The NFL has been off the rails lately, and Week 11 was no different as the Texans knocked off the Titans, the Bills got blown out by the Colts, and the Chiefs-Cowboys game, the projected highest-scoring game of the week, ended with a total of 28 points. I’m honestly shocked by how well I did this past week, given how wild the NFL has been, and I hope I can continue that momentum into some strong picks this week. Two of the best teams in football, the Chiefs and Cardinals, are on bye this week, but there are plenty of high-stakes, exciting matchups to break down.
One thing I think is essential to keep in mind is the continued success of away teams. In Week 11, road teams went 9-7 straight up and 11-5 ATS. On the year, road teams are 84-80-1 straight up and 96-68-1 ATS. Much was made of the return of home-field advantage with fans back in the stands after COVID-19 kept them home last year, but it hasn’t made much of a difference. Don’t be afraid to pick road teams to win, even if they are underdogs. Road dogs are 62-37-1 ATS this season.
Teams on bye: Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs
My Week 11 record: 10-5 SU, 11-4 ATS, 11-4 O/U
My record overall: 98-65-1 SU, 90-75-1 ATS, 83-81-1 O/U
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions
I understand the tradition of having the Lions play on Thanksgiving every year, but at a certain point, you have to feel bad for loyal fans of that team having to watch them lose on the national holiday year after year. Detroit is a modest 37-42-4 on Thanksgiving throughout its history, but it has lost its last four games and is 0-9-1 this season. If the Lions can get their first win of the season, it would genuinely give their fans something to be thankful for. However, it seems likely that Tim Boyle will be tasked with that feat, and that’s not an ideal situation for Detroit after he finished with a putrid QBR of just 6.7 last week. As good as D’Andre Swift has been, the Lions have a limited skill-position group that isn’t capable of elevating poor quarterback play from Boyle.
Chicago’s defense is without Khalil Mack for the rest of the year amid a handful of other injuries, but they certainly have the upper hand against Boyle behind an injured offensive line. However, the Bears will likely be relying on Andy Dalton this week after Justin Fields left last week’s game with a ribs injury. As much as we love Darnell Mooney, I’m not sure how you can have the utmost confidence in Dalton to move the ball in this game. Last week, Dalton completed under half of his passes, and while he did throw two touchdowns, we’ve seen enough of him lately to know he’s not exactly a high-value passer. David Montgomery could have a big game against a poor run defense, however, as the Lions have allowed the second-most rushing yards this season.
All that being said, I’m taking the Lions to cover as I don’t see how the Bears can pull away in a significant way. I would not be shocked to see Detroit pull off the upset, either, and this one is probably a stay away from a betting standpoint, regardless, and I don’t have a strong lean one way or another on a game I’m not exactly looking forward to watching.
Chicago Bears: QB Justin Fields (ribs) Q, DE Akiem Hicks (ankle) Q, WR Allen Robinson (hamstring) Q, S Eddie Jackson (hamstring) Q, RB Damien Williams (calf) Q
Detroit Lions: QB Jared Goff (oblique) Q, OLB Trey Flowers (knee) Q, DE Da’Shawn Hand (groin) Q, OG Halapoulivaati Vaitai (concussion) Q
Matchup To Watch: Taylor Decker (DET OT) vs. Robert Quinn (CHI OLB)
My Pick: Bears win 20-17, Lions cover, under 42.5 points
Las Vegas Raiders at Dallas Cowboys
Neither one of these teams is in a great headspace at the moment. The Raiders have been reeling ever since the Jon Gruden, Henry Ruggs, and Damon Arnette incidents, and they have lost their last three games by an average of 17.6 points. The loss of Henry Ruggs has been significant for the Raiders as that over-the-top presence has been sorely missing; now, defenses can compress and cover the short to intermediate parts of the field with ease. Derek Carr has played poorly as of late, and while the Cowboys’ defense is banged up, it’s hard to trust Carr to have a full bounce-back on Thanksgiving.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys are dealing with tons of injuries on both sides of the ball. Their top two pass-rushers, DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory are on Injured Reserve. Amari Cooper tested positive for COVID-19, and being as he is unvaccinated, he will miss this week’s game, as will CeeDee Lamb, likely after he suffered a concussion against the Chiefs. Ezekiel Elliott is dealing with a knee issue, and Tyron Smith has an ankle injury; neither is guaranteed to play this week. All of those offensive injuries caught up with the Cowboys last week as they put up just 9 points on the Chiefs. Dak Prescott played one of his worst games of the season, which is forgivable given the lack of pass-catching he was working with.
