Week 11 Staff Picks: Finding 2022's Most Disappointing Team
NFL Week 11 - Compiled by Vincent Verhei
Sometimes, gambling advice is objective—like in the NFL picks you get with FO+, for instance. But sometimes gambling advice is subjective. We're trying something new this week, with staff picks from the FO writers. We'll do this every week if it gets a good response: picks against the spread, straight-up upsets, and player prop bets the FO staff likes in Week 9 plus a bonus question each week. This week's bonus question asks about favorite bets looks at Nick Sirianni and the other candidates for coach of the year.
Lines are taken from the consensus at Vegas Insider.
Favorite Pick Against the Spread
Cale Clinton: Cleveland Browns (+7.5) at Buffalo Bills. The forecast for this weekend in Buffalo looks downright terrifying: 20- to 30-mph winds and boatloads of snow. Five Bills players, including Jordan Poyer and Matt Milano, have missed time this week with illness. The Browns are much better equipped to at least cover a low-scoring, run-heavy game. While I don't think Cleveland wins outright, this is giving shades of Week 13 against the New England Patriots last year.
Bryan Knowles: Los Angeles Rams (+3.5) at New Orleans Saints. I think this line is a point or two too soft as the chances of Matthew Stafford missing the game are being baked in; with the Rams refusing to give us any information on his status in the concussion protocol, that makes sense. Assuming Stafford is back, however, I assume they'll be competent. The Saints have scored a total of 23 points in the past two weeks; they're not blowing anyone out. You have to score points to cover a spread, and I have no faith in the Saints' ability to do that.
Ian O'Connor: Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5) at Indianapolis Colts. I'm not buying into a Colts resurgence based on one win against a trainwreck Raiders team. Indianapolis didn't win because Matt Ryan came out and looked like a brand new quarterback. There are still a lot of flaws on this Colts team. Despite the Eagles' loss to the Commanders, Philadelphia still had the ninth-best DVOA of Week 10 and was fourth best on offense. They're still second in DVOA (top five in both offense and defense), so I expect Philadelphia to win this one easily.
Jackson Roberts: Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5) at Indianapolis Colts. This line opened at -10, so I feel as though I'm getting huge value out of what was a very fluky loss for Philly on Monday night. Granted, the Birds will be without Dallas Goedert, who's currently second in DYAR among tight ends behind some guy named Kelce. But I'm feeling very good about betting against a brand new offensive pla-caller in his first matchup against a defense that isn't the Raiders. Jeff Saturday's one-week honeymoon comes crashing down against a vastly superior opponent.
Aaron Schatz: New York Jets (+3.5) at New England Patriots. I hate to say this one, since I'm a Patriots fan, but the New England win three weeks ago was built on special teams and interceptions. It's unlikely that the Patriots will dominate the Jets so much in special teams again, as they had one of the top five special teams games of the year so far (19.4% DVOA). That just means Zach Wilson has to control the interceptions and maybe throw one or two instead of three and the Jets should be good to keep this close even if they don't win outright. Both teams are strong on defense, but the Jets actually have the higher offensive DVOA this season.
Tom Strachan: Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5) at Indianapolis Colts. Whilst the Eagles slipped up against the Commanders and the Colts dispatched the moribund Raiders, I don't expect either performance to be sticky. The Colts are a struggling team, and whilst they might match up well against the Eagles run defense (which ranks 31st in DVOA over the last four weeks), I don't believe they can keep this close.
Vincent Verhei: New Orleans Saints (-3.5) over Los Angeles Rams. I would probably pick New Orleans here even if Cooper Kupp were healthy. Without him, I have no idea how L.A. moves the ball. The Saints may only need 17 points to cover. I think they get there.
Upset of the Week
Limited to teams that are underdogs by three points or more.
Cale Clinton: Chicago Bears (+3) at Atlanta Falcons. The Bears' rejuvenated offense has played back-to-back extremely competitive football games, failing to win either. This week, against the 26th-ranked rushing defense and a quarterback who can't throw a ball 20 yards downfield, they finally pick up a W.
