It's Week 11 of the NFL season. One of the more noteworthy games from last week was the 24-24 tie between the San Francisco 49ers and my favorite team, the St. Louis Rams.
It was frustrating to watch because, in my opinion, the Rams controlled the game, but because of too many mistakes they ended up with a tie. It felt like a loss. I'm happy that the Rams played with a lot of heart and nearly pulled off an upset as 11-point underdogs.
Still, they can learn from it. I just wish they won the game, because 4-5 heading into a game against the Jets sounds better than 3-5-1 doesn't it? I need to convince myself that I'm happy with six or seven wins. I am—I think.
Let's get to the picks.
Season Record Straight Up
97-48-1 .669 (Last Week 9-4-1)
Byes: Tennessee, Minnesota, NY Giants, Seattle
Can I speak for all Adrian Peterson fantasy owners and just say that I really don't like seeing you on a bye week even though the two weeks of rest is probably a good thing? It's the last week for bye weeks. There will be 16 games weekly for the final six weeks of the season.
All game times are Eastern.
Arizona (4-5) at Atlanta (8-1) 1:00 P.M.
Remember when the Cardinals were 4-0? I barely do. If this game happened in Week 5 it would have been considered a big deal because they were both undefeated at that point. Those days are long gone.
I think the Falcons will cruise to a victory. However, I don't see it being a 400-yard passing day for Matt Ryan because one of the things the Cards are still good at is defending the pass. I think the Falcons will have to show some balance on offense a bit, but I don't see them having a problem.
The Cardinals offense may be the worst in football. You have to feel bad for Larry Fitzgerald in that sense. The Falcons defense is improved this year, which is why they are legit threat to win the Super Bowl.
This will be a good bounce-back game for them after last week's loss to the Saints, and then next week they get the Saints again on a Thursday.
Falcons: 27, Cardinals: 10
Cleveland (2-7) at Dallas (4-5) 1:00 P.M.
The key to this game involves the Cowboys defense being able to stop RB Trent Richardson early on. If the Browns can't run the ball, their offense really struggles.
I think the Cowboys will key on him, slow him down substantially and then pull away later in the game. They're just the better team.
It's the perfect game for the Cowboys to win in blowout fashion, get to 5-5 and then have the media try to put them over as a threat to win the Super Bowl, even though they will have to fight just to get in the playoffs in a very competitive NFC.
Cowboys: 34, Browns: 14
Green Bay (6-3) at Detroit (4-5) 1:00 P.M.
I think this will be a close game. The Lions' passing attack is nearly what it was last year since they lead the league in passing yards at 307 per game. They're just not winning as many games. It's a consistency thing. Still, I think against the Packers they'll be able to move the ball and put some points on the board.
I think Aaron Rodgers is the best QB in the NFL. I think he might end up with the MVP award again if he goes on a tear to end the season and his team wins 11 or 12 games.
Considering their running game is worthless, all the pressure is on him, yet he's still able to deliver on a consistent basis.
He's an under-the-radar MVP candidate right now, but it could be him for the second year in a row. I wonder if I should place a bet on that? Hmmm.
Packers will win and it could come down to the wire. It will be fun to watch.
Packers: 30, Lions: 27
Cincinnati (4-5) at Kansas City (1-8) 1:00 P.M.
I'm not picking the Chiefs again this year. Not doing it! I have a few times this year, and as you can tell from their sparkling 1-8 record, picking them is not a key to success.
It's not like the Bengals give me much faith either, but at least they have a competent QB in Andy Dalton. That's more than the Chiefs have at this point.
The Bengals really need to improve the running game in the offseason, because what they have right now isn't cutting it.
I don't see myself flipping to this game too much during my Sunday Ticket viewing of the early games.
Bengals: 23, Chiefs: 17
Philadelphia (3-6) at Washington (3-6) 1:00 P.M.
Both teams are pretty bad. I think with the Redskins we expected them to be bad ,because they still have a lot of holes to fill despite having a QB in Robert Griffin III, who has about 47 commercials on television right now. In the case of the Eagles, they may be the biggest disappointment of the entire season.
Now with backup QB Nick Foles calling the shots in place of the injured Michael Vick, you have to wonder what their struggling offense is going to look like.
Lucky for the Eagles, the Redskins have one of the worst defenses in the league. I think losing OLB Brian Orakpo early in the season was one of the costliest injuries this year, because he was a difference maker for them.
