NFL Picks Week 11: Projected Winners for Complete Slate of Games
NFL fans we are so close to the final lap of the playoff race, you can taste it.
And Week 11 of the 2012 season takes us for one intense ride.
Of the 13 remaining games this weekend, 10 are inter-conference matchups which enhance the postseason implications. The Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills were just the tip of the iceberg, because on Sunday we see one colossal matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots.
It's the star-powered rookie, Andrew Luck, versus the legendary veteran Tom Brady.
Looking back a few years, we saw a similar quarterback age difference in 2009 when Brett Favre squared off against then-rookie Matthew Stafford. With that said, let's move onward and see if Brady can fend off the rookie, and if we can get victors for Week 11's entire slate of contests.
Cleveland Browns at Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys simply offer too much offensive firepower for the Cleveland Browns to keep pace.
Although the Cowboys are weaker against the run than the pass and Cleveland presents decent balance, Dallas' coverage and pass rush will compensate accordingly.
Unless the Browns can force turnovers and build a lead, Dallas will control the tempo throughout.
Cowboys 27, Browns 14
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos
Once again the San Diego Chargers have issues on special teams.
Unfortunately, Norv Turner's team fails to stop opponents consistently on defense as well.
The Denver Broncos, however, are quite the opposite with each phase banging on a cylinder right now. And if Denver made a miraculous comeback over the Bolts in San Diego, Mile High will only be an extension of that second half performance.
Broncos 38, Chargers 17
Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons
Before we start sleeping on the Arizona Cardinals, we have to remember this team did defeat the Patriots in New England.
So, the Atlanta Falcons can't afford to overlook Arizona as the Cardinals try to get back in the postseason mix.
Still, Arizona must prove better on the ground and at pass protection. Otherwise the Falcons will steamroll because the Cardinals defense isn't good enough to win games by itself.
Falcons 30, Cardinals 13
Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions
This is one interesting duel because neither offense presents a consistently effective rushing attack.
As a result, the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions will come unsurprisingly down to the better passing game. Well, along with Aaron Rodgers being less turnover-prone, the Packers are more opportunistic defensively.
Matthew Stafford may have better pass protection, but as long as the Packers isolate Calvin Johnson, Detroit will have trouble moving the ball.
Packers 21, Lions 14
Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs are either going to get totally obliterated by the Cincinnati Bengals or win in dramatic fashion.
Although K.C. played well at Pittsburgh, the Chiefs are vulnerable since they gave everything and still lost.
Cincy is coming off a big win against the Giants, so it's reasonable to expect the Bengals smashing at Arrowhead. On the bright side for the Chiefs, though, it's the running game which is a flaw of Cincinnati (allows 4.4 yards per carry).
Kansas City presents a much more dominant ground game than the Giants because of Jamaal Charles. Not to mention, but Charles compiled 100 rushing yards versus the Steelers and 140 against the Ravens. Therefore, it's certainly possible to get K.C. a win in Week 11.
Chiefs 16, Bengals 13
Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins
Here, we have an NFC East matchup with an underachieving defense in the Philadelphia Eagles vs. a weak defense in the Washington Redskins.
In turn, easily a high-scoring game, right?
Philadelphia can move offensively but lacks inside the red zone, whereas the Redskins present explosively but don't offer much big play potential outside of Robert Griffin III.
And in a game where running the ball will be key, LeSean McCoy is the difference.
Eagles 17, Redskins 14
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers possess a great upset opportunity because of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' weak pass defense.
Tampa ranks No. 32 against the pass, but No. 1 against the run. So as long as Carolina remains balanced and limits turnovers, Cam Newton and Co. can certainly win.
On the flip side, the Cats must stop Doug Martin. The Bucs field a stronger offensive balance with their big play aerial assault and Martin's impact will keep Carolina guessing all day long.
Buccaneers 24, Panthers 10
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
Don't expect the Houston Texans to completely bulldoze the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Texans just need to line up, win and close out.
Jacksonville won't be able to slow down Arian Foster and the ground game, so slamming up the gut and letting Matt Schaub launch a few downfield to Andre Johnson will have this game over by the half.
Defensively, just force punts and stop the run. None of the Jags receivers will beat man coverage, so an all-around solid performance from Houston will suffice.
Texans 24, Jaguars 7
New York Jets at St. Louis Rams
Although it's an inter-conference matchup, the New York Jets and St. Louis each desperately need a win this week.
New York is rapidly falling back in the AFC East, whereas the Rams are still struggling to get near the pinnacle of the NFC West. Fortunately for St. Louis, Jeff Fisher's team is rolling with confidence after nearly upsetting the 'Niners in San Francisco.
With a good balanced offense and tough defense, the Rams will suplex Mark Sanchez and the Jets.
Rams 31, Jets 7
New Orleans Saints at Oakland Raiders
For as bad as the New Orleans Saints defense has been, Steve Spagnuolo's unit is solid when inside its own red zone and at forcing turnovers.
And although the Oakland Raiders are capable of racking up yards via the pass, Carson Palmer won't be able to match Drew Brees. The Saints offense is simply too fluent and Oakland's lack of a pass rush and inability to create turnovers becomes the difference.
Saints 37, Raiders 21
Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots
Arguably the game of the week, Andrew Luck gets his first true NFL test in facing Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.
Considering that the Pats are still supremely vulnerable at defending the pass, it's reasonable to expect a sound performance from Luck and Co. After all, the Indianapolis Colts do provide solid receiving targets to exploit New England's coverage.
The concern, however, is whether the Colts defense can slow down Brady. New England is well-balanced and Indy's defense must find another level to stop the Pats. In short, this will be a rather high-scoring affair between two perennial playoff teams.
Patriots 27, Colts 23
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
Rashard Mendenhall, who has missed the past four games with an Achilles tendon injury, is expected to return and start against the Ravens.
However, wide receiver Antonio Brown did not practice all week and will miss his second game in a row with a high-ankle sprain. He will join quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the sidelines.
So, the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers of 2012 won't be typical to previous matchups between these two.
For one, the Ravens defense remains suspect against the run and pass. Pittsburgh at the same token, was proven vulnerable against the run versus the Chiefs, Raiders and Titans. In other words, neither defense is playing to the standards we're used to seeing from recent seasons.
On the contrary, Ravens vs. Steelers will be determined by the more effective offense.
Well, Baltimore fields the more efficient ground game which sets up play-action and controls the tempo. It won't be a blowout; however, because the Steelers played Baltimore impressively well in 2010 when Ben Roethlisberger was still under suspension.
Ravens 24, Steelers 20
Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers
According to the Chicago Bears' official Twitter feed:
LM: #Bears have announced that QB Jason Campbell will start Monday night's game at San Francisco.— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) November 16, 2012
And according to John Mullin of CSN Chicago:
The 49ers are not ready to declare on quarterback Alex Smith, however. Backup Colin Kaepernik continue on Friday to take more practice reps, a strong indicator given that starters typically get all of them.
In a game featuring two stellar defensive fronts, though, the starting quarterbacks won't impact the outcome.
It'll be old-school smash-mouth football as each offense's strength is to slam the rock and keep opponents honest for the setting up of play-action. Interestingly enough, if Week 10 taught us anything, it's that running the ball is possible vs. the Bears and 49ers.
San Francisco; however, is slightly better in allowing only 3.7 yards per carry to Chicago's 4.2. Additionally the 'Niners get 5.6 per rushing attempt to the Bears' 4.4. Don't expect much if anything from the passing games which forces Bears vs. 49ers to be decided in the trenches.
49ers 13, Bears 7
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