NFL Week 11 Picks: Game by Game Predictions & More
There are some big matchups on the NFL schedule in Week 11, and it's my pleasure to give you my picks for every single game on the slate.
One of the biggest themes from Week 10 was the rash of injuries suffered by quarterbacks, and the aftermath will have a huge impact on the games this week. Michael Vick, Alex Smith and Jay Cutler all suffered big blows to the head, resulting in concussions, and Ben Roethlisberger injured his throwing shoulder and his ribs.
Big Ben is already scratched from the starting lineup for Week 11 (per Fox Sports' Jay Glazer), Vick may or may not be able to play (per NFL.com) and it's yet to be determined whether or not Smith and Cutler will be able to play on Monday Night Football when the San Francisco 49ers host the Chicago Bears—one of the biggest games of the week.
With so much uncertainty, it's no picnic picking winners, but I'll soldier on.
Here are my picks for every game in Week 11.
Dolphins at Bills
Prediction: Bills win 27-23
Fred Jackson is out with a concussion, which means the Miami Dolphins will get a heavy dose of C.J. Spiller. The Dolphins have been one of the best defenses against the run in 2012, but they were torched by Chris Johnson last week at home.
The last time Spiller took over while Jackson was out, he busted out two games in a row, gaining 292 yards and three touchdowns.
On the other side, Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins have fallen into a mini-slump, and things won't get any easier on the road on Thursday Night Football—a venue that has only seen two road teams come away with victory in 2012.
Given the way the Bills piled up the yardage and points against the New England Patriots last week, I'm expecting no less this week at home against a team on the decline.
Cardinals at Falcons
Prediction: Falcons win 31-17
After tasting defeat for the first time last week at the hands of the New Orleans Saints, the Atlanta Falcons have an easy road back to the victory column.
The Arizona Cardinals may not win another game this season. Without a running game or any resemblance of pass protection, the Cardinals have the most one-dimensional, dysfunctional offense in the NFL.
Furthermore, the Cardinals secondary has allowed seven touchdown passes the past two games against the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers, and Matt Ryan will have no trouble shredding it with similar results.
Browns at Cowboys
Prediction: Browns win 20-17
The Dallas Cowboys stopped a two-game losing streak by beating up on the hapless Philadelphia Eagles in Week 10, but I have a feeling their luck is about to change once again.
The Cleveland Browns are coming off a much-needed bye, and Trent Richardson will be fresher than he's been all season long. He's coming off of back-to-back 100-yard games against the San Diego Chargers and Baltimore Ravens, and I'm betting on another monster game from the rookie in Dallas.
Combined with the fact that the Browns secondary has given up only 307 yards and one touchdown in its past two games, I'm predicting a major upset in Dallas this weekend.
Packers at Lions
Prediction: Packers win 37-24
That doesn't bode well for the Detroit Lions' struggling secondary.
On the other side, the Lions still can't seem to figure out how to get their offense on track with any consistency, and the Packers have had two weeks to prepare for Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford and the gang.
Bengals at Chiefs
Prediction: Bengals win 24-13
The Cincinnati Bengals destroyed the New York Giants at home last week, and Andy Dalton finally had his first mistake-free game in 2012.
I don't expect that to last long, but Dalton shouldn't have any trouble with the Kansas City Chiefs—a team with no answer for A.J. Green on the outside.
No matter how big a game Jamaal Charles has, Cassel is bound to make a crucial mistake at the worst possible time, giving his team another blemish on its record.
Eagles at Redskins
Prediction: Redskins win 31-21
After a week off on their bye, the Washington Redskins couldn't ask for a more welcome opponent to break their current three-game losing streak.
The Philadelphia Eagles have lost five straight games, and Nick Foles could be starting instead of Michael Vick. Given the way Andy Reid repeatedly under-utilizes LeSean McCoy, I'm predicting a rare home victory for the Redskins.
Buccaneers at Panthers
Prediction: Buccaneers win 31-20
Until the Tampa Bay Buccaneers start playing bad football, I'm not betting against this—especially not against the Carolina Panthers.
The Bucs have won four of their last five contests—their sole loss coming against the New Orleans Saints—and Josh Freeman has absolutely caught fire. During this five-game stretch, he's thrown 14 touchdowns and just one interception.
During the same stretch, Cam Newton has thrown four touchdowns and five interceptions, and he's only rushed for one touchdown.
Furthermore, rookie running back Doug Martin has started hitting his stride, and the Bucs offense will be too hot for the Carolina Panthers defense to handle.
Jaguars at Texans
Prediction: Texans win 35-9
The Houston Texans have proven to be the best team in the NFL to this point in the season, and the Jacksonville Jaguars have proven to be the worst team in the NFL.
Jets at Rams
Prediction: Rams win 27-13
Barring their 45-7 debacle against the New England Patriots in London, the St. Louis Rams have played tough teams well.
The New York Jets are far from tough, and the Rams won't have any trouble dispatching Rex Ryan's broken team. Mark Sanchez's miserable 2012 season won't get any better in St. Louis against the Rams disruptive front four, and the Jets offense will sputter, per usual.
Look for Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson to have big games against the Jets porous defensive front, and now that Danny Amendola is back and healthy, Sam Bradford's passing attack is once again dangerous.
Saints at Raiders
Prediction: Saints win 35-24
The Oakland Raiders are just too decimated by injuries to compete with the red-hot New Orleans Saints.
Drew Brees is on fire these days, and now that he's getting consistent production from his running backs, the Saints offense is just as dangerous as it was last season, when the team went 13-3.
Carson Palmer has played admirably this season, but he won't be able to keep up with Brees on this day.
Chargers at Broncos
Prediction: Broncos win 31-24
Talk about two teams headed in opposite directions.
The Denver Broncos have won five of their last six games, while the San Diego Chargers have lost four of their last five.
The Broncos defense has been a huge part of the Broncos recent success, too, and Von Miller and company are set for another monster game against the hapless Chargers.
Colts at Patriots
Prediction: Patriots win 38-28
Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts have gone on a magical run the past six games, winning five of six.
This young team is in for a dogfight, and the New England Patriots are simply too loaded on offense for the Colts to overcome.
I expect Stevan Ridley to have a big game against the Colts suspect run defense, and Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker will continue making big plays, just like they've been doing every game of late.
Ravens at Steelers
Prediction: Steelers win 24-20
No Ben Roethlisberger, no problem for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Baltimore Ravens have feasted on lesser opponents this season, but Joe Flacco and his explosive offensive attack are in for a shocking surprise on Sunday Night Football in Pittsburgh.
The Steelers swallow up opposing passing attacks.
On the other side, the Ravens haven't proven they can stop any team's rushing attack. You can bet Todd Haley will give them a heavy dose of Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer and quite possibly Rashard Mendenhall, who is listed as questionable.
Bears at 49ers
Prediction: 49ers win 24-13
ESPN's Adam Schefter has reported that the San Francisco 49ers "feel pretty good" about Alex Smith starting on Monday Night Football, via Rotoworld.com.
Jay Cutler's status for this contest has yet to be determined, but from my perspective, it won't matter if he's playing or not—the 49ers have a distinct edge in this game.
With the No. 1 rushing attack in the NFL and a red-hot quarterback, the 49ers are set to re-establish themselves as one of the top teams in the NFC.
Furthermore, the 49ers have a defense similar to the one the Houston Texans feature, and the Chicago Bears won't score many points against this unit—especially with a surging Aldon Smith, who has recorded five sacks in his last three games.