Week 11 of the NFL season features arguably the best game to date, and several other high-profile matchups are also worth watching this week. Schedule-makers did a fantastic job of predicting late-season games that would be compelling for the fans.
There are some exciting matchups this week that aren't even good enough to be considered a high-profile contest. The Green Bay Packers and New York Giants should make for an exciting game, while the NFC East game between the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles will also be fun to watch.
In the end, those matchups won't be able to hold a candle to Week 11's top games.
San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints
The San Francisco 49ers are coming off a tough loss to the Carolina Panthers last week, and they face an even tougher test this week against the New Orleans Saints. The Saints are fresh off a trouncing of the Dallas Cowboys, and it will be interesting to see if their offense can handle the Niners defense.
Like any good game, this one will come down to quarterback play.
Drew Brees didn't play well against the New York Jets in Week 9, but he came back with a vengeance against the Cowboys. The Niners defense is an entirely different animal than both, though, as their secondary is full of ball hogs and players looking to disrupt passing lanes.
Colin Kaepernick will need to get his offense going after putting up just nine points against the Panthers. He has another weapon back in Mario Manningham, and that should certainly help his production in the passing game.
The Niners have been doing it thus far on the ground, but they'll need Kaepernick to add another dimension to the offense in the air.
I don't think the underrated Saints defense is the right team for Kaepernick to get it going against, though. The Saints should come out on top, 28-17.
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos
This is the game football fans have all been waiting for.
The NFL's biggest surprise—the Kansas City Chiefs—will look to go 10-0 after defeating the 8-1 Denver Broncos in Sunday night's prime-time game. It certainly won't be easy, as Denver's offense is on a historic pace.
It goes without saying that the key for the Chiefs is to keep the Broncos offense in check. If anyone has a chance to do it, though, it's them. Kansas City leads the NFL in sacks and should provide plenty of pressure against Manning and his gimpy ankles.
While the defense will be the key, Alex Smith needs to play a big role on offense. He's been a game manager up to this point, but he might need to light it up a bit in the air to give the Chiefs a fighting chance.
There are too many "ifs" for the Chiefs this week. They play Denver again in Week 13, and they'll have a better chance of beating them then.
Denver will win in their first matchup, 24-13.
New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers
Who would have thought that the Carolina Panthers would be one of the top teams in the NFL come Week 11?
They are red hot and are fresh off a close win against the 49ers. They have an elite run defense (82.0 yards per game), and Cam Newton has his offense playing good enough to win. Sure, they've played some so-so teams up to this point—aside from the Niners—but it's hard to dispute how good they've become.
The Patriots represent the biggest test for them. Tom Brady has struggled this season, though he has begun to turn it around in recent weeks. He'll be relied upon heavily in this one, as the run game likely won't amount to much against the front line of the Panthers defense.
Carolina's secondary is the key to this game. They don't necessarily have to pick up any takeaways against Brady, but they'll need to play tight coverage on his favorite targets.
It's difficult to pick against both teams given how well they've been playing this season, but I have to go with Brady and his longevity. I wouldn't be surprised if the Panthers won, but I feel much safer choosing New England.
They'll win, 31-20.