With Week 11 underway, the playoff picture is coming into better focus in the 2013 NFL season.
Several teams will capitalize on golden opportunities to boost their chances of making the postseason with statement victories this week.
Some are facing divisional clashes, while another franchise that may have just turned a corner in a critical road victory last week should enjoy building on that momentum in a Monday night showcase against one of the league's elite organizations.
Read on for a complete list of Week 11 picks, and a more detailed breakdown as to which teams will see their playoff prospects rise when the dust settles after another exciting display of pro football.
Cleveland Browns over Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Haden is one of the few cornerbacks in the NFL that can at least limit Green in one-on-one scenarios, which opens things up for the rest of Cleveland's swarming defenders to attack.
Plus, the Browns have new life because of how Jason Campbell has played in his two starts this season. Campbell was the AFC Offensive Player of the Week in the Browns' last game—a win over the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
Dalton has thrown three interceptions in each of his last two games, while Campbell has thrown none in as many.
As the Browns make a push for the playoffs, Horton should get even more creative with his blitz calls, which is bad news for Dalton and Co., even in the friendly confines of Paul Brown Stadium.
Campbell remained cool and calm in his Browns starting debut at Kansas City. There's little reason to believe he won't continue his stellar play, even against a respectable Cincinnati defense.
Not only will this vault the Browns into the wild-card picture, but it will also pull them within a half-game of first in the AFC North in improving to 5-5.
Prediction: Browns 20, Bengals 13
Philadelphia Eagles over Washington Redskins
There will be a combination of revenge from Week 1's loss and desperation for the 3-6 Redskins to pull this one off at Lincoln Financial Field, but it won't be enough to stop the Eagles' offensive juggernaut.
Philadelphia head coach Chip Kelly has inspired polarizing reactions from observers as he is at the helm for the first time at the professional level, but his relentless, uptempo offense seems to be as explosive as ever.
As Phil Simms explains below, having a hot quarterback can inspire confidence on an entire football team, and that seems to be what's happening with the Eagles.
Nick Foles has asserted himself as the No. 1 quarterback in throwing 16 touchdowns to zero interceptions this season.
Nick Foles: 16 TD, 0 INT ... 3rd QB with at least 16 TD passes before 1st INT (others: Milt Plum in 1960, Peyton Manning in 2013)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 10, 2013
There is palpable pressure to put points on the board for Kelly's style to work, which puts the defense in the difficult spot of a quick turnaround before it takes the field again.
Washington QB Robert Griffin III should put up big numbers against the Eagles' 31st-ranked pass defense, but the unit has only allowed two touchdown passes and forced six interceptions in its past four games.
That's enough of an improvement to endorse the Eagles, along with their slight edge in the backfield with NFL leading rusher LeSean McCoy, who is superior to Washington's second-year phenom Alfred Morris.
Barring some late-game magic from Griffin or a huge improvement defensively from Washington, expect the Eagles to beat their division rival in a shootout. In the process, they will pass the Dallas Cowboys for sole possession of first at 6-5.
Prediction: Eagles 38, Redskins 31
Carolina Panthers over New England Patriots
Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly is a straight-up monster in the heart of the Panthers' defense, which proved it is among the best in the league in beating the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park 10-9 last Sunday.
Kuechly took home his second NFC Defensive Player of the Week award. Although it's only his second season as a pro, he is already the first Panther to achieve such a feat:
Luke Kuechly is 1st @Panthers LB to be named Defensive Player of Week multiple times in career— Randall Liu (@RLiuNFL) November 13, 2013
What makes him so valuable this week is that he is one of the few that can lock up in coverage with Patriots superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski, who had nine catches for 143 yards and a touchdown in Week 10.
Which upstart playoff contender has the best chance at winning a Super Bowl in the next five years?
That matchup will be fun to watch, but look for Kuechly to at least limit Gronk in some manner—at least enough for Carolina's strengths to shine through.
With DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert in the backfield, the Panthers have the second-best rushing attack in football. New England has the third-worst run defense, hurt deeply by the season-ending injuries to Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo.
The Panthers should be able to establish the run at home and pressure Patriots QB Tom Brady enough to pull off another monumental victory and retain their No. 5 seed in the NFC.
It may even be enough to pull Carolina into a tie for the NFC South lead with the New Orleans Saints, who have a tough Sunday showdown at the Superdome against the 49ers.
Prediction: Panthers 27, Patriots 17
|Away Team||Home Team||Winner|
|Indianapolis Colts||Tennessee Titans||Colts|
|New York Jets||Buffalo Bills||Bills|
|Baltimore Ravens||Chicago Bears||Bears|
|Cleveland Browns||Cincinnati Bengals||Browns|
|Washington Redskins||Philadelphia Eagles||Eagles|
|Detroit Lions||Pittsburgh Steelers||Lions|
|Atlanta Falcons||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Buccaneers|
|Arizona Cardinals||Jacksonville Jaguars||Cardinals|
|Oakland Raiders||Houston Texans||Texans|
|San Diego Chargers||Miami Dolphins||Chargers|
|San Francisco 49ers||New Orleans Saints||Saints|
|Green Bay Packers||New York Giants||Giants|
|Minnesota Vikings||Seattle Seahawks||Seahawks|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Denver Broncos||Broncos|
|New England Patriots||Carolina Panthers||Panthers|
Picks are strictly opinion