Week 11 picks: Never bet against our livers

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Nov 12, 2008



Evidently, we can't stand prosperity.
 
After clawing our way to a winning ATS record for the season, our picks went 5-8-1 versus the line in Week 10. We have now dipped back below .500 overall, sitting at 69-70-5.
 
On the bright side, we continue to pick straight-up winners at an impressive clip. Our 8-6 mark for the week puts us at 90-54 (.625) on the year.
 
But there's a lot of football left to be played and still time to go on a roll against the spread. Never underestimate the heart of a champion ... or the liver of a drunk.
 
Here's how we see Week 11 playing out:
 
N.Y. Jets at New England (-3)
Some spice was added to this rivalry on Monday when the Jets re-signed longtime Patriots cornerback Ty Law, who spent the 2005 season in New York. He joins a team that has won five out of six, with the only loss coming in overtime. The Jets also top our Scoreability Index, but since New England ranks sixth in Bendability, the visitors may come up short in this battle for first place in the AFC East.
 
The pick: Patriots 20, Jets 16
 
Denver at Atlanta (-6)                                  
With first-year head coach Mike Smith pushing all the right buttons, the Falcons have continued their remarkable turnaround. Not only are they 6-3 and in playoff contention, but they have risen to No. 3 in Bendability – after finishing last season at No. 25. Still, the Broncos, who have had extra time to rest and prepare following their comeback win on Thursday night, should score enough to keep it close.
 
The pick: Falcons 27, Broncos 22
 
Oakland at Miami (-10½)                 
For the second straight week, the Dolphins host a West Coast team for an early game. They held on for a 2-point win against Seattle last week, but the margin is likely to be more comfortable this time around. In their two previous road games under Tom Cable, the Raiders have lost by 31 and 19.
 
The pick: Dolphins 26, Raiders 13
 
Baltimore at N.Y. Giants (-6½)                                
As the combatants from Super Bowl XXXV square off, both are considering themselves strong contenders to reach the title game this season. However, there's a big difference between them in terms of Quality Wins. Against teams that currently own a winning record, the Giants are 4-0 while the Ravens are just 1-3. Advantage: G-Men.
 
The pick: Giants 23, Ravens 16
                       
Houston at Indianapolis (-8½)                      
The Colts have gotten hot at the right time, adding a pair of Quality Wins by knocking off conference foes New England and Pittsburgh in successive weeks. The Texans, meanwhile, have defined streaky: 4 losses, then 3 wins, then 2 losses. A single victory would keep that pattern intact, but Indy just has too much offensive firepower.
 
The pick: Colts 30, Texans 23
 
Tennessee (-3) at Jacksonville                                
We've picked the Titans to suffer their first loss in each of the past two weeks, but they keep finding ways to grind out victories. Although the 4-5 Jaguars seem like a less formidable opponent than Green Bay or Chicago, a win here could save their season. Jacksonville will give maximum effort but ultimately fail to score enough against the Bendability leader.  
 
The pick: Titans 17, Jaguars 16
 
Chicago at Green Bay (-3½)                        
The Bears haven't been beaten by a Green Bay QB other than Brett Favre since Don Majkowski led the Packers to a sweep of the season series in 1989. Aaron Rodgers will be taking his first snaps in this great NFC North rivalry with a throwing shoulder that still isn't 100 percent. In a matchup of the teams that rank second (Green Bay) and third (Chicago) in Scoreability, we'll take the one getting more than a field goal.
 
The pick: Packers 23, Bears 20
 
Philadelphia (-9) at Cincinnati                                  
After a bye week to savor their first victory of the season, it's back to reality for the Bengals. They own the league's worst record against Quality Opponents (0-6) and must now face the explosive Eagles, who are tied for third in our Big Play Index. All of Philly's wins have been by more than a touchdown, and this should be another.
 
The pick: Eagles 34, Bengals 19
 
New Orleans (-5½) at Kansas City              
This game could feature the return of two marquee running backs. Larry Johnson will be active for the Chiefs after missing four games due to personal issues and suspension, while Reggie Bush is expected back for the Saints after a knee injury sidelined him for the last two contests. Despite their 1-8 record, the Chiefs have been competitive of late, which suggests that they can hang around in this one.
 
The pick: Saints 35, Chiefs 30
 
Detroit at Carolina (-14)
Coming off a game in which he posted a pathetic passer rating of 12.3, Jake Delhomme will be very happy to welcome the Lions. Their Defensive Passer Rating is a ridiculous 111.2 – easily the worst in the league. With Detroit winless and seemingly rudderless, Carolina should be able to name the score here.                              
                       
The pick: Panthers 31, Lions 13          
 
Minnesota at Tampa Bay (-3½)       
The Vikings have a fantastic front seven on defense, ranking third in rushing yards allowed, sixth in sacks and third in our Defensive Hog Index. That could spell trouble for the pedestrian offense of the Bucs, who check in at No. 22 in Scoreability. With Adrian Peterson, the league's leading rusher, controlling the clock, we'll run with the 'dog.
 
The pick: Buccaneers 20, Vikings 17
 
St. Louis at San Francisco (-6½)      
It's a clash between former linebackers who now serve as interim head coaches! Jim Haslett leads the 2-7 Rams against Mike Singletary and the 2-7 49ers! FOX will have a hard time attracting viewers, but the points look attractive here, especially since San Francisco ranks dead last in Bendability.
 
The pick: 49ers 24, Rams 20
 
Arizona (-3) at Seattle                       
Matt Hasselbeck will be back under center for the Seahawks, who have dropped to No. 30 in Passing Yards Per Attempt during his absence. The Cardinals, meanwhile, are No. 3 in that category and still rank first in points per game. Still, Arizona hasn't won in Seattle since 2002, and the home crowd at Qwest Field might actually have reason to cheer.
 
The pick: Seahawks 27, Cardinals 24
 
San Diego at Pittsburgh (-5)                         
Before the season, this game looked like a showdown between perennial AFC powers. But the Chargers have stumbled to a 4-5 record, thanks in large part to the lowest-ranked pass defense in the league. The Steelers have lost two of their last three and will be tested by this desperate bunch from San Diego.
 
The pick: Steelers 23, Chargers 20
 
Dallas (-1½) at Washington              
Tony Romo's return apparently makes a huge difference, as the Cowboys have been installed as road favorites against a division foe. From the line, you'd never guess that the Redskins have a better record (6-3 vs. 5-4) and more Quality Wins (3 vs. 2). However, workhorse back Clinton Portis is likely to miss the game because of a knee injury, swinging the balance in favor of Dallas.
 
The pick: Cowboys 24, Redskins 19
 
Cleveland at Buffalo (-5)
The Bills are reeling, losers of three straight and four out of five. The Browns aren't doing much better, having blown double-digit leads at home in their last two contests. Making his first road start, Brady Quinn could struggle against a Buffalo D that ranks No. 14 in Defensive Passer Rating despite recording only 5 interceptions.
 
The pick: Bills 26, Browns 20

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