For years I have loved to wake up on Sunday morning, go through my picks and take my best bets from the column and place my wagers.
It took me quite some time to realize what the people who make money doing this for a living realized a long time ago: It is a much better proposition to make all those bets early in the week when you’re getting your best value and save a certain few for later in the week.
The toughest thing about writing this column on a Tuesday night is uncertainty. But it’s also the best thing, all at the same time. Last week, for example, those figuring Arizona was going to be without Kyler Murray could have had incredible value on both the Panthers spread, money line and the under 44.5. If you waited even one day to bet the under, you either pushed or lost, and you lost dollars on a Carolina money line that went down.
And although you would have won either way, the Detroit spread against Pittsburgh that opened at -9 closed at -5.5 after it was announced Saturday that Ben Roethlisberger was out. In some spots, the Saints line that opened at -2.5 or -3 dropped as far as -2 in some places, which would have resulted in a push.
In other words, if there are spreads you like, take them early. And there are several this week that will change quite a bit as the week goes on.
Let’s get right to it.
THE WEEK 11 PICKS
* Spreads were gathered from Caesars Sportsbook Louisiana as of Tuesday, Nov. 16.
Picks are in order of confidence straight up:
BYE WEEKS: Denver (5-5, L1, 5-5 ATS), LA Rams (7-3, L2, 5-5 ATS)Dattitude with Jim Derry · Ep. 24 - Juan Kincaid of FOX-8 on Saints, Pels and LSU; Jim asks, 'Is Eagles game a must win?'
NY GIANTS (3-6, W1, 5-4 ATS) at TAMPA BAY (6-3, L2, 3-6 ATS), Monday at 7:15 p.m.
STRAIGHT UP: Buccaneers.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Buccaneers (-11).
Let’s try this again. While it can’t be labeled a surprise to anyone but me the Bucs didn’t cover against Washington last week – it seems like every sharp had the Football Team – it might be the shocker of the year not only did Tampa Bay lose outright, but they were dominated in just about every which way they could be dominated.
Suddenly, Tom Brady has had two consecutive poor efforts and one naturally will wonder if his age might finally be catching up to him throughout a long grueling, season. That being said, anyone who counts out Brady usually looks like a fool the following week.
One thing we can glean from Tampa Bay’s season so far is they have been a different team at home (4-0) than they have been on the road (2-3). In fact, all three of their covers have come in convincing fashion at The Pirate Ship, as they defeated Atlanta by 23, Miami by 28 and Chicago by 35 – all below-average teams.
And while many sharps (and maybe even Aunt Mabel) likely won’t want to lay the double digits to a team that nearly beat them last season, I will. This could be the perfect spot to take them, and we’ll certainly know more about the Bucs when it is over.
DETROIT (0-8-1, T1, 5-4 ATS) at CLEVELAND (5-5, L1, 5-5 ATS), Sunday at noon
STRAIGHT UP: Browns.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Browns (-10).
Speaking of let’s try this again, let’s try this again … again.
All of a sudden, it seems as if everyone is writing off the Browns. No question they were awful at New England last week, and now they come into this one as a double-digit favorite after the Lions finally broke their losing streak with a tie at Pittsburgh.
What we know about this Detroit team is in the few cases in which they have come oh-so-close to victory, the next week they have followed it up with a stinker. Meanwhile, Cleveland has followed up all but one of their losses with victories – twice very convincing victories.
It comes down to this – it’s a great spot here for the Browns, who absolutely have to win, and a bad spot for the Lions, whose odds at going winless have gone up significantly after not being able to pull through last week. (It also would have left my big knockout pool with 16 players remaining instead of 35! Son of a biscuit!) Going forward, their only real chances at victory are next week on Thanksgiving at home against Chicago or possibly at Atlanta in Week 16.
I think in a must win, Cleveland not only handles business, but handles it easily, whether or not Baker Mayfield plays. Detroit is second-worst in the league in rushing yards allowed per play, and whether it’s Nick Chubb or D’Ernest Johnson, the Browns are going to run all over them.
> WATCH: Talking Cam Newton, A.J. Dillon, injury fill-ins on 'Fantasy Roundup'
SAN FRANCISCO (4-5, W1, 3-6 ATS) at JACKSONVILLE (2-7, L1, 4-5 ATS), Sunday at noon
STRAIGHT UP: 49ers.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: 49ers (-6.5).
So will the real San Francisco 49ers stand up?
How in all that is holy are we supposed to understand this team? Even though I correctly predicted them to play well Monday, I didn’t think they would dominate the Super Bowl contending Rams! This one? Traveling across the country on a short week against a foe they have only played five times in history usually bodes well for the home team.