Now they get no pass rush and their secondary is awful, so teams are able to put points on the board rather easily.
I think the Redskins will be ready, though. They're coming off the bye week, they should be very prepared and I'm hoping RG3 finishes the year strong (for fantasy football purposes, of course).
I'd be happy with the Redskins losing every game the rest of the way and getting a top three draft pick because it belongs to my Rams, but I think they'll find a way to win this game. It will be close.
Redskins: 27, Eagles: 26
Tampa Bay (5-4) at Carolina (2-7) 1:00 P.M.
Upset! I love home underdogs. Granted it's not a major upset, since the Bucs are only favored by one point, but it still counts.
The Panthers are coming off a beatdown by the Broncos last week that saw them lose 36-14. Prior to that loss, most of their losses were in close games, aside from one against the Giants. They also lost to the Bucs in Week 1 in a 16-10 "classic" that nobody remembers except maybe the guys that played in the game.
The Bucs, meanwhile, are on fire after winning three in a row and four of their last five. Look at their points scored in their last five games: 38, 28 (a loss), 36, 42 and 34 points last week against the Chargers. They're the hot team, and one that a lot of people are riding as a potential playoff team.
Offensively, they're dynamic thanks to QB Josh Freeman hitting WR Vincent Jackson and rookie RB Doug Martin doing amazing things behind a very good offensive line. But have you seen their pass defense? Last in the league. They're first against the run because teams know they can be thrown on.
I like the Panthers in this game because I think QB Cam Newton will show why he's a difference maker. With the Bucs looking to shut down his ability to run, look for Newton to air it out to WR Steve Smith and TE Greg Olsen as they carve up the Bucs defense en route to victory.
I'm predicting quite a few high scoring games this week. How about another one?
Panthers: 38, Buccaneers: 31
Jacksonville (1-8) at Houston (8-1) 1:00 P.M.
Best team in the league (in my opinion) versus the worst team in the league (in my opinion). I think it will be exactly what we expect it to be.
I wouldn't touch the point spread, because the Texans are going to be up early and they could coast late, which would then allow the Jags to get in a sneaky cover.
Texans: 27, Jaguars: 6
NY Jets (3-6) at St. Louis (3-5-1) 1:00 P.M.
I'm still stewing from the tie last week. It bothers me. If it bothers me and I'm just a diehard fan, then imagine how the Rams players and coaches feel? I'm glad a team with an inept offense like the Jets is coming to town, because they're the perfect kind of team the Rams can take their anger out on.
What's there to say about the Jets offense? Mark Sanchez looks like the worst starting QB in the league, and even with a backup QB in Tim Tebow who sports a winning record, they seem content to throw Sanchez out there week after week. Fine by me.
This Rams defense is a talented group that will make life very difficult for whoever the Jets have at QB. I think if the Jets pass a lot they're going to get beat badly. If they establish the run early they can definitely stay in the game.
The last Rams win happened on October 4th against the Cardinals. That was five games ago. This week I think RB Steven Jackson will have a big game, QB Sam Bradford will spread the ball around and I hope WR Danny Amendola scores a TD because his toughness this season is very inspiring.
I think the Rams defense will dominate this game. And the offense will do enough to get the win.
Rams: 23, Jets: 10
New Orleans (4-5) at Oakland (3-6) 4:05 P.M.
The teams are similar in that they have atrocious defenses, while their offenses are able to put points on the board. I think Carson Palmer is having a very good season statistically, but it doesn't matter because their defense is so bad.
Playing against a red hot Saints team that has won four of five is not going to help that defense at all. Huge game for Drew Brees and that offense.
It's impressive that the Saints are nearly 5-5 after a brutal 0-4 start, and I can assure you that none of the other playoff teams will want to match up with these guys. They're scary. This has shootout potential. And it will reach that potential.
Saints: 41, Raiders: 37
San Diego (4-5) at Denver (6-3) 4:25 P.M.
The Chargers know what they're doing against the Broncos because they're a divisional rival. I just don't think the Chargers are a team that's going to rally around coach Norv Turner during a difficult stretch, because to me they've quit on him.
I like the Broncos at home. The offense is clicking on all cylinders and they're better than they were when they last played the Chargers. I expect QB Peyton Manning to have a big game.
