Week 11 in the NFL is a trap game.
Maybe not for players and teams — you know, the people who matter — but for the NESN.com trio of Mike Cole, Ricky Doyle and Andre Khatchaturian.
Are they looking ahead to Thanksgiving week? Or are they going to buck the trend of generally poor prognostication and get on the right track? Smart money likely is on the latter.
Before their Week 11 against-the-spread picks, here’s how they fared last week.
Mike Cole: 6-7-1 (67-76-3)
Ricky Doyle: 7-6-1 (68-75-3)
Andre Khatchaturian: 6-7-1 (66-77-3)
Now, here are their Week 11 picks, with all lines via consensus data:
THURSDAY, NOV. 19
Arizona Cardinals at (-3.5) Seattle Seahawks, 8:20 p.m.
Mike: Seahawks. This is completely narrative-driven, but everything points to Seattle: It’s a game the Seahawks need to have to keep pace, it’s Thursday night with homefield advantage, it’s a revenge game and the Cardinals seem primed for a letdown after a Hail Mary win.
Ricky: Seahawks. This is a gut-check game. Either the Cardinals are going to solidify themselves as legitimate contenders, or the Seahawks are going to show they’re still the team to beat in the NFC West thanks in large to their quarterback-coach tandem. The latter seems like the safer play, for many of the reasons Mike mentioned.
Andre: Cardinals. Seattle’s pass defense woes are well documented. Meanwhile, Russell Wilson is on pace to blow past his career-high in interceptions. Fifteen of Seattle’s last 18 wins have been by one possession. The ‘Hawks play in a lot of close games, so if I’m getting points with an explosive offense like Arizona’s, I’m taking it.
SUNDAY, NOV. 22
Tennessee Titans at (-6.5) Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m.
Mike: Titans. A year ago, Derrick Henry averaged 149 yards per game from Week 10 and on, a stretch in which Tennessee went 5-2 (he missed one of those losses). Baltimore, meanwhile, has mounting injuries, perhaps none more important this week than nose guard Brandon Williams, whose ankle injury Sunday night preceded the Patriots running all over the Ravens.
Ricky: Ravens. Baltimore isn’t the same team it was last season. But neither is Tennessee, which has serious issues on the defensive side and on special teams. Feels like a get-right spot for the Ravens, who will be inherently undervalued after last week’s debacle in New England.
Andre: Titans. Tennessee has allowed just 94 rushing yards to quarterbacks this season (fifth-fewest) and it has faced mobile QBs like Deshaun Watson. The Ravens’ rush defense is in the middle of the pack, allowing 4.5 yards per carry, which might not cut it against Henry, who’s second in the NFL in rushing. Finally, the Titans do an excellent job of not turning the ball over, so they won’t be giving Lamar Jackson a short field.
Detroit Lions at (-1.5) Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Panthers. With a line that small, I’m basically left asking myself, “Do I really think the Lions will win this game?” I lean toward “no,” so let’s roll with the Panthers, no matter who’s under center.
Ricky: Lions. This game would be a toss-up even with a healthy Teddy Bridgewater. Now that he’s unlikely to play, I can’t justify laying points with the Panthers, especially given how vulnerable they are defensively.
Andre: Panthers. The Lions have allowed the most yards per catch to running backs. Good luck against Mike Davis, who shined in the absence of Christian McCaffrey earlier this season with 47 catches and 290 receiving yards.
Philadelphia Eagles at (-3) Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m.
Mike: Browns. It doesn’t inspire much confidence that Philly has allowed 152 rushing yards per game over its last five games. Cleveland’s rushing attack is ranked seventh by DVOA.
Ricky: Eagles. Philadelphia is getting healthier offensively, with Miles Sanders, Jalen Reagor and Dallas Goedert all returning in recent weeks. No more excuses for quarterback Carson Wentz, although the Eagles would be wise to lean on their rushing attack against a Browns defense that ranks 30th in run stop win rate.