The under feels like the strongest bet here with both teams reeling offensively, and I don’t trust the Cowboys to pull away with so many offensive pieces hurt. I’m taking the Raiders to keep this game within a touchdown, and they could even pull off the upset depending on which Cowboys’ pieces are ultimately unavailable.
Las Vegas Raiders: LB Nick Kwiatkoski (ankle) Q, RB Jalen Richard (ribs) Q, OG John Simpson (ribs) Q, LB Darron Lee (undisclosed) Q
Dallas Cowboys: OT Tyron Smith (ankle) Q, WR CeeDee Lamb (concussion) Q, RB Ezekiel Elliott (knee) Q, WR Amari Cooper (illness) IR/COVID-19, DE DeMarcus Lawrence (foot) IR, DE Randy Gregory (calf) IR
Matchup To Watch: La’el Collins (DAL OT) vs. Maxx Crosby (LV DE)
My Pick: Cowboys win 26-20, Raiders cover, under 51 points
Buffalo Bills at New Orleans Saints
About a month ago, Josh Allen was the runaway frontrunner for the MVP award. However,,he’s thrown for just four touchdowns to five interceptions over the past three weeks as the Bills have lost two of their last three games. Their complete lack of a run game has hurt them immensely, and that’s not going to change against a stout run defense in New Orleans. However, the Saints have been vulnerable against the pass, and outside of Marshon Lattimore, their secondary has been quite beatable. This could end up being a ceiling game for Emmanuel Sanders with a couple of deep bombs, and he needs it as he hasn’t been productive lately. The Bills’ offense is not the same juggernaut it was earlier in the year.
Trevor Siemian finally looked like we all thought he would as the starter for the Saints as he finished with just a 55% completion rate and 5.3 yards per attempt. Now he has to face what is still one of the most talented pass defenses in the NFL, and he could be doing it without some big pieces. Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk, both Pro Bowl level offensive tackles, missed the game last week, and their absence was felt. Alvin Kamara has also not played in the previous two games, and his absence has hurt an offense that is severely lacking in playmakers. It’s hard to trust Siemian even if those pieces do play, but he will be in trouble if they don’t.
Everything that could have gone wrong for the Bills last week did go wrong, and the Colts dominated possession with Jonathan Taylor as soon as they built a lead. This week, the Bills’ inability to protect Josh Allen will be a problem again, but I don’t trust the Saints’ offense to do enough with Siemian as the starter. As long as the Bills can avoid mistakes and play efficient football, they should get the bounce-back win.
Buffalo Bills: LB Tremaine Edmunds (hamstring) Q, OT Spencer Brown (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19, DT Star Lotulelei (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19, OG Jon Feliciano (calf) IR
New Orleans Saints: OT Terron Armstead (knee) Q, OT Ryan Ramczyk (knee) Q, RB Alvin Kamara (knee – MCL) Q
Matchup To Watch: Stefon Diggs (BUF WR) vs. Marshon Lattimore (NO CB)
My Pick: Bills win 27-21, Bills cover, over 46.5 points
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals recovered nicely with a 32-13 win over the Raiders after their bye week followed a loss to the Jets and a blowout defeat to the Browns. Joe Mixon was excellent with 30 carries for 123 yards and two touchdowns, and he allowed Joe Burrow to limit his volume and allowed the defense to stay off the field as much as possible – Cincinnati had 37 minutes of possession of the football. That strategy could work nicely this week against a Pittsburgh team that has struggled to push the ball downfield this season, particularly as Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard should overwhelm the Steelers’ offensive line as they did in the first matchup.
I was fully prepared to pick the Bengals to win by a touchdown here, but Ben Roethlisberger showed some juice on Sunday night I didn’t think he still had. The Steelers have a ton of playmakers between Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, and Chase Claypool, who is now healthy, and rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth who has emerged in recent weeks. Roethlisberger had a strong finishing stat line, and while I believe the Chargers’ defense is not quite as good as the Bengals’, the Steelers’ offense is better than when these teams played earlier in the season.
