Last-Minute Predictions for NFL Week 11
Week 11 is shaping up to be one of the best of the season.
In particular, the two prime-time games are both spectacular, with the Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos and New England Patriots vs. Carolina Panthers.
While this season has been especially unpredictable, that doesn't stop yours truly from making bold predictions in intrepid fashion.
Here are my last-minute predictions for NFL Week 11.
Nick Folk Will Kick a Game-Winning Field Goal as Time Expires
New York Jets kicker Nick Folk has had a sensational season, converting on all 23 of his field-goal attempts. He's a major reason why Gang Green is 5-4 and in pole position for the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC.
Sunday, he'll boot the Jets to a victory over the Bills.
Buffalo will be playing without both of its starting wide receivers, Stevie Johnson and rookie Robert Woods. If you couldn't tell, that's a problem.
The Jets defense, led by star defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson, will hold the Bills offense in check. But the Bills defense is solid as well and will cause problems all game for Jets quarterback Geno Smith.
Expect a low-scoring, ugly affair. The star of the game will be Folk, who will kick no fewer than three field goals, including the winner as time expires.
Joe Flacco Will Lead the Ravens on a Game-Winning Drive
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has had an underwhelming season, tossing 12 touchdown passes against 11 interceptions. He hasn't looked like the same guy who led Baltimore to a Super Bowl title this past February, and the team is 4-5.
None of that matters. The Ravens have entered must-win territory, and that means it's "Flacco time." And when it's Flacco time, Joe Flacco delivers.
Baltimore must win on the road in Chicago to keep pace in the AFC playoff race, and Flacco will make sure that happens
I'm not saying he's going to throw for 300 yards. I'm not saying he's going to throw four touchdown passes. I'm saying that Joe Flacco is going to do what Joe Flacco does, and that's win football games.
The game will be tied late when Flacco marches the offense down the field for a game-winning field-goal attempt, which will be converted by Justin Tucker, and the Ravens will improve their record to 5-5.
The Bengals Defense Will Hold the Browns to Under 200 Yards of Total Offense
Last week, the Bengals lost 20-17 in Baltimore. It was hardly the fault of their defense, which sacked Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco five times and forced three turnovers.
Sunday, Cincinnati's defense will put forth another tremendous effort in a victory over Cleveland that will halt the team's two-game losing streak.
Simply put, the Browns offense is nothing special. While quarterback Jason Campbell has been better than Brandon Weeden, that's not saying much. The Bengals should be able to suffocate Cleveland's rushing attack and harass Campbell throughout.
The Bengals will hold their Ohio rivals under 200 yards of total offense, and quarterback Andy Dalton will make enough plays in the passing game as the team improves its record to 7-4.
The Lions Will Put Up 500 Yards of Total Offense on the Steelers
The Detroit Lions are flying high, sitting atop the NFC North at 6-3 and averaging over 400 yards per game on offense.
But Sunday in Pittsburgh, the Lions won't record 400 yards of total offense; they'll put up 500 and blow out the inferior Pittsburgh Steelers and improve their record to 7-3.
How is the Steelers defense going to stop Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford, running back Reggie Bush and receiver Calvin Johnson? Just two weeks ago, Pittsburgh gave up over 600 yards of offense and 55 points to the New England Patriots.
While the Lions likely won't match those outrageous numbers, they're ready to dole out a whupping.
Johnson will score two touchdowns, Bush will average over five yards per carry on the ground, and Stafford will slice and dice the Steelers' suspect secondary as the Lions win by double digits and hold on to first place in the NFC North.
Andre Johnson Will Be Week 11's Leading Receiver
Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson is on a big-time roll, having scored five touchdowns in the past two games, all via new starting quarterback Case Keenum.
Sunday at Reliant Stadium, Johnson and Keenum will continue to dominate, as the Raiders have little hope of slowing them down. Oakland possesses the league's 22nd-ranked passing defense, and that won't be good enough to stop Johnson.
In Keenum's three starts, he's targeted Johnson 31 times. The team is clearly making a concerted effort to get Johnson the football, and Keenum has shown the ability to do so.
Johnson will be Week 11's leader in receiving yards, going over 150 as the Texans end their seven-game losing streak in emphatic fashion.
