Week 11 of the NFL is almost upon us and that means another week of my golden picks. Ok, maybe not so golden, but at least I have fun doing it.
There are a few big games on the schedule, including Indianapolis and New England going head-to-head. The Patriots are on their way up while the Colts seem like they're waiting in the tall grass for the right time to strike. At least that's the way it looks to me right now.
Dallas seems to be figuring things out as is San Diego, but Carolina just took another blow when news came out earlier today that they will lose running back DeAngelo Williams for the remainder of the year. As if things couldn't get worse there, right?
And of course, there is the Minnesota Vikings...
There are 16 games on the schedule, all with different reasons to watch. Here are my winners for every game for the 11th week of the NFL.
Be ready for some no brainers as well as one that might surprise you a little.
Ready? Good. Let's get it.
Why the Bears will win: I don't know if the Bears are regretting signing Julius Peppers at this point. He hasn't exactly been what they were hoping for. Their offensive line hasn't been anywhere near impressive and it's taken a toll on quarterback Jay Cutler.
If they can give him time to throw as well as being able to utilize their run game, it should be smooth sailing for the Bears. Oh, and the Bears have a 3-1 record on the road.
Why the Dolphins will win: If you're the Miami Dolphins, your 1-3 record at home has to be somewhat concerning. Ok, a lot concerning.
The one thing you do have in your corner is the lack of "quality wins" for your opponent. The Bears have won three of their last five but those wins have come against Minnesota, Buffalo and Carolina, three of the worst teams in the league.
Prediction: Bears 24, Dolphins 18
Why the Raiders will win: The Raiders seem to be playing better football this year than they have in recent years. They've already picked up a win over AFC West rival San Diego Chargers, which, believe me, they'll hold over them at least until their next matchup on December 5th.
The Raiders are seventh in the league in points scored (26.1) and they're facing a team that's averaging just over 20 (22.2) points per game.
Why the Steelers will win: Ben Roethlisberger has to get this team back in shape. They got handled by the New England Patriots and they'll want to take their frustration out on someone on Sunday.
Lucky for them, they'll be facing a defense that isn't really that good. The only thing the Steelers will have to do is shut down a team that's scoring almost 30 points per game (26.1).
Prediction: Steelers 29, Raiders 21
Why the Browns will win: I had a feeling when the Browns made former Texas Longhorn quarterback Colt McCoy their starter, that good things were going to happen. Since he made his first start for the team, he's thrown for 734 yards and two touchdowns.
They also raised some eyebrows when they took the New York Jets to overtime this past Sunday.
Whey the Jaguars will win: Two reasons: David Garrard and Maurice Jones-Drew. Drew, the former UCLA standout, has to get more involved in the offense. After less than 60 yards on the ground against Tennessee and Kansas City, Drew ran for 135 against Dallas and an even 100 and two touchdowns against Houston. Here's the kicker, in those same two games, they won both of them.
Prediction: Browns 24, Jaguars 21
Why the Redskins will win: Donovan McNabb has to be a happy guy after signing a five-year contract extension that took everyone by surprise. After being benched by Mike Shanahan, the last thing anyone expected was for owner Dan Snyder to take McNabb aside and sign a new deal. But, this is a team that has found ways to win in the past but it's been when McNabb is at his best. If they can find that guy, they could get the win.
Why the Titans will win: The Titans have a running game that has been torture on a lot of teams in the NFL this season. Not only do you have a guy like Vince Young, who can make plays with his arm or legs, but you also have a running back in Chris Johnson that can beat any team with the ball in his hands.
What the Titans need to be ready for is Young not to go on Sunday as he's listed as questionable in the injury report.
Prediction: Titans 28, Redskins 13
Why the Texans will win: Well, I could go through a long diatribe about the chances of them picking up a win, but with news coming that quarterback Matt Schaub was admitted to the hospital earlier today, it might be hard for me to pick them. However, head coach Gary Kubiak expects Schaub back with the team on Thursday and that the hospital stay was just a precaution.
