Last week I decided I was going to go with my gut instead of my brain. Apparently, my gut and my brain are in cahoots because I went 1-2 yet again last week to make it 16-22 on the season. It’s actually impossible to be so consistently wrong when the lines are so accurate, so that should count for something. Picking blindly should give me about a 50% win rate. It may be time to start fading myself and picking the opposite of what I think will happen. As always, we’ll review last week’s picks before jumping into a few more for week eleven.
Vikings Team Total over 24.5: I will admit I was wrong in that this game didn’t go off the rails like all Chargers and Vikings games tend to do, but that doesn’t really matter. The Vikings struggled in the red zone and didn’t score until the second quarter, but they managed to turn it on later in the game and get over the total.
Packers Team Total over 26.5: I guess saying “Aaron Rodgers is mad” isn’t a great analysis. The Packers dominated the game from start to finish but didn’t put the points on the board to really show that. I’ll blame this loss on the weather, not that my pick would have changed if I knew how cold it was going to be, but that’s an easy excuse for losing so I’ll run with it.
Raiders Team Total over 24.5: When I finally hop off the Chiefs’ bandwagon they decide to play like the Chiefs. I can only assume Patrick Mahomes is reading my articles and played his best game of the season out of spite. Desean Jackson also really killed any chance this one had by forgetting which direction to run and fumbling the ball in the red zone. Even then, we would have been a touchdown short of the total. Oh well.
Now, let’s get to some picks.
Ravens @ Bears First Half O/U 23.0
We’re through ten weeks of the season and I’ve made the same mistakes over and over again. This is the week I finally look at a pick from last week, identify what went wrong, and make a pick with that information in mind. I started out by looking at the lines and saw the Ravens as five-point favorites against the Bears. Immediately, my (small) brain thought “five points isn’t that many, the Ravens will surely cover that”. But then I thought back to last week’s game in Green Bay where neither offense had anything going in the freezing weather and changed the direction I was headed with this pick. The first-half total for this game is set at 23, which means four scores assuming there are no two-point conversions, which I’m betting won’t happen in the first half.
Lamar Jackson looked a bit rattled on Thursday night against Miami and hasn’t practiced this week due to a non-COVID sickness; maybe it’s time to change up his diet a little bit. I don’t think it’s unfair to say the Ravens were dominated last week. They only lost by 12, but it never felt like they had a chance. I don’t think “the book is out” on the Ravens like some people may tell you, but the Dolphins did exploit the Ravens’ offense by blitzing early and often, something the Bears may try to replicate. This pick isn’t about the Bears shutting the Ravens down though, it’s really about the playstyles of these two teams. Nobody runs the ball more in the first half than the Ravens…except for the Bears. Keeping the ball on the ground burns the clock and limits possessions, and with a total that requires four scores, long drives are our friends. These run games are effective, but they won’t blow you away on the ground. De’vonta Freeman likely isn’t running for a fifty-yard touchdown any time soon. Methodical drives that pick up first downs and end in a field goal are an under-bettors dream, and that’s what I’m banking on here. I won’t even mention pace like I always do (it’s slow), because that never works. Lastly, the weather in Chicago for Sunday looks rough. High in the low 30s with plenty of wind. Bear weather – not great conditions for throwing the football. Pound the rock, run the clock, and keep the score in the single digits.
Pick: UNDER 22.5 (-120, Fanduel Sportsbook)
Chiefs Team Total O/U 30.5
I literally just (15 minutes ago) wrote about how I’m going to learn from my mistakes this week and pick winners as a result. So to briefly recap, last week I hopped off the Chiefs’ bandwagon, Patrick Mahomes threw for 400 yards and five touchdowns, and I lost my bet miserably. This week, I’m staying off the Chiefs’ bandwagon and betting against them yet again. Yes, they dominated the Raiders on the road in a must-win spot. And yes, the Cowboys always seem to implode when it looks like they’ve got it all figured out. And yes, I’m talking myself out of this pick as I write this introduction, but sometimes you have to fade yourself, so I’m gonna go with my gut and bet against the Chiefs yet again.
The Chiefs are an interesting team in that everyone expects them to be perfect on offense, so when they struggle the pendulum swings too far in the other direction and everyone acts like it’s the end of the world. That’s why football is great: the games are played just frequently enough where we have time to overreact to every little thing that happens. So now that the Chiefs are an offensive juggernaut again, it’s the perfect spot to fade them and bet an under. The Chiefs’ team total is set at 30.5, a number they’ve hit several times this season. The Cowboys, on the other hand, have only allowed an opponent to hit 31 points once this year: week one against Tampa. Their defense has looked strong all year which is only complimented by their offense’s ability to control the ball and put points on the board. Although the Cowboys are the second fastest team in the league in terms of situation-neutral pace (there’s pace again), I like them to slow down a little bit on the road to make sure they have the right calls in and keep the crowd from getting too rowdy. Arrowhead Stadium is one of the most difficult places to play, so a long, sustained drive can go a long way in taking the crowd out of the game. I like the Cowboys to do enough on defense to hold the Chiefs under 31 points on Sunday afternoon.
Pick: UNDER 30.5 Points (-110, DraftKings Sportsbook)
Dolphins/Jets First Quarter O/U 9.5
I’d like to preface this post by once again clarifying that I am a Patriots fan and I have a bias against AFC East teams. I grew up watching Tom Brady and Bill Belichick dominate the AFC East while the other teams were perfect examples of what not to do on a football field. As I mentioned earlier, the Dolphins took care of business against the Ravens last week in prime time in large part thanks to their defense, forcing a couple of turnovers and converting them into points. The Jets were embarrassed (again) by the Bills and continue to have a rotating cast of characters at quarterback.
Tua Tagovailoa should be the starter this week for Miami after missing some time due to injury which gives the Dolphins a slight boost under center, but not enough to swing my opinion on this game. Apart from my Patriots’ bias, I also don’t think lefties should play quarterback, but that’s not important. Tua has been okay this season, earning a 71.6 from ProFootballFocus, but he really doesn’t do too much to blow you away. He’s made “big-time throws” on just 3.3% of his attempts this season, towards the bottom of the league. The Jets on the other hand are starting Joe Flacco, and while some will tell you he’s elite, I’m here to tell you he isn’t. Flacco also isn’t going to blow you away, he’s just there to check the ball down, avoid getting hit, and make his money. I’m worried about a defensive touchdown stemming from all the offensive ineptitude, but I think we can go fifteen minutes with no points on the board in this one.
Pick: UNDER 9.5 (-120, Fanduel Sportsbook)
Another bonus pick for the people to help me feel a little bit better about my lack of NFL success. The Qatar Grand Prix takes place on Sunday morning before the NFL games kick off. You’ll have to take my word for it, but my Formula 1 picks have been red hot as the season comes to a close. Last week, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen were involved in a “racing incident” where Verstappen ran Hamilton off the track while defending first place. Personally, I think it should have been a penalty as Verstappen didn’t attempt to make the corner, but my opinion is irrelevant. The FIA ruled there was no need for a penalty, establishing an interesting precedent for the end of the season. I expect some very aggressive defending if drivers attempt to pass on the outside. All it takes is one incident to cause a pileup and damage to cars. Couple that with a new track where drivers have very little experience and it’s a recipe for car retirements. As tempers flare in a heated title race, I like someone to get a little too aggressive and fireworks to ensue. I’ll take the under 17.5 on cars to finish the race.
Pick: UNDER 17.5 Drivers Classified (-115, DraftKings Sportsbook)
Featured Image by Jacob Roy (@jmrgraphics3 on IG)