I managed to not take a loss last Thursday…because it was a push. I hate Thursday games and I’ve pulled out my hair watching those games. They are just poorly played and have been difficult to handicap.
I finished last week .500, but it’s time to have a big week. I feel pretty good about the lines this week. There’s only one double-digit point spread, which is pretty rare this late in the season.
There are fourteen games on the schedule for the last week. There will be sixteen games a week starting next weekend.
Can the Patriots (-6.5) cover on the West Coast?
We pick ever NFL game against the spread and throw out a few upsets in Week 11 of the 2017 NFL season.
Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7) – My pick is Tennessee Titans
The last four Thursday games have hit the under and I have a feeling this game will be a low-ish scoring affair as well. Both teams are coming off close wins last week. The Steelers won at Indy by a field goal and the Titans beat the Bengals by four points at home. Pittsburgh didn’t have an easy time against the Colts. I assumed they would just throw all over the Colts. Pittsburgh RB Le’Veon Bell also only averaged a little over three yards per carry. Not sure what’s going on, but the Steelers haven’t lit up the scoreboard this season. The Titans have also had a couple just ‘average’ scoring games recently. QB Marcus Mariota is hurting from ankle and shoulder injuries. He’s still playing, but they are needed big efforts from runnning backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. The Steelers may still win this game, but I don’t see them scoring enough to cover.
Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) – My pick is Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles has been putting up crooked numbers. They have scored at least 33 points in over half of their games. Rams QB Jared Goff appears to have found his favorite play big receiver in WR Robert Woods. When you factor in elite running back Todd Gurley and their defense full of Pro Bowlers, the Rams could be the team to beat in the NFC. The Vikings also have one of the best defenses in the NFL. They are near-impossible to run on and Gurley will have his hands full…and the same could be said for the Vikings backfield. This game will be won and lost by the quarterbacks. Minnesota QB Case Keenum is great on the fly, but if he doesn’t have a running game, he could force passes in tight windows. He has been bitten by the interception bug in the past. Keenum will throw a pick late to seal the game for the Rams.
Baltimore Ravens at Green Bay Packers (+2) – My pick is Green Bay Packers
The Ravens have looked pretty average for most of the season. They did look great in games against Cincinnati, Oakland and Miami, but the rest have been mediocre. They could get RB Danny Woodhead back this week, but it’s still undetermined. The Ravens will need their secondary to force a few turnovers. The Packers were able to hold off Chicago at Soldier Field and also lost RB Aaron Jones to a knee injury. They will trot out rookie RB Jamaal Williams and use Ty Montgomery out of the backfield as well. Green Bay QB Brett Hundley needs some help since Baltimore’s defense leads the NFL in interceptions (13). I liked Williams at BYU and he should fill-in with success. I have to trust GB’s talented wide receivers in running crisp routes that gives Hundley every opportunity to get them the ball. I have to take the Packers to cover at home.
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears (+3) – My pick is Detroit Lions
The Lions are coming off back-to-back wins (and covers) at Green Bay and at home against Cleveland. Detroit QB Matthew Stafford got one of his weapons back last week. WR Kenny Golladay had two catches for 64 yards. Stafford will have plenty of targets and when healthy, they have arguably the second-best collection of receivers in the NFC (Packers have more WR talent). The Bears made a recent change that affects their offense in a negative way. They are using RB Benny Cunningham more on passing downs to help protect QB Mictchell Trubisky. Why is protecting your QB bad? Well, Cunningham is replacing RB Tarik Cohen, who was a huge part of Chicago’s passing game. Cohen is now just RB Jordan Howard’s backup. Also, Cunningham’s fumble late in last week’s game was brutal. The Bears offense isn’t as explosive and their third-down success rate will take a hit. If they have trouble on third-down, the Lions should easily cover and win at Soldier Field.
Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints (-7.5) – My pick is New Orleans Saints
The Saints are the most consistent team in the NFL. They are on a seven-game winning streak and have covered in every one of those wins. Their offense is as dangerous as ever, but the damage is done on the ground and from passes to running backs. Running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara are impressive and has made QB Drew Brees job easy as hell. Their defense is the most-improved defense in the league. A team hasn’t scored more than 12 points in each of their last three games. Washington is coming off a 38-30 loss at home to Minnesota. They have been out-gained on the ground in all by three games this season. The Redskins offense goes through their tight ends. The Saints defense is the fourth-best in fantasy against opposing teams tight ends. I know this is betting and not fantasy, but that stat is useful here. The half-point is scary, but I’ll take the Saints to cover at home.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Cleveland Browns (+7.5) – My pick is Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags have the best pass defense in the NFL. The Browns have the worst quarterbacks in the NFL. This game could get ugly. I just have zero faith in the Browns being able to move the ball and avoid interceptions. I’m taking the Jags to cover in Cleveland.
