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DraftKings is offering up a new free-to-enter pool for the 2022 NFL season. It runs for the first 17 weeks of the season, and users are allowed to pick their five favorite spreads each week. You’re also allowed one self-appointed bye week, meaning each player will pick 80 games by the end of Week 17. The players who do the best will have a chance to take home part of a $100,000 prize pool, plus millions in bonus prizes.
Let’s take a look at my five favorite picks for NFL Week 11.
The Pick: Lions +3.5
There are a few games this week where we’re picking up a half-point of spread value. That may not seem like much, but the difference between +3.0 and +3.5 is absolutely massive. Three is the most common final margin in the NFL, so it can mean the difference between a push and a cover.
This is the first spot where we’re picking up that key half-point. The Lions will head to New York to take on the Giants, and on the surface, this line seems disrespectful to New York. They’ve won seven of their first nine contests, so why are they only favored by 3.5 over the lowly Lions?
Most people are aware of the fact that the Giants are overrated, but the general public might not realize just how overrated they are. They rank just 23rd in yardage differential and 19th in Football Outsiders DVOA, and they have a Pythagorean Win Expectation of just 4.9-4.1.
The Lions rank 20th in DVOA, so the gap between these two teams is not nearly as wide as it seems on paper. The Lions have also been fantastic at covering the spread under Dan Campbell, posting a record of 16-9 as an underdog. When they’re getting more than a field goal, their record improves to 13-6. Overall, the Giants are a prime regression candidate, and the Lions are capable of taking advantage.
The Pick: Texans +3.5
This is another spread that is down to +3.0 on DraftKings Sportsbook, but we can grab the Texans at +3.5 in this pool.
Washington has been red hot recently, winning four of their past five games. That includes one of the most impressive victories of the year last week, defeating the previously undefeated Eagles in a primetime showdown. The Commanders only loss in that stretch was to the 8-1 Vikings, and they led by 10 points in the fourth quarter. If not for a careless Taylor Heinicke interception, this team could easily be riding a five-game win streak.
They’re listed as small road favorites against the Texans, but this is a clear letdown spot. It’s not surprising that they put forth their best effort in a massive divisional matchup, but doing it against a lowly team like the Texans is a different animal.
They covered the spread by 22.5 points last week, and teams unsurprisingly fail to live up to the inflated expectations in their following contest. Road favorites are just 62-70-4 against the spread following a cover of at least 21 points, good for a return on investment of -7.7%. That’s not an elite figure, but it’s actionable.
The Commanders have played better of late, but they’re still not the type of team that deserves to be road favorites of more than a field goal against anyone. I’ll take my chances with the Texans.
The Pick: Bears +3.5
This is the last spot where we’re picking up the key half-point. The Bears are getting +3.5 on the road vs. the Falcons, and they’re one of the heaviest-bet sides of the week. They’re getting 79% of the bets and 82% of the dollars, so they’re drawing interest from sharps and squares alike.
It’s easy to see what people like about the Bears. For starters, Justin Fields has played like a man possessed in recent weeks. His work as a passer remains questionable, but the team has finally unleashed his elite athleticism. He broke the record for QB rushing yards in a game two weeks ago, and he followed that up with 147 yards last week. Overall, the Bears have scored at least 29 points in four straight games, their four highest-scoring performances of the season.
They’ve won just one of those contests, but they’ve lost by three points or fewer in back-to-back games. They have a good chance of keeping things close again this week vs. the Falcons. Atlanta’s offense managed just 15 points last week vs. the Panthers, and they’ve scored 17 or fewer in three of their past four games. They’re not the type of team that is equipped to keep up in a track meet, unlike the Bears’ recent opponents.
Additionally, grabbing the points in matchups between bad teams is almost always a good idea. Starting in Week 10, the underdog has posted a record of 74-46-1 against the spread in matchups between sub-.500 squads. That trend is off to a fantastic start this season, going 4-1 last week.
The Pick: Cowboys -1.5
If you’ve been following my picks at all this season, you know what I think about the Vikings. They’re not a bad team, but they’re certainly not a good team, either. They continue to win games by the thinnest of margins, with last week’s victory over the Bills serving as the most recent example. The Bills had a win expectation of 99.87% after stuffing the Vikings on a fourth-and-goal, but Minnesota still somehow managed to escape with a victory. Overall, they’ve won seven-straight games by one score, tying an NFL record.
Their good luck is bound to run out eventually, and I think it starts vs. the Cowboys. Dallas ranks fourth in the league in DVOA, and they have a complete team. Their offensive numbers don’t jump off the page, but Cooper Rush has started most of the team’s games at quarterback. With Dak Prescott under center, their offense is able to supplement their elite defense.
The sharps are all over the Cowboys in this spot, while the public is predictably siding with the 8-1 home underdog. Be like the sharps.
The Pick: Chargers +6.5
The spread on this game has dipped to +5.0 on DraftKings Sportsbook, so we’re picking up a little bit of value in this spot. The difference between +6.5 and +5.0 is minimal, but I’ll take the points when I can get them.
The Chargers are another team that the sharps love this week, and they should be healthier than they’ve been in a while. Mike Williams and Keenan Allen both practiced in full on Friday, setting them up for a return to the lineup. Justin Herbert has not been the same elite quarterback without his top weapons of late, so getting those two players back should make a massive difference.
The Chiefs steamrolled the Jaguars last week, but they’ve struggled against competent opponents this season. They needed overtime to get past the Malik Willis-led Titans, and they also lost to the Bills. KC did beat up on the 49ers, but San Francisco was missing a ton of key players in that contest. This will be arguably their biggest test since Buffalo, and I’m happy to take the points with the home dog.
Year-to-Date Results: 36-14 (1-4 last week)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mlamarca) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.