LOS ANGELES, November 15, 2017 — NFL games are getting more intense, and the emotions are getting raw. There were plenty of NFL players kneeling on Veterans Day, but they were not protesting.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin did go to his knees after a touchdown, but this young man was not protesting anyone or anything. He burst into tears, a normal reaction for a man whose newborn son died. Many Americans took a knee in solidarity with Goodwin and his wife.
There were three players who did protest. But nobody can confuse the current editions of the 49ers and Giants with professional football teams.
The biggest reason players took a knee and held in hands in solidarity last Sunday was because of injuries. More than one player (and at least one official) was carried off the field on a stretcher. Aaron Rodgers, Carson Palmer, and DeShaun Watson are all now out for the season.
Jameis Winston is out for several weeks. Patchwork offensive lines often get the blame. But the reality is that this is football. The physical toll on athletes is as inevitable a part of the game as cold weather playoff games and a useless Super Bowl halftime show.
For those who still love the game, here is our NFL 2017 Week 11 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by FootballLocks.com and all times Eastern.
In NFL football, we root for quarterbacks to get belted to the ground hard. We also root for them to get up and work fourth-quarter heroics. This is the best kind of football, and it will only get more intense as the regular season winds down. With that,
NFL for Thursday, November 16, 2017, 8:30 p.m.
Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7) — Tennessee is 6-3 and Pittsburgh is 7-2, but these teams are nowhere near equal. Pittsburgh has the talent, the hard-nosed running game, the experience, and the home field. Tennessee had nice uniforms when they were the “Luv Ya Blue” Houston Oilers. Despite Pittsburgh playing listless last week, they were bored. Mike Tomlin will not let them sleepwalk through this game that has mismatch all over it. Steelers cover.
NFL for Sunday, November 19, 1:00 p.m.
Detroit Lions (-3) at Chicago Bears — Chicago is slowly improving, but Detroit seems to be in a groove. Detroit shook off some rust last week while hosting winless Cleveland, but they will not underestimate a division rival on the road. Lions cover.
Jacksonville Jaguars (-7.5) at Cleveland Browns — The Jaguars are 7-3 but they deserved to lose at home against the Chargers. Cleveland is winless but led late in the third quarter last week at Detroit. Jacksonville has a defense but their offense is just not trustworthy enough to justify the high spread. Cleveland is starving for a win, and one Jaguars player saying the Jaguars would score 40 points does not help matters. Jaguars win but fail to cover.
Baltimore Ravens (-2) at Green Bay Packers — Nobody will confuse Brett Hundley with Aaron Rodgers or a certain retired Brett, but he is not being asked to do too much. Baltimore is too inconsistent to trust them on the road against a Green Bay team also fighting for survival. Upset special, Packers win outright.
Arizona Cardinals (-1.5) at Houston Texans — With Carson Palmer and DeShaun Watson gone, Drew Stanton is a better bet than Tom Savage. However, Houston does have a defense and at home, give the Texans the benefit of the doubt against an opponent who is also reeling. Upset special, Texans win outright.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Miami Dolphins (-2.5) — This game was supposed to be played in Week 1 until Hurricane Irma forced a postponement. Now it is just a game between terrible teams as Ryan Tannehill and Jameis Winston are out and Jay Cutler and Ryan Fitzpatrick are in. Sadly, this game was not canceled altogether. Go with the home field. Dolphins cover.
Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) — Both teams are 7-2 and deserve to be. The Rams offense has come alive and Minnesota’s defense has stifled opponents. Case Keenum is not Sam Bradford or Teddy Bridgewater, but he did throw four touchdowns last week. At home, trust Mike Zimmer’s defense against Jared Goff, Toddy Gurley and the Rams playmakers. Vikings cover.
Kansas City Chiefs (-10.5) at New York Giants — The Chiefs get the tonic they need. The Giants lost to the previously winless 49ers. The players appear to have quit on Ben McAdoo. However, the Chiefs win ugly. They should win this easily, but their history suggests the Giants will not completely get blown out. Chiefs win but fail to cover.
Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints (-7.5) — The Saints are back, but this is not Sean Payton and Drew Brees playing pinball. They ran the ball for nearly 300 yards and six touchdowns last week. The spread is high, but the Saints led 47-3 on the road last week. Kirk Cousins can be a star at home, but on the road, he struggles. They will win their eighth straight. Saints cover.
Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Chargers (-4) — Nobody loses games like the Chargers, but Buffalo fell behind by 44 points at home. Both teams have lost two straight, but the 3-6 Chargers know that their season is finished with a loss. Given their ineptitude, it is hard to trust them against a team that usually plays well on defense. Chargers win but fail to cover.
Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos (-2.5) — Denver has lost five straight games, but Cincinnati seems to have returned to their 1990s days as the Bungles. This is the week where the Broncos finally get healthy. Brock Osweiler gets the start again, but Demver’s defense should finally get back to where it was before the skid. Broncos cover.
New England Patriots (-6.5) at Oakland Raiders in Mexico — Both teams have good offenses and suspect defenses. The Patriots have the better offense because Oakland receivers keep dropping passes. Oakland’s secondary cannot stop anyone. However, the 4-5 Raiders are in desperation mode. Although the game is at a neutral site, the Raiders have cultivated the Mexico market for at least 25 years. The crowd should be heavily tilted to the Raiders. Upset special, Raiders win outright.
Philadelphia Eagles (-3) at Dallas Cowboys is the Sunday night game. Without the suspended Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas looked awful at Atlanta. However, Dan Prescott is no scrub. The Eagles at 8-1 have the best record in the league, but a road game against a hated division rival is never easy. The division may be out of reach, but Dallas may be able to remind the Eagles that the Super Bowl is a long way away. If the offensive line can give Prescott time, he can get the job done. Upset special, Cowboys win outright.
NFL for Monday, November 20, 8:30 p.m.
Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks (-3) is the Monday night game. Atlanta looked very impressive in a home win over Dallas, and the Legion of Boom will not be the same defense without emotional leader Richard Sherman. He is out for the year now with an injury suffered last Thursday night. Nevertheless, the Atlanta offense has been far too inconsistent to trust them. If anyone knows Dan Quinn, it’s his former mentor Pete Carroll. Trust the teacher over the student, especially with the 12th man screaming loudly. Seahawks cover.