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Weekend Football Picks and Fantasy Football 2019 (August 17-19)

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Thursday, 15 November 2018

NFL Week 11 Picks 2018 (November 15-19)

It was another mixed week for the NFL Picks but I have to say it was a highly frustrating one that could have been much better if only for one game.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers dominated the Washington Redskins in most of the statistical departments except they decided they would get to the Red Zone and then shoot themselves in the foot multiple times.

Missed Field Goals, Interceptions, stupid Sacks, it all went wrong for the Buccaneers who actually had Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing for more yards than the entire Washington Redskins had managed on the day and yet they were trailing 16-3 in the middle of the Fourth Quarter.

Dumb luck like that aside, most of the other picks went the way they should have done. New England and Philadelphia had no real right to cover after sub-par efforts, while the New York Jets were done and dusted by the end of the first half.

On the other hand Pittsburgh, New Orleans and Green Bay were dominant winners and Seattle played as well as I expected to get close, but ultimately fall short against the Los Angeles Rams.

Speaking of the Rams, Monday Night Football has been moved from Mexico City back to Los Angeles after the terrible condition of the field surface in the Stadium originally picked for the Rams and Kansas City Chiefs. The Rams have made the right decision to offer tickets to those who are helping contain the raging wildfires in California, but the Mexican fans are going to be rightly aggrieved that they are missing an international series game.

Ultimately the playing surface was dangerous and I can imagine both teams would not have risked key players in a year where the Super Bowl is a legitimate goal for the Rams and Chiefs. I can almost guarantee they let the NFL know that too and the right decision was made to send the game back to Los Angeles.

In Week 11 we have the final round of Bye Weeks for the majority of the League with only the Rams and Chiefs left out on Thanksgiving Weekend as they were expected to be coming back from Mexico City.  With that in mind it is a time of the season when things pick up in intensity and the pretenders are separated from the contenders in both Conferences.

The NFL have backloaded the schedule with Divisional games too so the importance of games will not be lost on the teams involved and I think that begins with the Thursday Night Football game between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers.

Both teams have a high chance of being involved in the Wild Card race in the NFC and have similar records which means the losing team could be left in a precarious position. It is an intense rivalry anyway and should open Week 11 with a bang.

Green Bay Packers @ Seattle Seahawks Pick: Two teams who have had some healthy games against each other in recent times as leaders of the NFC meet on Thursday Night Football in a bid to keep their Play Off hopes alive through Week 11. A loss would not be fatal to either teams chances of making the post-season, but both the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks could be left in a situation where they need to win out to have a chance of playing Play Off Football in January.

They come into Week 11 after having contrasting Week 10 games with the Packers comfortably beating the Miami Dolphins at home and the Seahawks going down to a narrow loss to the Los Angeles Rams for a second time this season. Green Bay will be able to sympathise with that defeat to the Rams having come close to knocking off Los Angeles themselves, but it means neither the Packers nor Seattle have a winning record through the season.

That only intensifies things when the Packers and Seahawks meet in the regular season for the fifth season in a row and Seattle will be looking to turn the tide having lost the last couple of games which were both played at Lambeau Field.

The short week looks to give them a real chance to do that as Green Bay are going to be shorthanded in the Secondary with both Blake Martinez and Jaire Alexander looking like they won't be involved. It should be a boost for the Seattle Offensive unit which has played really well against the Los Angeles Rams in both games this season as Russell Wilson continues to get the most out of the talent around him.

A boost for Wilson is playing a Green Bay Defensive Line that have just begun to struggle to contain the run. The Seahawks are without a doubt a power football ream that want to establish the run first and foremost and Chris Carson should be returning from an injury to pair up with Rashaad Penny who had such a strong game against the Rams last Sunday.

Establishing the run is also the strength of the Seattle Offensive Line and Wilson is a mobile Quarter Back so there is plenty of signs pointing to the Seahawks being able to rip off some big chunks of yards on the ground. That is very important as the Seahawks are not built to play from behind the chains and Wilson is likely to be under some real pressure from the Green Bay pass rush whenever they are in obvious passing downs.

Getting into the backfield and disrupting the timing and perhaps even hitting the Running Back is very important for the Packers, but ultimately Seattle should find a way to move the chains with some consistency in this one.

