Tag Archives: week 11

2017 Season: Week 11 Preview

Week 11 is here and there are some huge matchups on the docket for the week.  It is do or die for a few times and there are a couple others who are looking to all but cement their spot atop their respective divisions.  There are also some saucy NFC games upcoming too so this should be a fun week.  Here are my picks!

Last Week: 10-4

Season: 93-53

Locks: 4-6

Upsets: 2-8

Thursday, November 16th, 8:26 e.t.

Tennessee Titans (6-3) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2)

The first game of the week is a dandy and the best one on tap pitting two AFC teams.  Both of these squads eeked out tight wins against inferior teams last week and are on a collision course at Heinz Field.  The Steelers should not have much trouble winning this one, however.  I expect their defense to step up and smother the Titan rushing attack making life tough on Marcus Mariota throwing the ball.

Pittsburgh 26, Tennessee 14

Sunday, November 19th, 1:00 e.t.

Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) @ New York Giants (1-8)

The Chiefs will win this game easily.  The Giants have given up on this season and are too banged up to beat even the listless 49ers, let alone a quality team from the other conference.

Kansas City 39, New York 10

Arizona Cardinals (4-5) @ Houston Texans (3-6)

This is a hard one to call since both teams are bad without their starting quarterbacks.  I do think that the Cardinals have a slight edge if Houston is planning on rolling out Tom Savage again.  Not to mention, Arizona has spent the entire year trading losses and wins.  It is time for a win on the road.

Arizona 19, Houston 14

Detroit Lions (5-4) @ Chicago Bears (3-6)

Detroit has played well against NFC North competition this year and their offense has cranked it up over the last few weeks.  They did get off to a slow start against Cleveland at home but finished strong.  The return of Kenny Galloday to the lineup helped.  The Lions offense should carry them to the “W” over the Bears on the road.

Detroit 27, Chicago 20

Los Angeles Rams (7-2) @ Minnesota Vikings (7-2)

This is probably the best game on the schedule for the week, and the hardest one to pick.  It pits two teams that could be meeting again in the playoffs also.  This should feature a lot of defense, I think.  Both offenses have been explosive to this point in the season but I can see both getting slowed here.  I think Minnesota’s “D” is better, but the Rams have been a dominant road team.  I like them to win, just barely.

Los Angeles 13, Minnesota 10 ***UPSET OF THE WEEK***

Washington Redskins (4-5) @ New Orleans Saints (7-2)

The Saints proved to everybody that they were a legitimate Super Bowl threat by going on the road and hanging 47 points on a good defense that was previously undefeated at home.  They can run the ball and their offense is in control of games.  That will go over well against a Washington team that has been inconsistent on defense.

New Orleans 30, Washington 24

Baltimore Ravens (4-5) @ Green Bay Packers (5-4)

This is, to me, the hardest game to pick this week.  I am going to lean towards Green Bay for two reasons, however: 1) They are the home team and 2) Their offense is much, much better even with Brett Hundley at the helm.  He looked pretty good in Chicago last week and I like that to continue into this game as well.

Green Bay 20, Baltimore 18

Jacksonville Jaugars (6-3) @ Cleveland Browns (0-9)

I was really tempted to pick the Browns in an upset but I just can’t because the Jaguars pass defense is very good while Cleveland’s passing attack has been abysmal (although much better last week).

Jacksonville 20, Cleveland 7

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6) @ Miami Dolphins (4-5)

Here is another one that is hard to pick.  The Buccaneers were able to win without Jameis Winston and Mike Evans last week and they should be in good shape to defeat a bad Dolphins team this week, but I think I am going to go with the ‘Phins at home.  That was my original pick to win this game all the way back when it was first scheduled to be played in Week 1.

Miami 20, Tampa Bay 19

Sunday, November 19th, 4:05 e.t.

Buffalo Bills (5-4) @ Los Angeles Chargers (3-6)

Philip Rivers has been in concussion protocol for the week, but the team is optimistic that he will play on Sunday versus Buffalo who plan on tossing the offensive keys to Nathan Peterman for this game.  My one question is: Why?  What do they expect him to give the team over Tyrod Taylor.  This is a bad move in my opinion and one that will cost them the game.

Los Angeles 23, Buffalo 16

Sunday, November 19th, 4:25 e.t.

New England Patriots (7-2) @ Oakland Raiders (4-5) (in Mexico)

The Raiders are hoping to make something out of their season and they have a tough draw with the New England Patriots.  The Pats just played a high altitude game in Denver and are looking to play another one here.  The defense has been holding their opponents to under 17 points per game and Tom Brady is out here doing Tom Brady things.  Oakland won’t have the horses to run with the Pats here.

New England 34, Oakland 24 ***LOCK OF THE WEEK***

Cincinnati Bengals (3-6) @ Denver Broncos (3-6)

Denver’s defense has been trounced in back-to-back weeks surrendering a total of 92 points.  This is a prideful unit, however, and I fully expect them to bounce back and smother an up and down Bengal offense.  Andy Dalton turns the ball over 3+ times and the Broncos win this game handily.

Denver 24, Cincinnati 3

Sunday, November 19th, 8:30 e.t.

Philadelphia Eagles (8-1) @ Dallas Cowboys (5-4)

This game is a product of bad timing for the Cowboys.  Had the contest taken place two weeks ago, I probably would have picked them but now they will be missing a lot of key players going up against the most balanced team in football coming off of a BYE.  The Eagles will prove to be too much to handle for Dallas, although I do like the ‘Boys to keep it close for most of it.

Philadelphia 30, Dallas 17

Monday, November 20th, 8:30 e.t.

Atlanta Falcons (5-4) @ Seattle Seahawks (6-3)

This may be the best looking Monday night game of the year and it does feature two teams looking to make playoff runs in the NFC.  Year in and out, this is the time where the Seahawks make their surge and I think that begins here in a big way.  I like Seattle to blow the Falcons out at home.

Seattle 37, Atlanta 13

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Week 11 Recap: Jacksonville Jaguars @ Detroit Lions

Eric Ebron
Eric Ebron finished his afternoon against the Jaguars with three catches for 70 yards, as well as a rushing touchdown.

