Tips for making Week 11 NFL picks: Something strange about Chiefs-Rams line, teaser of the week and more

As you may have heard, the Chiefs are playing the Rams in the biggest matchup of the season, and rather than the game taking place in Mexico City, field conditions have moved the game to Los Angeles. You probably already know that the total for the game is higher than we've ever seen for an NFL game, but when the spread reopened at several sportsbooks, it revealed something pretty shocking about the Rams.

The standard home-field advantage for teams is considered to be three points, though it can vary from team to team based on home/road splits and other factors. So if you get two teams that the sportsbooks consider equal, you'll see the home team favored by three points. That's what happened in the Jaguars-Colts game in Week 10, and the Colts did in fact win by three points.

Before the news broke that the Chiefs-Rams game was being moved, the line had been bet up to Rams -2.5. When several sportsbooks reopened the line on Tuesday night following the report of the move, they made the line Rams -3.5. Does that mean that the Rams are only considered to have one point of home-field advantage in Los Angeles?

That seems far too extreme, and there's a chance that it might not quite be the case. Maybe the line had been bet up anticipating the move to L.A., so the move wouldn't necessarily mean you move it all the way up to Rams -5.5 from Rams -2.5. The pre-move line could also have been factoring in the Rams training at altitude while the Chiefs decided to just train at home; without that supposed edge, the Rams wouldn't theoretically be as much of a favorite.

There's also the chance that the books thought Rams -2.5 was too high on a neutral-field anyway. If they're willing to take the side that the Chiefs are the better team -- and there are certainly metrics like DVOA that back that up -- they should feel comfortable taking money on the Rams at -3 or -3.5 and needing Chiefs to make a profit.

All that being said, it was certainly strange to see the line barely move despite the game going from a neutral field to a home game for the Rams.

If you want to know which sides I like this week, you can find that info at the SportsLine link below, where all my rated plays appear during the season along with my five SuperContest picks each week and plenty of great analysis from a fantastic collection of experts. You can also check out where all our CBS Sports staff lands on each game each week right here.

Each week in this space, I'm going to go behind the lines and picks to bring you a bit of a deeper dive into what you should know before locking in your plays. Let's get to it.

My picks

Over at SportsLine, I have a Thursday pick posted and more weekend picks up for Week 11, and I'll have plenty more by Friday night. Join now and use promo code WHITE for $1 on your first month and you can get mine and every SportsLine expert's picks throughout the year, as well as my SuperContest picks each Saturday.

However, you can get one free pick with my teaser of the week at the end of this article. Enjoy!

You can also hear me break down the slate with Will Brinson and Pete Prisco on Friday's edition of the Pick Six Podcast below:

Packers at Seahawks (-2.5)

Home-field advantage: 3.5 points
Power rating line: Seahawks -3
Lookahead line: Seahawks -3


GBSEA
Record vs. spread4-55-3-1
Yards per play differential0.6-0.2
Points per drive offense rank1312
Points per drive defense rank1612
Weighted DVOA11.412.9
Pass offense DVOA rank1311
Pass defense DVOA rank96
Run offense DVOA rank27
Run defense DVOA rank2620

Seattle might be coming off back-to-back losses, but let's not crush them for losing to the Chargers and the Rams, two of the top four or five teams in the league. Both games were close, and the Seahawks continued to dominate running the ball in Week 10, rolling up 273 yards on the ground. The Packers struggle to defend the run, so Seattle could easily keep rolling in this one.

But the Packers are quite effective running the ball themselves, ranking best in the league in yards per carry and second in rush DVOA. And the Seahawks don't defend good rushing offenses well either. In a prime-time game of Aaron Rodgers vs. Russell Wilson, will it actually be the running game that dictates who covers here?

Which teams should you back in Week 11 of the NFL season? And which Super Bowl contender gets a huge scare? Visit SportsLine now to see which teams are winning more than 50 percent of simulations, all from the model that has outperformed 98 percent of experts tracked by NFLPickWatch.com the past two seasons.  

