Week 11 NFL game picks: Cowboys edge out Chiefs; Saints get back on track with win over Eagles

Gregg Rosenthal went 5-8-1 straight up and 6-8 against the spread on his Week 10 NFL picks, bringing his season totals to 84-65-1 and 76-72-1, respectively. How will he fare in Week 11? His picks are below.

The lines below provided by Caesars are current as of Noon ET on Thursday, Nov. 18 unless otherwise noted below.

SUNDAY, NOV. 21

New Orleans Saints
ML: +125 · 5-4
Philadelphia Eagles
ML: -145 · 4-6


Like Browns-Patriots in the AFC last week, this is a massive swing game in the NFC wild-card race. The Eagles have found an offensive identity that can't be denied and their line is playing at a higher level than the Saints' ballyhooed unit. But Philadelphia has steamrolled three straight opponents on the ground who are soft defending the run. New Orleans is ranked first in run defense DVOA. The Saints are battle-tested, showing a toughness since Week 1 against quality opponents that the Eagles haven't yet displayed. It could happen here, but I'm going to believe that Trevor Siemian's quality play thus far can continue.


UPDATE: The score prediction and spread for this game were updated at 4:45 p.m. ET on Friday, Nov. 19. Saints RB Alvin Kamara and Pro Bowl OTs Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk have been ruled out for Sunday.

Miami Dolphins
ML: -180 · 3-7
New York Jets
ML: +155 · 2-7
  • WHERE: MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, N.J.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Dolphins -3 | O/U: 44.5


Robert Saleh gave an impassioned defense of quarterback Mike White on Monday that had me nodding my head. White does deserve better! Give him another chance! Then the Jets decided to start Joe Flacco for this game because he's seen more zero blitzes in his life, including when the Jets were shut out by the Dolphins a year ago. I'm picking against Gang Green on principle now because no one wins if Flacco is the best Jets quarterback for a second straight year. Miami's offense, meanwhile, has played considerably better with Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback, where he will be for this game.

Carolina Panthers
ML: -170 · 5-5
Washington Football Team
ML: +145 · 3-6
  • WHERE: Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, N.C.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Panthers -3.5 | O/U: 43


What a time for the Ron Rivera Bowl. These teams feel like mirrors, with Washington's defense, led by Jonathan Allen's All-Pro bid, keying a revived group during its last three games. But the WFTers are now without Chase Young and Montez Sweat, while this Carolina defense is right back among the league's best. No off-ball linebacker is playing better than Shaq Thompson, and the Panthers have shown that they can swallow shaky quarterbacks whole. Cam Newton's presence makes this game far less predictable. Part of me liked the combination of P.J. Walker and Newton so much last week that I wouldn't mind seeing it again, just with a bigger share of Cam.

Buffalo Bills
ML: -340 · 6-3
Indianapolis Colts
ML: +270 · 5-5
  • WHERE: Highmark Stadium (Orchard Park, N.Y.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Colts +7 | O/U: 50


The last seven weeks for the Colts have been building to this. They've fought back from an 0-3 record to .500 despite blowing two big leads and now need Carson Wentz to hold up against the league's most cohesive defense. That's asking too much, yet I think the underrated Colts defense is built to slow the Bills down, much like they did in the playoffs a year ago. A seven-point spread is too much for a Bills squad that, through no fault of its own, has few data points against quality opposition this year. 

Cleveland Browns
ML: -600 · 5-5
Detroit Lions
ML: +425 · 0-8-1
  • WHERE: FirstEnergy Stadium (Cleveland)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Lions +11.5 | O/U: 43.5


Tim Boyle could start at quarterback for the Lions, but I'm not sure it matters that much to new Lions play-caller Dan Campbell. Detroit went extremely run-heavy against the Steelers, a strategy that could work against Cleveland after the Maliks (Jackson and McDowell) were blown off the ball by New England's interior line last week. In other words, this game could get uncomfortable at home for the Browns. Baker Mayfield probably doesn't need to get his wideouts heavily involved to beat the Lions, but this is the week to do it.


UPDATE: Goff is doubtful to play vs. the Browns, and that means Boyle is likely to start. The spread has grown even bigger since we first published this piece, which makes me like my pick for the Lions to cover even more. Boyle SZN!

