Week 11 NFL Picks Against the Spread (Hanson)
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Here are my Week 11 NFL picks against the spread:
New Orleans Saints -3.5 (over San Francisco 49ers)
Like the other team most consider to be the best team in the NFC, the Saints are a much better team at home than they are on the road.
49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has struggled this season as he has thrown for less than 200 yards in seven of his past eight games and is coming off a season-low performance against the Panthers. Under defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, the team's defense is much better especially against the pass so it could be another long day for Kaepernick (SuperDome power outages aside).
If the Saints can continue to get some balance running the ball, Drew Brees should continue to have a ton of success at home. In his five home games this season, Brees has completed 74.4 percent of his pass attempts for 367.2 yards per game and has posted an 18:2 TD-to-INT ratio with a quarterback rating of 129.8.
With Sean Payton back on the sideline this season, the Saints are 5-0 at home this season and have outscored their opponents by a margin of 176-75 in those five home games. In their last full season with Payton on the sidelines (and not suspended), the Saints were 8-0 at home as well.
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Kansas City Chiefs +7.5 (over Denver Broncos)
Flexed into the Sunday Night Football matchup, these two teams are a combined 17-1 on the season and will face each other twice over the next three weeks. This is a classic strength-versus-strength type of matchup as the Broncos lead the NFL in scoring offense and the Chiefs lead the NFL in scoring defense.
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, a four-time league MVP, is having the best season of his career and quite frankly the best season any quarterback has ever had. Manning is on pace to shatter the single-season passing yards and touchdown records held by Drew Brees and Tom Brady, respectively. In addition, the Broncos have four players that are averaging a touchdown per game: Knowshon Moreno, Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas and Wes Welker.
One of the primary reasons the Chiefs lead the NFL in scoring defense is their pass rush. No team has more sacks than Kansas City (36). Not only does Manning, who is hobbled by a high-ankle sprain, have to worry about Justin Houston and Tamba Hali on the outside, but Dontari Poe has been a force in the middle and should collapse the pocket often.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid is a nearly perfect 14-1 after his team's bye. While I expect the Chiefs to get their first loss of the season this weekend and give Reid his second post-bye loss, I also expect this game to be close.
[Related poll: How many points will the Broncos score on Sunday Night?]
New England Patriots +1.5 (over Carolina Panthers)
Earlier this week, I retweeted a remarkable stat — the Patriots are 24-1 in the second half of the season since 2010 and 11-0 on the road.
Things seemed to turn around for the Patriots offense right before the bye. Facing a strong Steelers pass defense, Brady bounced back with a strong performance (432 yards, four touchdowns) after a mostly disappointing season. Eligible to return from injured reserve this week, Shane Vereen gives Brady another weapon and the team finally appears to be at full strength.
Of course, the Panthers defense is one of the league's best. They have yet to allow more than one passing touchdown in a game and they rank in the top four in both rushing and passing defense.
With an extra week to prepare and as a rare underdog, however, the Patriots are one of the best options versus the spread this week.
Five of our contributors make three weekly picks ATS every week and they will be posted here.