I have made it clear I abhor betting with the public, and I don’t really do it very often, but I don’t see any other way around it here. I am still not buying the Jaguars are as good as they have played in six of the past eight quarters, and one would have to be delusional to think they enjoy playing for that overrated goofball they call Coach.
I had a hunch last week San Fran was ready to make a little playoff push, and now that the toughest part of the schedule is behind them, here’s their chance. I’ll get off the bandwagon if they stink it up in this one, and I certainly don’t love this pick.
> WATCH: Saints argument on 'Odds & Ends,' plus college football, NFL odds
HOUSTON (1-8, L8, 3-6 ATS) at TENNESSEE (8-2, W6, 7-3 ATS), Sunday at noon
STRAIGHT UP: Titans.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Texans (+10.5). Favorite pick against the spread.
I am the king of taking picks that don’t make sense. Laugh if you want, but those are usually the ones I am best at. This is the absolute worst spot of the season for the Titans, and they are lucky to be playing the worst team in the league.
“Why is this the worst spot of the season for Tennessee, Dummy Derry?” Well, since you asked … This six-game winning streak has come against not only five playoff contenders in a row, but three that have a very realistic chance of making it to the Super Bowl. And last week was an absolute war with this one sandwiched in between that and a trip to New England in Week 12.
Not only do I see them looking ahead, but in this month of stupid upsets, Tennessee very well could be another one of those upsets in a line of games that make zero sense. I am not going as far to pick the Texans straight up, but it would not surprise me whatsoever if this is the game that picks off the few people who remain alive in their knockout pools. (Yes, I am one of them, and I am not touching this game.)
And I told you last week when you asked me why I was picking the Vikings and 49ers to win straight up: No, I am not crazy. … Well, maybe a little.
PS If you decide to go with me here – and this will be one of my bets this week – then wait until Saturday at the earliest to bet it, because this spread might go as high as 11.5 or 12, depending on whether the sharps are with me or not.
> College football odds, lines, TV (Nov. 20): Top 25, LSU, SEC, state schools
INDIANAPOLIS (5-5, W2, 6-4 ATS) at BUFFALO (6-3, W1, 6-3 ATS), Sunday at noon
STRAIGHT UP: Bills.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Bills (-7).
“Hello, Derry’s NFL picks hotline, how may I help you?”
“Yes, this is Miss Cleo, and ever since people stopped calling 976 numbers and my cash flow has dried up, I have tried to reinvent myself, ya know darlin. I have had plenty of visions about the Buffalo Bills, and I have figured them out. Was wonderin’ if you might be interested in using my psychic services?”
“I’m sorry, Miss Cleo, even though you correctly predicted in 1998 my first marriage would last less than three years, I would be able to watch sports on my phone and the Saints and Cubs would each win world championships before I was 50, you expect me to believe you have figured out the Bills? Sorry, I ain’t buyin’ it. Good luck with your future endeavors.”
Other than maybe the 49ers, is there any other team in the NFL tougher to comprehend than the Bills? Here’s the thing, with this particular spot: The Colts are coming off a stretch of four of five games at home against mostly subpar opponents, and they did what was expected of them, winning four of five. Meanwhile, Buffalo has been on the road four of the past five weeks, and likely are thrilled to be home before going back out on the road on a short week at New Orleans on Thanksgiving night.
This could be a really tough spot for Carson Wentz, who has gotten away with some really poor decisions this season, and no defense has been more opportunistic than Buffalo, which ranks first in the NFL in takeaways with 22.
And while I am no Miss Cleo, and certainly don’t proclaim to see what the future holds for the Bills, this seems like a great matchup for them.
BALTIMORE (6-3, L1, 3-6 ATS)
at CHICAGO (3-6, W1, 4-5 ATS), Sunday at noon
STRAIGHT UP: Ravens.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Bears (+6). Least-favorite pick against the spread.
Can we stop thinking this Baltimore team will win a championship any time in the near future? Inconsistency on both sides of the ball and a lack of a running game from someone other than the quarterback simply doesn’t equal long-term success. And I was one of those suckers duped last week by placing the Ravens in all sorts of teasers thinking there was no way they could lose to Miami. (And losing one of my last two knockout picks on them. So yeah, I am bitter.)
But what that loss did for me was reassure my initial thoughts on Baltimore: They simply are a team to stay away from when walking up to the betting kiosk on Sunday morning. They beat Kansas City one week and need a miracle at Detroit the next. They stomp the Chargers by 28 in Week 6 and get rolled by Cincinnati, 41-17, in Week 7. They rush for 247 yards and beat Minnesota in overtime two weeks ago then go to Miami, rush for 94 yards and lose by 12 to a previously two-win Dolphins team.
