NFL

NFL Picks Week 11: Teams Set to Strengthen Playoff Positions with Critical Wins

Nov 3, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) scores a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the second half during the game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY
Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 14, 2013

What's the point in even making predictions anymore? The NFL has lost its mind.

Right when a team looks like a playoff contender and possible Super Bowl threat, it looks like crap against a weaker opponent. So it's even more impressive when a team can string some wins together and maintain a lead atop its division or at least hold on to a wild-card spot.

Here are picks for every NFL game on tap this week.

NFL Picks Week 11
Time (ET)Home TeamAway TeamPick
Thur. Nov. 14
8:25 p.m.Tennessee TitansIndianapolis ColtsIND
Sun., Nov. 17
1 p.m.Buffalo BillsNew York JetsNYJ
1 p.m.Tampa Bay BuccaneersAtlanta FalconsATL
1 p.m.Pittsburgh SteelersDetroit LionsDET
1 p.m.Philadelphia EaglesWashington RedskinsPHI
1 p.m.Jacksonville JaguarsArizona CardinalsARI
1 p.m.Houston TexansOakland RaidersHOU
1 p.m.Chicago BearsBaltimore RavensCHI
1 p.m.Cincinnati BengalsCleveland BrownsCIN
4:05 p.m.Miami DolphinsSan Diego ChargersSD
4:25 p.m.New York GiantsGreen Bay PackersNYG
4:25 p.m.Seattle SeahawksMinnesota VikingsSEA
4:25 p.m.New Orleans SaintsSan Francisco 49ersNO
8:30 p.m.Denver BroncosKansas City ChiefsDEN
Mon., Nov. 18
8:40 p.m.Carolina PanthersNew England PatriotsCAR
Schedule via NFL.com

These three teams will do the most to bolster their playoff resumes.

 

Detroit Lions

These ain't your dad's Detroit Lions. With a 21-19 win against the Chicago Bears on the road, Detroit took that step forward that has long been a stumbling block. The Bears were the measuring stick, and with two wins over Chicago, the Lions have proven they're worthy NFC North contenders.

Now they hit the road again, traveling to Pittsburgh in a game that could turn into a rout just as easily as it could be a dogfight.

Put aside the Steelers' past reputation, and you can only come to one conclusion: They're really bad. According to Football Outsiders, Pittsburgh ranks 27th in defensive efficiency and 16th in offensive efficiency.

Detroit's offense might have some problems in the early going. As the game goes on, the Lions will start to distance themselves. The Steelers will have no answer for Calvin Johnson, who's been a monster in his last three games.

 

Carolina Panthers

Few teams are hotter than the Carolina Panthers. They've won their last five games and six of their last seven. That Week 5 loss to the Arizona Cardinals appears to have been Carolina's turning point. Since that embarrassing defeat, the Panthers have been a different team.

That 10-9 win in San Francisco was the statement win Carolina needed to prove that it has become one of the top teams in the league and that its winning streak wasn't a false dawn.

Beating the New England Patriots would only further that forward momentum.

Although New England has had an extra week to prepare for this game, take Carolina. Its defense is among the best in the league. Ron Rivera and Sean McDermott will find an answer for Tom Brady and the Patriots offense.

And as long as Cam Newton can avoid too many turnovers, the Panthers will prevail in a tight affair.

 

New York Jets

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 3: Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson #96 of the New York Jets and nose tackle Damon Harrison #94 of the New York Jets celebrate  in the 2nd half of the Jets 26-20 win over the New Orleans Saints at MetLife Stadium on November
Ron Antonelli/Getty Images

The New York Jets have alternated wins and losses so far. Each victory is followed by defeat and vice versa. Since they were off last week, clearly that means they're set to win this week. Last week was the loss week.

That's what you call airtight logic.

In all seriousness, the Jets are playing well at the moment, at least in terms of where New York was last year. The defense remains solid, only now the Jets have an offense that can move the football.

Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills have lost their last three games and five of their last six. Offensively, they've been a mess, with the quarterback position in particular providing the most problems. It's like the Jets of present against the Jets of old.

New York should continue its winning ways. It will rely on the running game, and Geno Smith will avoid any costly turnovers.

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