Week 11 Football Pick’em Strategy & Advice (2021)

The Week 11 picks kick off with a Thursday night game between the Patriots and Falcons, and there have been several other notable line moves this week that could impact your picks.

Adam Thielen and the Vikings will try to beat Green Bay (Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire)

Here, we’ll track Week 11 news and discuss the implications for maximizing your edge in NFL and college football pick’em contests. We’ll also provide some of the rationale behind picks potentially recommended by our Football Pick’em Picks product.

Week 11 Pick’em Updates

We will continue to add to this post until Sunday of NFL Week 11, so check back for daily updates. Here’s what’s available now:

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Tuesday 11/16

Week 11 Early Value Picks Outlook

Here’s our early look at some potential value plays in NFL pick’em pools for Week 11.

Seattle Seahawks (vs. Arizona Cardinals)

Line: +2.5
TR Win Odds: 48%
Popularity: 31%

Russell Wilson struggled mightily in his first game back from his finger injury. He completed only 50 percent of his passes, averaged four yards per pass, and threw two costly red-zone interceptions.

Seattle was shut out for the first time ever with Wilson starting.

Arizona also struggled without QB Kyler Murray last week in its 34-10 loss to Carolina. But Seattle’s widely televised poor performance means some value on a mild upset this week, where you get Wilson one more week removed from his return.

New Orleans Saints (at Philadelphia Eagles)

Line: +1.5
TR Win Odds: 51%
Popularity: 43%

The Saints-Eagles matchup is one of the closest of the week.

We had both as value plays last week, and the Eagles came through with the road win while the Saints came up just short. However, the Saints were impacted by a bad roughing-the-passer call that took away a red-zone interception and allowed the Titans to score a key touchdown.

This week, the public is unsurprisingly favoring the team coming off a win, but our models give a slight lean to the Saints. They have one of the NFL’s best rushing defenses and get to face a team built around running the ball.

Cleveland Browns (vs. Detroit Lions)

Line: -10.0
TR Win Odds: 79%
Popularity: 93%

The Browns are a big favorite, and they should be near the top of your confidence-point list. They show up here because more entries are willing to pick the upset in this game compared to other big favorites.

For example, the Titans are nearly identical in win odds and spread, but 99 percent of the public is picking them. While not many entries are picking the upset here, the Lions are being picked seven times as often as the Jaguars are against the Titans.

Again, that isn’t surprising given public biases. The Browns looked bad. The Titans continued to win (while being outgained again). But the spread and win odds account for past results.

Recent history is also full of teams coming off bad performances and winning as big favorites (Dallas and Buffalo last week at relative value, for example) and teams appearing to be on a roll and losing (Dallas and Buffalo two weeks ago, Baltimore and Arizona last week).

So stick with the Browns at higher confidence this week, as others may rank them down a bit.

Minnesota Vikings (vs. Green Bay Packers)

Line: +2.5
TR Win Odds: 43%
Popularity: 22%

Minnesota is coming off a big road win against the Los Angeles Chargers and is again a slight underdog, this time at home to the Packers. Our season predictive ratings have Green Bay as +2.7 points better on a neutral field, but this one is Minnesota.

The difference in perception between these two teams is largely driven by close-game performance. The Packers are 3-1 in close games, while Minnesota is 3-5.

So in weekly contests, taking the relatively unpopular Vikings in this rivalry game is a value play.

Kansas City Chiefs (vs. Dallas Cowboys)

Line: -2.5
TR Win Odds: 55%
Popularity: 55%

Just like last week, when they were a similar short favorite against the Raiders, the Chiefs aren’t a huge value play against Dallas. However, they’re a solid pick in both season-long and weekly pools based on relative value.

Sticking with the favored Chiefs is the move in both weekly and seasonal pools if the public is going to be split on this one.


Tuesday 11/16

Week 10 Results Summary

Week 10 continued the upset run in the NFL, as three of the seven biggest favorites of the week lost and another one tied. The public took a beating on some value picks, as popular smaller favorites also lost, making it a solid week in multiple pool types.

Game-Winner Pools

In game-winner pools, the public averaged 6.3 wins in Week 10.

The public was fairly split on picking the favorites in New England and Kansas City, with nearly half of pools going with the underdog Browns and Raiders. Meanwhile, the public was heavily on Denver in the toss-up game with Philadelphia. That game closed as a pick’em after the Broncos had been favored throughout the week.

