Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions (GB -3.5, O/U 51.5)
A banged-up Packers squad visits a desperate Lions team in the best early matchup of Week 11.
Green Bay (6-3) is coming off a bye but will still likely be without stars Charles Woodson, Clay Matthews and Greg Jennings. Jordy Nelson got banged up two weeks ago but could be back this week.
Not that Aaron Rodgers needs every weapon at his disposal, though. The Packers pivot is 6-1 in his career against Detroit with 16 touchdowns and only four picks.
The 4-5 Lions can’t afford many more mistakes if they’re going to return to the playoffs this season. Detroit had a two-game win streak snapped last week with a 34-24 loss at Minnesota, when the Lions were gashed for 171 rushing yards by Adrian Peterson.
Green Bay isn’t known for a strong running attack, but the Packers did put up 176 yards on the ground in their last game against a decent Arizona defence.
Green Bay has won 20 of the last 23 meetings in the series between NFC North rivals. Packers coach Mike McCarthy is 11-1 against the Lions, and Green Bay is 5-1 after the bye week during McCarthy’s tenure.
The Lions have gone over the total in eight of their last 11 games, while Green Bay has gone over in five of its last six.
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos (DEN -8, O/U 48.5)
Denver has a chance to take firm control of the AFC West when it hosts the Chargers in the best late game of the week.
The Broncos (6-3) hold a two-game lead on San Diego (4-5) and also hold a head-to-head advantage. Denver, of course, came back from a 24-0 halftime deficit to beat the Chargers 35-24 on Monday Night Football last month.
Denver is rolling, having won four straight games by eight points or more. Last week, the Broncos scored defensive and special teams touchdowns to hammer the Panthers 36-14. Peyton Manning owns the league’s best passer rating and has completed a career-best 69.7 per cent of his passes. And the Broncos defence has racked up 12 sacks in the last two games.
Meanwhile, the Chargers are in their usual midseason tailspin. San Diego has lost four of its last five, including a 34-24 loss at Tampa Bay last week.
Philip Rivers, who was embarrasingly bad in the second half of that loss to Denver earlier this season, has killed the Chargers with interceptions. Though Rivers threw for three TDs last week, he threw two second-half picks, one returned 83 yards for a game-turning score.
Rivers has been very good in Denver of late, however, winning the last three visits and five of the last six at Mile High.
Five of San Diego’s last six games have gone over the total, and only 15 of its last 54 road games have gone under. Denver has gone over the total in seven of its last eight division games, and 16 of its last 23 games at home.
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (BAL -3.5, O/U 40)
Weird seeing the Ravens favoured at Pittsburgh, isn’t it? But that’s the case after last week’s injury to Ben Roethlisberger, which saw the spread move from Pittsburgh -3 to Baltimore -3.5 for Sunday night’s AFC North clash.
The line move appears to be with good reason. Pittsburgh has been without Roethlisberger four times against Baltimore since 2004, and the Steelers lost all four of those games. Byron Leftwich, who hasn’t made a start since 2009 and hasn’t won a start since 2006, will start under centre Sunday for Pittsburgh.
Leftwich did earn a victory in relief last week, though that win over the Chiefs had to do more with the Steelers defence (an interception set up the game-winning FG in overtime).
The Ravens (7-2) lead 6-3 Pittsburgh by a game for top spot in the division. Baltimore has won six of seven, including a 55-20 dismantling of the Raiders last week.
While Baltimore is historically dominant at home, the Ravens are just 2-2 on the road this season. But they’ve won 11 straight division games, including a season sweep of the Steelers last year.
The over has cashed in seven of the last nine meetings in Pittsburgh, also pushing once. But the under is 7-0 in the Steelers’ last seven games at home. The underdog is 7-3-1 against the spread in the last 11 games between the teams.
Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers (SF -5, O/U not available)
Question marks abound for Monday night’s meeting of two of the top teams in the NFC.
Both the Bears (7-2) and Niners (6-2-1) could be without their starting quarterbacks in a game that could determine home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
Jay Cutler and Alex Smith both got their bells rung last week and were forced out of their respective games. The playing status of both QBs was uncertain as of Thursday.
As a result, only a handful of sportsbooks had posted a spread on this game by Thursday, making the Niners five-point favourites. A total was not posted.
If the backup quarterbacks are forced into action for both teams, that would seem to give San Francisco an advantage. Rookie Colin Kaepernick completed 11 of 17 passes for 117 yards and also ran for 66 yards and a touchdown to help the Niners rally for a 24-24 tie last week against the Rams. Jason Campbell was 11 for 19 and 94 yards through the air in the second half of Chicago’s loss to Houston.
The favourite and the home team are both 5-1 against the spread in the last six meetings between the teams. Both squads have shown a tendency to play good defence following a sub-par performance. The Bears are 19-8 under the total in their last 27 games after a loss, and the Niners are 13-3 to the under after allowing 150-plus rushing yards in their previous game.
Other Week 11 betting lines include:
Cleveland at Dallas (Cowboys -8, O/U 43.5)
Jacksonville at Houston (Texans -15, O/U 40.5)
Cincinnati at Kansas City (Bengals -3.5, O/U 43.5)
NY Jets at St. Louis (Rams -3.5, O/U 38.5)
Arizona at Atlanta (Falcons -9.5, O/U 44)
Tampa Bay at Carolina (Bucs -2, O/U 49)
Philadelphia at Washington (Redskins -3.5, O/U 43.5)
New Orleans at Oakland (Saints -4.5, O/U 54.5)
Indianapolis at New England (Patriots -9, O/U 54.5)