We’re getting into the push for the playoffs in the NFL this week, and it couldn’t be more exciting. We’ve seen a lot of teams emerge as real contenders in the last few weeks. With so much excitement, it’s easy to get distracted and let your emotions get the best of you while betting on the games. As far as free NFL picks go, knowing what to expect can help you make good decisions with your money. Here are a few things that you should expect from each game in Week 11.
Miami vs. Carolina (Carolina -3)
The Panthers are finally starting to get things together. Their “All-World” receiver, Steve Smith, finally got involved in the offense last weekend with two touchdowns. The defense and the running game are still pretty good, so if they can consistently find Smith in the passing game, they’ll be tough. The Dolphins will again deploy the Wildcat on the ground and it should continue to work. This week, Ronnie Brown may be limited or out of the game, so Ricky Williams will get the bulk of the carries. Expect a low-scoring affair in this one.
Cleveland vs. Detroit (Detroit -3.5)
This could be one of the worst games of the season. Anytime you put two teams together that are as bad as these two are, you never know what you are going to get. When Detroit is the favorite against anyone, you know just how bad the game is. Expect a lot of ineptitude on offense and defense for these two teams.
Buffalo vs. Jacksonville (Jacksonville -8.5)
The Buffalo run defense is not exactly good. When you put Maurice Jones-Drew against them, you could be asking for trouble. I think MJD runs wild in this one, much to the delight of his fantasy owners, whom he somewhat disappointed last week when he knelt at the one-yard line. Buffalo fired their head coach this week, so who knows how they will play. They might rally around the interim head coach, or they might continue to be terrible.
Pittsburgh vs. Kansas City (Pittsburgh -10)
The Steelers are coming off of a tough loss within the division, to the Bengals. The Chiefs are coming off a rare win against Oakland last week. As if the odds weren’t stacked against the Chiefs enough this week, they just lost No. 1 receiver Dwayne Bowe to a four-game suspension for taking a diuretic. An angry Steelers team coming into Arrowhead to play a Dwayne Bowe-less Chiefs is not a recipe for success for Kansas City.
Indianapolis vs. Baltimore (Indianapolis -1)
The Colts are coming off an unbelievable win against the Patriots last Sunday night. They are still undefeated and this game represents one of their stiffest tests left on the schedule. If they get through this game, they have a great shot at going undefeated on the year. Peyton Manning looks unstoppable, but he has yet to play against a defense as good as the Ravens yet. This one should be fun.
Atlanta vs. New York Giants (New York -6.5)
This was supposed to be a great year for the Falcons. They currently sit at 5-4 and the sledding doesn’t get any easier from here. This week, they face the Giants, who have had some problems of their own recently. This one will be a battle of two “Golden Boy” quarterbacks, with Eli Manning and Matt Ryan. Which one plays better will go a long way towards determining the outcome of the game.
San Francisco vs. Green Bay (Green Bay -6.5)
The Niners are coming off of a dramatic victory last week against the Bears. The outcome was in doubt right up until the final play, when they picked off Cutler for the fifth time. This week, they will face a team that just dismantled the Cowboys last week. This should be a classic NFC battle.
Seattle vs. Minnesota (Minnesota -11)
The Vikings have only lost one game this year and they are big favorites against the Seahawks. Favre is coming off of yet another 300-yard performance last week and he should be able to pass against Seattle. The Seahawks have played a little better recently, but still struggle at times. Unless the Seahawks play great, look for the Vikings to keep on rolling.
Washington vs. Dallas (Dallas -11)
The Redskins actually managed to beat a good team last week, when they knocked off the Broncos. Can they repeat the same performance two weeks in a row? That’s what they are hoping when they go to Dallas to take on the Cowboys. The Cowboys are coming off of an embarrassing loss to the Packers and hope to rebound.
New Orleans vs. Tampa Bay (New Orleans -11)
The Saints are still undefeated and playing a team that has only one win on the year. On paper, this looks like a major blowout in the works. However, the Bucs have played much better recently, after making Josh Freeman the starter. He led them to a tough win against Green Bay and nearly beat the Dolphins last week. This one might be closer than you think.
Arizona vs. St. Louis (Arizona -9)
The Rams put up a great fight last week against the undefeated Saints. If someone could have come down with a Hail Mary pass at the end, they would have knocked them off. No one expected the game to be so close and you never know what a team is capable of. This week, they get the high-flying Cardinals passing game to defend. Last week, they finally got Anquan Boldin going a little bit. If they can keep him involved, this is a very tough team to defend.
New York Jets vs. New England (New England -10.5)
My, how things have changed since their first meeting of the season. If you are looking for Winning NFL Picks , the Jets knocked off the Pats and many thought the Jets were Super Bowl contenders. Since then, the Jets have struggled and the Pats have gotten better. Now the Pats are 10.5 point favorites to a team they lost to earlier in the year.
Cincinnati vs. Oakland (Cincinnati -9.5)
The Bengals just came off of a huge win against the Steelers last week. This week, they get the hapless Raiders to take care of. The Raiders finally might be getting a clue after benching JaMarcus Russell in in their last game. However, Bruce Gradkowski came in and promptly threw two picks in the fourth quarter and they lost to the Chiefs. While it looks like a mismatch, you never know which Raiders team will show up. They did somehow manage to beat Philly earlier in the year.
Tennessee vs. Houston (Houston -4.5)
This should be a shootout. Anytime the Titans and Texans get together, you know it’s going to be a fun game. The Texans have one of the best offenses in the league and they are fresh off of a bye. The Titans have been on a roll since they put Vince Young in the lineup. Expect an entertaining game on Monday Night Football .
Check out all of Vernon Croy's Week 11 NFL Picks!