Final: Detroit 26, Jacksonville 19

In a game that was pretty back-and-forth throughout, featuring six lead changes, the Lions pull off the win at home following a bone-headed offside penalty against Sen’Derrick Marks late in the fourth quarter on a fourth and one.  Detroit did not look particularly good in this game outside of a couple of players while the Jaguars were not all horrible, but still very sloppy.  Here’s a look at the performances of the players in the contest.

We start with the Jacksonville defense.  This was a unit that came into the game having not forced a turnover in five straight contests.  They snapped that streak when they recovered a muffed punt off the mitts of Andre Roberts in the first quarter.  Of course, that turnover was technically credited to their special teams but the defense also forced a fumble on Golden Tate to create a play of their own.  Telvin Smith, who was coming off of an emotional week after his brother was murdered, came out and made some nice plays and demonstrated some good form tackling.  He missed one take-down, but was otherwise sure to bring his man down with seven solo tackles.  Paul Posluszny was around the line of scrimmage and helped out with a couple of run stops as well.  The best player in the secondary was strong safety Johnathan Cyprian who was also a sure-tackler and mad a couple of nice breaks on the ball.  Jalen Ramsey was okay, making big plays and also giving up a couple of completions when in coverage on Anquan Boldin.  The biggest play of the game was surrendered in the third quarter when Matthew Stafford hooked up with Eric Ebron for a 61 yard pass.  This was on a zone coverage when Ramsey stumbled as he attempted to turn his hips.  This let the big tight end out of North Carolina run loose.  Prince Amukamara’s tough year continued as well when he was beat on routes on more than a couple of occasions.  The Jaguars played a lot of zone on passing downs, which hurt them more than anything, but they ran many run blitzes and hit on almost all of them.  This could be more attributed to the Detroit line than anything else, which will be hit on now.

Davon House
Davon House in coverage from Sunday’s game.

The Lion’s up front were pushed around.  There was almost no fight out of their O-line and most players on the offensive side were not very good.  Matthew Stafford turned in one of the lone solid performances from Detroit.  His right arm essentially became their running game, especially late in the fourth quarter when the Lions went on an eight minute drive to milk just about all of the remaining time out.  He had a lot of throws from weird arm angles, as we have become accustomed to seeing, and was pinpoint accurate on most of them.  He did face a lot of pressure early in the game and the offensive line is to blame for that.  The Lions had almost no yardage until about halfway into the second quarter, something that will not cut it if they are to play a competent team down the stretch here.  There was almost no surge from the O-line in the run game and it is hard to blame any of the backs for the lack of space running the ball.  Anquan Boldin was not bad; he made a lot of separation on his routes with his physical running.  The Golden Tate roller coaster season continued.  He showed up in this game but did not have a monster impact with three catches for 27 yards.  Tight end Eric Ebron was a near non-factor against man coverage, but had a lot of success against zone.  He also trotted into the end zone on a fourth quarter one yard rushing touchdown.

The Jaguars on offense were not a whole lot better running the ball with Chris Ivory, who put the ball on the ground for the fourth time this season.  T.J. Yeldon looked strong with the rock in his arms, but he suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter and missed the remainder of the game.  Blake Bortles was an adventure in this contest.  He was brought down hard on a scramble early in the game and was rolling his shoulders for the rest of the contest.  Many of his throws from that point forward were underthrown and off the mark.  He threw two picks in the game, and as coach Brian Billick would say interceptions come because of four reasons: Bad throw, Bad decision, Bad route, or Bad luck.  His first interception was a bad throw while his last was bad luck when the ball bounced off of Marqise Lee’s foot and into the hands of Tavon Wilson.  Before those two second half turnovers, he did have a nice first half, getting rid of the ball quickly and into the hands of his play makers.  Allen Robinson chipped in with a touchdown catch and the backs were active participants in the receiving game.  Chris Ivory ended up leading the team with six catches.  9/22 of Bortles’ completions went to his running backs, many on screens.  He made a horrible pass coming out of the half that was intercepted by Rafael Bush and returned 39 yards to the house.  He then came back on the very next thrown and was nearly picked off again trying to force it in to Allen Robinson (Darius Slay was on the coverage).  The throw was behind Robinson and clearly a greedy pass.  Bortles was trying to do too much in this game and made some careless throws because of it.  The best overall player on offense for the Jags was Marqise Lee.  He made some great catches, had separation, chipped in with excellent blocks, and grabbed a touchdown at the very left side of the end zone.  He has picked up his play the past few weeks and is becoming Blake Bortles’ go-to receiver.  Allen Hurns was essentially a no-show in the game, as was Julius Thomas.  The two combined for four catches and 21 yards.  They are going to need a lot more production than that.

Jags
Jacksonville taking the field against the Lions in Detroit.

The Detroit defense was nothing too special in coverage; they lucked out facing a quarterback who made a lot of errant passes.  Ziggy Ansah was a beast, however, forcing multiple QB pressures and a tackle for a loss.  Miles Killebrew came up and made four huge tackles on third down situations stopping the runner short of the sticks.  The Lions opted for a lot of zone in their own right and they were effective in that coverage only because their front four was able to get pressure on Bortles.  Otherwise the secondary was not great.  Haloti Ngata was in the backfield for practically the whole game as the nose tackle had his best showing of the year, making a tackle for a loss and a couple of run stuffs as well as a pressure on the quarterback.  As stated before, Rafael Bush had a 39 yard pick six which ended up being the difference in the game.  His interception was basically gift-wrapped though as the ball was thrown right to him.  Blake Bortles made a lot of risky and bad passes and it made this sloppy secondary look much better than it really was.

Special teams-wise, the Lions benefited from a 55-yard punt return touchdown from Andre Roberts in the second quarter.  Marqise Lee had a 42-yard kickoff return as well, but other than these two plays special teams was awful in this contest.  There were two missed PATs, and many penalties.  The Jaguars lead the league in penalties against them in this area of the field and their 2-8 record reflects how sloppy they have been.