Panthers (-4) at Lions

Home-field advantage: 3 points
Power rating line: Panthers -2
Lookahead line: Panthers -3


CARDET
Record vs. spread5-45-4
Yards per play differential0.0-0.9
Points per drive offense rank816
Points per drive defense rank2627
Weighted DVOA10.3-22.8
Pass offense DVOA rank1022
Pass defense DVOA rank2431
Run offense DVOA rank321
Run defense DVOA rank1425

It's safe to say that the Panthers weren't as good as their 6-2 record indicated after getting beat up by the Steelers on Thursday night. But yards per play and DVOA suggest the Lions are every bit as bad as their 3-6 record indicates. That doesn't mean they can't score against bad defenses, and surprisingly, that's what the Panthers have been. They rank 26th in points per drive allowed, 23rd in net yards per attempt allowed and 24th in pass DVOA against.

The Lions are coming off a pair of tough spots on the road against great defenses and could be due for a bit of a bounceback. The inflation on the lookahead line certainly isn't because the Panthers played well last week, so if you think the Lions aren't quite as bad as they showed against the Bears, this could be a nice value play. With their defense, it's also possible the Panthers just run all over them and put this one away early.

Cowboys at Falcons (-3.5)

Home-field advantage: 2.5 points
Power rating line: Falcons -3.5
Lookahead line: Falcons -4.5


DALATL
Record vs. spread4-53-6
Yards per play differential0.1-0.2
Points per drive offense rank204
Points per drive defense rank430
Weighted DVOA-12.9-7.9
Pass offense DVOA rank285
Pass defense DVOA rank2629
Run offense DVOA rank1124
Run defense DVOA rank631

These two teams are basically even according to the stats, though the Cowboys have been excelling on defense while the Falcons live and die by their offense. But the Cowboys are much stronger defending the run than the pass, and when you look at their schedule thus far, the Falcons' fifth-best pas DVOA is their toughest opponent by far; and even the Panthers and Seahawks (10th and 11th in pass DVOA) are more effective rushing the ball.

So consider this a new test for the Cowboys, and it comes on the road, where they were 0-4 SU this year before an emotional prime-time win in a rivalry game against the Eagles. I don't expect nearly the same level of energy from them in this spot, so if the Falcons can avoid looking ahead to a trip to New Orleans on Thanksgiving, they figure to have the edge.

Bengals at Ravens (-6.5)

Home-field advantage: 3.5 points
Power rating line: Ravens -4.5
Lookahead line: Ravens -5.5


CINBAL
Record vs. spread4-54-5
Yards per play differential-0.60.4
Points per drive offense rank1115
Points per drive defense rank321
Weighted DVOA-10.213.9
Pass offense DVOA rank189
Pass defense DVOA rank227
Run offense DVOA rank1517
Run defense DVOA rank305

The Bengals defense is every bit as bad as it looked against the Saints, ranking last in points, yards, plays and time per drive allowed, as well as 26th in net yards per attempt allowed and 28th in yards per carry allowed. DVOA might be a fan of the Ravens' offense, but they rank just 26th in net yards per attempt and 31 in yards per carry, so they're no guarantee to throw up a huge number in this matchup.

The Bengals couldn't move the ball consistently without A.J. Green, and even against a team in the Saints that has had trouble defending the pass, Cincinnati managed only 13 first downs last week, their worst total all season. Nothing came easy for this unit, not even in the second half when it should have theoretically been easy to put up garbage time stats. That's not a good sign heading into a matchup against one of the league's best defenses that just happens to be coming off a bye, a situation where John Harbaugh is 8-2 straight up and against the spread.

