Pawtucket Times

NFL best bets for Week 11: Justin Fields keeps getting better

- Neil Greenberg

So: Last week was not my best week. None of my picks – not the Dallas Cowboys, not the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams, nor Miami Dolphins quarterbac­k Tua Tagovailoa – cooperated. In fact, you could argue they all conspired against me. I won’t take it personally, but they should know that we know what happened.

Let’s start with Dallas, a best bet over the Green Bay Packers. The Cowboys jumped out early and had a 14-point lead at the end of the third quarter, giving America’s Team a 95 percent win probabilit­y, per ESPN. Certainly they should have covered a 4½-point spread, right? After all, they were 1800 all-time when leading by at least 14 points through three quarters, and 195-0 if you include the playoffs. Dear reader, it pains me to say: They could not. The Packers scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, forced overtime and then walked off with a 31-28 win thanks to Mason Crosby’s 28yard field goal.

Meanwhile, Arizona and Los Angeles went into the half with a score of 17-3, giving us hope the under would cash. Nope. Backup quarterbac­ks Colt McCoy and John Wolford led their offenses to a combined 24 points in the second half, busting the under. The game was tied, 3-3, at the first half’s two-minute warning, at which point the under felt perfectly safe. Still, the total moved down in the days before the game, indicating that our process was sound. Finally, my player prop – Tagovailoa finishing with under 268½ passing yards – would also bust with his 285-yard effort, despite the quarterbac­k having just 42 passing yards in the first quarter.

The lone bright spot was the Minnesota Vikings beating the Buffalo Bills outright in overtime, cashing the Vikings +6½ ticket advocated earlier in the week before the uncertaint­y around Bills quarterbac­k Josh Allen was resolved. Allen did play, but he was not at his best, tossing two intercepti­ons in the loss.

Best bets record: 9-12 Player props record: 5-2 Picks were made against the consensus point spreads as of Tuesday morning; if odds have since changed, picks are locked in at the earlier odds.

Chicago Bears at Atlanta Falcons (-3)

Sunday, 1 p.m. | Fox Pick: Chicago Bears +3 or +140 on the money line

Chicago’s offense has improved over the last three weeks, with each week better than the last. Quarterbac­k Justin Fields is leading this charge, largely on the ground, where he’s produced an average of 128 rushing yards per game. He’s also got four rushing touchdowns over that three-game span.

I’d expect another big game against Atlanta. The Falcons are allowing 6.3 yards per carry to quarterbac­ks this season – the league average is 4.7 – and opposing quarterbac­ks are producing 12 more points per game than expected on the ground after factoring in the down, distance and field position of each rush against Atlanta, per data from TruMedia. That gives the Falcons the NFL’s worst rushing defense against quarterbac­ks this season.

Detroit Lions at New York Giants (-3½)

Sunday, 1 p.m. | Fox

Pick: Detroit Lions +3½, playable to +3

The Giants have scored 21 more points than expected off turnovers in 2022, the fifth-highest total in the league. The Lions have barely benefited at all from turnovers, scoring three fewer points than expected. Otherwise, despite their records, these have actually been very similar teams. New York has been the 19th best team after adjusting for opponent, per Football Outsiders. Detroit is ranked at No. 22. Pro Football Focus ranks the Giants 29th and the Lions 27th after looking at each play and judging them on their merits, not just the results.

My own power rankings have this game Giants – 1, but I wouldn’t wager on Detroit getting fewer points than the key number of three. At less than that, I would back the Lions on the money line.

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