NFL Week 11 Picks: Predictions for All 13 Games
As we prepare for the 11th week of the 2011 season, we'll analyze all 13 games and predict winners for each contest.
Earlier this week, the Denver Broncos pulled off an upset of the New York Jets. The Tim Tebow controversy continues to escalate as the second-year quarterback piles up game-winning drives.
Will any of this week's games be as exciting as the thriller in Mile High Stadium? Let's find out.
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
This divisional game might be the biggest contest of the week.
The Cincinnati Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens each enter this game with a record of 6-3, and the outcome of this game will go a long way in deciding who ultimately has a shot at winning the division or securing a wild-card berth.
The Bengals, who have surprised just about everyone this year, started the year 6-2 before losing to Pittsburgh by a touchdown last week.
Quarterback Andy Dalton has come out and played great in his first year, but he will likely be without his favorite target this week, fellow rookie AJ Green, who is listed as doubtful after hurting his knee on a touchdown catch last week.
The defense has played great as well up to this point, and they could give the Ravens fits.
Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco and the offense regressed against Seattle, but the playcalling was very iffy. Star running back Ray Rice received only five carries.
The defense is still very stout, and although Ray Lewis will probably miss the game, the Bengals probably won't be able to move the ball very well.
The Ravens will show up to play this week after sleepwalking against Seattle, and AJ Green will be sorely missed by Cincinnati.
Ravens 20, Bengals 10
Jacksonville Jaguars at Cleveland Browns
The Jacksonville Jaguars will travel way north to take on the Cleveland Browns, and this game could be one of the ugliest contests of the week.
The teams are a combined 6-12, and their shortcomings have been almost exclusively because of awful offensive play.
The Jaguars are starting a rookie quarterback in Blaine Gabbert, who has had much less success than guys like Andy Dalton and Cam Newton this year. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew has carried the team on his back, rushing for 814 yards and four touchdowns on 191 carries.
The Browns are led by second year quarterback Colt McCoy, who has struggled this year in large part due to lack of a good supporting cast. Rookie wideout Greg Little has shown a lot of promise and it looks like Mohamed Massaquoi will play, but starting running back Peyton Hillis is ruled out while backup Montario Hardesty will be a gametime decision.
Both defenses are pretty good overall, but the difference will be MJD and the Browns' 30th-ranked run defense.
Jaguars 17, Browns 6
Carolina Panthers at Detroit Lions
The 2-7 Carolina Panthers travel to Detroit as the 6-3 Lions look to heal from last week's embarrassing loss.
Carolina has had more success than some anticipated this season, although that may not show up in the win-loss column. What fans have seen more of is potential, particularly from rookie quarterback Cam Newton.
Newton has provided a spark to the offense this year, though he was brought back down to earth by Tennessee last week. Running backs Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams might form the best tandem in the league, but they are disappointingly underutilized.
However, receiver Steve Smith has resurrected his career this season with Newton at quarterback.
The Lions have had a very tough time getting anything going in the running game, and Jahvid Best will be out yet again after suffering a concussion a few weeks back.
But behind Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, the passing game has been lights out, with the exception of last week's awful performance.
The defenses for these two teams are like night and day. Detroit has had some trouble stopping the run, but in every other defensive category they are far beyond the Panthers.
If Detroit loses this game, they essentially have no shot at the playoffs. I doubt Newton and the Panthers pull off the upset.
Lions 31, Panthers 21
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers
The 9-0 Green Bay Packers are on fire, and this week their victim is the 4-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is having a legendary season, completing 72.9 percent of his passes for 2,869 yards, 28 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Receivers Greg Jennnings and Jordy Nelson and tight end Jermichael Finley have provided Rodgers with a dreamy receiving corps, while running backs James Starks and Ryan Grant do enough to keep defenses honest.
The defense has been pretty bad at times this year, but in the most important defensive category (scoring), they rank 13th in the league.
Tampa Bay will come into the game with a young and struggling quarterback in Josh Freeman, whose favorite target, Mike Williams, is also in a slump.
Running back LeGarrette Blount broke out last year and is a very effective running back, but the passing game is going to have to come alive in this game.
The defense is one of the worst in the league numbers-wise, and safety Tanard Jackson will be a game time decision.
The Packers are licking their chops in anticipation of this game.
Packers 38, Buccaneers 14
Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins
The 5-4 Buffalo Bills, who are still hanging onto playoff hopes by a thread, visit the 2-7 Miami Dolphins in what could be a trap game.
