NFL: Week 12 picks

The playoff push heats up as action enters week 12, and we’ve got a lot more great games this week.

98-63 after 11 weeks. Here are my next batch of picks.  It’s the Panthers and Steelers on their bye this week.

Thursday Night Football

  • Chiefs @ Raiders: It’s not a good game, but we have an AFC West match-up to start week 12.  The Chiefs are feeling pretty good about themselves as they are tied for the division lead with the Broncos.  The Raiders are… well… the Raiders.  Their march to history continues. KANSAS CITY WINS

Sunday 1PM Games

  • Browns @ Falcons: Atlanta is somehow leading the NFC South despite a 6-game losing streak this season.  Cleveland is still in the playoff conversatgion, but hurt themselves with a loss against Houston a week ago.  I like what Cleveland does better than Atlanta.  THey are more consistent on both sides of the ball.  So despite this being a home game for the Falcons, give me the Browns on the road.  CLEVELAND WINS
  • Titans @ Eagles: Philly is coming off an ugly road loss to the Packers, while the Titans are coming off a home loss to the Steelers.  Mark Sanchez has been okay filling in for Nick Foles, but needs more from the run game. I think Tennessee is a good remedy for their ills, so give me the home team in this one. PHILADELPHIA WINS
  • Lions @ Patriots: What a great early match-up.  The Pats have rebounded from a slow start to being one of the two, three best teams in the league.  The Lions have cooled off a bit after a slow start, specifically on offense.  Detroit will need their top rated defense on the road to slow down the Pats, and they very may well do so.  But I still like the Pats in a close one at home. NEW ENGLAND WINS
  • Packers @ Vikings: The Packers are hot… at home.  They’ve got a lot of games left on the road and have been a different team away from the Frozen Tundra where they look unbeatable.  Minnesota has a good season without Adrian Peterson in the back field, and starting a rookie QB in Teddy Bridgewater for the majority of the season.  They’re home so Minnesota won’t go quietly, but I can’t pick against MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers here. GREEN BAY WINS
  • Jaguars @ Colts: The Jaguars are just looking to the draft and the off-season at this point, while the Colts look to rebound off a blowout loss to the Pats in week 11.  Andrew Luck is having a fantastic season, but needs more out of the run game, which was hurt this week when Ahmad Bradshaw was placed on IR.  But with seeding to play for, I expect Indianapolis to have a fairly easy time with Jacksonville at home. INDIANAPOLIS WINS
  • Bengals @ Texans: Cincinnati is lucky to still hold a lead, however slim, in the AFC North.  But they can’t have any more let downs, even against a pretty good team like they play this week. JJ Watt is keeping Houston in the conversation and with this game being in Texans territory, the Bengals have their work cut out for them, though I do like them to get a big road win. CINCINNATI WINS
  • Jets @ Bills: It’s a big game for the Bills, but this isn’t even happening when it’s supposed to!  Crazy snowfall in Buffalo has forced the game to be moved to Monday… in Detroit! I like the possible playoff team even after the Jets finally picked up a win before their bye.  The run game for the Bills finds ways to get the job done even with injuries, and Sammy Watkins has been one of the most impressive rookies in the league.   BUFFALO WINS
  • Buccaneers @ Bears: This is maybe the worst game of the week.  Both teams are bad despite many thinking both would challenge for the playoffs.  The Bucs don’t do anything well except when they decide to throw the ball in the direction of rookie standout Mike Evans.  As for Chicago, they finally snapped a long losing streak last week against the Vikings, but even that one wasn’t super impressive.  Alshon Jeffery is questionable for the Bears, but they have better offensive weapons even without him than Tampa Bay, so I think they pick up a 2nd straight victory. CHICAGO WINS