Andre: Browns. The Eagles have a mediocre rush defense, which might not be enough against Nick Chubb, who is averaging a league-high 6.1 yards per carry. Philadelphia’s biggest strength is its pass rush, but the Browns have allowed just 12 sacks this season, fourth-fewest in the NFL.
(-2) New England Patriots at Houston Texans, 1 p.m.
Mike: Patriots. The Texans are 2-7. Both of those two victories came over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Patriots aren’t great, but the Jags they are not.
Ricky: Texans. There’s just something fishy about this game. The Patriots should take care of business after a statement win over the Ravens, but they’re still devoid of elite talent. A letdown feels inevitable, with Deshaun Watson leading the charge for Houston.
Andre: Patriots. The Texans allow the most yards per carry and are going up against the Patriots, who love to run (first in rush attempts) and are good at it (third in rushing yards per game).
(-10) Pittsburgh Steelers at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m.
Mike: Jaguars. I hate how much I love this pick, but this is the biggest trap game I’ve ever seen. Pittsburgh often plays down to lesser opponents, and it probably has at least one eye on a Thanksgiving night clash with Baltimore.
Ricky: Steelers. This game does feel trappy. I’ll concede that. But I’m also not sure where Jacksonville’s points are going to come from, with Pittsburgh’s defense being the best Jake Luton has faced to date.
Andre: Jaguars. Luton’s Jaguars have played opponents tough in the last two games, losing by a combined six points to the Texans and Packers. I agree with Mike. This is a trap game for the Steelers.
Atlanta Falcons at (-5) New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m.
Mike: Saints. Atlanta certainly isn’t an unknown to Jameis Winston, a former Buc. The biggest reason for the Saints lean here is that defense, which has forced eight turnovers and allowed no more than 330 yards of total offense in their last three games.
Ricky: Saints. Winston isn’t just playing to keep the Saints on the right track. He’s also playing to resurrect his career as a starting quarterback, perhaps paving the way for a lucrative contract in free agency. This matchup against an inconsistent Falcons defense is an inviting warmup.
Andre: Saints. Drew Brees had the fewest intended air yards per pass attempt in the NFL before his injury. New Orleans doesn’t have to change its offense much with Winston, whose biggest struggle was turning the ball over. Winston had the second-most intended air yards per pass attempt last season. It won’t be surprising to see Winston adopt a Brees-like style and incorporate short passes to guys like Alvin Kamara.
Cincinnati Bengals at (-1.5) Washington Football Team, 1 p.m.
Mike: Washington. The Football Team has obvious offensive deficiencies but has found ways to move the ball against bad defenses, and this Bengals defense — ranking 30th in defensive DVOA — is the worst.
Ricky: Washington. Cincinnati’s offensive line against Washington’s pass rush is a nightmare matchup for Joe Burrow and Co. The Bengals are winless in their last 18 road games (0-17-1 SU). Might as well stick with tradition for another week.
Andre: Washington. The Bengals have allowed the second-most sacks in the NFL and are going up against a Washington pass rush that is fifth in sacks.
(-3.5) Miami Dolphins at Denver Broncos, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Dolphins. The Dolphins rank seventh in the NFL in takeaways. The Broncos are last in giveaways. Seems like that might be a slight problem for Denver.
Ricky: Dolphins. Drew Lock or no Drew Lock, the Broncos will have a hard time gaining traction against Miami’s defense, which continues to make strides under Brian Flores.
Andre: Broncos. For the third consecutive week, I’m taking the Broncos as my upset pick. This time, I’m much more confident because they’re at home. Also, the temperature will be in the 30s in Denver. Tua Tagovailoa is from Hawaii, played college in the SEC, and his first three starts were in warm weather climates. Maybe the rookie struggles in the cold against a defense that allows fewer than seven yards per pass attempt.
New York Jets at (-8.5) Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Jets. Joe Flacco actually looked pretty good the last time we saw him (on a Monday night against the Patriots), and he’s coming off an extra week of prep during the Jets’ bye.
