We saw the Cincinnati Bengals and Tennessee Titans pull off impressive upset victories last week, so Week 11 in the NFL certainly offers more of the same.
The only difference, of course, would be if you were a team like the Philadelphia Eagles. LeSean McCoy and the Eagles are amidst a five-game losing streak and 3-6 overall, and because of this current slump, Philly is an underdog on the road against the Washington Redskins.
Then again, it's also not extensively surprising. Washington fields an explosive offense with Robert Griffin III, and the Eagles simply turn the ball over too much. Regardless of how much talent one team may present, turnovers are the great equalizer.
To that end, let's break down Philly and other underdogs capable of shell-shocking—or at least beating the spread—versus the favorites.
Note: All lines are courtesy of FootballLocks.com. Spreads may change before each game's kickoff so be sure to check back throughout the week.
The Kansas City Chiefs' game against the Pittsburgh Steelers proved that running the ball increases their odds of winning.
K.C. racked up 142 rushing yards against the Steel Curtain, so similar production can be expected versus the Cincinnati Bengals. Cincy gives up 118.3 rush yards per game and an average of 4.4 per carry.
Considering that the Chiefs were minimally effective using the passing game despite unfavorable weather conditions in Pittsburgh, throwing success against the Bengals is realistic. As long as the ground game gets established, play action will pay dividends throughout the course of the contest.
Also, K.C. can still get decent quarterback pressure from Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. Andy Dalton's pass protection isn't overly dominant and Cincinnati's rushing attack pales in comparison to Kansas City's.
Not to mention the Chiefs are hungry for a win, whereas the Bengals can be anticipated to enter Arrowhead overly confident—mainly because of the smackdown they put on the New York Giants.
Chiefs 21, Bengals 17
One interesting take on this week's AFC North battle is the Baltimore Ravens' offense.
And it's because the Ravens' defense has played uncharacteristically weak against the run and pass all season, even when healthy.
Allowing an average of 390.2 total yards per game, Baltimore's best bet for winning is now an explosive offense. Fortunately, the Ravens do present that with Joe Flacco and Co. as well as a stellar ground game in Ray Rice for balance.
In short, the Steelers defense has its hands full because, unlike the Chiefs, Baltimore executes consistently. Even worse for Pittsburgh, is the concern for Ben Roethlisberger. According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Coach Mike Tomlin said today that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a shoulder sprain in his throwing arm that "puts his participation into the questionable category" for Sunday night's game against the Baltimore Ravens.
Several other sources have told the Post-Gazette that Roethlisberger also sustained some form of rib injury when he was sacked by Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston.
Yes, this may be a rivalry game, but regardless of Big Ben's status the Ravens have an edge. Ed Reed still resides in the secondary, and his instincts will create turnovers. As a result, the Baltimore offense controls the tempo.
Ravens 24, Steelers 16
This is a statement game for the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots. The two AFC foes both sport a 6-3 record, and postseason implications are on the line.
Unsurprisingly, the Pats are leading the AFC East, whereas the Colts are thriving with their new chapter in Andrew Luck. Interestingly enough, New England's defensive strength is against the run, and Indy's offensive strength comes from Luck airing it out.
So it's a matter of something having to give. Will Bill Belichick's pass defense crumble against a rookie? Also, will Tom Brady torch an Indianapolis defense that's capable of applying quarterback pressure and shelling in coverage?
Well, the Colts have to remain balanced throughout because it will keep New England honest. In addition, the less time in possession Brady has to work with gives Indy a significant competitive advantage. We know the Pats will score and can do so at will.
Therefore, regardless of the outcome, Indy must win the possession/field position battle to keep Brady and Co. off the field. New England, though, can force turnovers and stop the run more consistently than Indianapolis.
Patriots 28, Colts 24 (Indianapolis with the spread, New England straight up)
The Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins are both desperate for a win.
Both sit at 3-6; however, they are just one game behind the Dallas Cowboys for second in the NFC East. Even better, the Redskins have five divisional games remaining including Week 11, while the Eagles have four.
So, despite the current records, not all hope is lost just yet. Which makes this mid-November matchup all the more important. Also, according to ESPN.com:
Philadelphia Eagles rookie quarterback Nick Foles will start against the Washington Redskins on Sunday, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, after Michael Vick was diagnosed with what coach Andy Reid called a "pretty significant concussion."
With that, the Eagles must run the rock to take pressure off Foles. LeSean McCoy is Philadelphia's best offensive weapon, and his impact with more carries will minimize the potential damage of Washington's offense to Philly's defense.
The Redskins may not have displayed extreme dominance in the passing game, but RG3 reps a 65.6 completion percentage and has accounted for 2,522 total yards. Philly must simply limit his opportunities by keeping RG3 off the field, as the Eagles' defense remains underachieving in 2012.
Washington allows 4.2 yards per carry, so slamming on the ground and setting up play action will get Philadelphia solid yards and points to fend off the Redskins.
Eagles 27, Redskins 23
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