Looking back, this was a really bad effort from so many players.  The Lions were not very good outside of Matthew Stafford on offense, and their defense benefited from playing a dysfunctional offense.  Neither offensive line got any push; Jacksonville was bullied when protecting against the pass while Detroit got no surge when blocking for the run.  The Lions are tied for first place in the NFC North with Minnesota, who they play next week on Thanksgiving.  If they do not straighten up, they could be in for a rude awakening.  The Jaguars will be taking on the Bills on the road as they desperately try to give their head coach Gus Bradley anything to help him save his job by the season’s end.  They are one of the most undisciplined team’s in the league and this was clearly seen on a fourth and one late in the 4th when Sen’Derrick Marks, a leader of the D, jumped offsides in an obvious 4th and one hard count from the Lions.  The Jaguars are not going anywhere until they fix their problems on offense.

Jared Odrick
Jared Odrick attempts to bring down Matthew Stafford.

The Skinny:

  • Matthew Stafford was forced to bail his offense out yet again as the Lions could forge nothing on the ground in an all-around embarrassing effort from the offensive line.  Detroit finished the game with 14 rushing yards and just one first down via the run.
  • The Lion “D” was lead by a relatively unknown player today in Miles Killebrew.  He made a number of key third down stops to hold back the Jacksonville attack.
  • Offensively the Lions were a mess overall.  Half of their points came on return touchdowns with a punt return TD by Andre Roberts, who shined outside of a muffed punt in this contest, and a pick six from Rafael Bush in the third quarter.
  • Blake Bortles continued to struggle in this game.  After producing his best half of football in the first two quarters, he came out and was forcing throws and missing his receivers in the final two.  He ended the game with two picks, with yet another one bouncing off of his receiver’s foot.
  • Marqise Lee had an excellent showing making very nice plays on offense and a couple of nice returns.  He ran great routes, made nice sideline grabs (as well as a touchdown), and even threw a couple of nice blocks.
  • The Jacksonville defense had a nearly perfect stuff rate when run blitzing and were able to keep things tight for the entire game.  They were beaten deep a couple of times in zone coverage which has been a problem for them all year.

2016 Season: Week 11 Preview

It is Week 11, and after last week the world is eager to see what the NFL has in store this time around.  There were a ton of classic games and a lot of upsets.  Going by the Vegas line, eleven out of the fourteen scheduled contests ended in an upset.  That wreaked havoc on the picks from yours truly, but that is what makes the game so fun to watch.  There wouldn’t be any sense in predicting outcomes if we all knew what was going to happen.  Anyways, I’ve been handing out superlatives in this column, talking about who the best players are, those who are deserving of awards, those who are fun to watch, and the greatest games of the year.  Now it is time to go down a darker path: head coaches on the hot seat.  Who are the top ten head coaches in trouble this season?  I have that list compiled below as well as all of my picks for the week.

10- Bill O’Brien, Houston Texans:

We will touch on this one a bit later in this article, but a lot of the offseason moves he and the Houston braintrust have made have not worked yet.  He is 6-3 and is only in hot water if his team has a major collapse.

9- Mike McCoy, San Diego Chargers: 

A couple of weeks ago McCoy would have fallen much lower on this list, but his team has rallied to make some nice wins lately.  Still, the Chargers should be much better than 4-6 right now and part of the problem begins with the head coach and his ability to keep the team mentally tough.

8- Jim Caldwell, Detroit Lions: 

Widely regarded as the worst head coach in football, you get the feeling that Jim Bob Cooter is going to overtake him at some point.  His team is winning now, but that may be despite him.  Caldwell is a great offensive mind and an underwhelming head coach.

7- Jeff Fisher, Los Angeles Rams: 

Jeff Fisher is a good coach, but his stubbornness can be leading him towards trouble.  He has shrugged off making obvious changes to his roster in favor of holding the same 7-9 team from year to year.  Things will have to change quickly or he could find himself looking for employment elsewhere in the coming year(s).

6- Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers: 

Mike McCarthy’s offensive system has run very stale (much like someone else appearing on this list) and it may be time for Green Bay to make a change on top.  They have the players, but sometimes a firing of the head coach is necessary to shake the culture of the lockeroom.  It happened to Andy Reid in Philadelphia and it can happen to McCarthy in Green Bay.

5- Rex Ryan, Buffalo Bills:

Ryan seems to always be on this list, but often comes up with a big win to save himself from embarrassment.  If his team goes on a run to end the year, then he is going to be just fine, but if the team falls flat there are going to be a lot of people calling for his job in Buffalo.

4- Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals: 

We all know the story: Lewis and the Bengals cannot win a playoff game.  After years of so much promise, Cincinnati has been one of the more disappointing teams in the game this season and a changing of head coach could motivate them to play even better in the future with Andy Dalton and A.J. Green in the prime of their careers.

3- Chip Kelly, San Francisco 49ers: 

Chip Kelly’s offense has been figured out and because of his schemes, the defenses have been terrible.  Look at what Jim Schwartz is doing in Philly with virtually the same players.  If your entire persona is built on an amazing offensive scheme that ends up doing nothing, there isn’t a whole lot left to hang your hat on.  Kelly could be one and done in San Fran.

2- Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts: 

Much like the Bengals, Indianapolis has a problem with their head coach.  He has not made good decisions in games and has a talent-poor team around him, save for Andrew Luck.  A better coach could help the Colts quite a bit.

1- Gus Bradley, Jacksonville Jaguars: 

This one was easy to place.  Gus Bradley and his Jags have not been winning games.  They were supposed to take the leap forward this season, but have instead taken five or six steps back.  This game is all about winning, and Bradley has not done that since coming to Jacksonville.  This team needs a change at head coach worse than any other team in the league.

Now, on to this week’s exciting games!

Last week: 5-9

Season: 74-73

Thursday, November 17th, 8:25 e.t.

New Orleans Saints (4-5) @ Carolina Panthers (3-6)

The eleventh week of the season kicks off with a game between two desperate teams who are likely going to be forced to look towards next year with a loss.  In other words, the season will be over for the loser of this game (lock that one in).  Both are coming off of horrifying fourth quarter losses at home to playoff-calibur teams and have to do everything they can to bounce back and save their seasons in the Queen City.  Cam Newton was chirping about not receiving protection from low hits while in the pocket, and rightfully so, and since that time he has not been under too much duress.  The offensive line has played slightly better than it did early on but one of the problems is that Newton is holding the ball too long, inviting big hits.  Luckily the Saints, save for Cameron Jordan, have no pass rush and he can afford to scan the field and go through all of his reads. Cameron Jordan

Hopefully this will help guys like Devin Funchess and Ted Ginn Jr. get involved in the passing game; hey have been silent as of late.  While the Panthers offensive line has been much maligned all year, the Saints’ has been the opposite.  Drew Brees has had a lot of time to pick opposing defenses apart and if he is afforded excellent protection here he should be able to throw up close to 41 points against this porous secondary like he did back in Week 6.  What a game that was, by the way with the two teams combining for 79 points and a thriller requiring a last second field goal from Wil Lutz to seal a W for New Orleans.  NFC South games this year have seen points scored in bunches and this week should prove no differently.  I’m still holding out hope that the Panthers can get on a little roll here in the second half of the season and if that is to happen it will start here.  They cannot afford to drop two games to the Saints if they hope to make any kind of playoff run.  I’m taking Carolina because their defense has been playing much better lately and I think they ride that momentum to a key fourth win.

Carolina 36, New Orleans 28

Thursday, November 20th, 1:00 e.t.

Chicago Bears (2-7) @ New York Giants (6-3)

Coming off of what has to be their most satisfying win of the season, the Giants get ready to hit a two game stretch that will see them face some of the worst teams in football, one of them being these Bears.  Chicago was flat out pushed around by Tampa Bay on the road last week and will be facing a much better defense this time around.  Jason Pierre-Paul seems to be getting back to his all-pro form and the secondary of New York is finally beginning to play up to their bill.  Eli Manning certainly hasn’t looked great lately, but he doesn’t need to if the D can continue to ball out like it has.  Jay Cutler is good for a solid performance every now and again, but I don’t see it happening this week.  The Bears’ real key in this contest will be their rookie running back Jordan Howard.  He continues to knife through defenses and if New York has one weakness on that side of the ball, it would be defending the quick trap run game.  Pounding the middle of formations with the rookie running back may be the way to go, but the G-Men probably know this.  Chances are they’ll pack the box and force Cutler to beat their solid secondary.  Without Alshon Jeffrey to throw the ball to, being lost due to suspension, the Bears have a limited arsenal to attack with.  That does not bode well for them against a team that is peaking right about now.  I’m going with the home team in a rout.Landon Collins

New York 35, Chicago 13

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-5) @ Cleveland Browns (0-10)

Antonio Brown Savage

The Steelers enter this game having lost four straight contests and are in desperate need of a win as a pick-me-up to their season.  Luckily they run into the Browns who looked every bit the part of a winless team in an embarrassing loss to the Ravens in Baltimore last Thursday night.  Their offense was held to 144 total yards and they turned the ball over three times.  Cody Kessler was not awful, but was yanked after the first half of play (a half that the Browns won, by the way, being up 7-6 after two quarters).  The switch to Josh McCown may seem puzzling to some, but it is becoming apparent that Hue Jackson is simply trying to decide which quarterback is best to run this offense.  If you’re asking me, I say you stick with the rookie Kessler.  He has looked a bit gun-shy for sure, but he has not been a liability for the offense.  He has tossed six touchdown passes to only one interception and has one of the best completion percentages when under pressure.  Whether or not he starts remains to be seen, but in the end it won’t matter.  Ben Roethlisberger returned to form last week against Dallas and did everything he could to propel his team to a win.  The defense choked the game away in the final seconds by letting Ezekiel Elliot run for a 32 yard touchdown, but Pittsburgh did play the once-beaten Cowboys tougher than almost any other team this season.  Offensively, the Steelers seem to have awoken after getting shut down by Baltimore, but as we are finding out now, the Ravens have an excellent defense.  Cleveland does not.  They are still allowing too many busts in coverage and their secondary has been shaky at best.  That does not bode well with Antonio Brown and company coming to town.  On the verge of desperation, I expect the Steelers to come out and play some inspired football.  The ground game has all but disappeared for the Brownies, and they will desperately need it to come back if they hope to slow down their division rivals by keeping that explosive offense off the field.

Pittsburgh 43, Cleveland 17

Buffalo Bills (4-5) @ Cincinnati Bengals (3-5-1)

This game, much like the Thursday nighter, promises to be one of the better contests of the week simply because it pits two teams desperate to make a push for the playoffs who, if they lose, will likely fall out of contention entirely (possibly putting their head coach in a lot of trouble, but that’s another topic for another day).  I give the visiting Buffalo the edge here.  It goes much further than the fact that the Bills will have had 13 days rest while Cincy will have only had 6.  Rex Ryan’s boys are running the ball well and their offense has been preforming lately whereas the Bengals have struggled to put drives together and have not been so fundamentally sound on defense, especially when forced to tackle in space.  The Bills have two of the best make-you-miss players on offense with LeSean McCoy and quarterback Tyrod Taylor.  Tyrod Taylor

Cincinnati will have to keep within its own means in this game, which means no over-pursuing and better gap play, something the team has had a lot of trouble with lately.  If Cincy can find a running game against a Buffalo defense that is average in that category, then they stand a chance.  The Bills have not been great defending tight ends either, so in will step Tyler Eifert who seems to be almost all the way back.  He should get his targets in the middle of the field.  With that being said, I am not a fan of the unit that Paul Geunther is throwing out on the field and ultimately I think they will be the downfall here.  Buffalo was fun to watch and very crisp on offense in Seattle against a much better D, so if they play anywhere near that level in this contest they should leave town with a win.  I expect Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, and company to keep this one interesting however.

