The predicted "red wave" may have failed to materialize in the 2022 midterm elections, but it's been a season-long thing in 2022 NFL survivor pools. Just over 16% of picks were washed out in Week 10. Remaining entries form such an exclusive club at this point, Bernie Sanders is virtually guaranteed to rail against them.
Before we debate this week's picks, let's look at the depressing results on the Week 10 Big Board:
Week 10 picks
Best Bets: 0-2 (YTD: 9-10)
Leans: 0-1 (YTD: 11-3)
Traps to avoid: 0 eliminations avoided (YTD: 12)
On to the Week 11 picks!
San Francisco 49ers (-8) vs. Arizona Cardinals [in Mexico City]
With the return of Elijah Mitchell and the acquisition of Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco's backfield is a two-headed monster that's more vicious than any you'll find in a J. R. R. Tolkien book. The pair combined for 166 yards against the Chargers last week, as Mitchell didn't miss a beat after spending two months on injured reserve.
Arizona's defense ranks 26th in rushing success rate and 31st in dropback success rate, consistently giving up big plays. They're also 26th in opponent third down conversion percentage (44%), while San Francisco's offense is fifth-best at converting third downs (45.6%). Since McCaffrey has been wearing the red and gold, the Niners are converting 55% of their third downs. The Cardinals have allowed at least 31 points in three of their last four games, and are ill-equipped to deal with explosive playmakers like McCaffrey, Mitchell, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle.
Kyler Murray's status for this game is in question after suffering a hamstring injury in Week 8 and then tweaking it in Week 9. If Murray's unable to go, Colt McCoy — who injured his knee last week — will draw his second consecutive start behind an offensive line missing several starters. San Francisco's defense gets the fifth-highest percentage of QB pressures (25.2%). The crowd for Monday night's game is projected to be 82% comprised of Niners fans.
San Francisco is the fifth-most popular pick this week, at 5.29%. They provide some decent future value with remaining tilts versus the Saints and Raiders.
It seems like the only thing Patrick Mahomes can't do is lose to the Chargers on the road. The odds-on MVP favorite is a perfect 4-0 when traveling to face the Bolts, averaging 2.5 touchdown passes and 0.5 interceptions. Kansas City is dominating on the offensive side of the ball this year, leading the NFL in points per drive and Pass Block Win Rate.
Brandon Staley's defense was supposed to be one of the league's best in 2022, but injuries and subpar play have led to the Chargers giving up the sixth-most points per drive. Despite blitzing at the 14th-highest percentage (27.3%), Los Angeles ranks 27th in QB pressure percentage (18.4%). They've yet to beat a team with a winning record.
Chargers receiver Keenan Allen has been day-to-day for weeks, playing just two games this year after injuring his hamstring in Week 1. He's joined by a bevy of fellow powder blue pass-catchers dealing with injuries. Mike Williams, DeAndre Carter, and Gerald Everett are all questionable to play in Sunday night's game. Los Angeles ranks 24th in offensive DVOA, as uncreative offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi has Justin Herbert checking down like an old granny playing poker.
The Chiefs are the 10th-most popular pick and an optimal game theory play this week, with less than 1% of entries on them. Their future value lies in games versus the Rams, Texans, and Raiders.
Baltimore Ravens (-13) vs. Carolina Panthers
The NFL's worst-rated quarterback is back, baby! I don't know about you, but I've missed Baker Mayfield's "one for you, two for me" style of play. If this were earlier in the season, Carolina could rely on their running game against a Ravens defense that was getting trampled on like grapes at a winery. That's no longer the case after Baltimore traded for Roquan Smith and got Tyus Bowser back from injury. The Ravens allowed just 48 rushing yards to the Saints in Week 9, as the pair of linebackers made their season debuts for Baltimore. Carolina is league-worst in offensive success rate and their defense will have their hands full with a Ravens offense that ranks third in DVOA.
Baltimore is the most popular pick this week, at 51.26%. They're a great play if less than 25% of the entries in your pool have them left. This is likely the largest spread we'll see on a Ravens game for the rest of the season.
TRAPS TO AVOID
Buffalo Bills (-8) vs. Cleveland Browns
The last blizzard game versus a run-heavy team didn't go so well for the Bills. Buffalo is expected to get 3-6 feet of snow by Sunday's game. A lot could change between now and then, but you're playing with fire by betting on a game where the weather could play such a significant factor.
The Bills are the second-most popular team this week, at just under 17%.
Washington Commanders (-3) at Houston Texans
It's fun to bumhunt the lowly Texans in survivor, I get it. What isn't fun is putting entries on the third-most popular team (9.34%) whose implied odds of winning are only 61.5%. Commanders QB Taylor Heinicke is as wild of a wild card as you'll find in the NFL.
New York Giants (-3) vs. Detroit Lions
Another small favorite with a large number of entries on them. Just over 8% of entries are on the Giants, who are the fourth-most popular pick this week. A 7-2 team at home versus a 3-6 team seems like a no-brainer on paper, so why is the spread this low? Detroit finally has their offensive studs back on the field and should be able to put up enough points to hang with the Giants.
Stats provided by Pro Football Reference, teamrankings.com, Football Outsiders, ESPN, StatMuse, and rbsdm.com (garbage time removed).