All-Purpose Playbook: NFL Week 11 picks, survivor pool analysis and more
Welcome to the All-Purpose Playbook, a Buzzer column that is either (a) a guide to many things NFL related, or (b) a road map to hell. Check back here on Friday afternoons for survivor pool analysis, football picks, a smattering of GIFs and some nonsense. Follow me @brettsmiley and email me with any questions or comments at basmiley [at] gmail [dot] com.
In Week 10, underdogs butterfly-cut the favorites and cooked them well-done. The dogs finished a whopping 12-2 against the spread and 11-3 straight-up.
You could say that underdogs Holly Holm-kicked the favorites to the side of the head, dropping them to the mat like a sack of wet laundry, but my wife is still reeling from the realization that Ronda Rousey is not invincible . . . so let's not say that.
These weren't just slight underdogs or home dogs, either. Road underdogs performed 9-1 ATS record and the slate included two St. Bernard-sized dog upsets: Houston +10.5 over the Bengals on Monday night and the Detroit Lions +11.5 over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field — ending a 24-game losing streak at Green Bay dating back to 1991. The outright wins by the Texans (+400) and Lions (+491) produced the two biggest money-line upsets of the season, per Sports Insights.
Warford is 6-foot-3 and 332 pounds. APP likes to picture Larry growing from an infant to an NFL giant as the Packers simply pummeled the poor Lions year after year after year at home, outscoring them 677-378 over that span.
The Great Favorite Disaster of Week 10 is over and done with, but something to file away as we consider the lines on this week's slate of games.
How'd APP fare in Week 10? A record of 2-1, lifting the season record to 18-11-2. Unfortunately, we pegged one of only two underdogs that failed to cover, the Tennessee Titans +4.5 hosting the Carolina Panthers who succeeded at making it a game (17-10 in the fourth quarter) but failed at covering. Dallas (+1.5) at Tampa Bay was the only other underdog that fell short and if games were 59 minutes long, they would have made Tennessee the sore thumb.
APP's two scores came courtesy of the New York Giants +7.5 hosting the New England Patriots and NFC East mates the Washington Flyin' Snyders (pick 'em, though they were an underdog early in the week) against the now Rob Ryan-less New Orleans Saints. After Kirk Cousins lit them up for 324 yards and four touchdowns, the Saints have now allowed an obscene 28 passing TDs through 10 games putting them on pace to surrender 45 on the season -- the same number Aaron Rodgers collected in 2011, the sixth-most ever for a QB. Yikes.
Now let's get down to business.
WEEK 11 PICKS
Denver Broncos +1 at Chicago Bears
Right now the talk out of Denver (paraphrasing) is that "Peyton is still our quarterback" and "Peyton will play when he's healthy." All right. That's what the players and coaches should say, but that's not reality.
Owing in part to injured ribs and a torn ligament in his foot (plantar fascia), Manning has been absolutely brutal this season. You've heard all about it this week so we don't need to go into detail.
But how much is Manning tossing footballs like pizza dough worth compared to 25-year-old backup Brock Osweiler, a second-round pick in 2012 who's thrown 54 regular-season passes since entering the league? Think about it for a second.
According to the oddsmakers, Manning is worth about 7 points more than Osweiler as the look-ahead line on this game before the Week 10 contests had the Broncos as 6-point favorites in Chicago.
Of course that line didn't contemplate Chicago's impressive road performance at St. Louis or Denver's blowout loss at home. Of course, much of that blame falls in Peyton's lap for a mind-bogglingly horrid 5-for-20 passing for 35 yards and four interceptions. Kansas City scored 20 of their 29 points off turnovers. But that humongous line swing is the main reason for this pick because Osweiler would need to spray the field with footballs blindfolded to handicap the offense as badly as Manning did last week.
Let's put it this way: If you asked WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas inquisition-style whether they'd rather have Osweiler tossing them the pigskin the rest of the way or Manning version 2015, APP would bet the entire breadbasket that they'd say Osweiler. Osweiler can at least hit them in stride 20 yards down the field.
The Chicago Bears have looked solid the past couple weeks, but haven't played a defense like Denver's that's now in a spot where the team desperately needs to snap a losing skid.
We still haven't mentioned the whole John Elway vs. John Fox factor and Fox's advantage of having intimate knowledge of the Broncos' personnel. It's an advantage no doubt, but the players still gotta play and we're benefiting from that huge point swing. Let's ride the Broncos as they knock the Bears back down to the earth.