Buffalo 23, Cincinnati 21

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5) @ Kansas City Chiefs (7-2)

Don’t look now but Tampa Bay is in second place in the NFC South.  They are coming off of a thrashing of the Chicago Bears at home and will head to Arrowhead to take on the Chiefs who continue to win despite their injuries or criticism from the media.  Kansas City is one of just four teams who are undefeated at home while the Buccaneers are actually 3-1 on the road.  The are, also, 0-2 in games against the AFC West so far this year and are facing a team that is very opportunistic on defense, something that could hurt a gun-slinger like Jameis Winston.  Coming off of a BYE, the Tampa Bay defense played very well and should continue to do so this week if the Chiefs are down a handful of their play-makers like they were last week in Carolina.  We thought that Justin Houston was going to suit up for the first time all year against the Panthers, but he was given an extra week to recuperate.  He should be a go here against the Bucs and if he is, he can provide an immediate spark alongside Dee Ford who continues to dominate in his playing time.  The Tampa Bay offensive line has been up and down all year and will have to be great if the team is going to win this game on the road.  It is going to take some fundamentally sound team defense and a mistake-free offense.  This is something that the Bucs are not and is something that the Chiefs are.  Marcus PetersKansas City tends to feast on these types of teams, and with the Buccaneers still not running the ball all that well, I don’t like their odds to go on the road and control this game.  I do want to go on record by saying that I gave an upset a thought here.

Kansas City 21, Tampa Bay 12

Baltimore Ravens (5-4) @ Dallas Cowboys (8-1)

Having both come off of impressive wins a week ago, this game will be the only one all week that will pit two lone division leaders against one another (the Raiders are co-division leaders with Kansas City, so we aren’t counting their game with Houston).  The Baltimore defense has been lights out this season, but at the same time slightly less than itself on the road, as many teams are.  Dallas, on the other hand, continues to tear teams apart with their running game and play action from Dak Prescott.  To this point in the year, the only teams who have had any success at slowing the Cowboys offense (divisional foes in the New York Giants and Eagles) have done so by stopping the run.  Baltimore is not just the #1 ranked offense in the league, but it is also the #1 defense against the run.  We have pointed this out before, however, when the Cowboys and Packers played a few weeks ago.  All Dallas did was go ahead and run 191 yards in that Week 6 affair.  Zeke Elliott

The Ravens offense has not been very good this season, and has not looked much better since Marty Morhinweg was promoted to offensive coordinator a short time ago.  That was to be worrisome for Baltimore against a team that can wear you down and out with their running game.  The Cowboys are scoring almost 29 points per game, and that is a direct compliment to their offensive line and what they have been able to do running the ball.  If the Ravens cannot slow down Zeke Elliot, then they will have to hope that their offense can score more than 30 points against a defense that is doing enough to hold teams back from doing just this.  I don’t have confidence in Joe Flacco being able to shred a defense.  He did not look too impressive against one of the worst defenses in the league at home last week so I don’t see him making a miraculous turnaround on the road in Big D.  IF the Ravens can dominate at the line of scrimmage like they have been able to lately, they they just may be able to pull an upset.

Dallas 26, Baltimore 17

Arizona Cardinals (4-4-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (5-4)

This Minnesota Viking ship is sinking, and fast.  I have been going down on that ship over the last few weeks and refuse to continue down that path.  No, Arizona has not looked impressive in almost any of their games this year, but I do think they have the better team and here is why: they are actually able to run the ball on offense.  If you look at both of these defenses, it is easy to say that they are basically a wash.  The Cardinals have one of the best, if not the best secondaries in football.  If the Vikings are unable to run the ball as has been the common trend so far this year, it will come down to their offense throwing the ball against Patrick Peterson and pals.  Peterson will be matched up with Stefon Diggs in what could be the best match-up of the week.  I’ll bet you didn’t know that Diggs can make history in this game.  He is the only player in NFL history to record at least 13 receptions in back-to-back games, and can be the first player ever to have three straight games with 11+ catches. Stefon Diggs I don’t see him doing so against one of the best cover corners in the league, however, but I did want to mention that bit of historical trivia.  David Johnson was bottled up last week by an atrocious 49er defense, but I try not to read too much into that since it was a divisional game and those can often be wacky.  The Minnesota defense has been exposed over the last couple of weeks and teams have gotten to them by delivering quick passes over the middle and not letting that great pass-rush get going.  With the offensive line in shambles for the Cardinals, I think they will do everything they can to limit Carson Palmer’s game.  He should throw a lot of slants and quick hitches when the Vikings play off coverage and take his shots when they are there.  In the end, I can’t see Minnesota winning this game being a one-dimensional offense.  If they cannot run the ball and have to throw it, it will be playing right into Arizona’s hands as their secondary can create turnovers and make plays.

Arizona 19, Minnesota 13

Tennessee Titans (5-5) @ Indianapolis Colts (4-5)

Both of these teams enter this game having just pulled off big wins over the Green Bay Packers (of course, Indy’s came two weeks ago before their BYE).  Now they are looking to make a push for the AFC South with a win in Indianapolis.  The Titans have been alternating wins and losses all season long, and if that trend continues then they are due for an L on the road against the Colts.  Tennessee has not beaten the Colts since 2011, as they have rattled off ten straight wins against them; the longest such current streak by any divisional rivals in the league.  The Titans have been rolling on offense lately, having scored over 35 points in three straight games.  Their offense could do no wrong against the Packers as it all started with a 75 yard touchdown run from DeMarco Murray.  Marcus Mariota started 10/10 for 192 yards and two scores and the Titans just did whatever they wanted against Green Bay at home.  It certainly was, as Mike Mularkey would say, a statement win for his team and one that they can really build off of.  Mike MularkeyThe Colts and Andrew Luck can say the same thing, but it is easy to forget about what they did on the road in Lambeau as that game did take place two weeks ago.  Luck made some great throws under pressure and carried his team to a late win in that game.  The Indy defense has been up and down throughout this entire season.  They will be tasked with stopping the Titans from running the ball against them.  If they can do this then there should be opportunities to force Marcus Mariota into mistakes, something the young sophomore QB has been prone to this season.  This is a really tough game to call, but for the second time this year I am going to take the Colts.  They will have the home crowd in their corner and have had a BYE to think things over.  That Tennessee defense has not been great lately and I think that bites them hard on the road.

