Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:01 AM

Essentials - Week 11

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Carolina (-4.5/49.5) at Detroit, 1 p.m. ET, FOX: Matt Patricia’s Lions have defeated Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers this season. Cam Newton has been reminded of this, as will Jared Goff in two weeks. Those upsets may put a target on the back of a team rebuilding on the run, having traded Golden Tate and entering a three-game homestand that includes Thursday’s Thanksgiving opener against the Bears. Detroit will have a better chance to stop Newton due to DE Ziggy Ansah and CB Darius Slay being available, so Patricia will have most of his chess pieces in play to try and contain an offense looking to rebound from a 52-21 loss to Pittsburgh. Newton is having his finest season since winning MVP in 2015, so Carolina has yet to lose consecutive games. Outside of WR Torrey Smith remaining out, the Panthers are relatively healthy. Detroit will be without DT A’Shawn Robinson, WR Marvin Jones, Jr. and TE Michael Roberts. QB Matthew Stafford has been sacked 16 times over the last two games and will need better protection to help him get the ball to young weapons Kerryon Johnson and Kenny Golladay.

Dallas at Atlanta (-3.5/50), 1 p.m. ET, FOX: The Cowboys saved their season with a win over the Eagles and have to go out on the road and do it again before moving on to Thursday’s Thanksgiving clash with Washington. Dallas remains without LB Sean Lee, but was able to generate pressure against Philadelphia and will look to try and pick up where the Browns left off in hassling Matt Ryan into mistakes. Offensively, Ezekiel Elliott is playing at a high level and could make life difficult for a Falcons run defense that surrendered a 92-yard TD run to rookie Nick Chubb to swing last week’s upset loss in Cleveland. Atlanta had won three straight prior to the loss, which includes consecutive home games, and Ryan does have his full compliment of receivers to work with against a vulnerable Dallas defense.

Cincinnati at Baltimore (-5.5/43.5), 1 p.m. ET, CBS: Lamar Jackson will get his first NFL start with Joe Flacco legitimately hurt, nursing a hip injury that won’t require surgery. We’ll see if he ever gets his job back. Jackson hasn’t really played the position of quarterback this regular season, executing packages in the red zone but not getting a chance to find a rhythm and truly match wits with a defense, so we’ll see what rust has developed. The Bengals aren’t exactly humming defensively, having fired Teryl Austin after a 51-14 home loss to the Saints. Marvin Lewis will look to frustrate Jackson and will serve as his own defensive coordinator here in a humongous game for both teams. LB Vontaze Burfict may return, but that group will still be shorthanded even if he does go since Nick Vigil and Preston Brown are out. RB Joe Mixon is expected to play through a knee issue that cast legitimate doubt on his availability, while WR A.J. Green is out again. Can Jackson go on the road and keep his team’s realistic playoff hopes alive? It’s very interesting that the Ravens have been bet up as high as a six-point favorite. We’ll see if the public faith in Jackson is rewarded.

Tennessee at Indianapolis (-2/51), 1 p.m. ET, CBS: Marcus Mariota has looked like a different guy over the past few weeks, apparently getting healthy around the London trip and the bye that followed. He’s got four touchdown passes over the last two games, wins over New England and Dallas where he played almost flawlessly. Given how well the defense has been playing, coming in tops in the NFL in points allowed (16.8), the Titans have emerged as a serious threat to win an AFC South that they trailed by just one game entering this one. Indianapolis avoided slipping to last place in the division by banishing Jacksonville there last weekend and have seen Andrew Luck throw 10 touchdowns against just one pick during its current three-game win streak. He’s thrown for at least three TDs in six straight games, the third-longest such streak in NFL history. The ‘over’ is on a 5-1 run in Colts games, while the under has hit in four of the last five involving Tennessee. At 50.5 points approaching kickoff, this will be the highest total of the season in a game involving the Titans.

Houston (-3/42) at Washington, 1 p.m. ET, CBS: The Texans lead the AFC South and come off a bye, so we’ll get a good look at their killer instinct here. With a second date with Tennessee on tap next week, Houston can really take some pressure off itself by answering the bell after an extra week to heal and prepare. The time off has allowed DBs Jonathan Joseph (ankle) and Andre Hal (shoulder) to heal up and re-enter the mix. Rookie slot WR Keke Coutee is also back from a hamstring injury. The Texans have won six straight games, riding a defense that ranks seventh-best in points allowed and has excelled throughout the streak. Deshaun Watson has also improved and got an extra week with new acquisition Demariyus Thomas as Houston looks to solve a defense that has keyed Washington’s ascent to the top of the NFC East. Alex Smith leads an offense that hasn’t cracked 20 points in any of their last four games and will again be working with shorthanded with top tackle Trent Williams, guard Shawn Lauvao, RB Chris Thompson and WR Jamison Crowder all sidelined.

