Early leans & analysis Wk 11
Early leans & analysis

NFL 2021

Week 11

What you see below is our early leans. Many of the selections below will stay the same and some will be moved into official plays with wagers on Sunday. However, there is also the possibility that we see, read or get a sense that something is not right with one of our selections and change our pick. There are several different criteria we use to grade a game and make it an official play and a lot of things can happen or change between Friday and Sunday.

We’re intent on providing our readers with the best possible selections and doing so on Sunday instead of Friday just makes more sense. We made that change two years ago and ended up going 81-57 (+64 units) in 2018, 65-59 in 2019 (+16 units) and 55-62 in last year's unusual pandemic season. Again, we’ll have all write-ups (except Monday Night Football) posted on Friday but our actual wagers won’t be posted until Sunday morning between 10 AM and 12:00 PM EST

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Week 11

Baltimore -6 -105 over CHICAGO

1:00 PM EST. The Ravens laid a big egg in a high-profile prime time Thursday night game in Week 10, and the market has apparently not forgiven them for such a transgression—as it appears that the market is bullish on the Bears.

There is a cardinal betting sin that those that wagered on the Ravens last week are in danger of committing here—if this line movement counts for anything (hint: it does)—many may have already placed their bets—a decision for which they may be forced to repent when the final whistle blows.

Zig-zagging—the act of betting one side one week—flushing that ticket—then fading them the next time out—is one of the worst habits one could have at the sportsbook. It’s an emotional bet that will burn one’s bankroll to the ground. In the case of these Ravens, the play is not to fade them after such a bad loss, but to back them because they are undervalued and underpriced.

The last time we saw the Bears, Justin Fields was playing well on Monday Night Football while almost leading his team back in a 29-27 loss to the Steelers that was not without controversy. You may recall the outcry about the horrible, one-sided officiating that very much did not work in favor of Chicago. The market perception following that game is that the stripes cost the Bears the win—regardless—Chicago covered the touchdown easily. The entire world watched Justin Fields’ coming of age party while ripping up their ticket on the Steelers. Cashing tickets on Monday Night will gain one favor and then when you consider the Bears were fade fodder in that game, you’ve got a double-zig-zag—prime time edition. Recommendation: Baltimore -6 -105

MINNESOTA +104 over Green Bay

1:00 PM EST. We posted Green Bay in our early leans but the more we look at this game, the more we’re leaning Vikes. Since we’re in the buy-low, sell high business, here are some facts. Matt LaFleur is now 34-8 in the regular season as a head coach; and that’s 34-7 with Aaron Rodgers. During that span, Green Bay is an NFL-best 29-13 against the spread. That just confirms that Green Bay keeps paying out and it’s not sustainable. It never is. Even though the Packers are 8-2 and the Vikings are 4-5, there’s not a whole lot separating these two teams. In fact, the Vikings actually rank higher than the Packers in DVOA.

The Packers were happy to get Aaron Rodgers back last week but it was probably bittersweet because the first start for Jordan Love didn't spawn any warm and fuzzies about the future when Rogers likely leaves next season. You might be surprised to learn that Aaron Rodgers isn't having nearly as productive of a season as he did in 2020. He's topped 300 yards in just one game and failed to reach 200 yards in three contests. Rodgers comes off his second outing with no TD passes when the Packers beat the Seahawks in a cold, snowy matchup. The passing effort still revolves around Davante Adams and little else.

Last week, Rodgers spent the better part of four hours looking like a guy that was sick as hell the week before and still hadn’t fully recovered. How’s the Ivermectin going for ya, Fuckhead? The Packers were, of course, led by their defense—which pitched the rare shutout—and rookie runner A.J. Dillon, who stepped up after star RB Aaron Jones left the game. As for ‘Ol He Who Does Not Talk to His Family—dude posted his lowest quarterback rating of the season (75.5) after going just 23-for-37 for 292 yards and an interception. No majors. It was the second straight mediocre start for Tweedledum, as his ho-hum night in the desert in Week 9 against the Cardinals sandwiched his excused but much-publicized absence from Green Bay’s Week 10 date in Kansas City. Further adding fuel to the fire is the renewed hot stove chatter that has Joe Rogan Jr. heading out of the Badger State as soon as he is able.

