NFL Week 11 odds roundup: Panthers, Redskins, Raiders primetime favorites

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The determining factor in a matchup between the Cam Newton-led Carolina Panthers and Drew Brees’ New Orleans Saints might well be which team can slow down the opposing quarterback.

The Panthers are three-point favorites against the Saints on Thursday night at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The form suggests each quarterback could go off for 300-plus yards – which says plenty about a pair of poor pass defenses – but the Panthers have been getting to quarterbacks more often and still have a decent run defense.

The Panthers are 8-3 against the spread in their 11 home games, according to the OddsShark NFL Database.

The Washington Redskins are the 2.5-point favorite against the Green Bay Packers in the Sunday night matchup. However, one of these weeks, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will fix their issues, and Washington’s run defense is spotty.

Washington and quarterback Kirk Cousins, who are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games as a favorite, will have tight end Jordan Reed closer to full speed in his second game back from injury.

The Oakland Raiders are favored by six points against the Houston Texans in the Monday Night Football game at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.

The Raiders are 4-14 straight-up in their last 18 games after consecutive wins. However, quarterback Derek Carr and running back Latavius Murray thrived two weeks ago against the Denver Broncos, who, like the Texans, struggle to stop the run but have a highly-rated pass defense.

The Arizona Cardinals-Minnesota Vikings matchup is a pick’em. The Cardinals, led by quarterback Carson Palmer and running back David Johnson, will need to be less boom-or-bust offensively against a strong Vikings defense.

Minnesota quarterback Sam Bradford might not be able to do enough to overcome being saddled with having the NFL’s worst running game against linebacker Deone Bucannon and Arizona’s fleet defense.

The Seattle Seahawks are favored by 6.5 points against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles will need quarterback Carson Wentz, tight end Zach Ertz and wide receiver Jordan Matthews to attack the seams in Seattle’s pass defense in order to open up other opportunities.

Seattle is 5-1 ATS in their last six games after winning as an underdog, but the Eagles’ pass rush is one of the NFL’s best. Meanwhile, the New England Patriots’ pass rush, whom quarterback Russell Wilson carved up last week, is one of the worst.

And finally, the Miami Dolphins are one-point road favorites against the Los Angeles Rams as No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff readies for his first start as the Rams’ quarterback. For Miami to end an 0-5 SU and ATS streak in road games following a road win, they will need to neutralize Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald in order to help running back Jay Ajayi and quarterback Ryan Tannehill be productive.

NBC Sports’ Josh Norris attempts the combine

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The lengths I go to entertain you.

Since I attempt to evaluate these prospects’ athleticism, my friends at NBC Sports thought it was only fair if I went through the same circuit of drills and tests as the future NFL players.

So what did I learn? I learned that I am no longer an in shape 18-year-old. I learned how important flexibility is for every single drill. I can’t even touch my toes, which does not help with the broad jump or turning the corner on a three cone. And I’m jealous of the rest these prospects get between their attempts.

For more of Josh’s drills, check out the full lineup here

T.O. controversy underscores need for Hall of Fame transparency

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I started down the T.O. Hall of Fame time out rabbit hole a week ago due primarily to concerns regarding a lack of transparency in the selection process. After a week of arguments, counterarguments, and a few condescending comments from voters who resent being questioned or criticized by people who don’t know the inner working of the process, I’m back to where I started.

Those who criticize the process indeed don’t know the inner workings of the process because the process is kept completely secret. And the T.O. case proves that the time has arrived for transparency.

As Peter King of TheMMQB.com pointed out earlier this week, those who voted against Owens largely have slipped into hiding.

The fact that Owens didn’t make it from the final 15 to the final 10 suggests that the nays are more plentiful than necessary to transform him from one of the final five into a Hall of Famer. Don’t underestimate, however, the possibility that the voters collectively realized that enough of them would never get behind Owens on the final ballot (where it takes only 10 to put the kibosh on Canton) to make pushing Owens to the final 10 or the final five an exercise in futility.

It ultimately may be only 10 people who are anti-T.O. Maybe there aren’t that many; maybe the handful was loud enough and zealous enough that they managed to convince enough of their peers to think that pushing Owens through to the final five would set the stage for an ugly filibuster at best or a complete waste of time (and a spot that could have gone to someone else) at worst.

The only obvious “no” votes currently known (by me) are Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News (he wrote a column about it), Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (ditto), Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts (he made his case against Owens in a radio interview), and Dan Pompei of Bleacher Report (his Twitter account makes his position clear). All of the “no” votes should be known, and those who have kept quiet while the process has been challenged generally and a small handful of their colleagues have been attacked specifically should speak up.

Even if all the “no” votes were known, we still won’t know everything that needs to be known. Those voters who have chosen to disclose their position on Owens refuse to disclose the identity of other Hall of Famers, players, and/or coaches who have privately said that Owens doesn’t belong. Setting aside the question of whether these non-voters should have so much sway over the process, the refusal to name them makes the process even harder to accept.

It’s one thing to gather facts anonymously. Gathering opinions anonymously allows for those anonymous opinions to be tainted by personal animus. Also, it makes objective assessment of the basis for the opinions impossible, allowing for all sorts of subjective factors to be twisted and warped — and for the voters to abdicate their responsibility to assess the candidate to the whispers of those who, given the benefit of secrecy, are far more likely to yield to the temptation of human factors.

The broader concern is this: When evaluating a player based on what he did on a 100-by-53-yard patch of grass or FieldTurf or green cement, it’s easy to assess the opinions of the voters and to develop opinions on the accuracy of the outcome of the votes. When things that happened from the sideline to the parking lot become relevant to the process, it becomes impossible to know what is being considered, why it’s being considered, which others have made it through despite similar concerns, and whether those standards will be applied to future candidates.

There can be no consistency without transparency, and with no transparency it’s impossible for those who view Owens as a knee-jerk Hall of Famer to understand his omission for a second straight year. The voters who oppose Owens can either sneer at those of us who think they got it wrong or they can heed the criticisms, lobby for meaningful change, and bring a different approach to the process in 2018.

If it’s the former, there will be more sneering at those of us who think they got it wrong, both as to Owens and as to others who seem to pass the Hall of Fame eyeball test but can’t get in.