We’re all out of unbeaten teams, and the playoff races are wide-open across the NFL. It’s a good time to be a football fan.
Let’s not waste any time getting into the Week 11 against-the-spread picks from NESN.com’s Mike Cole, Ricky Doyle and Andre Khatchaturian.
First, here’s how they fared last week.
Mike Cole: 6-6-1 (75-70-3 overall)
Ricky Doyle: 8-4-1 (81-64-3)
Andre Khatchaturian: 6-6-1 (72-73-3)
And here are their Week 11 picks.
THURSDAY, NOV. 14
Pittsburgh Steelers at (-2.5) Cleveland Browns, 8:20 p.m. ET
Mike: Steelers. Feels like we’re looking a painfully low-scoring game here, so I’ll take the better defense and hope Pittsburgh can score, like, 20 points. If the Steelers can get to 20, I like my chances, especially knowing the Browns are always a turnover away from killing themselves.
Andre: Steelers. Since Week 4, the Steelers have allowed the fewest yards per play (4.3) in the NFL. They also have the second-best turnover differential and have forced at least three turnovers in each of their last five games. The Steelers also hold the advantage in the trenches as they?re third in sacks and have allowed the fewest sacks.
Ricky: Steelers. The Browns are 2-6-1 ATS, which is the second-worst ATS record in the NFL behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 2-7 mark. It’s largely because Cleveland continues to be overvalued, with Week 11 being the latest example: Why should I lay points and back a team with a mistake-prone offense against a red-hot division rival with an excellent defense that ranks second in the league in takeaways?
SUNDAY, NOV. 17
Atlanta Falcons at (-5.5) Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Panthers. Nice win for the Falcons last week, but they’re all kinds of banged up with Austin Hooper and Devonta Freeman likely down for this one. The Falcons also have had their struggles protecting the quarterback, and Carolina leads the league in sacks.
Andre: Falcons. Atlanta is actually third in the NFL in first downs per game. Shocking. Their biggest issue is that they haven’t been able to get a run game going this year (last in rush attempts) and because of this they’ve been too reliant on Matt Ryan (Falcons have the third-most pass attempts). Fortunately for Atlanta, Carolina’s run defense is atrocious (5.2 yards allowed per carry).
Ricky: Falcons. The Falcons usually play the Panthers tough, evidenced by Atlanta’s 6-1 record SU + ATS in the teams’ last seven head-to-head matchups. Matt Ryan also gives the Falcons enough of a quarterback advantage to keep Atlanta within striking distance against a Carolina team coming off a crushing defeat.
(-6) Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bills. Buffalo has feasted on bad teams this season, and as they start to face better competition, that will continue to show. Despite a two-game winning streak, the Dolphins still aren’t good, and the Bills’ running attack and defense should make it a long day for the Fins.
Andre: Dolphins. I don?t see many points being scored in this game because the Bills struggle moving the ball and their defense is potent enough to limit Miami?s anemic offense. With Miami at home in a divisional game in what?s expected to be a low-scoring game, I?ll take the points.
Ricky: Bills. Classic case of the Bills’ defense looking like a juggernaut against a terrible offense. I also was forced to defend Josh Allen in an office debate the other day — don’t ask — so I’m kinda pot committed.
(-3.5) Dallas Cowboys at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m.
Mike: Cowboys. The Cowboys are like a much better version of the Bills in that they beat up on bad teams. The Lions are bad and getting worse without Matthew Stafford, but the real issue is the Detroit defense. Dallas can get its rushing attack right this weekend against the Lions’ 20th-ranked DVOA defense vs. the run.
Andre: Cowboys. Detroit has the seventh-worst rush defense and that doesn?t bode well against a Cowboys team that loves to run the ball and leads the league in first downs per game, yards per play and yards per play differential.
Ricky: Cowboys. The potential absence of Stafford is enough to side with the Cowboys, who should take care of business regardless of who’s under center for the Lions thanks to an overwhelming advantage in the trenches.
Denver Broncos at (-10.5) Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m.
Mike: Vikings. The Broncos typically have had success when they can run the ball; they’re 2-2 when eclipsing the 100-yard mark. But the Vikings’ run defense is stout, and if Denver falls behind early, they have no chance of hanging with a Minnesota team that is playing as well as anyone in the league right now.
