Look Between the Lines: Handicapping Week 11 in the NFL
James Hernandez has more than 15 years in the sports handicapping industry and will contribute weekly for FOXSports.com as our betting expert. Have comments or questions? Make sure to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @jhern81.
Buffalo Bills (+5.5) over Miami Dolphins
Week 11 brings us a playoff-eliminator of sorts as two AFC East rivals clash Thursday night in South Beach. Whichever of these teams can put last week’s devastating loss behind them quicker should have the upper hand going into this short week.
The first- and third-ranked defenses in the AFC will try and bottle up both signal callers as each will look to impose its will and take control of this game. Buffalo will attempt to defeat Miami for a fourth consecutive meeting, and to be successful the Bills’ defensive line will need to continue to dominate in the trenches.
That task just got a whole lot easier with the news that Dolphins All-Pro offensive tackle Branden Albert was lost for the remainder of the season with a right knee injury. Tannehill was dropped four times by the Bills in September, and has been sacked 18 times in five career meetings vs. Buffalo, which includes a 1-4 record. Take the points in this divisional showdown as both teams attempt to stay alive in the AFC playoff race.
New Orleans Saints (-6.5) over Cincinnati Bengals
At first glance it may appear a bit odd to lay a number this big with a sub .500 team, but sometimes stats and trends paint a much different picture.
According to Marc Lawrence at Vegasinsider.com Sean Payton is 16-1 straight up and 14-3 against the spread at home off a straight-up loss since 2008, including 10-0 SU and ATS if it’s a non-divisional game. The Saints almost completed the comeback last week despite turning the ball over on three separate occasions and never quite finding a rhythm offensively.
After such a promising start the Bengals appear to be regressing and have many doubting if they will even make the playoffs after such an exceptional start to the season. After the mini-bye week and all the negative press Cincy has endured, it will be tough for them to right the ship on the road in one of the most hostile environments in the NFL. Lay the points as Brees and Payton continue their home mastery of non-divisional opponents, winning and covering this weekend in the Big Easy.
Atlanta Falcons (+2.5) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Hey Falcon fans, before you start the "Fire Mike Smith" Internet campaigns you might want to wait until after Atlanta’s game with Carolina. You see, with a win Sunday in Carolina and a Saints loss at home to the Bengals, the Falcons would be in first place in the NFC South with a record of 4-6.
Of course this speaks more to the disappointment of what appears to be the worst division in football, and not a credit to whichever team is currently occupying first place. After the Monday night drubbing at the hands of the Eagles, the Panthers will try to pick up the pieces and avoid a fifth consecutive loss — a streak that began after a Week 6 tie vs. the Bengals. Every week in the NFL you come across a game where it appears as if the wrong team has been made the favorite and this is that game. Take Atlanta and the points as they continue to add to the misery of Newton and Rivera in a game that the casual NFL fan would cross the street to avoid.
Philadelphia Eagles/Green Bay Packers over 55
Christmas comes early as this powerhouse matchup for NFC playoff positioning gets under way Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field.
No team in the NFL is playing better offensively than the Pack. Since Detroit held the Green Bay offense to seven points in Week 3, this offense has been on a tear, averaging 37.1 PPG over their last six while going 5-1.
Philly has been almost as good offensively, averaging 32 ppg since its Week 7 bye with the combination of Foles and Sanchez under center. As long as Mother Nature brings the greater Wisconsin area some decent weather Sunday, these two teams should have no issue racing past a very reasonable total for two offenses of this caliber. Expect the Sanchize to go toe to toe with Mr. Rodgers as these two teams entertain us all afternoon with an offensive showcase that will easily surpass the posted total.
New England Patriots (+3) over Indianapolis Colts
The Sunday night game brings fans a matchup between the NFL’s best young signal caller and one of the all-time greats. Although Brady vs. Luck doesn’t have the same buzz as Brady vs. Manning, these two teams will go a long way in determining the eventual AFC champion.
Luck has only faced New England twice, but those games were both blowout losses on the road by a combined score of 102-46. Even with this game being under the dome in the house that Peyton built, according to Marc Lawrence of Vegasinsider.com the Colts are 1-14 ATS all-time as home favorites vs. New England.
If it seems like the "Golden Boy" owns every single AFC team, it’s because he does. The man doesn’t have a losing record vs. any other team in the AFC during his time as a starting quarterback and is 8-4 all-time vs. Indy. Take the points as the teacher stays one step ahead of the pupil, and Luck continues his struggles vs. Brady and The Hoodie.