After going 8-4 ATS in Week 10, I was able to follow up with a strong 8-3-1 ATS record in Week 11, including cashing in on three of my five recommended wagers. Most importantly, I was able to cash in on my first 6* recommended play of the year as the Steelers stayed within the number against the Ravens.

As usual, I have plenty of excuses for my losing wagers, so let’s get this started.

Eagles @ Redskins

  • Closing odds: Redskins -3.5, total 46
  • Predicted outcome: Eagles 23, Redskins 17
  • Actual outcome: Redskins 31, Eagles 6

Ok, so I was a little bit off on this one. I still maintain that the Eagles should have been a tough game for the Redskins, but I failed to recognize that Philadelphia has just completely given up on playing for Andy Reid. As has been the case for the last month, the Eagles lacked the desire that’s necessary to compete in the NFL, and it couldn’t be more evident that Reid has run his course in Philadelphia. Eagles’ fans also won’t be very satisfied with the performance of Nick Foles. Foles’ first of two interceptions wasn’t his fault as he hit Brent Celek right between the numbers, but he consistently struggled with his accuracy for the remainder of the game and wasn’t able to take advantage of a horrendous Redskins secondary. If you missed Foles’ performance, you can get a glimpse of him next week on Monday Night Football when the Eagles travel to Carolina to battle the Panthers. #snoozer. As for Andy Reid, there couldn’t be a bigger jabroni on the face of the planet. LeSean McCoy was inexplicably left in the game when the Eagles were down 25 in the fourth quarter, and suffered a major concussion because Reid felt that the Eagles were “trying to catch up to win the game”. What a joke. I won’t spend too much time on the Redskins because they dismantled a team that was playing for nothing. They’ll have their hands full against the Cowboys on Thursday afternoon, especially considering free safety Brandon Meriweather got injured again.

Packers @ Lions

  • Closing odds: Packers -3, total 53.5
  • Predicted outcome: Packers 37, Lions 24
  • Actual outcome: Packers 24, Lions 20

I’ve heard the term “bad beat” thrown around from anyone who was backing the Lions in this game, but this was more of a tough loss, and less of a bad beat. In reality, if Mason Crosby didn’t urinate all over himself on Sunday afternoon, this game wouldn’t have been as close as it was. Crosby technically only missed two field goals on the afternoon, but also missed another one as Jim Schwartz was calling a timeout, which makes you wonder if he’s seen his last days with the Packers. Green Bay was surprisingly determined to run the ball in this game, and while I would normally be an advocate of this type of game plan, it just doesn’t suit the Packers. James Starks picked up just 74 yards on 25 carries and really disrupted the flow of the high-octane Packers offense. Green Bay has a tough test in the form of the Giants next week, who will have spent the last two weeks hearing about how bad they are. As for the Lions, they continuously find a way to lose games like this. I’m still not sure why people consider Matt Stafford to be an elite quarterback because he’s horribly inaccurate and forces way too many balls into tight coverage. Stafford’s touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson should have actually been intercepted as it went right through the hands of a Green Bay safety. The Lions have a tough task ahead of them as they host a Texans team that will be looking to prove that they still have an elite defense on Thanksgiving.

Cardinals @ Falcons:

  • Closing odds: Falcons -9.5, total 44
  • Predicted outcome: Falcons 20, Cardinals 16
  • Actual outcome: Falcons 23, Cardinals 19

Well, I pretty much nailed this one on the head. Atlanta has yet to win a game by more than six points this season and that streak continued on Sunday afternoon. In all reality though, the Falcons should have won this game handily. Matt Ryan threw an inexplicable five interceptions (some of which weren’t his fault), but still managed to lead Atlanta to victory. It helped that Michael Turner had his best game in the last calendar year, rushing for 3.1 yards per carry. It also helped that Ken Whisenhunt is one of the biggest assclown head coaches in recent memory. Whisenhunt decided to bench starting quarterback John Skelton in favor of Ryan Lindley, a sixth-round product out of San Diego State. Just to give you an idea of how Lindley played in this contest, think about how Blaine Gabbert would look if he polished off a bottle of Jack Daniels and sniffed some glue in the locker room before the game. Then imagine worse. Lindley finished 9-for-20 with 64 total yards and lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. I think it’s safe to say that the Lindley experiment is over. Arizona plays host to St. Louis next week and while the Rams were equally terrible in Week 11, it’s hard to justify picking the Cardinals against anyone right now. Meanwhile, Atlanta has a huge statement game on deck when they travel to Tampa Bay to battle the red hot Bucs.

