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NFL Pick’em Week 11

Week 11 NFL Picks

This season, I’ll be providing my picks every week for you, our readers. I’ve been Gridiron Experts’ Pick ‘Em columnist for the past few seasons, and I’m glad to be back at it again! We’re hoping to have even more success this year! Each week, I’ll give you my picks for the game, and a short write-up centered around the key reason why I’m making the pick that I am. You can also click over to see all our Free NFL picks for the week with more than a dozen Gridiron Experts picking each game.

Indianapolis @ Buffalo (-7.5)

The Bills came back to life last week, knocking off the Jets in New York, while the Colts struggled but eventually prevailed over the Jaguars. While both Carson Wentz and Josh Allen have posted respectable numbers, Wentz has been careless with the ball at times and lacked the clutch gene. Another X-Factor here is the Bills’ ability to stop the run, only allowing 84 rushing yards per game on average. The Bills’ run defense will need to be at the top of their game to slow down the electric Jonathan Taylor. The Bills aren’t only good against the run, though. They lead the league, allowing only 15 points per game, and rank 1st in total yardage allowed per game. I think that Buffalo’s defense will really exploit Wentz while limiting Taylor and not letting him break the game open. Ultimately, Indianapolis’ pass defense is a bit spotty, and I think Allen can take advantage of those windows. Look for Allen, Stefon Diggs, and Dawson Knox to stand out, and for Buffalo to win and cover at home. Bills 30-20.  

Washington @ Carolina (-3.5)

The Washington Football surprised and impressed many by knocking off the defending champions last week at home. However, now they’ll need to head down to Carolina and play the Panthers, who will likely be led by QB Cam Newton in his second stint with the team. Not to mention, the Panthers have benefitted from the return of the amazing Christian McCaffrey. While neither of these teams has been stellar thus far offensively, the Carolina defense does stand out. They rank 6th in points allowed, and 2nd in yardage allowed. This should make things increasingly difficult for QB Taylor Heinicke, along with RB Antonio Gibson, who has been nursing a shin injury for most of the year. I worry about Washington’s ability to score a ton of points in this game but do believe, despite the loss of Chase Young, that their defense is figuring things out. Newton’s return will be interesting to watch, and the offense’s chemistry could be a bit shaky at first. But, ultimately, I think Cam’s presence helps bring this team together and is certainly an upgrade for WRs DJ Moore and Robby Anderson (over PJ Walker.) With emotions running high in Charlotte, I like the home Panthers to take this one and cover. Panthers 25-20.

Baltimore (-4.5) @ Chicago

Baltimore looked quite exposed, losing to the Dolphins in Miami last Thursday night. Their offense couldn’t move the ball, and they seemed lethargic in their loss to Miami. On the other hand, the Bears fought hard the last time we saw them on the field, eventually falling to the Steelers. QB Justin Fields seems to be making some strides, and I think this extra week of preparation will be helpful for him. The Bears’ offense will need to be better overall, as they rank 31st in total yardage. However, they’ve run the ball quite well, and their stud RB David Montgomery is now back. That puts the onus on Fields to produce and to jump-start his WRs, Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney. Fields has favored Mooney in the early-going, but any momentum the team can give Robinson will certainly help matters. Lamar Jackson will need to be better and will need to find a way to get the ball into the hands of Hollywood Brown and Mark Andrews to give Baltimore a chance. The Ravens will have the advantage due to the strength of their rush defense, which can limit Chicago’s best player– Montgomery. However, with how vulnerable the Ravens’ pass defense has been this year, I think the prepared Fields will do enough to keep the Bears in striking range the whole game. In the end, I see Baltimore prevailing by a field goal on the road but will take the Bears with the points. Ravens 23-20.

Detroit @ Cleveland (-9.5)

After tying the Mason Rudolph-led Steelers in Pittsburgh, the Lions will head to Cleveland, where an injured Baker Mayfield awaits. Mayfield is quite banged up and remains without his usual running backs. Nick Chubb remains on the COVID list and is questionable to play, while Kareem Hunt will stay on IR this week and will miss the contest. Mayfield also lost WR Odell Beckham, and his other WR Donovan Peoples-Jones hurt himself in practice earlier this week. Without Chubb, the Browns have found a reliable substitute in D’Ernest Johnson, so it shouldn’t change their gameplan or chances all that dramatically. With that said, Chubb’s return would certainly prove useful for the Browns. I think the main difference between these two teams is their defenses. Cleveland ranks 5th in total yards allowed, and 1st in sacks. They should see the return of DE Myles Garrett, while the Lions might be without Jared Goff, who has been missing practice with an oblique injury. In any event, I don’t see how the Lions can produce enough points to keep up with the Browns, with or without Chubb. For Detroit, things could get even uglier without Goff, despite how bad he’s looked this year. Look for a controlled, multiple touchdown win for Cleveland on Sunday. Browns 28-14. 

