NFL Week 11 survivor picks
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It wasn't supposed to be this hard.

The New Orleans Saints were 13.5-point favorites at home against the lifeless Atlanta Falcons. Already picked the Saints in your pool? All good - the Indianapolis Colts were 10.5-point favorites at home to the hapless Miami Dolphins. Patrick Mahomes was back and facing Ryan Tannehill. The defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams were taking on the Mason Rudolph-led Pittsburgh Steelers. The undefeated San Francisco 49ers, laying close to a touchdown, were hosting the Seattle Seahawks.

Week 10 seemed like a respite from the chaos of a grueling four-month season. But it wasn't.

Drew Brees and Adam Vinatieri looked 70 years old. Jared Goff went full Jared Goff. Chase McLaughlin attempted a field goal so bad that it was harder to watch than Kylie Jenner's "rise and shine" video.

It was all mercilessly distressing and left you, me, and millions of others wondering what we did to deserve this.

We don't deserve this, but that's just how the NFL operates. And still, we keep coming back. It's on you to retaliate with conviction. Don't let the league beat you down. You are brazen, daring, and radical. You are a maverick. You are Captain Ahab.

So whether you're in a revival pool or one of the fortunate few left in your survivor, go and do just that in Week 11.

Safest picks

1. Minnesota Vikings (vs. Denver Broncos)

This should be one of those lock-it-in-and-don't-think-twice plays, but we can no longer approach games with that sort of abandon after the unmitigated disaster that was Week 10.

So here's your due diligence.

Brandon Allen is the Broncos' quarterback, and he's making his first career road start against a Vikings defense allowing the second-fewest points per game at home this season.

The only way opposing offenses can beat Minnesota's defense is through the air. That's bad news for a Denver team that runs the ball on 30.2% of its snaps on the road (fifth-most in the NFL) and ranks 28th in passing yards per game.

The Vikings are 4-0 at U.S. Bank Stadium this season and won each game by double digits. Under head coach Mike Zimmer, they're 29-5 straight up as home favorites, and 12-1 when laying at least six points.

Minnesota feels as close to a sure thing as this week can offer.

2. Oakland Raiders (vs. Cincinnati Bengals)

The Bengals need at least two more games to recover from their humiliation at the hands of Lamar Jackson last week. You could see the souls of Cincinnati defenders leave their bodies when Jackson spun his way past three of them in one swift motion that would have sent most of us to the ground clutching our ACLs.

Ryan Finley was pedestrian in his first career start for the Bengals, making a couple of nice throws last week but mostly looking out of his depth while completing 53.3% of his passes. He also threw a very ugly interception that effectively put the game to bed in the second quarter.

The Bengals now rank 29th in offensive DVOA and 31st defensively, and it looks like their only realistic shot at a win this season will come Dec. 1 when they host the New York Jets.

Meanwhile, the Raiders' offense is clicking, and they're just a half-game back of the lead in the AFC West. Head coach Jon Gruden deserves a ton of credit. Oakland has won two straight, both at home, and the club possesses far too much talent for Cincinnati, especially considering the rest advantage after playing on Thursday night last week.

3. San Francisco 49ers (vs. Arizona Cardinals)

Now these picks start getting a bit more dangerous. Kyler Murray has been electric enough to keep the Cardinals in just about every game, and it's hard to say how the 49ers will respond on short rest following a heartbreaking division loss that was also their first defeat of the season.

Still, San Francisco's defense remained dominant Monday night with five sacks and four takeaways. The Seahawks benefited from a defensive touchdown and a pair of short fields resulting from Jimmy Garoppolo turnovers.

It was a rough evening for the 49ers quarterback, but this is a get-right spot against a Cardinals team that ranks 31st in passing yards surrendered. Arizona also allowed Garoppolo to throw for 317 yards and four touchdowns just two weeks ago in the desert.

4. Carolina Panthers (vs. Atlanta Falcons)

You'd have to be blissfully ignorant to feel confident picking against the Falcons again after last week. But it remains to be seen whether that win over the Saints was a sign of things to come or lame-duck head coach Dan Quinn's final hurrah.

No matter which Falcons team shows up this week, the Panthers will be prepared. They've been excellent at home this season with Kyle Allen under center, putting up 30-plus points both times against the Jaguars and Titans - much tougher defenses than Atlanta can muster.

Carolina's secondary has been stingy, but the real challenge for Matt Ryan will be the Panthers' ferocious pass rush. The team leads the NFL with 36 sacks and is pressuring the quarterback on 24.6% of its dropbacks this season.

Ryan is 0-3 in his career visiting Carolina as a 'dog, and he's been outscored 96-19. It'll take a monster effort for him to lead the Falcons to a second successive road win.

Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.

NFL Week 11 survivor picks
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