Buccaneers @ Panthers

  • Closing odds: Buccaneers -1.5, total 47
  • Predicted outcome: Panthers 31, Buccaneers 20
  • Actual outcome: Buccaneers 27, Panthers 21 (OT)

The tweet above basically sums this one up. I can assure that if I had any money on the Panthers this week, I wouldn’t be writing this article right now because I’d be in a drunken coma. Carolina committed one of the biggest choke jobs in recent memory, and this isn’t the first time that it’s happened this season. Ron Rivera is an absolute joke. Rivera spent 2007-2010 as part of the Chargers coaching staff so it’s no wonder that he’s a train-wreck of a head coach after learning from the absolute worst in Norv Turner. Tampa Bay dominated Carolina in the opening quarter until 2012 Josh Freeman reverted to 2011 Josh Freeman and tossed a pick-six to give the Panthers all of the momentum. From that point forward, the Panthers took it to the Bucs and the result never seemed to be in doubt. Had I not been watching NFL RedZone at the time, I probably would have woke up this morning thinking that Carolina won this game. Oh well. Freeman played extremely well down the stretch and showed that he’s matured as a quarterback. I’m actually looking forward to a Bucs-Falcons matchup for once as that looks to be one of the best games on the Week 12 schedule. As for Carolina, they battle the Eagles on Monday Night Football next week in what could be the worst head coaching matchup of all-time if Rivera and Reid somehow remain employed.

Browns @ Cowboys

  • Closing odds: Cowboys -7, total 43.5
  • Predicted outcome: Cowboys 19, Browns 13
  • Actual outcome: Cowboys 23, Browns 20 (OT)

This result really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The Cowboys notoriously struggle at home against inferior opponents and the Browns continue to be one of the best road underdog bets in the NFL. When Joe Haden was confirmed as being out prior to the game, I was extremely hesitant about backing the Browns, but Dallas once against proved that they can play close games against even the worst of opponents. The Haden loss was huge though. Sheldon Brown was in orbit all afternoon against Dez Bryant. At one point in the second half, it looked like Brown just gave up and started lining up 15 yards off of the line of scrimmage on every play. The saving grace for the Browns was that the Cowboys offensive line was once again putrid, especially after left tackle Tyron Smith left the game due to injury in the first half. Personally, I’m not too worried about the Cowboys. People tend to overreact to every single one of their games because they’re such a highly followed team, but it was clear that they may have overlooked Cleveland with their Thanksgiving Day home game against the Redskins on deck. Cleveland heads back home to take on the Steelers which may actually be a winnable game considering the state of the quarterbacking situation in Pittsburgh.

Jets @ Rams

  • Closing odds: Rams -3.5, total 38.5
  • Predicted outcome: Jets 24, Rams 21
  • Actual outcome: Jets 27, Rams 13

I’m shocked that there were so many people lining up to bet on the Rams yesterday. I mean, I know the Jets are terrible and all, but how the hell could anyone trust St. Louis as a favorite? Professional handicapper Steve Merril tweeted this before yesterday’s game “There’s a #NFL game that is taking a TON of money, and it makes no sense to me at all. Regardless of outcome, “sharps” are dull here IMO”. That game ended up being the Rams-Jets game, and Merril was bang on. I really wouldn’t read too much into this game though. The Jets still stink and the Rams will still be a decent underdog bet down the stretch this season. The most intriguing part of this game was when Jeff Fisher decided to go for a needless two-point conversion. The Rams were trailing 27-7 and scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but rather than kicking the extra point (common sense), Fisher sent his offense out for a two point conversion. Even if St. Louis were to convert the attempt, they’d still be down 12 points, which is still a two touchdown difference. I always thought Fisher knew what he was doing, but it looks like he may have a little bit of Ron Rivera in him. The Rams travel to Arizona to take on the Cardinals next weekend, while the Jets have a Thanksgiving date with the Patriots.

