Here are my NFL Week 11 Picks
(5-9 last week, 91-55 for the season)
Bye teams: Browns, Saints, Giants, Steelers
Ten @ Jax – At one point in the season, Mariota looked like everything the dreamers dreamed him to be. He still shows flashes, although who doesn’t against the Saints defense, but overall the Titans have scored the least points in the AFC and just cant figure out how to get their inconsistent offense to match their fairly good defense. A run game would be good, haven’t seen much of that, and I’m sure making a head coaching change midseason doesn’t help keep things going smoothly. Having a good run scheme & a good defense are keys to winning on the road, something Tennessee has yet to do this season, and I doubt that changes this week. The Jaguars were a part of my horrible game predictions in Week 10, when I went 5-9, one of my worst weeks ever. It was a time of upsets and extremely odd endings, Jacksonville being a big part of that. Apparently they should have lost that Baltimore game due to an uncalled penalty, but I guess there’s no going back now, and a win’s a win. Can they get more? I think so, with Bortles playing surprising well and the Jags doing OK at home. Why not.
Ind @ Atl – The Colts dismantled the Broncos two weeks ago, but at a very high price. Andrew Luck broke himself & his spleen, and will miss a few weeks. His coach says he needs to stop playing like a linebacker, but for whatever reason that was the only way the offense was producing. Maybe that’s because, I don’t know, Indy picked up a bunch of octogenarians in the offseason and never got their offense on the same page. I really thought that the Colts were headed to the Super Bowl, but now the playoffs themselves are in doubt, what with Matt Hasselbeck slotted to be the starting quarterback for the next however many games. He’s done pretty well in relief this season, but don’t look for that to become the status quo. The Falcons were undefeated before a 1-3 slide, but they had obvious problems that were going to catch up to them eventually. Well, they’re here, now how are you going to deal with them? A bye week should help, as should a home game, where the Falcons are 3-1. Look for Matty Ice & Julio to get going again, look for this defense to play a little tougher, and look for a turn back to normal winning ways, at least this week vs a 40-year-old QB.
STL @ Bal – With Gurley running the ball so well and with their defense playing solid football, the Rams decided to make a change at quarterback to fix a big flaw and to point this team in the right direction. So to the bench goes Foles, up comes Keenum, and good luck to everyone involved. At least St. Louis didn’t give up a ton for Foles, not like Philly did for Bradford, and perhaps Keenum is the better long term option. But do you think starting your first game of the season on the road in Baltimore sounds like fun? I don’t. And the Ravens haven’t even played well this year, losing practically every time they should easily win, losing games late, losing games by referee error; this team is cursed. They should be so much better than they are, and yet they continue to struggle every single week. Some of that is bad luck, but some of that is terrible defense, after the Ravens had built a brand around strong defensive play. I had thought that perhaps Baltimore could turn things around, but it might be getting a bit late for that, especially after that disaster vs Jacksonville last week. I’ll pick them once more, but my patience is shot.
Was @ Car – Kirk Cousins plays well, yells “you like that!” at the media. He then plays New England, gets creamed, and stays silent. Smart man. But he follows that game up with a 47-point drubbing of the New Orleans Saints, and you wonder if he wants to shove it in the face of all the doubters out there one more time. Let’s see what he & his team do this week, that should help us decide whether the Redskins are legitimate or just happened to score some points against some bad defenses. Carolina has one of the best Ds in the league, and should be able to throttle Washington in the same way the Patriots did. Cam is commanding the field so well, the run game is firing on all cylinders, the defense is stout; the Panthers are a great all-around team. Their record proves that, 9-0, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. Let Cousins light up the Panthers in something other than garbage time and we’ll talk about whether or not we “like that”, but I think we’ll see much more of Cam dancing in the endzone than we will or Kirk self-congratulating in the locker room.
Den @ Chi – Other than after that game against the Packers when the Broncos looked unbeatable and their offense finally seemed to have found a rhythm, I’ve been calling all season for a change. Peyton has looked terrible in almost every game, and even the Packer game looks suspect now that some of Green Bay’s flaws have been exposed by multiple teams. Manning went and got old, lost the physical talent, and would do better on the sidelines with a headset on then he will on the field surrounded by young guys. His time is over, and even if it means the Broncos not going to the Super Bowl, I’m glad we’re getting a look at what Brock Osweiler can do. Brock could be the future, and who knows, he could actually improve this team, when you consider how poorly Peyton has played. Brock & Roll, they’re saying in Denver, and it’s about damn time. Meanwhile, a bunch of former Broncos want some revenge and will be playing this game like it’s the championship. But if Denver can harass Cutler, and if Kubiak can outsmart Fox, I think Osweiler’s natural gifts & a strong Denver D can win them this game.
