but only with a slim majority. Two pickers have a feeling about Minnesota, which could indicate an anti-trend thought process but also might be a reflection of the fact Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is in much more of a groove than Packers signal-caller Aaron Rodgers.
The former has eight touchdown passes to zero interceptions and a 104.5 passer rating the last four weeks, while the latter is coming off COVID-19 and has a mere 82.9 rating in his previous two games.
Still, Davenport is here to voice the case of the majority.
"The Pack will be without running back Aaron Jones in this one, but of Green Bay's major offensive weapons, he's the one Green Bay can most afford to lose for a few weeks," he said. "AJ Dillon can keep the ground game going, Aaron Rodgers should have little problem moving the ball through the air on a mediocre Vikings secondary and the Green Bay defense is coming off a shutout of the Seattle Seahawks. Green Bay has won two in a row in Minnesota, and Sunday, they'll make it three straight."
If you're going to roll with the underdog, do see if you can get it up to +3 without losing too much value.
Davenport: Green Bay
Gagnon: Green Bay
Kenyon: Green Bay
Rogers: Green Bay
Score Prediction: Packers 26, Vikings 23
Baltimore Ravens (6-3) at Chicago Bears (3-6)
DraftKings Line: Baltimore -5
The Baltimore Ravens haven't been right. They haven't won a game in regulation since Week 6, they're coming off a no-show loss to Miami and now quarterback Lamar Jackson is under the weather with a non-COVID illness.
Still, nearly the entire gang is laying a handful of points with the Ravens in Illinois to take on the well-rested Chicago Bears Sunday afternoon.
"Baltimore's advantage over the Bears is less about Jackson and the offense bouncing back and more about Don Martindale's capability to utterly confuse a rookie quarterback," Sobleski said. "Justin Fields is special, even though he's not necessarily helped by his coaching staff's game plan. The Ravens, meanwhile, are one of the most aggressive defenses in the NFL. The unit will get after Fields and make life difficult all afternoon long."
It could help that the Bears have had two weeks to prepare for that defense, but receivers Allen Robinson II (hamstring) and Darnell Mooney (foot) are actually dealing with new injuries for Chicago, and Baltimore has also benefited from extra recovery time after playing on Thursday night last week.
The Ravens won big as often as anyone in football last season, and they've at least shown on a couple of occasions this year that they still have that in them. With that in mind, five points might feel a tad low here.
Score Prediction: Ravens 27, Bears 17
Cincinnati Bengals (5-4) at Las Vegas Raiders (5-4)
DraftKings Line: Cincinnati -1
Two 5-4 teams trying to bust out of two-game losing streaks? But the road team has enjoyed an extra week to prepare? It's fitting that we're just about at a pick 'em for Sunday's late-afternoon matchup between the upstart Cincinnati Bengals and the potentially rattled Las Vegas Raiders.
But our entire crew is pretty sure the Bengals can roll into Sin City and salvage their season with a much-needed W.
"I've lost faith in the Raiders," Gagnon said. "They've been through hell in recent weeks, and it showed when they laid over for a struggling division rival at home in Week 10. The Bengals might not be playing much better, but at least they've had the bye week to clear their heads. Joe Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd should be difference-makers against a vulnerable pass defense in a Cincy victory."
The public is also backing the Bengals quite heavily. And while this line has swung from the Raiders' side to Cincinnati's, it hasn't come close to a key marker like three.
Score Prediction: Bengals 30, Raiders 21
Arizona Cardinals (8-2) at Seattle Seahawks (3-6)
DraftKings Line: Arizona -2.5
Russell Wilson's return from a finger injury couldn't have gone worse last week for the Seattle Seahawks, but do you really want to bet against the seven-time Pro Bowler and his Super Bowl-winning head coach falling on their faces again with their season on the line at home on Sunday?
Throw in continued uncertainty surrounding the health of key Arizona Cardinals Kyler Murray (ankle) and DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring), and it's not hard to see why at least a slim majority of the panel is taking 2.5 points with Seattle on Sunday.
"The Seahawks should find their footing in a return home against the Cardinals," Kenyon said. "This team is much more talented than their record indicates. They've lost three games by a field goal or less, and Wilson, of course, missed multiple weeks. If Seattle's defense can hold up against a banged-up Murray, the Seahawks should not only cover 2.5 but win outright."
An NFC wild-card spot is still absolutely attainable for the Seahawks, but they really need this game. It's understandable that O'Donnell and Sobleski are rolling with a superior team on paper with just 2.5 points on the line, but you might want to try to get to -3 if you're joining that duo.