I’m taking the Steelers against the spread in this game as long as I can get it at +3 or better, and if their vital defensive pieces return this week, I can be talked into taking them to win straight up. I’m also picking this to be a sneaky high-scoring game, despite only 34 points being scored in the first Steelers-Bengals matchup this year.
Pittsburgh Steelers: OLB T.J. Watt (hip) Q, CB Joe Haden (foot) Q, TE Eric Ebron (knee) Q, S Minkah Fitzpatrick (illness) IR/COVID-19, DE Stephon Tuitt (undisclosed) IR
Cincinnati Bengals: WR Tyler Boyd (undisclosed) Q, WR Auden Tate (thigh) Q, DT Tyler Shelvin (knee) Q
Matchup To Watch: Jonah Williams (CIN OT) vs. T.J. Watt (PIT OLB)
My Pick: Bengals win 26-23, Steelers cover, over 45.5 points
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Indianapolis Colts
The Buccaneers got the bounce-back performance they needed on Monday night as Tom Brady looked much better than he had in recent weeks. The team was grateful to have Rob Gronkowski back in the lineup, and the future Hall of Fame tight end caught six passes for 71 yards in his return. Mike Evans grabbed a touchdown, and he, Chris Godwin, and Leonard Fournette each had six receptions, as well. The Colts’ defense looked great against the Bills last week, but I don’t believe they have the juice to shut down Brady and the Bucs as they are getting healthier. Evans and Godwin will have the upper hand against Indianapoli’ss secondary, regardless of how they looked last week.
On defense, Sean Murphy-Bunting’s return to the lineup was crucial to helping the secondary shut down the Giants’ passing offense. Carson Wentz has been relatively efficient this year, but Jonathan Taylor is the real heart and soul of the Indianapolis offense. He finished with five touchdowns last week in a historic effort. However, it’s unlikely he’s at his best against what has been the best run defense in the NFL for the past few years. The potential absence of Quenton Nelson looms large against the Tampa front seven, and Michael Pittman Jr. won’t be able to make a significant impact against an improving secondary.
Tampa Bay bounced back last week, although the short week road trip maks things difficult for them. Still, I like the way the Buccaneers match up with this Colts team, and Tom Brady will always have the advantage over Carson Wentz. That’s enough fr me to pick the Bucs to win in what should be a close, intriguing matchup.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Indianapolis Colts: OG Quenton Nelson (ankle) Q, K Rodrigo Blankenship (hip) IR
Matchup To Watch: Eric Fisher (IND OT) vs. Shquill Barrett (TB OLB)
My Pick: Buccaneers win 30-24, Buccaneers cover, over 51 points
Carolina Panthers at Miami Dolphins
Neither of these teams played exceptionally well in Week 11, but the Dolphins got the win as they had the luxury of facing an awful Jets team. Their defense has been better lately, but it was discouraging to see them give up 380 yards of offense to New York and Joe Flacco. Tua Tagovailoa had a very efficient game that included two touchdown passes and an 81.2% completion rate, but it gets much more challenging this week against the Panthers. The Dolphins have struggled to keep Tagovailoa upright at times with one of the worst offensive lines in the league, and Haason Reddick and Brian Burns should be able to take advantage.
The Panthers lost to a Washington team they were favored to beat a week after beating up on the Cardinals. Cam Newton was solid in his homecoming game, but his inability to make big plays against a Washington pass defense allowing tons of them this season was undoubtedly discouraging. However, having a healthy Christian McCaffrey is a huge deal for this offense, even if the blocking in front of him has not been good. D.J. Moore should also beat Xavien Howard and Byron Jones on the outside if Newton can get the ball to him consistently.
Neither of these teams plays great football, but the Panthers profile as an excellent defense with a dynamic ground game featuring Newton and McCaffrey. However, the Dolphins have been making some significant strides defensively and Tagovailoa looked awesome last week. I’ll take the Dolphins to get a big home win as they fight their way back into the playoff conversation.
