It’s Week 11 and all the bye weeks are over, so there is a full slate of NFL games this weekend and every weekend here on out.
The Sunday and Monday night games should be exciting. Both pit division rivals against each other. Sunday night gets the electric Michael Vick, who went to town on the Redskins last week on Monday Night, against a Giants team that, although they slipped up against the Cowboys, has been brutal against quarterbacks this year.
Monday night the Chargers and Broncos square off in a matchup of the top two passing teams in the league. An aerial battle should excite the fans in San Diego.
But the highlight will be another chapter in the Patriots-Colts rivalry. The last 10 meetings between these teams have resulted in a 5-5 split. Who will get the upper hand: the Patriots and Tom Brady, or the Colts and Peyton Manning?
Who do you think will win this weekend?
Last week: 8-6
Chicago has won back-to-back games for the first time since Week 3, and although they have a short week, they are in a favorable situation.
The week will feel shorter for the Dolphins who are extremely banged up. They have lost their first two quarterbacks on the depth chart and will have limited time to get Tyler Thigpen acquainted with the first-team offense. Jake Long has a shoulder injury, and although it looks like he will try to play, the lack of rest could hurt. Same goes for linebacker and team sack leader Cameron Wake.
Miami is also winless at home thus far this season.
The Dolphins may lean a little bit more on the running game, but Chicago allows only 82.3 yards per game on the ground, second best in the NFL.
Miami is just too hurt and doesn’t have enough time to recover and regroup.
Time for the Bengals to snap their six-game losing streak.
After eight weeks of trying, and coming heartbreakingly close the last three, the Bills have finally broke through and won a game. Believe it or not, but that does take a bit of an emotional toll. Will there be a first-win hangover?
Cincinnati hasn’t rushed the ball effectively this year, but if they can take advantage of Buffalo’s 32nd ranked rush defense, it’s hard to imagine the Bills keeping pace in the passing game.
Dallas got a huge win last week over the Giants, while Detroit allowed the Bills to win their first game of the season.
Jon Kitna weathered the storm of a strong Giants pass rush, throwing only one interception—compared to three touchdowns and 327 yards—and getting sacked only once (credit to the offensive line as well). With the exception of Ndamukong Suh, the Lions pass rush is not nearly as rough as New York’s.
Dez Bryant has been one of, if not the only, bright spot on the Cowboys this year, and he and Miles Austin should be able to put up big numbers.
It’s mind-boggling how Tennessee lost to Miami last weekend when they knocked out their top two quarterbacks. This should be a nice bounce-back week though.
The Titans are 31st in the league in passing yards per game, but the Redskins are ranked the same in passing yards allowed per game.
The difference maker is that the Titans, behind Chris Johnson, run the ball extremely well, while the Redskins have sputtered. The Redskins also allow 128.8 yards per game on the ground, 25th in the league, so Johnson should have a field day. That should open things up offensively for Tennessee.
The Chiefs have been tough to play at home, standing 4-0 at Arrowhead. Arizona, meanwhile, is 1-4 on the road.
The Cardinals have not been very good on offense or defense this year and are coming off an 18-point home loss to divisional rival Seahawks. Things are not looking very good in the desert.
Kansas City got a whooping of their own against Denver last week, but Arizona’s offense isn’t good enough for the Chiefs to fall behind by so much so quickly. This way they can stick to their strength—their top-ranked rushing attack—and bury the Cardinals.
Kansas City wins.
Banged up most of the year, the bye week must have been nice for the Packers. They are riding a three-game winning streak and had an extra week to put together a strong game plan for the Vikings.
Minnesota has been a circus this year—and not the good kind. Brett Favre has taken the media hostage every week debating whether he’s healthy enough to play or not, and nobody apparently likes Brad Childress and now with Wade Philips fired the seat got hotter for Chilly. It’s unfortunate, too, because no one notices that Adrian Peterson is second in the NFL in rushing yards.
The Packers, despite health issues, have been pretty consistent all year, and having that bye week should only help them.
Green Bay wins.
It hasn’t been pretty, but the Jets are finding ways to win, which is what is most important, squeaking out two consecutive overtime wins.
Texans Arian Foster has been great this season, leading the NFL in rushing yards, however the Jets have a very stingy run defense, fifth-best in the league in rushing yards allowed.
The Jets also rank 12th in the league in sacks, with 20, while the Texans are tied for ninth with 21 sacks allowed. This doesn’t mean anything good for Matt Schaub, who has been in the hospital for a bursa sac injury in his knee.
He’ll most likely play, but the defense will get after him, and they should be able to stop the run, too.
New York wins.
The Steelers did not manage well at home last week, so they will take it out on the Raiders.