We backed the Packers last week, but want no part of them here. As impressive as the ohfer on the Seahawks scoreboard was, we have to question how much of that was related to Russell Wilson rushing back with his surgically repaired middle finger on his throwing hand—not a minor injury, by the way—and the antics of D.K. Metcalf, who was a complete jackass out there all afternoon.

Let’s get back to this line, which, as we said—has come down since open. That is as big of an eye-brow raiser as can be considering the Packers have been paying out like a broken slot machine with eight straight weeks of cashing tickets. That goes back to Week 2—if you need it. Meanwhile, the Vikings have taken a modest two consecutive trips to the pay window, including last week’s 27-20 win at the Chargers. Before that, the Vikings lost a heartbreaker in overtime after blowing a fourth quarter lead in Baltimore. The Vikings lost four games by less than a touchdown. This is a team that could easily have one loss and be the talk of the NFL but once again, the market puts far too much value on wins and losses, which provides us with great opportunities like this one. In no way are the Packers the superior squad here.

N.Y. JETS +3 -105 over Miami

1:00 PM EST. Forgive us, but there are not enough Mike White, Zack Wilson, or Joe Flacco interceptions in this world that would have us spotting road points—in division—with these Dolphins—especially after they suffocated the Ravens in that high-profile Thursday night matchup that kicked off Week 10. You couldn’t saddle the Fish with enough points in that game for the market to bite on Miami—now they are lining up to what? Fade the Jets? Fuggetaboutit!

The Jets get whacked week in and week out—is there anything we could write here that would inspire you to run up to the window and lay down your hard-earned dollars on Gang Green? Didn’t think so. We’re stubborn though—so we’ll take our shot.

New York has taken back big prices the last three weeks (13½, 10 and 11½)—which makes one wonder why the Dolphins—after dominating the Ravens—would be so short-priced here. Could the oddsmakers not posted this spread at around a touchdown and not likely swayed a bet? You betcha!

The Dolphins stock is at a season high and it’s only because it’s the perfect shit storm of coming off an unexpected TNF win over Baltimore and playing the lowly Jets. That is just not the kind of team that we want to back spotting road points. There are no hard and fast rules, but rarely do you see us in that situation. You are paying a premium to lay a price with Miami on the road in this game. That’s the end of the story. Recommendation: N.Y. JETS +3 -105

New Orleans Saints +1½ -105 over PHILADELPHIA

1:00 PM EST. Buy low—sell high. That is the mantra. Do we love what is going on in Philadelphia? Absolutely, but guess what, the bird is out of the cage—so does just about everyone else—at least here in Week 11.

The Eagles blasted the Broncos (30-13), in Denver and many are calling that a “statement” game. Mind you—few were eager to get on board with Philly last week—with some slick NFL math at play (if the Broncos beat the Cowboys and the Cowboys beat the Eagles then…you get the point). Now the Eagles are on the radar—you know what that means.

Meanwhile, the Saints were in a hard-fought but mostly ignored 24-21 loss in Tennessee. The Trevor Siemian era is off to an 0-2 start. When you don’t win, you don’t make many friends. However, Siemian has played in two ball games that were separated by a total of four points. It’s not like dude is getting waffled out there. Do not forget that the Saints were without Alvin Kamara in that game, too—quick name three Saints wide receivers—we’ll wait.

The reality of the Siemian era is that he is so much better than Jameis Winston that it isn’t even funny. Those that are hollering for Taysom Hill to be the starter are not watching the game tape. Television lies and the highlights are even more deceptive. The Saints are in good hands and very much undervalued based on recent results. Buy low, friends. Recommendation: New Orleans +1½ -105

Washington +3 -105 over CAROLINA

1:00 PM EST. HOLY FUCK, GANG—DO WE HAVE TO BAGGAGE TO UPACK HERE!

