Expert NFL Picks for Week 11 Including Colts-Bills, Cowboys-Chiefs and Steelers-Chargers
Kevin Rogers of VegasInsider, Borgata sportsbook director Tom Gable and VSiN sports betting reporter Josh Appelbaum offer their insights
This is NFL Best Bets, a recurring series in which professional sports handicappers lend us their insights and picks for the most intriguing matchups for each week of the football season.
For this edition of Best Bets, Kevin Rogers, a veteran handicapper for VegasInsider.com, Thomas Gable, the director of race and sportsbook at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, and sports betting reporter Josh Appelbaum of VSiN share their opinions on five Week 11 games, including Dak Prescott and Patrick Mahomes squaring off in Kansas City and a divisional matchup between the Packers and Vikings in Minneapolis that could be closer than expected.
You’ve got places to go, people to see and possibly some wagers to make, so let’s get to it.
Indianapolis Colts (+7, O/U 50) at Buffalo Bills
A compelling matchup because … despite leading the AFC and the NFL as a whole by a wide margin in point differential at +145 (no other team has broken 100), the Bills are 2-2 over their last four games while playing three straight against some of the worst teams in the league (Dolphins, Jaguars and Jets). The Colts have won two in a row, though both of those victories came against two of the aforementioned terrible teams (Jets and Jags). The Colts and Bills last played in the playoffs in January, with Indy losing by a field goal.
Appelbaum’s Assessment: The Colts (5-5 SU, 6-4 against the spread) are 5-2 over their last seven games. Indianapolis just edged the Jags 23-17, although they failed to cover as 10.5-point home favorites. Meanwhile, the Bills (6-3 SU, 5-3-1 ATS) just crushed the Jets 45-17, easily covering as 13.5-point road favorites. This line opened at 7 and has dipped to 6.5 at times, signaling liability on the Colts plus the points. Road dogs are 56-33 ATS (63%) this season. Road dogs +7 or less are 47-17 ATS (73%). Give me the Colts +7.
Gable’s Guess: I still have the Bills as the top-power-rated team in the AFC, but they’re certainly not dominant over everybody else. This is a very big game in terms of remaining in the hunt for a wild card spot for Indy. For the Colts, Jonathan Taylor is making his claim for the best running back in the league with Derrick Henry on the shelf. Carson Wentz has passed for 17 TDs and only three interceptions, but it’s Taylor who has emerged with 937 yards rushing and nine TDs at 5.8 yards per carry. Despite that, the Colts have not beaten good teams this year. The Bills got back on track last weekend with season highs in points and total net yards. They need to continue to try and run the ball to take the pressure off Josh Allen. I don’t think they’re going to put up the number they did last week and I think the Colts’ offense is balanced enough to keep it within a touchdown. I’m going to take the points with Indy.
Rogers’s Recommendation: Buffalo is back at home after playing four of their last five games away from Highmark Stadium. The Bills bounced back from an inexcusable loss at Jacksonville to rout the Jets last Sunday. The Colts have roared back from a 1-4 start to win four of five. Buffalo held off Indianapolis last season in the Wild Card round as 7-point favorites. Indianapolis hasn’t beaten great competition recently. Buffalo should grab a commanding home victory here. Best Bet: Buffalo -7.
Our Pick: It’s a big number and we could see it going either way. We’ll bet on shootout potential with the over.
Green Bay Packers (-2.5, O/U 49) at Minnesota Vikings
A compelling matchup because … the Vikings, to their credit, usually play the Packers fairly tough whether the teams are evenly matched or not. Including the postseason, the teams have met each other 121 times, with Green Bay winning 63 of the games and Minnesota taking 55. They’ve also tied three times. The Packers are probably uncatchable in the NFC North, but this game could mean quite a bit for the Vikings, who got back into the playoff conversation with a win in Week 10.
Appelbaum’s Assessment: The Packers (8-2 SU, 9-1 ATS) just shut out the Seahawks 17-0, easily covering as 3-point home favorites. The Vikings (4-5 SU, 5-4 ATS) just upset the Chargers 27-20, winning outright as 3.5-point road dogs. This line opened with Green Bay listed as a 2.5-point road favorite. The public has been rushing to the window as fast as they can to lay the points with Rodgers. Conference dogs of +7 or less are 47-26 (64%) this season. Divisional dogs are 20-17 ATS (54%) this season and roughly 56% ATS over the past five seasons. This feels fishy. I’ll follow the reverse line move and take Vikings plus the points.