Arizona Cardinals at Houston Texans (-1) – My pick is Arizona Cardinals
Oh man…do I want to put my money on Tom Savage or Blaine freakin’ Gabbert? I doubt either quarterback will factor into the decision as they will be given about two pages of the playbook. The Cardinals defense is less banged up and I’d take RB Adrian Peterson over the entire Texans backfield. Peterson is coming off a horrible Thursday game performance. Don’t worry Adrian, I struggle on Thursdays too! The Texans have lost both games (and lost against the spread) since QB Deshaun Watson was lost for the year. Houston is snake-bitten and I don’t see them winning too many more games this season. I can’t believe I’m betting on a Blaine Gabbert-led team, but I’ll take the Cardinals.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Miami Dolphins (pk) – My pick is Miami Dolphins
The Bucs beat the Jets last week with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. He will be starting in place of QB Jameis Winston again this week. The Bucs/Jets game wasn’t pretty and was rather sloppy. Tampa Bay’s defense actually showed up to play, which was a surprise. They seem to only play defense at home. Miami has been one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL. Despite weapons on offense, they have been shutout twice and failed to score a touchdown in three games. They are coming off a 45-21 loss to Carolina. They let the Panthers run all over them. My hunch is that this game will be a high-scoring affair. Tampa Bay is 0-3-1 ATS on the road this season. This is the game in which Miami QB Jay Cutler finds out he still can play in this league (albeit against a bad defense). I’m taking the Dolphins.
Kansas City Chiefs at New York Giants (+10) – My pick is Kansas City Chiefs
This line scares me a little. The Giants have been God awful on defense, but the Chiefs haven’t been lighting up the scoreboard either. The reason I’m taking the Chiefs to cover is just because all the other teams that have had success against the Giants at home. Also, the Giants can’t defend tight ends and the Chiefs have a good one in TE Travis Kelce. If the 49ers can beat the Giants by double-digits, the Chiefs should cover this amount, right? Kansas City should right the ship on offense against the Giants defense.
Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Chargers (-4.5) – My pick is Los Angeles Chargers
I hate, hate, hate the Bills benching QB Tyrod Taylor for rookie QB Nathan Peterman. This line has only moved a half-point in the Chargers favor since it opened, so maybe the public doesn’t see a huge downgrade. The Bills run defense has been swiss cheese the last few games. The Saints backfield ran wild and I could see Chargers running backs Melvin Gordon and undrafted rookie Austin Ekeler having success. The Chargers have some of the best pass rushers in the league. Peterman will end up on his back a few too many times for my liking. I’m taking the Chargers to cover at home.
New England Patriots at Oakland Raiders (+6.5) – My pick is New England Patriots
The Patriots have been a strong road team this year. They are 4-0 on the road (3-1 ATS) with road wins over the Saints, Bucs, Jets and Broncos. They were able to move the ball with ease in their 41-16 win at Denver last week. Patriots QB Tom Brady had three passing touchdowns and was able to complete passes to nearly every New England play eligible to catch a pass. The Raiders are coming off a bye. Oakland QB Derek Carr needed a week of rest since he has been dealing with a back issue since early in the year. He has started to look like himself the last two games. I worry that Oakland’s defense will not be able to contain the musical chair-like backfield of New England. They have so many backs they use like a Swiss Army knife. The Raiders have had issues in the past stopping running backs from hurting them. The Pats are clicking on all levels right now and are extremely dangerous, so I have to take them to cover.
Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos (-2.5) – My pick is Denver Broncos
Yuck. Neither of these teams are playing well. You used to be able to count on Denver’s defense to keep them in games, but they’ve allowed a total of 92 points in the last two games. Those two games were against two of the best offenses in the league, but that stat is still a bit of a red flag. That being said, Denver’s defense should look like its old self against Cincinnati QB Andy Dalton. The Bengals are exactly what the doctor ordered. Denver may only win by three points, but it will be enough to cover this spread at home.
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys (+3.5) – My pick is Philadelphia Eagles
The Cowboys are God awful without LT Tyron Smith. His replacement allowed Atlanta DE Adrian Clayborn to sack Dallas QB Dak Prescott a team-record six times. Smith is still dealing with a groin injury and may not play against the Eagles. The Eagles are coming off a bye and looked damn near impossible in their 51-23 against Denver in their previous game. Philly QB Carson Wentz will have the help of an upgraded backfield with RB Jay Ajayi getting an extra week of playbook study. If Smith doesn’t play, I don’t like Dallas in this game. I have to take the Eagles to cover on Sunday Night Football.
Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks (-2.5) – My pick is Seattle Seahawks
The Falcons destroyed Dallas last week, but I almost want to throw that win out. The Cowboys offense couldn’t do anything since LT Tyron Smith’s replacement was God awful. Any team would have got to Dallas QB Dak Prescott all game. The Falcons defense is just a little above average, so don’t overthink this one. Seattle is coming off a sloppy Thursday night win at Arizona. Seattle star cornerback Richard Sherman ruptured his Achilles in that game, so he will be lost for the season. CB Jeremy Lane will be taking over his role in the Legion of Boom. I don’t see it as a huge downgrade. If you look at advanced metrics, Sherman has been getting worse the last two seasons. Seattle is a tough place to play and Atlanta is 1-4 ATS on the road. This line should be a little higher and there’s value here, so I’m taking Seattle to cover.
*These picks are for entertainment purposes
Sweetbob’s NFL picks against the spread record in previous seasons:
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob