NFL Schedule 2011: Predicting the 10 Biggest Upsets of the Football Season
The NFL schedule is filled with plenty of marquee matchups where some of the best teams in the NFL face off. Finding the premier games on the schedule is easy, but finding the potential upsets is a bit more difficult.
It happens every year. An unsuspecting NFL team takes down a juggernaut, sending shock waves around the league. An investigation of the NFL schedule could uncover some of these “soft spots” and give an advance notice of the potential upset.
Here is a look at 10 of the biggest potential upsets for the 2011 NFL season.
Week 2: Arizona Cardinals at Washington Redskins
The Washington Redskins are a mess and could be starting the season with John Beck under center.
The Arizona Cardinals have jumped into the ranks of contender after they acquired quarterback Kevin Kolb. All the hype will make the Redbirds favorites heading into Washington for Week 2.
The Redskins are not as bad as people think and the Cardinals always struggle on trips to the East coast. The end result will be a win by the Washington Redskins at home.
Upset Pick: Washington Redskins over Arizona Cardinals
Week 2: Cleveland Browns at Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts will be at home and will be big favorites against the Browns this early in the season.
The schedule will do the Colts no favors in this spot as they will be off a divisional game against the Houston Texans. The game after Cleveland will be against Pittsburgh, putting the Colts in a potential look-ahead spot.
The Browns are improving every year and Peyton Manning still has some injury concerns.
Upset Pick: Cleveland Browns over Indianapolis Colts
Week 3: New York Jets at Oakland Raiders
The New York Jets are considered one of the favorites in the AFC this year, but this is a soft spot in the schedule.
The Jets will travel to the West Coast to take on the Raiders in the Black Hole, which can be a tough place to play. Making this game more of a pitfall for the Jets is the fact they play the Baltimore Ravens in a primetime game the following week. After that is a game with the Patriots, and that makes this an upset spot for the Jets.
Upset Pick: Oakland Raiders over NY Jets
Week 7: Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans
The Houston Texans could possibly go deep in the playoffs, while the Titans are slated to fail miserably in 2011. That may be the case, but this game sets up great for the home team Titans.
The Titans enter this game off a bye with plenty of time to prepare. The Texans, on the other hand, will be off a game against the physical Baltimore Ravens. That type of physical play takes a lot out of a team and will make the Texans vulnerable.
Upset Pick: Tennessee Titans over Houston Texans
Week 10: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals will most likely finish last in their conference, but if they get up for any game it will be the one against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are the better team but they enter this game after playing two very difficult games against the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots.
The Steelers have a bye week after the game with the Bengals and could take a week off too early and lose to the Bengals in Week 10.
Upset Pick: Cincinnati Bengals over Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 11: Kansas City at New England
The Kansas City Chiefs should be an improved team this year, but they will not be favorites when they travel to take on the Patriots. The Patriots will be off an emotional game against their rival, the New York Jets, and won’t be ready for the Chiefs.
The Chiefs should have a formidable offense and they could catch the Pats napping in this game. With a game against Eagles up next for New England, they could stumble at home against Kansas City.
Upset Pick: Kansas City Chiefs over New England Patriots
Week 11: San Diego Chargers at Chicago Bears
This game may be harder to classify as an upset as the Bears may be small favorites at home. However, if things don’t change there is a good chance the Chargers will have a better record than the Bears at this point.
The Bears are at home and this game is in late November so the weather will not favor Chicago's passing attack. This game will be less enticing for the Chargers as they play out of conference and in the middle of a divisional sandwich, with games against Denver and Oakland surrounding this contest.
The win will go to the Bears.
Upset Pick: Chicago Bears over San Diego Chargers
Week 12: Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions, if they remain healthy, will compete in 2011.
By the time this game is played, the Lions may actually be a slight home favorite. However, it is more likely the Packers will be small favorites. Detroit will be playing at home on a Thursday night. The primetime atmosphere in the national spotlight will make it possible for the Lions to pull off the upset.
Upset Pick: Detroit Lions over Green Bay Packers
Week 13: Philadelphia Eagles at Seattle Seahawks
The Philadelphia Eagles are already being called the dream team of the 2011 NFL season. The Seattle Seahawks are predicted to be a laughing stock, which means the 'Hawks should be underdogs at home late in the season.
The Eagles are off a huge game against the New England Patriots and will have to make a coast-to-coast trip to battle Seattle. The Seahawks do have one of the best home field advantages in the NFL and that will lead to the upset win.
Upset Pick: Seattle Seahawks over Philadelphia Eagles
Week 15: New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings
The New Orleans Saints have a deadly team that could go deep into the postseason. The Minnesota Vikings are hoping Donovan McNabb will return to form. It is not likely to happen, but the Vikings do have the chance to upset the Saints this season.
The Saints have a huge primetime game with the Atlanta Falcons on deck that could most likely decide the conference, and that will cause some let-down in this game against the Vikings.
The Vikings steal a victory and send the Saints out of town with a loss on the season.
Upset Pick: Minnesota Vikings over New Orleans Saints
With a few weeks before the season starts, who is your upset pick?
James Brown is a B/R featured columnist. Feel free to contact James at firstname.lastname@example.org.