NFL's prime-time slate in Week 11 features two games, both of which have major playoff implications for each conference.
A Ben Roethlisberger-less Pittsburgh Steelers club, one now led by Byron Leftwich, hosts the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens. A win for the Steelers, and they'd clearly be alive to win the division. But with a loss, they'll provide more life to a handful of AFC teams vying for a wild-card spot.
On Monday night, we'll be treated to a clash between the top two defenses in terms of touchdowns allowed per drive this season (according to Football Outsiders): the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers.
With fantasy football hitting the stretch run of its regular season, here are fantasy stat lines and picks for this week's prime-time battles.
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
18-of-30, 210 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT
16 carries, 70 yards, 1 TD
4 receptions, 90 yards, 1 TD
23-of-37, 240 yards 2 TD, 1 INT
20 rushes 94 yards, 4 receptions 30 yards 1 TD
5 receptions, 90 yards 1 TD
ESPN's Skip Bayless sent out the following tweet regarding this game:
Steelers 20, Ravens 17 on guts and guile relentless running and because Leftwich will play better than you think.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) November 16, 2012
Though I don't loathe him as much as the rest of world, here's a general rule of thumb: Pick contrary to what Bayless believes.
I just don't see Leftwich being able to stay with the Ravens offense, even in Pittsburgh. Sure, Baltimore's defense isn't what it once was, but his elongated motion and inability to improvise out of the pocket will ultimately doom him and the Steelers against their most hated rival.
Pittsburgh's offensive line is beleaguered, and their running game can't be trusted to save them.
Pick: Ravens 27 Steelers 17
Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers
15-of-27 190 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
24 rushes, 83 yards, 5 receptions, 38 yards 1 TD
7 receptions, 68 yards
19-of-29, 205 yards, 1 TD 2 INT
18 carries, 85 yards, 1 TD, 3 receptions, 23 yards
5 receptions, 70 yards
Jason Campbell is a capable backup quarterback, but against San Francisco, we'll be reminded why he's been relegated to second string.
The 49ers defense hasn't been as utterly dominant as it was a season ago, and it surrendered 458 total yards and 24 points to a typically pedestrian St. Louis Rams offense in Week 10. However, the offensive line and running game, led by Frank Gore, will gradually erode the Bears' front seven and keep control of the clock.
Frankly, I expect Smith to make a few more plays than Campbell, Gore to make a few more plays than Forte and San Fran's defense to make a few more plays than Chicago's.
Pick: 49ers 20 Bears 13