Remind me never to doubt the National Football League again. As soon as I began to wonder if we’d ever see another good Thursday Night Football game, the NFL served up a doozie this week as the Seahawks edged the Packers 27-24 in a thriller in Seattle. While home teams still have too much of an advantage in those Thursday nighters (they’re now 9-2 straight up, with the only losers being the Giants and Cardinals), it was great to see a nationally-televised game between two marquee quarterbacks go down to the wire.
On the bright side, that Green Bay/Seattle game may have set the tone for what looks like a tremendous week of action in the NFL. There are lots of matchups with massive playoff implications for both teams involved (Dallas/Atlanta, Cincy/Baltimore, Houston/Washington, Philly/New Orleans and Minnesota/Chicago), and the cherry on top of the sundae comes Monday night as the Chiefs and Rams collide in arguably the most highly-anticipated regular season game of the century.
I’ve got a bet in that KC/LA game, plus two more wagers for this week as well. Let’s break them down in these NFL predictions for Week 11.
All odds that are referenced in this article were taken from BetOnline.ag at 9 a.m eastern on November 16, 2018. These odds may have changed since the time of this writing.
1. 6-Point Teaser (-110): Tampa Bay Buccaneers +8 (Sunday, 1 p.m. eastern) and LA Chargers -1 (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. eastern)
Props to Odell Beckham Jr. for setting the bar high in New York, but this Giants team isn’t going to win out the rest of the year and make the playoffs. Heck, the G-Men were barely able to get past a 2-win 49ers team starting its third-string quarterback Monday night in San Francisco, needing a penalty-assisted final drive to steal a 27-23 victory. Generating just 277 yards of offense against a fellow bottom-feeder doesn’t give much reason for optimism that this Giants offense is going to break out down the stretch.
You might be thinking, big deal, so Tampa Bay is +2 here instead of -2. When the point spread is this low, it almost doesn’t matter who is favored, since nearly all games are decided by 2 points or more. That’s true when you’re betting point spreads, but not when you’re betting teasers. With Tampa as a short underdog here, we’re now able to tease the Bucs over a touchdown, which creates some massive value. New York’s 2 wins this year have each come by 4 points, so by teasing Tampa to +8, the Giants would need to do something they haven’t done all year in order to beat us.
For the other leg of our teaser, let’s use the streaking Chargers to simply beat the Broncos this week at home. I’m not interested in laying a touchdown with LA against a Denver team coming off its bye (notice how the oddsmakers have been reluctant to move this spread off the key number of 7?), but I’m confident that the Chargers find a way to pull out the victory one way or another. LA’s done a great job of that this season, with 3 of its 6 straight victories coming by a single possession.
Meanwhile, the Broncos have been roadkill when away from home under head coach Vance Joseph, going 3-11 against the spread in their last 14 games on the highway. Home teams have dominated this AFC West rivalry in recent years, winning 5 straight meetings and 7 of the last 9. And although the Broncos have had a week off since a 19-17 loss to the Texans in Week 8, that loss — when Denver missed a game-winning field goal attempt on the final play — was the kill shot on any playoff hopes for the Broncos this season. Having lost 6 of their last 7 games (and with that lone win coming at Arizona), the Broncos might very well mail it in the rest of the way. But even if they bring their max effort here, teasing the Chargers down means we only need LA to win the game.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars +6 (-110) over Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday, 1 p.m. eastern)
The Steelers’ tough start to the season (a tie against Cleveland and a loss at home to Kansas City) is a distant memory. Pittsburgh has won 6 of its last 7 games since that 0-1-1 start, including an impressive 52-21 dismantling of the visiting Carolina Panthers last Thursday night. The offense is humming along (fourth in the league in points scored) and the defense has held 6 straight opponents to 21 points or less. Heck, even the Le’Veon Bell saga seems to be behind them, now that Bell has missed his deadline to report and James Conner is more than filling the void.
Jacksonville always gets up for Pittsburgh in a rivalry that dates back 20-plus years to their time together in the former AFC Central. The Jags have covered the number in 8 of the last 11 meetings overall as well as 9 of the last 12 meetings in Jacksonville, and the underdog has covered the spread in 10 of the last 11 meetings. In fact, over the last 10 times the teams have played, Pittsburgh has beaten Jacksonville by more than this point spread just once — a 17-9 victory in 2014. I know the rosters look different now than they did in all of those previous meetings, but the bad blood between these rivals still runs deep.
As much as Pittsburgh wants to get back at the Jags for a pair of losses last season (including in the AFC playoffs), Jacksonville will be totally up for this game as well. The Jaguars’ playoff hopes are on life support, and I expect them to bring everything they’ve got in this one. Give me the 6 points, and I’ll also have a piece of the Jacksonville moneyline (+200) in my pocket as well.
3. Kansas City Chiefs +3.5 (-116) over Los Angeles Rams (Monday, 8:15 p.m. eastern)
What can be said about this game that hasn’t been written already? This matchup’s got it all — a pair of 1-loss teams squaring off for regular season NFL supremacy, led by two of the most dynamic offenses that we’ve seen in NFL history. Speaking of history, the Over/Under of 64 is believed to be the highest NFL total that Vegas has ever seen. And if this game wasn’t interesting enough already, the horrible field conditions at Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium forced NFL officials to move the game back to the Rams’ home field in Los Angeles.
The Rams’ defense gets a lot of respect from NFL bettors, but that stop unit has been more bark than bite this year. Just once in its last 8 games has Los Angeles held an opponent under 20 points, and that one time was against the 49ers. In games with Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson or Kirk Cousins as the opposing quarterback, the Rams have given up 165 yards in 5 games — an average of 33 points per outing. So what reason is there to think they can suddenly contain Patrick Mahomes and a KC offense that has scored 30-plus in all but 2 of its 10 games so far?
Need a final reason to back the Chiefs this week? Just look at the trends. LA is an overrated team in the betting marketplace, failing to cover the spread in 6 of its last 7 outings — including a 10-point loss at New Orleans 2 weeks ago in the Rams’ biggest stepup spot of the year. Meanwhile, KC continues to deliver for its backers, covering the spread in 8 of 9 games before last week’s obvious letdown spot against Arizona. The Chiefs have also been excellent on the road under Andy Reid (20-7 ATS in their last 27 road games), while the Rams have covered the number in just 2 of their last 8 at home. Add it all up, and the Chiefs +3.5 looks like it’s just oozing with value.