Carolina Panthers: C Matt Paradis (knee – ACL) IR, QB Sam Darnold (shoulder) IR
Miami Dolphins: WR DeVante Parker (shoulder) IR, WR Will Fuller (finger) IR
Matchup To Watch: D.J. Moore (CAR WR) vs. Xavien Howard (MIA CB)
My Pick: Dolphins win 20-17, Dolphins cover, under 42.5 points
Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots
When I first saw the line for this game, I was surprised, but the Patriots are catching the AFC-leading Titans at the perfect time. The Patriots have run through their last five opponents to get to the top of the AFC East and are riding the most momentum in the NFL. Tennesse, meanwhile, is coming off a laughable loss to the Texans and is dealing with injuries to several key players, including its top three receivers in A.J. Brown, Julio Jones, and Marcus Johnson if those players are missing in addition to Derrick Henry, its’ impossible to see the Titans moving the ball effectively against a strong Patriots defense.
Tennessee could also be without top cornerback Janoris Jenkins, top linebackers Rashaan Evans and David Long, and top pass-rusher Bud Dupree. While Kevin Byard and Amani Hooker have formed a tremendous safety tandem, the run defense has been very vulnerable. That benefits Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson, a dynamic running back duo playing behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Mac Jones has been excellent lately – he has completed 83.6% of his passes over the last two weeks – and the Titans have been bad against the pass at times.
The Patriots’ defense is playing excellent football right now, and the Patriots have a dynamic offense featuring Mac Jones and a strong run game that is built to dominate against Tennessee. Ryan Tannehill threw four interceptions last week, and now he has to play one of the best defenses in the NFL. With the most substantial momentum in the NFL and a much healthier roster than the Titans, I’m taking the Patriots to get a decisive win in this game.
Tennessee Titans: WR A.J. Brown (chest) Q, WR Marcus Johnson (hamstring) Q, CB Janoris Jenkins (chest) Q, LB Rashaan Evans (ankle) Q, LB David Long (hamstring) Q, OG Nate Davis (concussion) Q, OLB Bud Dupree (abdomen) IR
New England Patriots: DB Jonathan Jones (shoulder) IR, LB Jamie Collins (ankle) IR
Matchup To Watch: A.J. Brown (TEN WR) vs. Janoris Jenkins (NE CB)
My Pick: Patriots win 30-20, Patriots cover, over 44.5 points
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
The Giants looked shell-shocked in their primetime road trip to Tampa Bay, and the opposing pass-rush battered Daniel Jones on his way to just 4.4 yards per attempt and two interceptions. New York scored just ten points and four yards per play despite having Saquon Barkley, Kadarius Toney, and Kenny Golladay back in the lineup. The Eagles are suddenly playing some of the best defensive football in the NFL, although Darius Slay could be absent this week. In addition to his three defensive touchdowns this season, he’s been one of the best corners in the NFL in coverage.
Philadelphia is running the football better than anyone in the NFL with 217.5 rushing yards per game over their past four games, and that should continue this week, especially with Miles Sanders back in the lineup. Jalen Hurts is also playing much better, more efficient football, and it’s led to the Eagles putting up some remarkable offensive numbers lately. DeVonta Smith has 60+ receiving yards in three straight games, and this should be a matchup he can take advantage of. The Giants’ defense has been crushed with the losses of some key players lately, and it’s going to hurt them moving forward.
The Eagles are playing some of the best football in the NFL right now with a strong defense supporting an efficient, run-oriented offense led by an increasingly efficient Jalen Hurts. That’s a winning formula, and it will be just that again in a critical divisional matchup this week.
Philadelphia Eagles: CB Darius Slay (concussion) Q, RB Jordan Howard (knee) D, OG Brandon Brooks (pectoral) IR, DE Brandon Graham (Achilles) IR
New York Giants:
Matchup To Watch: Kenny Golladay (NYG WR) vs. Darius Slay (PHI CB)
My Pick: Eagles win 31-17, Eagles cover, over 46 points
Atlanta Falcons at Jacksonville Jaguars
Last week, the Falcons were shut out at home in a horrifying game in which Matt Ryan finished with just 153 passing yards and two interceptions. Cordarelle Patterson’s absence left the team without anything in the way of consistent skill position talent. Calvin Ridley is not with the team as he deals with his mental health struggles. If Patterson is unable to return this week from his ankle injury, it’s hard to imagine the offense being effective with just Kyle Pitts being consistent. The Jaguars defense isn’t particularly good, but it’s been strong against the run and should be productive against a limited Falcons’ offense.
