Packing on the points has meant very little to NFL underdogs this season. Even with the NFL odds giving them a buffer, teams getting the points have covered just 47% of the time heading into Week 11.
This is a drastic change in betting patterns compared to recent seasons, with NFL underdogs covering at a 57% clip in the opening 10 weeks of action over the previous four years (2019-2022). There are only six teams with winning ATS records as underdogs and three of those teams have been pups just once.
In terms of reliable underdog bets, the Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2 ATS), Houston Texans (4-2 ATS), and Minnesota Vikings (3-2 ATS) stand out from the crowd. But Houston and Minnesota are now among the hotter teams in the NFL and the betting markets are taking the bark out of those bets.
The Week 11 odds board presents a mixed bag of potential puppy picks. A few terrible teams are getting a ton of points (double digits dogs are 3-8 ATS), some tighter divisional rivalries (divisional dogs are 18-19-2 ATS), and some non-conference clashes (non-con dogs 19-29-4 ATS).
We also get the rare spot to play the Philadelphia Eagles as underdogs in our NFL picks — a role Philly has been in only once in the past 29 games going back to last season. Since no team or trend has been the pick of the litter, we have to get some dirt under our nails digging through the best underdog picks and predictions for Week 11.
Last week: 1-1-1 ATS
Season: 16-13-1 ATS
NFL Week 11 picks and predictions
Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.
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Chicago Bears (+9) at Detroit Lions pick
The Chicago Bears were pegged to make a big jump in 2023 and so far, this season has been a disappointment. That said, the Bears could be on the up-and-up in the second half of the schedule.
The defense is showing signs of life after the front office injected the stop unit with top talent, sitting No. 7 in EPA allowed per play since Week 5. Chicago hasn’t handcuffed many elite offenses, but this defense has kept things competitive despite the offense missing its biggest weapon.
And speaking of said weapon, quarterback Justin Fields is expected to be back under center for Chicago in Week 11 after leaving with a thumb injury in the loss to Minnesota on October 15. With Fields out, rookie QB Tyson Bagent was treading water for an offense that’s cracked 20 points just once in the last five games.
Chicago needs a complete effort visiting the Detroit Lions this Sunday, getting an XL deep-dish amount of points on the road. Detroit is in control of the division, but while the 7-2 SU mark is impressive, there are blemishes for Dan Campbell’s crew.
The Lions’ defense is well behind the curve when compared to other elite teams, and while Chicago’s stop unit has vastly improved since Week 5, Detroit’s has diminished. The Lions sit 24th in EPA allowed per play and 31st in success rate per play over their last five contests.
Looking back to last season, Detroit was shredded by Fields’ crazy legs and gave up a collective 279 yards rushing to the Bears dual-threat QB. This Chicago offense has more weapons than it did last season, primarily WR DJ Moore.
The Detroit secondary has given up 8.5 yards per attempt over the last three weeks and ranks third highest in average depth of target allowed, with rival passing attacks enjoying a success rate of 50.5% in that span.
The Lions also run the risk of a look-ahead to Thanksgiving Thursday, with only four days between this battle with the Bears and a mid-week matchup with Green Bay.
I believe Chicago can keep this game competitive from whistle to whistle, but there’s also the narrative that Detroit gets up big and takes its foot off the gas in the final frames to rest starters ahead of the tight Thanksgiving turnaround. And with a big spread, that cracks the backdoor for the Bears.
This spread was as big as +10 but money on Chicago has slimmed it to as low as +8.5. I’ll bag the biggest line I can find with the division dog.
PICK: Chicago Bears +9.5 (-115 at BetVictor)
Arizona Cardinals (+5) at Houston Texans pick
Fans of situational handicapping — AKA spot bets — are licking their chops over the looming letdown spot that awaits the Houston Texans in Week 11.
Houston is coming off its biggest win in three seasons, taking down the Cincinnati Bengals as touchdown pups last Sunday and earning win No. 5 for a franchise that was pegged with a 6.5-win total to start the season.
Also sitting with the Texans at the bottom of those preseason odds were the Arizona Cardinals. They’ve played along with those projections for the most part at 2-8 SU but aren’t the same team entering Week 11.
Arizona has franchise QB Kyler Murray back under center and RB James Conner with him in the backfield, after missing time with a knee injury. Both helped the Cardinals snap a six-game slide with a 25-23 victory over the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday and present the most dynamic version of this offense we’ve seen in 2023.
The Texans have come out on the winning end of two shootouts the past two weeks, winning those games by a collective score of 67-64. While rookie C.J. Stroud and the offense play above expectations, the Houston defense is dreadful.
Houston opened as big as a 6-point home favorite, but the market is off the mark and has corrected to Texans -5 as of Wednesday afternoon. That still seems ambitious considering we’re three weeks removed from Houston losing 15-13 to Carolina.
I expect improvements from the Cardinals in Game 2 with Murray in the mix and a flat spot for the Texans, who are 3-7 SU off a loss since 2012 and giving the points for just the fifth time in that span — going 0-4 ATS in the previous four games as favorites.
PICK: Arizona Cardinals +5 -110 (-110 at bet365)
Philadelphia Eagles (+3) at Kansas City Chiefs pick
I gotta give it to the NFL schedule makers. They truly planned this Super Bowl rematch well, putting the Eagles and Chiefs on their respective bye week before their monster matchup on Monday Night Football.
But, if you’ve ever tried to coordinate something perfectly, you know the weather gives zero shits about your best-laid plans. Monday’s “Game of the Year” could have a soggy setting with the extended forecast calling for rain, wind, and chilly temperatures in Kansas City.
That inclement weather favors Philadelphia. The Eagles are adaptable on offense should the wet and wind plague the passing game, leaning into one of the most dominating rushing attacks in the land.
Philly is fourth in EPA per handoff and success rate per run, owning opponents in the trenches with an offensive line boasting the No. 1 run block win rate at ESPN. Kansas City allows the sixth-highest yards per handoff among NFL defenses, ranks 31st in run-stop win rate, and has watched opposing rushers enjoy a success rate of 42.4% per carry (25th).
Offensively, the Chiefs just aren’t the same crew that put up 38 points on the Eagles in a thrilling comeback win in Arizona last February. Kansas City — which averaged a league-high 29 points per game in 2022 — has surpassed that mark only twice in 2023 and has been held to three touchdowns or less in three of its last four games and five of its nine total outings on the season.
The biggest downtick is the efficiency of the passing attack. Patrick Mahomes is still the best QB in the land, but his receiving corps is letting him down. K.C. tops the NFL with 24 drops and that group will have to compete with the potential for slick and slippery conditions in Arrowhead on Monday.
I’m not solely basing this bet on the forecast for this primetime clash, as my NFL power ratings gave a slight lean to the Chiefs and produced a spread of Kansas City -2.5. However, if the wind and rain do hold, I’m even more in love with the Eagles and the points.
PICK: Philadelphia Eagles +3 (-117 at Unibet)
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