What is worth betting in the NFL in Week 11? And what are the best plays to help you make smart wagering decisions?
Betting analysts Eric Moody, Tyler Fulghum, Seth Walden, Anita Marks and Aaron Schatz are here to provide their thoughts.
Note: Odds by ESPN BET.
Schatz: I’ll take the Vikings +2.5 in this one. Everyone knows the Broncos’ defense has improved in recent weeks after a historically horrible start, but I’m not sure people understand that the Vikings’ defense has been even better. In Weeks 6-10, the Broncos rank ninth in defensive DVOA. The Vikings rank sixth. The Broncos have an average offense, and the Vikings I think can have an average offense, even if you consider that in the long run Joshua Dobbs is unlikely to play as well as he has the past two weeks and he’s not better than Kirk Cousins was for the first few weeks. So even in Denver, I’ll take the Vikings as long as I can get the points.
Fulghum: I’m more inclined to take the Broncos -2.5 than I am the underdog Vikings, but it’s certainly not a strong conviction, just a lean. Dobbs has been incredible both in Arizona and Minnesota this season, but Denver is a very tough place to win.
My favorite way to bet this game, though, is leaning into what Sean Payton is showing us with his RBs. Javonte Williams is dominating the Denver backfield and I want to bet on that trend continuing. Williams has 73 of 102 RB opportunities the past three games (71.6%), including touch totals of 30 and 25 in each of the last two games. He’s averaging 101.3 yards from scrimmage in those three games. Javonte Williams OVER 88.5 rush + receiving yards is a play that I like.
Checking in on the Super Bowl futures market. Eight teams are 12-1 or better to be crowned champs: Chiefs (+450), Eagles (+500), 49ers (+500), Ravens (+800), Cowboys (+1000), Lions (+1000), Dolphins (+1000), Bengals (+1200). If you had to bet on one of these teams at these odds, where are you laying your money?
Schatz: My DVOA metrics are driving the Baltimore bandwagon this season, so I have to say Ravens +800. We still have the Ravens at No. 1 in overall DVOA and third in Super Bowl odds behind the Chiefs and 49ers, ahead of the Lions and Eagles. One important factor here is that there’s no reason to believe that Baltimore’s offensive problems in the fourth quarter will continue in the future. There’s no predictive ability to quarter splits and the best predictor of how the Ravens will do late in close games is the fact that their offense has played very well. Their defense has been even better and their special teams are likely to come around because, come on, they’re the Baltimore Ravens. So this could be a dangerous team that’s getting it done in all three phases come January, even though close losses make it less likely that they will get the No. 1 seed and bye.
Tyler’s best bet for Bucs vs. 49ers
Tyler Fulghum explains his best bet when the Buccaneers play the 49ers this weekend.
Walder: My heart says to follow Aaron with the Ravens, but FPI is telling me the answer is 49ers (+500). This is the most efficient passing team in the NFL — the most important aspect of the sport! — and it plays in the easier conference and therefore has an easier path to the Super Bowl. FPI puts the 49ers chances at 21% which, if correct, makes this bet a value.
Fulghum: I think there are three teams that stand in a class of their own in terms of Super Bowl probability. Two of them are in the NFC and one of them has Patrick Mahomes. My pick to win the Super Bowl before the season was San Francisco, so give me the 49ers (+500) at these prices.
What’s your favorite game to bet this week and why?
Why Tyler is laying a ‘big number’ with the Dolphins
Tyler Fulghum explains why he’s taking the points with the Dolphins when they face the Raiders this weekend.
Schatz: The pick most favored by my projections is Raiders +13.5 at the Miami Dolphins. Yes, the Raiders have been pretty bad this season. Yes, they’re starting a rookie fourth-round pick at quarterback. Yes, the jolt of energy from the replacement of Josh McDaniels with Antonio Pierce will eventually wear off. But 13.5 is a big line against a Miami team that hasn’t played as well on offense lately (only 10th in DVOA since Week 6) and has issues on both defense (22nd) and special teams (25th). Plus, betting big underdogs is fun! Go, backdoor cover, go!
Why Tyler Fulghum likes Garrett Wilson and the Jets vs. Bills
Tyler Fulghum pinpoints Garrett Wilson getting the over in receiving yards as a potential bet vs. the Bills.
Walder: Give me the Bills (-7) vs. the Jets. The Bills are a team with an offense that, statistically, has been very efficient and yet they made a change at coordinator. The Jets have been completely incapable on offense and yet are doing nothing different. The only reason Buffalo has looked bad is turnovers, and I’ll bank all day on that being an area with plenty of luck – or in the Bills case, lack thereof. Ultimately Buffalo is in a different class from the Jets and is home, so both I – and FPI – think they’ll cover the touchdown spread.
Why Tyler Fulghum likes the over in Cardinals-Texans
Tyler Fulghum fancies the Cardinals to cover and expects lots of points to be scored between Arizona and Houston on Sunday.