Colts @ Patriots

  • Closing odds: Patriots -10, total 55
  • Predicted outcome: Patriots 42, Colts 20
  • Actual outcome: Patriots 59, Colts 24

My biggest regret from Sunday afternoon wasn’t my wager on the Eagles, or on the Raiders–it was my lack of wager on the Patriots. I knew that New England was going to steamroll Indianapolis but I got scared off because (a) the Colts were on extra rest and (b) the Pats play the Jets on Thanksgiving. What a mistake. It’s not often that Vegas gives away free money, but it was there for the taking yesterday afternoon. The Colts have feasted off an easy schedule this season and created some sort of perception that they’re a playoff caliber team, when in reality, they’re one of the worst ten teams in the league. Andrew Luck will be a great quarterback in time, but he’s way too careless with the ball away from home, and the Patriots were able to make the Colts pay for those careless turnovers. I’m not going to delve much further into this game because these are two teams on opposite ends of the spectrum. The biggest storyline that this game produced was the broken forearm that Rob Gronkowski suffered. It appears as though Aaron Hernandez is close to returning from a high ankle sprain, but the absence of Gronkowski will undoubtedly be missed, especially on a short week. As for the Colts, they return home to battle the Bills next week. Indianapolis has been far superior at home this season so this is a must-win game if they want to keep their playoff dreams alive.

Jaguars @ Texans

  • Closing odds: Texans -15.5, total 40.5
  • Predicted outcome: Texans 24, Jaguars 14
  • Actual outcome: Texans 43, Jaguars 37 (OT)

I’m going to avoid spending too much time on this game. Everyone will overreact to this outcome, but the fact of the matter is that the Texans probably spent the last week preparing for the Lions on Thanksgiving, rather than focusing on the lowly Jaguars. Jacksonville also caught a HUGE break when Blaine Gabbert left the game and was replaced by Chad Henne. Henne is by no means a good quarterback but he’s light years ahead of the useless Gabbert. Even the best teams in the league are capable of laying an egg every once and a while (see Pats vs. Cards Week 2), so let’s give the Texans the benefit of the doubt. We’ll see Houston in three days as they battle the Lions at Ford Field. Meanwhile, the Jaguars return home where they’ve been shellacked in every game this season to take on the Titans, who are coming off of a bye. I don’t like their chances much.

Bengals @ Chiefs

  • Closing odds: Bengals -3, total 42.5
  • Predicted outcome: Bengals 27, Chiefs 12
  • Actual outcome: Bengals 28, Chiefs 6

The Bengals always beat shitty teams. The Chiefs are a shitty team. Write-up concluded.

Saints @ Raiders

  • Closing odds: Saints -6.5, total 56
  • Predicted outcome: Raiders 31, Saints 30
  • Actual outcome: Saints 38, Raiders 17

This might sound crazy but I don’t regret this pick whatsoever. The scoreline will show a 21-point victory for the Saints, but there’s a lot of things that it won’t show. Oakland was able to move the ball at will against the Saints (no surprise), but they killed themselves with turnovers. Carson Palmer threw a pick-six in the first quarter and then followed that up with an interception in the Saints endzone after a touchdown was taken off the board due to offensive pass interference. If that wasn’t bad enough, later in the game Palmer hit wide receiver Rod Streater to get into the red zone, but Streater coughed up the ball and the Saints recovered. New Orleans’ defense had only forced 11 turnovers in 9 games this season so it was tough for me to see this coming. I never picked the Raiders because I thought that they were going to stop Drew Brees and company, but solely because I thought that they’d be able to match points. Ultimately, the turnovers did them in. New Orleans returns home next week for a revenge game against San Francisco, after the 49ers booted them from last season’s playoffs. Meanwhile, Oakland travels to Cincinnati and will set their sights on trying to give up less than five touchdowns in a game.

