It’s Week 11, and the playoff picture is beginning to come into focus. You can pretty much eliminate many of the weaker teams and pay attention to the other (twenty or so) squads that still have aspirations for a post-season berth. Speaking of the post-season, we have quite a few games pitting probable playoff teams going on this week. Said match-ups include Seattle taking on Kansas City, Detroit and Arizona hooking up in the desert, Philly and Green Bay throwing down at Lambeau, and the Patriots and Colts on Sunday night. There are plenty of other important games, which we will get into as we go along here, but all and all it is looking like a great week of NFL action!
Last Week: 9-4
Thursday, November 13th, 8:25 e.t.
Buffalo Bills (5-4) @ Miami Dolphins (5-4)
This is a big game for each team, coming off of tough losses a week ago. The Patriots are beginning to walk away with the AFC East, but the winner of this game could potentially find themselves one game behind New England. For the loser, they will likely have to win at least five of their final six games to have a chance. Anyways, if I have learned anything over the last couple of seasons, it is that Buffalo is a bad match-up for Miami, and with the loss of Brandon Albert the ‘Phins could struggle against the stout D-line of the Bills. I like Jim Schwartz to mix up his coverages and confuse Ryan Tannehill a bit. If the Buffalo corners can disrupt the Miami receivers early on in their routes and force the third year QB to hold on to the ball, the NFL’s leading sack team should gobble him up. Bills win here.
Buffalo 23, Miami 15
Sunday, November 16th, 1:00 e.t.
Minnesota Vikings (4-5) @ Chicago Bears (3-6)
This is a bit of a last hurrah for each of these team. The winner can still say they have a chance this year while the loser is all but cooked. The Bears are coming off of an embarrassing performance Sunday night against the Packers and will be looking to avenge that ugly loss. They need to get the ground game going here; it will help Jay Cutler and shorten the game for Chicago. If they can do this, which I think they will, they should win. Forte needs to be the man in this game and the Bears defense needs to be able to get off the field on third down. Better safety play would be nice too. Luckily the Vikings don’t boast the same weapons that the Packers did a week ago on offense so I think they should be fine in this one.
Chicago 34, Minnesota 17
Cincinnati Bengals (5-3-1) @ New Orleans Saints (4-5)
The Bengals, and specifically Andy Dalton, looked terrible at home against the Browns. That was a home game, and under those circumstances the Cincinnati offense usually runs smoothly. It doesn’t often glide quite so well on the road. Now they go into New Orleans to take on a team eager to get past a heartbreaking loss at home while at the same time trying to seize control of a totally winnable NFC South. I think Drew Brees picks them apart. This one could be over before the half if Dalton plays like he did a week ago.
New Orleans 37, Cincinnati 22
Seattle Seahawks (6-3) @ Kansas City Chiefs (6-3)
This is arguably the hardest game to chose this week. The Chiefs are the home team, and they have won four in a row and have looked good on both sides of the ball in the process. The Seahawks have triumphed three straight times and have looked just fine on offense and defense until last week when they seemed to return to the same form they sported in the Super Bowl last year. They ran for a club record 350 yards against the Giants, and the defense pitched a shutout in the second half. I think they could ride that momentum into this game for a big win, however I also think the Chiefs are one of the most underrated teams in the league. They do have home-field advantage, and in a game like this (cross-conference, no less) that makes a big difference.
Kansas City 20, Seattle 17
San Francisco 49ers (5-4) @ New York Giants (3-6)
The 49ers managed to save their season with an overtime win in New Orleans last week, and are now welcoming back Aldon Smith into the lineup just in time to face the Giants. Pass protection for Big Blue has not been good this year, and I think it will struggle in this contest as well. Also, after all of the belly-aching Michael Crabtree has done this week (complaining about how he is under-utilized in the San Fran offense), I think he has a respectable game, going 7-118-1. Gore rumbles for a buck twenty and Carlos Hyde adds 48 as well on the Giants “D” which ranks 32nd in the league overall. Yikes.
San Francisco 29, New York 14
Atlanta Falcons (3-6) @ Carolina Panthers (3-6-1)
Much like the Minnesota/Chicago game, this is a tilt that pits two sub-par teams from the same division against each other with the loser pretty much having to give up on the year. Although, it is the NFC South, a division where four teams have a combined eleven wins, so anything is possible I guess. Atlanta has three wins on the year, all against NFC South competition. Mike Smith’s team has looked good in these games and I think that this trend continues here against a Carolina team that was shredded by the Eagles on Monday night. If Cam Newton was 100% then I would have no problem picking the Panthers, but since he isn’t I think the team suffers because of it. Plus the defense has been weak this season. I like the Falcons on the road.
Atlanta 24, Carolina 14
Houston Texans (4-5) @ Cleveland Browns (6-3)
Houston is like that beautiful but crazy ex-girlfriend. You keep wanting to give them a chance, but then they do something to force you to turn the other way. I guess that is what you get out of any .500 team, and since they are one game below that mark, I see them climbing back up there with a win in Cleveland. Ryan Mallet will have the keys in this game, and I see him getting the job done when he goes toe-to-toe with another former Patriot quarterback, Brian Hoyer. Even though they beat up on the Bengals, I am not sold on Cleveland. What they have seems too good to be true. I see Houston pulling the upset here.
