Talk about upset city last week! Tampa Bay and Jacksonville got their first wins, Indianapolis was blown out at home by St. Louis (who would have thought?), and Dallas looked completely lost on the bayou. Games that should have been close were blowouts, and games that were supposed to be blowouts were close. The 49ers didn’t score a touchdown, and the Giants finally scored a couple of offensive touchdowns (thank God for Andre Brown), but this week returns to form, where the cream rises to the top. Right? Here are my Week 11 Picks!
Indianapolis @ Tennessee – For this one, I’m going with my assertion that whichever team has the best run game in this contest wins it. Both defenses have been solid on and off this season, and I don’t see them breaking down here. Fitzpatrick goes for Tennessee presumably for the rest of the year on the short week, but he has Chris Johnson, who I think is the deciding factor here. The Indy running game can’t possibly keep up with Richardson and Brown not running well at all, and on the short week. My money’s on Tennessee in this one, which will be a low scoring affair. Pick – Tennessee.
Washington @ Philadelphia – Foles to Cooper. All day long. Sure, it has to end at some point. I mean, it is Riley Cooper, but as long as the streak is going, might as well ride it. Speaking of streaks, it has been a long time since these Eagles won at home. Against a dreadful Redskins defense that the offense completely dismantled in week 1, that streak ends here. Pick – Philadelphia.
Cleveland @ Cincinnati – The Browns’ defense, while still good, hasn’t been as good the past few games. Yet, the team still has a chance at the playoffs even after losing Brian Hoyer. That’s because of the defense playing well enough against sub-par offenses. But this week they’re traveling to Cincinnati against a Bengals team upset at losing an OT thriller to the Ravens. Andy Dalton has been anything but great the past two weeks, but he’s ready to carve up this defense. The Bengals right the ship against the Browns with a strong defensive effort and a couple of touchdown throws from Dalton. Pick – Cincinnati.
Atlanta @ Tampa Bay – Speaking of defenses, this one is no contest. The Tampa Bay defense is still for real, and they get a treat when turnover happy Matt Ryan comes to town. This lost season continues for the Atlanta Falcons, and they’re staring down the barrel of Mr. Revis and his island. This week Tampa gets its second win in a row and a few turnovers in the process. Pick – Tampa Bay.
Oakland @ Houston – Case Keenum is for real, but that Texans’ defense isn’t, not anymore anyway, which is why the Texans lost to Arizona last weekend in the desert. But Oakland travels to the Lone Star State this week fresh off their own losses to NFC East teams, one in record fashion (Foles throwing his 7 touchdown passes). They have something to prove, but Terrelle Pryor doesn’t have the momentum to do so in this matchup. I think the Houston defense finds a time machine and takes over this one. Pick – Houston.
Baltimore @ Chicago – Well, Chicago hasn’t been its normally tidy self at home this season, which has less to do with Trestman than it does with Cutler. When Cutler doesn’t play, the Bears tend to lose. McCown has been an acceptable substitute, and even a good one at times, but he’s not Cutler, for better or for worse. That being said, Baltimore has looked out of sorts the past couple of weeks, especially in the run game. I think they remain out of sorts for this one, the Chicago defense comes to life, and McCown powers the Bears past the Ravens. Pick – Chicago.
Arizona @ Jacksonville – Now that they have that one win out of the way, will they become the juggernaut they always could have been if Blaine Gabbert hadn’t been the de facto quarterback of the team, or if Justin Blackmon didn’t have a substance abuse problem? I wouldn’t go that far. Maurice Jones-Drew has been pretty dreadful this season, and the offensive line needs a lot of work, but the defense has been playing better of late, which is where their win came from (that they almost gave away at the end). This week against a good (not great) Arizona defense, they don’t continue any kind of win streak. Pick – Arizona.
Detroit @ Pittsburgh – Something’s still not right in the Steel City, but the team is still in town and they still call themselves the Steelers, so they have pride. But pride doesn’t lead to wins, and the Pittsburgh team doesn’t have many of those this year. They also have a tendency this year to follow a strong performance with a weak one. After that win against Buffalo, they’re due for a letdown at home. And Stafford has the arm to beat them. I say he does, and the Lions steal one in the Steeltown. Pick – Detroit.
Jets @ Buffalo – Speak of the devil, I mean, speak of Buffalo, and here they are. The Bills have played tough all year long, and this game has all kinds of playoff implications, or at least it might if the Bills win it. And I think they will. Spiller is finally healthy and both running backs had letdowns last week so they’re ripe for revenge. Why not make it happen against that Jets defense that has played pretty solidly the past couple of weeks? At home the Bills take a close one. Pick – Buffalo.
San Diego @ Miami – The Chargers have had a whole world of success coming East and beating teams even while doing the time zone tango, but it has to end somewhere. Miami looked futile last week in handing Tampa Bay its first win of the season, but this Chargers team doesn’t have Darrelle Revis or that dynamic type of defense. They will give up passing yards, Mike Wallace will score, and the Dolphins bounce back to keep their own playoff chances alive, if just barely. Pick – Miami.
San Francisco @ New Orleans – This 49ers offense didn’t look nearly as dynamic against that Panthers defense as they had the previous five weeks, and Kaepernick looked downright offensive (ha ha). But if there’s salve for all wounds then they have one this week when they visit Louisiana. Even though the Saints defense looked good against Dallas last week, the Cowboys are a passing offense first and foremost. San Francisco’s wins come through the run, and the Saints defense has been abysmal against the run all year. San Fran returns to its style and success by winning an important game on the road. Pick – San Francisco.
Minnesota @ Seattle – Seattle looked anything but efficient and Seattle-like against the Tampa offense two weeks ago because they took them for granted and barely won that game. I think they may be tempted to take Minnesota for granted too, but this Vikings team has looked leagues better recently. Sadly, they don’t have Ponder for this game and he was one of the biggest reasons they performed better. Without him it’s just Adrian Peterson and he hasn’t been carrying the load this year. In Seattle, I don’t see that team taking Minnesota as much for granted, and I don’t see them letting AP win the game. Pick – Seattle.
Green Bay @ Giants – This is my upset special of the week. Sure, the Giants have won three in a row so they have momentum, and the Packers have lost their last two in a row, both at home. But the Giants still haven’t cleaned up their mistakes, and Tolzien has had time to work with the first team. I say he gets it done in his first start of the season, that Nelson has a great game, and that the Giants come back down to earth. Pick – Green Bay.
Kansas City @ Denver – Too much has been made about a “gimpy” Peyton Manning, and I honestly don’t care. The man still gets it done, and outside of that Indianapolis game that they still had a chance to win, he will get it done again this week, gimpy or not. Kansas City is just too one-dimensional on offense, and its defense, while great, cannot hang with Manning and all of his weapons. At home, the Broncos take control and tie up the division. Pick – Denver.
New England @ Carolina – This seemed like a no-brainer about six weeks ago when Carolina was struggling and New England was still undefeated, but oh how the tides have changed. Coming off of a big win in San Francisco to up its streak to five wins in a row, these Panthers are no joke. But Tom Brady has Gronkowski back, and Dobson is paying huge dividends in only his first year, it’s Monday night where Brady shines, the Patriots look somewhat like the Patriots again, and they’re coming off a bye so they’re rested. They come into Carolina and win a close one. Pick – New England.