Bryan Knowles: Tennessee Titans (+3) at Green Bay Packers. While I'm picking the Packers and their new-found receiving game this week, there's more than a little bit of upset potential here. Green Bay has proven they can lose to anyone at any time, and the 30th-ranked run defense could be easy pickings for Derrick Henry. If Christian Watson's breakout game was a fluke, look out.
Ian O'Connor: Pittsburgh Steelers (+3.5) vs. Cincinnati Bengals. T.J. Watt returned to the field for the first time since Week 1 and Pittsburgh had the league's best defensive DVOA of the week. Yes, it was against the Andy Dalton-led Saints, but it was the Steelers' second-best defensive performance since Week 1. Watt is a difference-maker, and with Minkah Fitzpatrick possibly returning this week, Pittsburgh will give the Cincinnati offense a tough time like they did in Week 1. Now, Pittsburgh may also struggle against a top-10 Bengals defense, but this game should be close throughout, giving Kenny Pickett a chance to make a play to win it. If he has even a decent game, Pittsburgh could pull the upset at
Heinz Acrisure Stadium.
Jackson Roberts: Houston Texans (+3) vs. Washington Commanders. Look, my picks in this column have been SO bad that I have to start betting on teams I have not dared to touch all season. Granted, Houston has been dreadful, but this has all the makings of a letdown you could ever dream of for Washington. Short week, emotional upset win, back-to-back road games, a quarterback narrowly missing out on back-breaking interceptions week after week … this just isn't a team that should be road favorites by more than a field goal against anyone, even the worst team in the league.
Aaron Schatz: New York Jets (+3.5) at New England Patriots. See above.
Tom Strachan: Detroit Lions (+3) at New York Giants. The Lions come into this game on the back of a hard-earned win against the Bears on the road, and I like their chances to hang around in this game too. The Giants defense has been impressive at times this year, but they are still ranked 24th in DVOA and have had three games finish with less than five points deciding the outcome. The Giants defense also ranks slightly worse at home (27th) than on the road (24th) so it's hard to give them too much of a home advantage. The Lions might not win it all, but they can keep this game close thanks to their offensive skill players.
Vincent Verhei: New York Jets (+3.5) at New England Patriots. Truthfully, I'm a little surprised the Patriots are favored here. I don't like their offense against the Jets defense at all. Now, I'm not confident enough in Zach Wilson to actually put my money on the line. But if you ask me who I think is going to win, it's the Jets.
Do You Have a Particular Player You Like to Put Up Really Strong Fantasy Points or Go Over His Betting Props This Week?
Jackson Roberts: Cordarrelle Patterson, RB, ATL. Patterson gets to face off against the Bears, who, for all the improvements they have made offensively, have become a trainwreck defensively. They are allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs on the season, they have allowed 115 points in their last three games, and they traded away their best tackler. Plus, the Falcons' defense is just as bad, so this game figures to be a touchdown-fest.
Ian O'Connor: Brian Robinson Jr., RB, WAS. Brian Robinson is the next man up against the Houston Texans atrocious run defense. The Texans were dead last in rush defense DVOA until last week, when the Browns ugly performance dropped Cleveland to last. Nevertheless, Houston is still 31st against the run and is allowing a whopping 181 rushing yards per game this season. They have allowed less than 136 yards only once and gave up 302 yards to the Derrick Henry-Dontrell Hilliard combo in Week 8. Robinson has struggled with efficiency behind a Washington line ranked 29th in adjusted line yards, but he should receive enough volume to have a strong fantasy day. The Texans have also allowed eight rushing touchdowns over their last four games, and have surrendered multiple rushing touchdowns in half of their games this season.
Aaron Schatz: A.J. Brown, WR, PHI. The Colts rank 29th against opposing WR1s compared to ninth against opposing WR2s. The Colts also rank 30th in the league in YAC allowed per catch. They rank better if you limit that to wide receivers, but they are still below average.
