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Weekend Football Picks and Fantasy Football 2020 (February 8-17)

The English Winter Break is in play for the first time this season and I think it has not gone as well as the Premier League and the top clu...

Sunday, 19 November 2017

NFL Week 11 Picks 2017 (November 16-20)

Time has been an issue this week which means the Week 12 Picks is all I am concentrating on and those are below.

Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears Pick: The Detroit Lions have been given life in the NFC North thanks to the injury sustained by Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers and they are the leading chasers after Minnesota Vikings in the Division. Only 2 games separate those two teams, but the Lions have won two games in a row to stay with the Vikings and have already secured a road win over them this season.

The Lions will also be hosting Minnesota in four days time and that has to be a factor when they head to Soldier Field to take on the lowly Chicago Bears. It looks like John Fox is very much on the hot seat in Chicago having guided the team to 3-6 so far this season and making some questionable decisions which contributed to a home loss to the Green Bay Packers last week.

However it does have to be said that the Chicago Bears have the talent to overcome Fox and thus be a very competitive team that has to be respected. They have shown that many times this season and being the home underdog has to inspire players against an opponent who may be overlooking the Bears to a Thanksgiving Day game that could decide the destination of the NFC North.

As well as Detroit have done to get back above 0.500 and continue the chase of the Minnesota Vikings, this is a team that have looked a little one dimensional Offensively and that is something the Chicago Bears will be looking to oppose. The Lions have simply not given Matthew Stafford any kind of consistent run support this season and fumbles from the Running Backs have only contributed to the problems.

It is unlikely to change against the Bears Defensive Line where the strength of the Defensive unit lies. With the Bears likely able to contain either Ameer Abdullah or Theo Riddick running the ball, it will be up to Stafford to continue playing at the high level he has produced his last two games.

Stafford is capable of making all the throws, but this week he is not facing a weak Secondary like he has carved up over the last couple of weeks. This time Stafford will be put under pressure by the Chicago pass rush and it will be a challenge for his Receiving options to get themselves open which could mean the Lions have a few drives stalling or ending with the Field Goal rather than the Touchdown.

The Chicago Defense has really not played badly at all this season, but they have spluttered Offensively which is a real problem for them. It is a learning curve for Mitchell Trubisky at Quarter Back, but one that has been made more difficult with the likes of Zach Miller injured and little Receiving help.

Unsurprisingly Trubisky has been under immense pressure up front as he goes through his reads in a rookie season and the passing yards have simply not been there. The Quarter Back will have to be wary throwing into a Secondary who have thrived on turning the ball over in the last couple of games, and Trubisky will be leaning on the likes of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen coming out of the backfield to help him in checkdown spots.

However both Howard and Cohen could have a decent day running the ball too and that will give Chicago the chance to earn an upset here. They have played well as the home underdog, and that Thanksgiving Day game for Detroit looms large on the horizon.

Chicago are 8-2 against the spread in their last ten games and face a Detroit team who have struggled when playing on the grass. The Bears have also bounced back from losses by going 9-4 against the spread in their last thirteen following a loss and the underdog has gone 4-1 against the spread in the last five in this series which all points to taking the points with the home team.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Cleveland Browns Pick: It has been a long time since the Jacksonville Jaguars were favoured to win by more than a handful of points when they are playing on the road. That is the situation for them this week and the Jaguars are trying to win for the third time in a row which would see them take control of the AFC South after Tennessee were beaten at the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night Football.

There has been something of a rivalry created this week after comments made by Jacksonville Safety Tashaun Gipson which have earned national prominence. Gipson started his career with the Cleveland Browns but signed with the Jaguars prior to the 2016 season and was speaking about how much he wants the Jaguars to destroy Cleveland this week.

It is a strange situation when you think this is not a Division rivalry and the Cleveland Browns are hardly a Play Off threat at 0-9, but Gipson might feel disrespected by something by his former team and did not pull away from the comments later in the week. Gipson also is playing in a Defensive unit that is as good as any that plays in the NFL and taking on this Cleveland team he will believe in his team mates to secure a big win on the road.

