Week 11: Rams at Vikings
The preseason future odds implied less than a 1 percent chance that the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams would all emerge together as NFC division winners.
There’s a long way to go, but the foursome are all on top of their respective leagues through 10 weeks and looking like clear favorites to earn at least one home playoff game. None of them were favored to be in this position a few months ago.
The Rams were the longest shot of all, with the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook listing them at 15-to-1 in the preseason to win the NFC West. The Saints were offered at the highest price of any team in the NFC South at 6-to-1.
Philadelphia and Minnesota are the two somewhat foreseen contenders as they were 5-to-2 and 3-to-1 divisional choices, respectively. With eight different Super Bowl representatives in the last nine years, the NFC regularly produces a surprise champion.
By the odds, it’s right on pace to live up to that reputation again.
Check below to find Talking Points’ Week 11 picks on every game, including one between two of the aforementioned division leaders. The overall record on the year stands at 77-66-3 after a 9-5 showing last week. Picks are separated in three confidence categories, and lines are the best currently available locally on the chosen side.
Seattle Seahawks minus-2.5 vs. Atlanta Falcons The loss of Richard Sherman hurts the Seahawks, but the expected return of Earl Thomas more than makes up for any downgrade. Seattle hasn’t been favored by this few points at home since quarterback Russell Wilson’s rookie season, and it’s a mystery as to why an average Atlanta squad is the one to break the streak.
Washington Redskins plus-8 at New Orleans Saints New Orleans didn’t even lay this many points at home to Tampa Bay and Chicago in its last two home games, and Washington is far better than those two teams. The Saints have been the best team in the NFL during a seven-game straight-up and against the spread winning streak, but it’s time to sell high as they’ve played at an unsustainable level.
Pittsburgh Steelers minus-7 vs. Tennessee Titans Titans have a negative point differential on the year, which means they’re fortunate to be sitting at 6-3 against the spread and ever-so-slightly overvalued by public perception. Steelers have a coaching advantage, which is extra beneficial for Thursday Night Football when teams must prepare on a short week.
Dallas Cowboys plus-4 vs. Philadelphia Eagles Line is a couple points inflated coming off a bumbling performance where the Cowboys allowed eight sacks in a 27-7 loss to the Falcons as 3.5-point underdogs. The Eagles rank 18th in the NFL in sack rate, making it unlikely they can generate the same type of pressure.
Los Angeles Chargers minus-3.5 vs. Buffalo Bills Some sports books made no adjustment with the Bills’ announcement that Nathan Peterman will start over Tyrod Taylor at quarterback. That seems like an oversight, as any player in his first career start should have trouble navigating a pass defense that ranks seventh in the NFL in giving up 6 yards per pass attempt.
Miami Dolphins pick’em vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Line moved as much as three points towards the Buccaneers after the Dolphins’ blowout 45-21 loss to the Panthers as 8-point underdogs on Monday Night Football. That’s an overreaction, and it’s difficult for a team that play that poorly two weeks in a row.
Oakland Raiders plus-7 vs. New England Patriots in Mexico City Could be a good spot for the Raiders, which are coming off a bye week with one of the NFL’s most explosive passing games still intact. The Patriots’ pass defense, meanwhile, remains a work progress by ranking 31st in the NFL in surrendering 7.8 yards per attempt.
New York Giants plus-11 vs. Kansas City Chiefs The Chiefs’ defense is every bit as bad as the Giants as they’re both sitting in the bottom four of the league in giving up 6 yards per play. The last time the Giants were written off and installed as double-digit underdogs, they beat the Broncos outright.
Detroit Lions minus-2.5 at Chicago Bears Behind cornerback Darius Slay and safety Glover Quin, the secondary might be the Lions’ biggest strength. Any team with an above-average secondary is a bet-on right now against still-developing Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
Houston Texans plus-1.5 vs. Arizona Cardinals When two teams are this equally destitute, common procedure is to make the home team a 3-point favorite. A big deviation from that could pass as value.
Minnesota Vikings minus-2.5 vs. Los Angeles Rams In a game with a perfect line between two teams that have performed consistently well, employing a contrarian strategy is the fallback option. Ninety percent of the tickets are on the Rams early in the week so there’s no hesitation to be on casinos’ side with the Vikings, which have covered four in a row just like their opponents.
Cincinnati Bengals plus-3 at Denver Broncos With struggling offenses and underachieving defenses laboring through a pair of seemingly lost seasons, these two teams appear similar. But only one of them has shown signs of quitting with five straight losses by double digits.
Jacksonville Jaguars minus-7.5 at Cleveland Browns Under coach Hue Jackson, the Browns are mired in one of the worst betting runs in NFL history with a 5-19-1 against the spread record. There’s no reason to ever back them when a point spread that looks even marginally practical.
Green Bay Packers plus-2.5 vs. Baltimore Ravens One of the only teams in the NFL nursing more injuries than the Packers are the Ravens. That doesn’t mean Baltimore can’t win in Green Bay, but its considerable injury report means it shouldn’t be favored.