There are some cracking NFL Week 11 games to look forward to, including the New England Patriots bidding to avenge their Super Bowl LII defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles. Lindy’s Sports’ UK editor Simon Milham attempts to find the value plays.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns

Cleveland Browns finally managed to win a home game, their third of what has been a difficult season, when downing the Buffalo Bills 19-16 last Sunday.

The Steelers moved to 5-4 on the year, winning their fourth consecutive game, holding off the Los Angeles Rams at home, 17-12.

Thursday’s clash will be the first of two meetings in three weeks for the AFC North rivals and the Browns will hope to gain a first win in nine meetings and a fourth in 32.

Given the Browns’ struggles against Mike Tomlin’s men, and their modest home record this term, some will find it a little surprising to see the Steelers as 2.5-point handicap underdogs at BetVictor NFL odds of .

A quick turnaround for the road team is invariably tricky. Since Thursday Night Football became a regular occurrence in 2006, the home teams have won most games each season, the only exception coming in 2013, when seven of the 13 visiting teams were victorious. The home teams have won five and lost four of the Thursday Night Football tilts this season. The hosts prevailed in 87 of the last 141 Thursday games.

In their two previous TNF meetings, the home team won, although overtime could not separate them in last season’s meeting (on a Sunday) in Cleveland, and the game ended in a 22-21 tie.

The Steelers have been involved in some close games, their last three losses coming by a combined nine points and they are still in the AFC North title race, two games behind the Baltimore Ravens.

While back-up QB Mason Rudolph is just doing enough to keep opponents honest, the young offense has been bailed out time and again by the defense – and some helpful officiating.

However, after three-straight home games, they will finish with five of the next seven on the road, although trips to the Jets, Cardinals and Bengals won’t fill them with much dread before they end their regular-season campaign at Baltimore on December 29.

The Browns schedule eases after this, with the Dolphins, Bengals (twice) and Cardinals among the low-hanging fruit. So, there is plenty at stake.

The Browns had a few problems running the ball in short-yardage situations against the Bills and that trend may continue against a solid Steelers front.

Yet we also got a glimpse of what Kareem Hunt could being to the table on his first game back after suspension. The former Chief had four carries for 30 yards and caught seven of nine targets for 44 yards, while also showing his versatility as a blocker for running back Nick Chubb.

The Browns face a better attack than Buffalo could provide and while we don’t have a great deal of faith in Rudolph, we have less faith in the Browns coaching staff, which means we must side with the Steelers and the points.

TIP: Pittsburgh Steelers +2.5 points at

 

Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers

The most surprising win last weekend was not the Miami Dolphins winning in Indianapolis, where they invariably have a good record. It was in New Orleans, where the 7-1 Saints fell 26-9 to the 1-7 Atlanta Falcons, who were double-digit underdogs.

The bye week certainly helped the Falcons, who face NFC South rivals in their next four contests, starting at Carolina, where they have won and lost on alternate trips in their last six in Charlotte, winning last season’s clash 24-10.

On Sunday, the Panthers were a shade unfortunate to lose at a snowy Green Bay, again seeing a few dubious calls going against them, which has been a running theme this term. There should be no such weather issues on Sunday, with the forecast set fair.

Atlanta’s defense showed up against the Saints, sacking Drew Brees six times. They identified that Brees no longer has the arm strength to push the ball downfield and the Saints are a three-target team with little deep threat outside of receiver Michael Thomas.

The Panthers also have a QB in Kyle Allen who is unlikely to burn the Falcons’ secondary. They rely heavily on running back Christian McCaffrey and the occasional big game from aging tight end Greg Olsen.

On Sunday, the Falcons produced legitimate pressure from their quartet up front, the coverage was much tighter thanks to experienced coordinator Raheem Morris offering a different perspective to the defense. Shifting young free safety Damontae Kazee back to free safety also helped, as he has not been comfortable covering slot receivers.

Atlanta worked hard on the running game during the bye and offensive coordinator Dick Koetter’s willingness to commit to the run paid off handsomely against the Saints – which was just as well, as QB Matt Ryan looked rusty on his first outing following injury.

The Falcons suffered two significant offensive injuries, however. Tight End Austin Hopper is expected to miss some time with a knee injury and running back Devonta Freeman is battling a foot sprain. Fortunately, Brian Hill looked a very capable deputy in relief on Sunday and helped burn the clock against a stout Saints defense.

The Panthers have surrendered 17 rushing touchdowns this season, the most in the NFL and they are allowing 5.3 yards per rush. They allowed 163 yards on the ground against the Packers from 27 carries, with Aaron Jones running in three scores.

Conversely, they can rush the passer with great effect, as their league-leading 36 QB sacks underlines.

This is one of the more intriguing clashes of Week 11 and the BetVictor odds have the Panthers as 5.5-point favourites on the handicap at 10/11.

The points total might be the way to go, however. Layers are expecting something of a shoot-out with the line set at 50.5 points. With the Falcons set to run the ball and Allen having issues throwing downfield, it may be worth erring on the conservative side.

TIP: Carolina Panthers to lead at HT and FT at

TIP: Under 50.5 total points at

Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are on a two-game winning streak and in danger of scuppering their franchise for years to come. That’s the general feeling of most observers, who see the south Florida club’s chances of taking one of the top-tier quarterbacks in April’s NFL Draft fading with every win.

The Fins have improved each week, although their two wins came against clubs with flaws: The Jets are an equally poor team and the Colts were listless with Brain Hoyer at QB.

Miami should have beaten Buffalo three weeks ago, but eventually found a way to lose by double digits, the Bills recovering an onside kick and running it back for a touchdown to seal victory.

The Bills have a problem with their run defense, but Miami does not have the horses to exploit the weakness. Likewise, the Bills appear to have an offensive identity crisis. Brian Daboll failed to give his running backs enough of a workload against the Browns, who were 30th against the run going into last Sunday’s clash with Cleveland.

Given that QB Josh Allen has problems throwing an accurate deep ball, it would seem an odd decision not to give impressive rookie rusher Devin Singletary more of a workload.

The 6-2 Bills need this more than the Dolphins and must win if they want to be considered a playoff contender. While you have to like the attitude head coach Brain Flores has brought to the Dolphins, this Bills defense will pose some tough questions and it is hard to see Miami keeping pace in what is likely to be a relatively low-scoring contest.

TIP: Miami to score under 17 points at

TIP: Buffalo Bills to lead at HT and FT at

 

Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts

We have seen three consecutive weeks of flat performances from the Colts against teams who, on paper, should have been put away with ease.

Their home loss to the Dolphins on Sunday showed up plenty of flaws. The secondary’s zone coverage was routinely sliced by a team short on talent, and when they played man coverage, they were too often flagged for pass interference.

The pass rush is not getting home and when it does, almost getting hands on the opposing QB, they let him squirm through their grasp. Brain Hoyer is too aggressive and while injured Jacoby Brissett is an upgrade, he is often too tentative.

The offensive line has not been playing to a high level and Hall of Famer Adam Vinatieri is the worst kicker in the league at present, making just 73.7

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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