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After a pretty disastrous week ten for picks it is kind of appropriate that I got week eleven off to a losing start, but I suppose I had better start from the beginning.

The last week was pretty rubbish for me given that I was ill for a lot of it, but let’s hope that’s the last week of the season that my routine is affected by illness. I fell another four games back from Dan and so whilst I managed to keep his lead down to single digits, it really does feel like he is destined to take over from his dad as picks champion, which somehow feels appropriate. He has even scored more points than my value tracking numbers, although because there isn’t always a line advantage his winning percentage is over ten points lower, but I am no where near 50-50 this season so I am clearly going to have to re-work things in the off-season.

However, having watched the Seahawks stomp over the pair of us backing the Cardinals on Thursday night, it’s time to swing through the survivor competition and get into the rest of the week eleven slate of games.

Gee:Week 10:  4 – 10Overall:  69 – 79
Dan:Week 10:  8 – 6Overall:  78 – 70

Survivor Competition

Through ten weeks Dan and I are a pretty respectable eight and seven points respectively. Dan’s confidence paid off last week as he took the Vikings over the Bears whilst my play against the Texans with the Browns worked out for me. Although the Jets are back in play this week, neither Dan or I are trusting enough of the Chargers to risk them as our pick and so while Dan is demonstrating confidence in the Patriots recent run of wins by backing them over the Texans, I am working my way up the list of losing teams and settling on the Vikings going against the Cowboys. I am a little concerned that Jerry’s team are coming off a bye and are getting Andy Dalton back from his concussion/Covid-19 nightmare, but there are fifteen places between them in the overall DVOA rankings and I like how the Vikings have been playing in recent weeks.

Current Score

Gee: 7
Dan: 8

Week 11 Selection:

Gee:    Vikings
Dan:    Patriots

Early Games:

I can find reasons to pretty much watch any NFL game, but it does feel like this week the exciting contests are a little thinner on the ground and somewhat weighted to the later part of the slate and Monday.

The first of the early games to really catch the eye is the Tennessee Titans travelling to face the Baltimore Ravens, but that is as much because of what it will tell us about the teams than conviction in the inherent quality of the contest. The Titans are a perfectly respectable 6-3, but the concern will be that they have slipped to that record after a 5-0 start and have lost three of their last four games. The defence is not good and the kicking game has been a real Achilles’ heel and whilst the big names have been performing on offence, losses to the Colts and the Steelers will be concerning as they came at home whilst having already lost to the Bengals on the road, the Ravens will prove a stern test. The Ravens are a matching 6-3, but whilst they have another top ten defense and are second in the league in special teams by DVOA, the offence is ranked in the twenties and is definitely struggling after they set the league alight last season. The interesting commentary I have heard over this is that for all the questions about Lamar Jackson throwing the ball this season, he is near the top of the league when throwing on first down, the problem with their run heavy attack is that the Ravens just don’t do this a lot. If the Ravens can figure out their pass-run balance on first down, and they are known as one of the more analytically minded teams, then they could truly terrify, but as I have said all season, they won’t really scare opponents until they can demonstrate the ability to come back from a big deficit. I think they are unlikely to face that problem in this game though, and think they are likely to win a physical game although that line does look generous to me.

The other game I am interested in is the New Orleans Saints hosting the resurgent Atlanta Falcons. The Saints have looked a lot better in the last couple of weeks, but they are obviously going to be a different team whilst Drew Brees recovers from his collapsed lung and broken ribs. The Saints demonstrated they could win consistently without Brees for multiple weeks last year, but Teddy Bridgewater is now starting for the Panthers and it is interesting that at the time of writing the starter is rumoured to by Taysom Hill and not Jameis Winston. Regardless the Saints will be without Brees for at least three weeks as he’s been placed on IR and they start this run against a rested Falcons team who have won three of their last four games. If the Falcons continue to win at this rate it could make how to proceed in the off-season a tricky question, but this is their first real test since their mini turnaround given that it consisted of beating a Vikings team without Dalvin Cook, then facing the Lions, Panthers and Broncos. I think I like the Saints to win out given their experience and defense, but I am not exactly sure about it and the line seems high to me.

From the rest:

  • The Bengals are a two-win football team for a reason, and after a really great win against the Titans they were battered by the Steelers last week. This is a very winnable game, but the experience of Alex Smith worries me, even if it is amazing to see him come back from the injuries he had to start in the league once more. If the Bengals don’t win this one though, you will likely find my querying the directions of the franchise under Zac Taylor in next week’s podcast.
  • The Eagles still stand atop the NFC East despite their loss against the Giants last week, but they were meant to come back stronger from the bye not lose another game and this is a tough match up as they travel to Cleveland to face a Browns team with twice as many wins. The Eagles are going to have to really improve to compete in this one and if they don’t soon then a very winnable division is going to slip through their fingers. It is a sign of how far the Browns have progressed this season that there’s not a lot to say this week and we are not focused on Odell Beckham’s injury.
  • The story breaking about last season’s Lions having a party at the end of the season because they would be free of Matt Patricia is not a ringing endorsement of him as a head coach, and having just finished a biography about Bill Belichick for all his testy relationship with the media, his players like and respect him and he wins, something Patricia with a 13-27 record has failed to consistently do. Having beat Washington by three points last week the struggling Panthers provide another opportunity to pad the win column, but it still feels like the Lions are a franchise marking time until off-season changes.
  • With two consecutive wins the Patriots have dragged themselves back into contention and are only a win away from get back to even wins and losses, which they really should get this week against a Texans team who can’t really compete now that Deshaun Watson no longer has DeAndre Hopkins to throw to. The slow rebuild the Texans are going to need over the coming seasons will stand testament to how GM Bill O’Brien let down head coach Bill O’Brien.
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers unbeaten streak was never in doubt against the Bengals last week, and I doubt they will struggle to beat the Jaguars in Jacksonville, but it will be worth keeping an eye on this game just in case the Steelers have one eye on their week twelve Thanksgiving meeting with the Ravens.

