NFL Week 11 Picks: Chris Simms' Predictions for Each Game

Chris Simms@@CSimmsQBNFL Lead AnalystNovember 17, 2016

NFL Week 11 Picks: Chris Simms' Predictions for Each Game

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    Bill Belichick and Chip Kelly
    Bill Belichick and Chip KellyHunter Martin/Getty Images

    The amount of insider trading that goes on between NFL coaches would blow your mind. 

    Guys swap scouting reports, player-handling tips and even hotel advice. They know the advantages and disadvantages of the other 31. Maintaining that database is now part of the job description.

    So of course, Bill Belichick found a way to one-up his peers. During my first and only offseason there, he brought in a New Hampshire native who was doing wild things with his team out on the West Coast. His name? Chip Kelly.

    I remember how thrilled Belichick was to glean tidbits of Kelly's no-huddle "blur" offense. Kelly probably made the NFL connections he leaned on to make the jump to the pros a few years later. Everybody wins.

    This week, New England flies across the country to face Kelly's team. I guarantee we’ll see some aspects of the "blur" offense thrown right back at San Francisco. The lesson? Maybe don’t give the best coach in football any additional advantages.

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers

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    Sean Gardner/Getty Images

    When: Thursday, Nov. 17, at 8:25 p.m. ET (NBC, NFLN, TWTR)

    Scoreboard operator, get ready.

    The second showdown between these two NFC South members will look a lot like the first—touchdowns and not much punting.

    Don't mistake a lack of defense for a lack of toughness, though. Both Carolina and New Orleans are run-it-down-your-throat offenses disguised as big-play passing ones. Both defensive lines are finally healthy and producing.

    New Orleans will produce a little bit more. Sheldon Rankins' return gives the Saints one more big body to plug the Cam Newton-Jonathan Stewart read-option. From there, Cameron Jordan will apply just enough heat to force Newton into one or two bad downfield throws. I expect a new-look Saints secondary to swoop in and grab them.

    Prediction: Saints 35, Panthers 30

Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    When: Sunday, Nov. 20, at 1 p.m. ET (Fox)

    I don’t think the average fan realizes what a defensive struggle this game will be.

    Not only does this Cardinals-Vikings battle feature the second- and third-ranked defenses in football, respectively. It's also one that features two offenses clinging on for dear life, trying anything to string together drives and save their seasons.

    Turnovers will play a gigantic role. Arizona always finds a way to make games close with poorly timed fumbles and Carson Palmer interceptions. But the ball-hawking defense in red won't have to labor to turn Sam Bradford over, either. He only completes short crossing routes and quick slants; Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu will be waiting for them.

    Prediction: Cardinals 19, Vikings 17

Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals

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    Jerome Davis/Getty Images

    When: Sunday, Nov. 20, at 1 p.m. ET (Fox)

    Cincinnati's defense is too talented to be this bad.

    It's the 21st-ranked unit in football. This, despite featuring Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap and all that secondary depth. The Bengals could use some of Mike Zimmer's toughness back.

    Of all the weeks to avoid a "soft" label, this one is it. Buffalo's running game is refreshed off a bye week. LeSean McCoy's hamstring should be ready to roll. And when we saw Tyrod Taylor last, he was dicing up a Seahawks defense with his arm and legs. He'll pick that level of play right back up in a big road game.

    I like Buffalo's defense even more in this contest. Cincinnati's offensive creativity starts and ends with the super-spread, where offensive tackles motion back in from out wide. It worked on one play last week. Rex Ryan won't let it work again.

    Prediction: Bills 27, Bengals 21

Chicago Bears at New York Giants

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    When: Sunday, Nov. 20, at 1 p.m. ET (Fox)

    Don't be misled by the final scoreboard from Week 10.

    Chicago's defense was a menace. Guys such as Leonard Floyd and Pernell McPhee could've combined for about nine sacks. John Fox will put them in the best position to succeed against Eli Manning, and chances are they'll shed blockers.

