The last three weeks of NFL action have been wilder and more unpredictable than Hunter S. Thompson in Vegas with an uncapped per diem. Week 10 was full of loathing, as an astounding 74% of survivor pool entries were eliminated. Will this topsy-turvy trend continue, or will the upcoming slate mark a return to football sanity?
Before we dip into this week's picks, let's take a gander at last week's:
Week 10 picks
Best Bets: 0-1 (YTD: 14-5)
Leans: 1-0 (YTD: 9-2)
Traps to avoid: 1 elimination avoided (YTD: 9)
On to the Week 11 picks!
Cleveland Browns (-10) vs. Detroit Lions
Running back Nick Chubb is still on the COVID-19/reserve list and QB Baker Mayfield is nursing multiple injuries, but their backups are more than adequate if either end up missing this game. D'Ernest Johnson racked up 325 total yards in his two starts as a Chubb sub, while Case Keenum may actually be an upgrade over Mayfield. Regardless of who's on the field, the Browns are going to pound the rock against a Lions run defense that has given up over 100 yards rushing to running backs in five of their last six contests. Detroit's anemic offense is averaging 14.6 points per game since Week 1 and it may get even worse on Sunday if QB Jared Goff is sidelined with the oblique injury he suffered against Pittsburgh. One of the Lions' options behind Goff is Tim Boyle, who has never started an NFL game and threw for 12 touchdowns and 26 interceptions in college. The other candidate to take snaps would be David Blough, who is a good husband, but 0-5 as a starter.
Nearly 18% of this week's entries are on Cleveland, who doesn't have much future value.
Los Angeles Chargers (-5.5) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers aren't so much limping into this game as they are crawling like the girl in "The Ring." Seven days after tying with the Lions, they may be without seven key players. Linebacker T.J. Watt, cornerback Joe Haden, and offensive guards Kevin Dotson and Trai Turner were all knocked out of Sunday's matchup with injuries, wide receiver Chase Claypool is questionable to play with a bad toe, and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and QB Ben Roethlisberger are both on the COVID-19/reserve list. Pittsburgh's offensive line was already a point of concern prior to Week 10. If the Chargers allow QB Justin Herbert to air the ball out like he was doing earlier in the season, they can take advantage of a Steelers secondary that's been getting burned by guys like Justin Fields and Teddy Bridgewater. Knock this down to a lean if Roethlisberger suits up, but we'll keep it as a best bet if Mason Rudolph gets the nod.
Only 1% have locked in Los Angeles for their pick, making this a great option for those who like to take low-owned teams and watch the survivor world burn. Their future value lies in a Week 16 game at Houston.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-10.5) vs. New York Giants
Well, Tom Brady was 51-14 coming off a loss, now he's 51-15. If you were born the last time he lost three regular season games in a row, cheers — you're of legal drinking age in Canada. Bruce Arians lit into his team following their embarrassing loss at Washington and I seriously doubt that Tampa will sleepwalk through Monday night's game. The Giants' defense ranks 25th in completion percentage allowed, opening the door for a Brady rebound.
Just over 11.5% of entries have taken the Bucs, who travel to play the Jets in Week 17.
TRAPS TO AVOID
Baltimore Ravens (-6) at Chicago Bears
There are two red flags in this game for me. First of all, the Ravens' offensive line has been about as effective at stopping rushers lately as a Walmart greeter on Black Friday. Baltimore has allowed nearly four sacks per contest over their last four outings, two of which ended in losses. Chicago is logging the fifth-most sacks per game. If defensive stars Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks return to the Bears' lineup, I would be very hesitant to take the Ravens this week. Another reason I don't love Baltimore in this matchup is the fact that they're ranked 30th in deep passes surrendered and Chicago's rookie QB Justin Fields has begun to get more comfortable uncorking rainbow shots down the field.
A tad more than 3% of entries are on the Ravens.
Tennessee Titans (-10.5) vs. Houston Texans
This isn't as much about the matchup as it is about the Titans having a cakewalk schedule down the stretch and nearly 52% of entries on them this week. If you don't take Tennessee and they lose, you've just cut your pool down by half. If you lay off of them and they win, that's fine too, because you're in the minority of entrants who have them available for home games against Jacksonville and Miami, and a road game against these same Texans.
Stats provided by Pro Football Reference, CBS Sports, and nfl.com.