Where do we even start? This is a buffet of fodder that is just so juicy that we cannot put down the drumstick even though we are still a week away from Turkey Day. So let us gather our thoughts for a minute and make a list.

River Boat Ron Rivera returns to Carolina.

Cam “That Ain’t My Laptop” Newton starts for the Panthers after getting picked up off the scrap heap and scoring two touchdowns cold off the bench last week in a romp over the Cardinals. 

The Football Team loses defensive leader and former #2 overall pick Chase Young for the year in their 29-19 upset of the Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers—letdown spot?

The irony of Rivera will coach against Cam—both making their returns to Charlotte at the same time.

Rivera says there is “No reason to be bitter,” which means there are 100 reasons to be bitter.

Did we mention Cam Newton is starting?!?

As you can see, there is more drama here than in a middle school English class.

Any goodwill the Football Team may have gained was surely flushed when the diagnosis of Young was confirmed. Combine that with the excitement surrounding “Superman’s” first start of the season, and you’ve got one team trending while the other is trending downward.

It doesn’t take too long to poke the holes in Cam’s “triumphant” return to the Panthers last week, as dude was on the field for a handful of plays that just so happened to go for majors. Other than that, he did fuck all. Now he’s favored against the Football Team and the coach that knows him inside and out? Seems a little spendy—no? Recommendation: Washington +3 -105

Cincinnati +1 -105 over LAS VEGAS

4:05 PM EST. Should this game really be in the pick ‘em range? Through our orange and black striped glasses, this looks to be one of the worst lines of the season. Yes, we know the Raiders were smashed in Kansas City on Sunday night. Yes, we know that Tony Dungy put the kiss of death on Las Vegas when he took them to win that game. And yes, we understand that the Bengals have lost two straight, including a most embarrassing decision to the woeful Jets.

It was only one game until it bled into another—a drubbing from in-state rival Cleveland (46-16)—the same Brownies that got torched last week. Suddenly, that 47-17 win at Baltimore does not look so great in the rearview. Add the Ravens losing to the Fish last Thursday night, and now Cincy’s last month really looks like the drizzling shizzits.

The Raiders have lost two straight as well, but unlike the Bengals, Vegas has a few built-in excuses for its current plight. As far as we can tell, the Raiders were the only ones to really get swept up in the Football Team email scandal, and we all know about Henry Ruggs. The thought here appears to be that the Raiders could really use some home cooking and are “due” to bounce back after a pair of road games. We’re not so confident. The Bengals are the vastly superior side here, which makes this one of the true bargains this weekend. Recommendation: Cincinnati -1 -105

SEATTLE +2 -105 over Arizona

4:25 PM EST. Again, there is much working here, as the Seahawks are coming off a 17-0 loss in Green Bay to a Packers team that didn’t look particularly good, while the Cardinals under Colt McCoy came crashing back down to earth. However, the Red Birds will welcome Kyler Murray back into the fold this week, which will wash away most if not all of that anomaly in the desert in Week 10

We can take much of what we wrote about Arizona last week before Murray was pulled, which is precisely what we will do. No sense in letting good fodder go to waste.

“With Murray back at the helm, the Cards need little introduction. They are 8-1 2, having only lost to Aaron “Yes, I’m Immunized” Rodgers and the 7-2 Packers (and the Panthers last week). Coach Kliff Kingsbury went from the firing line to the front runner for Coach of the Year. It’s all coming up, Red Birds.”

It’s not a perfect fit, but it’ll do. Surely you can smell what we are cooking.

As for Seattle, we’re not fans of Khakis Carroll, but this isn’t about him, Russell Wilson’s fucked up middle finger, or that dunce, D.K. Metcalf. This is about the Seahawks being a pooch to the Cardinals on their home field. Does that sound right to you? The Cards were better than touchdown chalk last week (WITH COLT MCCOY!)—at home—and now they are laying less than a field goal with Murray ready to return. That has got to be an appealing play. Our Stink-o-meter is way up here. 

