Derry’s Week 11 NFL Picks: Saints, Rams same team? And are Vikings that good?

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Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks, center, celebrates with cornerback Kris Boyd (29) after recovering a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown in the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

All good things must come to an end.

The bad news first, for the first time all season we finished sub .500 for the week in our best bets. The good news is that even in a 2-3 week, we won money at +$16 with our two biggest picks coming through, as we hit our teaser for the fifth consecutive week.

And as just about any successful handicapper will do, we’re going to stick with what’s working, as we identify the lines with the greatest values of going through those key numbers of 2.5, 3, 3.5, 6, 6.5 and 7.

For those still alive in their knockout pools, my advice in what could be a weird Sunday of football is to not get cute. Take the big favorites and leave teams like the Giants, Commanders and Falcons for those figuring this is the week to get a little risky. And if you have no choice – having already taken teams like Baltimore, San Francisco and Buffalo – just make sure you’re taking a risk in a good situation.

Hopefully, we can help you identify those spots here, as we try to rebound in Week 11 following a mediocre Week 10.

Any comments, questions, gratitude or hate mail is welcome at [email protected]

NOTES: All spreads, money lines and over/under totals (as of Wednesday) are provided by Caesars Sportsbook. We started the season with a mythical bankroll of $1,000. Our totals for the past week and the season are at the bottom of this column.

THE WEEK 11 BEST BETS

HOME TEAM in CAPS

Byes: Jacksonville, Miami, Seattle, Tampa Bay.

1 / Teaser, MINNESOTA +7.5 over Dallas and LA Rams +10 over NEW ORLEANS

WHEN: Both Sunday. Vikings-Cowboys at 4:25 p.m. ET (CBS) and Rams-Saints at 1 p.m. ET (FOX) THE BET: $36 to win $30.

Teaser explanation: At most books, a bettor can parlay two teams in a “teaser” and get 6 points of cushion for each bet. However, it costs -120 to play and – like a parlay – both legs must hit to cash the ticket.

Let’s start with the line I simply just don’t get with a team that’s tied for the best record in the NFL at home getting points from another that helped end Green Bay’s five-game losing streak last week.

I get this is not the greatest spot for the Vikings coming off an insanely improbable victory at Buffalo last week in the game of the year. However, the incredible disrespect for Minnesota by the oddsmakers and sharps continues to be astounding. I hear things like “luck factor,” “they’re just not that good” and “Kirk Cousins sucks.”

The sharps will completely disregard my handicapping after I say: I simply don’t factor in the first comment all that much, because I have always been convinced teams make their own luck. As far as the other two, get the heck out of here. What’s the old adage? “You are what your record says you are.” That certainly rings true this far into a season.

Meanwhile, Dallas has the 29th-ranked rushing defense, which means a big day for Dalvin Cook, and on the other side of the ball, it could be another game without Ezekiel Elliott, and that will hurt the Cowboys in the red zone.

SCORE PREDICTION: Vikings (+1.5) 33, Cowboys 27. (Over 47.5.)

On to the Saints. Oh boy. Jameis Winston must have REALLY ticked off Dennis Allen. Maybe one day, we’ll find out what really has been going on in the locker room. Regardless, I am not sure I have seen a more ridiculous decision in the NFL this season except for … wait … no … there hasn’t been one.

That being said, one has to think Matthew Stafford will be ready to play by Sunday, and even without Cooper Kupp available, this line makes absolutely no sense. Usually, I run toward the side that makes no sense, but how in the world can anyone take the Saints here?

And while I don’t particularly want the Rams, I can’t see the defending champs getting blown out by sub-par teams two weeks in a row. With Sean McVay’s grandfather dying before the Cardinals game last week combined with Stafford’s absence, that result was understandable. With this low total, teasing this spread seems like the winning way to go, as this appears to be a game that could go either way.

SCORE PREDICTION: Saints 20, Rams (+4) 17. (Under 39.5.)

2 / DENVER -3 (alternate line at -110) over Las Vegas

WHEN: Sunday at 4:05 p.m. ET THE BET: $33 to win $30.

The second battle in a row involving two of the most underachieving teams in the NFL. Here, not only do I think the Broncos could play a bit better down the stretch – even without anything to play for – I’m not sure that’s the case for the Raiders, who clearly have something going on in the locker room. (Did you see Derek Carr crying at the podium last week?)

Denver has been better, and Russell Wilson has some making up to do to this team and Broncos fans for how poorly he has played the first half of the season. With a game next week against lowly Carolina, they should get back to within a game of .500 before playing Baltimore and Kansas City in back-to-back weeks.