    Manning has been around the block, though. For all the flak I've given him in the past, he does one thing well in Ben McAdoo's offense: get rid of the football. With the Bears deploying a zone-dominant scheme, expect plenty of hot routes and short routes to Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard. Rashad Jennings should be in for another breakout game with both Bears safeties playing as deep as they do.

    Prediction: Giants 17, Bears 16

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    When: Sunday, Nov. 20, at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

    Is Josh McCown starting? Is Cody Kessler?

    This Browns team is trying—and failing—to balance the development of its young talent with the strong desire to not join the 2008 Detroit Lions. I should think getting win No. 1 would be paramount to Hue Jackson, but after watching him pull quarterbacks like Jenga blocks, I'm not sure.

    I do know that Ben Roethlisberger is better than any passer Jackson can throw out there. He finally rekindled the deep connection with Antonio Brown in Week 10. Don't be shocked if he gets Eli Rogers and/or Sammie Coates in on some big tosses against Cleveland's bad secondary.

    Prediction: Steelers 31, Browns 24

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Kansas City Chiefs

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    When: Sunday, Nov. 20, at 1 p.m. ET (Fox)

    Death, taxes and Dee Ford applying some heat under a quarterback's ass.

    Those are the three certainties in life right now. Say what you will about Jameis Winston's virtuoso performance last week, but Ford is a game-wrecker for Kansas City. Left tackle Donovan Smith might be in tears by the fourth quarter.

    As a whole, Kansas City's defense is on the arrow-up. Tampa Bay won't be able to run against the likes of Dontari Poe and Chris Jones. Ford will make plays behind them. Behind Ford, a ball-hawking secondary waits for any misfired Winston throw. Ask Cam Newton how much the Chiefs like takeaways.

    Prediction: Chiefs 27, Buccaneers 17

Baltimore Ravens at Dallas Cowboys

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    When: Sunday, Nov. 20, at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

    Dallas doesn't care if you're the 32nd-ranked run defense or the top-ranked one. Its offensive line is an equal-opportunity steamroller.

    Until this week, that is. Baltimore's defensive line is one of about three groups in football that refuse to be bullied. Its core four—Lawrence Guy, Timmy Jernigan, Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce—form a front that averages out at 312 pounds per player. That's a big load, even for the Cowboys.

    It feels like Dallas is due for one. Trust me when I say that teams are most vulnerable when they're most hyped; all the "America's Team" buzz has never been higher after Tony Romo's statement to the media. That same speech put so much pressure on Dak Prescott, though. He'll have to be the one to win this game for Dallas, and despite his amazing start, he hasn't been asked to shoulder that burden yet.

    Prediction: Ravens 20, Cowboys 17

Jacksonville Jaguars at Detroit Lions

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    When: Sunday, Nov. 20, at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

    I'd love to pick against Blake Bortles and call it a day.

    It's not that simple, though. Detroit is coming off the bye, which can be good or bad. It has struggled to string wins together. And for all its faults, Jacksonville's effort has picked up since the Tennessee debacle a few weeks back.

    Then again, we're talking about Matthew Stafford here. We know what he'll do when the game is close in the fourth quarter. Plus, defensive reinforcements are coming for the Lions. We could see DeAndre Levy, Ezekiel Ansah and Darius Slay suit up together for the first time since September.

    Bortles can make some throws against that group. He won't be able to make enough, especially with all the issues he's had as a passer.

    Prediction: Lions 31, Jaguars 23

Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts

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    Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images

    When: Sunday, Nov. 20, at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

    I expect the Fighting Andrew Lucks to bring their A-game coming off the bye.

    It might not be enough to match Tennessee's A-plus-plus game, though. No team in the AFC is hotter than the one Mike Mularkey coaches. And only a few feature quarterbacks who are as spot-on as Marcus Mariota is at the moment.

    People are just now realizing how amazing Mariota has been, and I can't figure out why. Factor out some poorly timed turnovers, and he'd be in the MVP discussion this year. He's been on fire ever since the Titans dismantled the Jaguars a few weeks back. Indianapolis' defense poses fewer threats than Jacksonville's did.

