Week 11 of the NFL season got underway on Thursday night with the Tennessee Titans earning an outright victory as a 3.5-point underdog against the Green Bay Packers. Four teams are on a bye which means we have 13 more games on the schedule between now and Monday night. Today, we're taking a look at three pairs of games on the slate with similar point spreads and deciding which side we'd rather take if we were forced to make a choice. Without further adieu, here's Week 11 of "would you rather?"
The Kansas City Chiefs control their destiny when it comes to earning the top seed in the AFC. They've won three straight games and are favored to make it four straight this weekend. Kansas City is a 5.5-point road favorite against their AFC West counterparts, the Los Angeles Chargers. Elsewhere, the Philadelphia Eagles are coming off their first loss of the season but oddsmakers expect them to get back into the win column. Philadelphia is a 6.5-point road favorite in Indianapolis against the Colts. Which elite team would you rather lay points with on the road?
Greg: The Chargers are more than halfway through their season and they’ve yet to beat a team with a winning record. You can place some of the blame on injuries, but I think we have to take a long, hard look at the coaching staff. Brandon Staley arrived as this brilliant defensive mind and his run defense for the past two years has looked like a group of 8-year-olds trying to stop the running of the bulls. He brought in players this year specifically to stonewall the run, and they’re still third-worst in the NFL. Don’t even get me started on Joe Lombardi’s Fisher-Price offense and Staley’s regression as an analytics guy. We’re being robbed of prime Justin Herbert years. Patrick Mahomes hasn’t blown out the Chargers in LA, but he is 4-0 and he’s playing like the best quarterback in the league right now.
Eagles GM Howie Roseman is making acquisitions like he’s going through a midlife crisis. I fully expect him to be rocking a diamond stud earring and a tattoo of a greased light pole by the end of the month. Will Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh be adequate stopgap solutions against the run while Jordan Davis is on the shelf? I’m skeptical. Jonathan Taylor can move the sticks against this defense. Maybe not enough to win, but at least enough to put the Colts in position for a backdoor cover. I’ll take the Chiefs.
Pete: Since Justin Herbert became quarterback of the Chargers, they've done fairly well against the Chiefs. Over five matchups during that time span, the Chargers are just 2-3, but two of those losses came in overtime and the other one was by just three points. These teams play close games and Los Angeles has potential to be a live underdog here. Mike Williams and Keenan Allen have been practicing this week. If either one of those guys is up on Sunday night, I think the Chargers stay within the number here.
As for the Eagles, Monday night was humbling. I think they'll bounce back this week. The Colts got the win last week against the Raiders, but the Raiders are just as big of a mess and teams often get a minor bump in their first game with their interim coach. Matt Ryan is back under center and we all agreed a month ago that he was done. The Philly defense gets right here, shuts the Colts down and they get back in the win column with a comfortable win. Fly Eagles fly.
The Buffalo Bills have lost back-to-back games and now see their home game against the Cleveland Browns moved from Buffalo to Detroit due to extreme weather conditions. Buffalo is a 7.5-point favorite in Detroit against the Browns. Elsewhere, the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals meet in Mexico City, where the 49ers are an 8-point favorite. Which large favorite would you rather lay over a touchdown with on a neutral field?
Greg: Like our colleague Frank Schwab, I was on the Browns when this game was scheduled to be played in three to six feet of snow, but then flipped when they moved the game to Detroit. Josh Allen is 4-0 with 14 touchdowns and two interceptions in a dome. The 2022 Browns defense is the worst thing to come out of Cleveland since Machine Gun Kelly. They allow the second-most points per drive and were truly horrendous coming off their bye.
We don’t yet know who Arizona’s quarterback will be for Monday night’s game. All we can be certain of is that the Kyler Murray-Kliff Kingsbury relationship is nearing its end. If this were a real marriage, this would be the point where they have a baby to try and save it. The Cardinals defense gives up way too many big plays for me to trust them against a Niners team loaded with playmakers. I have to fade the worse defense, though, so I’ll ride with the Bills.
Pete: I'll agree with both you and Frank that the location change due to weather in Buffalo favors the Bills. Cleveland has one of the stronger rushing attacks in football, while Buffalo struggles running the ball unless it's Josh Allen. The cozy confines of a dome here should allow Josh Allen to get back on track, and the Browns defense hasn't put up much opposition all year. Jacoby Brissett and the Browns won't be able to keep up here as Buffalo gets back on track.
The Cardinals are impossible to predict on a week-to-week basis and to make things even more complicated this week, Kyler Murray appears to be a game-time decision. The 49ers aren't as inconsistent as the Cardinals, but they're pretty damn inconsistent. You watch this team and look at all the weapons on offense and wonder why they struggle so much sometimes. I don't love betting them to cover big numbers, so I'll join Bills Mafia for this weekend.
With Buffalo faltering a bit over the past few weeks, everyone feels like they have a chance in the AFC East. In what is a surprisingly pivotal matchup for playoff prospects, the New England Patriots are 3-point home favorites over the New York Jets. Speaking of surprising New York teams, the 7-2 Giants are 3-point home favorites against the Detroit Lions. Which home favorite would you rather lay the field goal with?
Greg: Seven years ago, someone in the Jets organization broke a mirror and they haven’t beaten the Patriots since. The curse will be lifted, but it will have to be next year. New England leads the league in QB pressure percentage (29.7%), ranks third in defensive DVOA, and allows the second-fewest points per drive. They can be run on, but New York is fifth-worst in rushing success rate. The Pats have their way on the ground and make it 14 straight wins over the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets.
If you ever want a bunch of bozos with 11 followers flooding your mentions on Twitter, just tweet something negative about the Giants. Both of these teams can hang points on the other, which means this game probably comes down to one big stop or turnover. They’re 24th and 26th in defensive DVOA, so it’s anyone’s guess who comes up with it. Give me the Pats.
Pete: The Jets and Patriots met just three weeks ago at MetLife Stadium with the Patriots coming out on top by a score of 22-17. The story of that game was turnovers, as Zach Wilson threw three interceptions and the Jets defense had a pick-six taken off the board due to a questionable roughing the passer call. On one hand, you expect turnovers to be somewhat random and to regress towards the mean. However, this is Bill Belichick against a second-year quarterback who is clearly developing in the slow lane. Would anyone be shocked if this game is decided by a Zach Wilson turnover? I don't love the Patriots, but if I had to pick a side, I'd lean towards them.
The Giants are once again a short favorite. There's no denying the line is slightly questionable when you consider the 7-2 team is at home against a 3-6 team and they're giving just three points. The oddsmakers have not yet started believing in Big Blue and bettors have taken advantage, as New York is 7-2 against the spread. Trust me, I'm not exactly sure how the Giants are doing this either, but I'll ride with them until the money stops being green. Give me the G-Men.