NFL Week 11 Picks: Analyzing Key Matchups For Each Game
Chicago Bears (6-3) vs. Miami Dolphins (5-4)
Dolphins LT Jake Long vs. Bears DE Julius Peppers
The Dolphins are coming off of a victory against the Tennessee Titans, a game in which they suffered season-ending injuries to quarterbacks Chad Pennington and Chad Henne, leaving Tyler Thigpen to start.
Dolphins left tackle Jake Long is one of the premier pass protectors in the league. However, he was banged up during the Titans game and has been limited in practice all week.
He is part of a Dolphins offensive line that has allowed just 13 sacks on the year. But with Thigpen's tendency to scramble, Julius Peppers may have a few chances at him.
Peppers hasn't put up the staggering statistics many expected from him when he signed with the Chicago Bears during the offseason, making just 24 tackles, two sacks, three tackles for a loss, and forcing four fumbles. However, containing Peppers often opens up lanes for the fellow playmakers around him to shine.
Dolphins WR Brandon Marshall vs. Bears CB Charles Tillman
Brandon Marshall was traded to the Dolphins in the offseason with the hopes of giving the fish a deep, downfield threat to open up the running game led by Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.
Marshall has been targeted 94 times, catching just 55 of those passes for 652 yards, and he has only found the end zone once.
Bears veteran cornerback Charles Tillman is a strong and physical defender who has all of the tools to keep Marshall in check for most of the game. He has recorded 49 tackles while defending nine passes on the year, intercepting two and forcing three fumbles.
If Marshall gets locked down, it may come down to Davone Bess lining up with Bears youngster D.J. Moore, who has been great this year, recording four interceptions.
Dolphins OLB Cameron Wake vs. Bears LT Frank Omiyale
Cameron Wake entered the National Football League last year after spending the first few professional years of his career in the Canadian Football League.
He has had a breakout year, recording 8.5 sacks with six tackles for a loss and defending four passes.
Bears tackle Frank Omiyale will struggle to contain Wake, who is a quick and agile pass rusher and will be looking to take off Jay Cutler's head.
Buffalo Bills (1-8) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (2-7)
Bengals WRs Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco vs. Bills CBs Terrence McGee, Leodis McKelvin/ Drayton Florence
Terrell Owens will face his former team this Sunday when the struggling Cincinnati Bengals take on the Buffalo Bills, a team that is coming off its first win of the season—against the Detroit Lions.
The Bills were noted for their strong secondary entering the season. However, the entire secondary has not recorded an interception all year long. This weekend it will have its hands full as it will struggle to contain two great receivers in Owens and Chad Ochocinco.
Owens has been targeted an astonishing 108 times this year, yet he has only caught 59 of those passes for 834 yards, scoring seven times. Ochocinco has caught just 47 passes for 559 yards with three touchdowns.
Bills cornerback Terrence McGee is slowly returning from injury, so it is unclear exactly how much playing time he will see on Sunday. But Leodis McKelvin and Drayton Florence have each played decently in his absence.
Bengals CB Leon Hall vs. Bills WR Stevie Johnson
Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson has emerged out of nowhere, catching 44 passes for 591 yards and six touchdowns on the season.
He will have a chance to play against Owens, who chose to mentor former Bills receiver James Hardy rather than himself.
He will line up with Bengals cornerback Leon Hall, a young, elite cornerback in the league, who has recorded 29 tackles, defended seven passes, made four interceptions and forced four fumbles.
Johnson has caught at least three passes in every game of the season, so this will be a good matchup to watch on Sunday.
Detroit Lions (2-7) vs. Dallas Cowboys (2-7)
Lions DT Ndamukong Suh vs. Cowboys C Andre Gurode
Ndamukong Suh was drafted with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft and he has proved his worth through the first nine games of the year, making 33 tackles with 6.5 sacks, en route to what could be a Rookie of the Year campaign.
The struggling Cowboys are coming off of a win against the New York Giants in their first game under interim head coach Jason Garrett. But they will continue to struggle in containing Ndamukong Suh from getting to John Kitna.
