NFL Picks Week 11: Tony Romo’s Return Alters Cowboys-Dolphins Outlook

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So, that was weird.

If you wanted to sum up Week 10 of the NFL season in one word, it would be, “Huh?” The Green Bay Packers lost their third straight, the Jacksonville Jaguars won (on the road!), Peyton Manning was benched and the Chicago Bears scored 37 points. Also, the Cincinnati Bengals lost in underwhelming fashion, but we all knew that was coming eventually.

All this jumbling only makes the Week 11 slate that much more interesting. NESN.com experts Mike Cole, Ricky Doyle and Ben Watanabe are back to advise who you should pick as the NFL enters its stretch run.

Take a gander at the standings going into Week 11:
Ben Watanabe: 78-62-4 (Last week: 6-8). Still in first place, but he’s gotten progressively worse every week.
Mike Cole: 74-66-4 (Last week: 6-8). Treading water and probably the one real threat to Ben’s crown.
Ricky Doyle: 69-71-4 (Last week: 2-12). Only one thing to say about Ricky’s Week 10: Ouch.

Let’s take a spin through this week’s games. (All lines provided by OddsShark.)

THURSDAY, NOV. 19
Tennessee Titans (2-7) at (-2.5) Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6), 8:25 p.m. ET
Ricky: Jaguars. Thankfully, I’m on vacation this week, because I’ll need to be really drunk to stomach five minutes of this game. Give me the team that stinks less.
Ben: Jaguars. OddShark’s preview article for this matchup is headlined, “Jags have been dominant ATS vs. Titans.” Say no more. “Jags” and “dominant” don’t appear together in the same sentence often, so when they do, it’s got to mean something.
MikeJaguars. Not only are the Titans bad, they’re injured up and down the roster. Kendall Wright’s up in the air, and Tennessee just lost Justin Hunter and Jason McCourty for the season.

SUNDAY, NOV. 22
Indianapolis Colts (4-5) at (-7) Atlanta Falcons (6-3), 1 p.m.
RickyColts. Been burned by the Falcons way too many times this season. Staying away from them until further notice.
Ben: Colts. If we had a “pass” option, I’d utilize it here. The Falcons haven’t covered since Oct. 4. They’re hot garbage. The Colts, who are one injury away from having Charlie Whitehurst at QB, also are hot garbage.
MikeColts. That’s a lot of points to pass up. The Falcons maybe aren’t what we thought they were, and Matt Hasselbeck did get an extra week of preparation with the Colts 1s.

St. Louis Rams (4-5) at (-1) Baltimore Ravens (2-7), 1 p.m.
Ricky: Rams. The Rams are the better team. And you’re giving me a point? Sure.
Ben: Rams. The Ravens just have to win a close game eventually, but at 1-7-1 ATS with an average margin of defeat of less than three points, it’s far more likely they will lose by a field goal.
MikeRams. The Rams aren’t as good as everyone thinks they are, and the Ravens aren’t as bad as everyone thinks they are. That being said, I just can’t take the Ravens.

Washington Redskins (4-5) at (-8.5) Carolina Panthers (9-0), 1 p.m.
Ricky: Redskins. The Panthers are going to lose at some point. It’ll probably be Thanksgiving Day against Tony Romo and Co. — don’t ask me why — but don’t sleep on the ‘Skins, who are coming off a blowout win over the lowly Saints.
Ben: Panthers. Kirk Cousins is going to turn back into his old untimely-turnover-machine self eventually, and Josh Norman could be the guy to make it happen.
MikeRedskins. Don’t tell Ben, but Cousins has only thrown one pick in the last three weeks, and it was on a ball his dummy receiver dropped. He also has eight TD passes in that time.

(EV) Denver Broncos (7-2) at Chicago Bears (4-5), 1 p.m.
Ricky: Broncos. Cue the QB controversy in Denver.
Ben: Bears. Chicago just took it to a good defense in St. Louis, and with Brock Osweiler starting at quarterback and neither C.J. Anderson nor Ronnie Hillman separating themselves at running back, where does Denver’s offense come from?
Mike: Broncos. Everyone’s taking the Bears, which is just weird. Also, when I hear Brock Osweiler’s name, I think of Brock Lesnar, and I’m not picking against this guy.

(EV) Oakland Raiders (4-5) at Detroit Lions (2-7), 1 p.m.
Ricky: Raiders. What’s happening here? The Lions still stink. Don’t let last week fool you.
Ben: Raiders. Holy Overreacting, Vegas Batman. The Raiduhs lost to a good Vikings team and the Lions edged a Green Bay club that’s dealing with some major issues. Oakland rolls.
MikeRaiders. I actually think this game will be very close, but the Raiders’ offense has more weapons than Green Bay’s (such a weird thing to say), and they’ll make the Lions’ defense look like, well, the Lions again.

