It’s Week 11 in the NFL and we start to look forward to who will be in and who will be out of play-off contention, but before that we’re still looking to see who will be winning and losing in the early kick-offs on NFL Red Zone.
The Week started on Thursday with the New England Patriots looming large on a hot streak, and now the rest of the NFL has to respond to the challenge being laid down.
The two teams with the best records in the NFL, the Packers and Titans, are both looking to improve on their 8-2 records in the NFL Red Zone games this week, while the Bills, who aren’t too far behind, are also in action.
There are nine early features this week so plenty to pick from, but here at the top tips for the top games from this week’s early slate, along with our usual pick of the most likely touchdown scorers in our Red Zone TD acca.
Indianapolis Colts @ Buffalo Bills
The Colts are improving all the time but at 5-5 they’re still on the outside of the play-off picture looking in and have yet to beat a decent team as they head to Buffalo to face the 6-3 Bills in a rematch of their tough play-off loss from January.
Indianapolis could, and perhaps should, have won that close AFC wild-card game and as we head into Week 11 we’re still not totally sure about how good both of these talent-packed sides are. Both have padded out their win columns against poor teams and both have suffered bad losses.
Finishing off games has been a problem. The Colts have lost twice in overtime and have been outscored 96-62 in the fourth quarters while all three of Buffalo’s defeats have been by seven points or less. Josh Allen leads the second-best scoring attack in the lead but they’ve not got the points when they needed them and their numbers are bolstered by bullying teams like the Dolphins (80pts in two games), Texans (40pts) and Jets (45pts).
If the Colts are to win then running back Jonathan Taylor has to get the better of the league’s top defence. Taylor is tied with the injured Derrick Henry at the top of the rushing yards charts and is looking for an eighth straight game with 100 total yards and a TD.
Buffalo’s defence is the best in the league allowing just 15 points per game and they’ll need to lean on that here to get the win in what should be a tough battle in the trenches. Taylor will get his yards and while Buffalo may get the win, I can’t see it being by many so I’m taking the Colts with the points.
Best bet: Colts +6.5pts at 21/20
Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings
Aaron Rodgers was underwhelming in his return from Covid and controversy last week, but this Green Bay defence was again the star as they pitched a shutout against the Seahawks to fire the Packers into the top seed in the NFC.
That Packers will have to continue to play lights-out defence in Minnesota, where Rodgers is 7-6, after the Vikings produced a superb win at the Chargers last week. Kirk Cousins and his crew are loaded on offence in the air and on the ground and they are seemingly always involved in tight games.
Eight of the Vikings’ nine games have been settled by a touchdown or less including the last six, and although at 4-5 most have gone against them, Mike Zimmer’s side continue to hang tough right until the end.
They’ve also had three overtime games and four games decided by three points or less so you just don’t leave one of their games early!
Green Bay’s back-up running back AJ Dillon will start with Aaron Jones out, but they’ll need more from Rodgers than last week and his 50 career touchdown passes against seven interceptions against the Vikings bodes well.
Interceptions have been key for the Packers – they’re 8-2 this season and the eight wins all came with an interception while the two losses came without one. The only problem is Cousins takes care of the ball brilliantly, with 18 TDs this season against just two picks.
Yes, Rodgers is the star, but whether the Packers cover a 10th straight points spread and come away with the victory here rests on that defence – it’s not often over the years we’ve been able to say that! All four of Minnesota’s home games have gone under the points total this season and whoever gets the ‘W’ here will have to get it the hard way.
Best Bet: Under 4.5 touchdowns at 13/10
New Orleans Saints @ Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are very narrow favourites here, nominally because they’re at home as this is a coin toss of a game really against the Saints – who suffered an upset loss here last year in Philly QB Jalen Hurts’ first NFL start.
Hurts and Miles Sanders both ran for 100 yards in last year’s game, the first pair to do that against New Orleans since 2017, and Sanders could return from injury this Sunday to have a crack at the league’s best rush defence this season.
He’ll re-join an Eagles side that’s been running for fun, chewing up 209 yards per game over the last three weeks so both sides will be flexing their running muscles here to see who can come out on top. The Saints will be desperate to win and avoid losing three straight for the first time in five years.
The Saints beat Tom Brady’s Buccaneers before tough losses against Atlanta and Tennessee, while the Eagles are yet to win at home with all four of their wins coming on the road. It just shows that this season is panning out to be one of the most unpredictable on record.
That’s obviously not ideal from a betting standpoint and at times this season you have to get on the bandwagon before it’s even built up a head of steam. To that end, although the unders on points here is a good shout and watch out for Hurts to score a rushing TD, let’s roll with Saints QB Trevor Siemian to find the end zone.
Sean Payton coached the best passing attack in the league with Drew Brees and there are just signs he could get something out of the much-maligned Siemian – who had 298 yards and two passing TDs last week against the Titans. Let’s see if he can do something similar this week.
Best Bet: Trevor Siemian over 1.5 passing TDs at 13/10
Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans
The Titans are still figuring out how to play without superstar running back Derrick Henry, but they’re still getting the job done and they’re still the top dogs in the AFC at 8-2 after last week’s win over the Saints.
Tennessee have won six on the spin, including the last five in a row against teams that made last year’s play-offs, they’re just the second team to ever achieve such a feat. Now they get the 1-8 Texans so it should be a walk in the park right?
Well, yes it should, but Titans coach Mike Vrable will be warning against complacency all week when facing a team that’s lost eight on the bounce. Titans do have memories of letting the Jest beat them earlier this season to keep them on their toes.
Getting that running game going again with veteran Adrian Peterson, Jeremy McNichols and D’Onta Foreman – but facing a Texans defence that’s the second-worst defending the run is a great chance to iron out their wrinkles.
The Titans have played some tough injuries as well this season, having used the most players in the league (82) and having 15 out on injured reserve, but they keep on winning and although this season has proved anything is possible the shock of the week shouldn’t be coming here.
Best Bet: Titans –8.5pts at 4/5
AJ Dillon, Stefon Diggs, Christian McCaffrey to score TDs at 8/1
AJ Dillon will lead Green Bay’s rushing attack against the Vikings with Aaron Jones injured. The bruising Dillon ran for 66 yards and two TDs last week after Jones went down, and on his only other previous start he piled up 129 yards and two TDs.
Christian McCaffrey is still nursing a hamstring problem but he’s had a heavy workload for the Panthers these last two weeks with 27 carries for 147 yards. All eyes will be on Cam Newton near the goal line but that’ll just leave space for ‘Run CMC’ to get back into the end zone against a Washington team that’s allowed 12 TDs to running back in just nine games this season.
Buffalo’s top receiver Stefon Diggs received all the attention from QB Josh Allen last week as he was targeted 13 times and grabbed eight balls for 162 yards and a score. He’s got three TDs in four and can continue that streak against the Colts.