Chargers @ Broncos

  • Closing odds: Broncos -7.5, total 48
  • Predicted outcome: Broncos 26, Chargers 23
  • Actual outcome: Broncos 30, Chargers 23

I really feel sorry for anyone that took Denver -7.5 in this game. The Broncos were the right side but Philip Rivers put up some great garbage time stats to lead the Chargers to a hard fought backdoor cover. Way to go Rivers. That might be your biggest achievement to date. Honestly, as a Dallas Cowboys fan, I can go to bed at night and sleep like a baby knowing that there’s one NFL franchise that is more painful to follow. The Chargers are a travesty and they need to rid themselves of Norv Turner and start re-building. Rivers is no longer an elite quarterback–hell, he’s no longer an average quarterback, and it doesn’t help that his offensive line is just as atrocious as his throwing mechanics. San Diego’s season is done so don’t be surprised if they get steamrolled by the Ravens at home next week. As for Denver, they’re still looking like the favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. What’s not to like about the Broncos? The combination of Peyton Manning and a strong defense, plus a possible home-field advantage may be too much to overcome for any team. The Broncos lost Willis McGahee to a nasty knee injury this week, but Ronnie Hillman should serve as a solid replacement and probably won’t fumble the ball away recklessly like McGahee does so often. Denver heads to Kansas City to improve their record next week.

Ravens @ Steelers

  • Closing odds: Ravens -3, total 40.5
  • Predicted outcome: Steelers 20, Ravens 13
  • Actual outcome: Ravens 13, Steelers 10

This was my 6* play of the week and despite only hitting the wager by a point (because I bet the game on Saturday instead of Sunday), and losing ten pounds of sweat in the process, I’m convinced that Pittsburgh was the right side. Let’s be realistic here, the Steelers were a special teams touchdown away from winning this game with Byron Leftwich at quarterback. I know that there’s a lot of Ravens’ fans that read this blog and I’d like them to continue reading so I’ll go light on Baltimore here, but that performance has to have you a little bit concerned. The Steelers were awful. They couldn’t convert a third down, they were taking penalties all game, and their quarterback couldn’t hit a wide open receiver if his life depended on it. Despite all that, Pittsburgh was in a position to score a go-ahead touchdown late in the game, but ultimately settled for a spread-covering field goal. Much to my surprise the Ravens defense actually showed up to play but once again, Joe Flacco did not. Flacco now boasts a quarterback rating of 65.2 away from home this season, throwing for only three touchdowns in five games. It’s a good thing Baltimore is going to win the AFC North because I don’t think they’re equipped to open up the playoffs on the road. The Ravens head to San Diego next week and will be looking to avoid the ol’ letdown spot. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh desperately needs to figure out a way to get their offense going. They travel to Cleveland to take on the Browns in what could be a tougher game than you think, especially with their current quarterback situation.

***

Monday Night Football Pick

For the second straight week, I don’t have a strong opinion on the Monday Night Football game.

With both starting quarterbacks out with concussions, this game will likely be decided by which backup quarterback makes less mistakes. Jason Campbell gets the start for Chicago, and while he’s nowhere near being a good quarterback, he’s done a good job of protecting the ball throughout his career. Campbell has only thrown 50 interceptions in 75 career games.

Meanwhile, Colin Kaepernick gets the nod in place of the injured Alex Smith for the 49ers. Kaepernick is a harder quarterback to gameplan for, but he’s also more likely to commit turnovers, and that doesn’t bode well for the Niners against the Bears. Chicago’s defense excels at taking the ball away, and I like their chances to change the outcome of this game against a rookie quarterback.

Ultimately, I think you’ll see both teams employ a pretty conservative game plan that’s predicated on playing mistake-free football, but (a) I trust Campbell more and (b) I can’t justify laying the points with the 49ers. I think this game is close from start to finish, so I’ll back the underdog. Bears 20, 49ers 17

***

Week 12 Early Lines

Last but not least, here are my thoughts on the early posted numbers for next week’s games.

Texans @ Lions +3 — This is a tough game to call. Most of the action will probably come in on Houston, even with their narrow win over the Jaguars, but are they really 6-points better than Detroit right now (+3 for home field)? I think so, but a lot of others don’t, so Detroit will take some late action.

Redskins @ Cowboys -3.5 — Holy overreaction Batman! Dallas was a 6-point favorite over Washington when LVH posted this line prior to Week 11, and now all of a sudden, that line has dropped 2.5-points. Regardless, most people don’t know what the early line was and will back the Redskins in this spot. After all, the Cowboys almost lost to the Browns!