Falcons @ Saints (-4.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Falcons
Dan’s Pick:      Saints

Bengals @ Washington (-1.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Bengals
Dan’s Pick:      Bengals

Eagles @ Browns (-3.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Browns
Dan’s Pick:      Browns

Lions @ Panthers (-1.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Panthers
Dan’s Pick:      Panthers

Titans @ Ravens (-6.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Titans
Dan’s Pick:      Titans

Patriots @ Texans (+2.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Patriots
Dan’s Pick:      Patriots

Steelers @ Jaguars (+9.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Steelers
Dan’s Pick:      Steelers

Late Games:

I think there is a singular stand out game in the late slot, which is the Green Bay Packers taking their 7-2 record to Indianapolis and a Colts team who have won consistently but haven’t quite convinced yet. This should be a really interesting contest when the Packers have the ball as it will see Aaron Rodgers running Matt LaFleur’s offence against a Colts defense who are currently ranked top five by DVOA, but it will likely be determined by how well a fading Philip Rivers can operate a Colts offence that hasn’t quite found its feet this season against a Packers defense that has so far done enough to win games thanks to their offence being second only to the Chiefs by DVOA. I am really looking forward to this one.

From the rest:

  • It is a testament of how things are coming together for the Dolphins that this looks like a straightforward game for them given that the Broncos are struggling to do anything consistently and Drew Lock has failed to prove himself the answer at quarterback despite the promise he had shown coming into the season.
  • The team without a win meets the team who seem to specialise in close losses, and something has to give. It is not exactly a surprise that the LA Chargers are favourites, but the Jets could be more competitive than this line suggests coming off a bye
  • The Cowboys will be hoping that the return of Andy Dalton gives them a boost as they also come off the bye, but the Vikings have looked a different team since getting Dalvin Cook back and will have an eye on a run to the play-offs in the final seven games of the season. However, with games on the road against the Buccaneers and Saints to come, they can’t afford any slip ups, including dropping a game against the struggling Cowboys.

Dolphins @ Broncos (+3.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Dolphins
Dan’s Pick:      Dolphins

Jets @ Chargers (-8.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Jets
Dan’s Pick:      Chargers

Cowboys @ Vikings (-7.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Vikings
Dan’s Pick:      Vikings

Packers @ Colts (-2.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Packers
Dan’s Pick:      Packers

Sunday Night Football:

Chiefs @ Raiders (+6.5)

This tasty looking Sunday night game feature a divisional matchup where the Chiefs will be looking to revenge their single loss of the season to the Las Vegas Raiders, which is the only game where Patrick Mahomes has thrown an interception. The Raiders continue to struggle with Covid-19 protocols as one of the most heavily fined teams in the league had over half of their defensive starters put on the Covid-19 list this week due to close contact to a person with a positive test. As of Saturday there had been no further positive tests so if that holds they should get them all back for this game, but they have not been in the facility whilst the Chiefs are coming off a bye and Andy Reid has an 18-3 record after the bye so I have a feeling I know which way this contest will go. The Raiders will be hoping to confound this record but have not exactly had the ideal preparation to do so.

Gee’s Pick:      Chiefs
Dan’s Pick:      Chiefs

Monday Night Football

Rams @ Buccaneers (-3.5)

This should be a really good game as the LA Rams have been compeititve in pretty much every game this season and have a top ten offence and defence. The issue could be that Jared Goff is a quarterback who tends to either look really good or confused, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with their best defence by DVOA absolutely have the capacity to take Goff out of his game. The additional problem for the Rams is losing Andrew Whitworth at left tackle to a knee injury against the Seahawks last wee as even at 39 Whitworth was playing great football and he will be a big miss. The Bucs have only three losses this season, two against a Saints team that seem to have their number and to a Bears team that the Bucs should have beaten on a Thursday night if it was not for the number of penalties they gave away. The unsurprising bad news stories that follow the unstable Antonio Brown hit this week, demonstrating the dangers of signing him but for now the Bucs are coming off a big win against the Panthers and will be looking to prove their status against the Rams and Chiefs ahead of their week thirteen bye. I would not like to bet against the Bucs winning this week, but the line did give me pause picking the game, but as much as I rate Sean McVay as an offensive mind, the known issues with Goff against good defences would already worry me before he lost his left tackle.

Gee’s Pick:      Buccaneers
Dan’s Pick:      Buccaneers

DVOA is Football Outsiders statistic for measure a team’s success on every play versus the league average and you can read more about it and other football topics at https://footballoutsiders.com.