This is NFL Best Bets, a recurring series in which football experts and handicappers lend us their insights and picks for the most intriguing matchups for each week of the professional football season.
In this Week 11 edition of NFL Best Bets, Thomas Gable, the director of race and sportsbook at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, sports betting reporter Josh Appelbaum of VSiN and Mike Golic Jr. of DraftKings share their opinions on five games that will kick off in the coming days, including the Eagles heading to Kansas City on Monday night to take on the Chiefs in a Super Bowl rematch. (The Super Bowl winner is 6-2 in the previous eight Super Bowl rematches.)
You’ve got places to go, people to see and possibly some wagers to make, so let’s get to it.
Steelers (+1, O/U 33) at Browns
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Browns listed as a 4.5-point home favorite. With Deshaun Watson injured and Dorian-Thompson Robinson slated to start in his place, we’ve seen Cleveland fall from -4.5 to -1. Currently 52% of bets and 54% of money is taking Pittsburgh. Mike Tomlin is 4-2 against the spread (ATS) as a dog this season and 55-29 ATS (65%) as a dog in his career. The Steelers also have value as a divisional dog. Shawn Hochuli, the lead ref, has historically favored road teams (58% ATS). Give me the Steelers +1.
Gable’s Guess: The Steelers continue to do the improbable. They win games while being outgained on offense and they’re dealing with mounting injuries on defense, so you have to wonder how long they can keep this up. They’ve been outgained in nine consecutive games now, but they’re sitting at 6-3. The Steelers won the first matchup between these two teams this year, 26-22. It’s tempting to grab the points with the Steelers, but I like the under more here.
Golic’s Gamble: Big 10 West vibes here in the AFC North. Due to Deshaun Watson’s season-ending surgery, the Browns will be trotting out rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson vs. a Steeler defense that feels more whole with Cam Heyward back roaming the sidelines. On the other side, Kenny Pickett and the Steelers’ offense continue to only show up in the fourth quarter. If you haven’t already heard, the Steelers are the first team in NFL history to be outgained in each of their first nine games and still emerge with a winning record. Points and yards will be hard to come by in a way that would make Iowa football proud. I’ll take the under.
IH Best Bet: Not sure how much Watson really matters. Taking Cleveland and laying the point.
Raiders (+13.5, O/U 46.5) at Dolphins
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Dolphins listed as a 10-point home favorite and has increased. Currently, 73% of bets and 80% of money is laying the points with Miami. This lopsided Pro-and-Joe action has steamed Miami up from -10 to -13.5. Favorites off a bye, like Miami, are 56% ATS over the past two decades. It’s hard for me to lay the higher number after it has moved so much. Instead, I’ll target the total. It opened at 48 and has fallen to 46.5. Only 36% of bets, but 63% of money, is backing the under, a sharp bet discrepancy. When the total falls at least a half point, the under is 58-34 (63%) this season. I’ll take the under.
Gable’s Guess: The Raiders have won two in a row after firing Josh McDaniels. They’ve also faced the two New York teams in a row at home. Those teams struggle on offense and it’s going to be a completely different story traveling to Miami to face the league’s highest-scoring offense. The Dolphins will be well-rested off their bye. The last time we saw Miami, they only put up 14 points in Germany against Kansas City. The Vegas pass rush may give Miami some problems, but I do worry about the Raiders being able to put up enough points to keep up with the Dolphins. I will take the under, especially if Vegas is going to be looking to give a heavy workload to Josh Jacobs again.
Golic’s Gamble: There’s been more shuffling on the Dolphins’ OL and the Raiders have been coasting on the high of Antonio Pierce’s new job title, but they are destined to regress against better competition than the MetLife contingent. It all screams under. Almost two touchdowns is a bit rich for my tastes even if I do think the Phins win decisively here. Give me the under.
IH Best Bet: Agreement is very rare. Under.
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Jets (+7, O/U 39.5) at Bills
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Bills listed as a 7-point home favorite. Despite their recent string of poor play, the public isn’t quitting Buffalo. However, despite receiving 61% of bets, the Bills remain frozen at -7. This signals liability on the Jets plus the points. New York has value as a divisional dog, with the built-in familiarity leveling the playing field and benefiting the team getting points. The Jets also have correlative betting value as a touchdown underdog in a low-total game (39.5). Buffalo is also on a short week having played on Monday night. I’ll take the Jets +7.
