Well, well, well NFL fans, here we are—Week 11.
This is where it starts to get interesting.
Some teams are dealing with injuries, some with cold streaks, while some are riding major hot streaks.
This is that time of year when the playoff race discussions start up and the hunt for he Super Bowl starts to become a little more clear.
While the slate of games this week isn't terribly interesting overall, there is still a lot of meaning in these games, and, as always, there will be some great football.
So, with all that in mind, let's do a little predicting. Here are predictions for all 16 games in Week 11.
This one is going to be ugly.
The Miami Dolphins are reeling right now after losing both Chad Henne and Chad Pennington to injuries during their last game.
While Tyler Thigpen did an admirable job filling in for the two injuries, he will be able to lead the Dolphins to victory on his own is questionable. The Dolphins will likely need Henne back and healthy enough to perform well to pull it together here.
The Bears, on the other hand, continue to confuse NFL fans every week. How can a team that cannot protect the quarterback, has a hard time running the ball, and has a hard time running the ball continue to win? O yeah, good defense, right.
They aren't the only ones playing good defense right now.
The Dolphins are No. 8 in the League in total defense, and that could really come into play against a weak Chicago offensive line.
In the end, home field advantage may end up being the deciding factor here. Tyler Thigpen won't lose the game for the Dolphins, and their sack-hungry defense should be all over Jay Cutler.
Final Score: 28 - 17 Miami
In my best John Madden impression, you cannot turn the ball over five times and expect to win the game.
It is almost painful to watch the Bengals blow games week after week on account of turnovers and their lack of a running game.
They have all of the pieces there: Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens, and Jordan Shipley are three very talented standouts to help out Carson Palmer, but Palmer seems to always find a way to mess that up.
The Bengals also boast Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott at running back.
The question is, what happened to their running game?
Marvin Lewis could take a page or two from the example left behind by Bo Schembechler. Benson and Scott have combined for 199 rushing attempts to Carson Palmer's 360 passing attempts. Why?
The Bengals have some serious work to do. They need to find an identity, and find a groove, or they will find themselves giving away another game in the final minutes.
Final Score: 24 - 21 Buffalo
After a bad blowout loss against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs are looking very vulnerable and very weak.
Fortunately for them, though, they are playing host to a team that looks even weaker and even more vulnerable in the Arizona Cardinals.
With the reintroduction of Derek Anderson, the Cardinals seem to have found some new life, but they are still a team that just doesn't have it together. They can barely play offense, their defense isn't much better, and they can't help but make big mistakes every game.
No matter what kind of struggles Kansas City had against Denver, this one is plain out of reach for Arizona.
Final Score: 35 - 14 Kansas City
Things just keep getting worse and worse for Brad Childress and the Vikings.
It doesn't help that they have to host the Green Bay Packers who, after dealing with a rash of injuries, have come on strong in the past two or three weeks.
It is hard to see the Vikings pulling one out against the Green Bay Packers here. With a healthy defense (and most importantly a healthy Clay Matthews), Brett Favre will likely be forced to move around a bit, and that often leads to crippling mistakes from the aging quarterback.
This is not to say, though, that the Vikings will be weaponless against the Packers.
In their last meeting, Adrian Peterson ran over the Green Bay defense, posting an impressive 131 yards and one touchdown on 28 carries.
In the end, though, the Vikings just won't have enough.
Final Score: 24 - 17 Green Bay
The fight is officially out of the dog.
The Washington Redskins were absolutely thrashed by the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night, and things aren't looking much better for them in the future.
The Titans have announced that Vince Young will start on Sunday, and that, coupled with the recent resurgence of CJ2K, could spell another defeat for the Redskins.
Not all is certain, but if there is one game in Week 11 that has a sure loser and a sure winner, this one is it.
Final Score: 31 - 14 Tennessee
I have to quickly pay tribute to Bill Simmons here and say that he has discovered the Gus Johnson Effect.
If you aren't sure what that means, just watch the final touchdown in Jacksonville's stunning win over Houston this past weekend, or this amazing play from last season when Denver played Cincinnati.
Every time this man calls a game, it always seems to end with a last moment victory.
The Jags took advantage of that this weekend, but they won't have that on Sunday against the Browns.
The Cleveland Browns have had a penchant for knocking off good football teams this year, and have remained competitive even in their losses.
Ignore the overtime loss to the Jets, and ignore the win against the Texans. Cleveland is playing better football right now, and that should about do it for them this weekend.
Final Score: 27 - 17 Cleveland
For all of you Jets fans out there, I will state for the record that the New York Jets did not win on Sunday, the Cleveland Browns lost.
With that out of the way (and the inevitable tsunami of angry comments headed my way), I'll throw the Jets a bone.
No matter what seems to happen, week after week, the Jets manage to pull out the victory.
Whether they start the final quarter down 20-10 against the Lions or let the Cleveland Browns march down the field in overtime, they somehow manage to make wins appear almost out of thin air.
This week shouldn't be nearly as hard, though, as the Jets host the Texans on Sunday.
The Texans are in crisis mode. They have now dropped three consecutive games, and are the proud owners of the worst defense in the NFL, which is the true breaking point in the end.
Arian Foster and Matt Schaub can only do so much in the end.
Final Score: 28 - 20 New York Jets
The Baltimore Ravens dropped a tough loss last week.
In a battle of two of the NFL's most powerful teams, the Ravens came up just short of victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
Don't think that that will phase them, though.