Andre Gurode is a Pro Bowl center, but he has held up an offensive line that has allowed 17 sacks on the year.
Lions WR Calvin Johnson vs. Cowboys CB Mike Jenkins
Despite being on a terrible team for his entire career, Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson continues to put up staggering statistics year in and year out, truly displaying the type of player he is.
On the year, Johnson has caught 49 passes for 679 yards and he has already scored nine touchdowns. Mike Jenkins of the Cowboys hasn't played as well as many expected him to, making 34 tackles, defending six passes and recording just one interception. We all know about him shying away from a tackle in last week's game against the Giants.
Lions LT Jeff Backus vs. Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware
DeMarcus Ware is a dominating pass rusher with crazy explosiveness off the line and excellent moves to beat tackles.
Ware has eight sacks on the year, with seven tackles for a loss, and he will line up against veteran tackle Jeff Backus and a line that has allowed 15 sacks this year.
Washington Redskins (4-5) vs. Tennessee Titans (5-4)
Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall vs. Titans WR Randy Moss
Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall had a great game in which he intercepted four passes against the Chicago Bears.
But other than that, he hasn't been the shutdown corner the 'Skins expected he would be when he was acquired a few years ago. On the year, Hall has 71 tackles with six interceptions.
He will face off with Randy Moss, who will be playing his second game in a Titans jersey and for his third team of the year. Moss has caught just 23 passes for 339 yards, but he has scored five times.
Hall will definitely need the help of safety LaRon Landry—who is having a breakout year, recording 85 tackles while defending eight passes—over the top in order to contain Moss.
Redskins OLB Brian Orakpo vs. Titans LT Michael Roos
The Tennessee Titans have allowed 17 sacks on the year and the Redskins' second-year linebacker hopes to increase that total on Sunday.
Orakpo has 33 tackles and 7.5 sacks on the year, and he is improving on his run defense each week he takes the field.
Redskins WRs Santana Moss, Joey Galloway vs. Titans CBs Cortland Finnegan, Alterraun Verner
With Donovan McNabb under center for the Redskins, he hasn't ignited the passing attack that many hoped for when he was acquired in the offseason via trade with division-rival Philadelphia.
Santana Moss, the Redskins leading receiver, has just 51 receptions for 632 yards and two touchdowns and will definitely struggle against the Titans secondary led by Cortland Finnegan and youngster Alterraun Verner—who is having an amazing season of his own.
Finnegan has made 48 tackles, recorded a sack and defended seven passes—intercepting two of them—while Verner has 45 tackles with eight pass deflections and two interceptions of his own.
Arizona Cardinals (3-6) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (5-4)
Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald vs. Chiefs CB Brandon Flowers
Since losing quarterback Kurt Warner due to retirement in the offseason, Larry Fitzgerald has been running the show for the Arizona Cardinals, which has been the main reason for their 3-6 record on the year.
Fitzgerald has caught 49 passes for 601 yards with four touchdowns on the year.
This week the Cardinals take on the Kansas City Chiefs, a young-and-talented team looking to make a strong playoff run. Lining up across from Larry Fitzgerald will be cornerback Brandon Flowers, who has 39 tackles on the year, defending 11 passes and intercepting two.
Cardinals LT Levi Brown vs. Chiefs OLB Tamba Hali
Levi Brown is the bookend of an atrocious offensive line that has allowed 33 sacks on the season, and Tamba Hali of the Kansas City Chiefs will not be an easy assignment for Brown.
Hali has 28 tackles on the year, racking up eight sacks and forcing two fumbles.
Cardinals CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie vs. Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a stellar, young cornerback who will have success for years to come.
On the year, he has 31 tackles with two interceptions, defending 11 passes. Dwayne Bowe has been rather inconsistent on the year, due to the strong running attack of the Chiefs, catching just 39 passes for 606 yards, but he has managed to score nine times.
Green Bay Packers (6-3) vs. Minnesota Vikings (3-6)
Packers OLB Clay Matthews vs. Vikings LT Bryant McKinnie
Bryant McKinnie is a Pro Bowl-caliber tackle, but Packers linebacker Clay Matthews has had his way with opposing offenses for the majority of the year.