New York Jets (5-4) at Houston Texans (4-5), 1 p.m.
*No line as of Wednesday morning

(EV) Dallas Cowboys (2-7) at Miami Dolphins (4-5), 1 p.m.
Ricky: Cowboys. Dallas’ offense finally should look competent with Tony Romo back at the helm.
Ben: Cowboys. The Dolphins looked like dog food against Philadelphia before Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez happened, meaning Tony Romo won’t have to do much to squish the fish.
Mike: Cowboys. Neither team is very good, and that’s all I have to say about that.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5) at (-7) Philadelphia Eagles (4-5), 1 p.m.
Ricky: Bucs. A case of two volatile teams, which leads me to believe this will be closer than it should be for the Eagles.
Ben: Bucs. As a former Philadelphian, I both root for and despise the Eagles, which I suppose makes me a true Eagles fan. I can’t trust them giving up any number of points, let alone a touchdown.
Mike: Bucs. Seven points is way too much for me to feel comfortable about taking Mark Sanchez.

(-3) Kansas City Chiefs (4-5) at San Diego Chargers (2-7), 4:05 p.m.
Ricky: Chiefs. Ben and Mike are going to tell you everything you need to know. The Chargers + at home + ATS = bad.
Ben: Chiefs. My philosophy of never picking the Chargers ATS at home has served me well, but this might be the game that breaks the streak. Alex Smith was just “meh” last week despite K.C. putting up 29 points, and Phil Rivers won’t throw a bajillion interceptions like Peyton Manning did. And yet.
MikeChiefs. The Chargers aren’t good at home, as we’ve discussed at length this season. They’re also not very good against division opponents, either, going 0-7 ATS in their last seven AFC West games.

(EV) Green Bay Packers (6-3) at Minnesota Vikings (7-2), 4:25 p.m.
Ricky: Vikings. Jumping off the Packers’ bandwagon. Actually, I’m heaving myself off the bandwagon.
Ben: Vikings. The Pack is going to find its stride soon, but it would be bold to predict that this week. Linval Joseph and the Minnesota D haven’t allowed a quarterback to pass for 300 yards all season.
MikeVikings. I watch more Packers games than anyone else in this space, and believe me when I say I’ve seen nothing in the last three weeks to suggest they will win this week, especially on the road against a good team with a good defense and a good running game.

San Francisco 49ers (3-6) at (-13.5) Seattle Seahawks (4-5), 4:25 p.m.
Ricky: Niners. That’s a lot of points for a team that still has some issues. Backdoor cover.
Ben: Niners. It’s tough to ask Seattle to cover almost two touchdowns when it’s failed to cover spreads of minus-3.5, minus-9.5, minus-7, minus-4.5 and minus-3 — its 17-point win at San Francisco just three weeks ago notwithstanding.
MikeNiners. Seattle actually has covered three of its last four home division games when it has been favored by more than 10 points. But here’s the thing: Those teams were better than this year’s team.

Cincinnati Bengals (8-1) at (-4) Arizona Cardinals (7-2), 8:30 p.m.
Ricky: Cardinals. The Bengals started showing their true late-season stripes Monday night. Against a team — the Texans — that’s mediocre, at best. Don’t be surprised if things start to snowball on Sensitive Andy Dalton, especially against a Cardinals team that seems to have its crap together.
Ben: Cardinals. I actually thought Seattle looked good last week, which made me even more impressed Arizona was able to triumph. For one of the few times this year, I’m eagerly awaiting “Football Night In America.”
Mike: Cardinals. Well, this is kind of horrible timing for the Bengals, coming off their first loss of the season. This is a fascinating matchup, but I’ve gotta give the edge to the home team.

MONDAY, NOV. 23
Buffalo Bills (5-4) at (-7.5) New England Patriots (9-0), 8:30 p.m.
Ricky: Patriots. New England’s injuries are piling up. But at home in prime time? I’ll take the Pats nine times out of 10.
Ben: Patriots. I’m more worried about New England’s nicked-up offensive line than I am about Julian Edelman’s absence in this one, but not enough to sway my belief the Pats will remain unbeaten ATS at home this season.
MikeBills. Not only do I think the Bills cover, I think this could be the week the Patriots lose. It’s gotta happen at some point, right?

Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images

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