Gable’s Guess: The Packers are now the third-ranked defense in the league. They’ve played three of the best quarterbacks in the league in their last three games — Kyler Murray, Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson — and have really been able to limit them. They only allowed one touchdown pass to those three guys and had four interceptions on them. The Vikings finally won an important game last week and they can attempt to turn their season around and make a playoff push with a win here. Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer was finally aggressive in his decision-making against the Chargers and it paid off for him. I’m just not comfortable playing against Rodgers, as he’s been playing like he has something to prove all year. Since I can get them for less than three, I’m going to lay the points here with the Packers.
Rogers’s Recommendation: Green Bay is the hottest team against the spread since getting blown out in Week 1 by New Orleans. The Packers have amazingly covered nine consecutive games and have won outright eight times during that stretch. The only loss came without Rodgers in the lineup at Kansas City. Minnesota is one of the biggest roller-coaster teams in the NFL. The Vikings are 0-3 ATS in their last three home games, but own a 4-1 ATS mark as an underdog this season. Best Bet: Minnesota +2.5.
Our Pick: The Packers have covered like it’s their job and are also winning outright. Lay the points.
Dallas Cowboys (-2.5, O/U 56) at Kansas City Chiefs
A compelling matchup because … somehow leading the AFC West after three straight wins in a season that seemed to be slipping away, the Chiefs will play host to the two-loss Cowboys in “America’s Game of the Week.” Both of Dallas’s losses this season have come on the road, while Kansas City is a mediocre 3-2 at home and is somehow a dismal 2-4 in divisional games against AFC West opponents. The Cowboys are not a member of that division — but they are also better than the Broncos, Raiders and Chargers by far.
Appelbaum’s Assessment: The Cowboys (7-2 SU, 8-1 ATS) got back on track last week, demolishing the Falcons 43-3 and easily covering as 7.5-point home favorites. The Chiefs (6-4 SU, 3-7 ATS) most recently beat the Raiders 41-14 as 2.5-point road favorites. This line opened with Kansas City listed as a 2.5-point home favorite. The public is riding the Chiefs at home laying a short spread, yet we’ve seen this line remain frozen at 2.5. This signals some wiseguy action on Dallas plus the points. Short road dogs +3 or less are 16-7 ATS (70%) this season. Dogs off a blowout win of 20+ points are 6-4 ATS this season and 17-10 ATS (63%) the past two seasons. Dak Prescott is 15-9 ATS (63%) in his career as a dog. I’ll take the Cowboys in a teaser (+2.5 to +8.5), which goes through the key numbers of 3 and 7.
Gable’s Guess: The Chiefs look like the Chiefs again. Their defense continues to step up and play well. They seem to have fixed a lot of what ailed them at the beginning of the season. That’s the real story of the Chiefs, though everyone wants to focus on the offensive side of the ball and Patrick Mahomes. The Cowboys are averaging 31.6 points and 433.9 yards per game. The reason for that is Dak Prescott. He has a league-best 110.8 passer rating. Keeping him healthy should be the main priority for Dallas. I feel like Dallas has won and had success this season despite head coach Mike McCarthy. This is going to be a close game. The Chiefs are favored and I think the public is going to keep pushing the total up. I’m going to look to take the under.
Rogers’s Recommendation: Kansas City picked up its third consecutive victory last Sunday in a convincing rout as a short road favorite. The Chiefs picked up a rare cover and will look to turn around an 0-5 ATS mark at Arrowhead Stadium this season. The Cowboys rebounded from a horrific performance against Denver two weeks ago to pound Atlanta last Sunday to improve to 7-2 SU and 8-1 ATS. Although Kansas City hasn’t covered a home game this season, this is tied for the lowest number the Chiefs have been laying at home. Dallas is 3-0 ATS as an underdog, but the Chiefs are back to playing like the two-time AFC champions. Best Bet: Kansas City -2.5.
Our Pick: Up to this point, the Cowboys have been more consistent. We’ll take Dallas and the points.
Arizona Cardinals (-2.5, O/U 48) at Seattle Seahawks
A compelling matchup because … playing without Kyler Murray for the second straight week, the Cardinals faceplanted without their star quarterback in Week 10 after playing well without him in Week 9. The Seahawks got their starter, Russell Wilson, back last week but was shut out for the first time in his career against the Packers. Despite last week’s result, the Cardinals still boast the joint-best record in the NFC, whereas the three-win Seahawks only have more victories than a single NFC team — the winless Lions.
Appelbaum’s Assessment: The Cardinals (8-2 SU, 7-3 ATS) have dropped two of their last three games after starting 7-0. Arizona just fell to the Panthers 34-10, losing outright as 7-point home favorites. The Seahawks (3-6 SU, 5-4 ATS) are also struggling, going just 1-4 over their last five games. Seattle just got beaten down by the Packers 17-0 last week, failing to cover as 3-point road dogs. The early lookahead line here was Seahawks -2. We saw this line flip to Cardinals -2.5 behind heavy public support and the possible return of Murray. Dogs after getting shutout are 3-0 ATS this season and roughly 63% over the past decade. Wilson is 24-12 ATS (67%) in his career as a dog. I’m going to buy low on Wilson and take Seattle +2.5 as a contrarian divisional home dog.
Gable’s Guess: Believe it or not, Seattle actually hasn’t lost any ground in the last three weeks, as the teams at the top of the NFC and their division have also struggled over the last three weeks. They are still only 1.5 games behind the current No. 7 seed, which is Carolina at the moment. The Seahawks just have not been able to get things going both offensively and defensively at the same time this year. Wilson didn’t look like his normal self after that finger injury and couldn’t get anything going in his return, but the defense kept him in the game. Arizona still isn’t sure about the status of Murray. They want to be cautious about his return, especially with their bye coming up. Due to the quarterback uncertainty in Arizona, I want to take the points here with Seattle.
Rogers’s Recommendation: Murray is likely coming back this week for Arizona after missing the last two games with an ankle injury. The Cardinals are coming off a dud last week and head to Seattle. In Arizona’s first two road divisional matchups against the Rams and 49ers, the Cardinals closed as underdogs and put together terrific performances in outright wins. The Seahawks are a home underdog for the third time this season and are looking to win in that role for the first time. Following Seattle’s shutout at the hands of Green Bay last week, expect the Seahawks to be desperate here and put together a better showing against the Cardinals. Best Bet: Seattle +2.5.
Our Pick: It’s feeling like Seattle’s last stand, but we’re still laying the points if Murray plays. If not, go under.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+5.5, O/U 47) at LA Chargers
A compelling matchup because … both the Chargers and Steelers find themselves in the middle of a very busy pack in the AFC entering a pivotal Week 11 game. Pittsburgh has a winning record yet somehow has a negative point differential margin on the season at -9. Los Angeles, with five wins and four losses, can make the same exact claim.
Appelbaum’s Assessment: The Steelers (5-3-1 SU, 3-6 ATS) are undefeated over their last five games but just tied the Lions 16-16, failing to cover as 6-point home favorites. Meanwhile, the Chargers (5-4 SU, 5-4 ATS) have hit the skids lately, going just 1-3 over their last four games. Los Angeles just fell to Minnesota 27-20, losing outright as 3.5-point home favorites. The early lookahead line on this one was Chargers -3 at home. With Mason Rudolph possibly set to start in place of Big Ben, this line has risen. Road dogs +7 or less are 47-17 ATS (73%) this season and primetime dogs are 21-9 ATS (70%). Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin is 3-1 ATS as a dog this season and 41-20 ATS (67%) in his career. Even with Rudolph, this line is too high. I’ll take the Steelers and the points.
Gable’s Guess: The lines reflect the uncertainty around Ben Roethlisberger. The Chargers have to wait and see whether they’re going to face Rudolph or Roethlisberger. Tomlin has prepared as if Rudolph will be the starter this week. Tomlin did say he’s comfortable starting Roethlisberger on very little preparation. Despite Pittsburgh’s offense putting up 387 total yards in Week 10, they had two costly fumbles in overtime that ended up really costing them the victory. LA’s offensive line has been playing really well lately. They only allowed five pressures on Justin Herbert against the Vikings. Their pass rush was also decent in getting to Kirk Cousins, but their defense couldn’t get off the field in the second half and allowed Minnesota to convert four of six third-down conversions. I think the Steelers should certainly be able to run the ball against LA, which has been their Achilles’ heel on defense all year. With a full week of prep for Rudolph, he should be better prepared. Even if it’s Roethlisberger, I’m good. I’m going to take the points here with Pittsburgh.
Rogers’s Recommendation: Pittsburgh heads west after finishing in a tie against winless Detroit. The Steelers are 0-5 ATS this season as favorites, but have responded in the underdog role by covering in three of four opportunities. The Chargers have fallen short recently by losing three of the past four games, including the last two games as a short favorite. This is the biggest number bookmakers have had L.A. lay this season, and though Roethlisberger’s status is still up in the air, the Chargers are due for a solid performance in front of a nationally televised audience. Best Bet: L.A. Chargers -5.5.
Our Pick: The Chargers have reverted to doing Charger-y things. Don’t love it, but take the Steelers with the points.
Last Week: 2-3; Season: 25-24-1
Editor’s note: Betting lines fluctuate throughout the week based on injuries, weather reports and other factors. Make sure to double-check odds before betting.
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