The Cardinals Defense Will Outscore the Jaguars Offense
Last week, the Jacksonville Jaguars won their Super Bowl, beating the Tennessee Titans 29-27 to ensure they won't become the second team in NFL history to go 0-16.
Sunday, they won't be as fortunate, as the Arizona Cardinals defense is going to completely dominate when the two teams meet in Jacksonville.
The Cardinals have forced 20 turnovers on the season and will get at least three against the Jaguars. There's a better chance of Toronto mayor Rob Ford being re-elected than Jacksonville putting up big numbers on Arizona's stout defense.
Look for cornerback Patrick Peterson to return an interception for a touchdown and defensive lineman Calais Campbell to force a fumble. The Cardinals will win, improving their record to 6-4 and staying in the hunt for a wild-card spot in the NFC.
Marshawn Lynch Will Be Week 11's Leading Rusher
The Seattle Seahawks have the NFL's top-ranked rushing offense, averaging 153.4 yards per game on the ground. Their opponent Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings, are coming off a game where they allowed nearly 200 yards rushing to the Washington Redskins.
It shouldn't take a math major to figure out that the Seattle Seahawks shouldn't have much difficulty running all over the Vikings defense.
Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch will be the primary beneficiary. Lynch has gone over 100 yards in each of the team's past two games and looks set to dominate. As Chris Wesseling of NFL.com writes, the Seahawks are getting healthy at the right time, with their full offensive line finally ready to play together.
Expect Lynch to go over 150 yards and lead the NFL in rushing for Week 11. The Seahawks will improve to 10-1 with a double-digit victory over the Vikings.
The 49ers and Saints Will Go to Overtime
The New Orleans Saints are just about unbeatable at home, which is why FootballLocks.com has them favored by three versus the San Francisco 49ers.
Still, look for a major bounce-back game from 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. I know he didn't play well last week against Carolina, but he's too talented to continue struggling.
The Saints defense is solid, but with Frank Gore leading the way and Mario Manningham active, Kaepernick will have more options offensively this week. It's also a big bonus that tight end Vernon Davis is expected to play.
I predict the two teams will be tied after 60 minutes, forcing an overtime session that will go a long way toward deciding eventual playoff matchups in the NFC.
The Broncos Will Beat the Chiefs by Double Digits
Las Vegas has installed the 8-1 Broncos as a 7.5-point favorite against the 9-0 Chiefs, leading many to speculate how it's possible that an undefeated team could be such a big underdog in any game.
The answer to that question is easy: Denver is the better team and will romp on Sunday Night Football.
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning might be hobbled with an ankle injury, but he's going to put touchdowns on the board. Lots of them. That's what Manning has done throughout his entire career.
Anyone who says Manning isn't going to be operating at a high level needs to reconsider. Chiefs coach Andy Reid is aware of this fact, saying on Wednesday, "I know Peyton Manning. He'll be ready," per Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today.
Ask yourself this: Do you have faith in the Chiefs' pop-gun offense, led by quarterback Alex Smith, to match Manning and the proficient Broncos offense?
I don't mean to take anything away from what Kansas City has accomplished this season. I believe that they are a legitimate Super Bowl contender regardless of how much they lose by in Sunday night's game.
But this is a spot where Manning and the Broncos will dominate. They will make a statement on national television, and that statement is that they, not the Chiefs, are the best team in football.
The Panthers Will Sack Tom Brady at Least Four Times
I absolutely cannot wait for Monday night's showdown between the 7-2 Patriots and 6-3 Panthers. It's a classic matchup of high-powered offense (New England) against suffocating defense (Carolina).
On Monday Night Football, the suffocating defense will win out, and Carolina will run its winning streak to six consecutive games.
One of the main keys to stopping quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots offense is to sustain a successful pass rush with only four down linemen, and the Panthers have the players to make it happen.
Ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy have a combined 13.5 sacks between them and will be in Brady's face all night long. In fact, look for the Panthers defense to sack Brady no fewer than four times.
That, coupled with a steady performance from quarterback Cam Newton, will buoy the Panthers to victory and show the nation that they must be taken seriously as contenders for the NFC crown.