Week 11 of the 2022 NFL season got going with the Green Bay Packers falling 27-17 to the Tennessee Titans at Lambeau Field. Sunday features several intriguing storylines, including how severe weather forced the Cleveland Browns-Buffalo Bills game to move to Detroit and the Minnesota Vikings playing as an underdog at home against the Dallas Cowboys.
What is worth looking at from a betting perspective? And what are the best plays to help you make smart wagering decisions?
Betting analysts Doug Kezirian, Tyler Fulghum, Joe Fortenbaugh, Anita Marks and Erin Dolan; fantasy and sports betting analysts Eric Moody and Andre Snellings; ESPN Stats & Information's Seth Walder; and Football Outsiders' Aaron Schatz offer their insight into the games with tips and picks.
Note: Lines from Caesars Sportsbook unless otherwise indicated.
The Cowboys (6-3) travel to U.S. Bank Stadium to face the Vikings (8-1) in what should be one of the best games of Week 11. Minnesota is currently a 1.5-point underdog despite winning seven straight games since Week 2. Who are you taking in this game and what are your feelings on the Vikings' chances to win the NFC (+450) after the Eagles' loss last week?
Fortenbaugh: Dallas -1.5. How can the Vikings be 8-1 while getting outgained by an average of 25 yards per game? Simple answer: They've been very fortunate. Minnesota is a good team, but it isn't a great team. Think of it like this: The Vikings are 8-1 but have outscored their opponents by just 35 total points this season. Compare that to the 5-4 Patriots, who have outscored their opponents by a grand total of 37 points this season. When you eliminate the record and look at it through the lens of a team's point differential, you see that the Vikings aren't as awesome as their record indicates.
Schatz: I feel like I'm beating a dead horse -- a dead horse that keeps coming to life and biting me back -- but the Vikings just aren't very good. They're really living on the edge with seven straight one-possession wins. It's rare to have an 8-1 team with a negative yards per play differential, and the Vikings are the first 8-1 team in the 42-year history of Football Outsiders metrics to have a negative DVOA. The Cowboys fell with their loss to Green Bay, but still rank fourth in DVOA. The Vikings are 17th. Dallas is better than Minnesota in all three phases this season. Give me the Cowboys for a cover.
I'm also not taking the Vikings to win the conference at +450. Our playoff odds simulation suggests that number is about half what it should be. In line for the No. 2 seed, the Vikings will be particularly hurt by the recent expansion of the playoffs to seven teams per conference. They are unlikely to win three straight games against good teams.
Fulghum: I like the Cowboys to win this game and cover, but I love the over 47.5. The Cowboys' defense has slipped of late and just allowed the disappointing Packers offense to score 31. Kirk Cousins always plays better at home and I trust Dallas' passing offense to do its part against a Vikings defense that is allowing 400.2 yards per game (29th in the NFL).
As far as the conference is concerned, I don't buy the Vikings as a legit contender. I don't think Cousins and a rookie head coach can survive what would likely be a three-game single-elimination route through the NFC playoffs. I believe Philadelphia, San Francisco and Dallas are more likely to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl than Minnesota.
Marks: I love the Vikings in this spot. I feel the wrong team is favored here. The Vikings are home after a monumental upset win against the Bills Mafia. They are one of the most balanced teams in the NFL, and one could argue that Justin Jefferson is the best WR and Cousins is one of the most understated QBs in the league. The Cowboys are coming off a loss to the Packers, are on their second straight road trip and have a more important matchup against the Giants just four days later on Thanksgiving. The Cowboys' defense has given up 60 points combined in their past two games, against the Packers and Bears.
The NBA season is here. Sign up for ESPN Fantasy Basketball today! Play for free
The New York Jets (6-3) enter Week 11 as a 3.5-point underdog to the New England Patriots (5-4) at Gillette Stadium. The Jets are one of the best teams in the NFL against the spread this season but are 8-20 ATS in their past 28 matchups against AFC East opponents and have failed to cover in four of their past five matchups after a bye week. What are your thoughts on the spread and total (38) for this game and who do you like?
Schatz: Jets +3.5 at New England is my favorite bet of the week. Both defenses have been very strong this year, but the Jets' offense (19th in DVOA) has been better than the Patriots' offense (26th). I know we're used to Bill Belichick confusing young quarterbacks, but Robert Saleh might get Mac Jones pretty confused too. A defensive struggle is likely to be a close game, giving the Jets a good chance to cover even if they don't take the W.
