Opening Lines: Week 11

The Patriots opened as 12.5-point favorites as they host the Chiefs on Monday Night Football in Week 11.

I identified a trend for the Pats in last week’s column, and after watching them run roughshod over the Jets, I’m ready to anoint that trend as gospel until proven wrong — the Patriots will struggle against teams with a strong pass rush and an elite passing game, and they will pretty much waylay everyone else (and yes, I just managed to work “roughshod” and “waylay” into the same sentence … you’re welcome). I’m sticking with that logic again this week. The Chiefs have recorded the fewest sacks in the league, their passing offense ranks 28th, and their starting QB left the game early on Sunday due to a hand contusion. The Patriots shouldn’t just cover this spread; they should make anybody who picks against them feel foolish by halftime.

With that said, Kansas City really deserves a mulligan on this entire season due to the injuries they’ve faced. Only Indy could make a legitimate claim for the title of Team Most Affected By Injuries in 2011, and that’s only because the Colts have suffered most of their humiliation in primetime. If something happens to Tamba Hali or Dewayne Bowe, they’ll be trotting out a lineup that might have trouble competing in the PAC-10.

The Pats have faced a tough slate in recent weeks, but the schedule gets a whole lot softer beginning this week. I expect the Patriots to cover the spread comfortably.

Other Lines I Like

Cowboys (-7.5) @ Redskins

It’s amazing what happens when the Cowboys aren’t wasting downs by handing the ball to Felix Jones, only to watch him cower behind his offensive linemen and fall harmlessly to the ground behind the line of scrimmage and curl into the fetal position like a scared little girl (in the interest of full disclosure, I owned a few Felix fantasy football shares this year, so that may add to my bitterness). The Cowboys have looked like a different team with DeMarco Murray running the ball, and I’ve got an ostrich-sized portion of egg on my face for picking against them last week as they rolled up a 37-point win. The Redskins have been hit with a wave of injuries in recent weeks, and they weren’t really that good to begin with.

Ravens (-7) vs. Bengals

This week’s slate of games are so tough, I’m actually content projecting Joe Flacco to not underperform against a team he should beat with relative ease. Most bettors would rather suck an exhaust pipe than bet on the Ravens after the damage they’ve caused sports betting bankrolls over the past four weeks, but I’m think it’s safe to say they’ll rebound from Sunday’s sleepwalking session and play angry, inspired football with the division title at risk of slipping from their grasp. I’ll need to see how this Bengals team responds to the loss of Leon Hall before I put any virtual money on them.

Lions (-6.5) vs. Carolina

The Panthers might have the league’s worst defensive unit outside of Indianapolis. The Titans finally solved the Newton puzzle last week by spying him and taking away the middle of the field for the tight ends. It will take the Panthers time to adjust to this look on offense, so it’s a really bad time for them to draw one of the best defensive lines in football.

Rams (-2.5) vs. Seahawks

This game is a bit of a toss-up. I lean toward the Rams since they actually have a few playmakers on offense, and because the Seahawks typically don’t travel well. Truth be told, the real reason I included this game in my picks is to complain that we have to watch these two teams on Monday Night Football in a few weeks. On the plus side, I guess most fans won’t have to worry about using the DVR to record How I Met Your Mother or Terra Nova that night.

In all seriousness, it will be more entertaining for me to watch CGI dinosaurs who somehow have the same predatory skills as Stormtroopers than suffer through another primetime Rams-Seahawks game.

2011 Record ATS 26-25-2

2010 Record ATS 25-17-1

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