Vikings at Bears (-2.5)

Home-field advantage: 3.5 points
Power rating line: Bears -2
Lookahead line: Bears -2.5


MINCHI
Record vs. spread5-3-16-3
Yards per play differential0.50.8
Points per drive offense rank219
Points per drive defense rank62
Weighted DVOA2.522.6
Pass offense DVOA rank167
Pass defense DVOA rank104
Run offense DVOA rank309
Run defense DVOA rank42

If I told you a team ranked in the top 10 in pass and rush DVOA on both sides of the ball, would you have guessed it was Chicago? Not only do they have the No. 1 defense per DVOA -- a unit that ranks top three in net yards per attempt, yards per carry, points per drive, first downs allowed and turnovers created among other metrics -- but the Bears also sport an offense that's ninth in points per drive and 10th in DVOA along with their top-nine rankings running and passing the ball.

A win here against a great Vikings defense would finally give the Bears legitimacy, and there's reason to believe it could happen. While Minnesota has quality metrics across the board in defense, their offensive showings haven't been all that impressive, which is odd for a team that won four of its last five games heading into the bye. Their defense has been strong over the last month, including in a loss to the Saints where they gave up just 270 yards. 

Eagles at Saints (-8)

Home-field advantage: 3.5 points
Power rating line: Saints -9
Lookahead line: Saints -6.5


PHINO
Record vs. spread3-67-2
Yards per play differential-0.20.0
Points per drive offense rank181
Points per drive defense rank828
Weighted DVOA-5.420.8
Pass offense DVOA rank194
Pass defense DVOA rank1428
Run offense DVOA rank198
Run defense DVOA rank243

The Saints have covered seven straight after starting the season 0-2 ATS, and it appears the oddsmakers have finally caught up, making them over a touchdown favorites against a desperate Eagles team that could be seeing the season slip away. The New Orleans offense looks unstoppable, with Drew Brees completing 77.3 percent of his passes (the record is 72 percent, which he set last year) and throwing just one pick against 21 touchdowns. If that isn't enough, the Saints also lead the league with 17 rush touchdowns.

But a great passing team at least has a shot of keeping up with the Saints on the scoreboard thanks to their 28th ranking in pass DVOA and No. 31 spot in net yards per attempt on defense. Are the Eagles that offense? Their numbers are good, not great, on the season, though they're coming off a season-best 350 pass yards against the Cowboys. They'll have to be at their absolute best to contend here; with Ronald Darby out for the year at corner, it feels like Brees will be able to do whatever he wants on offense.

Titans at Colts (-2)

Home-field advantage: 2.5 points
Power rating line: Colts -2.5
Lookahead line: Colts -3


TENIND
Record vs. spread6-34-4-1
Yards per play differential-0.3-0.1
Points per drive offense rank226
Points per drive defense rank321
Weighted DVOA1.32.4
Pass offense DVOA rank2515
Pass defense DVOA rank1827
Run offense DVOA rank1813
Run defense DVOA rank89

The Titans are coming off a massive win over the Patriots, and if their offense is as good as it's looked the pass two games with Marcus Mariota presumably healthy, they could make some noise in the playoff race. The defense has also stepped up their game lately, shutting down the running games of the Chargers, Cowboys and Patriots in their last three.

But the Colts have Andrew Luck, who is 9-0 straight up against the Titans in his career. The Colts' 29 points and 366 yards in last week's win over the Jaguars constitute a slowdown for this offense. Tennessee's defense will surely be challenged to contain a quarterback who has thrown at least three touchdowns in each of his last six games. Indy has scored at least 29 points in five of its last six games, while the Titans hadn't reached 29 points until scoring 34 on the Patriots. If they take a step back at all on offense this week, it could be tough to hang with the Colts on the scoreboard.