The same can be said for the Green Bay Packers who saw Aaron Jones continue his fine start to life as a Packers Running Back. Ty Montgomery being shipped out to the Baltimore Ravens means Jones knows he is the premier Running Back for Green Bay and he has taken his chance very effectively barring one fumble against the New England Patriots.

Jones figures to have a big game against the Seattle Seahawks who are not the Defensive unit they once were. Running the ball against them has not been a major challenge for teams all season, and Green Bay look to have their starters in place on the Offensive Line to pick up from where they left off against the Miami Dolphins in Week 10. The Seahawks have also shown signs of wear and tear having given up 118 yards per game on the ground at 5.0 yards per carry through the 2018 season and seeing those numbers decline to 160 yards per game at 6.8 yards per carry in their last three at home.

Overall teams have continued to rip big chunks of yards on the ground against Seattle and the Seahawks can't exactly sell out and clamp down on Jones and Jamaal Williams when they playing alongside Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers has really played well against the Seattle Seahawks in recent years, but this time he isn't facing the Legion of Boom. Injuries to Receivers have depleted his options, but it is going to be difficult for the Seahawks to contain Rodgers especially if they can't control the line of scrimmage.

A pass rush can get to Rodgers if Green Bay get behind the chains, which is the same for the Seahawks, but the Quarter Back is arguably at his most mobile in 2018 and he is capable of making plays with his legs too.

All in all it looks a tough game to call with neither team being dominant at home/on the road respectively. They look to match up well with each other and both teams have played well on Thursday Night Football in recent years, especially against the spread.

It is Green Bay who have covered in each of the last four games played between these teams, but they have not been the same on the road as they have been at home. The perception may have been different if the Packers had beaten the Los Angeles Rams like they could have, but they do have something to prove away from Lambeau Field and Seattle have a very strong record against the spread when playing off a straight up loss.

My lean is taking the Packers with the points, but I can't pull the trigger on that because of their really poor road record.

Instead I am going to follow the trend of the recent Thursday Night Football games which have seen plenty of points scored. The lack of time between a Sunday game and a Thursday game does make it very difficult for Defensive units to get healthy and in six of the last seven weeks the total points line has been surpassed and in many occasions by a huge margin too.

Both teams can run the ball which may shorten the game, but I also think both are capable of securing huge chunks of yards on the ground which shouldn't affect their ability to score points. We also have two high quality Quarter Backs being able to throw into man coverage if the run games are established and I can see both teams getting to at least 24 points which should mean an 'over' game is produced.

A Seattle Seahawk win by exactly three points wouldn't surprise me here, but my pick this week comes from the total points market.

Dallas Cowboys @ Atlanta Falcons Pick: Two 4-5 teams meet in an important game in Week 11 of the 2018 season and it may come as a surprise to some to see the Dallas Cowboys being given over a Field Goal worth of points in this one.

Well it will certainly be a surprise to those who are in the 'what have you done for me lately' group of people after seeing the Cowboys beat the defending Super Bowl Champions on the road and the Atlanta Falcons losing on the road to the Cleveland Browns last week.

However I do think the Falcons are a better team when they play at home and I would expect to see a reaction to the defeat last week. It also looks a far from ideal schedule spot for the Dallas Cowboys with this game coming between two Divisional battles including facing the current NFC East leaders Washington Redskins on Thanksgiving Day in Week 12.

The Falcons are also due to play on Thanksgiving Day with the third game scheduled for Thursday seeing the team head to the New Orleans Saints. However the Falcons will also recognise that this game is a big one for their Wild Card hopes with the Saints a little clear of them in the NFC South standings and so the feeling is that this game is going to get the top effort from the Falcons and perhaps a distracted one from the Cowboys.

On the face of things Dallas do have a chance to keep the points going after scoring 27 last week. This week they are facing a struggling Atlanta Defensive unit and Dallas found an Offensive groove which suggests they can pick up from where they left off. Ezekiel Elliot should find some strong running lanes against an Atlanta Defensive Line who have had a hard time clamping down on the run, while the Secondary have given up some big yards.

Atlanta do potentially have Deion Jones back from an injury which could give their Defensive unit a big boost, but I do have to wonder if he will be at full health. Jones' return is at least a positive for the team and should inspire his team-mates, while the Dallas Offensive Line is hurting so there is a real chance for the Atlanta Falcons to stall some drives with a heavy pass rush generated.