Trevor Lawrence finished with a 64% completion rate and threw for just 158 yards despite the Jaguars playing from behind for virtually the entire game. Jacksonville finished just 5-11 on third down, and James Robinson averaged just 2.4 YPC in a very ineffective game for the offense. However, the Jaguars should be able to move the ball much easier against the Falcons this week. Lawrence has shown flashes of great play and the offense used Marvin Jones Jr. and Laviska Shenault Jr. a bit more effectively last week.
The Jaguars have played better football lately despite losing by 20 to the 49ers, and Trevor Lawrence is on the cusp of a blow-up game. However, Cordarelle Patterson is back in the lineup, and that’s enough for me to pick the Falcons to get back in the win column as they fight for an NFC Wild Card spot.
Atlanta Falcons: RB Cordarelle Patterson (ankle) Q, OG Josh Andrews (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19, WR Calvin Ridley (personal) NFI-R
Jacksonville Jaguars: OT Cam Robinson (knee) Q, CB Shaquill Griffin (concussion) Q, CB Tyson Campbell (shoulder) Q, WR Jamal Agnew (hip) IR, C Brandon Linder (knee – MCL) IR, OG A.J. Cann (knee) IR
Matchup To Watch: Jake Matthews (ATL OT) vs. Josh Allen (JAX (DE)
My Pick: Falcons win 20-16, Falcons cover, under 47 points
New York Jets at Houston Texans
The Texans’ win over the Titans was a big upset, and we have to figure out whether or not it was a fluke. Tyrod Taylor only had to throw for 107 yards as the Titans played from behind for the entire game and the Houston defense picked him off four times. It was a sloppy game for Tennessee overall as they added four fumbles, and while they recovered three of them, their inability to take care of the football ruined any chances they had to come back and win. Houston’s offensive line is still a problem for them with their two starting offensive tackle and their starting center all out, and that could be an issue against a solid Jets’ defensive line.
It’s unclear who the Jets will put in at quarterback this week, but Joe Flacco did alright last week as he completed a couple of long throws, including a 62-yard touchdown to Elijah Moore. The rookie wide receiver has averaged six catches for 83.8 yards over the last four weeks and has four touchdowns over that span. Michael Carter has also shown some good flashes in his rookie season, although he may not be able to play this week. The Jets’ offensive line has also been decent, and rookie Alijah Vera-Tucker has been as advertised as a difference-making interior lineman.
The Jets have had some defensive struggles lately, but the Texans aren’t exactly the team pushing them downfield. With young players making a difference for New York on both sides of the ball, I’m starting to like the Jets’ turnaround here. I’ll pick them to grab an upset win over the Texans here.
New York Jets: QB Zach Wilson (knee – PCL), LB C.J. Mosley (head) Q, RB Michael Carter (ankle) Q
Houston Texans: DE Jonathan Greenard (foot) Q, OT Marcus Cannon (back) IR, OT Laremy Tunsil (thumb) IR, C Justin Britt (knee) IR
Matchup To Watch: Elijah Moore (NYJ WR) vs. Desmond King II (HOU CB)
My Pick: Jets win 28-21, Jets cover, over 44 points
Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos
The Chargers almost had a very Chargers-esque blown lead ending in a loss on Sunday, but a late touchdown to Mike Williams clinched their victory. It was good to see the Chargers’ offense get back on track last week, especially against a tough Pittsburgh team. Justin Herbert finished with 382 passing yards and three touchdowns to one interception as he picked apart a weakened Steelers’ secondary. Austin Ekeler was phenomenal with four total touchdowns, while Keenan Allen and Mike Williams both had excellent games. Denver’s secondary has been hit-and-miss all season, but their linebacker corps has been bludgeoned by injuries, and their inability to tackle will be an issue this week.
Denver has been difficult to trust every week, and Teddy Bridgewater declining to attempt to make the tackle on a fumble return for a touchdown by Darius Slay a couple of weeks ago underscored his inability to commit to winning football. However, the Broncos have a dynamic duo of running backs in Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon that should be successful against one of the weakest run defenses in the NFL. Denver used its bye week to lock up Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick to long-term contracts to add to second-year pro Jerry Jeudy, and those players will need to step up this week for Denver to get the win.