Texans (-3) at Redskins

Home-field advantage: 2.5 points
Power rating line: Texans -1
Lookahead line: Pick 'em


HOUWAS
Record vs. spread4-56-3
Yards per play differential0.4-0.5
Points per drive offense rank1924
Points per drive defense rank511
Weighted DVOA6.3-5.6
Pass offense DVOA rank1223
Pass defense DVOA rank1617
Run offense DVOA rank2916
Run defense DVOA rank128

Take Washington's 16-3 win over the Bucs with a grain of salt, as the defense gave up 501 yards but got fortunate by Tampa Bay shooting itself in the foot over and over after they crossed midfield. The stats certainly don't back up their 6-3 record, and making things worse is an offensive line that's been decimated by injury. The Texans are No. 1 in rush DVOA on defense and No. 2 in yards per carry allowed, and facing a replacement-level line will make things all the more easier for them.

The key for the Texans on offense will be to keep Deshaun Watson protected, as he's already been sacked 30 times on the season behind a mediocre offense line of his own. But when he has a chance to throw, the passing game has been successful, ranking 12th in DVOA and ninth in net yards per attempt. The Texans don't seem like a good enough team to put together a seven-game win streak, but they appear to be the better team in this matchup.

Buccaneers at Giants (-1.5)

Home-field advantage: 2 points
Power rating line: Giants -1.5
Lookahead line: Pick 'em


TBNYG
Record vs. spread3-64-5
Yards per play differential0.1-0.2
Points per drive offense rank1425
Points per drive defense rank2922
Weighted DVOA-25.7-11.6
Pass offense DVOA rank2420
Pass defense DVOA rank3025
Run offense DVOA rank2225
Run defense DVOA rank2119

The Bucs managed to roll up 501 yards of offense last week but score just three points. I'm not even mad, I'm impressed. DVOA doesn't like Tampa Bay at all thanks particularly to an awful pass defense and an offense it thinks is overrated. A big problem: as a team, the Bucs have thrown 19 interceptions (worst in the league) and picked off just one pass (also worst in the league).

So this win is there for the taking for a Giants team that DVOA thinks is bad but not awful. Eli Manning has thrown just six interceptions this year, so if he keeps protecting the ball the Giants should have no problem putting up points in this one. They should also be the more motivated team under a first-year head coach looking for a strong second half versus a coaching staff in Tampa Bay that's certainly on the way out. My power ratings line doesn't see any value in this matchup, rating the Bucs as a slightly better team, but the Giants might be on their way to flipping that.

Broncos at Chargers (-7)

Home-field advantage: 3 points
Power rating line: Chargers -7
Lookahead line: Chargers -6.5


DENLAC
Record vs. spread3-5-15-4
Yards per play differential0.21.3
Points per drive offense rank235
Points per drive defense rank177
Weighted DVOA12.623.2
Pass offense DVOA rank212
Pass defense DVOA rank38
Run offense DVOA rank56
Run defense DVOA rank1815

The stats suggest that the Chargers are one of the best teams in the league, but the Broncos might be even more underrated of these two teams. Despite a 3-6 record, Denver ranks ninth in weighted DVOA. They've hung in there in matchups against the Chiefs (twice) and Rams, and despite the tough schedule, the Broncos have given up 300 passing yards just once this year.

The Broncos could also have success running the ball against a Chargers defense that ranks 15th in rush DVOA and 20th in yards per carry allowed. DVOA is a big fan of the Denver defense despite their middling numbers overall, so this could be another close one for Denver despite having to hit the road for this game. The Chargers have won six straight, but three of those games were close -- they were behind in the fourth quarter against the 49ers, they need a two-point stop in London against Tennessee and Seattle was knocking on the door when time expired -- and two others were against the Raiders.

Raiders at Cardinals (-5.5)

Home-field advantage: 2.5 points
Power rating line: Cardinals -6.5
Lookahead line: Cardinals -3


OAKARI
Record vs. spread2-75-3-1
Yards per play differential-1.1-1.2
Points per drive offense rank3032
Points per drive defense rank3117
Weighted DVOA-31.3-27.8
Pass offense DVOA rank1731
Pass defense DVOA rank325
Run offense DVOA rank3132
Run defense DVOA rank2313

The only good unit in this game is the Cardinals defense, which ranks sixth in DVOA, fifth in pass DVOA and 10th in net yards per pass attempt allowed. They should have success against an Oakland offense that has solid numbers statistically but has scored six points or less in three of their last four as the team has appeared to give up following the trade and release of several of their best players.