The Vikings have allowed quarterback Brett Favre to be sacked 18 times this year and Matthews has racked up 10.5 sacks to go with his 31 tackles.
Packers ILB A.J Hawk vs. Vikings RB Adrian Peterson
Adrian Peterson is the best running back in the National Football League and he will have a chance to shine on Sunday against an injury plagued Packers defense.
A.J. Hawk has 68 tackles with six pass defenses and two interceptions, and he is the leading run defender on the Packers. But containing Adrian Peterson is no easy task to accomplish
Peterson has rushed 197 times for 908 yards with seven touchdowns, and he has added another 30 receptions for 281 yards and a touchdown out of the backfield.
Packers WR Greg Jennings vs. Vikings CB Antoine Winfield
Greg Jennings was poised for a breakout season this year.
But due to the lack of a running attack, he has managed just 39 receptions for 551 yards and six touchdowns. Antoine Winfield is a veteran cornerback who can stuff receivers at the line of scrimmage, and he has recorded 54 tackles and two picks on the year.
Houston Texans (4-5) vs. New York Jets (7-2)
Texans WR Andre Johnson vs. Jets CB Darrelle Revis
This is one of the most intriguing matchups of the week in the entire National Football League, as one of the best wide receivers lines up with one of the best cornerbacks.
Andre Johnson is a physical freak who has caught 52 passes for 781 yards with four touchdowns. On the other hand, "Revis Island" has become more of a five-star resort for wide receivers, as opposed to a prison like it was last year.
Revis has just 14 tackles with no interceptions on the year, but those numbers are deflated due to teams shying away from him.
Johnson was shut down by Revis last year, so it will be interesting to see how he performs this Sunday.
Texans RB Arian Foster vs. Jets ILBs David Harris, Bart Scott
Arian Foster has jumped onto the scene after earning the starting job when rookie running back Ben Tate went down during the preseason.
He is the league leader in rushing. Foster has 172 carries for 920 yards, and he is the only running back with 10 touchdowns on the year. He has added another 33 catches for 319 yards with another touchdown on top of that.
The Jets pride themselves on stopping the run, and David Harris, who has 63 tackles, a sack, and three tackles for loss, along with Bart Scott (47 tackles, sack, three tackles for loss), hope to be the first team to shut down Foster this year.
Texans OLB Zac Diles vs. Jets TE Dustin Keller
The Houston Texans secondary has been absolutely awful this year after losing cornerback Dunta Robinson in the offseason.
But the second-leading receiver on the New York Jets is tight end Dustin Keller.
Zac Diles has 71 tackles on the year, but will need to play strong coverage on Keller, who has caught 33 catches for 472 yards with five scores on the year.
Oakland Raiders (5-4) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3)
Steelers WR's Mike Wallace, Hines Ward vs. Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomughua
The Steelers' passing game has been a pleasant surprise this year, mainly due to the downfield threat of second-year receiver Mike Wallace, who has been averaging over 20 yards per reception.
This week, Nnamdi Asomughua, the Raiders' All-Pro cornerback, will need to play tough up front to prevent the big play.
Asomughua has 11 tackles with five pass defenses on the year, while Mike Walace has 30 receptions for 643 yards and seven touchdowns. Hines Ward is expected to play, despite suffering a concussion last week, and he has 30 receptions for 375 yards and four touchdowns. He has been a strong red-zone target for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Steelers ILB Lawrence Timmons vs. Raiders RB Darren McFadden
Lawrence Timmons is quickly becoming another dominating linebacker in the long tree of game-changing linebackers in Steelers history, recording 85 tackles, three sacks, six tackles for a loss, seven defended passes, and two interceptions in the first nine games of the year.
Darren McFadden has finally gotten his legs under him and he has rushed 139 times for 757 yards with eight touchdowns.