That is going to be the key side of the ball even if the Dallas Cowboys own Defense has been very good and underrated for much of the season. There is no doubt Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons feel very comfortable at home when it comes to scoring points and moving the chains and they should be able to do that with success for much of the afternoon through the air.

As well as Dallas have played Defensively, slowing down Atlanta will be a real challenge for them and the position of this game is not ideal for them as far as I am concerned.

The Cowboys are 1-3-1 against the spread in their last five games following a win and they are 2-5 against the spread in their last seven versus the Atlanta Falcons. At the odds against quotes I will back the Falcons to win and cover in this potentially vital Wild Card place before both teams get ready for a short week with both scheduled for Thanksgiving Day action.

Houston Texans @ Washington Redskins Pick: For the first time in the history of the NFL a team managed to put up over 500 yards of Offense but fail to score more than three points. That is absolutely the reason the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were not able to beat the Washington Redskins in Week 10 but the home team can't expect to have that kind of fortune again.

The Buccaneers actually had over 200 more yards than Washington on the day as the latter struggled to really get any consistency going on the Offensive side of the ball. While the result was not one I expected, I do think the Buccaneers proved to be the right side on the day and I simply had not accounted for so many terrible mistakes in the Red Zone.

Washington will need the Houston Texans to produce a sloppy game out of their Bye Week if they are going to produce another win here. Like last week, the Redskins are still suffering with some major injuries on the Offensive Line as well as in the Receiving unit and they are not going to have an easy day moving the chains.

Running the ball against the Houston Texans is a tough task at the best of times, but I really don't think Adrian Peterson is going to get going when he is also having to run behind a banged up Offensive Line. He struggled with the Buccaneers Defensive Line last week and this Houston Defensive Line have been strong against the run which means it is going to be very difficult for Alex Smith.

The Quarter Back is playing in a system where the Redskins need to be in front of the chains if they are going to move the ball with any consistency. If the Redskins are struggling to run the ball there is real pressure on Smith to make plays with his arm and that won't be helped with the Offensive Line trying to contain JJ Watt and Jadaveon Clowney without their starters on that Line.

There are some holes in the Houston Secondary which can be exploited, but Smith may not have the time to make the throws he needs.

Instead Washington will need Deshuan Watson to have the same day as Ryan Fitzpatrick in making mistake after mistake despite a huge statistical game in terms of yards earned. Unfortunately for the Redskins Watson is not really likely to do that like the veteran and I think Houston will be in a position to win this game with a good margin between them and Washington.

Watson will have had a couple of weeks to work Demaryius Thomas into the Offense as he fills the boots of injured Will Fuller, while DeAndre Hopkins is going to get some big yards as he tends to do. After seeing the way Fitzpatrick carved up the Washington Secondary last week, Watson should be able to have one of his better games of the season.

Lamar Miller could have some limited success running the ball too which can help the passing game excel, but I think the key will be to put the ball in Watson's hands and trust the Quarter Back to make the right decisions. He has done that more often than not and coming out of the Bye Week could see the Houston Texans take advantage of the schedule spot which has the Washington Redskins playing a huge Divisional game in four days time.

Houston have covered in their last four games coming out of a Bye Week and the favourite has covered in the last four games in this series. With that game with Dallas coming up for Washington, I wouldn't be surprised if they struggle for intensity in this one as they look to get healthier and I think Watson and the Houston Texans take advantage of that.

Carolina Panthers @ Detroit Lions Pick: Three losses in a row have dropped the Detroit Lions into the basement of the NFC North and they are also three games below 0.500 going into this Week 11 game. We are at that time of the season when you can't afford too many more setbacks especially not in the position the Detroit Lions find themselves, but they have another difficult game on their hands days before hosting their traditional Thanksgiving Day game against NFC North leaders the Chicago Bears.

Being distracted and focused on that game will not be a good look for the Lions who won't have a lot left to play for at 3-7 if they are to lose this game.

I hate being on the same side as the public when they are heavily favouring a road favourite, but I do expect to see a big reaction from the Carolina Panthers. The last time the Panthers played they were being blown out by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night Football in Week 10, but they do look like they match up very well with the Lions and I do think they are the team more likely to have a response to a defeat.

Carolina will look to run the ball first and foremost, but it may not be as easy as it was once was with Snacks Harrison coming in from the New York Giants to aid the Detroit Defensive Line. There has been an improvement in the yards per carry given up by the Lions since Harrison arrived, but the feeling is that Detroit are playing the team most comfortable running the ball in that time.