Indianapolis 35, Tennessee 31

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-7) @ Detroit Lions (5-4)

The Lions are returning from their BYE in a great mood because they suddenly find themselves in first place in the NFC North with both Minnesota and Green Bay losing a week ago.  Now the get an apparent cupcake at home when the Jaguars come to town.  Blake Bortles continued to struggle early on in the game a week ago against Houston, but something tells me that he won’t in this one.  The Detroit defense has been bad for much of this season and I think that Bortles will have opportunities for big plays down the field.  With that being said, it will come down to their defense and whether or not I think they can slow down Matthew Stafford and the Lions.  I was going to go with them in an upset, but then I remembered that Stafford is clutch in the fourth quarter.  Steve Smith Jalen Ramsey FightJalen Ramsey versus a rejuvenated Golden Tate should be a fun one, but the real key here will be on the other side.  Prince Amukamara continued to struggle last week and should have his hands full with Marvin Jones this time around.  Add in a highly physical Anquan Boldin and you have a lot of matchup issues across the board for Jacksonville.  Their running game will have to get chugging like it did on the road in Kansas City two weeks back.  The key sounds like it would be to keep their offense on the field, but that never works since they are prone to mistakes themselves.  I expect a competitive game out of the Jaguars, however, but in the end I am trusting Matthew Stafford to make enough plays to win his team the game.  If the Lions can’t beat Jacksonville at home, they are certainly not worthy of being considered a playoff team, so this contest serves as a huge litmus test for them.

Detroit 28, Jacksonville 27

Sunday, November 20th, 4:05 e.t.

Miami Dolphins (5-4) @ Los Angeles Rams (4-5)

Jared GoffFinally the Rams have decided to go with Jared Goff as the starter, and a lot of people think this is way overdue.  Personally, I don’t think the rookie will bring much to the table that Case Keenum did not already do but he should draw more fans to the stadium and make this team more fun to watch.  The Rams were held without a touchdown in three of their first nine games.  Surprisingly, they won two of those, but that is not a formula that should be followed in today’s NFL.  Goff will immediately be expected to produce since his compatriots in the rookie QB class are already out there doing big things.  Opposing him will be a Miami defense that has improved week to week.  Last time we saw them, they were picking Philip Rivers off four times in the fourth quarter to help the whole squad win the game.  They did give up a couple of big plays in that one, but luckily for them the Rams’ are not exactly known for getting that chunk yardage.  Todd Gurley sports a 3.1 yards per carry average and has a long run of 18 yards on the year putting him dangerously close to Trent Richardson territory.  It is easy to say that teams are loading up the box to stop him from tearing through them (which they are, since Los Angeles has not had any kind of passing attack to scare people so far) but I’ve notice that he is pushing to hard on tape and missing possible cut-back opportunities.  If Goff can come in and be effective throwing it, that will take some of the pressure off of Gurley’s shoulders.  They should use him more in the passing game, by the way, as he can be a very effective outlet.  For the Dolphins, they have rejuvenated their season behind a strong running game and much better play out of their secondary.  That has, in turn, made things much easier for Ryan Tannehill since he is not having to win the games all on his own.  That said, this is not a favorable matchup for him.  The Miami offensive line is going to have its hands full with Aaron Donald and friends and Tannehill may not be able to get rid of the ball in time.  Also, call this a stretch if you want, but I can see Jared Goff actually making plays in this game.  I think the Rams should take this one in an upset due to their mismatches that they will create for the Dolphin offense.

Los Angeles 20, Miami 17

Sunday, November 20th, 4:25 e.t.

New England Patriots (7-2) @ San Francisco 49ers (1-8)

The New England Patriots are coming off of a narrow loss to the Seahawks and are likely going to come into San Fran fired up to play.  Tom Brady returns to the area where he grew up as a Niners fan and now has a chance to tear that team apart.  Tear it apart he shall as the Frisco defense has been awful to this point in the season.  They have not stopped the run worth a darn, and the Patriots come in with back LeGarrette Blount who already has twelve rushing touchdowns on the year.

LeGarrette Blount

You can add another one or two in this game.  I’ve stated before that the 49er defense has been the worst unit in the league ever since their stud linebacker Navorro Bowman was lost for the year.  I don’t see them doing enough to slow New England down.  Even if they do, do we have confidence that their offense is going to do anything to help the team win the game.  It comes down to this: if the 49ers are to win this game in miraculous fashion, they will have to score at least 35 points.  That is five touchdowns.  I certainly don’t see that one happening.  San Fran loses its ninth straight because the Patriots are simply too much for them to handle, especially coming off of a loss.

New England 34, San Francisco 12

Philadelphia Eagles (5-4) @ Seattle Seahawks (6-2-1)

The premier late-window game features two teams with solid defenses throwing down in the Emerald City.  To be honest, I really wish this game were being played in Philly, because that defense is other-worldly at home while it is more vulnerable on the road.  Since the Eagles are traveling to Seattle, they will have a distinct disadvantage due to the crazy loud crowd.  That could give rookie quarterback Carson Wentz a lot of problems.  Philadelphia’s defense is also very average on the road.  That is not going to get it done against a Seahawk team that seems to have found a groove with their offense.  Russell Wilson is playing just as well as any other quarterback in the league right now and is becoming a great pocket passer.  Doug Baldwin is on fire also and should be a handful for a banged up and inconsistent Eagle secondary.  Jimmy Graham is also elevating his play and that will be something to see because Philly typically plays opposing tight ends very well. Jimmy Graham In other news, the ‘Hawks cut Christine Michael, so they will be going forward without him.  Thomas Rawls should be back for this game, but his role should be limited so as to ease him back into the game.  The one thing that really hurts the Eagles in this game is the fact that their corners don’t fight for the ball very well, and that is something that Seattle’s receivers do better than any other team in the league.  Big plays should be there for the Seahawks as long as their offensive line can fend of a vicious pass rush for just long enough.  Brandon Graham, who typically rushes from the right side of the formation, my find some playing time on the left against rookie George Fant.  If that is the case, then Seattle will likely have to keep backs in for protection.  It shouldn’t matter because I think that Russell Wilson is playing great right now and him being hot should carry through this battle.  If this game were being played in Philly I’d think differently, but in Seattle there is no way that the Eagles lackluster receivers will be able to do enough against the Legion of Boom to lead the team to a win.  They will have to lean on their defense heavily and that is a bad strategy in this situation.