Here? They get a Bears team coming off a bye, whose rookie quarterback is playing much better. (Of course, that wouldn’t take much.) This will be a no play for me, but since I am forced to pick every game, I would go with the Bears to cover in an up-and-down affair, especially if Khalil Mack is back in the fold.
If I were going to bet, I would probably take the over, which has hit in five straight Bears games following a bye and in both previous Ravens games this season following a loss.
MIAMI (3-7, W2, 5-5 ATS) at NY JETS (2-7, L2, 2-7 ATS), Sunday at noon
STRAIGHT UP: Dolphins.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Dolphins (-3).
So the Jets either win straight up against a likely playoff contender, or they’re the worst team in the league. Makes complete sense.
If that’s the formula, then this is an easy one, right? They have lost nine straight games against divisional opponents and eight of the past 10 games against the Dolphins, who are anything but a real playoff contender at the moment.
For now, I have to buy in to what Brian Flores is selling, but I would be lying if I said I was completely convinced because they were able to whip up on Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. Remember, this is the same team that lost seven games in a row, including one each to Jacksonville and Atlanta.
That being said, if any team with a losing record could make a mini run to get themselves back into contention, it’s this one, as they have some very winnable games on the immediate horizon before their extremely late bye in Week 14.
Here’s another pick I don’t love because Aunt Mabel will be with me here. And not only has she lost enough moolah this season to buy Christmas presents for all the kids in St. Bernard Parish, but she has spent the past week making pecan pies for Thanksgiving and is letting Drunk Joe make all the picks on her card.
Her pies? Yum. Her picks? Yuck.
An interesting – or maybe only interesting to me – tidbit: The teams have played against one another 111 times, and each team has won 55 with one tie.
GREEN BAY (8-2, W1, 8-1-1 ATS)
at MINNESOTA (4-5, W1, 5-4 ATS), Sunday at noon
STRAIGHT UP: Vikings.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Vikings (+2.5).
It’s Green Bay’s turn to be the latest “best team in the NFL.” Doesn’t it seem like every time a team grabs that label by the talking heads this season, they spit the bit? The Packers are now without Aaron Jones for a couple of weeks, and there are other question marks to key players.
This has been a tight series the past five years, as Minnesota actually leads, 5-4-1, since a September victory in 2016.
In this one, it seems as if Vegas is begging us to bet on the Packers, which turns me straight toward Minnesota, even though this is a tough spot at home sandwiched around consecutive back-to-back road games the past two weeks and the next two following this one. However, in this division game, one could easily see Green Bay looking ahead a bit to a home game against the Rams next week.
As they cruise toward the NFC North title, the Packers are due for a letdown and this is a perfect place to do it – on the road against a desperate division foe that is trying to climb inside that top seven in the conference before the calendar turns to December.
ARIZONA (8-2, L1, 7-3 ATS) at SEATTLE (3-6, L1, 5-4 ATS), Sunday at 3:25 p.m.
STRAIGHT UP: Cardinals.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Cardinals (-2.5).
Wow, have the mighty fallen? The Cardinals were the last remaining undefeated team in the NFL just three weeks ago, and now they look rather pedestrian. You think a good quarterback doesn’t make a significant difference?
We have said several times in this column it’s not the first week a significant player is out where the problems of the starter being missing appear, but rather it’s the second game. And that certainly was the case for Arizona in their second straight week without Kyler Murray.
As I type this, reading through the tea leaves tells me he is going to play, and Coach Kliff Kingsbury might be more inclined to rush him in a division game here, rather than wait until after Week 12’s bye. Remember what we said to intro the column about getting value early in the week? If you believe like I do Murray will play, now is the time to bet on the Cardinals.
Even with Russell Wilson back for Seattle, they simply aren’t very good. They cannot run the football, and Arizona is the fifth-best team in the league against the pass. Conversely, the Seahawks have the 31st-ranked defense, and if Murray plays, he could have a field day.
The last five times Arizona has been blown out – by 14 or more – they have followed with a win against the spread. And although their flaws have been somewhat exposed, they need to head into the bye with a win in the worst way.
DALLAS (7-2, W1, 8-1 ATS) at KANSAS CITY (6-4, W3, 3-7 ATS), Sunday at 3:25 p.m.
STRAIGHT UP: Cowboys.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Cowboys (+2.5).
