Greg Cote

Greg Cote’s Week 11 NFL picks

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) calls a play during a preseason game against the Dolphins on Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) calls a play during a preseason game against the Dolphins on Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Fla. AP

Oh how I wish I could claim last week’s records shown below were typographical errors or the sabotage of a cruel editor. Alas, they are accurate. Not in 25 years making NFL picks on this page had I ever had a record as unfathomably abysmal as 2-12. I did ever so slightly better against the spread, at least, thanks to a pair of ‘dogs-with-points in the Bears (over Rams) and Giants (covering vs. Patriots). Being an optimist, I’d note the only good to come of a wreck like last week is that whatever’s next cannot possibly be as bad … can it? (Note: Thursday game pick was Jaguars (-3) over Titans, 24-20).

Cote’s record

Overall

Pct.

Vs. spread

Pct.

Last week

2-12

.143

3-11

.214

Season

91-55

.623

67-72-7

.483

Final 2014

167-88-1

.655

129-125-2

.508

Dolphins this week

COWBOYS (2-7) at DOLPHINS (4-5)

Line: Even.

Cote’s pick: MIA 27-23.

TV: 1 p.m. Sunday, Fox (airing in South Florida).

It will be very difficult Sunday for the Dolphins to sack Tony Romo on account of that hero’s white steed he’s riding in on. They’ll have to tackle the horse, too, I guess. Dallas went a season-ruining 0-7 with their quarterback out with a broken collarbone but gets him back just in time for Miami. Romo has not shied from portraying himself in the savior’s robe, even knowing Dallas likely must finish on a 7-0 run for a playoff shot. This week he tweeted the scene from movie Major League with the line, “Well, then I guess there’s only one thing left to do … win the whole [bleep]ing thing.” A 2-7 team on the road with an even betting line further indicates Joe Public is buying into the Romo-savior myth. It won’t happen, though. Dallas won’t make the playoffs. I doubt they’ll win Sunday, either. I see a pumped-up, sold-out crowd fomenting a palpable home-field advantage and inspiring a big, emotional effort from the Dolphins. Miami is the first NFL team since the 1970 merger to play in its home stadium only twice in the first 10 weeks. That and the marquee opponent should have Joe Robbie’s place rocking for Dallas’ first regular-season visit since 2007. These may be two teams with a combined 6-12 record, but it still feels like an “event” game. Key for Fins will be much better pass defense than we’ve seen the past three games. Between Brent Grimes’ return and Romo’s rust, I like that happening. I just hope the white steed doesn’t get hurt.

Game of the week

BENGALS (8-1) at CARDINALS (7-2)

Line: ARI by 5.

Cote’s pick: ARI 27-20.

TV: 8:30 p.m. Sunday, NBC (airing in South Florida).

An arduous Week 11 for the GOTW committee. Much love for Packers-Vikings and even a few stray votes for Bills-Pats — but how do you bypass Bengals-Cardinals and that combined 15-3 record? (You don’t, that’s how). This matchup merits the prime-stage stage, with Cincy’s top-ranked scoring defense vs. an Arizona offense only the Patriots are outscoring this season. And subplots include Carson Palmer facing the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2003. I’m sold on the Cardbirds, and they’re 16-4 at home under Bruce Arians.

Upset of the week

CHIEFS (4-5) at CHARGERS (2-7)

Line: KC by 3.

Cote’s pick: SD 24-20.

TV: 4:05 p.m. Sunday, CBS (airing in South Florida).

“AAWWK!” booms the Upset Bird. “San Diaaawwwk!” I get the point spread. Chiefs have won three in a row and Chargers have dropped five straight — albeit all narrowly. I’m hunching the Bolts, coming off a bye, will catch a break behind prolific Philip Rivers, presuming his line fends off KC’s big sackers and gives him time. Chiefs face letdown after dominating Peyton Manning and Denver last week, and SD won six of past seven at home in series. “Solid reasoning,” nods U-Bird. “So why am I a nervous wreck over this pick? Nervous wraaawwwk!”

Dog of the week

49ERS (3-6) at SEAHAWKS (4-5)

Line: SEA by 12 ½.

Cote’s pick: SEA 21-13.

TV: 4:25 p.m. Sunday, Fox

This week’s rightful Doggiest matchup was Titans-Jags on Thursday, but this is next-worst game on the menu for its potential lopsidedness alone. Seattle is a shell of its recent dominance, but not to the degree San Fran is. Russell Wilson is 4-0 at home vs Niners by a combined 111-40, including a 20-3 steamroll last month. Bet-line still seems fat, though, for what should be a points-shy game. SF coming off a bye and could catch a spark from Blaine Gabbert to at least keep it respectable.

RAIDERS (4-5) at LIONS (2-7)

Line: OAK by 2.

Cote’s pick: DET 30-24.

TV: 1 p.m. Sunday, CBS.

Upset! I like Derek Carr and that young OAK offense but mistrust the Raiders’ D, especially on the road, and now losing LB Aldon Smith to a one-year league suspension. Could be a big day for Matthew Stafford, but Motown mustn’t let down after last week’s emotional stunner of a win in Green Bay. Jim Caldwell better have his Lions’ minds right going in.

