Week 11 of the NFL season is here, and it’s finally starting to feel like football season.
In a season that has lacked a bit of drama and big-game performances from big-name players, Week 10 was a nice change of pace. The Vikings and Bills played the game of the year with jaw-dropping performances from the likes of Justin Jefferson and Josh Allen. Then, we saw two of the NFL’s bluebloods take it down to the wire with the Packers potentially saving their season with an overtime win over Mike McCarthy and the Cowboys.
Oh, and then on Monday night, the Washington Commanders knocked the Philadelphia Eagles from the unbeaten ranks.
Thanksgiving is in sight, the playoff push has begun in earnest, and we’re about to get a taste of winter that could very much affect the way our first of three favorites to avoid for Week 11 play.
(-8) Buffalo Bills vs. Cleveland Browns
If the line starts moving as Sunday nears, this could be a similar situation to last week in Buffalo. We had the Bills as a stay-away last week at -5 against Minnesota given the uncertainty around Allen’s elbow. Buying back in on Buffalo at, say, -3.5, would have made sense though it ultimately was the wrong side. This week, we’re protecting against the weather. There’s potential for a historic snowstorm in Buffalo this weekend coming off Lake Erie. We’re talking feet of snow. The forecasts indicate the heavy stuff will fly in the days leading up to Sunday, but the winds could linger. If that’s the case, and it affects the passing game, it’s hard to lay more than a touchdown with Buffalo. It’s natural to want to compare this to the Patriots’ wind game last season, and it could play out in similar fashion. Buffalo’s biggest advantage is in the passing game. Not only would the wind minimize that advantage, but it could also enhance Cleveland’s biggest advantage, which is the running game with the two-headed monster of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. The Browns’ rushing attack ranks third by DVOA and second by EPA per play. Buffalo’s run defense has been a mess the last three weeks, ranked 25th by EPA allowed per play, allowing an NFL-worst 5.9 yards per carry over that stretch. That’s on top of the fact they don’t run the ball very well themselves outside of Allen tucking and running. Again, if the number gets driven down and the forecast changes, there might be an opportunity to jump on the Bills later in the week, but it’s hard to do so at this number right now.
(-4) New Orleans Saints vs. Los Angeles Rams
This just feels like an overreaction to everything going on with the Rams right now. LA has lost three in a row and hasn’t scored more than 17 points in a game over that stretch. It’s unlikely to get much better without Cooper Kupp. But laying more than a field goal with the Saints against the defending Super Bowl champions is hard to justify. It’s even more difficult to get behind given the injury issues for the Saints, who might be down three starters on the offensive line. Oh, and here comes Aaron Donald. New Orleans scored just 10 points last week in Pittsburgh and will be worse off this week. This game just has 17-14 written all over it.
(-6.5) Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers
The Chiefs are 7-2 and have a direct path to the No. 1 seed in the AFC and are fifth in the NFL by DVOA. Yet, they don’t feel nearly as invincible as they have in recent seasons. Kansas City is just 4-5 against the spread this season, and it has only looked downright dominant in two games: Week 1 at Arizona and Week 7 at San Francisco. It hasn’t been especially arduous for the Chiefs, but it hasn’t looked as easy as it has in past seasons. Now, they get a Chargers team that has given them fits in the Justin Herbert era. The Herbert-led Bolts are 2-3 against KC dating back to 2020, but those three losses came by an average of four points, including the three-point game in Week 2 in Kansas City. The Chiefs are better now than they were back then, and LA looks destined for a lost season, but the Chargers are getting slightly healthier. It sounds like they’ll have Keenan Allen and Mike Williams back for this one. The defensive line injuries that hurt LA on Sunday in San Francisco might not be as prevalent against a Chiefs team that treats the run game like an afterthought.