2018 NFL Picks Week 11: Picking for the Playoffs
Last Week: 5-8-1
Vegas clapped back at us last week, but we weathered the storm to stay well above .500 on the year. I like this week’s slate of games a little better, so hopefully we’ll get back to our winning ways. Let’s pull a Matt Barkley and rise from the ashes to beat the odds!
Seattle Seahawks -2.5 vs. Green Bay Packers
I still don’t know how Seattle’s offensive line became not-abominable since last season, but maybe former offensive line coach Tom Cable is just that terrible. Green Bay hasn’t looked like a team ranked 10th in DVOA, and they’ve struggled against competent teams. Seattle is just good enough to get the full 3 points at home, and the line doesn’t reflect it.
Atlanta Falcons -3 vs. Dallas Cowboys
Dallas has been burning me all year, winning games against the Lions and Eagles but looking utterly inept against Washington and the Giants. Should I really expect them to keep up with the Falcons in Atlanta, though? Dallas is 1-4 on the road this year, averaging 16.2 points per game; the Falcons are averaging 32.2 points per game at home. Just sit back and enjoy watching Jason Garrett try to make up a two-score deficit in the fourth quarter.
New York Giants -1.5 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It’s hard to come up with a game I’m less enthusiastic about, but here we are with FitzMagic vs. Eli in 2018. Both teams are bad on defense and reliant on big plays on offense. Will the Bucs hit enough big passes to resemble the team that started 2-0 with wins over the Saints and Eagles? Or will Saquon and Odell Beckham get the Giants their third win of the season? I think the Giants are too explosive not to get the full three points at home.
Pittsburgh Steelers -5 at Jacksonville Jaguars
With the Steelers on a five-game win streak, this line is clearly slanted based on Jacksonville’s 2-0 record against Pittsburgh last season. I’m confident in saying this year’s Jaguars are not last year’s Jaguars. Injuries and small declines have degraded their defense from dominant to good, and Bortles has really devolved as far as a quarterback/Pokemon hybrid can. I think the Steelers come into this game with revenge (and a playoff bye) on their minds and come away with a rout.
Washington Redskins +2.5 vs Houston Texans
The Texans just can’t be 7-3, right? It seems absurd, but they’ve been able to ride a resurgent defense and strong special teams to a six-game winning streak. Of course, none of the teams they beat in that stretch have winning records, whereas Washington is currently 6-3. I don’t love picking Alex Smith and a heavily depleted offensive line against JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, but I just don’t think Washington should be underdogs at home.
Indianapolis Colts -2.5 vs. Tennessee Titans
The Titans are primed for a letdown after a surprising win over New England last week, and Andrew Luck playing back to his old form should have the Colts in position to take advantage at home this week. We know the Colts can score, averaging 33.3 points in their last six games, and the Titans just went over 20 points on the road for the first time last week. Andrew Luck should pull this one out with a fourth quarter touchdown drive.
Carolina Panthers -3.5 at Detroit Lions
Detroit might be bottoming out, and the Panthers need to bounce back after getting demolished by Pittsburgh on Thursday Night Football. The Lions have made a weird set of player moves, and don’t rate particularly well on either side of the ball. Carolina needs to keep their foot on the gas to have any chance at a home playoff game, and I expect them to score early and often in Detroit. I have far less faith in Matt Stafford and Jim Bob Cooter to do anything consistently.
Los Angeles Chargers -7 vs. Denver Broncos
The Broncos are terrible until garbage time of their games, and their only positive showing on the road this year was a big victory in Arizona. The Chargers are better than the Cardinals in almost every way, and the wide presence of Denver fans in Los Angeles’s stadium won’t be enough to tip the scales. I wouldn’t trust either coach here with a challenge flag, but I believe in Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ offense.
Oakland Raiders +5 at Arizona Cardinals
How did the Cardinals become 5-point favorites? I like laughing at Jon Gruden as much as anyone, but Arizona is 2-7 and actually rank dead last in DVOA. I like what I’ve seen from Josh Rosen so far, but I’m not ready to pick the Cardinals to win by a full touchdown over anyone who isn’t the 49ers. When neither team is any good and the spread is this large, I’ll take the points.
New Orleans Saints -9 vs. Philadelphia Eagles
I didn’t believe it, but maybe the Eagles just can’t get back to their Super Bowl form. Carson Wentz has played well, but injuries in the offensive and defensive backfields have sapped Philadelphia of what made them so special last season. I can’t think of any offense I’d rather see go against a banged-up secondary than the Saints’, and unless Philadelphia can break 30 points for just the second time this season, a 9-point spread won’t be a problem.
Minnesota Vikings +3 at Chicago Bears
I might just be naturally skeptical of my team, but I can’t believe the Mitch Trubisky offense is for real. Khalil Mack is going to be a nightmare for the Vikings to block, but Mike Zimmer’s defense is a lot better than what the Bears have dealt with recently. With the NFC North on the line, I think the more experienced team and more experienced quarterback will come out on top.
Kansas City Chiefs +2.5 at Los Angeles Rams
I made this pick before the game’s location shifted from the neutral site of Mexico City to Los Angeles when field conditions were deemed unplayable. The line only shifted a point, which reflects an unfortunate reality for the Rams; Los Angeles is full of transplants, and Chiefs fans are lurking everywhere. The Rams won’t have a notable home-field advantage, and their defense has struggled against top-tier offenses all season. Patrick Mahomes will get a signature road win and the Chiefs will keep rolling towards the 1-seed.
That's all for this week! Kick back, grab a drink, and feel free to blame me if you put money on these picks and come out behind. I won't compensate you, but maybe your significant others will send their wrath in my direction instead of yours.