COLTS (4-5) at FALCONS (6-3)

Line: ATL by 6.

Cote’s pick: ATL 26-23.

TV: 1 p.m. Sunday, CBS.

Andrew Luck is out two to six weeks with a lacerated kidney but, given the way he was playing, Colts don’t lose much with savvy sub Matt Hasselbeck, 40. Falcons have slumped since 5-0 start but should get untracked at home, with plenty of chances for Matt Ryan and Julio Jones to exploit a vulnerable Bengals secondary. Like Indy getting six, though.

JETS (5-4) at TEXANS (4-5)

Line: NYJ by 2 ½.

Cote’s pick: NYJ 19-16.

TV: 1 p.m. Sunday, CBS.

Here’s a big game in the AFC wild-card hunt. Speaking of wild cards, Houston QB T.J. Yates perhaps making his first start since 2011 adds unpredictability to what should be a defense-first, low-scoring game. With Texans coming off a short week, give me a motivated Ryan Fitzpatrick over the team that let him go after last season.

BUCCANEERS (4-5) at EAGLES (4-5)

Line: PHI by 5 ½.

Cote’s pick: PHI 24-20.

TV: 1 p.m. Sunday, Fox.

High-stakes game, in that the loser will have a tough time pretending it is still in the NFC playoff chase. Also a volatile game with a pair of mistake-prone QBs in Bucs rookie Jameis Winston and with Mark Sanchez likely starting for the Phils for banged-up Sam Bradford. Make it a venue call, but give Tampa a sizable upset shot.

BRONCOS (7-2) at BEARS (4-5)

Line: CHI by 1.

Cote’s pick: CHI 20-17.

TV: 1 p.m. Sunday, CBS.

Chicago’s John Fox coached the Broncos four seasons through last year, and successfully. Now he is 3-0 vs. the AFC West this year, going for a clean sweep Sunday against a division he knows very well. Jay Cutler also began his career with Denver, lending motivation. Bears have been solid since that 0-3 start, and, with Peyton Manning out injured for Denver, this could be a tough venue for Brock Osweiler, making his first NFL start on his 25th birthday.

RAMS (4-5) at RAVENS (2-7)

Line: BAL by 2.

Cote’s pick: BAL 23-20.

TV: 1 p.m. Sunday, Fox.

Who is due a break more than the Ravens? All seven losses have been close, and last week’s to Jacksonville was a shoulda-been win that officiating mistakes robbed them of. Rams get DE Chris Long back from injury, but new starting QB Case Keenum is operating behind a depleted O-line, and Crows present a fairly stout run defense to Todd Gurley.

REDSKINS (4-5) at PANTHERS (9-0)

Line: CAR by 7.

Cote’s pick: CAR 27-16.

TV: 1 p.m. Sunday, Fox.

I’d say Redskins are capable of an upset here, except that Kirk Cousins — who lit up a really bad Saints defense last week — confronts a much more formidable test here to say the least. Panthers lead league in lowest opponent passer rating, and Cousins tends to struggle on the road. Figure Cam Newton will be dancing again.

PACKERS (6-3) at VIKINGS (7-2)

Line: MIN by 1.

Cote’s pick: GB 23-20.

TV: 4:25 p.m. Sunday, Fox (airing in South Florida).

This one has Game of Week heft. Vikings are on five-game win streak, Teddy Bridgewater is on a 7-0 roll as starter at home, and that Purples D is for real. Oh, and Adrian Peterson averages 116.5 yards in 15 career meetings with Pack. Yes, and Gee Bees have lost three in a row and Aaron Rodgers has tumbled from MVP conversation. But! Rodgers has won nine of past 10 starts over Minny with 123.8 rating and 26 TDs vs. three picks. GB won’t lose a fourth straight.

BILLS (5-4) at PATRIOTS (9-0)

Line: NE by 7.

Cote’s pick: NE 34-23.

TV: 8:30 p.m. Monday, ESPN (airing in South Florida).

Patriots needed breaks to escape the Giants by one point last week and in doing so lost valuable WR Julian Edelman to injury. Doesn’t Tom Brady always find a way, though? Especially against this opponent! New England has won seven of past eight and 27 of past 30 over Buffs. Brady has 907 yards and seven TDs in past two meetings. Rex Ryan was 4-10 vs. NE with the Jets, and that trend continues.

Off this week

▪ Browns (2-8; next vs. Ravens): Bye-bye, byes. Last week for off weeks. Ex-Cane Duke Johnson’s 576 scrimmage yards include 387 on 39 catches. Reeling Earthtones have lost five in row, last four by combined 74 points.

▪ Giants (5-5; next at Redskins): Tom Coughlin’s Biggies are still leading division at .500 after last week’s one-point loss to Patriots. Only AFC South at 13-23 has worse combined record than NFC East’s 15-22.

▪ Saints (4-6; next at Texans): N’Awlins has lost two straight with a defense allowing most points (315) in NFL. Looking like coach Sean Payton may come available, which I doubt is lost on Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.

▪ Steelers (6-4; next at Seahawks): Ben Roethlisberger’s 379 yards off bench last week were most ever by non-starter, surpassing 374 by Wade Wilson in 1990. Steelers have won two in row and presently hold first AFC wild card.

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