Sunday 4/4:25PM Games

  • Cardinals @ Seahawks: How big is this game? An Arizona win goes a long way to locking up the NFC West, and makes the Cardinal the first team in the NFL to get to 10 wins.  A Seahawks win keeps the door in the division open, and keeps pressure on teams like the 49ers, Cowboys and Packers for a Wild Card spot. Going straight off those reasons, you’d say Seattle needs this game way more than Arizona.  But the Seahawks are the defending champs and know what it takes to put a run together.  The Cardinals have been around the playoff picture of a few years now, but with a young QB at the helm, this win would do huge things for their confidence.  Arizona has been consistently good and don’t have any off-the-field issues clouding things. So I’m taking a chance with the red birds in 12 man territory.   ARIZONA WINS
  • Rams @ Chargers: St Louis has made it tough on most opponents this season, despite having a tough schedule and losing Sam Bradford in the preseason.  I mean look at the Rams wins over Seahawks, 49ers and the Broncos last week.  As for the Chargers, they finally got a win after a rough stretch.  I think they build off that and keep pressure on the top heavy AFC West. SAN DIEGO WINS
  • Dolphins @ Broncos: This is a huge game with playoff implications.  Miami took a big step a week ago with a win over the Bills to break a tie with them, while Denver took a big step back against the Rams.  I like what the Dolphins have done all year, but I can’t see Peyton Manning having a second straight bad game, and the Broncos are so much better at home.  DENVER WINS
  • Redskins @ Niners: Like many slow starters, the 49ers have rebounded and fought their way back into the playoff hunt.  Washington continues to struggle and have questions about RGIII.  So give me the home team to stay on pace in the West. SAN FRANCISCO WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Cowboys @ Giants: Every-time questions have surfaced abut Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin, the Giants have rebounded and went on long runs.  They’d have to win out and hope for a lot of help for that to happen this year, but with many of their remaining games at home, and a softer schedule added to games with the Eagles and this week’s opponent, never say never.  But they have to start with a win over the Boys.  The defense has to find a way to stop DeMarco Murray, who’s rested after their bye.  And Manning needs to look like the guy from the 49ers game that drove down the field like no one was trying to stop them in their opening drive, and not the guy who ended up with 5 interceptions.  Something that could help is getting Rashad Jennings going in his second game back.  I keep going on faith and I’m taking another big leap taking the G-men here in week 12. NEW YORK WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Ravens @ Saints: Both teams need this game big-time. Baltimore is playing in the most competitive division in football, with all teams with at least 6 wins through 11 weeks.  New Orleans is surprisingly in the worst division, with no teams over .500.  and they find themselves behind the Falcons, a team that lost 6 straight at one point this season.  So while I think the Ravens are a better overall team, I think Drew Brees and company find a way at home to turn things around. NEW ORLEANS WINS
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NFL: Week 11 Picks

Week 11. Games are becoming more and more important as the playoffs approach.  I went 9-4 last week in my picks, bringing my season total up to 91-55.  Here’s what I’ve got happening this week with the Ravens, Jets, Cowboys and Jaguars are on their bye.

Thursday Night Football

  • Bills @ Dolphins: It’s a big AFC Matchup to open up week 11 action.  Both teams are fighting for at least a wild card spot, and enter action with identical 5-4 records.  The Bills have already beat Miami this year, so the Dolphins need this more than the Bills.  Buffalo keeps finding ways to win despite losing their top two running backs for a few weeks, while Ryan Tannehill has stepped up big time for the Dolphins.  I see this being a defensive struggle, and also being the best Thursday night game of the season.  Give me the home team in a one score game.  MIAMI WINS

Sunday 1PM Games

  • Vikings @ Bears: Chicago has to win again right? You would think so, especially with this being a home game.  But Minnesota has been overachieving without Adrian Peterson, to the point where they could sneak into the playoffs! Add to that, the Bears are awful on both sides of the ball at this point, specifically on defense, and they can’t win at home this season. So I’m taking the Vikings on the road. MINNESOTA WINS
  • Texans @ Browns: It’s weird to say, but Cleveland is in line to make a serious run for the AFC North (they hold a slim lead to start the week).  Houston has had a good season, and JJ Watt could make life difficult for Brian Hoyer.  But I love how the Browns find ways to win, and I think they do it once again for their 7th win of the season. CLEVELAND WINS
  • Falcons @ Panthers: I hate this game so much with two teams that have disappointed big time.  Atlanta has been god awful on defense basically all season, while the Panthers have had too many changes and injuries to make a run at a playoff spot.  If Cam Newton can get on the field, I think pride carries them to their first win in weeks. CAROLINA WINS
  • Bengals @ Saints: Both teams need a win this week. New Orleans still holds the lead in the NFC South despite losing last week. The same can not be said for the Bengals, who laid an egg against the Browns, losing their lead to Cleveland in the AFC North.  I picked both teams to not only make the playoffs, but make significant runs. I have no confidence in other team right now, but I want to give the Bengals one more shot, so despite this being in the tough to handle Superdome, give me Cincy in a game they need more. CINCINNATI WINS
  • Buccaneers @ Redskins: Bottom dwellers do battle in DC as the one-win Bucs bring their awful defense and rotation of QBs into RGIII’s house.  I don’t like either one of these teams, so I’m going home team for no other reason than I’m not picking a draw. WASHINGTON WINS
  • Broncos @ Rams: St. Louis didn’t roll over when they lost Sam Bradford in the preseason.  They just don’t have the talent to make up for it in a tough league.  Denver might not be able to put them away early, but they should get an easy win this week. DENVER WINS
  • Seahawks @ Chiefs: This is going to be a fun matchup.  People have being sleeping on the Chiefs and here they are in prime position to make the playoffs again.  The Seahawks are still up and down, coming off a big win over the Giants where Marshawn Lynch woke up big time.  But I think the Chiefs have been far more consistent, and I think they can beat the champs at home this week.  KANSAS CITY WINS
  • 49ers @ Giants: I really need to stop picking the Giants, but with Rashad Jennings set to come back this week, and Eli Manning in the midst of one of his best stretches, I think they put up a big fight.  The Niners aren’t as good as they have been in the past, but find ways to get wins.  New York needs to string some wins together, and has a favorable schedule the rest of the way.  Don’t put it past some late season Eli magic to at least put them back in the conversation. NEW YORK WINS