One team has been the one of the most consistent in the NFL throughout the season. The other has been a roller-coaster ride that at times has looked less than mediocre. Am I supposed to take the roller coaster to work this week or the Suburban limousine? I know which one might be more fun, but I like to go in style.
I simply am not ready to believe the Chiefs can flip a switch and everything is OK. It doesn’t work that way – even for Patrick Mahomes. Yes, they absolutely looked like their old selves last Sunday night, but how much stock are we putting in a performance like that against a team in Las Vegas that is absolutely reeling?
Scratch the Denver game, and I dare anyone to find me a group that has been better throughout the course of 10 weeks than Dallas. Maybe Green Bay? But they had their issues with Aaron Rodgers both in Week 1 and the COVID thing a couple of weeks ago.
And I know this: The Cowboys are ready to prove themselves against a top-notch team, and they haven’t really had a chance to do that since opening week in Tampa Bay. In a game lower scoring than most people believe it will be, Dallas plays plenty enough defense to annoy Mahomes, while Dak will play his best game of the season against a pass defense that will get burned by its own blitz.
CINCINNATI (5-4, L2, 4-4-1 ATS) at LAS VEGAS (5-4, L2, 4-5 ATS), Sunday at 3:05 p.m.
STRAIGHT UP: Bengals.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Bengals (-1).
Has any two teams had a worse two-game stretch in the league than the Raiders and Bengals? (We don’t count teams like the Lions, Texans and Jets – they always have bad games.)
Cincinnati went into their bye week by losing a heartbreaker to the Jets which they seemed to have won late in the fourth quarter, and then that clearly affected them in a 41-16 loss at home to rival Cleveland the following week. Las Vegas, which has dealt with more off-the-field issues than anyone – by far – clearly let it get the best of them in lackluster performances at the Giants and last week in a blowout loss to Kansas City.
With that, I think the only play here is the Bengals or nothing, as we cannot predict when Vegas will slip out of this funk. Conversely, a week off for a decent Cincinnati team could have been the elixir and wake-up call they needed? I likely won’t play this one, but I fully expect a good bit of points scored and would be surprised if the over doesn’t hit.
PITTSBURGH (5-3-1, T1, 3-6 ATS) at LA CHARGERS (5-4, L1, 5-4 ATS), Sunday at 7:20 p.m.
STRAIGHT UP: Chargers.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Steelers (+5).
Here’s another instance where if I didn’t pick every game, I wouldn’t touch this with Fido’s chewed-up stick. As I type this, the status of Ben Roethlisberger (COVID) is in serious question, as is possibly the league’s best defensive player in TJ Watt (hip).
So I will go with a little bit of stats and a gut feeling in this one.
We don’t need to print the standings to know the Steelers have been all over the map this season, following up a three-game losing streak with four victories in a row and then the tie against winless Detroit last week in the muck at Heinz Field last Sunday.
However, the inconsistency of the Chargers and their young quarterback seems more concerning. They were able to muster just 253 yards against a marginal Vikings defense and now have lost three of four games – winning only a squeaker against average Philadelphia. Also, Justin Herbert has passed for more than 212 yards just twice in six games after a blistering start.
I know the public loves the Bolts, and actually so do quite a few sharps, but I have remained off this bandwagon, and think they’re still a year or two away from being consistently good. With a game that is very important to both teams, I am betting on Mike Tomlin to find a way, and for Najee Harris to be able to run against the worst rush defense in the NFL, although I am not sure they will win the game outright.Dattitude with Jim Derry · Ep. 23 - Jeff Duncan on the Saints loss to Titans, and Derry is candid in his Dime
NEW ORLEANS (5-4, L2, 5-4 ATS) at PHILADELPHIA (4-6, W1, 5-5 ATS), Sunday at noon
STRAIGHT UP: Saints.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Saints (+1.5).
Let me make it clear before we go any further: I don’t have an ounce of confidence in this pick. In fact, I had written a full blurb about how the Eagles were going to win because of the trajectory of the two teams, and zero faith I have in the Saints’ QB situation.
However, I kept coming back to the same thought I have had year after year since I started this column six years ago, and that is who is better than Sean Payton with his back pressed squarely against a wall? With that, I guess I have to take the Black and Gold here, as they haven't lost three in a row in more than five years.
Be warned it goes against what my handicap tells me.
The Saints have lost five straight games against the spread following an ATS win, and I have made it clear on Dattitude what I think of Trevor Siemian. Who have the Eagles been successful against so far in this campaign? Teams with average or below-average quarterbacks. In fact, three of their four wins have come against quarterbacks in the bottom end of the passer ratings – Matt Ryan (19th), Sam Darnold (32nd) and Jared Goff (27th). And last week’s win came against Teddy Bridgewater, who has been anything but a world beater.