Could be the best day of the season thus far for Denver.

SCORE PREDICTION: Broncos 26, Raiders 16. (Over 41.5.)

3 / HOUSTON +3 over Washington

WHEN: Sunday at 1 p.m. ET THE BET: $22 to win $20.

Doesn’t this betting thing seem so easy? I mean, Washington knocks off the only remaining undefeated team in the NFL and now they’re only a 3-point favorite at lowly Houston, which has lost four in a row? Automatic pick for ole DC, right? Wrong.

If there was ever a classic-letdown spot, this most certainly is it. Are we really buying that the Commanders are a good football team? This is the end of a run of three games on the road in a four-week stretch, and this just smells like one of the more surprising upsets of the season in which the first team to score a touchdown wins.

Remember what I said about being careful with risks in knockout pools?

I have the Texans winning two more games this season – this one and maybe Jacksonville on New Year’s Day? Let’s just start with this one.

SCORE PREDICTION: Texans 16, Commanders 14. (Under 40.5.)

4 / NEW ENGLAND -3 (-115) over NY Jets

WHEN: Sunday at 1 p.m. ET THE BET: $11.50 to win $10.

This same game was free money for us in our Week 8 picks, and we’re going back to the well. That being said, it seems a bit fishy that the spread is exactly the same as it was three weeks ago with the previous game being played in the Meadowlands.

We get the Jets beat the Bills before their bye week, but that seems like a detriment more than it helps. You’re telling me the Jets are four points closer to the Patriots over the course of 21 days? Ridiculous. Hence, why we’re not making this our best bet. Something smells.

The facts remain the same: Bill Belichick uses the Jets as his early Christmas present, having defeated them 13 consecutive times with all but one of those wins coming by more than 3 (the other was exactly 3). The Patriots have won all five games since Tom Brady left, which include scores of 54-13 and 25-6 last season.

They have won 16 of the past 17 in the series and three of the past four overall following their bye week. Meanwhile, the Jets, who likely have been beating their chests for two weeks and telling themselves how good they are, have lost six in a row following their bye week.

It could be super windy, which also will limit passing games and field-goal attempts. In other words, we also love the under.

SCORE PREDICTION: Patriots 21, Jets 10. (Under 38.)

5 / Chicago +3 (+100) over ATLANTA

WHEN: Sunday at 1 p.m. ET THE BET: $10 to win $10.

The expected slide of the Atlanta Falcons took a little longer than many of us expected, but it has finally arrived just in time for the holiday season, as that ridiculous talk of them possibly winning the NFC South has faded just as fast as the Saints.

Losers of three of four and four of six, Marcus Mariota is indeed who we all thought he was, while Justin Fields has been doing his best Lamar Jackson impersonation. And going up against Fields every day in practice has to be a plus for the Bears’ defense, who will have to defend the mobility of Mariota.

This is a different Chicago football team that could translate into something interesting for 2023, assuming they reload on defense after trading away their two top players. Still, even with the loss to Detroit last week, it is clear they’re on to something.

SCORE PREDICTION: Bears 31, Falcons 26. (Over 49.)

THE REST OF THE SLATE

(No bets for the following)

Thursday at 8:20 p.m. ET

Tennessee (+3 at +100) 19, GREEN BAY 17: Sorry, but I simply can’t buy that everything is right again with the Packers after one really good quarter against the Cowboys. I still think this is a lost season for Green Bay, and this could be the breaking point.

If I play this at all, it will be small, but wait out the line, as it looks like there’s a good chance it will move to 3.5 due to the high price on the Packers at -3. The Titans have won seven in a row against the spread, and they seem to find a way to win these kinds of games. (Although I don’t really like playing road teams in Thursday games.)

It will be below freezing at Lambeau, but I am not sure how much of an effect it will have, as it won’t be super windy, and there is no precipitation expected. (Under 41.)

Sunday at 1 p.m. ET

BUFFALO (-8) 33, Cleveland 15: First off, this is solely based on the fact we believe Josh Allen is playing on Sunday. If he doesn’t, this will be a rare no-play in our “at-large” picks.

That being said, when a championship-caliber team loses one like they lost last week, you can expect they’ll come out with a big chip on their shoulder the following week. The Browns have been a tough team to pick for or against all year, as they have been as inconsistent as any team in the league. However, this is not a good matchup for them in any way.

The weather could be brutal with an expected 3 feet of snow from Thursday to Sunday in the Buffalo area, but when has that stopped them? (Over 41.5.)

