Week 11 of the NFL season features some big mismatches on paper and some big betting lines across the league. There are seven games on the schedule with a spread of a touchdown or more, including three teams favored by double digits.
The week’s biggest favorite is Miami, which is nearly a two-touchdown favorite against the Las Vegas Raiders. The Dolphins have been a completely different team offensively at home this season and are looking to bounce back from their loss to Kansas City two weeks ago in Germany. The Dolphins are a perfect 4-0 at home this season as home favorites, while Las Vegas is 1-3 as a road underdog.
And then we have the San Francisco 49ers also checking in as a double-digit favorite at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after going on the road a week ago and getting back on track against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Along with those lines, the Washington Commanders, despite their 4-6 record and one of the league’s worst defenses, are more than an eight-point favorite against the New York Giants due in large part to the presence of Tommy DeVito as the Giants’ quarterback.
The week’s biggest games are the two games book-ending the Week 11 slate.
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens – Thursday
- The Bengals have not played like the Bengals we expected so far this season, but they have excelled in road games over the past couple of years. Since the start of the 2021 season, they are 6-1 against the spread as road underdogs and 15-6 against the spread on the road.
- Sunday’s loss to Cleveland was the fifth time over the past two years that the Ravens have lost a game despite having a two-score lead in the second half.
- Turnovers could swing this game in a big way. The Ravens have 14 giveaways (21st in NFL), while the Bengals’ 18 takeaways as a defense are tied for the most.
- The Bengals have some major injury concerns going into Thursday on the short week. They will be without wide receiver Tee Higgins and defensive end Sam Hubbard. The Ravens will be without offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley.
Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers
- Dak Prescott posted his 10th career 400-yard passing game in last week’s 49-17 home rout of the Giants. Prescott also accounted for five total touchdowns (four passing, one rushing) and has thrown 11 touchdown passes against just two interceptions in his past three games combined.
- Dallas receiver CeeDee Lamb is the first player in NFL history with at least 10 catches and 150 receiving yards in three consecutive games. Lamb is tied for sixth in the league in receptions (68) and is third in yards (975) this season.
- Carolina is coming off a season-low 213 total yards (only 43 rushing) in last Thursday’s 16-13 loss to Chicago. Next up for the Panthers is a matchup with the league’s third-ranked defense.
- At 1-8, Carolina currently has the worst record in the league. Don’t forget that the Bears own the Panthers’ first-round pick in 2024 because of the trade that included this year’s No. 1 overall pick, which was used to take QB Bryce Young.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
- Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson will miss the rest of the 2023 season with a shoulder injury that requires surgery. PJ Walker is likely to get the start.
- The key to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ success is turnover margin. They protect the ball on offense exceptionally well and take it away on defense better than anybody. Their plus-10 turnover margin is tied for the best in the NFL as are their 18 takeaways. The Cleveland Browns turn the ball over more than any team (19 times) in the NFL this season.
- The addition of rookie Broderick Jones into the starting lineup at right tackle has completely changed the Steelers’ running game. Thanks to great performances from Jaylen Warren and Najee Harris, they have totaled 371 yards the past two weeks.
- The Browns are 10-19 against the spread as favorites since the start of the 2020 season.
- With the Steelers down to their third-and-fourth-string middle linebackers, as well as safety Minkah Fitzpatrick still being questionable for Sunday, the Browns could find a lot of success in the middle of the field and running the ball. As good as the Steelers are at forcing turnovers, they can be suspect in defending the middle of the field and the run.
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions
- Is this the week that Justin Fields returns from his thumb injury? Fields practiced in a limited capacity leading into last week’s Thursday night game against Carolina but was not activated. The Bears have gone 2-2 with undrafted rookie Tyson Bagent at the helm.
- Detroit leads the NFC North at 7-2, and Dan Campbell’s team is just a game behind Philadelphia for the best record in the NFC. The Lions still have five divisional games left on their schedule, including three of the next four, as they seek their first NFC North title since 1993.