Steelers OLB James Harrison vs. Raiders LT Jared Veldheer
James Harrison's play this season has been vastly overshadowed by his helmet-to-helmet hits controversy, but he is still a defensive force and will be a true test for the rookie Jared Veldheer.
Harrison has 64 tackles with seven sacks on the year, and you can bet he will look to use his veteran skills against the inexperience of Veldheer and the young Raiders offensive line.
Baltimore Ravens (6-3) vs. Carolina Panthers (1-8)
Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs vs. Panthers LT Jordan Gross
Terrell Suggs is one of the most experienced and talented pass rushers in the National Football League, on arguably the stingiest defense.
The Ravens defense hopes to have a field day as it faces off against the 1-8 Carolina Panthers, who will be starting rookie Jimmy Clausen at quarterback and will be without their top two running backs, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, due to injury.
Suggs has 38 tackles and 6.5 sacks on the year and he will be in Clausen's face all day. He takes on an offensive line that has allowed 27 sacks throughout the first nine games of the year.
Ravens WR Anquan Boldin vs. Panthers CB Richard Marshall
Anquan Boldin has added the downfield receiving threat the Ravens had desperately needed to get over the hump. He has caught 44 passes for 596 yards and six touchdowns while making key catches to keep the Ravens in games.
Richard Marshall has struggled in the secondary, making 49 tackles with a forced fumble, and two interceptions.
Ravens S Ed Reed vs. Panthers QB Jimmy Clausen
After playing the Miami Dolphins, Ravens safety Ed Reed said that quarterback Chad Henne was one of the easiest quarterbacks to read after he made a key interception during the game.
One can only wonder how excited he is to display his ability against a young rookie that will be under pressure all day. Reed missed the first six games of the year with a groin injury, but he has recorded three interceptions since his return.
Cleveland Browns (3-6) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-4)
Browns RB Peyton Hillis vs. Jaguars DT's Tyson Alualu, Terrance Knighton
Peyton Hillis has been a steal for the Browns since being acquired from the Denver Broncos in the trade involving quarterback Brady Quinn.
On the year, he has rushed 152 times for an unprecedented 734 yards with two touchdowns and he has caught 34 passes for 256 yards with another touchdown to go with it.
The Jaguars have also enjoyed some unexpected success, mainly due to their front four, comprised of rookie defensive tackle Tyson Alualu and Terrance Knighton. The two have combined for 44 tackles and six sacks on the season and will test the strength of Hillis.
Browns CB Eric Wright vs. Jaguars WR Mike Sims- Walker
The Browns have an extremely underrated and talented secondary, consisting of rookie cornerback Joe Haden and rookie safety T.J. Ward.
But cornerback Eric Wright will need to shut down Mike Sims-Walker for the Jaguars to lean on the running game.
Wright has been stellar in coverage this year, defending nine passes while intercepting one, and making 39 tackles. Sims-Walker has made 32 catches for 418 yards and four touchdowns.
Browns OLB Matt Roth vs. Jaguars TE Mercedes Lewis
Marcedes Lewis has been Jaguars quarterback David Garrard's favorite target through the first nine games of the season, as the two have connected 30 times for 379 yards and seven touchdowns.
He is a threat in the red zone and the Browns will need to focus on him all day or risk getting burned down the seams.
Matt Roth is a scrappy veteran. He has recorded 41 tackles with two sacks on the year and should do a solid job in covering Lewis.
Atlanta Falcons (7-2) vs. St. Louis Rams (4-5)
Falcons WR Roddy White vs. Rams CB Ronald Bartell
Roddy White has an unprecedented 70 receptions for 934 yards and seven touchdowns through just nine games this year and he is well on his way to increasing those numbers this week against the St. Louis Rams.
Cornerback Ronald Bartell, who has 31 tackles with eight pass defenses on the year, will be White's victim this week and it's hard to not see White having another huge day.
Falcons LT Tyson Clabo vs. Rams DE James Hall
Tyson Clabo is a strong left tackle and is solid in his pass protection, but the Falcons have allowed Matt Ryan to be sacked 17 times this year.
