GREG COTE’S NFL WEEK 11 PICKS
DOLPHINS THIS WEEK
RAIDERS (5-5) at DOLPHINS (6-3)
Line: MIA by 13 1/2.
Cote’s pick: MIA, 34-16.
TV: 1 p.m., CBS.
Call it a productive bye week for Miami. The Bills, Jets and Patriots all lost last week while the Dolphins rested, got healthier and recharged batteries. (Oh, and Tyreek Hill got married.) All right, now back to work! Vegas played last Sunday night, further accentuating the Fins’ rest and prep advantage here. And Miami expects to have RB De’Von Achane back from the injured list, a huge boost. All of this explains Week 11’s biggest point spread, as does the Raiders being 1-4 on the road and Miami a regal 4-0 at home. (Do we sense a “but” around the corner?) But Las Vegas is not be taken lightly. They are a revitalized 2-0 under interim coach Antonio Pierce. RB Josh Jacobs has rediscovered his mojo and is lately looking like the guy who won the NFL rushing title in 2022. And Raiders have a Grade A defensive havoc-wreaker in Maxx Crosby, who is capable of really bothering Tua Tagovailoa. Having said all that, Tua doesn’t hold the ball long enough to give Crosby much of a chance, and Vegas has a bunch of holes on defense surrounding him. And Miami plays to a whole different level at home.
GAME OF THE WEEK
EAGLES (8-1) at CHIEFS (7-2)
Line: KC by 2 1/2.
Cote’s pick: KC, 27-23.
TV: 8:15 p.m. Monday, ABC/ESPN.
Bulletin: Patrick Mahomes reveals he wears the same underwear in every game. Dear Pat: Too much information! Now on to the pick. Rare treat: This is only ninth time in 56 years of possibility that the two Super Bowl teams have met the following season. The reigning champ is 6-2 in the immediate rematch and I like K.C. continuing that trend here after beating Philly in the SB, 38-35. Now the Chiefs add a home-field edge, not to mention the outstanding support of Taylor Swift. The Monday night stage could not have a bigger game, and both teams coming off a bye should find each at peak performance. The result will affect Super Bowl odds and Mahomes vs. Jalen Hurts will shape the MVP race. Philly has lost its last six games in a row when an underdog, and the knee issue Hurts is playing through limits his run threat — a huge part of the Eagles attack. Defensively, K.C. is good enough to have held Miami to 14 points. Philly is great vs. the run but susceptible in the secondary, and nobody is better suited to take full advantage than the guy who plays every game wearing the same underwear.
UPSET OF THE WEEK
VIKINGS (6-4) at BRONCOS (4-5)
Line: DEN by 2 1/2.
Cote’s pick: Vikings, 24-20.
TV: 8:20 p.m., NBC.
“AAAWWWK!” trumpets the Upset Bird. “Minnesaawwk!” Not a scintillating prime-time matchup, but an interesting one -- especially if Vikings star WR Justin Jefferson makes his long-awaited return from a hamstring injury Sunday night. Two hot teams as well, with Minny on a five-game win streak and Denver at three in a row. Jefferson’s return seemed possible as of Thursday and, with RB Alexander Mattison in concussion protocol and TE T.J. Hockenson (ribs) iffy, it would be well-timed indeed and a huge lift for QB Joshua Dobbs. Minnesota is 4-1 on the road and I like them a bit better on both sides of the ball. “A curious phrase, ‘both sides of the ball’,” notes U-Bird, rightly. “Justin Jeffersaawwk!”
THE REST OF WEEK 11:
Thursday night: @Ravens (-3 1/2) over Bengals, 24-23: Find that full prediction capsule separately here.
@Browns (6-3, -1) over Steelers (6-3), 16-10: Deshaun Watson, lost to season-ending shoulder surgery, is Cleveland’s $230 million boondoggle as team turns to young Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Two strong defenses winning despite bad offenses make for year’s lowest over/under at 32 1/2. Steelers won this division game in Week 2 but Earthtones are 4-1 at home and their defense will carry the day.
@Lions (7-2, -7 1/2) over Bears (3-7), 30-20: QB Justin Fields is expected back after four games out with a thumb injury, and Bears pass rush has been better since trade for Montez Sweat. But Chicago is on a 1-8 skid on the road, and Lions QB Jared Goff should have a fantasy-friendly day vs. a weak secondary.
Chargers (4-5, -3) over @Packers (3-6), 24-17: Gee Bees have lost five in a row as an underdog, and Jordan Love has been really bad lately and isn’t the guy to capitalize on LAC’s weak pass defense. Should see lots of Austin Ekeler vs. Pack’s very beatable run defense. Keenan Allen (shoulder) was iffy to play but Bolts (and Justin Herbert) are hopeful.