The Bills started the season strong but have lost two straight games, dropping an important division game to the Jets before getting blown out by the Dallas Cowboys a week later.
The offense has been good this season, but has put only 18 total points on the board in the past two games. Running back Fred Jackson is still a force to be reckoned with, but even if receiver Stevie Johnson plays, he will be blanketed by Dolphins corner Vontae Davis.
The defense has had their share of good games, but the numbers say they are well below average. Even worse, playmaking safety George Wilson is doubtful for the game.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins have won two straight games on the arm of Matt Moore, the legs of Reggie Bush and the hands of Brandon Marshall. The offense is finally beginning to click, to the relief of a defense that has been pretty good all year.
I think Miami could continue riding their momentum in this game and extend Buffalo's losing streak.
Dolphins 27, Bills 23
Oakland Raiders at Minnesota Vikings
In another game pitting a 5-4 team against a 2-7 team on the road in what could be a trap game, the Oakland Raiders will try and keep the lead in their division against the Minnesota Vikings.
Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer had his best game of the year against the San Diego Chargers last week and seems to be shaking the rust off. Receiver Denarius Moore is emerging as his favorite target.
The defense has some playmakers but has been subpar in all categories this season.
Minnesota is led by star running back Adrian Peterson, who has 846 yards and 10 touchdowns on 180 carries this season. Rookie quarterback Christian Ponder will call the signals. Leading receiver Michael Jenkins and the dangerous Percy Harvin should both play.
The Vikings defense has been pretty bad this year, but one category in which they stand out is in run defense.
If the Vikings can cotain Michael Bush and force Palmer to beat them through the air, stud pass rusher Jared Allen could have himself a monster day. Allen and Peterson will help Minnesota cause chaos in the AFC West.
Vikings 25, Raiders 23
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins
The 5-4 Dallas Cowboys will look to build upon their wild Week 10 success in their contest with the reeling Washington Redskins this week.
A quick look at the numbers would suggest Dallas will win easily, but in a rivalry game like this, anything can happen.
The Cowboys are led by Tony Romo at quarterback, who had a huge day against the Bills. Rookie running back DeMarco Murray has been a pleasant surprise in the absence of the oft-injured Felix Jones (who remains questionable for this week), and receivers Dez Bryant and Laurent Robinson have softened the loss of Miles Austin at receiver.
The defense, led by pass-rushing specialist DeMarcus Ware, has had a solid year in terms of numbers but will be without cornerback Mike Jenkins this week.
Washington has had very inept quarterback play between Rex Grossman and John Beck this year, and the running game hasn't helped out much. Rookie Roy Helu has been a solid threat in the running and passing game, however.
The defense started the year very well, but their success has tailed off a bit in recent weeks. They have a great pair of pass rushers in Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, but they are below average against the run.
This should be a good defensive game, but look for DeMarco Murray to have another big day as the Cowboys start putting some pressure on the Giants.
Cowboys 24, Redskins 17
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers
The 8-1 San Francisco 49ers look to keep their winning streak going as they host the 3-6 Arizona Cardinals.
The 49ers are led by a strong running game. Backs Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter form one of the league's best one-two punches, and although Gore is questionable for the game, Hunter should be able to pick up the slack in his absence.
Quarterback Alex Smith hasn't been a world beater, but he has done a great job of limiting mistakes and facilitating the offense. He has two talented receivers to work with in Michael Crabtree and Braylon Edwards, but tight end Vernon Davis has been the go-to guy.
The defense has not been good at defending the pass, but the scoring and rush defenses are both ranked first in the league. It's almost not fair that linebackers NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis are on the same team.
The Cardinals will be quarterbacked by John Skelton, who led Arizona to an upset win over the Eagles, if starter Kevin Kolb isn't ready to go. Receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Early Doucet are dangerous weapons, but running back Beanie Wells is questionable for the contest.
Arizona's defense isn't ranked in the bottom four of any statistical category, but to be frank, this unit is bad. The 'Niners should be able to run all over them.
49ers 31, Cardinals 20
Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams
The Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams will meet with a combined 5-13 record.
Both teams have struggled on both offense and defense this season, and both teams have had a surprising upset win or two.
The Seahawks come in with major quarterback issues. Tarvaris Jackson doesn't have terrible passing numbers, but his nine interceptions have undone this team at times.