Vincent Verhei: Antonio Gibson, RB, WAS. Two weeks of picking "running back facing the Houston Texans" has rewarded me with 272 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. I'm not getting off this train now. But which Washington runner to pick? Brian Robinson out-carried Antonio Gibson almost two-to-one on Monday night, but Robinson offers close to zero receiving value—only four catches for 7 yards in six games (four of them starts!) Gibson has usually been good for three catches for a few dozen yards per week, and he has scored touchdowns in three of his last four games. Let's take Gibson and his versatility.
Which team has been the biggest disappointment compared to your preseason expectations, and can they turn things around?
Cale Clinton: Las Vegas Raiders. Can I give a blanket answer to the whole AFC West not named Kansas City? With sky-high expectations coming into the season, only Kansas City has come close to meeting them through 10 weeks. Of the three, the Raiders are hands-down the biggest disappointment. A playoff team (by the skin of their teeth) in 2021, the Raiders roster got materially better, they got a new head coach, and it has been downhill ever since. They have blown multiple three-score leads, had big-money signings like Chandler Jones end up as no-shows in terms of impact, and Davante Adams—arguably the best receiver in football headed into this season—has been turned into a boom-or-bust player. Josh McDaniels looks more and more like a one-season coach as the weeks go on.
Bryan Knowles: Los Angeles Chargers. I'll spread out the, er, love, and mention L.A. We thought Justin Herbert was going to take a step into the top tier of quarterbacks, and a ferocious pass defense would keep them competitive in the AFC West, perhaps even winning the division. Well, nope. Injuries have hampered them offensively, and the much-heralded defense really hasn't come together. I don't think there's time for them to turn things around this season, and the whispers have to start about Brandon Staley and Joe Lombardi after the Chargers' strategic regression.
Jackson Roberts: Denver Broncos. There are lots of bad teams who were supposed to be good, but none have become fodder for the entire football universe quite like the Broncos. They tied themselves long-term to a quarterback who has dropped into the bottom quartile of the league in DYAR and finds an innovative way to make people cringe almost weekly. They hired a head coach who has quickly mastered the art of calling the absolute worst play for any given situation. And they gift-wrapped their first-round pick to Seattle, which stands to both make the playoffs and draft in the top 10. Forget turning things around, I'm sitting here wondering what else could possibly go wrong before the season mercifully comes to an end.
Aaron Schatz: Los Angeles Rams. The Broncos offense is the most disappointing unit in the league, but their defense has been so good -- and so much better than I projected, when I went around all preseason talking about how last year's defense was a statistical mirage -- that I can't say they've been completely disappointing. But the Rams are a disaster. Their offensive line is a wreck, the biggest reason they have dropped to 27th in offensive DVOA. They'll be even worse going forward now that they don't have Cooper Kupp. The defense is a little better, league average, but you're seeing there the effect of the stars-and-scrubs model because the roster is really stretched beyond the top players such as Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. The good thing for Rams fans is that flags fly forever and championships don't go away just because you suck the next season. I bet most fans in the NFL would trade a lost losing year like this for a championship the year before.
Tom Strachan: Los Angeles Rams. I'm not sure anyone saw this kind of season in store for the Super Bowl champions. Many teams find it hard to sustain success in the form of deep playoff runs, but the Rams can't even sustain drives. Week after week the Rams running backs put up stat lines like "six attempts for 21 yards" as the offensive line struggles to give them any help. Matthew Stafford ranks 22nd in QBR after being fourth in 2021, and I don't think it would surprise anyone if we get to the offseason and the team reveals the elbow injury he has dealt with since camp has actually been a big factor in his play. The Rams aren't built for a rebuild with the draft picks cupboard very empty, and if there aren't signs of life then the team will have a difficult task to replenish this team for 2023.
Vincent Verhei: Denver Broncos. By a mile. I thought their floor was an eight- or nine-win team that played a lot of shootouts. Instead their defense has been electric but the offense has been anemic. They're scoring only 14.6 points per game, fewest since the Josh Rosen Cardinals in 2018. I do expect them to improve somewhat down the stretch, but not enough to make them relevant in the playoff race.