The New Orleans Saints put last week’s top three picks into a bit of jeopardy with an uneasy win over the St. Louis Rams, but the Saints, along with the Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings, gave me a clean sweep in Week 10.
The Ravens pick seemed a bit dodgy on Monday night with the nil-nil tie at halftime against the Browns, but they eventually got interested enough in the game to score and shut out Cleveland.
It is hard to believe I watched that entire game, but I guess that is what fantasy football does for a person.
At least this Monday’s game looks a fair bit better—Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans—and has plenty of fantasy implications, but it's one I would stay far away from for survivor pools.
Let’s get to the three games I would strongly consider for Week 11.
Pittsburgh Steelers over Kansas City Chiefs (stats )
The Steelers must feel like they are in some kind of alternate reality. They got swept by the Cincinnati Bengals? The Bengals are in first place in their division? What the heck is going on here?
Don’t pinch yourselves, Steelers fans; you aren’t dreaming, and the season isn’t over yet. Fresh off a second loss to the Bengals, who stands in the Steelers’ way from which to rebound and put that last game behind them? It is the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chiefs are starting to show some spark lately. They’ve won two of their last four games, and nearly won a third, all on the road. Recently acquired Chris Chambers has made an immediate impact, starting both games since arriving in KC and catching six passes for 130 yards and two TDs.
Unfortunately the hits keep on coming for the Chiefs, and Chambers will need to be even more active going forward. Top receiver Dwayne Bowe was suspended this week for four games due to performance-enhancing drugs.
That puts another dent in their offense, which regardless of some weak defensive competition in recent weeks (Raiders, Jaguars, Redskins) has still only managed to top 20 points three times this year. Against the Steelers’ stout defense it is hard to imagine the Chiefs exceeding 20 points.
Prior to the Bengals game, the Steelers scored 20 or more six straight games. This should be a big game for Rashard Mendenhall as the Chiefs are giving up over 150 yards rushing per game in recent weeks.
The Chiefs defense is limiting their points against in a somewhat reasonable fashion, but again, that seems more a function of who they’ve been facing. Their last home game was a 37-7 whitewash at the hands of the surging San Diego Chargers.
Lock up the Steelers for a win this week.
New England Patriots over New York Jets (stats )
Regardless of what you think about the 4th-and-2 call—right, wrong, WTF?, sweet, injustice, brilliant, karma—the Patriots offense is back.
Tom Brady started 2009 as not the same Tom Brady from prior to his knee injury suffered in Week One of the 2008 season, but he looks all the way back now. He’s hooking up with Randy Moss and Wes Welker nearly at will (a better running game would help), allowing the team to post 27-plus points for four straight games.
Admittedly, those were against less than stellar defenses, including the Colts, who typically are pretty good but had numerous starters from their secondary out last week. Plus, the Jets had the Pats’ number back in Week Two, stifling the offense and winning the game, 16-9.
As mentioned, Brady was not in his groove then. Plus, Welker sat out that game. Darrelle Revis did an effective job shutting down Moss while the Jets defense pressured and frustrated Brady all game.
Can the Jets repeat that performance this time around? I don’t think so. The Jets are flat. The Jets have lost five of their last six, the only win a 38-0 blanking of the Raiders. The Jets defense is looking rather average at this point.
The Jets are down NT Kris Jenkins and RB Leon Washington since the earlier Pats game, two big losses from their defense and offense, respectively. Sure, they also added Braylon Edwards since then, but rookie QB Mark Sanchez is playing a lot more like a rookie since their long forgotten three-game winning streak to start the season.
The Pats defense, again, regardless of “the call,” is playing well and holding teams off the scoreboard—five games under 20 points against, and seven at 21 or fewer.
Statistically the Jets are way above average rushing, while the Pats are a little better than average against the run. That matchup is in reality close to even given the Jets racked up a lot of yards on some terrible run defenses, and Shonn Greene does not look nearly as dynamic as Washington.
The Pats have the advantage on offense and defense in this one, plus some major motivation from their head coach as a result of the national criticism heaped on Bill Belichick since last Sunday night’s loss. It would be a big surprise if the Jets pulled out another upset win over the Pats.
This is an ideal time to back the Patriots for the win in your survivor pool.
Arizona Cardinals over St. Louis Rams (stats )
Super Bowl hangover? Madden jinx? Apparently the Cardinals are immune to such things. Of course, it helps playing in the worst division in football, but who are we to knock the recent success of what was once of the saddest franchises in the NFL?
Short of an inexplicable five-interception performance by Kurt Warner back in Week Eight against the Carolina Panthers, the Cards have beaten every team in their path since September.
Not surprisingly, they’ve done it primarily with offense. Surprisingly, all of a sudden they appear to have a running game. Chris “Beanie” Wells looks like a player, and perhaps finally head coach Ken Whisenhunt is ready to give Wells more of the rushing load. Wells had 16 carries last week to Tim Hightower’s 10, and Wells delivered with 85 yards and two TDs.
Of course the passing game continues to churn out the yards as one of the most prolific in the league, led by Warner and receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, now recovered from a hamstring injury that kept him out of the Chicago game.
Before I continue to throw too many accolades in the Cardinals' direction, let’s talk Rams. The Rams are showing some life. They played the New Orleans Saints tough at home last week, ultimately losing by five points.
Steven Jackson continues to be one of the top running backs in the league and has found the end zone in each of the past two games after getting blanked the first seven.
The defense is creating some turnovers, and the defensive line is getting some pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
All in all, though, the Rams have a dearth of talent on the roster. Their receivers, a weak group to start the season, lost another starter and replaced him last week with rookie Brandon Gibson, acquired when they sent LB Will Witherspoon to the Eagles.
Gibson performed well enough, but we’re talking about a rookie receiver the Eagles held on to as their sixth receiver now starting for the Rams. If the Cardinals can slow down Jackson—and their defensive strength is against the run—then the Rams are not going to get much accomplished in this game offensively.
The Cardinals offense should be in the ballpark of 28 or more points scored in this game, which should be more than enough to secure the win.
Take the Cardinals, and short of another Warner speed bump throwing the ball to the wrong-colored shirts, count on sticking around for another week in your survivor pool.
Mike MacGregor created the Cheatsheet Compiler and Draft Buddy fantasy football and fantasy baseball draft tools, plus he developed various features and sports pools found at FFToday.com and MyOfficePool.ca. Mike owns and operates MyOfficePool.ca .