With Cam Newton at Quarter Back, Detroit will know Carolina can run the RPO plays much better than most, and they can't sell out on the Quarter Back with Christian McCaffrey around. Between those two players and this Offensive Line, the Panthers will feel they can establish the run and that should make it easier for Newton to employ play-action and make some big throws down the field against a vulnerable Secondary.

Detroit have to find a way to try and run the ball too if they are going to make this a competitive game. Kerryon Johnson has not had a couple of good games and the Panthers have been strong up front which has allowed them to clamp down on the run and it could mean the Lions are going to have to rely on Matthew Stafford to get them into a position to win this game.

Stafford has had it tough with the team deciding to trade away Golden Tate to the Philadelphia Eagles at the trade deadline. It almost underlines where Detroit see themselves as far as being a Play Off contender is concerned and it also means Stafford has been left without a vital safety blanket in the passing game.

It has also definitely contributed to Stafford holding the ball a little longer than he is used to and that has led to more Sacks which is a concern against this Carolina team. I would still expect Stafford to make some good plays through the air against this Carolina Secondary, but drives are likely to stall with pressure in Stafford's face and the strength of the Panthers in the trenches likely to be a key to the outcome of this one.

As I said earlier, I expect the Panthers to bounce back effectively from a loss and they are 10-1 against the spread in their last eleven following a defeat. Carolina are not a great road team, but Detroit are 3-10 against the spread in their last thirteen against a team with a winning record and I am going to join the public and back Carolina to win and cover here.

Philadelphia Eagles @ New Orleans Saints Pick: Opposing the hottest team in the NFL is not something the public want anything to do with, but I am going to be backing the Philadelphia Eagles with the points when they head to the New Orleans Saints in Week 11.

The New Orleans Saints have won eight straight games which means they are in line to finish with the Number 1 Seed in the NFC and Drew Brees has been in magical form. Every week it seems like Brees is breaking another record and the Saints have been overpowering teams with their Offensive unit playing very much at the peak of their powers.

Brees is clearly still operating as one of the best Quarter Backs in the NFL, but the Saints have a very strong balance Offensively with two strong Running Backs to complement the passing game. Both Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara can be dangerous running the ball and catching out of the backfield, while Michael Thomas is flourishing at Receiver where Brandon Marshall has been signed to give the team a veteran presence.

It looks like the Eagles are going to have a very difficult day stopping the saints with injuries piling up in the Secondary. There have been signs of wear and tear on the Defensive Line too as the Eagles have begun to give up some big plays on the ground and they couldn't contain Ezekiel Elliot last week which suggests the Saints are going to have a strong day moving the ball both on the ground and through the air.

Over the course of the season the Eagles have shown they can clamp down on the run, but they will also want to get some pressure on Brees and see if they can disrupt the passing game. Philadelphia have to also hope the Saints are perhaps not as concentrated as they should be with a Thanksgiving Day home game to come in four days time against a Divisional rival.

Another key for the Eagles to remain competitive is looking for what is a very good Offensive team to try and impose themselves on a New Orleans Defensive unit that have yet to reach the heights of last season. Carson Wentz was guilty of some poor decisions in the loss to the Dallas Cowboys, but overall the Eagles haven't played too badly on that side of the ball and the defending Super Bowl Champions have been a competitive team for the 2018 season even with their 4-5 record.

It will be down to Wentz because the Saints have generally played the run very well in 2018 and the Eagles have los Jay Ajayi and not looked convincing since then. The Quarter Back should have success though because the Eagles have some talented Receivers who should be able to get the better of this Saints Secondary which has given up some major yards through the air all season.

That is the key with a spread of over a Touchdown worth of points being given to the road team. As hard as it is to oppose the New Orleans Saints, there is every chance a competitive Eagles team can find the backdoor cover in this one.

You can't ignore some of the trends that the New Orleans Saints have put together, but Philadelphia are 7-3 against the spread following a loss. This is a big number for the Saints to cover against a team who can be as Offensively strong as the Eagles, while the potential distraction of a Thanksgiving Day game is underlined by the Saints going 1-4 against the spread in their last five against a team with a losing record.

No one will ever overlook the defending Super Bowl Champions, but New Orleans may feel the game with the Atlanta Falcons on deck is more important. Even if they are only slightly looking away from this game Philadelphia should have a chance with the amount of points they are being given and I like the Eagles with the start.

Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears Pick: The Green Bay Packers were beaten on the road again on Thursday Night Football and that means the NFC North Division lead is on the line on Sunday Night Football when the Minnesota Vikings head to the Chicago Bears.

Both teams have to be feeling good about their chances with the Chicago Bears having won four of their last five games to move to 6-3. The Minnesota Vikings have won three in a row to move back to a winning record at 5-3-1 and I do think the motivation will be high in both camps to take control of the Division.

The Bears are on the short week as they play on Thanksgiving Day this season when they visit Divisional rivals the Detroit Lions, but this is the bigger game for the team. It says a lot about how well the Bears have played this season that they would have been considered a 3 point home underdog in this game before the season started yet they come into this one as an almost full Field Goal favourite.

However there is a feeling a healthier Minnesota Defensive unit are rounding into very strong form to make it much more difficult for the Chicago Bears than it has been Offensively in recent games. Mitchell Trubiskey has been playing really well at Quarter Back, but the pressure could be on the young signal caller's shoulders with the Vikings able to clamp down on the run thanks to a healthier Defensive Line.

Tarik Cohen could be a threat leaking out of the backfield to catch passes, but I don't think he or Jordan Howard are going to rip off huge chunks on the ground and the Vikings could force the Bears to try and beat them through the air. It won't be easy for Trubiskey to do that as the Vikings have given up just 166 passing yards per game over their last three games and the last two games have seen them face Matt Stafford and Drew Brees.

If the Vikings have been able to contain the run as they have been, they have shown they can produce a huge pass rush to really put pressure on opponents although recent numbers have been skewed by the way they dominated the Detroit Lions. Even removing that game and you can see the Vikings can get some pressure up front so the Bears won't really want to be playing behind the chains in this one.

Stopping the run has been a strength of the Chicago Bears too as their Defensive unit have taken another step up in quality thanks in part to the arrival of Khalil Mack from the Oakland Raiders. Even with Dalvin Cook back for the Vikings, it could be difficult for Minnesota to really get something going on the ground, but in Kirk Cousins they have a Quarter Back who will be pleased to put the pressure on his back.

Cousins can sometimes make some horrendous decisions, but he has also shown he is a very competent Quarter Back and there are some special Receivers he is throwing to. Stefon Diggs is back this week in all likelihood and Adam Thielen will suit up too which will give Minnesota the chance to move the chains against a tough Secondary.

The Bears have a fierce pass rush which will feel can get the better of the Minnesota Offensive Line, and that pressure can force Quarter Backs into mistakes. That has to be a concern for Kirk Cousins but I think he is someone who can thrive in these situations too and I do like the Vikings to edge out the Bears in this big NFC North game.

Minnesota do have a poor record against the spread in recent visits to Chicago, but they have won six of the last seven overall in this series and this time the pressure of expectation is on the Bears who are favoured for the first time since 2014.

The Bears have been underrated in recent games and that has created some positive trends in their favour. However I like the Vikings coming out of a Bye Week to show they are still the team to beat in the NFC North and I will take the points with the superior Quarter Back to make the right plays in what could be a Defensive dominated game.

MY PICKS: Seattle Seahawks-Green Bay Packers Over 48 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Atlanta Falcons - 3.5 Points @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Houston Texans - 3 Points @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Carolina Panthers - 4.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Philadelphia Eagles + 7.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Minnesota Vikings + 2.5 Points @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Week 10: 4-4, - 0.44 Units (16 Units Staked, - 2.75% Yield)
Week 9: 3-5, - 4.20 Units (16 Units Staked, - 26.25% Yield)
Week 8: 7-1, + 11.16 Units (16 Units Staked, + 69.75% Yield)
Week 7: 4-4, - 0.38 Units (16 Units Staked, - 2.38% Yield)
Week 6: 4-4, - 0.47 Units (14 Units Staked, - 3.36% Yield)
Week 51-6, - 10.10 Units (14 Units Staked, - 72.14% Yield)
Week 45-3-1, + 3.18 Units (18 Units Staked, + 17.67% Yield)
Week 35-5, - 1.42 Units (17 Units Staked, - 8.35% Yield)
Week 26-1, + 9.46 Units (14 Units Staked, + 67.57% Yield)
Week 16-2, + 7.34 Units (16 Units Staked, + 45.88% Yield)

Season 2018: 45-35-1, + 14.13 Units

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