Andre: Broncos. Kirk Cousins was fourth in the NFL in pass attempts last season because the Vikings failed to establish a running game for most of the year. This year, he?s 18th in the category and as a result, his numbers have improved greatly. He has 16 touchdowns and just one pick over the last eight games. Unfortunately for Minnesota, Denver has a great rush defense (4.0 yards allowed per carry) so there?s a good chance they limit Cook and keep this one within the number.
Ricky: Broncos. This feels like a perfect letdown spot for the Vikings, who are coming off a huge win over the Cowboys in Week 10 and have a bye in Week 12, especially when you consider Minnesota’s knack for occasional hiccups.
Houston Texans at (-4) Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m.
Mike: Texans. Houston finally is getting healthy, especially in the secondary, and Bill O’Brien has been sneaky good (4-1) after a bye. The Texans also do well in early-down situations on defense, which could force Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense into some tough-to-convert third downs.
Andre: Texans. All three of Houston’s losses have been by one possession. The Texans have faced 23 rush attempts from quarterbacks this year for 119 rush yards and a touchdown (90 of those yards came against Gardner Minshew). Mark Andrews also could have a tough time in this one as Houston allows the fifth-fewest yards to tight ends.
Ricky: Texans. Houston’s defense did an excellent job against a mobile quarterback, Gardner Minshew, in a 26-3 win over Jacksonville in Week 9. Containing Jackson obviously is a whole different beast, but the Texans are solid against the run and will do whatever it takes to make the Ravens’ electric QB beat them through the air. The key for Houston will be weathering the storm early, as Baltimore’s offense can catch teams by surprise by virtue of its sheer uniqueness.
Jacksonville Jaguars at (-3) Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m.
Mike: Jaguars. First, my apologies to Jacoby Brissett, who, it turns out, is much better than Brian Hoyer. But even with Brissett back this weekend, I’m taking the rested Jaguars who will have Nick Foles back after a Week 1 injury. Also, kind of hard to lay points with Indy right now given how unreliable Adam Vinatieri has been.
Andre: Jaguars. It appears Jacoby Brissett will start, but I like the Jaguars rested coming off a bye week with their starting quarterback back under center. Also, every single Colts game this year has been decided by one possession, so I?ll take the points even if it?s just three.
Ricky: Colts. Indianapolis’ run defense has looked much better with linebacker Darius Leonard back in the fold. That’ll force Jacksonville to throw the ball, and it’s fair to suspect Foles will be a little rusty upon returning from a nine-week absence.
New York Jets at (-1) Washington Redskins, 1 p.m.
Mike: Jets. Because they are not the Redskins.
Andre: Jets. The Jets allow a league-low 3.0 yards per play, which means Dwayne Haskins might be forced to throw the ball a ton in this game.
Ricky: Jets. The Redskins have scored 18 points total in their last three games. Granted, Washington’s three losses in that span came against good defenses — 49ers, Vikings, Bills — but the Jets’ defense is decent enough, particularly against the run, to continue the Redskins’ trend of offensive ineptitude.
(-5.5) New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bucs. It doesn’t sound like New Orleans cornerback Marcus Lattimore is going to play. He’s been a force against Tampa stud receiver Mike Evans in past games, and if Evans is liable to go off here, I think Tampa will score enough to keep it within the number.
Andre: Saints. I keep banking on the Bucs’ rush defense to limit opponents and it keeps biting me in the butt. Tampa is 2-7 ATS this year (the worst ATS record in the NFL). Turnovers will be the difference in this one. The Saints have the fewest giveaways this year, while Tampa has the second most.
Ricky: Bucs. Drew Brees didn’t look right last week. Tampa Bay’s stout run defense will do enough to complicate matters for the Saints, who will be forced to throw perhaps more than they’d like while easing their veteran quarterback back into action.
Arizona Cardinals at (-11.5) San Francisco 49ers, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Cardinals. Arizona has quietly done a nice job running the ball this season, which is something that has given the Niners trouble. San Fran has allowed at least 100 rushing yards in its last six games and has been even worse in the last three games, allowing 5.7 yards per carry, including a close three-point win in Arizona where the Cardinals ran for 153 yards.