The Arizona offense is horrible statistically, in the bottom two in both rush and pass DVOA as well as in points scored per drive, net yards per pass attempt, yards per carry, first downs and plenty of other stats. But they've started to find some success with Byron Leftwich at the helm, posting their best yardage total in a win over the 49ers before their bye and a season-best in first downs gained despite the loss to the Chiefs. Against an Oakland defense that hasn't stopped anyone, Josh Rosen and Co. should have their best game yet.

Steelers (-5.5) at Jaguars

Home-field advantage: 2.5 points
Power rating line: Steelers -4
Lookahead line: Steelers -3


PITJAC
Record vs. spread6-33-5-1
Yards per play differential1.10.2
Points per drive offense rank728
Points per drive defense rank1413
Weighted DVOA23.5-6.8
Pass offense DVOA rank627
Pass defense DVOA rank1915
Run offense DVOA rank1028
Run defense DVOA rank107

The Steelers just put up a 52-spot on the Panthers and come into this matchup looking for revenge after losing twice to the Jags last year, once in the playoffs. The Steelers defense is in the middle of a great stretch against suspect offenses, and the Jaguars offense has struggled in virtually every metric you want to track. The common expectation is that the Steelers can lay a dud on the road at any time, but they're 14-1-1 straight up in their last 16 on the road, with the only non-wins both going to overtime.

The Jaguars will certainly have confidence they can win this game considering how last year played out, and their offense finally had some kind of success last week against the Colts coming out of their bye, scoring 26 points after being held to 18 or less in five of their previous six. As well as the Steelers are playing, my ratings and the lookahead line suggest some value on the Jaguars here.

Chiefs at Rams (-3.5)

Home-field advantage: 3 points
Power rating line: Rams -3
Lookahead line: Rams -1.5


KCLAR
Record vs. spread8-24-6
Yards per play differential0.90.9
Points per drive offense rank23
Points per drive defense rank2524
Weighted DVOA41.731.8
Pass offense DVOA rank13
Pass defense DVOA rank1213
Run offense DVOA rank41
Run defense DVOA rank3229

The Rams were at one point only the home team in name for what was scheduled to be a Mexico City showdown, but poor field conditions have shifted this one to Los Angeles. The Rams were favored by 2.5 when this game was on a neutral field, but it reopened at Rams -3.5 once the move was announced. Do the Rams only get one point for home-field advantage? Is the fact that they were training at altitude and the Chiefs weren't baked into such a small move?

At any rate, the Rams have actually fallen well short of expectations lately, covering just once in their last seven games. That hasn't been the case for the Chiefs, who sport the second-best offensive DVOA ever tracked through 10 games behind the juggernaut Patriots of 2007. They've failed to cover just once all year, and Andy Reid has historically been great against the spread on the road -- the Chiefs are an NFL-best 32-16 ATS on the road since Reid took over. The Rams can afford to lose the least with the Saints peaking, but the Chiefs might just be the better team here.

Teaser of the Week

Saints -2 vs. Eagles
Chiefs +9.5 at Rams

With the Eagles so beat up in the secondary, I can't see them doing enough to slow down the Saints and giving their offense a chance to win this game. It's not easy finding a second leg this week, as teams aren't favored by nearly as much as they were last week. With that the case, I'm going to tease the Chiefs up, as I can't see such a good team getting beaten by double-digits. Of course, I thought that about the Rams in their matchup with the Saints, and that sunk our teaser a few weeks ago.

The teaser of the week is 6-4 after the Bears and Chargers had no issues taking care of business in Week 10.

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