Oak @ Det – The Raiders have long been a better spoiler than they have a defender of the home turf. They love to go on the road, shake things up, play with abandon, and fly home with a win no one gave them. That would apply here, but the Raiders are starting to get a little more respect, are starting to believe that they can win, and have begun to play a little above their record. Carr has played well, this is a young, talented team, and although a recent losing streak has hurt their cause a little, Oakland could still be around come January, where they would most likely play on the road one again. Can the Lions stop them? Well, they stopped the Packers in Lambeau last week, something that is almost unheard of. But Detroit isn’t playing that good, the Packers are playing that bad, and it would be too quick to say that the Lions have found solutions to some of their problems. They’re still tied at the bottom with the worst record in the league, can’t keep anyone out of the endzone, and aren’t scoring enough points to put teams away when the opportunity arrives. Look for a close game perhaps, but one in which the better team ultimately wins.
NYJ @ Hou – Rex Ryan came back to Jersey and got a big one, something I really didn’t see coming. I know hype & momentum can be powerful things, I just thought that the Jets were the better team in all phases, that they’d be able to play solid football for 60 minutes and hold off the upstart Bills. Well, the offense sputtered, only scoring 3 points in the first half, and Buffalo took advantage with 12 point of their own, taking the game over from a New York team that didn’t seem to want it. Are the Bills for real now? I wouldn’t be so quick to proclaim that, I’d let this game settle the matter for you. The Texans are coming off a big win of their own, knocking off the undefeated Bengals in impressive fashion. They allowed only 6 total points in the game, 6!, beating back Cincinnati wherever they tried to look for an opening. Watt made Dalton mad with Red Rifle comments, but that’s just another case of shut him up with your play, don’t complain about it afterwards. Dalton lost to Houston yet again, lost in a primetime game yet again, and will be forced to hear the rumbles until he starts another win streak.
Dal @ Mia – Praise the Lord and pass the tax rebates, Tony Romo is back in Dallas! Brandon Weeden; failed, of course, in every way you could possibly fail. Matt Cassell; not much better. Well Weeden was cut, Cassell was a stopgap, but Romo is back and the Cowboys couldn’t be happier. He will assuredly be a little rusty coming off so many weeks away, but look for him to make an immediate impact on an offense that just can’t score points anymore. Dez has got to be thrilled that Tony has returned, and I’m pretty happy as a Bryant fantasy owner too, so Go Big D, at least for a little bit. Also, my opponent this week has Ryan Tannehill starting, so I’m hoping for a 40-0 game, but I actually think it’ll be a good deal closer than that. Miami seemed to like the change at head coach, but that magic has since worn off. And considering that they’re 1-2 at home, a worse record than their 3-3 on the road, I wouldn’t put much faith in home-field advantage. I know the ‘Boys have lost 7 straight, but they have a chance here to turn things around, and I think they might just do it.
TB @ Phi – The Bucs won last week 10-6 vs the offensively inept Cowboys. Had Tony Romo been in the game, that score would have been much different, but hey a win’s a win. Tampa moves to 4-5, Jameis has been playing fine, and this is a team that won’t pack much of a punch on any given week but can still win a few games. Underwhelming praise, I know, but this isn’t an exciting team. OK on offense, OK on defense, OK at home, OK on the road; maybe next year? For now, their ability to stay in games is enough to give them the edge in a couple matchups, and this might be one of them. Looks like Sam Bradford broke again, surprise surprise. He could be out this week for the Eagles with shoulder & concussion issues, so look for Mark “Butt Fumble” Sanchez to take over Chip “I’m A Tool” Kelly’s gameplan. Philly actually looked to have fixed a couple issues coming off their bye, before Bradford went out & Sanchez starting throwing interceptions. I just have no faith in that guy, even though he played a few good games for the Eagles last year. These teams are really similar, so it could go either way.