- After totaling 122 rushing yards in the previous two games combined, Detroit exploded for 222 in the last-second win over the Los Angeles Chargers. That’s the most yards on the ground for the Lions since posting 265 in last season’s Week 17 home rout of, you guessed it, da Bears.
- Chicago’s defense got a big boost with the trade-deadline acquisition of DE Montez Sweat, but this unit was showing signs of improvement before that. Over the first five games, the defense surrendered an average of 31.4 points and 384.2 yards per game. Those numbers have been trimmed to 19.6 and 264.2 in the last five games.
Arizona Cardinals at Houston Texans
- Kyler Murray was far from perfect in his first game back from an ACL tear, but he had a highlight-reel run late in the fourth quarter to set up the game-winning field goal to help the Cardinals beat the Falcons 25-23. Murray finished with 249 passing yards, 33 rushing yards, and a touchdown in his first on-field action in 11 months. More importantly, the last-second win snapped Arizona’s six-game losing streak.
- The Houston Texans continue to be one of the NFL’s biggest surprises this season. A last-second road win in Cincinnati, coupled with Jacksonville’s lopsided home loss to San Francisco has the Texans, who went 3-13-1 last season, just a game out of first place in the AFC South.
- C.J. Stroud may already have the Offensive Rookie of the Year award wrapped up and could make a run at MVP if he keeps this up. Stroud has thrown for 350-plus yards in back-to-back games (and three times overall) and has posted a sparkling 15:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio across his first nine career NFL starts.
- Stroud’s impact on Houston’s offense is undeniable. This past Sunday, the Texans became the first team in NFL history since the Payton Manning-led Colts in 1998 to have a 350-yard passer, 150-yard rusher (Devin Singletary), and 150-yard receiver (Noah Brown) in the same game, according to NFL Communications.
Las Vegas Raiders at Miami Dolphins
- Maybe the Raiders should stick with the interim tag? Antonio Pierce is the first interim head coach to win his first two games since Rich Bisaccia did the same thing during the 2021 season following the firing of Jon Gruden. The only other interim coach to start 2-0 in the last 10 seasons? Current Lions coach Dan Campbell in 2015 when he was with the Dolphins and replaced Joe Philbin. (H/T “Good Morning Football”)
- Josh Jacobs has certainly embraced the coaching change. Jacobs posted 116 rushing yards in last Sunday’s win over the Jets. It was the first 100-yard game this year for the reigning league rushing champion. He rushed for 98 yards in the Week 9 win over the Giants.
- The bye may have come at a good time for Miami. The Dolphins have lost two of their past three games, and the offense hasn’t fared as well compared to the start Mike McDaniel’s team got off to. Tua Tagovailoa and company averaged an eye-popping 550.3 yards per game over its first three, but that number tumbled to 308.6 in the last three contests before the bye. Miami still leads the league in total, passing and scoring offense, but the gap in each category has narrowed significantly.
- The Dolphins could get an added boost in the potential return of rookie running back De’Von Achane. The third-round pick out of Texas A&M has been on injured reserve since suffering a knee injury in Week 5 but returned to practice this week. Achane is averaging a mind-blowing 12.2 yards per carry and has already demonstrated his game-changing speed. Achane has the second- and third-fastest speeds (MPH) clocked for any ball carrier this season, according to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats. The only player that’s been faster is teammate Tyreek Hill (also checks in at No. 4), and backfield mate Raheem Mostert rounds out the top five in this distinction.
New York Giants at Washington Commanders
- The Giants are double-digit underdogs at Washington Sunday, and they have not done well as underdogs this season. They are 2-7-1 against the spread overall this season and 1-5 against the spread on the road. The Commanders, however, are 0-5 against the spread as double-digit favorites since the 2006 season.
- The Giants offense is 32nd out of 32 teams in points per game and yards per game this season. They have scored more than only 17 points once (a Week 2 win against the Arizona Cardinals) and failed to reach double digits four times.