San Francisco 49ers
ML: -290 · 4-5
Jacksonville Jaguars
ML: +235 · 2-7
  • WHERE: TIAA Bank Field (Jacksonville, Fla.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: 49ers -6 | O/U: 45


Which turnaround do you trust more: The 49ers' offense finding itself while playing bully ball against the Rams or the Jaguars defense, led by a scorching Josh Allen, playing lights out the last two weeks? In an offense-first league, I'll lean toward a San Francisco cover. It's hard to watch Trevor Lawrence try to survive in this Jacksonville offense week after week with little progress. 

Tennessee Titans
ML: -475 · 8-2
Houston Texans
ML: +360 · 1-8
  • WHERE: Nissan Stadium (Nashville, Tenn.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Texans +10 | O/U: 44.5


Facing Lovie Smith's predictable Texans defense should help unlock the Titans' offense one week after they ran it 29 times for 66 yards. Yet I still can't trust Tennessee as such a big favorite in a division matchup with so little firepower. Tyrod Taylor should make Houston's offense more professional after a rough outing in his first game back from a hamstring injury.

Green Bay Packers
ML: -125 · 8-2
Minnesota Vikings
ML: +105 · 4-5
  • WHERE: U.S. Bank Stadium (Minneapolis)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Packers -1.5 | O/U: 49


The 8-2 Packers are barely favored against the 4-5 Vikings, a sign that Minnesota's underlying statistics are strong and that Vegas still believes regression's coming for the Pack. This Green Bay squad has defied expectations all season, winning nine straight against the spread with a defense that is greater than the sum of its parts and an offense that does just enough. I loved the newfound aggressiveness the Vikings showed last week, and they are talented enough to pull off the upset, but something special has been brewing in Green Bay all season that is hard to quantify, but you know it when you see it. (That's me, giving up on real analysis. But seriously, have you watched this team?) 

Baltimore Ravens
ML: -230 · 6-3
Chicago Bears
ML: +190 · 3-6
  • WHERE: Soldier Field (Chicago)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Ravens -1.5 | O/U: 45


Justin Fields has made terrific progress. Facing Baltimore is a great test of how much progress. There are holes in the Ravens' secondary that can be exploited, but coordinator Wink Martindale will test the Bears' protection schemes before Fields can let go of any rainmakers. More importantly, this Chicago defense wasn't special even with Khalil Mack and Eddie Jackson on the field, as they should be again in this game. This is usually the time of year when the Ravens' defense begins to sort out its problems. 


UPDATE: Lamar Jackson and Hollywood Brown are out for Sunday, which moved the line considerably (from Ravens -4.5 on Thursday to -1.5 as of noon on Sunday). As someone who watched Tyler Huntley light up the preseason, I’ve still got faith the Ravens' organizational strength can find a way in Chicago, however the Bears keep this one closer than I originally predicted (Ravens 28, Bears 20).

Las Vegas Raiders
ML: -105 · 5-4
Cincinnati Bengals
ML: -115 · 5-4
  • WHERE: Allegiant Stadium (Las Vegas)
  • WHEN: 4:05 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Raiders +1 | O/U: 49.5


Here's a game between two teams heading in the wrong direction, trying to dunk the other under water while reaching for a life raft. The Bengals' defense gave up monster games to Mike White and Baker Mayfield before the bye week, burning the goodwill it built up early in the season. It's possible both these teams are worse than their record -- Vegas ranks just 23rd in Football Outsiders' DVOA, and Cincy's even lower at No. 25 -- but that won't matter to Derek Carr when he picks apart the Bengals' soft zone with a lot of underneath passes. Since I can't pick "stay away," let's go with the Raiders.  

Seattle Seahawks
ML: -190 · 3-6
Arizona Cardinals
ML: +160 · 8-2


I'm not going to get too complicated here. Seattle's defense has now played well enough for a month to believe the Seahawks can win at the line of scrimmage and do enough to beat a Colt McCoy-led Cardinals team. But if Kyler Murray returns from injury, the Cardinals are still the most complete team in the NFL until proven otherwise. (Especially on the road, where they have a +91 scoring differential against a hard schedule!) My pick here ultimately depends on Kyler's status. He participated in Wednesday's practice, saying he's hopeful to start on Sunday. If that ends up being the case, the Cardinals covering is my favorite pick of the week, in part because Russell Wilson did not look remotely ready a week ago.