San Francisco (-5.5) @ Jacksonville

The 49ers looked dominant in their win over a supposedly elite Rams team that has now lost 2 in a row. Deebo Samuel proved he’s one of the league’s best skill players, and TE George Kittle is coming back into form after a stint on IR. They’ll head to Jacksonville to play a Jaguars team that surprised many with an upset win over the Bills, before falling to the Colts last weekend. While I think the Jaguars are scrappier than many give them credit for, I think they’ll be outgunned in this contest. With Eli Mitchell likely to play, and Samuel and Kittle catching passes, Kyle Shanahan has a ton of places to go with the football. On the other hand, Urban Meyer can work the ball into the hands of Jamal Agnew, an injured James Robinson, or Marvin Jones… not quite the same level of talent. While I see the Jaguars keeping this one close, I like San Fran to take it by a touchdown.  49ers 27-20.

Green Bay (-2.5) @ Minnesota

Aaron Rodgers returned from the COVID list last week and led his Packers to a win over the Seahawks. Rodgers looked incredibly rusty in that contest, though, as Green Bay only posted 17 points, and widely leaned on their rushing attack and defense. AJ Dillon was the catalyst of that attack, with RB Aaron Jones injuring his knee. It’ll be Dillon taking the reins of this offense for the first time, as Rodgers’ primary backfield piece. With WR Davante Adams on the outside and the young Dillon leading the rushing attack, it should give Rodgers tons of balance and opportunity against Minnesota, who touts a bottom third defense. The Packers’ offensive line will need to be at their best on Sunday, though, as the Vikings have a league-leading 29 sacks to their credit this season. Kirk Cousins will oppose Rodgers for Minnesota, and he has been great this year, logging 18 TDs to only 2 INTs so far. He has his own stud RB and WR at his disposal between Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson. Not to mention, the always reliable Adam Thielen is lurking on the outside as well. With this game being played in Minnesota, I could see it going either way. However, with another week to shake off the rust, I see Rodgers taking care of business and pulling out a win on the road, further cementing the Packers at the top of the NFC. Packers 27-24. 

Miami (-3.5) @ New York Jets

The last time we saw Miami, they shut down and embarrassed the Ravens. The Jets, on the other hand, were utterly dominated by the Bills in New Jersey. In any event, both teams have 7 losses and are fighting for their lives in the AFC East. Tua Tagovailoa should take the reins back as the starting QB for Miami this week and will look to continue Miami’s winning ways. His backfield has been marred with inconsistency, as Myles Gaskin hasn’t been fully integrated into the offense. In fact, Miami ranks dead last in rushing yards per game (73.6 rypg.) In doing so, they make their gameplan quite predictable, and difficult to balance the threat of their pass catchers Mike Gesicki and Jaylen Waddle. With teams stacking the box, they put the pressure on Tua to make throws. When he does, the Dolphins stand a chance. When he doesn’t (most of the time) the offense struggles. The good news for Miami is that the Jets have been even worse. They rank 32ind in points allowed per game, and 27th in points scored. They’re only barely better running the ball, and RB Michael Carter has been the lone (consistent) weapon on their offense. Miami seemed to put things together last weekend, and when faced with this timid Jets defense, I think Tua will be able to do enough to get the job done and win this game on the road, covering in the process. Dolphins 24-18.

New Orleans @ Philadelphia (-1.5)

The Eagles have quietly won two of their last 3 games, while the Saints have fallen in each of their past 2 contests. While QB Trevor Siemian took over the reins from the injured Jameis Winston recently, the Saints have also been without RB Alvin Kamara. In his absence, Mark Ingram has stepped in and performed admirably. Kamara’s return would undoubtedly give New Orleans a needed boost as they head to Philadelphia, and early practice reports show that the dual-threat RB has a chance to play. Jalen Hurts and the Eagles await, with their rush-first attack. Hurts is the ringleader of said attack, but is also spelled by RBs Jordan Howard and Boston Scott. With Miles Sanders inching towards a return, this team will continue to pound the rock on the ground. Hurts has barely thrown the ball this year, but has been moderately effective when he does so, owning a 13:5 TD to INT ratio. His main targets remain WR Devonta Smith, who broke out last week, and Dallas Goedert, who is eyeing a return from the COVID list. The difference in this game is the Saints’ run defense which is 1st in the NFL, allowing only 73 yards per game. If they can force Hurts to throw the ball a bunch, I think that they can keep the game close and believe they’ll pull it out with a late field goal for a road upset. Saints 24-21.

