Week 11 handicapping column

Posted Nov. 15, 2012 @ 5:01 p.m.
Posted By Mike Wilkening

In my opinion, this is a challenging card from a pointspread perspective, with value being tough to find.

Thank goodness for Over-Unders.

Well, at least I hope so.

My Week 11 picks:

Jacksonville at Houston (O/U 40½)

I'm moderately scared of heights. Have you seen the commercial where the guy proposes in a hot air balloon and then the happy couple hugs? That sends sends a chill through me every time I see it. I would need more than a  Groupon to get me in a hot air balloon.

I also would need a good reason to ever play an Over in a Jaguars game. Well, I'd need several of them. And I have a few of them in Week 11:

• The Jaguars' highest-scoring performances of the season (23 points in Weeks One and Seven) came when they had extra time to prepare. The Jaguars will have had 10 days between games leading into Week 11.

• The Jaguars' defense struggled vs. the Texans' rushing attack in Week Two. While I expect the Jaguars to be stronger vs. the run this time, they could then be vulnerable against the pass.

• The total has fallen below 41, which means 21-20, 24-17, 27-14, 28-13, 31-10 and 34-7 are all scores that would make the Over a winner.

Wilkening's pick: Over 40½

Cleveland (+8) at Dallas

I'm skeptical of the Browns' ability to keep this one close. They have exceeded 16 points just three times (twice against the Bengals). Also, their defense could be quite vulnerable if CB Joe Haden (clavicle) is out or limited on Sunday. 

Even if Haden were to play, something close to the Cowboys' best effort could make this a one-sided affair. While Cleveland has been competitve in most of its road games in Pat Shurmur's tenure as head coach, it has won only once away from Cleveland Browns Stadium in the past two seasons. 

The Cowboys' inconsistency is no secret. However, they have shown bursts of promise throughout the season, and a 21-point fourth quarter in a key 38-23 win at Philadelphia a week ago was a positive sign. The Eagles are hardly playing well, but the Cowboys won handily.

Circumstances are favorable for a strong effort from Dallas. This is the weakest opponent the Cowboys have faced all season, and Dallas comes off one of its better games of the campaign.

Wilkening's pick: Dallas

N.Y. Jets at St. Louis (O/U 38½)

The Over — in a Jets game? 

Why yes. Yes, indeed. Sign me up. For the record, six of the Jets' nine previous games would have cleared this number, and five of the Rams' nine games similarly would have gone Over. 

Neither offense is especially potent. However, both defenses rank in the bottom half of the league in points allowed. The Rams' offense is much better with WR Danny Amendola back in the fold, and the Jets' attack, while flawed, has had some good moments this season.

Finally, there's an element of uncertainty that adds to this game. The Rams will take chances in the kicking game. The Jets can be turnover-prone. Both clubs desperately need a win. I think this will be an interesting game, one with more points than expected.

Wilkening's pick: Over 38½

Baltimore at Pittsburgh (O/U 40½)

Oh, do I ever dislike the Over in this contest.

The Steelers' offense could be materially compromised without QB Ben Roethlisberger. Also, turning to the running game is no solution; the Ravens rank among the NFL's best in yards per rush allowed. While the Ravens are hurting in the secondary, I don't believe the Steelers are capable of capitalizing in spectacular fashion.

Likewise, I don't see the Ravens' offense getting much going. The Steelers are allowing fewer yards per game than any other team, and they are No. 7 in scoring defense. The Ravens, who are much stronger at home than on the road, could struggle to put up a lot of points at Heinz Field.

To me, the Under looks like true value here.

Wilkening's pick: Under 40½

Last week: 2-2
Season to date: 22-17-1

To see the consensus selections of PFW's editors for Week 11, click here.