Week 11 NFL odds, picks: Chiefs beat Rams, Cowboys outlast Falcons, Panthers roll Lions
Is the Kansas City-Los Angeles matchup a preview of Super Bowl LIII?
The playoff picture is starting to take shape and the Seahawks need a lot to go right between now and the end of the season if they're going to avoid missing January football for the consecutive years for the first time since the 2008-2009 seasons. You have to go back to 2005-06 to find the last time the Packers didn't qualify for the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. Unfortunately, their odds might be a bit longer after Thursday night.
Alright, let's get to all the games below.
LAST WEEK: 7-7
OVERALL RECORD: 90-56-2
Green Bay at Seattle (-2.5)
The Packers are coming off a win over the Dolphins while the Seahawks played well enough to beat the Rams in Los Angeles. It didn't happen, but of these teams, Seattle is playing the better football. Whether they're better positioned to grab a wild-card spot is another matter (both teams are on the outside looking in; the Packers are 4-4-1 and the Seahawks are 4-5 -- and both behind the Panthers and Vikings for the final two playoff spots). Perhaps the most impressive development has been the Seahawks' offensive line followed by a defense that is Legion of Boom-less but still one of the best units in the league. Who knows the status of Rodgers' knee but this much is certain: He can't do it by himself.
Pick: Seahawks 28, Packers 24
Result: Seahawks 27, Packers 24
Carolina (-4) at Detroit
The Panthers had their doors blown off in Pittsburgh on Thursday night. If you're looking for a silver lining this is about it: Christian McCaffrey was just about unstoppable on the first drive and he scored every point the Panthers put on the board. But that loss feels more like a one-off than a trend, especially given this week's opponent. Detroit has been a huge disappointment; after back-to-back 9-7 seasons under Jim Caldwell, new coach Matt Patricia has the Lions going backwards. And it's hard to excuse all the losing when first-year coach and division rival Matt Nagy has quickly turned things around in Chicago.
Pick: Panthers 30, Lions 20
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Cincinnati at Baltimore (-4)
What happened to these two teams? The Bengals were embarrassed at home by the Saints last week -- alone, that isn't the end of the world; the Saint routinely embarrass opponents -- but Marvin Lewis' solution was to fire defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, replace him with himself and then hire Hue Jackson and give him the title Special Assistant to the Head Coach. The Ravens, meanwhile, are coming off their bye but are sitting at 4-5 and questions loom about Joe Flacco's immediate future. Could this be the week he's replaced by 2018 first-round pick Lamar Jackson? Flacco is battling a hip injury and if he can't play, we could witness the beginning of the Jackson era in Baltimore.
Pick: Ravens 30, Bengals 28
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Dallas at Atlanta (-3)
We're living in an age where there's no shame in losing to the Browns. Hue Jackson and Todd Haley are gone, Gregg Williams is the interim coach and Freddie Kitchens has revitalized a moribund offense. We mention all this because the Falcons went to Cleveland and got Baker Mayfield'd last week. Now 4-5 on the season, a lot has to go right for them to get back in the playoff conversation. The Cowboys are coming off arguably their biggest win of the season, outlasting the Eagles on "Sunday Night Football." It's still unclear if Dak Prescott is the long-term answer in Dallas, but we know he can lead this team to the postseason -- he did just that two seasons ago when the Cowboys finished 13-3. The Falcons' offense can be explosive but the defense remains a liability, while Dallas' defense is quietly rounding into form; Demarcus Lawrence and Byron Jones continue to dominate while rookie Leighton Vander Esch is making his case of Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Pick: Cowboys 24, Falcons 21
Houston (-3) at Washington
The Texans have the worst six-game winning streak in recent memory. That said, guess what? They've still won six in a row, sit atop the AFC South, and if they can sort out the offensive line, this team could be really dangerous over the final two months of the season. The Redskins, despite an offensive line decimated by injuries, held off the Buccaneers on Sunday but Alex Smith barely resembles the player he was a year ago in Kansas City. Perhaps that changes as he grows more comfortable in Jay Gruden's offense, but it's already Week 11 and at 34, what you see is what you get with Smith.
Pick: Texans 27, Redskins 20
Pittsburgh (-5.5) at Jacksonville
The Jaguars have long been the Steelers' nemesis. They came to Pittsburgh in the divisional round last January and walked all over the AFC North champs. But the teams have gone in different directions since that game. The Jags are a team in turmoil still in search of a franchise quarterback. Their once all-world defense is merely good, and that's not good enough to overcome an inconsistent offense. The Steelers have won five straight, their last a 52-point outburst against the Panthers. The offense is among the league's best, James Conner has somehow been more effective than Le'Veon Bell (whose season is now officially over) and a much-maligned defense has started to play like a top-10 unit. So is this a trap game for Pittsburgh? Given that they're now the No. 2 seed in the AFC, coach Mike Tomlin would like to imagine that trap games are a thing of the past.