Fulghum: My favorite game of the Sunday slate is easily Cardinals (2-8) at Texans (5-4). Who would have ever thought? Well, it does have the highest total (48.5) of any Week 11 game! Kyler Murray returned in week 10 and immediately led the Cardinals to a victory. CJ Stroud has become the darling of the league – even garnering MVP consideration on such shows as Get Up! and ESPN Bet Live. Despite Stroud’s thoroughly impressive play and the Cardinals overall record, sharp money has already moved this spread in favor of Arizona from +5.5 to +4.5. I agree with it. I think we get an entertaining game with these two quarterbacks as the catalyst, but I’ll take the Cardinals +4.5 and think we’ve got a live dog if you’re interested in Arizona ML (+185).
Moody: Dolphins -13.5. While I typically steer clear of double-digit spreads, this particular matchup has me intrigued. The Raiders’ defense has been effective in containing opposing receivers this season. However, facing Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, it obvious that Las Vegas is not dealing with your average wide receiver duo. The Dolphins are an offensive powerhouse, currently leading in both total yards and points scored per game. Also, Miami’s 4-0 record against the spread at home adds another layer of confidence. With the bye week behind them, Miami will be eager to get back to work against the Raiders on Sunday.
Marks: 49ers Team Total OVER 26.5. The return of Trent Williams made things a lot easier for Brock Purdy and the 49ers offense last week against the Jaguars. Purdy and Niners are good at home, averaging over 30 PPG, and Purdy is great against the blitz – which the Bucs do at the 4th highest rate. Tampa’s defense is 28th against the pass, and 32nd on 3rd down, expect the 49ers to roll.
What’s your favorite prop bet on Sunday?
Fulghum: Sam Howell OVER 34.5 pass attempts (-118). I don’t see any reason to stop making this prop bet. Howell leads the league in attempts (397) and has 41+ pass attempts in 6 of his last 7 starts. The game environment may seem like it won’t require Howell to pass a lot as a 9-point favorite at home against the hapless Giants, but I don’t think that’s going to stop OC Eric Bieniemy from dialing up a ton of drop backs.
Schatz: The Chicago Bears allow an opponent-adjusted 58 receiving yards per game by running backs, and rank 31st in DVOA on these passes. We know the Lions like to use Jahmyr Gibbs in the passing game and he has over 30 receiving yards in each of his last three games. So even with David Montgomery back to share carries, I like Gibbs OVER 25.5 receiving yards.
Walder: Dexter Lawrence II OVER 3.5 tackles + assists (-122). My model forecasts 4.4 tackles + assists for Lawrence and a large part of that is the expected game flow in this game. The Giants are 9.5-point underdogs against the Commanders, and that means Washington – typically a very pass-heavy team – will probably be more run-heavy than usual. That plays into Lawrence’s over.
Moody: Amon-Ra St. Brown OVER 84.5 receiving yards. St. Brown has averaged 8.6 targets and 102.6 receiving yards per game this season. In addition, St. Brown has exceeded 100 yards in four consecutive games. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, he’s gained the third most yards against zone coverage this season, and the Bears play zone a lot on defense. St. Brown has averaged 90.5 receiving yards per game in his last two games against the Bears. At Ford Field on Sunday, he should continue to dominate.
Marks: Sam Howell OVER 245.5 Total Passing Yards -114. Howell leads the league in yards and completions, and he has over 300 passing yards three weeks in a row. The Giants love to blitz and Howell is the NFL’s 11th leading passer when you bring five or more pass rushers. Big Blue is 29th against the pass, allowing 7.7 yards per pass attempt.
Is there anything else you’re playing Sunday?
Schatz: This line may move some more before Sunday, but for now Steelers +1 is available, and I’m taking it. This is a really bad matchup for Browns rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. The Steelers are No. 1 in DVOA against short passes but 20th against deep passes. That’s not something DTR can take advantage of because arm strength was one of his weaknesses coming out of UCLA. In addition, the Steelers allow 5.1 net yards per pass with a blitz compared to 7.3 net yards per pass without one. Think they’re going to bring some heat against the rookie? What are the chances he can handle it? So the Browns will use larger personnel and try to run the ball more to protect the rookie … and it so happens the Steelers are better in base personnel than nickel this season. As good as the Browns defense is, I trust Kenny Pickett to get a few points more than I trust DTR.
Walder: DeMarcus Lawrence UNDER 0.5 sacks (-114). Lawrence is having a solid season with an 18% pass rush win rate, but he doesn’t play a ton – he’s on the field rushing the passer on 52% of clear pass rushing situations, well behind, for example, Micah Parsons at 74%. That lower number of opportunities is a big reason why my model puts the under at -181, after removing half-sack pushes.
Fulghum: 49ers Team Total OVER 26.5 (-130). The 49ers emerged from the bye and reminded the rest of the league that they are likely the most formidable collection of talent in the NFL. Brock Purdy and the 49ers’ passing game are in a great spot against a Tampa Bay pass funnel defense. His offense is fully healthy again with WR Deebo Samuel and LT Trent Williams back. Even the Niner defense is live to score or create a short field with the addition of Chase Young already yielding tremendous results.
Moody: Travis Etienne Jr. OVER 67.5 rushing yards. Over the last three games, the Titans’ defense have allowed the 10th most rushing yards per game and rank 19th in run stop win rate. Etienne has averaged 17.8 rushing attempts per game this season. According to the odds, Jacksonville is favored by seven, so they should be playing with a lead. Considering how Trevor Lawrence is playing right now, the Jaguars have the best chance of winning this game by relying heavily on Etienne and the running game.