KC @ SD – Don’t give the Chiefs too much credit for beating the Broncos last week; that was more Peyton falling apart than their defense stepping up. Not that that’s an excuse, and not that KC should feel bad about the win, it’s just the truth. West has stepped in for Charles, but without that dominant run game and without that stellar defense, the Chiefs are a mediocre team with a mediocre offense. They’re 1-1 within the division, though both games came against the Broncos , so we’ll see how things go now that they have to face the rest of the AFC West. The Chargers haven’t posed much of a threat to anyone yet, going 2-7 on the season. They’re a terrible, winless road team, can’t get out of their own way, and have to start the process of accepting that Phillip Rivers isn’t a golden god. San Diego does play fairly well at home though, especially to teams having to travel out of their own time zones, something that will happen in Week 11. I don’t like either of these teams, don’t think either makes the playoffs, but wouldn’t be surprised to see a tough game that SD escapes from with a win.
GB @ Min – The Packers lose to the Broncos and it’s oh Denver is that good. The Packers lose to the Panthers and it’s oh Carolina is that good. But the Packers lose to the Lions and it’s wow Green Bay is that bad. I don’t know exactly what’s wrong, but this team is not the team we’re used to seeing, and Aaron Rodgers does not look anything like his normal self. My Super Bowl picks were Indy & GB, not stretches in any way, and yet they both find themselves treading water while trying to figure out what the hell is going on. Hey, maybe that ends up as a good thing, maybe they get with the program just in time to go on a playoff run. But for the Pack, I don’t think that run starts this week. The Vikings are just too good to be beaten by a struggling team. They’re undefeated at home, they’ve allowed the least points in the NFC, Peterson is running well, and this offense could see improvement every week. Minnesota is for real, and while I think Green Bay has a great chance of reclaiming the division soon, I think they’ll need more time to duct tape all their leaks.
SF @ Sea – Did Blaine Gabbert just lead a team to victory, did that just happen? And coming off a bye week, he’ll have the chance to be even more prepared. But prepared to lose probably! Boom! Seriously though, they guy isn’t the answer in San Francisco, he’s just filling it until things get figured out, and one good game does not a career make. The Niners still have a slew of problems, including only scoring 14 points per game and failing to win on the road yet this season. Well, it’s about to get worst, cause they’re heading to Seattle. The Seahawks have had their own issues, but they’re the better team in every category. And they’re so close to getting over the hump; the offense can score, the defense can stop, they just don’t play consistently. This seems so obvious and is getting pretty old, but they need to get Jimmy Graham involved. I keep waiting for him to have a 3-TD week, which could easily happen, and perhaps this is the time. Seattle should obliterate San Fran, and if they don’t I’ll take it as a sign that they’re not going to be around come January.
Cin @ Ari – Once I jumped on board, I said that I wouldn’t jump off the Bengals Bandwagon until they showed me a good reason to. And while one bad game doesn’t doom their Super Bowl hopes, it does raise some concerns. To only score 6 points at home with that talented roster is almost criminal, and other teams will now look at what the Texans were able to do. Dalton looked shaky and his receivers didn’t help a bit, failing to reward the defense for playing one hell of a game. So, not that Cinci is all of a sudden a terrible team, but it might be time to start picking them to lose a few games. Enter the Cardinals. I repeat what I’ve been saying all season; Arizona is perhaps the best team in the league. I know they have two losses, and you can say New England or Carolina and not get an argument out of me. But don’t forget about the Cardinals. Not only do they score a ton of points, but they have the defense to back it up as well. They’re on a 3-game win streak, play well at home & on the road, Carson is playing very well, they have great skill players, and this defense is scary good. Overall, a championship caliber squad.
Buf @ NE – Rex Ryan said last week that although he wanted to beat the Jets, the Patriots were the team that he circles in the offseason. Smart move, since they’re the team to beat every single year, and you’re not going anywhere if you can’t get past the Pats. For almost every team every season that means that New England will be representing the AFC in the Super Bowl, since no one seems able to consistently knock them off except the Giants, and they’re in the other conference. Can Buffalo upset the big dogs? I doubt it. I just talked about not picking against a team until they give you a reason, and the Pats have definitely not done that. They even won a tough road game vs NYG, the team that supposedly has their number. They won’t lose at home to the Bills, not with Tom Brady playing as well as he is, not unless he gets injured and the wheels completely fall off. The Patriots have the highest net points total in the league at +134, and no one else is even close except for the aforementioned Cardinals. Now THAT would be a good game, and something we might see in February.