Power Pick of the Week: Seattle 31, Philadelphia 17

Sunday, November 20th, 8:30 e.t.

Green Bay Packers (4-5) @ Washington Redskins (5-3-1)

What in the world is wrong with the Green Bay Packers?  For starters, their defense could not have possibly turned a worse effort than they did a week ago.  The fact that their offense was stuck in the mud did not help either.  When diagnosing Aaron Rodgers game and trying to determine what is wrong, it looks like he is shouldering too much of the weight on offense.  The Packers have had almost no running game to fall back on since losing Eddie Lacy and James Starks.  Starks came back last week, but was not much of a factor since the Pack trailed big early on and they were immediately in catch up mode.  To help their running game, the team signed Christine Michael but that should not have that big of an impact on this Sunday night affair.  Rodgers is holding the ball too long, and would really be much more effective if he could get rid of it quicker. Aaron Rodgers

The Washington Redskins pass defense was shaky last week against Sam Bradford when he dumped the ball off rapidly, so I would say that part of their game was exposed.  The Redskin offense did look very impressive against a great defense, though, scoring 26 points.  Kirk Cousins has been playing some good football lately and has more weapons on offense that most QBs have, including one of the best tight end tandems in the league with Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis.  Against a Green Bay defense that allowed Delanie Walker almost 100 yards receiving after the first quarter, you can expect them to be fed.  The Washington ground game has gone a bit silent lately, and I don’t think it will pick up much in this game.  If you consider defense and the running game a wash, then it will come down to who plays better quarterback when determining a winner.  I like Aaron Rodgers still.  He’s been on this stage before and is still capable of delivering a gem (just look at what he did in Atlanta this year without any of his favorites healthy).  I’m going with Green Bay because they will be the more desperate team without a doubt and because I believe in Rodgers over Cousins.

Green Bay 29, Washington 22

Monday, November 21st, 8:30 e.t.

Houston Texans (6-3) vs. Oakland Raiders (7-2) (in Mexico City)

The final game of the season will be played south of the border in Mexico City when the Texans take on the Raiders.  The two teams have a combined 13-5 record, but only one of them looks deserving of a playoff spot right now.  Houston’s defense is not too shabby, but their offense is unwatchable at times.  Oakland, on the other hand, is a lot of fun to watch with Derek Carr playing great football with good outlets and a productive running game.  It all starts with their top five offensive line; they are protecting their QB and allowing him to make big plays with his arm.  The Raiders throw down field effectively which is something that the Texans have not been able to do.  This is a shame because they spent a majority of their offseason trying to improve upon that facet of their game and it has only regressed if anything.  Brock Osweiler is not very eager to chuck the ball down the field, and that is one thing that has hurt Oakland this season.  If you cannot attack an opponent’s weakness then you are in for some trouble and that is what Houston is headed for.  I am looking very forward to seeing what Michael Crabtree will do.  You have to assume that A.J. Bouye is going to be match up with Amari Cooper for most of the game, and Carr will probably be looking elsewhere to guys like Crabtree if that is the case.  Bouye has had his finest season to this point by far and is the number one ranked CB per Pro Football Focus.  He has dominated in man-to-man situations and has been a good tackler.  Take away Cooper and the Raiders will be forced to see what their other guys can do.  I have no faith right now in the Texan offense since they have lacked big plays all year.  They did pick up their first road win of the year last week over Jacksonville, but that didn’t exactly prove anything since it was the Jaguars after all.  A win over the Raiders would show a lot, but I don’t see it happening because Brock Osweiler has the ability to make bad defenses look good.  Jack Del Rio’s team has a very balanced offense that will make things tough on the Texans in this game as well.  But, would it be so Raider-ish for them to lose this game?  Perhaps so, but I am not predicting it to happen.A.J. Bouye

Oakland 30, Houston 14

Week 11 Bonus Predictions

Sure Bet of the Week (7-2): New England over San Francisco

Upset of the Week: Buffalo over Cincinnati

Offensive Player of the Week: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers

Defensive Player of the Week: Aaron Donald, DL, Rams

Rookie of the Week: Jared Goff, QB, Rams

Best Quarterback: Tom Brady, Patriots

Best Running Back: LeSean McCoy, Bills

Week 11: Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins Recap

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The Cowboys win over the Dolphins upon Tony Romo’s return to the field on Sunday, 11/22/15.

Final: Dallas 24, Miami 14

The Dallas Cowboys take down the Dolphins on the road upon Tony Romo’s return.  This was the first win for the ‘Boys since Week 2 when their franchise quarterback originally suffered the broken collarbone against the Eagles.  To the casual fan, it would appear that “America’s Team” won because of Romo, however after review of the game down in Miami Gardens, that statement does not seem to be so accurate.

Sure, Touchdown Tony helped the cause, but the real story of this game was the Dallas defense, which held the Dolphins to just 210 total yards.  They returned an interception for a touchdown and sacked Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill three times for an eye-popping -48 yards.  The cornerbacks stayed plastered to their men for the most part and the Dolphins did not have much success running the ball for a majority of the contest.

In the meantime, the Cowboys enjoyed a strong running game as Darren

Cowboys Dolphins Football
Dez Bryant scored a touchdown in Dallas’s 24-14 win over Miami on Sunday.

McFadden rumbled for an impressive 129 yards on 29 carries.  Robert Turbin chipped in with 35 yards on seven totes as the Cowboys sported a 38-30 run:pass ratio in this game.  It is this type of balance that the team was struggling to create while Tony Romo was out.  That was because the backup quarterbacks did not go through all of their progressions like Tony did in this game.  That was the main difference.  Although #9 looked a little skiddish in the pocket at times, he was going through all of his reads.  He did seem a bit uncomfortable, however, and did make some poor throws, but that is to be expected from a man who is coming off of an eight week layoff.