UPDATE: Murray will be a game-time decision on Sunday and DeAndre Hopkins has been ruled out against Seattle. If McCoy starts for Arizona, switch the pick to Seahawks 23, Cardinals 17.


EDITOR'S NOTE: With Kyler Murray inactive against the Seahawks, this pick was changed from Cardinals 27, Seahawks 17. The betting lines above are current as of 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Dallas Cowboys
ML: +120 · 7-2
Kansas City Chiefs
ML: -140 · 6-4
  • WHERE: GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, Mo.)
  • WHEN: 4:25 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Cowboys +2.5 | O/U: 56


I'd feel better making this pick if the Cowboys had Randy Gregory or DeMarcus Lawrence available, but try to take the long view here. Even if Kansas City's offense is on its way back, there's no chance I trust it more than this Dallas attack. The Cowboys' weapons have dominated all year; the Chiefs were dominant for one game. The return of Michael Gallup -- and possibly left tackle Tyron Smith this Sunday -- makes the 'Boys even more fearsome, and their defense has also been far better all season than the surging Chiefs' unit.


When it comes to picks, the hardest decision to make is whether you evaluate a team based on the last week, the last month, the entire season or go even further back. The Chiefs present a particularly challenging case because of their track record, but there's just no question the 2021 Cowboys have been a superior team on both sides of the ball. I believe Dallas is ready for a win like this.


UPDATE: Cowboys WR Amari Cooper was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list and will not play on Sunday.

Los Angeles Chargers
ML: -280 · 5-4
Pittsburgh Steelers
ML: +230 · 5-3-1
  • WHERE: SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, Calif.)
  • WHEN: 8:20 p.m. ET | NBC
  • SPREAD: Steelers +6 | O/U: 47


This game is tough to pick early in the week. Chargers defensive linemen Joey Bosa and Jerry Tillery are currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list, leaving their status for Sunday night in question. Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ben Roethlisberger are also iffy because of COVID protocols. The Steelers are hoping for the best, with injuries to Chase Claypool, guard Kevin Dotson, cornerback Joe Haden and outside linebacker T.J. Watt. These aren't just starters, but most of Pittsburgh's best players. These Chargers can't do much well lately on defense, and that'd be doubly true without their best D-linemen. That said, the Steelers have one of the few offenses that isn't positioned to take advantage. I'll take Justin Herbert's chances to find a way, but I won't give away many points in what's close to a coin-flip game, assuming Pittsburgh gets some of the stars back. Check back later in the week.


UPDATE: Dotson, Fitzpatrick, Haden and Watt have been ruled out for the Steelers. Claypool is expected to play.

MONDAY, NOV. 22

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
ML: -550 · 6-3
New York Giants
ML: +400 · 3-6


The Giants' defense was trending up before the team's bye week, and the offense could get back Saquon BarkleyDaniel Jones may have Barkley, Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney at full throttle for just the second time all season; in the first, they piled up nearly 500 yards in a win at New Orleans. While I'm not too concerned about Tom Brady's sluggish start against Washington, the Bucs' defense was springing leaks in the secondary even before Vita Vea got hurt. Look for another Giants cover on Monday night, just a few weeks after they kept it close against the Chiefs.

THURSDAY'S GAME

New England Patriots
ML: -300 · 6-4
Atlanta Falcons
ML: +240 · 4-5


This game had a chance to be fun before Cordarrelle Patterson got hurt; and tight end Hayden Hurst's injury shouldn't be ignored, either. (Patterson is a game-time decision, but it doesn't sound promising.) The Patriots' front seven has keyed their defensive turnaround, with Matt Judon and Christian Barmore winning more one-on-one matchups than any tandem since Chandler Jones was in the building. Dont'a Hightower, who made the biggest play in this matchup's most famous game, has also turned the corner. The only way the Falcons stay close is if former Patriots coordinator Dean Pees dials up a brilliant game plan -- never count out Pees! -- but that is unlikely, considering the players he's working with. 

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter.

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