Week 11 of the NFL season is boiling over with bad blood.
There are some classic football grudge matches on the board, which always make sledding a little more rough for NFL handicappers. Some of these rivalries have lost their shine while others are as heated as ever.
Perhaps the most intriguing meeting between divisional foes is the Baltimore Ravens facing the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday Night Football. Oddsmakers have posted the Steelers, who face the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football in Week 10, as 3.5-point home favorites.
While the spread seems on par with a similar meeting between these AFC North foes in Week 9 last year, the total is much higher than bettors are used to when it comes to the Ravens versus the Steelers.
Books have posted a number of 46-points, with Baltimore flexing its offensive muscles in a 55-20 win over the Oakland Raiders Sunday and Pittsburgh putting up points in its three straight wins heading into Monday.
“Normally, for a Baltimore-Pittsburgh game, you’d expect to see a total of 34 or 36 points,” Peter Korner, founder of the Nevada-based odds service, The Sports Club, told Covers. “But Baltimore has proved it can put points up there and Pittsburgh is no slouch. It's a bit of a sign that times are changing.”
Since 2001, in the regular season and playoffs, the Ravens and Steelers have combined to go 16-8-1 over/under, including topping the total in both meetings last season. They have faced an average total of 36.2 points in that span and the highest number for one of those contests was 43 points, which finished in a push (Steelers won 23-20 at home in Week 16 of the 2009 season).
Korner says now is the time of year when the weather has a big impact on how they set and bet NFL totals. The extended forecast for Sunday night is calling for cloudy skies and temperatures in the high 30s.
“That cold, damp East Coast weather could play into the total for this game,” says Korner. “But that’s not a problem if people want to take the under.”
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos (-7.5, 49.5)
This AFC West rivalry used to decide who had the inside track on the division crown. But, looking at the early spread for this game, it’s easy to see which way the power has shifted.
Denver, which has won four in a row, opened as high as an 8-point favorite online and Korner wouldn’t be surprised to see this spread go higher by kickoff.
“Denver looks great and this seems like the perfect scenario – at home, on that grass and showing well,” he says. “San Diego hasn’t been showing it at all. The die-hard dog fans may wait and see how high this will go but I expect nothing but Denver money. Books will need San Diego by the time this kicks off.”
The Chargers lost 35-24 to the Broncos at home on Monday Night Football in Week 6, blowing a 24-0 halftime lead. San Diego has since gone 1-2 SU, most recently losing to Tampa Bay 34-24 Sunday.
Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots (-9.5, 53)
The Colts and Patriots used to run the roost in the AFC and every time they met, it felt like the Super Bowl.
A lot has changed since those days. Tom Brady is still doing work in New England, but Indianapolis is under the command of a new premier passer. Rookie QB Andrew Luck, the top pick in the NFL draft, has helped lead the Colts to four straight wins.
Books have Luck and Indianapolis flirting with a 10-point spread, after early action on the Colts dropped the line to single digits.
Korner says comparing Indianapolis to Buffalo, which lost 37-31 to the Patriots as a 13.5-point road underdog Sunday, could shed a little light on where this spread is heading.
“We know Indy is a much better team than Buffalo,” he says. “New England could blow them out, but the Colts could see what the Bills did last week and, with Indianapolis coming in as hot as they are, this could turn out to be a great game.”
Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers (-3, 38)
Injuries to the two starting quarterbacks have this game off the board at the majority of shops. Korner and his crew sent out a suggested spread of 49ers -3, giving the field-goal edge to the home team.
Korner says the injury to Bears QB Jay Cutler hurts more than the injury to 49ers QB Alex Smith, what with the game in San Francisco and the emergence of backup Colin Kaepernick as a threat under center for the Niners.
Kaepernick passed for 117 yards and added 66 yards on the ground and a TD in place of Smith, who left Sunday’s 24-24 tie game with St. Louis after a helmet-to-helmet hit.
Cutler also suffered a head injury in the Sunday night loss to Houston. His replacement, veteran passer Jason Campbell, threw for 94 yards on 11-for-19 passing after stepping under center late in the second quarter.
“The difference is larger for the Bears quarterback,” says Korner. “(Cutler is) big. He’s the guy running the show and a big reason why they’re playing so well.”
The total for this Monday night game was sent out at 38, which would tie as the lowest total on the Week 11 board (St. Louis at New York is set at 38 points).