Tampa Bay at N.Y. Giants (-2.5/53), 1 p.m. ET, FOX: This is one of Week 11’s two games featuring teams that have turned their attention to next season already. Still, there’s intrigue in Eli Manning making his last stand before he’s inevitably replaced by Kyle Lauletta and Ryan Fitzpatrick remaining ahead of Jameis Winston on the depth chart. The Bucs have already fired their defensive coordinator and will have offensive coordinator Todd Monken call plays today instead of head coach Dirk Koetter, so they’re in full-on experimental mode as they attempt to fix a red zone attack that failed to produce a touchdown in five trips against the ‘Skins last week. Manning led a fourth-quarter rally in Santa Clara to get past the 49ers on Monday night and will be looking to lead the Giants to back-to-back wins for the first time since December of 2016. He’s facing a depleted defense that is now down their second elite linebacker in Lavonte David, who suffered a knee injury last week and is one of a number of casualties on that side of the ball.

Pittsburgh (-5.5/46.5) at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. ET, CBS: The Steelers and Jaguars get together for the first time since last season’s divisional playoff shootout that the Jags won 45-42. Ben Roethlisberger threw five touchdown passes in that game and is coming off a five-touchdown effort last Thursday night in Carolina. He’ll be looking to take advantage of a Jaguars secondary that has looked nothing like last year’s elite group this season but does get A.J. Bouye back from a calf injury that has left Patrick Ramsey out on an island, quite literally, without his tag-team partner. The Jags forced seven Roethlisberger turnovers in last season’s two meetings, so this is a game that the future Hall of Famer has certainly had circled on the schedule. Although Le’Veon Bell is officially done, RB James Conner has cleared concussion protocol and will be available for a Steelers offense that is at full strength with the exception of tackle Marcus Gilbert. Pittsburgh owns a five-game winning steak and is intent on revenge, while Jacksonville has dropped five straight and is hoping that Leonard Fournette’s return in a losing cause last week can help spark a resurgence.

Denver at L.A. Chargers (-7/46.5), 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS: The Chargers are hoping to have Joey Bosa for the first time this season to help upgrade a defense that started slowly but has come together over the past few weeks as Melvin Ingram has found a rhythm and other injured key cogs played their way into shape. Philip Rivers has been excellent in letting RB Melvin Gordon lead the offense and will have WRs Keenan Allen (hip), Mike Williams (groin) and tight end Antonio Gates (knee) available to him, so an offense that has scored at least 20 points in every game this season will look to solve a Broncos defense that it has lost two in six of eight. The Broncos won’t have LB Brandon Marshall or safety Dymonte Thomas but have cleared DBs Darian Stewart and Bradley Roby to return. A new-look offense relying on young playmakers will have Royce Freeman (ankle) and DaeShawn Hamilton (knee) available and will be looking to make better use of rookie Courtland Sutton, who is stepping into Demariyus Thomas’ shoes.

Oakland at Arizona (-5/41), 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS: It’s never a good thing when teams fall over themselves trying to tell you they’re still playing for this season when they’re obviously not. This is an awful matchup, but if you’re reading this, you’re looking for a lean. The Cardinals will again be without key safety Budda Baker but could be sturdier up front with guard Mike Iupati back and tackle D.J. Humphries a game-time decision. Protecting QB Josh Rosen is the team’s biggest on-field priority, so they’re fortunate that the Raiders don’t feature much of a pass rush. Oakland QB Derek Carr has inspired little confidence over the past few weeks and will be working without starting WRs Martavis Bryant and Jordy Nelson, which leaves Seth Roberts and Brandon LaFell as the team’s top targets alongside tight end Jared Cook. They’re going to leave the roof open in Glendale amid clear conditions.

Philadelphia at New Orleans (-7.5/56), 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX: - The Eagles are expected to have tackle Lane Johnson (knee) available up front, which makes a huge difference since Philly is at a disadvantage whenever he can’t go due to backup Hala Vaitai often playing turnstile out there. The Saints also have a tackle issue with Terron Armstead ruled out, so we’ll see whether Drew Brees will get the time to throw he needs in order to pick apart a secondary that won’t have Jalen Mills and has also lost Ronald Darby for the season. Sidney Jones (hamstring) will play, but you can count on the Saints testing just how healthy he truly is in this one. Philly allowed a season-high 27 points against Dallas last week and couldn’t get a stop when it mattered most, so head coach Doug Peterson is likely to be extremely aggressive with his play calling. The total has been bet up from the opening number of 54.5 as a result.

Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA or e-mail him at [email protected]

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