BETONLINE PRO PICKS BY BARRY WILNER: NFL WEEK 11
While some teams are believing they revitalized their seasons with victories last week – think Tampa Bay, Green Bay and Indianapolis – we need more proof.
Now is the time to show any recent success is not a mirage. Maybe confidence levels are rising for some clubs: Pittsburgh, Detroit, Washington, Arizona and, yes, Indy after Jeff Saturday’s impressive debut as a coach. Show everyone more and then we might believe in a revival.
We know fans in Philadelphia, Kansas City, Miami, New York (AFC and NFC), Nashville, Seattle, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Dallas and Buffalo — yes, Northwest New York state despite two recent meltdowns and the oncoming blizzard – have plenty to celebrate as we hit Week 11.
Here’s a look at the opposite end, the flops, and why they appear doomed, in order of level of disappointment.
RAMS: The NFC West was pegged as a top division in the entire league, with the Rams, uh, leading the way. Instead, they’ve dropped like a lead balloon. There’s no balance on offense, where the line has been porous, and absolutely no swagger. Not that the defending Super Bowl champions have earned any.
RAIDERS: If the Raiders were a Las Vegas hotel, they would be located miles from the Strip. In other words, nothing to see here. A microcosm of their demise that centers on poor effort and execution, indecisive (or worse) coaching and lack of depth: How do you lose to a Colts team in total disarray that replaced coach Frank Reich with an ESPN analyst? Granted, Saturday always has had strong leadership qualities – something the Raiders totally lack.
PACKERS: We thought Green Bay might take a step or two backward after the Davante Adams deal and the inability (or stubbornness) to bring in a quality replacement for the star receiver who now is in a worse situation in Sin City. But plummet to a five-game slide? See a defense expected to be solid go south instead? Have four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers look ordinary? And the remaining schedule (Philly, Minnesota, Miami) is daunting.
COLTS: Somehow, despite all of the drama in Indy, the Colts are 4-5-1 and supposedly still in contention. With an O-line that can’t pass protect, no wideouts that worry defenses, and a slumping defense, we beg to differ.
SAINTS: Mardi Gras can’t come soon enough in the Big Easy, where everything has been hard for new coach Dennis Allen. An underperforming defense (his specialty) and weak quarterbacking are the main problems.
BROWNS: This was supposedly an outfit that could survive and possibly prosper in the 11 games of incoming quarterback Deshaun Watson’s suspension. Instead, Cleveland has imploded, its expectedly dynamic defense looking dumbfounded and, despite a solid running game, so many issues that 2020 Coach of the Year Kevin Stefanski could be on the hot seat.
BRONCOS: If anyone has done a worse job than Las Vegas’ Josh McDaniels as a first-year head coach in his current locale, it’s Nathaniel Hackett in Denver. The poor decision making is bad enough. Having an offense that doesn’t seem to fit Russell Wilson, the franchise QB you mortgaged the future for, is even more damaging.
Commanders at Texans (+3)
A stumble here would erase all of the good vibes from Washington’s win at Philly.
BEST BET: COMMANDERS, 26-16
Cowboys at Vikings (+1 1/2)
Somebody explain this line to us after what we saw last week.
UPSET SPECIAL: VIKINGS, 30-23
49ers at Cardinals at Mexico City (+8)
Colt McCoy is not a terrible option if Kyler Murray can’t go, as McCoy proved last week. But another win isn’t in the, uh, cards.
Eagles at Colts (+6 ½)
Can’t see Philly flopping again, especially against Indy.
Jets at Patriots (-3)
If the J-E-T-S win this one, we’ll start B-E-L-I-E-V-I-N-G.
Chiefs at Chargers (+6)
Too bad the Chargers are so banged up, though Mike Williams and Keenan Allen might be back. MIGHT BE. Big coaching edge here for …
Browns at Bills (-8)
Whether at home or in Detroit, if Buffalo doesn’t fix its issues here, there are long-term problems.
Rams at Saints (-3 1/2)
There ARE long-term problems in LA and Nawlins.
Lions at Giants (-3)
New York desperately needs this one with a tough schedule beyond Detroit.
Bengals at Steelers (+4)
The NFL flexed this game off prime time. Still, it’s an intriguing matchup.
Panthers at Ravens (-13)
Too many points for Baltimore to be favored by.
Bears at Falcons (-3)
Two overachieving squads. Trusting the Bears a bit more.
Raiders at Broncos (-2 1/2)
Trying to be nice here. So we’ll just make a pick.
Wilner’s 2022 RECORD
Last Week – Straight up: 6-7. Against the spread: 6-7.
Season – Straight up: 87-52-1. Against the spread: 75-61-4.
Best Bet – Straight up: 6-4. Against the spread: 3-7.
Upset Special – Straight up: 4-6. Against the spread: 5-5.