They have lost to everyone else.
As I type this on Tuesday night, I have no idea whether Alvin Kamara will play, but my guess is he will. And that could make all the difference.
A better bet than taking the Saints either on the money line or the against the spread would be to tease them at +7.5 with a mid-level favorite like the Bills to -1 or the 49ers at -0.5. Also, if you are going to bet anything that involves the Saints, you might want to wait until later in the week, as for some unknown reason, big money continues to pile in on Philadelphia week after week, which could cause this line to rise a bit.
WASHINGTON (3-6, W1, 2-7 ATS) at CAROLINA (5-5, W1, 5-5 ATS), Sunday at noon
STRAIGHT UP: Football Team.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Football Team (+3.5).
Even though I correctly predicted the Panthers to play well at Arizona with Sam Darnold out and Kyler Murray very questionable this time last week, I don’t think anyone thought they could win straight up and certainly not in a laugher. This one is a head-scratcher, because Carolina has been one of the most inconsistent teams in the league, while the Football Team has been just plain bad before last week.
Chase Young is gone for the WFT, and Christian McCaffrey could go off, but are we really believing Scammy Cammy will lead the Panthers to the playoffs? And don’t we think Ron Rivera will be jacked up in his first return to Carolina since he coached there?
If the Football Team can play defense anywhere near the level they played last week, they are going to force Newton to throw it. And I am not sure he can be successful doing that, especially with such little time to become accustomed to the playbook.
NEW ENGLAND (6-4, W4, 6-4 ATS)
at ATLANTA (4-5, L1, 3-6 ATS), Thursday at 7:20 p.m.
STRAIGHT UP: Falcons.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Falcons (+7). Second-favorite pick against the spread.
When it comes to picking NFL games, I am one that not only looks at trends and per-game rankings, but I lean on spots as much as anything to identify upset possibilities. And this one has upset written all over it.
How could Joe Q. Public not think the Patriots are back? I have even heard some talking heads pondering whether they might be the best team in the AFC. Ummm, no. They have won four straight games in very impressive fashion, but they have come against teams with a combined record of 17-21.
Of course, I get that Atlanta is not very good, but they have had their moments at times. And after playing three out of the past four on the road, on a short week this could be a good spot for them after getting bombed in Dallas last week. Meanwhile, New England’s next three games are Tennessee, at Buffalo, at Indianapolis, so it’s easy to think they could be looking ahead.
The Patriots are 1-2 against the NFC South this season with their only win coming against Sam Darnold. As great as Belichick is, you can bet he is thinking just as much about Tennessee this week as he is about the Falcons.
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.
RECORD STRAIGHT UP
Week 10: 7-6.
Season: 90-58 (.608).
AGAINST THE SPREAD
Week 10: 8-6.
Season: 74-72 (.507 – Finally our head is above water. Can we stay there?)
Favorite ATS: Ravens -7.5 (L, 4-6 – last time I pick Lamar Jackson as my favorite pick of the week).
Second favorite: Buccaneers -9.5 (L, 5-5 – last time I pick Tom Brady as my second-favorite pick of the week).
Least favorite: Vikings +2.5 (W, 5-5 – won’t be the last time I pick Kirk Cousins as my least-favorite pick of the week).
When picking the favorite: 2-3 in Week 10 (26-31 overall).
When picking the underdog: 6-3 (47-40 overall).
When picking an even spread: 1-1.
Week 10: 8-5.
Season: 80-68 (.541).
Week 10: Saints over Titans straight up (L); Saints +3 (W).
Season: (4-5 straight up, 8-1 ATS).
Over/under: Over 44.5 (L, 5-4)
(click on week to view)
Week 10: 7-6 straight up, 8-6 ATS, 8-5 O/U
Week 9:6-7 straight up, 7-6 ATS, 7-6 O/U
Week 8:7-8 straight up, 7-8 ATS, 11-4 O/U
Week 7:8-5 straight up, 6-7 ATS, 8-5 O/U
Week 6:10-4 straight up, 8-6 ATS, 7-7 O/U
Week 5:9-7 straight up, 5-10-1 ATS, 7-9 O/U
Week 4:11-5 straight up, 9-7 ATS, 5-11 O/U
Week 3:12-4 straight up, 9-7 ATS, 5-11 O/U
Week 2:11-5 straight up, 8-7-1 ATS, 11-5 O/U
Week 1:9-7 straight up, 7-8-1 ATS, 11-5 O/U
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