NFL Best Bets Week 11
We had a bit of a stumble last week, but at 21-7 this year, we’re still winning 75% of our Best Bets.
This week, I’m picking three underdogs this week, which has proven to be a very profitable strategy this season. Underdogs are winning 57% against the spread. As an aside, betting only the under-on-game totals has been successful 59% of the time this year. When choosing games for this column, I match up the Vegas line with my system and look for discrepancies between the two. Usually, there’s no more than a one-point difference, but this week I’ve seen more variance than any other week this season. I’m not sure what to make of it, but it’s interesting to note.
Houston Texans +3.5 vs. Washington Commanders
The Commanders are coming in hot, winning four of their last five games, and beating the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles. The Texans are probably the worst team in the league. This is a no-brainer, right? Right? On the surface, one might think this is a good line for the Commanders, even on the road, where away favorites are only beating the spread 42% of the time. But, despite their records, these teams actually match up pretty evenly. Washington’s offense is 25th in DVOA against a Houston defense ranked 28th. On the flip side, the Texans offense is 30th in DVOA, while the Commanders defense is 13th.
In fact, look for Washington to run the ball far more than average. No team is giving up more rushing yards to opponents than Houston. To combat the Commanders from controlling the pace of the game, the Texans will need big plays through the air. They’re ninth in completions of 15 yards or more and they have exploitable matchups against Washington’s corners. Nico Collins could be in for a big day.
Houston is a pretty disciplined team for all their weaknesses and has fewer turnovers and penalty yards than Washington. This should be a low-scoring game where one miscue or big play could be the difference.
Cleveland Browns +8.5 at Buffalo Bills
This has been a bumpy ride. Buffalo opened as a 10-point favorite with a game total of 48. The severe weather forecast brought the line down to -7.5 for the Bills and the total down to 41. Now the game has been moved to Detroit and the line has jumped back up to -8.5 for Buffalo. On top of all that, there’s also some sort of illness running through the Bills locker room.
— Brad Stainbrook (@StainbrookNFL) November 16, 2022
The bad weather would’ve benefited the Browns, but now the Bills offense will have the luxury of playing in a dome. Josh Allen’s elbow didn’t seem to affect him at all against Minnesota, but he has thrown multiple interceptions in the last three games. Buffalo has also looked ordinary the last several weeks. Aside from losing two in a row, they haven’t scored a second-half touchdown since week six. Cleveland will rely on their run game. They’ve been very good at extending drives and the Bills have shown they can be run on. Over the last three weeks, they’re giving up 176 rushing yards per game. I’m a little surprised both the cash and tickets favor Cleveland slightly, but it’s understandable when road underdogs are covering 57% of the time this season. It’s going to take a big day from Nick Chubb, and perhaps a Josh Allen pick or two, but I like the Browns at +8.5.
Pittsburgh Steelers +4.5 vs. Cincinnati Bengals
The interesting thing about the Bengals is they’re a top 10 team in PFF’s power ranking and Football Outsiders’ DVOA even with their 5-4 record. They’re 3-0 against the NFC South and beat the Dolphins and Jets without their starting quarterbacks. I’m not saying they’re not a good team, but they might be slightly overrated. Their offensive line is a concern, and with T.J. Watt back for Pittsburgh, Joe Burrow will face tremendous pressure from the defense. The Steelers sacked Burrow seven times in their week one win against Cincinnati. Losing Ja’Marr Chase takes away Burrow’s best weapon, and it’s doubtful Joe Mixon will step up and score four touchdowns again. I think the Bengals will have difficulty moving the ball. Pittsburgh’s offense is bad for their part, averaging 15.6 points per game. They’ve only scored over 20 points in one game this year. It was against the Bengals, however. They’re going to need to do that again to win this game. George Pickens has a favorable matchup against Cam Taylor-Britt, so if Kenny Pickett can get the ball to him consistently, they can put up some points. Mike Tomlin is one of the best coaches in the game, and it’s rare that I’d ever bet against him as a home underdog.
Doug Burrell is a lifelong NFL fan and has been playing fantasy football for over 25 years. He specializes in auction drafts and has been ranked in the top 1% of Yahoo owners since 2014. He enjoys breaking down advanced statistics and complicated game theory into easy, actionable steps that even novice players can use to gain an edge over the competition.
Doug is a veteran, an avid runner, and works as a copywriter. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and three dogs. You can reach him on Twitter @dougwburrell.