They say that in life there are no guarantees. Some people like to apply that logic to the NFL, as well. However, you can pinpoint a handful of games every week that are guaranteed to go in one direction or the other.
What makes the guarantee even better is when there is a lot of power and emotion behind it. All wins might be created equally, but we know there are certain games that teams circle on the calendar as the opportunity to show the world something special.
As we reach Week 11 of this fast-paced NFL season, there are teams trending upward and ready to make loud, clear statements to the rest of the football-loving world that they aren't going anywhere.
Here are the teams we love to make statements this weekend.
Odds courtesy of Bovada
New England Patriots (-9) (vs. Indianapolis Colts)
A classic rivalry gets renewed, though there is a new twist to this particular iteration of Colts vs. Patriots. Instead of Peyton Manning, the Colts are led by Andrew Luck. Even though the quarterbacks change, the rivalry remains the same.
Both the Colts and Patriots enter this game with identical 6-3 records, which is astounding considering where the Colts were last year.
Despite their success this season, which includes a four-game winning streak, it is hard to buy into the Colts. They have been outscored by 15 points this season, and their last four wins have come against Cleveland, Tennessee, Miami and Jacksonville.
Give them credit for beating up on bad/mediocre competition, but we still have no idea how good or bad the Colts really are.
The Patriots don't have a lot of good wins on their resume, though that victory over Denver in Week 5 is starting to look much better. But this is still a team that can exploit a young, overly-aggressive defense.
Bill Belichick has seen his offense more balanced now than it has been in a long time. Even without Brandon Bolden, who was suspended for PED use, they have enough depth at running back to keep rolling.
The Patriots have too many weapons on offense for the Colts to keep up with. After a sluggish effort against Buffalo last week, this will be the game where the Patriots show the world they are still one of the most dangerous teams in the AFC.
Patriots 31, Colts 13
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2) (at Carolina Panthers)
Despite being ahead of them in the division, virtually no one believes the Buccaneers are going to stay ahead of New Orleans in the NFC South.
To those people, I urge you to watch this Buccaneers team. Greg Schiano has done a remarkable job with this team, adjusting as the season has gone along to get his personnel to play to their strengths.
Josh Freeman is playing as well as any quarterback in the NFL over the last four weeks, and that includes Peyton Manning. He has thrown for 1,139 yards and 10 touchdowns with no interceptions in that time.
The defense, especially against the pass, is still a huge problem that needs to be fixed, but they can finally stop the run, first in the NFL in that category, and are third in the NFC with 19 takeaways.
On the other side, the Panthers have no hope. Cam Newton just looks completely disinterested in everything he is doing. That's not to say he doesn't care, but he doesn't play with the same intensity because he can feel the season being lost.
The Panthers' defense is the definition of mediocre, ranking 16th against the run and 16th against the pass. There will be a game where the Panthers put all their talent together for one great game, but it isn't happening this week.
Buccaneers 27, Panthers 14
Baltimore Ravens (at Pittsburgh Steelers -4.5)
Odds courtesy of Vegas Insider
This one is almost too easy, since the Steelers are forced to turn to Byron Leftwich with Ben Roethlisberger dealing with shoulder and rib injuries.
However, despite their 7-2 record, the Ravens have often left a lot to be desired on the field. They got blown out by 30 points against Houston. Joe Flacco, for lack of a better phrase, is what he is—inconsistent with a good upside that you don't see nearly enough.
Ray Rice and the running game get lost in the shuffle far too much. The Ravens have thrown 313 passes to just 220 rushes. The defense is more vulnerable than ever, allowing over 390 yards and nearly 22 points per game.
Despite all those flaws, the Ravens have a decided advantage in this game because Leftwich is one of the worst possible choices to run the west coast-style offense the Steelers employ. This is going to be a huge game that will go a long way towards deciding the AFC North.
Ravens 23, Steelers 10
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