NFL Week 11 Picks Against Spread: Falcons thrash Cowboys, Vikings expose Bears

Back-to-back weeks with a WINNER on Thursday Night Football thanks to Mike McCarthy deciding to go with an incomprehensible set of decisions in Seattle in a brutal loss that might end the Packers' season. I backed the Seahawks -2.5 on Thursday night, something you would have known if you were watching SportsLine on CBS Sports HQ (our free 24/7 streaming sports network with great gambling advice from a host of experts every night for an hour starting at 6 p.m. ET). 

It didn't look great, with the Seahawks fumbling out of the gate and setting the Packers up for an early score and 7-0 lead. There are a bunch of plays that go into a single football game, and it's not fair to pinpoint one mistake by a coach, but the end of the game matters more and McCarthy turtled up at the worst possible time in a building where he has a history of going heavily conservative. 

McCarthy's decision was a combo bomb: he decided not to challenge a questionable catch by Tyler Lockett that appeared to hit the ground because he didn't want to risk losing his last timeout, even though the Packers were holding a lead. Of course they gave up a touchdown several plays later. And then the ultimate mistake was McCarthy punting the ball on 4th-and-2 at midfield, despite only having one timeout and despite having Aaron Rodgers on his side. The Seahawks would get the ball back, pick up two first downs and take knees to saunter out with a win. 

It's thievery and I don't care. It's also a reminder that when you're betting on a team remember just how important the coaching aspect of these matchups are. 

Seahawks (-2.5) 

The Seahawks are 5-5 now and not dead at all when it comes to the NFC playoff race. It's interesting to look at this team and to presume that they're not going to make noise. I wouldn't count them out just yet. It's the perfect Pete Carroll team (and you can easily imagine them beating the the Redskins in a road playoff game on Wild Card Weekend). 

Falcons (-3.5) vs. Cowboys

Couldn't ask for a better spot than this one if you're taking a home favorite -- the only way it's better is if the Falcons are smaller favorites. But 3.5 or 4 or 4.5 are all fine with me too. Atlanta isn't a good team per se because of the things they don't do on defense with all the injuries they've already battled this season. Offensively, though, they can put up points and they're even better at home on the track, where they've only scored less than 30 points once this season. Ultimately this season will probably be a disappointment for the Falcons, who have a long road to make the playoffs. But this is a do-or-die situation for them -- win and they're back to 5-5 and in the mix in terms of the NFC wild card if someone slips up. Lose and they're 4-6 and done. The Cowboys are a fraudulent team, but they just beat the Eagles in Philly on Sunday night so everyone thinks they're finding themselves and starting to be good on offense again. Dallas will get some points but they can't keep up with the Falcons, who everyone will be down on after they lost to the Browns on the road in Week 11. Falcons win by a touchdown plus.  

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Vikings (+2.5) at Bears

Mike Zimmer catching points after the bye? Yes, please. The Bears are a really good team. They are. (I feel like I wrote this same sentence last week, which is a little concerning.) But the Vikings are a team that could be closer to the Rams and Saints than the rest of the NFC teams fighting for the extra playoff spots. The Vikings are coming off a bye and it's an eerily reminiscent scenario to last year, when the Vikings had a late-season bye followed by three of four games on the road. We looked at that stretch and just wanted them to go 2-2 and the same is true this year. Last year the Vikings went 4-0 in that run and I think they can do the same thing this year, even though they have tougher matchups (Patriots, Bears, Seahawks). Everson Griffen is back and fully operational on defense and Dalvin Cook should be back and ready to roll on offense. The Bears' defensive line is a big problem for the Vikings offensive line and that's a big concern here. I don't think it's going to be a blowout but I will definitely take the points. 

Chiefs (+3.5) at Rams

This is going to be one of the most exciting games of the season and there should be points galore with an over/under set at 63.5. It's a historically huge over/under and that means there could be tons of variance in terms of what the final score is. As such, I'm taking the points here with the Chiefs. I like them to potentially win outright anyway, but having the three and the hook makes me love Kansas City. I was on them in Mexico anyway at +2.5 and I like them even more at +3.5. 

Colts (-2) vs. Titans

The idea that everyone, both public and the sharps, is on Tennessee terrifies me. The Titans are a really good team and Marcus Mariota is starting to get things really rolling on offense the last two weeks as he's gotten on the same page with Matt LaFleur. But this is another case of Indy and Andrew Luck being undervalued. The Colts offensive line is playing excellent football led by Quenton Nelson and Frank Reich is dialed in as a play caller right now. The Colts can win this division and with Tennessee coming off its midseason Super Bowl after a win over the Patriots at home, I like the Colts to come out and win this game. 

Listen to Will Brinson break down every game with Pete Prisco and R.J. White on the Friday edition of the Pick Six Podcast:

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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