Fulghum: Jets and Patriots in Foxborough sure seems like a slugfest. I'd play the total under 38, which is uncomfortably low, but look at how each team is trying to win. The Jets are 6-3 by limiting Zach Wilson's opportunities and leaning on a strong defense (see the 20-17 win vs. the Bills). I have no concern over Saleh and his staff devising a game plan against a struggling Mac Jones, and Belichick will surely have something fun lined up for Wilson in this road environment.
What are the most important things our analytics say?
Walder: There are three games for which the FPI disagrees with the betting market.
FPI prediction: Raiders by 3.8
"Somebody has to win this game," Nathaniel Hackett said this week. And I am far from the first to point out; that is not true! Putting aside the numbers for a moment, I'm happy the FPI is on the winning side if this game somehow ends up in a tie, which would be so cosmically fitting. Back in reality, this is a huge disagreement with the market. The most glaring difference between these two teams is on defense, where Denver has one of the best units and the Raiders have one of the worst. But offensively, we can't underrate how poor the Broncos have been. At -.06 EPA/P with Russell Wilson on the field, that makes them a bottom-three unit. While the difference between these two teams has been larger on defense, offense is more predictive from week to week.
FPI prediction: Bengals by 9.8
Even outside of the FPI, I can't stop thinking about this chart posted by Tom Bliss from the NFL league office's analytics group, which is a week old but still I think applies. At the time, the chart indicated that the Steelers had been the luckiest team in the NFL in terms of win probability gained via fumble recoveries, opponent dropped interceptions, opponent dropped passes and opponent field goals and extra points. Most of that is not reflected in the FPI's ratings, so that ought to make us even more bullish on the Bengals, whom the FPI already loves relative to Pittsburgh.
FPI prediction: Chiefs by 10
There's one crucial reason why the FPI likes the Chiefs here: strength of schedule. No team has faced a harder strength of schedule this season thus far than the Chiefs, and no team has had an easier strength of schedule than the Chargers. So when we add that context to the fact that the Chiefs are the best offense in football and have been better on both sides of the ball than the Chargers, that's why the model is so bullish on Kansas City.
What is your favorite bet for Week 11?
Fortenbaugh: Bears team total over 23.5 points. Why is this so low? Chicago has eclipsed this mark in each of its past four outings, during which time the franchise is averaging 31 points per game. This matchup takes place in a dome against a Falcons defense that ranks 27th in scoring and 31st in opponent yards per play. Look for Justin Fields and the Bears to hang another big number on Sunday.
Marks: New York Giants -3 vs. Lions. Both teams are playing on Turkey Day. The Giants have a big game against the Cowboys, but with this coaching staff will not be looking ahead. The Giants' offense is eighth in EPA, and Daniel Jones has only two interceptions this season. The Giants just don't make mistakes. Detroit is last in yards per pass allowed on third down, where Jones thrives.
Snellings: Lions-Giants over 45 points. The Lions tend to play in video game scoring contests. Their combined point totals have been at least 58 in six of their nine games, including two of their past three. They had a game last month where 93 (!) total points were scored. I know the Giants like to play ball control and defense, but I think the Lions' scoring tendencies (on both sides of the ball) will rule the day.
Moody: Rams +3. at Saints. Cooper Kupp is out with an ankle injury and will miss time for the Rams. There was some good news for Los Angeles in that Matthew Stafford will be back under center for Sunday's game against the Saints. Kupp's loss is devastating for the Rams' offense since he accounted for 35.7% of all receptions entering Week 10, the highest mark in the league. Against the Rams, the Rams can prioritize the running game, and this is a perfect matchup to do so. New Orleans ranks 24th in run stop win rate and is dealing with numerous injuries. The Saints are 2-7-1 against the spread and Andy Dalton will be under center. My recommendation is to back the underdog Rams.
What is your favorite player prop?
Snellings: Brian Robinson Jr. over 63.5 rushing yards. Robinson runs angry and is coming off the best game of his young career with 26 carries for 86 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles in Philadelphia. The Texans are cartoonishly bad against the run. They've given up almost 200 more yards than the next-worst team in the NFL (the Packers), and the Packers have played an extra game! Robinson has a great chance of nabbing his first century game in the NFL on Sunday.
Moody: Robinson Jr. over 63.5 rushing yards. I agree with Andre on Robinson. The Texans have allowed an astounding 181.8 rushing yards per game. With Robinson, the Commanders would be wise to exploit that weakness. Since Week 6, he's averaging 16.8 rushing attempts and 56.6 rushing yards per game. In the last three games, only the Giants (34.4), Ravens (30.4) and Bears (36.0) had more rushing attempts per game than the Commanders (28.8).