The Cardinals may have had one bad game, they may have been blindsided by the appearance of Cam “Superman” Newton, or maybe Arizona is who we thought they were—RIP Dennis Green. Recommendation: Seattle +2 -105

Dallas +2½ -105 over KANSAS CITY

4:25 PM EST. Is one blowout win in prime time enough to send the Chiefs stock soaring? Looks like it. After Kansas City put up over 500 yards of total offense against the Raiders in Week 10, the market appears to be ready to welcome Patrick Mahomes back to the pay window with open arms.

The Cowboys also won big in Week 10, but it came against the woeful Falcons—who since were shut out on Thursday Night Football against the Patriots. If you are counting that three points for Atlanta over two games—that win over the Dirty Birds was teetering on credible last Sunday—today? Any credibility is lost.

Dallas took a ton of heat for its 30-16 Week 9 home loss to Denver as double-digit chalk, but we’re not as harsh on one bad outting. When you consider Dak Prescott was coming off an injury—having missed the ‘Boys 20-16 win on Sunday night in Minneapolis and that Dallas turned to ball over at will in the first half—you have the recipe for exactly what happened.

Quick—what did the Chiefs do in Week 9? How about Week 8? 7? The point is—this is a week-to-week, game-to-game league—where the sins of one’s past are washed away by one’s most recent result. Those 516 yards K.C. put up on Sunday night against Vegas is going to turn some heads—no doubt. However, these are the same Chiefs who have struggled against the Jordan Love-led Packers, nearly lost to the stinking Giants, and were run off the field by the Titans—those results were in Weeks 9, 8, and 7, respectively.

There are few teams that the 7-2 Cowboys would not be favored against—regardless of location—these Chiefs should not be one of them. Dallas should be the chalk here—it doesn’t matter this game is at Arrowhead. They could play this game in Patrick Mahomes’ Grandmother’s backyard, and the Cowboys should still be favored. Are the Chiefs back? We’re going to pay to find out. Recommendation: Dallas -2½ -105

L.A. CHARGERS -5½ over Pittsburgh

8:20 PM EST. The Steelers have not lost since their October 3rd trip to Lambeau Field, and the pundits and pick sellers are taking notice. The word is out that Ben Roethlisberger has the mobility of the Tin Man at this point, and so Steeler nation is looking to see who will be the next man up. Is it Mason Rudolph? How about Dwayne “Strip Club” Haskins? We’ve got news for y’all; there isn’t a man on this Steelers roster that can fill “Big Ben’s” boots.

The status of Roethlisberger should not be in doubt here, as the books have posted a line,; there and Mike Tomlin said that the Steelers were planning to proceed as if Rudolph was the starter. As for former first-round pick Haskins—Aditi Kinkhabwala would not back down despite criticism (gee, we wonder why) of her report that Haskins was throwing “lousy passes” and was “checking his phone” during pregame warmups as the official backup with Ben on the COVID-19 list. These motherfuckers eat up the garbage that is fed to Adam Schefter like its candy. Meanwhile, some real reporting from—GOD FORBID A WOMAN—and it’s a big “no from me, dawg” for these neck bearded basement dwellers.

Our love of Justin Herbert needs not be repeated here, but after a few weeks of laying off the golden boy—that 27-20 loss to the Vikings last Sunday has us ready to rekindle this relationship. The big story out of that loss to the Vikes is the loss of Joey Bosa, arguably the best pass rusher in the AFC, but his absence will only blind those injury chasers from what is a truly lopsided affair on and off the field.

We’re not going to dissect how difficult it will be for Rudolph or Ben or whoever suits up for the Steelers to go throw for throw with Herbert. Pittsburgh is so one-dimensional on offense that it cannot be understated. To be honest, we’d rather have Roethlisberger make a surprise start here. The perception in the media and the market is that the Steelers are better off with a 70% “Big Ben” than Rudolph in any form. That could not be further from the truth. Regardless, the Steelers are just as battered and bruised as the Chargers, but L.A. has so many more weapons and runs deeper on the depth chart that we are confident that this number would be short if Terry Bradshaw were behind center for Pittsburgh. Recommendation: L.A CHARGERS -5½ -105

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