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Sunday, 22 November 2015

NFL Week 11 Picks 2015 (November 19-23)

From next week I will be back with the NFL Recaps that have been missing for a couple of weeks and then the Thanksgiving Day Picks will be on the Week 12 Picks thread on Thursday afternoon.

It is a busy week next week with the NFL/College Football games beginning on Thursday but the latter also has a pretty full Friday schedule for the Thanksgiving Day weekend.


Week 11 Picks
I was frustrated with Week 10 but I think a lot of people out there would have been with the underdogs completely dominating the counter through the week. It was incredible really as some favourites blew their advantages late on and others just simply failed to turn up.

That meant it was a terrible week for the picks and ruined what had been a very good Week 9 and once again means the season totals have taken a hit. We are still in a positive but I do feel that it could have been a lot worse so have to be thankful for that.

Hopefully Week 11 will prove to be a much more positive one as the last few weeks have been a little disappointing for me personally and I am looking for more consistent results from the picks being made.

Indianapolis Colts @ Atlanta Falcons Pick: After a blistering start to the season, the Atlanta Falcons have hit the barriers and would have been grateful for a late season bye to try and right their ship. The Falcons are now 3 games behind the Carolina Panthers in the Division which is going to be tough to overcome, although they do play them twice down the stretch.

That means the Falcons can't really drop any silly games if they do want to win the NFC South, while they are also in a decent position to pick up a Wild Card spot in the NFC. Coming out of a bye has been a good position for Atlanta in recent seasons and Dan Quinn will be hoping to maintain that success.

Atlanta face the Indianapolis Colts, who are also off a bye but are missing Andrew Luck for the foreseeable future. That means Matt Hasselbeck is going to be back at Quarter Back having gone 2-0 in relief of Luck earlier this season and the veteran will be hoping that he can continue his winning run as the back up in Indianapolis.

However, both of those wins came against fellow AFC South teams and that is one of the poorer Divisions in the NFL with all four teams having a losing record to this point. The Colts will look to give the ball to Frank Gore to keep the Atlanta Offense off the field, but the pressure will likely be on Hasselbeck as the Falcons have defended the run effectively for the most part.

He will have some success throwing the ball though with Atlanta getting limited pressure up front and Hasselbeck has some Receivers who will be able to get open. The problem for Hasselbeck is that he is yet to be in a position this season where he is in obvious passing spots as Indianapolis played both Jacksonville and Houston well, but Atlanta have the Offense to force him into a shoot-out which gives the home team the edge.

Matt Ryan and the Offense had looked out of sync prior to their bye, but they would have been able to work things out and Julio Jones should finally be back to full health. They are going against an Indianapolis Secondary that played well against Denver, but that game looks an outlier and I expect Ryan to make plays with his arm as he will be under limited pressure and has the playmakers to get the ball down the field.

Devonta Freeman might not have a lot of running lanes immediately until the Colts are forced to respect the pass, but the fantasy darling Running Back is also a threat catching the ball out of the backfield. His speed will be tough for the Colts to get a hold of and I think the Falcons will be able to move the chains consistently.

Some of their drives have bogged down thanks to mistakes made by the Offense, but I think Dan Quinn would have got the team focused in the bye week. Atlanta haven't covered in any of their last 5 games and Indianapolis have in 4 of their last 5, but the favourite has gone 4-0 against the spread in this series and I think the Falcons have too much scoring for Indianapolis.


New York Jets @ Houston Texans Pick: The NFC Play Off race looks to have seen a couple of teams separate themselves from the rest of the Wild Card chasing pack. That is not the case in the AFC though and these two teams might look at this game in January as the reason they are either playing Play Off football or booking their holidays in warmer climates.

The New York Jets are not going to catch the New England Patriots in the AFC East, but they have the same record as the current Number 6 Seed in the Conference. On the other hand the Houston Texans are a game behind the Jets, but are also level with the Indianapolis Colts at the top of the AFC South and could very much be in a position to host a Play Off game in January especially with Luck out of the equation for the Colts at this point.

The teams are in contrasting shape at the moment with the Jets losing 3 of 4 games and the Texans winning 3 of 4, but the latter are on the short week having won on Monday Night Football. Compare that with the New York Jets who almost came back from a big deficit in Week 10, but that was on Thursday Night Football and so have had a little more time to prepare.