James Hall has been solid on the right side of the Rams' defensive line, racking up 7.5 sacks with his 31 tackles and he should have a few opportunities to get at Ryan.
Seattle Seahawks (5-4) vs. New Orleans Saints (6-3)
Seahawks WR Mike Williams vs. Saints CB Tracy Porter
Mike Williams was out of the league for a couple of years prior to the 2010 NFL season.
But his former college coach at Southern California, Pete Carroll, took a chance on him when he was awarded the head coaching position of the Seattle Seahawks. Williams has not let him down, catching 46 passes for 545 yards and a touchdown, en route to a Comeback Player of the Year campaign.
Tracy Porter of the Saints has been limited with injuries throughout the year, but he is always a tough matchup for any receiver. He has 21 tackles with four pass deflections and an interception on the year.
Seahawks CB Marcus Trufant vs. Saints WR Marques Colston
Marcus Trufant is a veteran corner who has the ability to jam opposing receivers at the line of scrimmage and limit big plays. But the Saints are known for an explosive offense that has the ability to score from anywhere on the field.
Marques Colston has 54 catches for 592 yards with two touchdowns, but the multitude of receivers on the Saints keep opposing defenses in check, especially when they go four or five wide.
Trufant has 50 tackles with eight pass deflections and an interception on the year.
Seahawks DE Chris Clemons vs. Saints RT John Stinchcomb
Chris Clemons has quietly climbed up the ranks of the top pass rushers in the league this season, as he has racked up 7.5 sacks through the first half of the year. He will continue to bring the heat on Saints tackle John Stinchcomb.
However, the Saints line has allowed just 14 sacks this year and Brees has great poise and the ability to feel the pressure coming.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3) vs. San Fransisco 49ers (3-6)
Bucs WR Mike Williams vs. 49ers CB Nate Clements
Mike Williams was originally expected to be a first-round draft pick out of Syracuse, but questions of his work ethic and commitment to the game dropped him to the fourth round.
The Buccaneers jumped at the chance to grab him and he has been a complete steal, catching 40 passes for 627 yards with five touchdowns, leading all rookie wide receivers.
Nate Clements is a seasoned veteran who has the ability to shut down Williams, if he can keep up with his speed. Clements has had a great year thus far, racking up 49 tackles, four for a loss, four passes defended and intercepting two passes.
Bucs Run D vs. 49ers RB Frank Gore
Frank Gore is the workhorse for the San Francisco 49ers, rushing 188 times for 778 yards and three touchdowns while adding 41 catches for 415 yards and two more touchdowns out of the backfield. He will be a difficult assignment for the Buccaneers defense.
Bucs linebacker Barrett Ruud is a great run defender, and has 70 tackles, a sack, and forced fumble on the year, but he will need help from rookie defensive tackle, No. 3 overall pick, Gerald McCoy up front to clog holes. McCoy hasn't been as impressive as his rookie counterpart Ndamukong Suh, as he has only made 21 tackles, five of which are for a loss.
Bucs CB Aqib Talib vs. 49ers WR Michael Crabtree
Aqib Talib is establishing himself as a top player at his position in the league, locking down every receiver that lines up with him, leading to his 31 tackles and five interceptions with seven defended passes.
Michael Crabtree has already found chemistry with Troy Smith, who took over for Alex Smith after an injury. He now has 35 receptions for 446 yards and four scores on the year.
Indianapolis Colts (6-3) vs. New England Patriots (7-2)
Colts WR Reggie Wayne vs. Patriots CB Devin McCourty
The Colts have suffered a surplus of injuries on the offensive side of the ball, most notably to tight end Dallas Clark, who is out for the remainder of the season. Nagging injuries to Austin Collie leaves Reggie Wayne as Peyton Manning's primary receiving weapon.
On the year, Wayne has caught 63 passes for 758 yards and three touchdowns. He will face off with rookie cornerback Devin McCourty, who is improving his play every week and has 48 tackles with two picks on the year.
Colts LT Charlie Johnson vs. Patriots OLB Tully Banta-Cain
Tully Banta-Cain is a perfect example of a Bill Belichick player. He isn't a highly-touted player, but he is a "high motor" guy who gives his all on every down, and it has paid off.