The Raiders rushing offense is ranked higher than the Steelers, however, the Steelers have the top-ranked rushing defense. So while they battle with Darren McFadden, Rashard Mendenhall will have a much easier day, with Oakland’s rushing defense allowing 124.8 rushing yards per game, 24th in the league.
Ben Roethlisberger will want to make up for his less than stellar performance against the Patriots, as well.
The Panthers have the worst passing attack in the league, they just put their No. 1 running back on injured reserve, and their backups aren’t close to being completely healthy, either.
They now get to face a Ravens team that will be looking to get back on a winning streak after the Falcons stopped their small two-game win streak, and Ray Rice will lead the Ravens’ 11th ranked rush offense up against Carolina’s rush defense that allows 131.6 rushing yards per game.
The Jaguars had a thrilling win with that Hail Mary last week. Somehow David Garrard is second in the NFL in passer rating.
But the Jaguars have been up and down all season. Since their opening week win, the Jaguars lost two, won two, lost two, and now won two. So that means they are due for a losing streak now right?
Cleveland has played tough all season. Colt McCoy hasn’t been flashy, but he’s certainly been gritty. And after starting his career against the defenses of Pittsburgh, New Orleans, New England and the New York Jets, he will certainly welcome the chance to throw against Jacksonville’s 29th ranked pass defense.
The Jaguars also give up a very generous 114.9 yards per game on the ground, meaning Peyton Hillis should have a nice game.
Don’t look now, but Troy Smith has helped the 49ers win two straight games, and he’s playing well. His 116.6 passer rating would be first in the NFL if he was eligible. He has been pretty accurate, completing 61.7 percent of his passes, which would put him in the top 20 of the league. He also hasn’t turned the ball over.
He’s also pretty mobile, which will come in handy. The Buccaneers are 31st in the NFL in rushing yards against, giving up 143.8 yards per game. Just so happens that San Francisco has Frank Gore, an absolute beast in the backfield.
He started off the season slow, but has scored in consecutive games and has rushed for 100-plus yards in three of his past four games.
San Francisco wins.
Seattle gives up 272.2 passing yards per game, 28th in the NFL. The Saints, led by Drew Brees, throw for 276.2 yards per game, fifth in the league.
Throwing the ball is what New Orleans does best, and Seattle can’t stop it. After the wake-up call they got from Cleveland, the Saints seem to be clicking in their previous two games. They should keep the ball rolling in this one.
New Orleans wins.
The Rams have enjoyed a decent year so far, certainly surpassing expectations set for them in the beginning of the year. The Falcons, however, are often overlooked to being the best team in the NFC, and a top team in the NFL.
Atlanta runs the ball very well and has a great turnover differential. Some would say those two things are the two most important things a team can control to become legitimate contenders.
Simply put, The Falcons are just the better team here, and they win the games they should win.
This has been the best rivalry in the league over the past decade. It’s also been close; each of the previous five meetings has been decided by a touchdown or less.
Both team’s strengths are the passing game, but if New England’s running game, which has been pretty steady lately, can take advantage of a porous Colts rush defense, then they should have the upper hand.
In Indy’s six wins they give up, on average, 95.5 yards per game rushing. In their three losses, that number becomes an astonishing 208.7 yards per game. Not that BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead will tear it up to that extent, but they should be able to make their presence known more so than the Colts stable of runners, whoever is healthy.
That’s the thing with the Colts; offensively they just have too many injuries. With Peyton under center, they still have every opportunity to win, but they are facing a Patriots team at full-strength at Gillette.
Things are just going the Patriots’ way right now.
New England wins.
Michael Vick looks amazing this season. Period. He’s first in passer rating and he’s developed a tremendous chemistry with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. He also can still run the ball and extend the play.
He’ll need to against the Giants vaunted pass rush. That being said, the Eagles have more sacks than the Giants do, and Vick has fewer turnovers (zero, actually), than Eli Manning (13 interceptions—second in the NFL—and one fumble). The Giants will be without Steve Smith, and tight end Kevin Boss is also not at full strength.
If the Eagles can force Eli Manning into silly turnovers, than the fans can see more of their exciting offense.
This matchup features the top two passing teams in the NFL. The only difference is the Chargers play pretty good defense, too.
Yes, the Broncos put a beat down on Kansas City last weekend, but unlike the Chiefs, the Chargers passing game can keep pace with Denver’s.
Even without Antonio Gates and Malcolm Floyd last week the Chargers still scored 29 points gained 367 total yards, and won the game.
Oh, and Vincent Jackson returns and had the bye week to get familiar with Rivers again.
San Diego wins.