New York will also have their starting Quarter Back available as Ryan Fitzpatrick looks set to go against one of his former teams while Houston will go with TJ Yates who had to replace Brian Hoyer last week.

The problem for Yates is he will get almost no support from his running game and will be forced to make throws against a Secondary that will lock down DeAndre Hopkins with Darrelle Revis. I am not sure where else Yates will be able to go and the Jets could have the answer to stall their drives.

Fitzpatrick may get more support from Chris Ivory against a Defensive Line that has struggled against the run this season. That Line played well against Cincinnati but a short week could be tough to prepare for the ground and pound that the Jets will use, one that sets up Fitzpatrick to hit his Receivers like Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall.

I expect the former Texan to make some big throws from Quarter Back having felt he was perhaps disrespected in Houston and Fitzpatrick can lead the Jets to a vital win. The Jets are not used to being favoured on the road though which concerns me and is a major reason I can't go bigger than the minimum unit on them covering here in Texas.


Denver Broncos @ Chicago Bears Pick: There are so many stories in play in this game including John Fox and Adam Gase going back against the team they Coached last season and led to a Super Bowl a couple of years ago. However there is no doubting that the biggest story is the benching of Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler making his first career start for the Denver Broncos who are desperate to right a shaking ship.

The Broncos are still on top of the AFC South and have a healthy three game lead over their two nearest rivals, but two losses in a row will shake confidence. Denver also have a back loaded scheduled which will see them face San Diego twice, New England, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati and three of those five games are on the road.

So a game in Chicago is actually very important for Denver to try and get moving in the right direction again else they host New England having lost three in a row. The right decision has been made in taking Manning out of the starting Quarter Back spot because he has looked terrible for much of the season but is arguably off his worst game of his career.

So now Osweiler will get the call against a Bears team that has won 4 of their last 6 games and are back in contention in the NFC although still in a tough spot. It will be interesting to see how focused Chicago can be when you think they have a huge Divisional game against the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night and now face a team with a back up Quarter Back.

I don't know if Osweiler is going to be the permanent starter or just until Peyton Manning can become healthier, but I expect the Bears will try and dare Denver to beat them with Osweiler's arm. He showed some things in relief of Manning last week, but both Fox and Gase will know his strengths and weaknesses and are sure to have passed that on to Vic Fangio at Defensive Co-Ordinator.

The problem for Denver is that they haven't been able to establish the running game to at least aid their Quarter Back and it could be a tough day for the Broncos who are also likely without Emmanuel Sanders at one Wide Receiver spot.

But why do I like the Denver Broncos to cover on the road with these things against them? It is simply because the Bears have that game at Green Bay on the short week and I think the Broncos Defensive unit can make the plays to help their team win this game. Aqib Talib is back this week to give the Secondary a boost although DeMarcus Ware remains absent and I think Osweiler will be given a simple game plan to manage this game and help the Defensive unit with the field position.

Jay Cutler has played very well so far this season and hasn't been making mistakes that he has become known for. Jeremy Langford has filled in ably for Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery has shown toughness despite being hobbled which has made this Offense dangerous the last few weeks.

Even a famed St Louis pass rush couldn't rattle Cutler last week, although I do think the Broncos are better at playing the run and have more depth in the Secondary than the Rams. Langford could be bottled up by Denver and I think this Secondary is able to make the big plays that can give the Broncos the edge in the game and spoil John Fox's attempted revenge over his former team.

The Bears are just 1-3 against the spread at home this season and I think Denver rally through their problems this week and win this one on the road.


Kansas City Chiefs @ San Diego Chargers Pick: The San Diego Chargers have virtually dropped out of the Play Off picture in the AFC after losing five games in a row by an average of five points per game. Every one of those games was lost by a one score margin and they will come out of their bye week hoping to at least rattle a few other teams in their remaining games.

No one will ever talk about being out of the Play Off picture and Philip Rivers has admitted that his team need to take things one game at a time and hope they can get back into things. Beating a Divisional rival like the Kansas City Chiefs off the bye will give San Diego some confidence to take into their remaining games and they have to feel a little disrespected as the home underdog.