- Conversely, the Commanders have one of the NFL’s worst defenses coming into Sunday’s game, ranking 31st in points against and 29th in yards against. If they can not stop this Giants offense led by third-string quarterback Tommy DeVito, then there is nobody in the NFL they are going to stop.
- The Commanders might have found a quarterback in Sam Howell. He has posted a passer rating of 98.0 or better in five of his past seven games, a stretch that has seen him throw 14 touchdowns to four interceptions.
Los Angeles Chargers at Green Bay Packers
- Sunday’s loss to Detroit was the fifth time in Brandon Staley’s tenure as head coach that the Los Angeles Chargers have scored at least 30 points in a game and still lost. His defenses have ranked 29th, 21st and 24th in points against during his three seasons.
- As good as Justin Herbert is, the Chargers should consider keeping it simple and running right at Green Bay. The Packers’ run defense allows 133 yards per game and is coming off a game in Pittsburgh where they allowed more than 200 rushing yards.
- Green Bay quarterback Jordan Love needs a big game this week. He has thrown just eight touchdown passes to 10 interceptions in his past seven games. The Chargers defense allows a shocking 291 passing yards per game, which is not only worst in the NFL, but 30 yards worse than the 31st-ranked team. They have also intercepted just six passes.
- The Chargers are 3-0 in their past three games against the spread, while the Packers tend to be a bad bet in games with a close line. They are 0-5 against the spread in their past five games when the spread is between -3 and +3.
Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars
- The Jaguars are more than a touchdown favorite against the Titans as they look to bounce back from last week’s blowout loss to the San Francisco 49ers, but are just 4-12 against the spread as home favorites since the start of the 2018 season.
- The Titans have yet to have a road game go over this season, going 0-for-5 on the year. The Jaguars have scored 23 points over the past two games, while Tennessee has combined to score 22 points in back-to-back losses.
- After storming out with four touchdowns in his first NFL start against the Atlanta Falcons, Titans rookie quarterback Will Levis has thrown for just 461 yards in his past two games on 78 attempts (only 5.9 yards per attempt) while throwing zero touchdowns to two interceptions. Something to watch as the Jaguars defense is tied for the most takeaways (18) in the NFL.
- Thanks to multiple games against Tennessee and games with Carolina and Tampa Bay still on the horizon, the Jaguars have the sixth easiest remaining schedule by opponent winning percentage.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Francisco 49ers
- Slump? What slump? The 49ers came off of their bye, went cross country and emphatically ended their three-game losing streak with a thorough 34-3 domination of a Jaguars team that had won five straight.
- Everything was clicking for San Fran, from Brock Purdy playing mistake-free (also had three touchdown passes) to a pass rush that just added former Washington DE Chase Young tying its season-high (from Week 1) with five sacks. The defense also forced four turnovers, three of those (two interceptions, fumble lost) from Jags QB Trevor Lawrence.
- One of the few low-lights, if you will, was RB Christian McCaffrey saw his record-tying touchdown streak come to an end at 17 games. He still produced 142 yards from scrimmage and is second only to Tyreek Hill in that category with 1,086.
- Tampa Bay snapped its four-game losing streak with a 20-6 home win over Tennessee. The Buccaneers’ defense put a discouraging Week 9 showing against Houston behind it and held the Titans to 209 total yards (only 42 rushing). It will take a similar effort against the 49ers and Tampa’s offense will have to do more damage on the ground than the 77 rushing yards (2.7 yards per carry) generated last Sunday.
- Bucs QB Baker Mayfield banged the thumb on his throwing hand late in the win over Tennessee but there appear to be no concerns about his availability for this week.
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills
- After losing back-to-back games, the Bills find themselves at 5-5, in 10th place in the AFC standings, and still having to play one of the toughest remaining schedules. That remaining schedule includes a gauntlet over the next four games with the Jets, Kansas City (away), Philadelphia (away) and Dallas.
- The biggest problem for the Bills is turnovers. Quarterback Josh Allen has been intercepted a league-worst 11 times while also fumbling four times. The Jets defense is one of the best in the league. It has made a habit of stopping top quarterbacks this season – including Allen, who they intercepted three times (while forcing two fumbles) in a season-opening overtime win.
