“We’re going out to win every game. Period,” Miami Coach Brian Flores said, via ESPN. “I have been in this league for a long time, and if you are not motivated on a daily basis, you won’t be in this league long — that’s players, coaches, that’s personnel, that’s everybody.”
We can debate the merits of “going out to win every game” when there is no playoff spot at stake, but the damage to Miami might already be done, even if the Dolphins don’t win another game this season. Instead, the winless Cincinnati Bengals (0-9) and woeful Washington Redskins (1-8) are now in prime position for the top two picks, potentially leaving Miami to fight with other two-win teams such as the Jets, New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons for the third slot.
With that in mind, here is how we expect the Week 11 games to shake out, starting with two prime picks against the consensus point spreads (as of Thursday morning) from multiple sports books in Las Vegas.
Buffalo Bills (-6) at Miami Dolphins
Buffalo won the first regular season meeting between these two clubs after outscoring the Dolphins, 22-7, in the fourth quarter. And this time around, Miami will be without two players who played key roles in keeping that first game relatively close.
Running back Mark Walton is out of the lineup due to a suspension for violating the NFL’s conduct and substance abuse policy and undrafted rookie wide receiver Preston Williams went on injured reserve last week after tearing his ACL against the Jets two weeks ago. Not great news for a Dolphins offense that is scoring 1.2 points per drive, the third-worst rate in the NFL.
Denver Broncos at Minnesota Vikings (-10½)
Pick: Denver Broncos +10½
Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins has improved over the past few weeks but this Vikings offense is driven by running back Dalvin Cook, who leads the league in carries (203), rushing yards (991), touches (243) and yards from scrimmage (1,415).
Denver’s rush defense, though, should be up to the task. According to the game charters at Pro Football Focus, the Broncos have the No. 1 rated run defense in the NFL thanks in large part to the play of linebackers Von Miller and Alexander Johnson plus nose tackle Mike Purcell. Those three help Denver stop opposing rushers from getting into the open field with a combined 45 stops in 2019, a stop here defined as a “win” for the defense or “loss” for the offense on a sliding scale based on the down and distance of each play.
The two games above represent our best plays of the week because our analysis shows the point spreads are the most divergent from what we expect to happen once the teams take the field. Below are picks for the other games on this week’s schedule. However, trying to pick every single NFL game is something of a fool’s errand. The house wins so often partly because bettors try to make too many plays when the odds aren’t in their favor. Keep that in mind when evaluating the remaining games from the Week 11 slate.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns (-3)
Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers +3
Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers (-5½)
Pick: Carolina Panthers -5½
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts (3)
Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars +3
Dallas Cowboys (-4½) at Detroit Lions
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens (-4)
Pick: Baltimore Ravens -4
New Orleans Saints (-5½) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers +5½
New York Jets at Washington Redskins (-1½)
Pick: Washington Redskins -1½
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (-11)
Pick: San Francisco 49ers -11
New England Patriots (-3½) at Philadelphia Eagles
Pick: New England Patriots -3½
Cincinnati Bengals at Oakland Raiders (-10½)
Pick: Cincinnati Bengals +10½
Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams (-6½)
Pick: Los Angeles Rams -6½
Kansas City Chiefs (-3½) at Los Angeles Chargers
Pick: Kansas City Chiefs -3½