There is a feeling that the Kansas City Chiefs are being over-rated after demolishing the Denver Broncos on the road last week. However backing up such an emotional road win with another road game is not going to be easy for the Chiefs against a well-rested team who could have restored health on both sides of the ball.

Well I say better health, but I mean along the Offensive Line which will at least offer Rivers some protection from a fierce Kansas City pass rush led by Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. Rivers is missing many of his starting Receivers including Keenan Allen and Malcolm Floyd, but Antonio Gates is likely back and that is huge for the San Diego Chargers.

It will be down to Rivers, who is perhaps the most under-rated Quarter Back in the NFL, to help the Chargers move the chains as they haven't been able to establish the run. That is also where the Chiefs Defensive unit has thrived this season, but the Secondary can struggle at times and Rivers will also be able to check down to Danny Woodhead coming out of the backfield to keep the drives going.

There are still some Defensive problems for the San Diego Chargers to deal with and the Kansas City Chiefs can take advantage even if they don't exactly have the most exciting of Offenses. However, that lack of an edge has seen many of their drives end in Field Goals and that was the case last week too despite having some short fields to work with against the Denver Broncos.

Charcandrick West has played well in relief of the injured Jamaal Charles and he could have a big game against this Chargers Defense that has allowed 4.9 yards per carry. However San Diego might be better with some Linebackers recovering from injury to perhaps plug the holes that have come out and the Chargers may also be looking to Alex Smith to try and beat them with his limited passing game.

Smith does have Jeremy Maclin but he is too often looking for the short pass that can be tough to keep the Chiefs drives from stalling in the red zone when the space becomes limited. It is half the reason that they have had to hit so many Field Goals when getting down into that position, while his Offensive Line has struggled in protection which hasn't helped Smith's cause to look down the field.

Coming out of the bye I do like the San Diego Chargers with the points to keep it competitive against a Kansas City Chiefs team off an emotional win. The underdog has gone 3-1 against the spread when these teams have met in Southern California and I do think the home underdog can surprise as the Chargers have kept games close in their recent poor run.

Kansas City are 4-14 against the spread when favoured in Divisional games and I will back the Chargers with the points.


Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings Pick: When the Green Bay Packers opened the season 6-0 and the Minnesota Vikings were just 2-2 after four games, I don't think many would have suggested the latter would be leading the NFC North when Week 11 rolled around. This is the first game of the season between these Divisional rivals and the Green Bay Packers are the underdog on the road here.

Three straight losses will do that to a team but I think the loss to the Detroit Lions last week really has opened up some eyes about the Packers. Losing to Denver and Carolina on the road could be forgiven, but struggling against Detroit was a real surprise and there are some worries about the Green Bay Offense which has struggled to get unplugged.

One concern has to be the play of Aaron Rodgers who was on the injury list this week with a shoulder complaint. He has looked a little unsure of himself in the pocket and hasn't been helped by his Receivers getting open, but Rodgers has missed the confidence that has become so associated with him.

Rodgers might find himself under pressure in the pocket in this game, but he is capable of making plays with his legs and may also be able to establish James Starks running the ball. That will give the Packers a chance to play in short yardage down and distance which will give Rodgers more time naturally, but his Receivers have to show they can consistently win their one on one match ups if the Packers are to get rolling again.

The Minnesota Vikings have a Secondary that will feel they can knock Randall Cobb, James Jones and Davante Adams off their routes, but the Packers should be able to still bounce back from a terrible outing against the Detroit Lions.

It will come down to whether the Green Bay Packers Defensive unit can find the answers that they haven't been able to do the last three weeks. Adrian Peterson has been looking better and better in recent weeks and he should be able to establish the run for the Minnesota Vikings who have become the kind of team that most would have expected from an Offensive standpoint.

Teddy Bridgewater hasn't reached the heights of his rookie season, but he is being asked to manage the game and ride on Peterson's back without making the big mistake to that costs the Vikings games. The Offensive Line hasn't always protected him properly and that is where Green Bay will look to get after him, but Bridgewater can make some plays against a banged up Secondary that has given up some big yardage in their three losing games.

The issue is that there is some big pressure on Minnesota who are trying to prove they are the team to beat in the NFC North and that can be tough to deal with. Green Bay haven't lost four in a row with Aaron Rodgers at Quarter Back and I think they will feel disrespected as the underdog in this one, while the spot looks like one they have regularly bounced back in recent seasons.