    Luck bested Dick LeBeau's defense in Week 7. Since then, LeBeau has coordinated a steadily rising defense. We're now at the point where the Titans can run the ball and stop the run. It'll be tough for Indy to overcome that unless Luck pulls three rabbits out of his behind.

    Prediction: Titans 34, Colts 31

Miami Dolphins at Los Angeles Rams

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    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    When: Sunday, Nov. 20, at 4:05 p.m. ET (Fox)

    Welcome to the NFL, Jared Goff.

    Now go ahead and play one of the hottest teams in football. Make sure you watch out for Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake too. They're coming for you.

    That's where this game will be decided. Miami announced Branden Albert is out, but without him, the Dolphins line is still better than whatever L.A. puts out there. Wake, Suh and all their linemates will feast on a quarterback who was playing in a spread offense and not calling plays this time last fall. They'll also engage in the weekly tradition of shutting Todd Gurley down.

    Prediction: Dolphins 24, Rams 14

New England Patriots at San Francisco 49ers

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    When: Sunday, Nov. 20, at 4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)

    Colin Kaepernick built up tons of offensive momentum in a close loss last weekend.

    Now wave goodbye to it. Fresh off a home loss, the pissed-off Patriots are coming to town. It almost goes unsaid that they outclass the 49ers in every facet of this game.

    It doesn't matter that Rob Gronkowski might not suit up. It doesn't matter that New England's man defense leaves it open for a few Kaepernick runs. I don't see any path to success for Chip Kelly's team in Week 11, especially if his run defense reverts to its old form.

    Prediction: Patriots 38, 49ers 20

Philadelphia Eagles at Seattle Seahawks

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    When: Sunday, Nov. 20, at 4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)

    Don't bother telling Fletcher Cox how well Seattle's offense is clicking right now.

    He doesn't want to hear it. No Eagles defender does. These guys just shut down an offense with even more firepower (Falcons). Yet it feels sacrilegious to pick against the Seahawks when they play at CenturyLink Field. 

    I'm breaking from consensus and calling an upset. Carson Wentz will pose just as much of a threat as Russell Wilson in Week 11, even to a defense as hungry as Seattle's. All those Eagles screens and quick throws are perfectly designed to counter Seattle's speed advantage.

    If they get an early lead, watch out. Cox and Bennie Logan will play downhill defense and disrupt Wilson's flow.

    Prediction: Eagles 22, Seahawks 19

Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    When: Sunday, Nov. 20, at 8:30 p.m. ET (NBC)

    These two teams are trending in opposite offensive directions.

    On one end, you have the Redskins and a developing passing game. Kirk Cousins looks like a much more confident thrower than he did early this season. Robert Kelley has added the ground-game element that opens up so many play-action attempts. Plus, Jamison Crowder is Antonio Brown's mini-me.

    Green Bay is accomplishing none of those things. Aaron Rodgers has no targets gaining separation (except Davante Adams every once in a while). There's no running game to speak of. I'm no body language expert, but it looks like no one on the Packers offense is having fun.

    Give me the team with all the mojo in a shootout, please.

    Prediction: Redskins 37, Packers 35

Houston Texans at Oakland Raiders (Mexico City)

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    When: Monday, Nov. 21, at 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

    I know Brock Osweiler plays quarterback for the Texans. I know he's no Derek Carr. Houston is still going to give Oakland a hard time this week, though.

    My reasoning? Bill O'Brien finally figured out the best way to move the football isn't with Osweiler's arm. It's with the legs of Lamar Miller, Alfred Blue and Akeem Hunt. I'm especially excited to watch Hunt run the football; he popped on tape this week, and Oakland's defense has run-stopping issues.

    Houston has the deep cornerback group to give Carr some fits. Does it have enough of a pass rush? That Raiders line can stalemate guys that other teams can't. Jadeveon Clowney and Co. won't be able to win with power all the time.

    Carr will make a handful of fourth-quarter throws to win it. But if you think it'll be a start-to-finish blowout, think again.

    Prediction: Raiders 30, Texans 20


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