Sportsbook.ag NFL Week 11 Preview
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (4-5) at DENVER BRONCOS (6-3)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Denver -7.5 & 48
Opening Line & Total: Broncos -7 & 50
The sizzling-hot Broncos seek a fifth straight victory when they return home to face struggling San Diego on Sunday.
The Chargers are 2-5 (SU and ATS) in their past seven games, with both victories coming against lowly Kansas City. Philip Rivers and Co. have had recent success in Denver, winning three in a row SU and averaging 34.7 PPG there since Rivers took over as the starting quarterback. But the Broncos have been great lately, winning four in a row SU and ATS, and scoring more than 30 points in each of those wins. They've beaten the Chargers twice in a row (both in San Diego), including a Week 6 win in which San Diego took a 24-0 lead, only to be outscored 35-0 in the second half. QB Peyton Manning has thrown for 300-plus yards in six of his past seven games, including 309 in that Week 6 meeting. This doesn't appear to be another blowout win for Denver. Road teams are 39-9 ATS (81%) in November games when coming off a road loss over the past five seasons, including a perfect 4-0 ATS this season. Also, the Chargers are 17-2 ATS (90%) in the second half of the season since Norv Turner became the team's head coach when playing against opponents that complete 61% or better of their passes.
San Diego is 5-1 SU (4-1-1 ATS) in its past six visits to Denver. For his career, Rivers is 9-4 as a starter versus the Broncos with 3,188 passing yards (245 YPG), 22 TD and 10 INT, equaling a 100.3 passer rating. TE Antonio Gates has also found some room in this series with 592 receiving yards and 6 TD in the past nine meetings, scoring twice in the Week 6 showdown. WR Malcom Floyd had 100 receiving yards and a touchdown in his last visit to Sports Authority Field. Denver's pass defense has been stronger than usual though, allowing just 218 YPG (11th in NFL). But both teams have major injury concerns for this one. Chargers top RB Ryan Mathews has been limited in practice with a neck injury, making him questionable for Sunday. If he cannot play, that leaves Ronnie Brown (4.5 YPC) and Jackie Battle (4.8 YPC, 3 TD) to try to chew up yards against a Broncos run-stop unit that has held opponents to 98 rushing YPG (10th in NFL), including a paltry 71 rushing YPG in the past four games. However, Denver also has some key injuries on the defensive side of the ball in DE Elvin Dumervil (shoulder) and CB Tracy Porter (head), who are both questionable to play in this game.
Manning's accuracy has been truly remarkable, as he's completing 70 percent of his passes for the season, topping this mark in each of his past six games. He also hasn't been touched, getting sacked a total of three times during this six-game stretch. And in four home tilts this season, he's thrown for 1,226 yards (307 per game), 10 TD and zero interceptions in 146 pass attempts. Manning is making a star out of WR Demaryius Thomas who has 891 receiving yards (99 per game) and an AFC-best 19 receptions of 20+ yards. Although he scored a touchdown in the comeback win over San Diego, it was Eric Decker who starred with six catches for 98 yards and a fourth-quarter TD grab. Decker has a team-best 7 TD this season. Denver's ground game has been suspect, gaining just 102 YPG (21st in NFL). However, Willis McGahee ran all over the Chargers last year, gaining 242 yards on 39 carries (6.2 YPC) in the two-game series sweep. He had just 3.3 YPC in the Week 6 meeting, but finished the day with 98 total yards. San Diego ranks second in the NFL in rushing defense (83 YPG), but is a mediocre 18th against the pass (234 YPG).
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (6-3) at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (6-3)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: New England -9 & 54.5
Opening Line & Total: Patriots -9 & 53.5
Two teams riding long winning streaks clash in Foxboro, MA on Sunday when the Colts and Patriots meet for the 13th time in 10 seasons on Sunday.
The old rivals meet again, this time with Andrew Luck under center for Indy. The Colts have won four in a row, SU and ATS, including a couple of road games (Tennessee and Jacksonville). Along with strong play from Luck, the rebuilding defense has played well too, allowing 14.0 PPG during the winning streak. Of course, those games were against some weak offenses. The Patriots are still lighting up the scoreboard, with 37.0 PPG during their three-game win streak. Their problem is, like last year, an underwhelming defense. The Pats have won nine of 10 SU at home, but are just 4-6 ATS during that span. In four road games, Luck has thrown for just 2 TD and 7 INT. Meanwhile, QB Tom Brady has been outstanding, as his Patriots continue to lead the NFL in total offense (430.3 YPG) and scoring (33.2 PPG). Underdogs (or pick) after a double-digit win against an opponent coming off a high-scoring game (50+ total points) were 24-56 ATS (30%) in the past five years.
Luck has actually scored more rushing touchdowns (four) than passing touchdowns (three) during the four-game win streak, but he'll likely drop back 40+ times against New England's woeful pass defense (285 passing YPG allowed, 4th-most in NFL). Luck will mostly target the NFL'd second-leading receiver in Reggie Wayne (931 rec. yds), who has faced New England 13 times in his career, gaining 697 yards (87 per game) and 4 TD over the past eight meetings. The Colts won't completely abandon the run though, especially if RB Donald Brown (knee) is ready to start on Sunday. The Patriots allowed 162 rushing yards to Buffalo last week, but have been one of the better run-stop units in the league at 97 rushing YPG allowed (8th in NFL). If Brown can't handle the entire workload, RB Vick Ballard has improved greatly throughout his rookie year, totaling 331 yards and 4.1 YPC during the four-game win streak. One thing the entire Colts team will need to be wary of is New England's ability to take the football away. The Pats have forced multiple turnovers in six straight games, totaling 18 turnovers during this stretch.