Minnesota do have a very good record against the spread against Green Bay in recent years but they haven't ben favoured too often in that time. The Packers are 0-2 against the spread as the road underdog in the last couple of years, but I think Green Bay will come out with a point to prove and can find their way to secure the win.

San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks Pick: The Colin Kaepernick era in San Francisco looks to be over as he went in for season ending surgery, but the Quarter Back had already been replaced by Blaine Gabbert. The San Francisco 49ers have had a difficult season following Jim Harbaugh's departure but they are still just about in the Play Off picture although a defeat here in Seattle would end those chances.

The San Francisco 49ers are coming in off a bye week but remain without Carlos Hyde at Running Back and Blaine Gabbert is going to have a much more difficult experience at Quarter Back in Seattle. He guided his team to a win over the Atlanta Hawks in Week 9, but the Legion of Boom should be angry and waiting for the visit of the 49ers after dropping their second home game of the season last weekend.

It is going to be difficult for Gabbert to receive enough support from the ground game and that means he is likely going to be throwing from third and long in an intimidating atmosphere. The pressure will be on Gabbert to keep the chains moving and that is not a position he has thrived in in the past.

Gabbert has also found pass rushes confidence sapping and while he had a fairly clean pocket against the Atlanta Falcons, the Quarter Back is going to be under immense pressure by this Defensive Line. The Seattle Seahawks rattled Carson Palmer last week who had a better Offensive Line than the San Francisco one and I expect the Seahawks to get to Gabbert consistently.

While Gabbert is going to be under pressure on the field, Russell Wilson faced some rare criticism for his performance in the loss to the Arizona Cardinals last week. Wilson was given more time behind his Offensive Line after Seattle came off the bye week, but he missed some big throws although I am expecting the Quarter Back to have a bounce back game this week against this San Francisco Secondary that has struggled through injury and departures all season.

San Francisco don't get the same level of pass rush as last season so Wilson should have time to find the likes of Jimmy Graham and Doug Baldwin when he does go back to throw. Another key difference for Wilson compared with Gabbert is that Seattle should be able to establish their running game which will make it easier for Wilson to move the chains with both his legs and arm.

This is the biggest game that San Francisco have left to play in all honesty so I am expecting a full effort from them, but they have been blown out in three of four road games this season. I don't think Gabbert is going to have much success at all and wouldn't be surprised if he throws a couple of turnovers while the Seahawks should swarm him often.

I also think Seattle will continue their dominance of this rivalry and I expect them to score enough points to cover a big number at home and get back into the Play Off picture. Seattle are 7-0-1 against the spread in the last eight games of the series and I think they take out their anger on the 49ers and beat them by at least two Touchdowns.


Cincinnati Bengals @ Arizona Cardinals Pick: In normal circumstances I would not be that interested in backing a team that is coming off an emotional Divisional road win and has two more Divisional games to play following this one. That is the spot for the Arizona Cardinals, but Carson Palmer is facing his former team and has admitted that this is not 'just another game' so I expect the Cardinals to all focus for their leader.

There are still other goals that Arizona are looking for than getting revenge for their Quarter Back and I think the Cardinals can't afford to look past the Cincinnati Bengals who were beaten for the first time last week. They are now on a short week out West against a team that has been very dominant as the home favourite and I like the Cardinals in this Sunday Night Football game.

Andre Ellington and Chris Johnson have given Arizona something they haven't had for a while here and that is an effective running game. Both players have helped Arizona average 4.4 yards per carry and Carson Palmer will be able to hand the ball off to the pair of them and pick up big yards against the weakness of the Cincinnati Defense.

That will open things up for Carson Palmer to take his shots downfield even if Michael Floyd and John Brown are both absent for this game. Juron Brown is capable of stretching the field and Larry Fitzgerald remains a safety blanket for Palmer so it looks like it will be tough for the Bengals to slow down the Offense consistently.

Another issue for the Bengals is the lack of a strong running game which really begins to show up as we reach December and January. Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard give Cincinnati a one-two punch out of the backfield, but the Offensive Line has struggled to open holes for them and they average just 3.9 yards per carry.