The Baltimore Ravens still have everything in place to dominate most (if not all) of the games left on their schedule, and they are still looking like a championship worthy team.
The Carolina Panthers, on the other hand, have already booked vacations for January and are looking towards the NFL Draft in April. It has been a long time since I have seen a team perform this badly, and there is little or no chance that that changes against the Ravens.
This one is a no brainer, but predicting the score may be a little tough. Here's a conservative guess, because I feel bad for the Carolina Panthers.
Final Score: 38 - 14 Baltimore
To me, there are only two major factors going into this game:
- The Detroit Lions do not know how to win on the road. They can put it together at home, but even travelling to Buffalo seemed to be too much for them.
- Jason Garrett might be on to something here. It may be the fact that Wade Phillips is finally out, or it may not, but the fact that he had the Cowboys in full pads on their first day of practice shows that he wants to bring this team back to fundamentals and force them to play tough, play fast, and finish strong.
After blowing out the highly touted New York Giants this past weekend, I have little doubt that the Cowboys will drop this one.
Final Score: 31 - 20 Dallas
It still feels strange saying this about a Raiders game, but this one should be very, very interesting.
Don't let the score deceive you, the Steelers were absolutely torn apart by the New England Patriots Sunday night. Their defense couldn't seem to rattle Tom Brady, and their offense couldn't seem to get any rhythm going until it was already garbage time.
Meanwhile, the Oakland Raiders have had a bye week to get healthy and contemplate their recent success. The Raiders are looking dangerous with a rejuvenated running game, a good passing game, and a defense that is really stepping up their game.
All that having been said, I don't see the status quo changing much here. The game may be closer than usual, but make no mistake, the Steelers will come out on top.
The Steelers will likely return to dominating on the defensive side of the football, which should give their offense the opportunity to really get going against Oakland.
Final Score: 28 - 21 Pittsburgh
I feel like, whether you want to acknowledge it or not, you want to root for the Rams. They used to be very good, then they fell apart, and now they seem to be rebuilding very well and quickly.
But wait, doesn't this storyline sound familiar?
Three years ago, when the Falcons drafted Matt Ryan, I was converted to a Falcons fan (in addition to being a Chargers fan).
Because the Falcons fell apart when Michael Vick went to jail, and seeing them have so much success with Matt Ryan under center and Mike Smith calling the shots was heart warming.
Sadly, though, I think the team that has hard more time to rebuild will prevail here.
The Falcons are looking nearly unstoppable right now after putting down the Baltimore Ravens last Thursday.
The Rams, on the other hand, blew an important divisional game against the San Francisco 49ers, further proving their inability to win on the road.
The Rams will put up a fight, but Matt Ryan and company should have this one taken care of.
Final Score: 28 - 17 Atlanta
Despite how the 49ers played against the Rams this past Sunday, this one seems to be an open and shut case already.
Josh Freeman and the Bucs are hot right now, and this game seems to be another stop on their road to a potential playoff berth.
The 49ers will compete, at least for a quarter or two, but the explosiveness of Tampa Bay on both sides of the ball will turn this quickly from a close contest to a clinic.
Final Score: 38 - 20 Tampa Bay
The Seattle Seahawks simply cannot play football when they are not playing in Seattle, and that will be their undoing.
While the Saints haven't been playing their best football this season, they still have the potential to be one of the League's best teams. Their record this season should raise flags for an upset alert here, but don't get too excited.
They have a point differential of -43 on the road this year, and playing in a hostile environment like the Superdome shouldn't change that.
Final Score: 31 - 19 New Orleans
This one should have been the marquee match for Week 11, but it was sadly relegated to the afternoon slot.
I have no doubt that this will be a battle of who can make the first stop. Both of these offenses are nearly unstoppable, with two of the best quarterbacks in NFL history leading both teams.
On one side, you have Tom Brady, who, despite stumbling in Cleveland, is having another excellent season for the New England Patriots, taking advantage of every toy at his disposal, including rookie tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
On the other side, you have Peyton Manning, who has been more than making do with an injury ravaged receiving corps. Numbers wise, Manning is currently the best quarterback in the League.
While the numbers would seem to suggest the Colts winning in this scenario, it seems like the Patriots might have what it takes to up end the Colts.
After dominating the Steelers on Sunday night, how could you doubt that the Patriots could do it again against the Colts?
Final Score: 31 - 28 Patriots
After getting blown out by the Dallas Cowboys last weekend, New York Giants fans should start to worry.
While a good portion of that game was decided by the new Cowboys under Jason Garrett, the Giants undoubtedly made way too many mental errors and poor mistakes on the playing field. That kind of thing does not bode well for future games.
Couple that with the fact that they are travelling to Philadelphia to take on Michael Vick and the Eagles (who have just come off of stomping all over the Washington Redskins), and this one seems to be over already.
Final Score: 42 - 27 Philadelphia
The Denver Broncos played spectacular football last week against Kansas City. That game wasn't even close for a second, and that should be threatening for the San Diego Chargers.
However, the Chargers are coming off the bye week, and will have both Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee back in the lineup, which will aid an already wildly successful passing offense.
The difference maker in this game will, obviously, be special teams. When these two teams met last year, special teams mistakes directly led to the Chargers loss against the Broncos in San Diego, and the same could happen this year.
Ultimately, though, the Chargers seem to be slowly but surely fixing their special teams play, and they have the top flight offense and defense necessary to bring home a crucial division win against Denver.
Final Score: 31 - 20 San Diego
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