Since Marcell Dareus arrived in a trade from the Buffalo Bills, the Jaguars have strengthened their Defensive Line and become much tougher to run against. Indianapolis, Cincinnati and the Los Angeles Chargers all have struggled to establish the run and that could be an issue for Cleveland who will be looking to run the ball and give their inexperienced Quarter Back a chance to make some plays.

DeShone Kizer has had his ups and down at Quarter Back in his rookie season and it does feel like Cleveland may already be looking for their next hope to be the franchise Quarter Back for the future. If the Browns are not able to run the ball as they have been, the Jaguars are going to bring a fierce pass rush which could rattle Kizer all day long and I think the Quarter Back will find it tough to move the chains.

It wouldn't be a big surprise if Gipson is able to find himself at the end of an Interception, but his hope that Jacksonville can score 40 points here is much tougher to see.

Leonard Fournette is expected to miss this game for the Jaguars, but they have been able to run the ball pretty effectively with TJ Yeldon picking up the slack. However this may be a difficult day for the Running Backs as Cleveland's Defensive Line have been very strong up front and this spread means believing in Blake Bortles at the Quarter Back position.

With the Jaguars unlikely to rip off big gains, Bortles will be asked to make plenty of plays with his arm and he is a hard player to trust. Recent games have seen Bortles at close to his best, but he feels never too far away from a big time Interception or two and last week the Jaguars won without much help from Bortles.

Bortles has been well protected though and he has shown he can make some big plays with his arm and I do think he can have a decent day for the Jaguars. As long as he doesn't make too many mistakes, Jacksonville could move the chains effectively and I think they can cover this spread despite how motivated Cleveland will be after Gipson's comments.

I am just having difficulty to see how the Browns can score enough points to stay with the Jaguars and I do think the turnover battle will be won by the road team. Last week the Cleveland Browns continued their struggles against the betting window with another failure to cover and the Jaguars are 6-1 against the spread in their last seven road games.

Cleveland are just 3-11 against the spread in their last fourteen home games and I think the Jaguars can produce a cover of a number they don't usually have to deal with on the road. I will look for the Defensive unit to make some plays to help the Jaguars pull away in this one and cover as the favourite.

Washington Redskins @ New Orleans Saints Pick: The NFC South looks like it is going to be a very competitive Division through to the end of the regular season with three teams above 0.500 with over half the games played. At the moment it is the New Orleans Saints who lead the way with seven straight wins behind them after a 0-2 start to the season, but they are only half a game ahead of the Carolina Panthers and 2 games clear of the Atlanta Hawks in this tough Division.

The NFC East is also a tough Division, but it is one that the Philadelphia Eagles have taken control of. That means the other teams in the Division are already beginning to think of Wild Card spots and one of those are the Washington Redskins. However they are 4-5 so far this season and can't afford to drop another game to a potential rival for a Wild Card spot, although the Redskins also have a distraction to avoid.

They have been placed in the third Thanksgiving Day game against the New York Giants this season and Washington have to make sure they are not preparing for that one mentally. The fact they are facing one of the most in-form teams in the NFL should help with that although I do think the Saints have proven to be 'for real'.

I wasn't always convinced about that, but the dominant win at the Buffalo Bills last week was a hugely impressive performance. The Saints have found some real balance on the Offensive side of the ball which could be huge for them in this one as Drew Brees continues playing like one of the best Quarter Backs in the League and a dynamic pair of Running Backs have sparked the Saints on the ground.

Both Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara have made use of the touches they have been given with both also a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield which makes it so hard to defend against the New Orleans Saints. The Washington Redskins have some talent on the Defensive side of the ball which could make them dangerous with an under-rated Secondary and a fierce pass rush.

However there have been some signs against Washington which New Orleans should be able to exploit. Ingram and Kamara should be able to get the run established which will slow down the pass rush and bring up the Safeties and from there Brees should be able to find enough holes in the Secondary to help the Saints move the chains and force the Redskins into a shoot out.