Houston 31, Cleveland 24
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8) @ Washington Redskins (3-6)
Given the chance, this Washington team has the ability to play well. This season they have performed well against bad teams and they have another one coming to town in the Buccaneers. I keep wanting to say the Bucs are better than their 1-8 record would indicate, but I think I’m done making excuses for them. They have one upset win on the road this year, and it came in the waning seconds of that contest. They still play undisciplined at times, and I think that is something that Washington could take advantage of. I like the ‘Skins in a close one.
Washington 22, Tampa Bay 19
Denver Broncos (7-2) @ St. Louis Rams (3-6)
The Broncos looked like they were about to be upset by the Oakland Raiders last week, but then C.J. Anderson happened. His 51 yard touchdown reception propelled Denver to a 24 point win on the road. While I don’t think he will have nearly as good of a game, I do see the Broncos winning this contest. They have too many weapons on offense whereas the Rams are really lacking in that area. That stark difference should factor into the outcome of this game. Peyton Manning throws 4 touchdowns and 310 yards as his team wins on the road.
Denver 36, St. Louis 17
Sunday, November 16th, 4:05 e.t.
Oakland Raiders (0-9) @ San Diego Chargers (5-4)
The Chargers have lost three straight games and are coming home to take on the win-less Raiders off of their BYE. Ryan Mathews will be back to tote the rock for the bolts, and I think that helps here. Oakland is 0-9 for a reason and I don’t see them fixing these issues against a semi-quality team on the road. They struggle to get off the field on third down, the offense fails to create big plays, and there is no running game to speak of. Yes, the Raiders will win a game this year, but it won’t be against a Charger team that absolutely needs to get back into the win column.
San Diego 27, Oakland 10
Sunday, November 16th, 4:25 e.t.
Detroit Lions (7-2) @ Arizona Cardinals (8-1)
With the late afternoon window comes a great two-piece of games on FOX. The first one takes place in Glendale as the Carson Palmer-less Cardinals play host to the red-hot Lions. Arizona continues to find ways to win games, even if they are outmatched. Meanwhile, Detroit seems to be putting together the talent that they have had for years and are riding it to satisfying victories. Normally I love the Cards at home, but in this case, I think that the Lions’ “D” proves to be too much for Drew Stanton to handle. He likely won’t have the help of a running game either and the Cardinals have been torched at home by good quarterbacks this season. Matthew Stafford is one of them, and he has Calvin Johnson back to go along with Golden Tate and others. Lions get to 8-2 with a nice road win.
Detroit 25, Arizona 16
Philadelphia Eagles (7-2) @ Green Bay Packers (6-3)
Both the Eagles and Packers are coming off of dominant wins at home against weaker NFC teams. The two combined to outscore their opponents 100-35 and had a total of eight passing touchdowns and three return touchdowns. Now they square off in what could be a playoff preview. Mark Sanchez looked solid at home in his first start since December of 2012, however I think Philly’s defense and special teams carried them in that game. It is doubtful that they will be able to sack Aaron Rodgers nine times and intercept him three times here. So that means that the pressure will fall on the Sanchize to do big things. Against the Packers, I’m not sure. Philly always seems to make it close at the end, but I think Green Bay has too many weapons on offense for the birds to deal with, so in the end they will prevail.
Green Bay 30, Philadelphia 24
Sunday, November 16th, 8:30 e.t.
New England Patriots (7-2) @ Indianapolis Colts (6-3)
The Patriots are on fire right now. They have won five straight games and seven of their last eight. Tom Brady has quietly played exceptionally well this season, and without his one stinker in Kansas City, just imagine how insane his numbers would be. A healthy Rob Gronkowski has certainly helped, but he is also establishing a rapport with his other targets as well (i.e. Brandon LaFell). On the road in Indianapolis, the Patriots are going to have to be at the top of their game because Andrew Luck always seems to play his best ball at home against quality teams. I think that T.Y. Hilton goes bonkers here, even though the Patriots do what they can to take out their opponent’s top guy. If they plan on sticking Darrelle Revis on Hilton, things could get ugly. #13 is too fast for Revis to cover one-on-one. He could have 173 yards and two scores in this game as the Colts barely edge the Pats at home. And yes, we finally have a close game on a Sunday Night!
Indianapolis 35, New England 32
Monday, November 17th, 8:30 e.t.
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) @ Tennessee Titans (2-7)
The Pittsburgh Steelers have become a difficult team to predict. Every time you think they will win, they lose and every time you think they will get it handed to them, Ben Roethlisberger turns around and tosses six touchdown passes and leads his team to the big win. If this trend is to be believed, the Titans should come out victorious here. However, until the Titans establish a ground game to help rookie Zach Mettenberger out, this team is going to struggle. Even though they are at home on a Monday night, I think Tennessee fails to please their fans. I’m totally thinking this will be a game filled with sloppy offense and a lack of point scoring, but in the end Big Ben, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell prove to be the deciding factor as Pittsburgh notches an ugly road win.
Pittsburgh 14, Tennessee 12
Week 11 Bonus Predictions
Upset of the Week: Buffalo over Miami
Sure Bet of the Week: San Francisco over New York Giants
Rookie of the Week: Jordan Matthews
Offensive Player of the Week: Ndamukong Suh
Defensive Player of the Week: Clay Matthews
Best Overall Offense: Indianapolis Colts
Best Overall Defense: San Francisco 49ers
Feel free to leave a comment stating what you think will happen in this weekend’s games!