Score Prediction: Seahawks 24, Cardinals 23
Dallas Cowboys (7-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)
DraftKings Line: Kansas City -2.5
Our final two Sunday games are deadlocks, starting with the Kansas City Chiefs laying 2.5 points at home against a Dallas Cowboys team that ranks No. 3 in the NFL in terms of DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) at Football Outsiders.
Gagnon on Kansas City: "To bet Dallas with this line, you really do have to believe they'll win straight-up at Arrowhead. The way the Chiefs looked while redeeming themselves last week, there's no way I'm betting on that. The Cowboys have been the better team this season, but the Chiefs remain the better team overall, and we've seen a correction in recent weeks. We can't just forget Kansas City's pre-Week 10 struggles, but that team has earned the benefit of the doubt in recent weeks. Besides, we also shouldn't forget the dud the Cowboys put up against the Broncos in Week 9."
O'Donnell on Dallas: "This one is simple for me. In what should be a shootout and possibly one of the more entertaining games of the entire season, I expect the Cowboys to upend the Chiefs. Having the points in my back pocket is just insurance in the event of a wild ending to the game."
Fair enough, and stalwart left tackle Tyron Smith's potential return to the Cowboys lineup counts for something too. But the jury is hung, and Gagnon has led the pack on paper thus far in 2021. It's not an easy call.
Davenport: Kansas City
Gagnon: Kansas City
Kenyon: Kansas City
Score Prediction: Chiefs 30, Cowboys 27
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3-1) at Los Angeles Chargers (5-4)
DraftKings Line: Los Angeles -5.5
The final split comes with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Chargers both trying to rebound from disappointing Week 10 experiences in what might feel like a Pittsburgh home game despite the geographic setting. The Bolts are laying 5.5 points, but a lot could change between now and kickoff Sunday night.
Rogers on the Steelers and the state of their weird game: "An incredible amount of key players are on the COVID-19/reserve list heading into this game, making it one of the harder to predict before the weekend. Maybe expectations were set too high, but it's been a little bit of a roller coaster for Justin Herbert in his second year. It doesn't help that Brandon Staley's defense has surrendered at least 24 points per game since Week 5. The Steelers always play close games. Prepare for another one here."
Sobleski on the Chargers: "Los Angeles holds two significant advantages over the Steelers. First, they're at home for the second straight week, while Pittsburgh must make a cross-country flight. Second, the expectation is for Mason Rudolph to start while Ben Roethlisberger remains in COVID-19 protocols. Furthermore, standout safety Minkah Fitzpatrick won't play this weekend after being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. The Steelers are simply outmanned in this contest."
It's worth noting that star Chargers edge defender Joey Bosa is also on that list now, while none of those key Steelers have been officially ruled out. Tread carefully here.
Kenyon: Los Angeles
O'Donnell: Los Angeles
Sobleski: Los Angeles
Score Prediction: Chargers 26, Steelers 21
New York Giants (3-6) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3)
DraftKings Line: Tampa Bay -11
Not only did Tom Brady famously struggle against the New York Giants during his many years in New England (he lost two Super Bowls to New York and posted a sub-90 passer rating in eight matchups overall), but that essentially continued when Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers barely beat the lowly G-Men 25-23 in a prime-time matchup last November.
Here we go again?
A slim majority of our panel at least believes Brady and Co. will fail to cover an 11-point spread Monday night against a spirited Giants squad that has won two of its last three games and is coming off its bye week.
"I could sit here and tell you that the Giants are going to come out of their bye and stun the Buccaneers at home, but it's way too early to start drinking," Davenport said. "After dropping two in a row, the Bucs are going to be angry for this primetime affair, and a blowout is possible. But the Tampa offense is struggling a bit, and the Giants should be as healthy on that side of the ball as the team has been in quite some time. Tampa gets the win here, but the Giants will score late to make the game look closer than it actually was."
Saquon Barkley (ankle), Andrew Thomas (ankle) and Sterling Shepard (quad) could all be back for New York, while Kenny Golladay (knee) and Kadarius Toney (thumb) likely benefited greatly from the bye as well. Throw in that the Bucs secondary is in semi-ruins, and the underdog is pretty tempting.
Davenport: New York
Gagnon: Tampa Bay
Kenyon: New York
O'Donnell: New York
Rogers: Tampa Bay
Sobleski: New York
Score Prediction: Buccaneers 28, Giants 21
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL).
21+. NJ/PA/WV/IN/IA/CO/IL/TN/MI only. Odds and lines subject to change. Eligibility restrictions apply. See DraftKings.com/Sportsbook for full terms and conditions.