@Commanders (4-6, -9 1/2) over Giants (2-8), 20-16: NYG has won three straight in this division matchup including 14-7 last month, but that trend ends here. Biggies have lost five in a row on the road, and Tommy DeVito behind a bad offensive line spells mucho trouble scoring. QB Sam Howell quietly having big season for Comms. Bet line flatters Washington, though, so lean G-Men with points.
Cowboys (6-3, -10 1/2) over @Panthers (1-8), 31-13: Carolina has had since last Thursday to prepare ad all three Dallas losses have come on road. So idea of Cats keeping it close is not insane. Still unlikely, though. Dak Prescott to CeeDee Lamb is hottest air combo in NFL, and Micah Parsons should dominate Panthers’ O-line and amplify Bryce Young’s struggles.
@Jaguars (6-3, -7) over Titans (3-6), 27-17: Jax was smooth-sailing until last week’s 34-3 comeuppance-loss to San Fran, but Trevor Lawrence should bounce back big vs. a bad Titans secondary. Jags are on a 2-8 skid vs. teams with a losing record, though, so better not take Tennessee lightly even though Titans have lost eight straight on road and the bloom is off Will Levis. Need to get Derrick Henry going for any upset shot.
@Texans (5-4, -4 1/2) over Cardinals (2-8), 28-16: Arizona is better with the return of Kyler Murray, and the small-ish point spread suggests concern Houston may be in letdown mode after big upset of Cincy last week. But C.J. Stroud and a solid defensed make Texans a legit playoff challenger, and Devin Singletary is pointed to another big game vs. Cardbirds’ soft run D. Did I mention Zona is 0-5 on the road?
@49ers (6-3, -11 1/2) over Buccaneers (4-5), 31-10: Return of Deebo Samuel was the spark the Niners and especially Brock Purdy needed, while, on defense, the trade for Chase Young has made an already big pass riush even better. Nick Bosa and Young will make it a long day for Baker Mayfield.
@Bills (5-5, -7) over Jets (4-5), 23-17: Buffalo’s slide to mediocrity including last week’s loss to Denver and Josh Allen’s leading role in it with a league-high 11 interceptions got offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey fired this week. Allen takes the blame. And should. Too late to save Dorsey, expect a big performance from Allen and the Bills. NYJ has won two of past three in this AFC East series including 22-16 in overtime in Week 1, but Planes have lost eight of past 11 trips to Buffalo including three straight. Bills are too desperate to look ahead, but with Eagles and Chiefs up next, this has a must-win feel for a Buffalo squad struggling to stay relevant in the playoff convo.
@Rams (3-6, +1) over Seahawks (6-3), 23-20: Upset! (Well, a mini-one, anyway.) L.A. enjoys a 9-4 run in this division series including a comfy 30-13 win in Week 1, and it’s an 8-3 run when Rams are home vs. Seattle. Plus the Bighorns are coming off a bye and expect to have QB Matthew Stafford back from a thumb injury.
[Note: Betting lines are courtesy Caesars Sportsbook as of late afternoon Thursday].
OFF THIS WEEK
Colts (5-5; next vs. Buccaneers): Beating Patriots in Germany was Indy’s second straight win to lift Colts (for now) onto the far periphery of AFC wild-card contention.
Falcons (4-6; next vs. Saints): Atlanta’s loss in Arizona was its third in a row, but around-.500 is enough to keep hope alive in the weak NFC South.
Patriots (2-8; next @Giants): Falling to Colts in Frankfurt marked a third straight L for beleaguered Bill Belichick, but NYG on deck sounds the Winnable Game alarm across New England.
Saints (5-5; next @Falcons): Even with a loss at Minnesota last week, erratic N’Awlins somehow leads the sad NFC South entering Week 11.
HOW THE DARTS LANDED
Never going to be OK with 8-6 straight-up, but, the way we’d been going lately, 7-6-1 against the spread feels like a party. We nailed our Upset of the Week with Cardinals beating Falcons (“Aawwk!”), and also had a trio of dog-with-points covers by the Browns, Commanders and Raiders. (The push was Lions’ 3-point win.) We’re still hiking an incline to get up over .600 overall and over .500 ATS -- both a must -- but we have plenty of season still left. And plenty of fight, too. [Note: Our Thursday night pick was @Ravens (-3 1/2) over Bengals, 24-23. Find that full prediction capsule separately here.]
Week 10: 8-6, .571 overall; 7-6-1, .538 vs. spread.
Season: 88-62, .587 overall; 67-77-6, .467 vs. spread.