Both offenses should have the upper hand in this game, and this just feels like the type of game that the Broncos would win coming off their bye week. However, with Garret Bolles coming down with COVID-19 and unable to keep Joey Bosa off his quarterback, I have to go with the Chargers here.
Los Angeles Chargers: DT Linval Joseph (shoulder) Q, CB Asante Samuel Jr. (concussion) Q, OT Bryan Bulaga (back) IR
Denver Broncos: OT Bobby Massie (ankle) Q, LB Baron Browning (back) Q, OT Garrett Bolles (illness) IR/COVID-19, OLB Bradley Chubb (ankle) IR, LB Micah Kiser (groin) IR
Matchup To Watch: Mike Williams (LAC WR) vs. Patrick Surtain II (DEN CB)
My Pick: Chargers win 30-23, Chargers cover, over 49 points
Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers
The last time we saw the Rams, they were decimated by their divisional rival as the 49ers beat them 31-10 with a dominant rushing attack. Los Angeles is coming off a much-needed bye week that should have helped them with several things. Matthew Stafford will have used the bye week to get healthier, while Kelly Stafford will have used it to eat pretzels instead of throwing them at fans. Meanwhile, Odell Beckham Jr. should be much better integrated into the offense, which is incredibly crucial with Robert Woods out for the year. I expect big things from the Rams’ offense this week after the Vikings exploded against the Packers last week.
I’m excited to see what Von Miller can look like with his new running mates on the defense, and he should join Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd in a dominant pass-rush moving forward. The Packers lost Elgton Jenkins to a torn ACL, and he had been filling in for the still injured David Bakhtiari. With Aaron Jones and Allen Lazard still dealing with injuries, this offense is still not fully healthy, which could cost them this week. Davante Adams is often their only consistent skill position player, and that works against some teams, but it may not against the Rams and Jaire Alexander.
The Rams are coming off their bye week and needed it to get things right after two straight losses coming in. Sean McVay and the coaching staff have had two full weeks to prepare for a banged-up Packers team, and I like them to get the road win here.
Los Angeles Rams: WR Robert Woods (knee – ACL) O
Green Bay Packers: OT David Bakhtiari (knee – ACL) Q, RB Aaron Jones (knee – MCL) Q, WR Allen Lazard (shoulder) Q, OLB Rashan Gary (elbow) Q, OT Elgton Jenkins (knee – ACL) O, CB Jaire Alexander (shoulder – AC joint) IR
Matchup To Watch: Davante Adams (GB WR) vs. Jaire Alexander (LAR CB)
My Pick: Rams win 31-27, Rams cover, over 50 points
Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers
It’s crazy what happens when you let Kirk Cousins open up a very talented offense, and it led to the Vikings have one of their best games of the season. Justin Jefferson finished with eight catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns, while Adam Thielen had eight catches for 82 yards and a touchdown. The 49ers’ secondary has been much-improved in recent weeks, but the injuries have piled up this season, and they could come back to bite them in this matchup. Cousins has been efficient all season, and this offense is at its best when it’s pushing the ball downfield like it did last week.
Deebo Samuel often looks like the best offensive weapon in the NFL, and he finished with eight carries for 79 yards and a touchdown as essentially the lead running back for San Francisco last week. He can truly do it all, and the Vikings’ secondary has been burned repeatedly this season. With George Kittle healthy and Brandon Aiyuk rolling, this passing offense can push Minnesota to the limit. However, their run game is not at its best, and it was discouraging to see Jeff Wilson Jr. finish with just 2.6 YPC in a complete start. However, it will be interesting to see what the offense looks like this week, as they will most likely need to air things out more than they have lately.
The 49ers have struggled at home, and the Vikings have struggled on the road this season, making this a challenging game to call. I believe this will be a back-and-forth offensive game decided on the final play, and I’m personally riding the momentum with the Vikings and Kirk Cousins as a more efficient passer than Jimmy Garoppolo.