Patriots QB Tom Brady is heating up with 8 TD passes and 0 INT over his past three games. He has usually played well in this series too, winning nine of his 13 career meetings (including postseason) with Indianapolis, while throwing for 240 YPG, 24 TD and just 12 picks. The possible return of TE Aaron Hernandez (ankle) gives the Patriots a great chance to drop 31+ points on the Colts for the fourth straight year. Although Wes Welker (810 rec. yds, 2 TD) has been limited by an ankle injury, he expects to play as well, joining WR Brandon Lloyd (480 rec. yds) and TE Rob Gronkowski (611 rec. yds, 8 TD) in what is arguably the league's most potent receiving corps. But New England has put greater emphasis on running the football this season, averaging 164 rushing YPG in the past six contests. RB Stevan Ridley has 581 rushing yards (4.8 YPC) and 5 TD during this six-game span, and he will be used heavily against Indy's 22nd-ranked rushing defense (120 YPG) on Sunday. The Patriots were able to win the turnover battle in each of the past two wins over Indy, and they have just four giveaways over the past five games.
BALTIMORE RAVENS (7-2) at PITTSBURGH STEELERS (6-3)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Baltimore -3.5 & 40
Opening Line & Total: Pittsburgh -3.5 & 46
One of the NFL's biggest rivalries resumes, but with a bunch of key players missing, when Baltimore visits Pittsburgh on Sunday night.
The Ravens will continue to be without LB Ray Lewis (triceps) and CBs Lardarius Webb (ACL) and Jimmy Smith (hernia), while Pittsburgh will be missing QB Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder), WR Antonio Brown (ankle) and likely S Troy Polamalu (calf). With Roethlisberger out indefinitely, the Steelers will go conservative with back-up Byron Leftwich, a statue in the pocket. The Ravens swept Pittsburgh last year, SU and ATS, including a last-second win on a Torrey Smith TD at Heinz Field. Nine of these teams' last 11 meetings have been decided by one possession. The Ravens clearly have the offensive advantage here with Pittsburgh's two best players out. Baltimore's offense hasn't always looked great on the road this year (9 points at K.C., 13 points at Houston), but they sure looked potent in last week's 55-20 win over Oakland last Sunday. That bodes well for the Ravens considering John Harbaugh is 14-4 ATS (78%) after playing a game where 50+ total points were scored. Also, road favorites off 1+ straight Overs, in a game involving two average defensive teams (18-23 PPG) after 8+ games are 28-7 ATS (80%) over the past 10 seasons.
Ravens QB Joe Flacco has played pretty well in this series during the regular season, going 4-4 with 1,808 passing yards (226 per game), 10 TD and 4 INT. During last year's sweep, Flacco threw for 524 yards, 4 TD and 0 INT. He's also coming off one of the best games of his career, tallying four total touchdowns and throwing for 341 yards. The emergence of WR Torrey Smith (3 TD in past two games) and consistency of WR Anquan Boldin (4+ catches in six of seven games) should allow Baltimore to move the football through the air despite Pittsburgh's league-best pass defense (171 YPG allowed). The ground game is a bit of a concern though, as the Ravens have been held to fewer than 90 rushing yards in three of the past four games, and RB Ray Rice is battling a toe injury. Since running for 141 yards in Pittsburgh in 2009, Rice has been held to 95 yards on 38 carries (2.5 YPC) in his past three visits to Heinz Field. And it is never easy running through the Steel Curtain, as Pittsburgh currently ranks fifth in the NFL in rushing defense (95 YPG). However, the Steelers did give up 142 rushing yards (4.1 YPC) in last week's 16-13 overtime win over Kansas City.
Leftwich hasn't faced this Ravens defense since 2005 when he led the Jaguars to a 30-3 victory, throwing for 211 yards and a touchdown. In relief of Roethlisberger last week, Leftwich completed 7-of-14 passes for 73 yards (5.2 YPA), 0 TD and 0 INT. Although he still has use of the team's leading receiver in WR Mike Wallace (539 rec. yds) and leading pass catcher in TE Heath Miller (43 receptions), who have both scored six touchdowns, the Steelers will likely employ a heavy ground game. RB Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) expects to return to the field for the first time since Week 6 to join Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman in the backfield. After three straight games with 140+ rushing yards, the Steelers were held to a mere 95 yards (3.3 YPC) last week, as Dwyer managed just 56 yards on 19 carries (2.9 YPC) and Redman was even worse at 21 yards on eight attempts (2.6 YPC). But without many of their stars on defense, this Baltimore team has been among the worst in the NFL, ranking 26th in both passing defense (258 YPG) and rushing defense (132 YPG). Despite these poor rankings, Baltimore ranks 13th in scoring defense, allowing just 21.8 PPG.