On the year, he has 27 tackles and three sacks.
Colts left tackle Charlie Johnson will have to contain him to keep Manning out of pressure.
Colts CB Kelvin Hayden vs. Patriots WR Wes Welker
Wes Welker has taken over as the Patriots' No. 1 receiver since the departure of Randy Moss, and he has 52 receptions for 444 yards and three touchdowns on the season.
He isn't the deep threat that Moss is but he is always reliable to keep the chains moving. His speed is enough to frustrate opposing corners.
Kelvin Hayden has upgraded his play this year and has made 51 tackles, defending eight passes and intercepting two—both of which were touchdowns—and forced a fumble.
Philadelphia Eagles (6-3) vs. New York Giants (6-3)
Eagles WRs DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin vs. Giants CBs Corey Webster, Terrell Thomas
DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are an outstanding one-two punch at the wide receiver position.
DeSean Jackson offers unmatched speed, while Maclin is a consistent, reliable possession receiver with the ability to find the end zone.
Jackson and Maclin have combined for 64 receptions, 1,157 yards, and 12 touchdowns on the year and will line up with two solid cornerbacks in Corey Webster and Terrell Thomas, who have combined for 77 tackles, 18 defended passes and five interceptions.
Eagles QB Michael Vick vs. Giants DE's Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora
Michael Vick has taken over the Philadelphia Eagles offense, and has been absolutely unbelievable this year, putting him high on the list of MVP candidates.
Despite missing four games, Vick has passed for 1,350 yards, 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions, while rushing 44 times for 341 yards and another four touchdowns.
Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora will have their work cut out for them in containing Vick, who is more confident in the pocket than he has ever been. But he still has the breakaway speed to use when he needs it.
Tuck and Umenyiora have combined for 73 tackles, 13 sacks, and nine forced fumbles, and they hope to put Vick under enough pressure to force his first turnover of the season. But it will be a tough day for them regardless.
Eagles CB Asante Samuel vs. Giants WR Hakeem Nicks
Hakeem Nicks is one of many wide receivers having breakout seasons, as the former North Carolina product has caught 56 passes for 735 yards and scored nine touchdowns through nine games on the year.
Asante Samuel is a seasoned veteran cornerback with the ability to not only lock down wideouts at the line of scrimmage, but pick off a pass at any given time. Samuel has 21 tackles and has defended 10 passes while intercepting two.
Denver Broncos (3-6) vs. San Diego Chargers (4-5)
Broncos CB Champ Bailey vs. Chargers WR Malcom Floyd
Champ Bailey is arguably one of the best cover cornerbacks in the National Football League.
Thanks to Vincent Jackson's contract dispute, he will be facing off with Chargers wide receiver Malcolm Floyd on Sunday.
Bailey has kept receivers in check all season, recording 30 tackles, defending eight passes and picking off one. But Malcolm Floyd has grown into his role as the No. 1 receiver, catching 24 passes for 513 yards with three touchdowns.
Broncos WRs Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney vs. Chargers CBs Quentin Jammer, Antoine Cason
Brandon Lloyd is having a crazy year, eclipsing all of his previous career-high stats in just nine games, catching 48 passes for 968 yards and six touchdowns. Fellow wideout Jabar Gaffney has enjoyed success as well, making 48 receptions for 573 yards and two touchdowns.
The Chargers have a strong secondary, led by Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason. Those two have combined for 61 tackles, 17 defended passes and three interceptions.
Broncos OLB Jason Hunter vs. Chargers TE Antonio Gates
Antonio Gates is the best tight end in the National Football League right now and the 'Bolts are coming off of a bye week, giving Gates' injured leg a rest.
He has caught 40 passes for 663 yards with nine touchdowns on the year, and he is a focal point in the Chargers' explosive, pass-happy offense.
Jason Hunter will have a long day struggling to contain Gates, and will need help over the top from safety Brian Dawkins if the Broncos hope to contain Gates in any way.
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