With some huge matchups in Week 11, Nick Ballistreri gives his best bets as contenders separate themselves from the pretenders.
NFL SEASON ATS RECORD: 34-26-2
Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins
The last time these two teams met, the Bills won 31-21 on October 20. At that point, the Dolphins were winless, and were within a couple points of their first win. The Bills pulled away at the end.
It’s hard to believe, but since that point, the Dolphins have won 2 out of 3 games. 1st-year coach Brian Flores has dispelled the notion that Miami is tanking, and he has had his team ready to play in recent weeks. They are coming off a 16-12 victory over the Colts in which the Dolphins defense stifled Colts QB Brian Hoyer. Now, nobody is talking playoffs in Miami, but this team is vastly improved since the start of the season.
The Bills are coming into this one having lost 2 of 3, including a 19-16 loss to Cleveland last week. The Bills are 6-4, and if the playoffs started today, they’d be in. However, they are being labeled as “pretenders”, and a team that beats up on poor teams. They are trying desperately to shed that notion.
The Bills are 6.5 point road favorites in this one. I expect another close game between these two teams, with the Bills coming out with a slim margin of victory. Give me the Dolphins at +6.5 with a slight chance to win outright.
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens
Lamar Jackson has been electric, and the Ravens are winners of 5 straight games which includes wins over Seattle, Pittsburgh, and New England. They’re rolling right now, and they have Jackson to thank. Jackson is slowly shedding the label that he can’t pass, but what he does the best is run, run, and run some more. The play of the year may have come on Jackson’s 47-yard TD run against the Bengals last week.
The Texans sit at first place in the AFC South with a 6-3 record. Before their bye week, they dominated the Jaguars to the tune of 26-3 in London. They enter this game winners of 4 out of 5 games, and are looking to prove that they’re one of the top teams in the AFC.
The Ravens are 4 point favorites at home. This will be a high-scoring affair, and an exciting one at that. It’s going to be a close game, as both teams will go score for score with their star QB’s. In the end, I don’t see a blowout either way, and with the Texans getting 4 points, I’m taking that. This looks like a toss-up to me.
New York Jets at Washington Redskins
Did I say the game above was the game of the week? Oh, I meant that this one is. Kidding! In a game where both teams are fighting for a better draft pick, the Jets travel to the D.C area to face the Redskins.
The Jets are coming off a big 34-27 win against their cross-town rivals, the Giants. Sam Darnold showed some moxie in this one, and the Jets defense came up with some big plays against the rookie QB of the Giants, including a strip sack for a touchdown from Jamal Adams. They are now 2-7 on the season, and will look to tally another win against an NFC East opponent.
The Redskins have declared rookie Dwayne Haskins the starter for this game, and that is good news for the Jets. Haskins has not looked like a starting QB in his little action this season, and he is now being thrown into the fire. The Redskins have scored 9 points combined the last 2 weeks, so there is really nowhere to go but up.
The Skins are 2.5 point favorites at home in this one. I personally think the Jets defense comes out and dominates this game. However, I don’t think the Jets will score that many points either, so in that case, I’m going with the Jets, and buying a point in case of a 3 point loss.
Dallas Cowboys at Detroit Lions
When the Dallas Cowboys started 3-0, the whole world was talking Super Bowl. But as has been the case since 1995, their is more talk than production in the Big D. The Cowboys have a talented squad, but are underachieving with a 5-4 record, and are only tied for 1st in the weak NFC East. They are coming off a 28-24 loss to the Vikings in which Jason Garrett once again proved he is not a competent coach.
The Lions are hurting, and will be without franchise QB Matt Stafford once more this week. Stafford missed last week’s loss against the Bears with a back fracture, and has been ruled out once more. Without him, the Lions offense struggled to get things going with Jeff Driskell at the helm.
The Cowboys are 6.5 point road favorites in a game they desperately need. With them facing a backup QB, there is no excuse not to go into Detroit and come away with a double digit victory. Give me the Cowboys, and if they lose this game, all hope is lost for their season.
New England Patriots at Philadelphia Eagles
The Patriots historic defense got a wakeup call when they went against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, giving up 37 points. They are coming off a bye week, and you can be sure they are motivated to prove that was a one week fluke.
The Eagles are also coming off a bye week in which they gained ground in the NFC East with the Cowboys SNF loss. They are 5-4, and winners of 2 in a row as they look to get on a hot streak before the playoffs.
The Eagles are 3.5 point underdogs at home in this game. At first, I liked the value there. The Eagles are hitting their stride and the Patriots are coming off a loss. However, the Eagles are banged up on the offensive side of the ball, with Jordan Howard questionable and Alshon Jeffery ruled out. With the dominant Pats D on the other end, it’ll be tough for Carson Wentz and co’ to score enough points to win this game. I’m going with the Patriots in this one, as it is rare for them to struggle two weeks in a row.