Pick: Steelers 20, Jaguars 17
Tampa Bay at N.Y. Giants (-1)
The Buccaneers are a mess, even when compared to the Giants. Think about that for a moment. New York has at least shown glimpses of promise in recent weeks; yes, Eli Manning is 37 and probably should retire after the season. And yes, the offensive line has already cut two starters from the Week 1 lineup but they managed to protect Manning during Monday night's win over the 49ers. The Bucs appear to have no answers. Coach Dirk Koetter took over play-calling duties against the Redskins and while the offense was able to move the ball, four turnovers doomed any chance they had at a victory. And the defense, which tried to beef up its pass rush, barely bothered Alex Smith despite the fact that the offensive line was down three starters. At this point, it probably doesn't matter if Ryan Fitzpatrick or Jameis Winston is the starter.
Pick: Giants 14, Buccaneers 10
Tennessee at Indianapolis (-2)
The AFC South is suddenly alive. Tennessee is off a convincing win over New England and Indy held off Jacksonville, now the worst team in the division. The Texans remain in first place but the Titans or Colts will keep pace with a victory. Marcus Mariota continues to play well after a slow start, and first-year coach Mike Vrabel deserves a lot of credit for convincing this team it can compete with anyone. First-year coach Frank Reich also warrants praise; Andrew Luck looks like his old self -- with the added benefit that he offensive line refuses to let him get sacked. Added bonus: The defense, which struggled under Chuck Pagano, has been revitalized this season.
Pick: Titans 28, Colts 27
Denver at L.A. Chargers (-7)
Are the Chargers the best team in the AFC? That's been one of the under-the-radar storylines in recent weeks. The problem, as Bill Parcells liked to say, "You are what your record says you are." And the Chargers' record says they're a game back of the Chiefs in the division, and behind the Steelers and Patriots in playoff seeding. But there's no mistaking how good this team is; the question is whether they can win the games they're supposed to and challenge the Chiefs when they play in Week 15. The Broncos are 3-6 and their season is all but over. Whether second-year coach Vance Joseph survives is one of many questions to be answered along with whether general manager John Elway will be searching for his next franchise quarterback a year after signing Case Keenum to a two-year deal.
Pick: Chargers 28, Broncos 20
Oakland at Arizona (-4)
We wondered at the beginning of the season if the Raiders would win a game. They beat the Browns, so they avoided that shame, but now the question becomes: Can the Raiders win two games? This is truly the worst team in football, in part because Jon Gruden insists of getting rid of his best players. The Cardinals haven't been much better, which is weird because this group went 8-8 last season without a quarterback. But first-year coach Steve Wilks replaced offensive coordinator Mike McCoy with Byron Leftwich, which seems to have helped rookie quarterback Josh Rosen and all-world running back David Johnson. If only someone in Oakland could help Derek Carr get back on track.
Pick: Cardinals 17, Raiders 9
Philadelphia at New Orleans (-9)
This isn't the same Eagles defense that helped Philly to a Super Bowl nine months ago. They were exposed against the Cowboys last week, and that's been a recurring theme throughout 2018. Carson Wentz gets better every week but he's incapable of doing it alone. Put differently: The last thing you want when you go to the Superdome is to have a red-hot Drew Brees facing your lukewarm 'D.' The Saints have proven they can win on the road this season, but they're somehow even better at home. At lot has to go right for the Eagles to keep this close. A lot.
Pick: Saints 40, Eagles 21
Minnesota at Chicago (-3)
Matt Nagy should be the front runner for Coach of the Year honors. He took the smoldering rubble left behind by John Fox and fashioned it into a division leader 10 weeks into the season. Second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has been inconsistent but he's coming off the best game of the season, a 34-22 thumping of the Lions. Then there's that defense, which allows Trubisky to make mistakes while keeping games close. The Vikings have also been very good, thanks in part to the success of Kirk Cousins and that offense. Minnesota's defense, which was dominant a season ago, hasn't been nearly as good -- but if they find their form, the Vikings could make a run at the NFC North crown.
Pick: Bears 20, Vikings 18
Kansas City at L.A. Rams (-2.5)
The game has been moved to Los Angeles after the turf in Azteca Stadium was deemed unplayable. The location may not matter for the Chiefs, who are coming off a tougher-than-expected home win over the Cardinals. The same holds for the Rams, who held off the Seahawks at the Coliseum. But here's the thing: For all the flak Kansas City's defense takes, Los Angeles' isn't much better; according to Football Outsiders, the Chiefs' D ranks 25th while the Rams are 20th. Not surprisingly, the offenses are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 but the biggest difference is on special teams -- the Chiefs are first, the Rams are 12th. And that could prove to be the difference on Monday night in what we're calling a preview of Super Bowl LIII. We're not willing to go that far but this is the week Kansas City makes its case as the NFL's best team.
Pick: Chiefs 40, Rams 38
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