Why the Jets will win: As much as I'm still not sold on the New York Jets, they do continue to find ways to win, including last week's overtime win over Cleveland.
Mark Sanchez isn't going to be in the top five for the MVP award but he seems to be doing just enough. Although, you might want to credit their stingy defense for keeping them in a lot of games. Here's one way they can put this game away early: LaDainian Tomlinson. The Texans are giving up 108.3 yards per game on the ground.
Prediction: Jets 22, Texans 21
Why the Ravens will win: Normally this would be an easy pick, especially against someone like the Carolina Panthers. However, the Ravens only have one win on the road and offensively aren't very good there either. Though, I'm not sure they'll have to worry much about that this week.
Why the Panthers will win: The Ravens forfeit? The way things are looking for Carolina right now, it's just one thing after another. They tried two different quarterback; they lost DeAngelo Williams for the season; and they have just one win.
On the bright side of things, that one win was at home so I guess I can find the light in a very dark, never-ending, tunnel?
Prediction: Ravens 25, Panthers 10
Why the Packers will win: The last time these two teams met, it was in Green Bay where the Packers came out with a four-point win. However, if it hadn't been for an official review of a late Vikings touchdown, it would have been another win for Brett Favre over his former team.
Aaron Rodgers will need to be sharp and he'll need to put the Packers ahead early and keep them there.
Why the Vikings will win: Brett Favre is another year older and he's not the savior the Vikings thought he would be. His return hasn't gotten the team to where they wanted to be when this season started and there are some who wonder if Green Bay shouldn't go with Tarvaris Jackson to see if he can turn things around. For now, Favre runs the ship and he always gets motivated against his former team.
Prediction: Packers 29, Vikings 17
Why the Chiefs will win: Simple—They're unbeaten (4-0) at home. They've dropped four of their last six games after starting the season with a 3-0 record but all four of those losses came on the road. Back home, they will be in their friendly confines and playing a team that isn't much better than they are right now.
Why the Cardinals will win: If they can get Tim Hightower going and give him more of an opportunity in the run game, it will open things up for whoever will be starting at quarterback on Sunday, whether it be Derek Anderson or former BYU star Max Hall.
The Chiefs aren't a great team and this is a win the Cardinals have a shot at leaving with.
Prediction: Chiefs 24, Cardinals 20
Why the Lions will win: Without Matthew Stafford, who could be lost for six to eight weeks, things aren't going to get any easier. Fortunately for them, as surprising as this might be to some, they are heading off to face the Dallas Cowboys who haven't gotten a win at home all season.
Why the Cowboys will win: Beating the rival New York Giants was a good start for the current 2-7 Dallas Cowboys. What's more surprising this season, other than their two wins on the season, is the fact that they haven't won a home game all season. But, the way this team looked last Sunday, they showed a brand new side to them that we haven't seen all year.
Prediction: Cowboys 28, Lions 18
Why the Bills will win: I like what quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick brings to this team. The season isn't going the way they would want it to or the way they saw it going when the season began. This might be the perfect game to pick up their second win of the year, especially against a lackluster Bengals team who can't seem to find a groove despite having a roster full of talent.
Why the Bengals will win: Carson Palmer has to come around at some point. The Bengals weren't expected to be playing like this through 10 weeks of the season. I'm still waiting for him to have that one breakout game where he finally figures things out. This could be as good a game as any.
Prediction: Bengals 17, Bills 14
Why the Seahawks will win: Matt Hasselbeck has started to come around and is coming off a game that saw him throw for 333 yards and a touchdown against Arizona. However, there's a concern in Seattle that Hasselbeck could miss the game on Sunday due to a cracked bone in his left wrist. However, head coach Pete Carroll told the media that after being examined, Hasselbeck will be just fine and won't miss any time.
One thing Seattle needs to do is get Justin Forsett involved against a bad rush defense from New Orleans.