Andre: Cardinals. Arizona has the best ATS record in the NFL this season. In their last meeting, they were able to run all over the 49ers and ended up losing by just three points. The Cardinals also don’t turn the ball over much, having a league-low six giveaways all year.
Ricky: Cardinals. Love the Cardinals as an underdog pick this season. They’re 7-2 ATS in that role. This week is no different for many reasons, namely the uncertainty surrounding San Francisco’s top two targets — George Kittle and Emmanuel Sanders — as the Niners come off a tough Monday night loss.
Cincinnati Bengals at (-10.5) Oakland Raiders, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Raiders. Being favored by this many is rare for Oakland, but if you can find one area in which Cincinnati should have sustained success in this game, please let me know.
Andre: Raiders. There’s only one team that allows more yards per pass than the Raiders: the Giants and the Bengals, who allow nine yards per pass attempt. Cincinnati also has the worst yards per play differential, fourth-worst turnover differential and they allow the most rushing yards per game.
Ricky: Raiders. Already spent way too much time on this game — watch the video above — and the prevailing thought remains the same: the Bengals stink.
(-3.5) New England Patriots at Philadelphia Eagles, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Eagles. Don’t love picking against the Patriots after a loss and the bye, but the Eagles’ run game is coming alive (182 yards per game, last two weeks), while New England’s run defense has been leaky in recent games. I think Philly can slow it down and have some success out of its two-tight end sets and keep it within the number.
Andre: Patriots. Since 2003, the Patriots are 40-16 ATS (!) after a loss with a margin of victory of 11.9 points. I’m going to put my faith in the Patriots defense, who still have allowed the fewest yards per play and go up against an offense that’s 23rd in yards per play. The Patriots’ rush defense is their weakness, but Philly is 19th in yards per carry. The Patriots also allow the third-fewest receiving yards to tight ends this year.
Ricky: Eagles. Philadelphia’s offense is far different than Baltimore’s stylistically, but the path to victory against New England remains the same one week after the Ravens knocked off the Patriots: Run the ball, control the clock, wear down the Pats’ elite defense. The Eagles (first in run blocking, per Pro Football Focus, and first in first-down run success rate, per Sharp Football Stats) are equipped to execute that offensive game plan, while Philadelphia’s ability to rush four and create pressure defensively could pose problems for Tom Brady.
Chicago Bears at (-6.5) Los Angeles Rams, 8:20 p.m.
Mike: Bears. The Rams probably shouldn’t be laying that many points against anyone, especially against a defense that can rush the passer as well as Chicago. The Rams’ offensive line is a mess, and that obviously makes it hell for the offense to get any offensive rhythm going.
Andre: Rams. Neither team has run the ball efficiently this year and the Rams and Bears are second and fourth, respectively, in yards allowed per carry. Expect a pass-heavy game and if that’s the case I’ll take the Rams, who have the better quarterback and stronger weapons.
Ricky: Bears. Chicago’s defense could pose many of the same problems that Pittsburgh’s defense did last week against Los Angeles, in which case laying a touchdown seems outrageous.
MONDAY, NOV. 18
(-4) Kansas City Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 8:15 p.m. (in Mexico City)
Mike: Chargers. Perhaps LA’s extra rush helps them playing in the thin air. Perhaps more importantly, is the Chargers’ newfound run success. They’re averaging 152 yards on 34 carries the last two games, and their best bet is to slow down the game against KC’s 31st-ranked run defense (by DVOA).
Andre: Chargers. Philip Rivers leads the NFL in pass attempts. That offense is far too reliant on him because Melvin Gordon has stunk on ice. Well, maybe against the horrendous Chiefs’ run defense, Gordon (or even Austin Ekeler) will come alive and help keep this one within the number.
Ricky: Chiefs. The Chargers rank 31st in Pro Football Focus’ pass-blocking grades, and the Chiefs actually have been getting after the quarterback of late. Also, the Chiefs typically take care of business against divisional opponents (18-7 ATS since 2015) and against the Chargers (7-3 ATS since 2015).