Perhaps the most surprising trend in the NFL would be the AFC South, with the rising Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans taking the conference by storm. Tennessee’s NFL-best defense decimated Brady in week ten, gaining a foothold in the wild card race. The Texans have the longest winning streak in the league, rising to +2500 for NFL Super Bowl 2019 futures, as per Canada Sports Betting.
The Titans are among the best NFL spread picks for week 11, primed to beat up the Colts in Indianapolis. Carolina, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Minnesota and the Chargers should be considered outstanding candidates to conquer the spread.
There’s no sugar coating the Falcons loss against the Cleveland Browns last week, which may have just doomed Atlanta to miss the playoffs. Cleveland broke Atlanta’s three-game winning streak by ramming the ball through the defense, collecting 211 rushing yards against the Falcons. Atlanta’s the third worst defense this season, allowing an average of 28.2 PPG.
Dallas lives and dies according to the run, with the combo of Ezekiel Elliot and Dak Prescott leading the Cowboys offense with 1,201 rushing yards, fifth best in the NFL. The Cowboys need to take care of the ball to win, losing every match in which they recorded a turnover. Their defense has been outstanding this season, allowing only 19.0 PPG – third best in the NFL.
Atlanta will have their hands full dealing with Zeke and Dak, among the fastest tailback-quarterback duos in the NFL. The Cowboys recent victory over the Eagles in Philadelphia shows that the Dallas defense and rushing game can brutalize strong clubs. Losing to the Browns isn’t the end of the world, but it signals a lack of competitive football from Atlanta.
The Lions continue a strange 2018 season which features dizzying highs and pathetic lows. Beating the Patriots and the Packers at home excited Detroit faithful with an excellent defense and strong offense lead by a competent Matthew Stafford. A three-game losing streak witnessed the Lions lose to the Seahawks, Vikings and Bears by an average of 13.6 points.
After travelling to Pittsburgh on short rest, Cam Newton and the Panthers were dusted 52-21 by the Steelers at Heinz Field. A ten-day break between games will help Carolina recoup from a tough road loss to prepare for the Lions on Sunday afternoon. Despite giving up 52 to Pittsburgh, the Panthers are an above average defensive club and ranked top ten in offense.
The Panthers have played well on both sides of the ball while the Lions alternate between world-beaters and self-defeating from week-to-week. Go ahead and take a relatively small four-point spread for the Panthers, who will rebound well in Michigan.
The Tennessee Titans have been a completely different football club over the past couple of weeks, making you wonder what coach Vrabel did during the bye week to resuscitate the club. They marched into Dallas to double up the Cowboys 28-14 before destroying the New England Patriots at home with a 34-10 score – Brady’s biggest loss since the 2014 regular season.
Tennessee’s rush defense is suddenly air tight, giving up only 72 yards to the Cowboys and 40 yards to the Patriots. Mariota had a 119.9 passer rating against Dallas and a 125.0 rating during the win over the Patriots, among the best in the month of November.
Indianapolis are on a run of their own, with victories over the Jets, Bills and Jaguars, but the Colts offense won’t function smoothly against the best defense in the NFL. A +2.0 spread for Tennessee should be considered a bargain on Sunday.
Jacksonville isn’t the club which walloped the Steelers 30-9 during the 2017 regular season before eliminating Pittsburgh in the 2018 AFC divisional playoff round. The Jaguars have sunk to the bottom of the AFC South with five losses in a row, eliminating the club from the post season for all intents and purposes.
The Steelers started slowly but accelerated into a five-game win streak to establish a stranglehold on the AFC North. Big Ben looks young again and young James Connor fully replaced Le’Veon Bell against all expectations. The Steelers defense benefitted massively from the bye week, allowing 265 or fewer yards in three straight.
Jacksonville’s offense relies on the run, which will struggle against Pittsburgh’s terrific defensive line. Given the Jaguars collapse in 2018, it’s not unreasonable to expect a two-possession victory for the surging Steelers.
This AFC West rivalry is a lopsided affair this season, with the Chargers battling to keep pace with the Kansas City Chiefs, current kings of the conference. Los Angeles performs well on both sides of the pigskin, with a 10th-ranked offense and the 8th-ranked defense in the NFL. A six-game winning streak gives Los Angeles the fourth-best record in the league.
The Broncos faltered badly after a hot start to the season, losing six of their last seven games heading into their bye last week. Quarterback play has been a problem again after signing Case Keenum, an average pivot who was bolstered by the Vikings depth and scheme last year.
Denver’s defense hasn’t been great on the road, allowing 27 to the Ravens, 30 to the Chiefs and 34 points against the very mediocre Jets. A seven-point spread for Los Angeles offers superb value for a strong Super Bowl dark horse.
Minnesota has Chicago’s number over the past few years, winning six of the last seven and seven of the last nine against the Bears. This version of Da Bears is very different from previous editions, with the team growing from a cub club into hardened hunters in 2018. Chicago features a top five offense and the fourth best defense in the NFL, controlling the NFC North with a 6-3 mark.
The Vikings have been an inconsistent, occasionally brilliant team which entered their bye week with a massive defensive performance to beat the Lions, collecting 10 sacks en route to a 24-9 embarrassment of Detroit on their own field.
On paper, Minnesota has the personnel to keep up with the best teams in the NFL. Nagging injuries have affected key personnel, preventing the Vikings from showing up in full force. Top spot in the division is one the line, with Minnesota needing a win to draw even with Chicago. Expect a playoff-like atmosphere at Soldier Field as the Vikings cover the spread.