Gable’s Guess: The Jets continue to underperform on offense as they’ve had major struggles getting the ball into the end zone. They’ve scored 31 total points in their last three games and they haven’t exactly been going up against elite defenses. This is an important division game for both of these teams. The Bills find themselves at .500 now after their loss to the Broncos and they’re facing a very real threat of missing the playoffs. Buffalo’s offense continues to turn the ball over at an alarming rate. Josh Allen leads the NFL with 11 interceptions and he has 13 turnovers overall. New York’s defense is for real and may continue to cause turnover issues for the Bills. I wouldn’t be surprised to see turnovers help push the total, so I’m going to take the over.
Golic’s Gamble: Zach Wilson started his up-and-down 2023 season on MNF in a stunning upset of the Buffalo Bills after Aaron Rodgers went down. Since then, we’ve seen inconsistent performances week after week behind a beat-up offensive line. The Bills just fired their offensive coordinator after a brutal loss to the Broncos and they’ve turned the ball over more than any team in football in the last month. I say the buck stops here. Buffalo’s season is teetering on the edge and I think there will be a new focus from Josh Allen that keeps the ball off the mat and in the end zone. I will lay the points.
IH Best Bet: It’s a tough call, but a coach firing usually creates some sparks. Smash spot? Laying the points.
Vikings (+2.5, O/U 42.5) at Broncos
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Broncos listed as a 2.5-point home favorite. The public is jumping on the Josh Dobbs bandwagon and currently 68% of bets are taking the points with Minnesota. However, despite such lopsided betting, the line hasn’t budged. This signals liability on the Broncos, with sportsbooks reluctant to drop the spread for fear of giving out a better number to contrarian Denver bettors. The Broncos enjoy notable home-field advantage at Mile High. I’ll back Denver to win on the moneyline -140.
Gable’s Guess: Kirk Cousins was putting up MVP-like numbers before he was lost for the season and, improbable as it’s been, Josh Dobbs is now leading Minnesota into the playoff hunt. The Vikings defense deserves a ton of credit for their blitz-heavy approach. The Broncos are riding high after their road win against the Bills, but this will be a difficult test considering how well the Vikings are playing. I think Minnesota’s defense will give the Denver offensive line some problems and Russell Wilson will have to rely on his legs. I’m taking the points with Minnesota.
Golic’s Gamble: This is The Water-Finds-Its-Level Bowl. A Bronco defense that had 70 points scored on it earlier this season has only given up more than 20 points once in the last four weeks. The Vikings have won five in a row with three different starting QBs. Brian Flores’s defense is starting to show its teeth and will be facing a Denver offense that still struggles to put up points even when gift-wrapped with good field position. I think the Vikings win on the road as the Passtronaut continues to get familiar with his surroundings. I will take the Vikings and the points.
IH Best Bet: Taking the points with the Vikings all day.
Eagles (+3, O/U 45.5) at Chiefs
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Chiefs listed as a 2.5-point home favorite. The public is grabbing the points with the trendy dog Eagles. However, despite 65% of bets taking Philadelphia, this line has remained frozen at Chiefs -2.5 and even reached -3 at times throughout the week. Kansas City is receiving only 35% of bets but 65% of money, a sharp contrarian bet split. Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes are a perfect 5-0 straight up off the bye. With Taylor Swift in the stands, I have to fade the trendy dog and take the contrarian favorite Chiefs on the moneyline -145.
Gable’s Guess: I think there are continuing questions about the health of Jalen Hurts and the Eagles have played that very close to the vest. We’ll just have to wait and see how he looks. Since it’s Andy Reid off a bye week, we’re obliged to give his amazing record: 21-3. The Eagles have allowed the fifth-most passing yards per game, the third-most passing touchdowns and the most passing first downs this season in the NFL. But they have the best rushing defense in the league. I’m going to expect plenty of passing attempts from Patrick Mahomes in this one and lay the points with the Chiefs.
Golic’s Gamble: Both of these teams have yet to play their best football so far this season, yet they seem even more destined for a Super Bowl rematch than ever before. Taylor Swift will likely be in attendance, which means the season-long trend of Travis Kelce’s Swift-based production bump should continue against an Eagle secondary that definitely needed the bye week after finishing the Cowboys game a bit banged up. The Chiefs’ defense should provide the difference as they have all year and help avenge the opening night loss at Arrowhead. This would be KC’s biggest statement win of the year so far. Will lay the points with the Chiefs.
IH Best Bet: Neither team has looked right but maybe that doesn’t matter. Laying the points with KC.
Last Week: 1-3-1 This Season: 24-24-2
Editor’s note: Betting lines fluctuate based on injuries, the weather and other factors. Double-check the odds before betting.