Running back Marshawn Lynch is a beast when he wants to be, but at other times he is almost a non-factor.
The Rams are more stable at quarterback with Sam Bradford, and although he's had a rough season thus far, he might be able to return to form coming off an injury. Receiver Brandon Lloyd was a big get for this offense, and running back Steven Jackson adds a consistent extra dimension to the offense.
Both defenses are below-par in most categories, but both seem to be improving as well. I like St. Louis in a close one.
Rams 21, Seahawks 17
Tennessee Titans at Atlanta Falcons
The Tennessee Titans travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons in a game between two 5-4 teams fighting to stay in playoff contention.
The Titans are led by resurgent veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and star running back Chris Johnson, who has really struggled this season but might be getting back on track.
Tennessee's defense has been pretty good across the board this season, although they've struggled some against the run.
Atlanta will be led by running back Michael Turner and quarterback Matt Ryan, who usually plays very well at home. Receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones (who may miss the game) round out an explosive offense.
Atlanta's defense has been very strong against the run, but has struggled against the pass.
The Titans will be relying on Matt Hasselbeck to get going in this game, as Chris Johnson will likely be ineffective again. Atlanta's running game should earn them a win at home.
Falcons 27, Titans 19
San Diego Chargers at Chicago Bears
The 4-5 San Diego Chargers are getting desperate for a win, but that won't be an easy feat in Chicago against the 6-3 Bears.
The whole Chargers team seems to be in a funk right now, and if the losses continue to pile up, Norv Turner may be out of a job at the end of this season.
Quarterback Philip Rivers is one of the league's best quarterbacks, but he has struggled lately along with the rest of the team. Running backs Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert provide threats in the run game, while Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates are Rivers' favorite targets in the passing game.
The defense is very talented and highly ranked in yards allowed and passing yards allowed, but somehow they still manage to allow the fifth-most points per game.
Meanwhile, the home team is on fire. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who has a spotty history with Rivers, has been playing well lately behind his improved offensive line. Running back Matt Forte is the team's top weapon, leading both the rushing and receiving categories.
Oh, and they have this guy named Devin Hester, who scores them all kinds of points.
Chicago's defense is one of the best in the league, although the numbers don't show it. The Bears have gotten much better on that side of the ball lately.
San Diego is in a must-win situation, but I doubt it will happen this week against the red-hot Bears.
Bears 30, Chargers 24
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
Fresh off a loss that all but killed their playoff hopes, the 3-6 Philadelphia Eagles go on the road against the 6-3 New York Giants in a last-ditch attempt to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Without quarterback Michael Vick and receiver Jeremy Maclin, who are both out with injuries, that will be a tall task. Either Vince Young or Mike Kafka will be asked to lead the offense against one of the strongest pass rushes in the NFL.
Philly's only realistic chance of winning this game lies in the hands of LeSean McCoy, who has been one of Philly's only consistent players, and DeSean Jackson, who historically has done well against the Giants.
The Eagles' defense doesn't have bad numbers, but it has been worse than the stats indicate thus far.
New York, led by Eli Manning at quarterback and Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz at receiver, should be able to take advantage of the Eagles.
The Giants' biggest advantage, though, is on the defensive side of the ball, where players like Jason Pierre-Paul, Mathias Kiwanuka and Osi Umenyiora have been wreaking havoc.
I think the Giants will abuse Philadelphia's pass protection all game and give Young or Kafka fits.
Giants 28, Eagles 21
Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots
The Jekyll-and-Hyde Kansas City Chiefs get a tall task this week in the form of a road game against the New England Patriots.
The Patriots got on track last week against the New York Jets and now lead the division at 6-3. Quarterback Tom Brady sent a stern message to his critics, and pass-catchers Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski are hitting on all cylinders.
New England's defense has struggled quite a bit this season, especially against the pass, but they could have a good game against a depleted Kansas City offense.
With the loss of quarterback Matt Cassel, the Chiefs will have to start Tyler Palko at quarterback. Kansas City has been decimated by injuries this season (see Charles, Jamaal). Receivers Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston and Jonathan Baldwin have played well this year, but will Palko be able to get them the ball?
Kansas City's defense is loaded with talent, so the fact that they've struggled so much this season is a conundrum no one can figure out.
The normally-strong secondary should be able to limit New England's passing game, but then again, it is Tom Brady. The Patriots finally seem to have found their groove, and the Chiefs don't know who they are yet.
Patriots 34, Chiefs 24