Ricky: Chargers. Is it fair to say the Jets actually peaked in a loss to the mediocre Patriots? Speaks to how bad they stink, really.
Andre: Chargers. Throw that 2-7 SU record out the door. Los Angeles has a positive yards per play differential and is playing the worst team in football. The Chargers just have had a tough schedule featuring losses against strong teams like the Chiefs, Saints, Bucs, Raiders and Dolphins.
Green Bay Packers at (-2.5) Indianapolis Colts, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Packers. If Allen Lazard gets the green light, this will be the healthiest Green Bay’s offense has been since Week 2. In case you forgot, the Packers averaged 42.5 points and 505 total yards in the first two weeks.
Ricky: Packers. Indianapolis’ defense is excellent, strong at all three levels. But it won’t bully Green Bay at the line of scrimmage. The Packers rank first in pass block win rate and second in run block win rate, and they just got back All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari. It’s time to start paying more attention to the Packers now that they’re healthy.
Andre: Packers. The Colts’ rush defense is great, but who cares? The Packers are 7-2 SU this season despite cracking the century mark in rushing yards just four times. The Colts also don’t run the ball well, so this game will be decided by the quarterbacks. Advantage: Aaron Rodgers.
Dallas Cowboys at (-7.5) Minnesota Vikings, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Vikings. Minnesota’s offense moves the ball with relative ease, but turnovers have been an issue. The Cowboys, however, have a bad defense and thus don’t force turnovers. The Vikings’ trend of beating up on bad defenses continues.
Ricky: Cowboys. Maybe the Vikings actually are good now. But I don’t know. It still feels like they’re destined to crash back down to earth at some point.
Andre: Vikings. Dallas is terrible against the run, allowing five yards per carry, and has to go up against Dalvin Cook, who has been unstoppable of late. Kirk Cousins has just one pick in the last three games, and Dallas has the second-fewest interceptions.
(-6.5) Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders, 8:20 p.m.
Mike: Chiefs. Hard to see Vegas getting stops. The Raiders rank 31st in yards per drive allowed, 31st in points per drive allowed and dead last in defensive drive success rate. It’s also a special revenge game.
Ricky: Chiefs. I tend to lean toward the Chiefs in almost every instance unless something about the opponent or the matchup jumps off the page, as Kansas City has been a covering machine (29-14-2 ATS) since Patrick Mahomes took over as the starting quarterback. The Raiders, while pesky, shouldn’t pose much of a problem given their issues slowing both the run and the pass.
Andre: Chiefs. The Chiefs’ biggest weakness is their run defense, but will it matter? Kansas City likely will torch the Raiders’ defense and get on top early, forcing Derek Carr to throw the ball a ton. The Chiefs’ pass defense is surprisingly good this season, ranking third in coverage grade on Pro Football Focus and allowing the third-fewest yards per pass attempt.
MONDAY, NOV. 23
Los Angeles Rams at (-3.5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8:15 p.m.
Mike: Bucs. This feels like a repeat of Week 8 for LA when Miami pressured Jared Goff into an abhorrent performance. Goff completes under 40 percent of his passes with a 36.8 passer rating under pressure, while Tampa’s pressure rate is third in the league. Not to mention LA just lost starting tackle Andrew Whitworth.
Ricky: Rams. LA has the ability to pressure the quarterback (fourth in sack percentage) without sending extra defenders at a particularly high rate (21st in blitz percentage). These types of defenses have long been a thorn in Tom Brady’s side. And offensively, the Rams should lean on their short passing attack, as the Bucs have allowed the most receptions to running backs and the seventh-most yards after catch this season.
Andre: Bucs. I had picked the Rams and the points in this week’s episode of “The Spread,” but after hearing Mike’s convincing arguments, I changed my pick and I’m not ashamed. When Goff is under pressure, he is prone to making mistakes. The Bucs lead the league in interceptions, and short fields are going to be a lot more manageable for Brady against a stingy Rams defense.