Every week, we will give three bets against the spread to monitor for that slate of NFL games: one we like (Bet It), one we love (Hammer It) and one we are staying away from (Don’t Touch).
Last week was a rough one as I went 0-1-1 on my picks. My lock of New England over Tennessee ended in a Titans blowout, the Colts pushed at home against Jacksonville and to make matters worse, the game I picked as a stay-away ended in a blowout. Hopefully things fare better this week.
Without further ado, here are the best and worst bets for NFL week 11.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+2.5) over New York Giants
Needless to say, people bet the trends, and the lines go with perception over expectation. A week ago, there is no way that the Giants would have been expected to be favorites in this game. But with an unconvincing win over San Francisco and the Bucs scoring just three points at home, suddenly public money is leaning the Giants way ever so slightly. Tampa Bay would still be favored on a neutral site, of course, but I am still a little surprised to see the Giants getting 2.5.
Fitz-magic is dead. The Buccaneers are nowhere near the offense of week three. That said, there is no scenario where I would pick this Giants team to win, let alone cover a field goal. If I could have two Hammer Its, I would add this game. Alas, I feel slightly less strong about this one, given the Buccaneers’ free fall. Still, I pick them to win outright for the easy cover on the road.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-5) over Jacksonville Jaguars
Until further notice, the call will be to bet against the Jaguars if the line is less than a touchdown. Action was coming in heavily on Pittsburgh, as the line shifted two points higher by Thursday. It has leveled out slightly the last two days, now at Pittsburgh minus-five. Even at that line, I feel strongly in giving the points. Jacksonville does not even remotely resemble last year’s defense. Their offense lacks fire power to hang in a shootout. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers just had their best offensive performance of the season, while the Jaguars have lost five straight, allowing 29-plus in three of those games. I see the Steelers rolling on Sunday and winning by double-digits in Jacksonville.
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (No Line)
Every game that has earned a “Don’t Touch” from me has ended up being a blowout. As such, I am copping out and picking the game that literally has no line as the stay-away this week. Regardless of whether or not Joe Flacco plays, I have no confidence in playing either side. Both teams have looked like division favorites at one point or another, but have fallen on some tough times and are fading back into obscurity. Rumors are that both John Harbaugh and Marvin Lewis will be elsewhere in 2019, so it seems both are eyeing the future.
I will not be betting this game if Robert Griffin III plays or if Flacco pulls through. Too much variance on both sidelines.
–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Deputy Editor for Full Press NFL. Like and Follow @samc_smith.