The Dolphins offense was their downfall on this afternoon.  Many drives were hampered by penalties and they just could not help Ryan Tannehill out with any kind of run game.  In the future, they should try to get the ball in the hands of their rookie running back out of Boise State, Jay Ajayi.  He has showed good burst on the season and could use some game-time experience heading into the next season.

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Jarvis Landry in action from 11/22/15.

While the offense was poor, Miami’s defense has continued to look a lot better under Lou Anarumo.  Ndamukong Suh has been the force many thought he would be over the past couple of weeks, and that has really helped out the pass rush that is being generated by the Dolphins’ front four.  Coverage on the backend was much better over last week when the defense looked mediocre against the Eagles.  Of course, Brent Grimes being back from his illness helped, but Reshad Jones has been a force at safety all year.  Even though Miami lost this game, the team did look improved on the defensive side of things.

The Cowboys have a long way to go before they can be considered relevant again, and a short turnaround is in their future as they will have to play the 10-0 Panthers on Thanksgiving this Thursday.  The Dolphins will host the Jets next Sunday as they desperately try to claw their way back into playoff contention in the AFC.  A win over New York would go a long way for them in that regard.  The main takeaway from this game would have to be that the Cowboys looked a lot better as a team upon Romo’s return.  It may not have been because of him, but in the future it could be.  There may be light at the end of the tunnel for Dallas yet.

The Skinny:

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Tony Romo finished the afternoon 18/28 with 227 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
  • Tony Romo and Dez Bryant pass Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin for first all-time in Dallas history for TD passes by a QB/WR duo with 50
  • The Dolphins defensive line looked solid when Romo dropped back to pass, sacking him twice and causing pressures on a number of other dropbacks including two forcing him into ugly interceptions
  • Romo did not look all too comfortable in the pocket coming off of injury and showed a little bit of rust on the field
  • The Dallas defense was outstanding, holding Miami to just 210 yards of total offense; their lowest total of the season
  • The Cowboys offensive line played their best game of the season since Week 3 against the Falcons

2015 Season: Week 11 Predictions

Last Week: 7-7

Season: 84-62

Thursday, November 18th, 8:30 e.t.

Tennessee Titans (2-7) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6)

Jaguars 24, Titans 13

Sunday, November 22nd, 1:00

Indianapolis Colts (4-5) vs. Atlanta Falcons (6-3)

Atlanta 27, Indianapolis 19

New York Jets (5-4) @ Houston Texans (4-5)

New York 22, Houston 17

Oakland Raiders (4-5) @ Detroit Lions (2-7)

Detroit 37, Oakland 34

St. Louis Rams (4-5) @ Baltimore Ravens (2-7)

Baltimore 28, St. Louis 24

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5) @ Philadelphia Eagles (4-5)

Philadelphia 31, Tampa Bay 21

Dallas Cowboys (2-7) @ Miami Dolphins (4-5)

Dallas 26, Miami 23

Washington Redskins (4-5) @ Carolina Panthers (9-0)

Carolina 24, Washington 23

Denver Broncos (7-2) @ Chicago Bears (4-5)

Denver 26, Chicago 13

Sunday, November 22nd, 4:05 e.t.

Kansas City Chiefs (4-5) @ San Diego Chargers  (2-7)

Kansas City 27, San Diego 12

Sunday, November 22nd, 4:25 e.t.

San Francisco 49ers (3-6) @ Seattle Seahawks (4-5)

Seattle 31, San Francisco 6

Green Bay Packers (6-3) @ Minnesota Vikings (7-2)

Green Bay 30, Minnesota 27

 

Sunday, November 15th, 8:30 e.t.

Cincinnati Bengals (8-1) @ Arizona Cardinals (7-2)

Arizona 41, Cincinnati 24

Monday, October 16th, 8:30 e.t.

Buffalo Bills (5-4) @ New England Patriots (9-0)

New England 36, Buffalo 23

Week 11 Bonus Predictions

Upset of the Week: Green Bay over Minnesota

Sure Bet of the Week (8-2): Seattle over San Francisco

Rookie of the Week: Leonard Williams, DE, Jets

Offensive Player of the Week: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals

Defensive Player of the Week: Malcolm Butler, CB, Patriots

Best Overall Offense: Arizona Cardinals

Best Overall Defense: Seattle Seahawks

Feel free to leave a comment stating what you think will happen in this weekend’s games!

2014 Season: Week 11 Predictions

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!

Week 11: Carolina Panthers 24, New England Patriots 20- Post Game Thoughts

The Carolina Panthers take the cake at home over the New England Patriots.  Obviously the ending of the game was pretty controversial, what with the non-call, however the Pats had their fair share of opportunities to put the Panthers away before it got to that point.  For instance, there was a Stevan Ridley fumble in the red zone in the first half that really hurt this team.  Also, there was a 3rd and 1 later on in the fourth quarter at the Carolina eight yard line where Josh McDaniels decided to throw the ball instead of run it.  The pass fell incomplete and the Patriots kicked a field goal, allowing Cam Newton and the Panthers to drive down the field for the game-winning touchdown.  So even though many New England fans feel like their team may have gotten hosed at the end with the non-call, I say they could have won the game well before it ever got to that point.  In case you didn’t see or hear about the play, what happened was with three seconds left in the game, Tom Brady threw the ball to Rob Gronkowski in the end zone.  Luke Kuechly was in coverage and basically ran Gronk out of the back of the end zone.  The back judge threw a flag for pass interference, but then picked it back up and the game ended without it being called.  To me, this was a miss by the officials, but even worse is the fact that they didn’t provide any description as to why the flag was picked back up.  Anyways, a win is a win for the Panthers and no matter how it happened, beating the New England Patriots in November looks good for a team’s track record.  Carolina proved that they could hang with anybody in this game, which shows that their 7-3 record is legitimate.  It was refreshing to see Cam Newton drive the ball down the field to take the lead late in a game during prime time.  That is a huge step for the youngster and if he can consistently do this, the Panthers will be good for a while.  New England now draws the Broncos at home.  Boy, talk about a tough task to face coming off of a short, controversy-filled week.