Washington Flyin' Snyders +7 at Carolina Panthers
If you've been with APP all season, you've probably noticed that Washington appears here pretty regularly. Well, Washington is the Soup Du Year and it's time to go back to the pot.
Let's refer back to a figure featured prominently last week:
In Week 10, the Panthers were the only one of the three undefeateds to cover (Bengals lost, Patriots nearly did). This week we're testing the historical trend again as 7 points is a big number against an improving Flyin' Snyders squad that's gotten healthier and more confident. Of course, let's be realistic.
DAMN IT, KIRK!!! YES! You keep pulling this stunt. Cousins is now a TWO-TIME NFL Offensive Player of the Week and became just the first Washington QB to throw for at least 300 yards with a rating above 150 since Sammy Baugh — in 1948. But Cousins hasn't fared as well against the better passing defenses like the Panthers'.
Nevertheless, Washington is still at least an average team in all three phases and should be able to keep it within a touchdown or at least find a way to dive under the closing garage door like the Colts managed in Carolina three weeks ago.
One quick note on the nonsense about Cam Newton's harmless celebratory dancing, which triggered that ludicrous letter to the editor from a Tennessee mother who claims she was stymied about how how to explain Newton's "behavior" to her daughter.
Well, in Seattle last week, where the Arizona Cardinals beat the Seattle Seahawks 39-32, Cardinals QB Carson Palmer offered some celebratory pelvic thrusts apparently directed at three of his buddies in the stands.
I'm trying to craft a mental picture of Pup, Phil and Sugar Cane and keeping coming back to Adam Sandler, Steve Buscemi and Brendan Fraser from "Airheads."
Buccaneers +6 at Philadelphia Eagles
APP has debated the inclusion of this pick all week, struggling internally to determine if it’s a rage pick, the by-product of the Eagles FACE-PLANTING against the Dolphins at home last week after mounting a 16-3 first-quarter lead, only to lose 20-19.
That’s one of the most miserable, inexplicable losses I’ve ever seen and it ejected me from a mammoth survivor pool. The Dolphins benefited from a deflected ball flying into Jarvis Landry’s hands for a touchdown, a blocked punt, a few dropped passes, a terrible Mark Sanchez interception in the end zone, a missed 32-yard field goal by Caleb Sturgis and a touchdown getting called back due to an illegal formation penalty.
No, that’s wrong, Tannehill. The Eagles just kept screwing up and did everything wrong short allowing of Ace Ventura to strip-sack Sanchez.
Tampa Bay is vulnerable in the secondary but their rushing defense has improved (allowing 101 yards per game on the season) and they’re coming off an impressive performance against the Cowboys in which they allowed just 216 yards of total offense.
If they can contain Philly’s run game, it will be on Mark Sanchez to avoid errors to keep the offense humming and WR Miles Austin to actually have a clue.
Let’s take the points.
Buffalo Bills +7 at New England Patriots
Let’s refer again to the ATS record of undefeated teams after Week 10. APP picked against Pats last week in a game Giants very easily could have won the game, which is getting redundant to say this Giants season as they’ve blown four fourth-quarter leads with 1:14 remaining or less.
Anyhow, that’s an awful lot of points to lay on the Pats in a divisional game for which the Bills have had extra time to rest and prepare after beating the Jets last Thursday in the Colorblind Bowl.
The Bills are talking a big game as CB Stephon Gilmore has said: “We got a game plan to take [Rob Gronkowski] out of the game.”
Gronk will certainly get a lot of attention as New England will have to continue to find ways to move the ball without utility knife Julian Edelman and running back Dion Lewis, and with a banged-up offensive line.
The Bills will be amped up for this chance on Monday night to climb to 6-4 and get a leg up in the AFC Wild-Card race. LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams combined for 136 yards on 26 carries (5.2 ypc) against a tough Jets front seven last week. This will be a close one so let’s chow down on those points. If you can still get 7.5 somewhere, even better.
(Season record: 18-11-2)
SURVIVOR AND ADVANCE: WHAT’S THE POINT/LIGHTNING ROUND
This will be the last time APP mentions survivor pools in this space for the 2015 season. This past week proved an absolute train wreck for folks playing in revival and season-long pools. If you know anyone who was competing in a season long league and had “saved” the Packers or Bengals for a dicey week, please check their pulse. This week isn’t much easier. Take the Seahawks (hosting the 49ers) if you haven’t already. Otherwise flip a coin.
Let's make a THREE team, 7-pointer: Broncos +8, Redskins +14, Packers +8.