Minnesota Vikings: OG Wyatt Davis (ankle) Q, S Josh Metellus (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19, DT Michael Pierce (elbow) IR
San Francisco 49ers: RB Elijah Mitchell (finger) Q, RB JaMycal Hasty (ankle) Q, DT Maurice Hurst (calf) Q
Matchup To Watch: Justin Jefferson (MIN WR) vs. Emmanuel Mosley (SF CB)
My Pick: Vikings win 33-30, Vikings cover, over 48.5 points
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens continue to pull close games out by the seat of their pants, and they did it again on Sunday despite missing Lamar Jackson and Marquise Brown. Those two should be back this week to take on a Cleveland defense that has struggled to establish consistency this season. Jackson has had great success against the Browns, with a 47-42 win over his divisional rival last year coming to mind. Jackson seems to be dealing with a bigger-picture health issue, and I never want to speculate on that sort of thing, but I hope he can get it resolved and get back to wowing us all on the football field.
Baker Mayfield has done the opposite of amaze people this season, and his laundry list of injuries is catching up with him. It’s hard to imagine Case Keenum is not a better option at this point, but it’s clear the Browns plan to keep rolling with Mayfield, however hobbled he may be. Jarvis Landry has struggled with over 40 yards just twice this season, and now he’s dealing with a knee issue. On the bright side for Cleveland, they should get standout rookie linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah back this week, which would be integral to their gameplan in stopping the dual-threat maven Lamar Jackson.
It’s hard to have much confidence in what we’ve seen from the Browns lately, but I also don’t know what to expect from the Ravens with Jackson and Brown still on the Injury Report. I’m not expecting this to be the same barnburner we got from these teams in primetime last season, but I’ll take the Ravens to win and cover in a defensive-oriented game.
Cleveland Browns: QB Baker Mayfield (shoulder) Q, WR Jarvis Landry (knee) Q, WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (groin) Q, WR Anthony Schwartz (concussion) Q, CB Troy Hill (neck) Q, OLB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (ankle) Q
Baltimore Ravens: QB Lamar Jackson (illness) Q, WR Marquise Brown (thigh) Q, DT Brandon Williams (shoulder) Q, CB Jimmy Smith (hip) Q, CB Anthony Averett (thigh) Q, DE Calais Campbell (foot) Q
Matchup To Watch: Alejandro Vilanueva (BAL OT) vs. Myles Garrett (CLE DE)
My Pick: Ravens win 24-19, Ravens cover, unver 48 points
Seattle Seahawks at Washington Football Team
Russell Wilson struggled again on Sunday and has not been himself since his return from injury. He finished with just a 53% completion rate and took four sacks in a completely underwhelming effort. Of course, his poor play since his return has translated to DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett not making their expected impact. While Washington was without Chase Young and Montez Sweat, both standout pass-rushers, they limited Cam Newton and the Panthers to a small offensive output last week. Washington’s defense has rapidly improved since their bye week, and I have to give them the upper hand with what we’ve seen from Wilson lately.
Taylor Heinecke was stellar against a stout Panthers’ defense on Sunday – he completed 72.7% of his passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns, including one to Terry McLaurin, the standout Pro Bowl wide receiver. Seattle has been a much easier team to throw on this season than Carolina, so it’s hard not to see Heinecke continuing to build on his recent excellent play. Antonio Gibson should also have a big part to play against one of the least effective run defenses in the NFL. While Washington has dealt with its fair share of injuries, Ron Rivera has this club playing prideful, competitive football.
The line for this game has moved significantly following Week 11’s games, and I’m tailing the movement here. Washington is the better team right now, and with what we’ve seen from Russell Wilson since his return from injury, it’s hard to confidently say he’s more reliable than Taylor Heinecke at this present moment. That’s not reactionary; it’s just accepting of the reality that Wilson is not 100% healthy. Until he is, I can’t pick the Seahawks to win.
Seattle Seahawks: CB D.J. Reed (groin) Q, CB Tre Brown (knee) Q, RB Rashaad Penny (hamstring) Q, RB Chris Carson (neck) IR
Washington Football Team: WR Curtis Samuel (groin) Q, TE Ricky Seals-Jones (hip) Q, OT Samuel Cosmi (hip) Q, TE Logan Thomas (hamstring) IR
Matchup To Watch: Gabe Jackson (SEA OG) vs. Jonathan Allen (WAS DT)
My Pick: Washington wins 21-17, Washington covers, under 46 points