The problem for Washington has to be that they have lost some big time Receivers and Kirk Cousins has seen the likes of Terrelle Pryor and Jordan Reed banged up. Cousins is also now facing one of the most improved Defensive teams in the NFL this season as the Saints have been able to get to the Quarter Back and have an improved Secondary.

Throwing the ball against New Orleans has proven to be difficult, while the weakness in stopping the run has not been exploited as the Saints have scored enough points to force teams to take to the air. Even then, Washington have not run the ball well enough to believe they can have a lot of success doing that and Cousins may be forced into a couple of mistakes which allows the Saints to pull away from them in this one.

The Redskins are 5-0 against the spread in the last five in this series, including a blow out win over the New Orleans Saints just two seasons ago. I doubt Sean Payton and Drew Brees have forgotten that and the Saints are 4-1 against the spread in their last five home games and 9-1 against the spread in their last ten against a team with a losing record.

Washington have played well on the road, but they are 1-5 against the spread in their last six overall and I like New Orleans to win and cover this spread at home.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Denver Broncos Pick: It has been a really disappointing year for the Cincinnati Bengals who have dropped to 3-6 and look lost in their bid to make the Play Offs. I don't think they will be keeping Marvin Lewis as Head Coach with such a poor season about to be put into the books and now they play a third consecutive road game when they travel to Mile High.

A poor season for the Cincinnati Bengals is being matched by the Denver Broncos who have simply not been able to reproduce what they did when winning the Super Bowl two seasons ago. A blow out loss in front of a national audience last week has to have embarrassed the Denver Broncos who are now 3-6 and in serious trouble of missing the Play Offs for a second season in succession.

They have since turned to Brock Osweiler after Trevor Siemian struggled at Quarter Back and the Denver Broncos are hoping Osweiler can at least keep the Offensive unit on track after a strong performance against the Patriots. It was the Defensive and Special Teams unit that let them down a week ago and Denver have to feel a better performance from those two units can see them win this game.

There have been signs on the Cincinnati Defensive Line of wear and tear over the course of the regular season and that has seen teams able to rip off a few more runs than they had been. It is important for the Denver Broncos who will look to CJ Anderson to put the team in strong down and distance and Anderson could have a decent day in the office with the Broncos Offensive Line happy when it comes to run blocking.

It is possible that will slow down the Cincinnati pass rush which has been effective and give Osweiler the chance to put some play-action passes down the field to the likes of Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. He was hitting those two well last week and Denver could have some success moving the chains this week, although it won't be consistent by any stretch of the imagination.

However it may be more consistent than what the Cincinnati Bengals are able to bring to the field in a season in which one Offensive Co-Ordinator has already been fired. The Bengals have really struggled with one of the poorer Offensive Lines in the NFL and it goes to show how important the line of scrimmage can be in this sport.

There are still some strong skill players on the Offensive side of the ball, but Cincinnati have not been able to provide them the space to excel. The running game has been almost non-existent at times and now they face a Denver Defensive Line who have something to prove after the last few games.

With the struggles on the Offensive Line, it is hard to see how Joe Mixon having a really big game on the ground and that keeps the pressure on Andy Dalton at Quarter Back. Time has been limited for Dalton in the pocket and now he has the additional stress of knowing AJ Green is likely to be blanketed by a strong Secondary who are much tougher to throw upon than they have shown.

Dalton has been led into some mistakes and those could be critical in a game where the two Offensive units on display are merely asked not to make mistakes. Unfortunately that is the case for both teams but Osweiler has been a little more careful with the ball and I think he can put Denver in a position to win this game.

The Broncos have won six of their last seven against Cincinnati including in each of the last two seasons. This is the chance to make amends for a really bad performance against the New England Patriots when Special Teams and poor Defense let them down and I expect a much better all around effort from the Denver Broncos which can help them win this game and cover the number.

MY PICKS: Chicago Bears + 3 Points @ 2.00 BoyleSports (2 Units)
Jacksonville Jaguars - 7 Points @ 1.86 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
New Orleans Saints - 9.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Denver Broncos - 2.5 Points @ 1.86 BoyleSports (2 Units)

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