I also think their defense is good enough to slow down the Chargers' mistake-prone offense to the point that they should win rather comfortably.
Broncos: 33, Chargers: 20
Indianapolis (6-3) at New England (6-3) 4:25 P.M.
The Colts are one of the "feel good" stories of the season so far. They've overachieved in the minds of a lot of people, but sometimes you can't use stats to measure a team that is extremely motivated like the Colts are, due to the absence of their head coach Chuck Pagano.
Rookie QB Andrew Luck looks like a seasoned vet, and while their running game is just average, they have shown they can throw the ball down the field. The good thing for them in this matchup is that the Patriots' pass defense is pretty bad; they give up 285.3 yards per game and are 29th in the league.
The Pats are tough to beat at home. They lost to the Cardinals in that surprising Week 2 game, but otherwise they have looked impressive on their home field. I think it will be difficult for a young Colts defense to stop the Patriots offense that may be the most balanced in the entire NFL.
If QB Tom Brady doesn't beat you with his arm, then RB Stevan Ridley has shown he can take over games too. I think against the Colts they'll run a lot, control the clock and cruise to a victory late in the game.
Even though the Colts impress me, I'm going with the Patriots here. I don't expect it to be a blowout, but I do expect the home team to put a lot of points on the board as they usually do.
Patriot:s 31, Colts: 23
Baltimore (7-2) at Pittsburgh (6-3) 8:20 P.M.
I pick Pittsburgh. I know it's a risk with Byron Leftwich at QB, but that's how I roll sometimes. It's their defense that I like a lot. They are shutting down teams against the pass (171 yards per game is first overall) and the run (94.6 yards is fifth).
They don't really miss Troy Polamalu, nor does it matter that James Harrison isn't rushing the passer like he used to. They are the best team at developing defensive players, and they are proving it again this season.
If you look at the Ravens, their performances on the road has been poor. Their two road wins were against bad Chiefs and Browns teams. Remember that 9-6 win over the Chiefs? Probably not. They should have given fans refunds for that game.
If you look at QB Joe Flacco's stats he's thrown ten TDs with three INTs at home while only throwing three TDs with four INTs on the road. Three TDs in four road games? That's brutal. I don't see him having a lot of success against the best pass defense in the NFL.
I think the key for the Steelers will be to limit turnovers. You have a backup QB in there, so it's important that Leftwich realizes he can't give the Ravens a short field. He's a veteran who's been in the league for 10 years, though, so it's not like he's some rookie who is going to be careless with the ball.
It wouldn't surprise me if he hit WR Mike Wallace on a deep ball either because that Ravens defense is below average this year.
The Steelers win thanks to their defense, which is as good as any in the NFL right now.
Steelers: 20, Ravens: 13
Chicago (7-2) at San Francisco (6-2-1) 8:30 P.M. (MON)
We know it's going to be Jason Campbell at QB for the Bears. For the Niners? We think it will be Alex Smith, but we're not totally sure about that. No matter who the QB is, I'm going with the Bears. Maybe I'm bitter about the Rams' tie with the Niners last week? No. It's not that.
I just think Campbell will do fine starting, because he's a guy with a lot of experience, a little bit of mobility and, as we saw towards the end of last week's game against the Texans, he threw the ball in the direction of Brandon Marshall whenever he could. That’s a good recipe for success in my eyes.
I think for the Niners to be successful they need to establish the run. Can they do that against the Bears fourth-ranked run defense? I'm not sure. I just have this feeling the Bears defense is going to come into this game highly motivated after last week's loss to the Texans.
Bears: 17, 49ers: 16
The Degenerates Dungeon
This is where I give you some picks for my best bets of the week.
Record so far: 22-28 (2-3)
San Diego @ Denver -8.5 - Broncos headed in right direction. Chargers are not.
Philadelphia @ Washington OVER 43.5 - Just feels like a game with a lot of points.
Indianapolis +9.5 @ New England - Don't think Colts will win, but a cover is likely.
Green Bay @ Detroit OVER 52 - Big number. Still like the over.
Baltimore @ Pittsburgh +3.5 - A defense like that as home dogs? I like Pit.
John Canton is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. You can read more of his work at his website TJRWrestling.com along with his talented staff of writers. He also writes a lot about the NFL at TJRSports.com, so check him out there as well! You can follow John on Twitter @johnreport, too.
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