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Week Eleven NFL Picks, Aiding And A'Betting: Falcons-Rams, Packers-Vikings, Colts-Patriots

The bye weeks are over, which means a full slate of gambling action awaits in Week Eleven.

It doesn't matter what jersey you wear to bed tonight - your team is playing this weekend. At long last, the arid pain of bye weeks is over, and all 31.5 NFL franchises will suit up from Thursday to Monday (I refuse to recognize Carolina as an entire team at this point). And while this means more gambling options, it also means the oddsmakers are getting scary good at these spreads. Every point matters, as evidenced by some of the crotch-punching covers of Week 10. Watch your backs.

The picks:

Chicago @ Miami (-1 1/2). About this time last week, Dolphins chat revolved around Chad Pennington vs. Chad Henne, as the young buck had been benched for the veteran. And Sunday night, after both went down with potentially season-ending injuries, the conversation had shifted to Tyler Thigpen vs. - well, Tyler Thigpen. Third on the depth chart, but now first in Miami's heart, Thigpen might actually be the team's best bet for a realistic playoff shot. All he has to do is be serviceable in this one, and let his defense take care of Chicago's porous offensive line and erratic QB. PICK: Miami

Atlanta (-3) @ St. Louis. It's a trap game, it's a trap game, it's a trap game - ENOUGH OF THAT. Seemingly countless voices are predicting Atlanta is already looking ahead to Green Bay, and bound to fall victim to the dreaded "trap game." First, I don't think this team is familiar enough with success to do that. Second, just look at it on paper: Atlanta has the better players, better coaches, the longer week, and they didn't suffer a brutal 4 p.m. overtime loss last week. And the St. Louis dome ain't exactly gonna throw 'em. PICK: Atlanta (yeah, I've picked Atlanta every week, but it's paying off)

Washington @ Tennessee (-7). The Redskins are coming off a short, quite embarrassing week - but Tennessee didn't exactly look like world beaters against Miami. It would be easy for Donovan McNabb and Co. to fold like a pizza box, but a playoff glimmer will carry them to a cover. (The nuclear collapse is a'comin', though.) PICK: Washington

Oakland @ Pittsburgh (-7). Go back to the preseason, and try to predict the best game of Week Eleven. Is there any chance you'd give a second thought to Raiders/Steelers? It's definitely in the conversation as being the best pure football action this weekend - and I'm particularly excited to see if Darren McFadden's emergence is real (and that has absolutely something to do with my fantasy team). PICK: Oakland

Green Bay (-3) @ Minnesota. I think we should feel pretty confident in calling this Brett Favre's last game against Green Bay. After all of this season's drama, the "will he come back?" melodrama will only reach headlines on the slowest of news days. It just feels done. So if you're of the stripe, enjoy the dismantling. PICK: Green Bay

Houston @ NY Jets (-7). New York's last three wins - against powerhouses Denver, Detroit and Cleveland - were by an average of 4.3 points. They should win this one, but I'm not giving them a touchdown cushion. PICK: Houston

Baltimore (-10) @ Carolina. Easy money, line 'em up. The Ravens have had 10 days rest, they're pretty healthy, and oh right - they're not godawful wretched crap. And yeah, Brian St. Pierre will be starting for the Panthers on Sunday. Seriously. Brian St. Pierre. (Actually, that is probably an improvement over Jimmy Clausen, who was recently diagnosed with a concussion despite always looking like he has one.) PICK: Baltimore

Detroit @ Dallas (-6 1/2). These 6 1/2-point spreads bug my nut, because it's basically Vegas begging you to take the favorite. And I'm going to do it like an idiot - the underachieving Cowboys are the more talented team, the Lions are without Matthew Stafford and possibly their top two backs, and my goodness, Dez Bryant, Dez Bryant, Dez Bryant. What a beast. I mean, I'm a dedicated foot-soldier in the Army of Weatherspoon, but it wouldn't pain me to see Bryant lined up opposite Roddy White. PICK: Dallas

Buffalo @ Cincinnati (-5 1/2). Move along. PICK: Buffalo

Cleveland @ Jacksonville (-1 1/2). Oh, what a crap gambling loss last week. I pick the Browns, the Jets are favored by three, and the game heads to overtime. Since like 95% of overtime games end in a field goal (an absolute guess; research yourself), the worst that can happen is a push, right? True to my gambling form: Mark Sanchez throws a touchdown pass with 16 seconds left on the OT clock. I was as heartbroken as any non-Browns fan who didn't actually bet on the game but picked Cleveland in an internet column could be. PICK: Cleveland

Arizona @ Kansas City (-8). With the continued disappearance of Dex-tuh McClus-tuh, my interest in the Chiefs is at a season-low. There's word he may be back on Sunday, but it's not promising. (Ok, I was thinking about making a horrible "I'm goo-goo for McCluster" pun, but does anybody else actually know what a GooGoo Cluster is? Did I just pick up that knowledge because my dad is a redneck?) PICK: Kansas City

Seattle @ New Orleans (-11 1/2). Don't hold your breath, Falcon fans. PICK: New Orleans

Tampa Bay @ San Francisco (-3 1/2). Not here either, folks. This isn't the weekend Atlanta stretchs the division lead. (Not getting the 49er love at all.) PICK: Tampa Bay

Indianapolis @ New England (-4). This is the eighth consecutive season the Colts and Patriots have met, despite not being in the same division. The NFL insists this isn't shady, and it actually isn't given how the schedules are produced - but conspiracy theories are fun, so SHAAAAADY! Ratings-boosting tom foolery or no, it's always a fun game, and the injury-depleted Pats should emerge victorious against the injury-ravaged Colts (because "depleted" is always preferable to "ravaged"). PICK: New England

NY Giants @ Philadelphia (-3). Remember when Atlanta was trying to get a draft pick - any draft pick - for the rights to Michael Vick? AND COULDN'T? Damn. PICK: Philadelphia

Denver @ San Diego (-10). So I assume everybody sees this game as I do: a match-up of the two teams that wanted to draft Cush in Jerry Maguire. "Surf or ski." No, that's just me? Fine. PICK: Denver

Last week: 5-9-0
Overall: 78-59-7 (focus on the overall)

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.