Patriots @ Jets +6 — Who isn’t going to back the Patriots here? This will be the most lopsided game on Thanksgiving Day with New England taking in 80% of the action. I’d like to make a case for the Jets but aside from playing New England tight earlier this season, I can’t think of anything else. Rob Gronkowski’s injury may affect the Patriots as well but I’m grasping for straws here.

Raiders @ Bengals -7.5 — Is this some kind of sick, twisted joke? The Bengals are favored by more than a touchdown? I realize the Raiders defense is pathetic right now but wow, I didn’t see this coming. Even with the inflated line, the Bengals will take in the majority of the action here because they looked good in beating the Chiefs… yes, the Chiefs. Oakland, meanwhile, has lost three straight games to three hot teams: the Saints, Ravens, and Bucs.

Steelers @ Browns (OFF) — There’s no line on this game due to the quarterback situation in Pittsburgh, but you’d figure that the Steelers will be small road favorites regardless of who they trot out at the QB position. The Steelers are a public team and will probably be bet heavily regardless of the numbers… especially against the lowly Browns.

Bills @ Colts -3 — Here comes another overreaction. The Bills beat the Dolphins and the Colts were steamrolled by the Patriots, and now all of a sudden, this line suggests that these teams are even. Well, I’m not sure I necessarily agree. Indianapolis has been solid at home this season and I think bettors will back the Colts in this spot. Buffalo could be dangerous off of extra rest though, especially now that C.J. Spiller has taken the reigns at running back.

Broncos @ Chiefs +10 — Who in their right mind wants to bet on the Chiefs right now? Despite being double-digit road favorites, which you NEVER see in the NFL nowadays, Denver will be one of the most heavily bet teams on Sunday. Peyton Manning against Matt Cassel/Brady Quinn? Easy money, right? I’m not so sure.

Titans @ Jaguars +3 — I think that this game might receive close to 50/50 action. I think Jacksonville did enough in their near victory over Houston to encourage some betting action. Beware though. The Jags suck at home and Tennessee is coming off of their bye with Jake Locker fully healthy. This could end up being a rout.

Vikings @ Bears (OFF) — This number will definitely be affected by what happens on Monday Night Football and by who’s playing quarterback for the Bears next week. Even with Minnesota coming off of a bye, I’d estimate that the Bears will be 6 to 7-point favorites in this game. I think the Vikings will look like an intriguing wager to a lot of people.

Falcons @ Buccaneers pk — The Bucs are trending upwards and the Falcons are trending downwards, but I still believe more people will take Atlanta at a pick’em price here. I could be wrong though. Tampa Bay received a ton of action as road favorites in Carolina this week.

Seahawks @ Dolphins +2.5 — The Seahawks stink on the road but that won’t deter people from betting on them. This is shaping up to be heavy one-sided action Seattle, especially after Miami laid an egg in Buffalo on Thursday night. It’s hard to pass up the Dolphins as an underdog though, especially considering Seattle will be playing a 1:00pm game on the East Coast.

Ravens @ Chargers +2 — People will be lining up to bet the Ravens here but this could be a terrible spot. Coming off of a tight win over the Steelers and having to play the Steelers against next week could produce the “sandwich game” effect. San Diego is a tough team to bet on right now though. They could easily be deflated after the Broncos essentially ended their season on Sunday.

49ers @ Saints +1 — Similarly to the Bears/Vikings game, the action here will depend on San Francisco’s performance on Monday night. The Saints will be an attractive home underdog so New Orleans will take in the majority of the action if San Francisco looks mediocre against the Bears.

Rams @ Cardinals -2 — After watching the Rams get owned by the Jets, most bettors will jump off the bandwagon and back Arizona here, despite the fact that the Cardinals forced six turnovers and still managed to lose a game. St. Louis was dominant in beating Arizona earlier this season, so they look like a live dog here.

Packers @ Giants -2.5 — This game will get 50/50 action. Some people will blindly bet on Green Bay as an underdog, especially with the revenge angle, but others will look at this as a short price with the Giants at home. I’m leaning strongly to one side but I’ll save that for next week’s write-up!

Panthers @ Eagles -2.5 — How in the hell are the Eagles favored over anybody right now? The team is in complete disarray and it looks as though they’ve given up on Andy Reid. Regardless, someone will be willing to bet them, especially since the Panthers are now just 2-8 on the season.