The most popular pick for the public among games where the spread was lower than six points was Monday Night Football, where 92 percent were on the Rams.

Our season-long “Max Profit” picks averaged 7.9 wins, and the weekly picks averaged 7.8 wins. Most entries took losses together on the biggest upsets involving Tampa Bay, Arizona, and Baltimore.

The wins by the closer favorites/toss-ups (Chiefs, Patriots, Eagles) made the difference, while the biggest upset value plays split (San Francisco winning, the Saints losing by two to the Titans).

Spread Pools

The public again took a beating in spread pools.

According to our data, there were five teams (all favorites) with a pick popularity ATS of 74 percent or higher. All of them failed to cover, with four of them losing outright.

The popular spread losers were the L.A. Rams, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, and the L.A. Chargers. Tennessee won but did not cover the most frequent contest line, winning only by two points while being favored by 3/3.5 points most commonly.

The public averaged 5.7 wins out of 14 games in spread pools for the week.

Meanwhile, our pick recommendations averaged 8.3 wins in season-long max profit picks and 9.1 wins in weekly recommendations. That large difference between the public (5.7 wins) and weekly picks (9.1 wins) will likely lead to higher reported win rates this week.


FYI

Important Notes About Picks We Highlight

Keep in mind three things about picks we highlight in this article:

  1. Optimal pick strategy balances risk and potential reward.
    Maximizing your odds to win a pick’em pool generally requires identifying the best opportunities to differentiate your picks. You want to fade the public while taking on minimal risk to do so. For example, taking a favorite being picked by less than 50% of your opponents is usually a great opportunity.
  2. Not all of the picks we highlight are suitable for all pools.
    Don’t be surprised if our Football Pick’em Picks product doesn’t recommend several of the picks we mention in this post—especially the upset picks. The best pick strategy for your pool depends on a number of factors such as your pool’s size, rules, and prize structure (a concept that’s covered in part by our article on season vs. weekly prize strategy).
  3. Picks we highlight may no longer look compelling by game day.
    We analyze and write about picks using data (e.g. win odds and pick popularity), but that data can change up until kickoff. A key player being ruled out or a shift in public sentiment about a team can erase the differentiation value that a pick initially offered.

We’ll provide periodic updates in this post if major data changes occur for picks we’ve mentioned, so make sure to check back. However, there’s a much better way to stay on top of changing data trends throughout a week, which all sharp players need to do.

Our Football Pick’em Picks product automatically imports the latest win odds and pick popularity data multiple times per day. You can see the latest information in the Data Grid.

After you generate customized picks for your pool, you can also update those pick recommendations whenever you want via the My Pool Picks screen. The updated picks will incorporate the most recent data we have.


FYI

About Our Pick’em Pool Advice

What makes our football pick’em advice different from other sites is that it isn’t generic.

In any given week, the best picks for your football pool depend on a number of variables. Your pool’s size, rules, and prize structure all influence strategy, as do factors like your place in the standings and how many weeks are left.

So many different scenarios exist that it’s impossible to give pick advice that makes sense for every one. An underrated six-point underdog could be a great pick in a big weekly prize pool and a terrible pick for a small season-long pool where you’re currently in the money.

Technology to the rescue

Other sites don’t understand this stuff, or they just ignore it because it’s complicated and hard. We’re the only site that has built algorithms to evaluate these strategy factors and provide you with customized pick recommendations every week.

The result? Every year, an average of 71% of our subscribers win a prize in a football pick’em contest.

So if you want to see all the Week 1 picks we recommend for your football pool, you need to use our Football Pick’em Picks product.

Why we write this column

At the same time, we know our subscribers like to understand the rationale behind picks the product may recommend, especially when those picks go against the grain. So over the years, we’ve started to write more about the “whys” behind our approach.

We also utilize this column to help educate our readers about pick’em pool strategy. We highlight tactics proven to result in more pick’em pool wins over the long term and point out common pitfalls to avoid.

Our goal with these articles is to dig deeper into pick’em pools than anyone else by using an objective, data-driven lens. We’ll recap key results from the previous week, identify the most compelling value picks of the current week, and evaluate the implications of breaking news on pick’em strategy.

We hope you enjoy reading, and we encourage you to check out more of our football pick’em strategy articles.

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Wednesday 11/17

Most Popular Spread Picks for Week 11

So far, there aren’t games this week with more than 75 percent pick popularity for one side. With that said, here are the most popular choices in spread pools in early pick action.

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