- The Bills are 0-6 against the spread in their past six games overall, 0-5 against the spread in their past five games as a favorite, 0-4 in their past four games at home, and 0-4 against the spread in their past four games as a home favorite. The Jets, meanwhile, are 3-0 against the spread in their past three games against the Bills. The Bills are also 1-5 against the spread against teams with a losing record this season.
- The totals in the Jets’ past three games since their bye week have been 23, 33 and 18 points, respectively. Only one team – the Chargers – scored more than 20 points in those games, and the Chargers scored seven points on special teams. Given that, and the Bills’ struggles and their offensive coordinator change this week, the over/under is understandably somewhat low.
- Coming off of the bye, the expectation is that QB Matthew Stafford will play after missing the last game due to a thumb injury. Stafford also has a new backup in Carson Wentz. The former Eagle/Colt/Commander hasn’t played since Week 17 of last season. Wentz signed with the Rams last week, and the team subsequently released Brett Rypien, who started in Week 9 with Stafford sidelined.
- Whoever is under center needs to get the ball to WR Cooper Kupp. After missing the first four games because of a hamstring injury, Kupp posted back-to-back 100-yard efforts. Since then, however, he’s totaled 98 yards on eight catches over the past three games combined.
- One of the games Kupp missed was the season opener in Seattle, but rookie Puka Nacua picked up the slack, recording 10 catches for 119 yards in helping the Rams post an impressive 30-10 road win. Fellow wideout Tutu Atwell also had 119 receiving yards as Stafford threw for 334 and the defense held Seattle to 180 total yards.
- At 6-3, the Seahawks are tied with the 49ers in the NFC West. Half of Seattle’s victories have come from a Geno Smith-led game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime.
- Seahawks LB Boye Mafe has recorded a sack in seven straight games, a franchise record. He’s tied for 12th in the league with seven total sacks.
- After giving up 171 points in their first five games (36.2 points per game), the Broncos defense has done a complete 180 and allowed just 67 points over the past four games (16.5 points per game). They are 3-1 in that stretch of games that has included matchups with the Kansas City Chiefs (two times) and at Buffalo.
- The Joshua Dobbs story remains the most fascinating thing in the NFL. After showing up midseason, he immediately stepped into the lineup and has posted back-to-back games with a passer rating over 100, completed more than 66 percent of his passes and thrown three touchdowns to zero interceptions in consecutive wins. He just got there two weeks ago.
- The Broncos are a narrow favorite on Sunday night but are just 2-10-1 against the spread as favorites since the start of the 2022 season. They are also just 8-18-2 against the spread as home favorites since the 2017 season.
- The Vikings are 4-0-1 against the spread in road games this season, 5-0 in their past five games overall and 3-0 in their past three games as an underdog. They are also 3-0 against the spread in their past three when the line is a field goal or less in either direction (favorite or underdog).
Philadelphia Eagles at Kansas City Chiefs – Monday
- The Eagles and Chiefs have the best records in their respective conferences again for this Super Bowl LVII rematch.
- While the offense usually gets the most attention in Kansas City, the defense has carried this team in many ways. The Chiefs are fourth in the NFL in total defense, second in scoring, and fifth against the pass.
- Philadelphia’s D has been more of a Jekyll-and-Hyde operation. The Eagles are No. 1 in the league against the run but 28th against the pass. They also allow nearly six points more per game than the Chiefs (21.7 vs. 15.9).
- While the bye allowed both teams to rest and recover from some nagging injuries, Philadelphia will be without one of its key weapons. TE Dallas Goedert broke his forearm in the Eagles’ last game and will be sidelined for the foreseeable future. He’s third on the team in receptions (52), receiving yards (410) and touchdown catches (two). For comparison’s sake, the only Chief with more catches and receiving yards than Goedert is his counterpart, Travis Kelce.
(Photo of Jalen Hurts: Erick W. Rasco / Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)