Last week was a success with my overall picks. It would have been a success for my best bets as well if Cincinnati hadn’t had a complete no-show on Monday Night Football. That loss, and New England’s heart-stopping win in New Jersey, means we’re left with just the Patriots and Panthers as the undefeated teams going into week 11. But that’s not the story of the week. This Sunday will see a number of quarterback changes due to injury, poor performance and some times a mixture of both. Brock Osweiler will replace a reportedly-injured but definitely terrible Peyton Manning in the hope of getting the Broncos offense back to where it needs to be. This is Osweiler’s last year of his rookie contract and its a chance for him to earn a starting spot and starters money next year. Can he do it? Maybe. But it’s more likely he’ll do what most back-up QB’s do, struggle. In Dallas Tony Romo is eligible to return from his collarbone injury, but at 2-7 the Cowboys are likely out of the division race so should the risk Romo getting re-injured? Or worse jeopardise their draft ranking!? I don’t think so. But tanking in the NFL isn’t done so it would be hard to sell to the fans, or for Jerry Jones to stomach. Then there’s Nick Foles, St. Louis will be going with Case Keenum in an effort to get the passing game better and stop it dragging down Todd Gurley and the defense. So what do all these QB changes do to the betting lines? Well there’s no line currently for the Houston game where TJ Yates could start if Brian Hoyer isn’t cleared from the concussion protocol. The Broncos, at 7-2, are 1 point underdogs in Chicago which is a surprise and the Dallas game in Miami is a pick ’em. None of these teams with QB changes will be making my Best Bets for this week. The variance in possible outcomes is just too high.
So on to this weeks Best Bets, as always the lines are from the good folk over at William Hill and the home teams are in caps…
Oakland Raiders (-1) over DETROIT LIONS
The Raiders are coming off their worst defeat since week one while Detroit are coming off their biggest win all year, but I don’t think one game changes that much. Detroit are still an awful team with the worst rushing offense in the league while the Raiders still have a very good passing game. Neither teams defense is much to write home about, and the Raiders are now without Aldon Smith for the season but I believe in the resurgence of the Oakland Raiders, in part because their blocking has been great all season as shown by our new GOBI stat. Meanwhile, the Lions are good at very little. Their win last week in Lambeau is an anomaly on their season long performance. I fully expect it to go back to their norm.
ARIZONA CARDINALS (-5) over Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati were totally lost when faced with a fast and aggressive front 7 and good coverage last week. So it’s a good job they’re not playing a similar defense this week…. Oh. Arizona’s 3-4 defense is even more disruptive and aggressive than Houston’s, their coverage is capable of being even better, and their offense is lead by someone with quiet the history when it comes to the Bengals. Carson Palmer was a first round pick and MVP-level player for the Bengals before injurie and personal issues got in the way. He still won’t talk about just what happened when he left, where he threatened to retire rather than play another down for Cincinnati. It’s been 4 years and 2 teams since then for Palmer and he’s once again an MVP-level player. You can bet he’ll be fired up for this game and have the offense playing at an even higher level. They hung 39 on Seattle last week, incorporating Michael Floyd more than before and giving them 3 threats out wide as well as a Cerberus at running back. Cincinnati’s defense is good but I don’t think it can handle this offense, nor do I think the Bengals offense can keep Dalton clean enough to move the ball consistently. Their struggles in the run game all year have started to make Cincy a one-dimensional offense and that is always a problem.
Buffalo Bills (+7) over NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Every week it’s another injury for the Patriots. It’s bad enough they’re on their 4th choice left tackle and last years center is playing right tackle but last week they lost Julian Edelman for the rest of the regular season to a broken foot. This will mean more attention for Rob Gronkowski, who was gameplanned out of the offense by Giants after the Edelman injury (That didn’t stop him giving them a Gronking to remember though). But it also means more snaps and targets to the likes of Aaron Dobson, Keyshawn Martin and the newly promoted Chris Harper. While the offense won’t totally implode as long as Brady is there it’s definitely becoming less potent with the injuries. Meanwhile the Bills have performed better in recent weeks with Tyrod Taylor back in the huddle and they come off a long week, having played on Thursday night. Rex Ryan’s defense is loaded with talent that can slow the attack of New England and limit their scoring, while the Patriots have issues at the second corner spot and look far less frightening up front with Jamie Collins on the sideline as he has been for the last 2 weeks.
Rest of the Picks:
TNF: JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (-3)
St. Louis Rams (+2.5) over BALTIMORE RAVENS
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+5.5) over PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
ATLANTA FALCONS (-6) over Indianapolis Colts
CAROLINA PANTHERS (-7) over Washington Redskins
Denver Broncos (+1) over CHICAGO BEARS
MIAMI DOLPHINS (pk) over Dallas Cowboys
Kansas City Chiefs (-3) over SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
Green Bay Packers (+1) over MINNESOTA VIKINGS
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (-12.5) over San Francisco 49ers
Last Week: 8-6-0 (1-2-0
Overall: 68-70-6 (15-15-0)