BALTIMORE (-13) 23, Carolina 7: The Ravens don’t blow out a lot of teams, but doesn’t this seem like a perfect spot for them to cruise as they come off their bye week? Meanwhile, Baker Mayfield is back for the Panthers, but haven’t we seen that movie before? (Under 42.)

Philadelphia (-6.5 at -120) 31, INDIANAPOLIS 21: We get that the Eagles are banged up, and they were finally knocked off their perch last week. However, good teams find ways to come back strong. On the other side, one good performance with an interim head coach does not instill confidence that the Colts are back. A no play for us, but I’m taking what we know over what we don’t. (Over 44.)

NY GIANTS 21, Detroit (+3) 20: Another game we won’t play – if for any other reason to fade Aunt Mabel and her friends. It wouldn’t surprise us in the least if the Lions won this one straight up, but it sure smells like another one they let slip away in the final moments. Maybe with a missed extra point? (Under 45.)

Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET

Cincinnati (-3.5) 27, PITTSBURGH 10: Against Mabel in one and with her in another. I simply can’t take the Steelers here just because they beat a dysfunctional Saints team. I get TJ Watt is back, and the one thing the Bengals have trouble doing is protecting Joe Burrow, but Cincy is clearly the better team. Before the Week 1 loss, they had won three in a row in the series by an aggregate score of 92-37.

Interestingly, this is the first time since 2013 the Bengals have been favored in Pittsburgh and just the second time since 1989 – a span of 33 games, which shows you how much things have changed. (Under 41.)

Sunday at 8:20 p.m. ET

Kansas City 29, LA CHARGERS (+5.5) 26: Although the Chargers have been an up-and-down mess as of late, they seem to know how to find a way to keep things close with the Chiefs. In Week 2 on a Thursday night, the Bolts led into the fourth quarter and found a backdoor cover after falling behind by 10.

In all, the Chargers have covered or pushed in four out of the past five meetings and won outright twice. With Keenan Allen expected back for LA this week (and possibly Mike Williams), that could be a big help to Justin Herbert, who clearly has struggled without him. (Over 50.)

Monday at 8:15 p.m. ET, in Mexico City

San Francisco 24, Arizona (+8) 20: As well as the 49ers have been playing, they have not played well against the Cardinals the past several years. And even though we’ll make a more informed decision on how to attack this game later in the week when we know whether Kyler Murray is playing, here on Wednesday (Thursday when you read this), we have to go with the trend.

Arizona has covered or pushed in eight of the past nine meetings and has won outright in 11 of the past 14 games dating back to 2015. Playing in the rare air of Mexico City could affect the stamina of many of these players and could lead to a plethora of field goals (Over 43.5.)

_____________________

HOW WE DOIN’?

Note: TIES ARE NOT COUNTED IN MY RECORD, which could result in a different total of games in the “straight up” and “against the spread” categories, as well as with totals.

AGAINST THE SPREAD

Week 10 best bets: 2-3 (+$16). Season best bets: 34-16 (.680; +$270.50 on season). Week 10 all picks against the spread: 7-7. Season all picks ATS: 78-68 (.534)

STRAIGHT UP (no spread)

Week 10: 6-8. Season: 83-66 (.557).

OVER/UNDER TOTALS

Week 10: 6-8. Season: 82-67 (.550).

PREVIOUS COLUMNS

(click on week to view)

Week 10: 2-3 best bets (+$16); 7-7 ATS; 6-8 straight up; 6-8 over/unders.

Week 9: 4-1 best bets (+52.40); 9-2 ATS; 9-4 straight up; 5-8 over/unders.

Week 8: 4-1 best bets (+$69); 9-6 ATS; 13-2 straight up; 6-9 over/unders.

Week 7: 3-2 best bets (-$5); 5-9 ATS; 6-8 straight up; 9-5 over/unders.

Week 6: 4-1 best bets (+$62.60); 9-5 ATS; 8-6 straight up; 6-8 over/unders.

Week 5: 3-2 best bets (+$2); 10-5 ATS; 9-7 straight up; 10-6 over/unders

Week 4: 4-1 best bets (+$37); 9-6 ATS; 9-7 straight up; 10-6 over/unders

Week 3: 3-2 best bets (-$5); 5-11 ATS; 8-8 straight up; 8-7 over/unders

Week 2: 4-1 best bets (+$57); 7-9 ATS; 9-7 straight up; 12-4 over/unders

Week 1: 3-2 best bets (-$15); 8-8 ATS; 6-9 straight up; 10-6 over/unders

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