NFL Survivor/Eliminator Picks: Week 11
I used up my Cowboys/Giants Eliminator free space in Week 10 and survived the popular Ravens, Bengals and Bills pick losses. As I definitely expected when I agreed to write this column, I’m now 10-0. And while I cannot reuse the Cowboys in about as free of a space in Week 11 against my hopeless Panthers, I can continue to target the Giants!
Week 11 NFL Eliminator Picks
-9.5 vs. Giants
Commanders head coach Ron Rivera earned his “Riverboat” nickname by adopting a modern analytics principle of going for fourth downs on offense. And with his back against the “first coach fired” wall with a new owner and recent 3-5 record, Rivera pushed the analytics envelope again in letting his quarterback Sam Howell throw passes pretty much every play. Howell’s 397 pass attempts are 47 more than Josh Allen in second place and have the sophomore starter on pace for 675 passes and 4,731 passing yards, which would be tied for seventh and 41st in NFL history.
Howell told reporters that leading the league in passing yards “doesn’t really mean much to me.” But the true test of that sentiment will be this Sunday when he faces undrafted rookie quarterback Tommy DeVito and the hapless Giants. In a similar situation in Dallas last weekend, Dak Prescott threw for a distastefully selfish 404 yards and four touchdowns to pad his own stats for an MVP push and left his teammate Tony Pollard without a touchdown since Week 1 and facing questions of a possible backfield time share. It’s despicable behavior for a nominal team leader, but that’s a topic for another time. The question at hand is whether Howell will beat the Giants by 20 with his own four passing touchdowns or whether he will beat the Giants by 20 while sharing the credit with a couple of Brian Robinson touchdowns. I’ll take the Commanders in Survivor either way. But I hope Howell will do the right thing.
-10.5 at Panthers
People are always complaining about the lack of diversity in NFL coaching, but you can’t blame Panthers owner David Tepper or head coach Frank Reich. Then-defensive coordinator Steve Wilks had 12 starts as the team’s interim head coach in 2022 and offensive coordinator Thomas Brown had three games as the play-caller in 2023 to prove their mettle. If they wanted to keep those roles long-term, they should have performed better.
I mean more better since Wilks bested his predecessor Matt Rhule with a 6-6 versus a 1-4 record and since Brown bested his predecessor Reich with a 1-2 versus an 0-6 record in similar capacities those seasons.
San Francisco 49ers
-11.5 vs. Bucs
The Panthers clearly have enough problems at this point, so I appreciate Christian McCaffrey taking a dive on those last four red zone touches last Sunday, snapping his touchdown streak at a record-tying 17 straight games and not rubbing their pointless decision to trade their former star in the Panthers front office faces for another 12 months. But if you think about it, that dive lessened what otherwise would have been a 41-3 blowout of the Jaguars. And if McCaffrey remembers what sort of defensive boxes Bucs quarterback Baker Mayfield left for him in his five minutes as the Panthers quarterback last season, I wouldn’t count on any mercy in what could easily become a 70-7 49ers blowout of the Bucs this weekend.
+7 at Jaguars
The rebel that I am, I’m normally keen to take a talented team like the Jaguars the week after a blowout loss like the 34-3 — and almost 41-3 — one they suffered to the 49ers last week. But the Revenge Game rankings rule that idea out!
1. Arden Key, Titans at Jaguars
On his former quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Arden Key told reporters “If we can take away his first read, the rush will be allowed to get there…If the first read’s there, he’s throwing it right there, right now. If it’s not, you see the kind of hesitation, things of that sort so we know and realize that we’ve got to take away the first read so we get to him.” And the numbers back Key up.
2. David Montgomery, Lions vs. Bears
David Montgomery yielded a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs to his rookie teammate Jahmyr Gibbs last Sunday, Gibbs’ first scores from within the red zone this season. I bet you Montgomery won’t yield those bunny touchdowns this week.
3. Andy Reid, Chiefs vs. Eagles
You might assume Andy Reid would be over his Eagles firing with two Super Bowl wins with and the world’s best quarterback in Patrick Mahomes on his current Chiefs team. But those new Zaxby’s Fried Chicken Philly cheesesteaks have spurred new waves of culinary regret.
4. Bobby Wagner, Seahawks at Rams
Bobby Wagner wouldn’t be the first man to get complacent a decade into his marriage. But if his one year with the Rams was a team affair, then Wagner is working hard to earn forgiveness. How many 33-year-olds do you know who play 97% of defensive and 18% of special teams snaps?
5. Nick Gates, Commanders vs. Giants
It’s difficult to make “shark” jokes about an offensive lineman, even one with literal shark skin in his leg like Nick Gates. But I wouldn’t rule out an offensive lineman sacking the last standing Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito, who would comfortably lead the position with his 19.4% sack rate if he had the dropbacks to qualify.
+3.5 at Ravens
The Bengals may have tried to hide it with their rampant social media video deletions. But they/I don’tcallme a Big J journalist for nothing! Thanks to some Twitter sleuthing and incredible advancements in camera-phone technology, I can confirm that Joe Burrow arrived in Baltimore with some sort of brace on his throwing hand or quite possibly having replaced his entire right hand with some sort of robot hand.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Oh flawless one Scott, shouldn’t you pick the Ravens if Burrow has a robot hand? But the answer is no. A nerd would pick the Ravens this week. But as a cool guy, I have watched enough — but not too much, the way a nerd would — Star Wars movies and Futurama episodes to know that it’s no big deal to lose your hand and replace it with a robot’s. And frankly, I’d be surprised if Burrow didn’t throw three touchdowns and then serenade the Baltimore fans with the second-best holophonor opera of all time. The Bengals by 3.
Scott's Pick: Washington Commanders
Scott's Record: 10-0