GREG COTE’S NFL WEEK 11 PICKS
DOLPHINS THIS WEEK
The Miami Dolphins are off on their bye week. There is no guarantee but I have a strong belief they will not lose. The big story during the break is quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s shoulder getting close to ready and a presumption he’ll return next week. Meanwhile, at 5-5, if Miami somehow sneaks into the playoffs this season despite a five-game chunk of Brock Osweiler, Adam Gase should get coach of the year votes. The entire AFC East joins the Fins as off this week. In keeping with long-held division patterns, why do I get the feeling the Patriots will find a way to win the bye?
GAME OF THE WEEK
CHIEFS (9-1) at RAMS (9-1)
Line: LAR by 3 1/2
Cote’s pick: LAR 38-35
TV: 8:15 p.m. Monday, ESPN
Game had been planned for Mexico City but was moved mid-week when it turned out neither team could scale Trump’s tall border wall. Kidding! Actually it was that the field at Estadio Azteca looked like masticated food. It was to be a Rams home game in Mexico, but making it one literally only underlines Chiefs’ ‘dog status. Two supersonic offenses give this the highest betting over/under (63 points) in NFL history, some sportsbooks are saying. It doesn’t hurt that neither defense is great. KC’s is mid-pack and LA’s has given up 103 points over past three games. Rams can be first team to clinch a playoff spot by winning NFC West if they win here and if Seahawks lose Thursday night. A slight edge on defense and the home field makes Rams the pick outright, although I’m hedging against the line with KC getting that dangling half point. Mostly I like the ‘over,” nutty as that sounds. Punters, take a massage. You shan’t be needed.
UPSET OF THE WEEK
VIKINGS (5-3-1) at BEARS (6-3)
Line: CHI by 2 1/2
Cote’s pick: MIN 23-20
TV: 8:20 p.m., NBC
“AAAWWWK!” screams the Upset Bird. “Big risk here. Limb creaking. Limb craawwk!” A friend of mine who some might call a bookie likes the phrase “the trend is your friend.” I always counter with, “Ah, but the trend must end!” Meaning the law of averages. That occurs as I consider this battle for the top of the NFC North. Chitown has beaten Minny 14 of past 17 games at The Soldier. That flips Sunday night, I say. ‘Sota is due. Despite the venue, the Vikings (coming off a bye) have a pass rush that will bother Mitch Trubisky in a duel of two strong defenses. “The trend must end,” mimics U-Bird. “Trend must aaawwwk!”
THE REST OF WEEK 11
@Falcons (4-5, -3 1/2) over Cowboys (4-5), 27-23: Nerve-wracking pick between two teams desperate to hang in on the far edge of playoff chase. Atlanta has won past three meetings, Dallas is 1-4 on road, and Falcons are on 15-2 run at home vs. NFC. But Ezekiel Elliott against that ATL run-D gives ‘Boys a big, big upset shot.
Panthers (6-3, -4) over @Lions (3-6), 31-20: Carolina is 1-3 on road but on 6-1 run vs. Detroit. Cats also have added rest after playing last Thursday and are poised to exploit Lions woes. Detroit has lost three straight, can’t protect Matthew Stafford, and Christian McCaffrey will run all over Motown’s D.
Titans (5-4, +1) over @Colts (4-5), 23-17: Upset! (OK, mini-upset). As long as Titans don’t let-down after their impressive pounding of the Patriots, they have a defense able to do to hot Andrew Luck what it did to Tom Brady. Tennessee is 0-9 all-time vs Luck, but, like I said: Sometimes, the trend must end.
@Giants (2-7, -1) over Buccaneers (3-6), 34-27: Biggies finally get off the 0-4 home schneid. Eli, Odell and Saquon should please fantasy owners vs. a Tampa defense even worse than the Giants’ D. Also, I trust TB to kill itself with turnovers. Why is Dirk Koetter still employed, by the way?
Texans (6-3, -3) over @Redskins (6-3), 24-20: Skins are my personal prognosticatory nemesis, so with my luck Deshaun Watson will slip on a banana peel Sunday morning and fracture an elbow. Hot Houston is coming off a bye and healthier than it’s been all year, with a pass rush that will collapse Washers’ beat-up blocking front.
Steelers (6-2-1, -5) over @Jaguars (3-6), 30-13: Jax beat Pitt twice last year, including in playoffs. Revenge will be sweet. I do see a medium upset shot because this is the NFL. But Steelers enter with five straight wins and Jags with five L’s in row. Big Ben has won four of past five games in J’ville, is on 9-1 run on the road, and Jaguars’ once-vaunted defense has turned not very good.
@Ravens (4-5, off board) over Bengals (5-4), 28-14: Game stayed off bet-boards because Crows QB Joe Flacco (hip) stayed iffy all week, with Lamar Jackson and even Robert Griffin III on call. No matter. Bengals on 8-2 ruin in series but hunch for Ravens is strong. BAL really good coming off byes, and ‘Gals will (likely) be missing A.J. Green again.
@Cardinals (2-7, -5) over Raiders (1-8), 19-17: Like Cardbirds at home, especially revitalized David Johnson vs. bad OAK run D. But five seems fat spread in what figures as game meager on scoring, so give us the Grudens with points. Outright upset would not surprise.
@Chargers (7-2, -7 1/2) over Broncos (3-6), 31-16: This is Bolts’ first home game in six weeks, after three roadies, one in London and a bye. So it’s time to celebrate with a comfy win! Denver is on a 2-12 skid on the road, Case Keenum makes turnovers like bakeries make pies, and LAC is really good. Philip Rivers needs to get into the league MVP convo.
@Saints (8-1, -8) over Eagles (4-5), 38-27: Philadelphia 23rd-ranked pass defense and injury-wracked secondary, I’d like you to meet Drew Brees! Resist temptation of Phils getting this many polnts, because the Eagles’ Super Bowl hangover continues. Oh, and N’Awlins exhumed Brandon Marshall to replace instantly injured Dez Braynt. If Marshall gets hurt, who’s next? Mark Duper?
BYES (6): DOLPHINS (5-5, next @Colts); Bills (3-7, next vs. Jaguars); Browns (3-6-1, next @Bengals); 49ers (2-8, next @Buccaneers); Jets (3-7, next vs. Patriots); and Patriots (7-3, next @Jets). The entire AFC East is off this week. I bet the Patriots even rest the best.
HOW THE DARTS LANDED
Our dream season isn’t letting up, folks. We were an OK 9-5 overall last week, dipping our season percentage one tick under an excellent .700. But our 8-5-1 against the spread (Colts win pushed at 3 for the tie) hoisted us to a really stout .587 for the year vs. the betting line -- and a season-high 25 games above .500. We nailed yet another Upset of the Week pick with Giants winning in San Fran (“Aawwk!”), and also had a big quartet of ‘dogs-with-points, calling covers by the Titans, Cardinals, Seahawks and Cowboys. Let’s keep it flowing! [Note: Thursday night pick was @Seahawks (-2 1/2) over Packers, 27-24. Visit Thursday Gem for that separate predix capsule].
Overall; Vs. spread
Week 10 — 9-5, .643; 8-5-1, .615
Season — 102-44-2, .699; 84-59-5, .587