Houston @ Tennessee (-9.5)

The 8-2 Titans sit atop the AFC and will welcome the 1-8 Texans to town. With the Titans missing Derrick Henry, the offense is sputtering and is in need of a jolt. They received a breakout performance from WR Marcus Johnson last week, and D’Onta Foreman looked like he had some pop, especially when picking up a huge chunk of yards on a screen play late in their win over the Saints. The main difference-maker for Tennessee will be WR AJ Brown, who is one of the game’s best when healthy. I don’t see a player on the Texans that can contain Brown, and expect him to have a huge game on Sunday. With Tennessee’s defense as one of the most surprising units in the NFL, I expect Houston to struggle to produce points. Brandin Cooks is the only true offensive threat for this unit, and while he’ll likely produce, I don’t think they have other major threats to break the game open against the Titans. Another major factor here is the time of possession. If Houston wants to win, they need to hold the ball, keep it close, and force turnovers. So far this year, Houston ranks 30th in the NFL in time of possession, while the Titans rank 2nd. That’s a tough script to flip. I think Brown and Tannehill will show out, and that the Titans pass rush will dominate the line of scrimmage, leading Tennessee to a comfortable, two-touchdown win, and a 9-2 record. Titans 31-18. 

Cincinnati @ Las Vegas (-0.5)

Both teams sit at 5-4 for this contest, which will be pivotal for the playoff race. Cincinnati has floundered as of late, losing 2 straight games before their Week 10 bye, while the Raiders have also lost 2 in a row. One of these teams will get right on Sunday afternoon, and it’ll be a huge boost to their playoff chances. QB Joe Burrow has been great this season and has peppered college teammate Ja’Marr Chase with targets. Chase has logged 835 receiving yards and 7 TDs so far, and this entire Bengals offense has had an extra week to prepare for this lowly Raiders defense, which ranks 26th in points allowed. When you add in the healthy Joe Mixon to balance Burrow’s passing with a solid run game, it makes Cincinnati especially dangerous. The Bengals’ defense has also been a nice surprise, ranking 11th in points allowed, and 10th in sacks. Las Vegas will continue to lean on Derek Carr offensively, as he’s thrown for over 2,800 yards through 9 games. With TE Darren Waller struggling to continue his dominance from a year ago, Carr has honed in on Hunter Renfrow more often than usual. Renfrow has produced, proving himself a reliable target for Carr. With RB Josh Jacobs back on the field and Kenyan Drake settling into the passing back role, it makes this Vegas offense much more diverse than its usual pass-happy approach. With the chips on the table, I trust the Bengals’ weapons more. With Cincinnati’s defense proving formidable enough, I suspect they’ll make a stop late, and help the Bengals pull off a road win in the desert. Bengals 28-26.

Dallas @ Kansas City (-2.5)

With the Chiefs bouncing back last weekend, and QB Patrick Mahomes finding his groove, the Chiefs find themselves as home favorites over the 7-2 Cowboys. Mahomes rekindled his flame last weekend and has thrown for 2,940 yards and 25 TDs in this “down” season. WR Tyreek Hill has logged 855 yards and 8 TDs, while Travis Kelce remains the best TE in football. Clyde Edwards-Helaire should return from IR soon, and the defense is finally finding its form as well. They’ve allowed less than 13 points per game over their past 3 contests, and are proving to be an asset instead of a liability. On the other hand, Dallas has been quite good on both sides of the ball. They rank 1st in points scored per game, and top 10 in scoring defense. QB Dak Prescott has been fantastic with a 20:5 TD to INT ratio, Zeke Elliott and Tony Pollard lead a 4th ranked rushing attack, and CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper have proven to be one of the league’s best WR duos. At the end of the day, I think we’re destined for a lot of points in this one. However, Prescott’s consistency should shine through here. If Dallas is able to limit Mahomes through the air, I think they can outscore the Chiefs and control the clock to some extent. Kansas City’s rushing attack has been average at best, while Zeke & Pollard can take over any game. I think the Cowboys’ ability to run the ball will be huge in opening up the play-action attack for Prescott. Give me Dallas to win by a field goal on the road. Cowboys 30-27.

Pittsburgh @ Los Angeles Chargers (-5.5)

The biggest question on Sunday night will be the status of Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben is still on the COVID list but is trending towards playing. Before I dive in, I’ll say that if Mason Rudolph plays, then I like the Chargers to win and cover the spread. However, assuming Big Ben plays, I think things go a bit differently. Regardless of if Ben is on the field, the Steelers’ defense will play their own game, flocking to the ball and playing stingy defense as always. They rank 8th in points allowed per game, and 6th in sacks. If TJ Watt plays, it provides a huge boost, but this defense is capable even without their star. RB Najee Harris and WRs Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool (Questionable) will need to rip off some chunk plays to keep it close. If they don’t, they’re certainly in danger, because this LA team is flush with weapons. QB Justin Herbert has two quality WRs in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, who has faded a bit after a fiery start to the season. The true difference-maker is RB Austin Ekeler. When Ekeler gets going, it keeps defenses on their toes, as you have to account for him all over the field. I do believe that Roethlisberger will play, but he certainly won’t be as prepared as usual with his routine disrupted in his recovery. While I see Los Angeles winning this game, I do think the Steelers’ defense and playmakers keep it within a score. I’ll take the Steelers (with Big Ben) with the points. Chargers 24-23.

Enjoy the games! Until next week…

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