It means the pressure will be on Andy Dalton who didn't have a great game against the Houston Texans last week and who faces an under-rated Defensive unit. The pressure up front won't be the issue, but Arizona have a very strong Secondary that can take away AJ Green with Patrick Peterson and have some ball-hawking players that can turn the ball over.

Dalton has had some very good games this season when being asked to throw to keep the Bengals afloat, but it is going to be tough to do that in Arizona. I think the Cardinals will make the bigger plays on both sides of the ball which can make the difference in this contest and I really like them as a home favourite in their home Stadium where Arizona have been dominant under Bruce Arians.

The short week and long travel is against Cincinnati here and I think Carson Palmer has a statement game against his former team and Arizona cover.


Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots Pick: The Buffalo Bills were very hyped up when they played the New England Patriots earlier this season, but a blow out loss later and they were aware that the AFC East was still the domain of the Patriots. However Rex Ryan is never going to back down from New England even if he wants his team to emulate what they have achieved and this Monday Night Football game could be another 'must see' event.

The Bills might actually have something of a chance for revenge this week even if the layers have a big spread in favour of the unbeaten Patriots. New England have lost Dion Lewis and Julian Edelman and both are key figures for the Patriots, although Tom Brady is defying his age and likely to continue to have big games without him.

Buffalo did find something of a pass rush last week coming off a bye week and Ryan might be able to dial up some pressure on Brady which is always the key to beating the Patriots. The Secondary hasn't been able to hold up without a well paid Defensive Line getting to the Quarter Back and that is huge for Buffalo this week if they want to cause an upset on the road and put themselves in a strong position to challenge for a Wild Card spot in the AFC.

If they can force Brady to release quickly, New England drives could certainly stall because he won't have the same reliable catchers as Edelman and Lewis had proved to be. LeGarrette Blount won't find a lot of running lanes and Buffalo might just give themselves a chance to cause an upset by stalling drives and perhaps forcing the Patriots to settle for Field Goals rather than Touchdowns.

The Bills have to make sure they protect the ball well enough though as the turnover battle could be critical for them in this one. The return of Tyrod Taylor at Quarter Back will give Buffalo some more confidence and they have three players that can run the ball effectively and try and keep New England off balance.

Taylor, LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams are all healthy and have had over ten days to get ready for this game which is huge for Buffalo. The Patriots have improved against the run as the season has progressed, but I think Buffalo will be able to have some success and that opens up the play-action pass to get Sammy Watkins stretching the field.

One area the Patriots have impressed is against the pass though and they have also got a lot of pressure up front and I expect Taylor will be sacked a couple of times. Taylor has to know that and make sure he protects the ball against a New England team that is one of the better sacking teams in the NFL, while Buffalo's Offensive Line is proven to be better running the ball than protecting their Quarter Back.

It still looks a lot of points for New England to cover as the home favourite and they are just 12-14 against the spread as the home favourite in Divisional games over the seasons. Buffalo have covered as the road underdog twice this season in their Divisional games and Rex Ryan teams generally gave New England a much tougher time in Foxboro than they did at home.

Getting a Touchdown head-start against a team that is banged up looks a lot of points and I like the Bills to cover.

MY PICKS: Atlanta Falcons - 5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
New York Jets - 3 Points @ 1.85 Coral (1 Unit)
Denver Broncos - 1 Point @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
San Diego Chargers + 3 Points @ 2.05 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Green Bay Packers + 1 Point @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Seattle Seahawks - 13.5 Points @ 1.95 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Arizona Cardinals - 4.5 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Buffalo Bills + 7 Points @ 1.95 Sporting Bet (2 Units)

Week 10: 3-6, - 5.54 Units
Week 96-2, + 8.08 Units
Week 80-1, - 1 Unit
Week 72-4, - 4.23 Units
Week 63-5-1, - 3.33 Units
Week 53-5-1, - 3.48 Units
Week 44-3-1, + 2.24 Units
Week 38-2, + 9.03 Units
Week 24-5, - 1.71 Units
Week 15-2-1, + 6.46 Units

Season 201538-35-4, + 7.52 Units
Season 201477-80-2, - 8.47 Units
Season 201386-70-2, + 22.27 Units

Season 2012- 4.78 Units

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