Why the Saints will win: Drew Brees: Having a guy like that on your roster always gives you a chance to win, especially playing at home. If Seattle gets their run game going, the Saints could be in trouble. However, if Brees gets into a rhythm, it could mean trouble for Seattle.
Prediction: Saints 27, Seahawks 10
Why the Buccaneers will win: Neither team is deadly on the offensive front, but the Bucs do have a run game that could create problems for the 49ers, who are giving up 100.7 rushing yards per game.
They seem to have found a new running back in former Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount who has 359 yards and four touchdowns over his last four games.
Why the 49ers will win: Troy Smith and Frank Gore. Since the 49ers named Smith, the former Ohio State quarterback, the team's starter they've been unbeaten (2-0). Though it's only been two games, they'll be matched up against a team who is second to last in run defense. That has to be music to the ears for 49ers' running back Frank Gore.
Prediction: San Francisco 49ers 29, Buccaneers 21
Why the Falcons will win: The Atlanta Falcons have Matt Ryan or "Matty Ice," as he's known to Falcon fans. He has this team going in the right direction and their fans will watch Ryan pick apart the St. Louis defense with his arm as well as letting Michael Turner do his thing.
This is a talented Falcons team—one that I have second in the latest power rankings.
Why the Rams will win: Sam Bradford. This young quarterback has done more in his rookie year than a lot of people expected he would. Though no one is ready to really put high expectations on him just yet, he has shown why people were so high on him and why he was picked No. 1 in the draft. Bradford can keep the Falcons' defense guessing and keep them on their heels. The small passes, the time of possession and keeping Matt Ryan off the field could prove too much.
Prediction: Falcons 31, Rams 21
Why the Colts will win: Peyton Manning is a quarterback that, when he has the ball in his hands and eyes down the field, can put it anywhere he wants to. He can hit his receivers deep or check down to his running back to let him make something out of nothing.
The Colts are dangerous every time they're on the field. They can pick up a big road win by putting points on the board and keeping the Patriot defense on the field for long lengths of time.
The Patriots will win: Tom Brady. Talk about two quarterbacks who will be in the Hall of Fame when their playing days are done. The Patriots handed the Steelers a loss that looked far too easy, but that's how Tom Brady likes it.
Since they rid themselves of Randy Moss, they feel and look like a whole new team. Hard to figure out which quarterback is better, but Brady is at home, and that could be tough on the Colts.
Prediction: Patriots 24, Colts 23
Why the Giants will win: They didn't expect to have the Dallas Cowboys come in to their home stadium and push them around for four quarters. Yet, it happened. Now the Giants will have to deal with a team that's far and away better than the Cowboys.
To beat Vick and the Eagles, the Giants defense has to force Vick to throw the ball. They can't let him get loose in the secondary and gain all the yards he wants. If they can force him to sit in the pocket and throw, they definitely have a chance.
Why the Eagles will win: Michael Vick. The phenom quarterback is back with the Eagles after sitting out with an injury and he picked up where he left off. He brings so many problems to any defense and gives them so many looks that it's hard to know what he's going to do. If he can get out in the open and make plays happen on his own, it's going to keep the Giants defense honest. As soon as they think he's running, he can step back and make the big pass up top.
Prediction: Eagles 27, Giants 14
Why the Broncos will win: The San Diego Chargers have a problem with turnovers, whether it's from a fumble or interception, they are due to give up the ball at least one or twice a game. They need to pick up those turnovers and turn them into points. It's the only way they can keep San Diego from getting in a groove.
Why the Chargers will win: Philip Rivers and a staunch run game. However, their rookie running back, Ryan Mathews, apparently has a problem hanging on to the ball. That might create a problem if they go to him again and he can't hang on.
That said, the Chargers haven't lost a game when they've run the ball more than they let Philip Rivers throw. If they can get Mathews and Tolbert going, they could be hard to stop.
Prediction: Chargers 28, Broncos 17