Sunday 4/425PM Games

  • Raiders @ Chargers: Oakland has been terrible all season, while the Chargers haven’t been good recently after a very hot start.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the Raiders got their first win of the season, but I don’t think it happens either. SAN DIEGO WINS
  • Lions @ Cardinals: Normally when you lose your starting quarterback this late in the season there is a cause for concern.  And that’s of course the case with Arizona with Carson Palmer going down, but their defense is so good, and Drew Stanton has proven capable so it’s not concerning just yet.  Detroit finally got Calvin Johnson back and their defense has been very good all season  ARIZONA WINS
  • Eagles @ Packers: Division leaders square off in the frozen tundra, giving us another great game this weekend.  Philly put a hurting on the Panthers a week ago on the road, while Green Bay put up 6 scores in the first half against the Bears.  This game features more defense than those games did, so I don’t expect the crazy numbers again. Mark Sanchez has two wins back as a starter, but I think he gets his first loss back for the Eagles because my NFC representatives in the Superbowl are trending way up and are far healthier.  So give me another nice night from MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers. GREEN BAY WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Patriots @ Colts: Oh boy is this a beautiful game. It’s going to have a playoff feel in the regular season for sure.  Both teams are atop their division and have offenses that can go off for 50-points without much effort.  And I think both teams might get there despite both sides having pretty good defenses.  It’s a toss up, so I am going with the Andrew Luck in front of the home crowd in a shootout. INDIANAPOLIS WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Steelers @ Titans: The Steelers followed up 12 touchdowns in two weeks with a bad loss to the Jets.  Tennessee is on a 3-game skid and they are terrible on offense.  So I see now reason why the Steelers can’t and won’t get back to their big numbers this week. PITTSBURGH WINS

NFL: Week 11 Thoughts

11 down. 6 to go. And playoff races are starting to heat up.  The final undefeated has fallen, while leads atop divisions have shrunken, grown and switched hands.  Everything you could hope as the days inch closer to the holidays.

2 more teams were off this week: the  Cowboys and the Rams.

NFC EAST (The Birds Are All Alone Atop the Division… For Now)

  • Eagles: A 3rd straight victory snapped a franchise record 10-game home losing streak.  Up 17-0 at the halftime break, the defense was able to hold off a 4th quarter comeback.  The offense looked great in the 1st half, but only scored once in the 2nd half.  Nick Foles used his legs, not his arm, to find the end-zone this week.  Philly’s new top gun ran in for a score, while LeSean McCoy did the rest, finding pay-dirt twice on the afternoon.  Foles threw no TDs, while continuing his streak of no interceptions in tack as apart of a 298-yard passing day.  They became the 8th team in NFL history with at least 2,800 passing yards and 1,600 rushing yards through it’s first 11 games. With Dallas off, Philly takes over sole possession of 1st in the East, but they have already lost once to the Cowboys with another match-up ahead. (6-5)
  • Cowboys: Bye Week. (5-5)
  • Giants: 4 straight wins for the Giants, and this was the best all-around game in the stretch.  Eli Manning looked as good as he has since week 1 (the part after those 3 interceptions to start the year).  The struggling 2-time Superbowl MVP threw a 26-yard touchdown to Ruben Randle in a game where he completed 25 of 35 passes for 279 yards.  Running backs Andre Brown and Brandon Jacobs did their thing on the ground, combining for 75 yards and a score.  The defense allowed just the 2nd touchdown in their last 18 quarters, and they continued to shut down opposing backs.  Up just 7 in the 4th, Jason Pierre-Paul sealed the win with a 24-yard interception return for a touchdown. (4-6)
  • Redskins: The offense couldn’t do anything right until the 4th quarter.  Down 24-0, Robert Griffin III threw TD passes of 62 and 41 yards to Darrel Young and Aldrick Robinson, while converting on both 2-point conversions to get within 8.  With one final drive, Griffin drove Washington all the way to the Eagles 18 before a Brandon Boykin interception sealed the loss. Griffin and Alfred Morris combined for 137 yards on the ground, but two RGIII turnovers proved too costly in the end. They’re now alone in last place, with two against the Giants left to be played. (3-7)

NFC NORTH (It’s Crowded at the Top)

  • Lions: A golden opportunity to at least hold onto their 1 game lead, they got off to a slow start in Pittsburgh and never recovered. They now have company atop the division, though should they end in a tie with Chicago, they hold the tiebreaker.  Matt Stafford did become the franchise’s leading passer thanks to his 362-yards passing.  And Calvin Johnson put up monster numbers again, with 179 and a score.  But much of their damage came in a 27 point 2nd quarter.  Detroit was shutout in the 2nd half, while the defense surrendered 4 Steelers touchdowns and 3 field-goals.  (6-4)
  • Bears: A long weather delay gave Chicago new life, leading to an overtime win on the strength of a 38-yard Robbie Gould field-goal.  Down 10-0 with 4:51 in the 1st, play was stopped because of tornado warnings.  Nearly 2 hours later, play resumed, and the Bears woke up. Josh McCown connected with Matt Forte on his lone TD pass of the day.  Forte added 83-yards on the ground to that receiving touchdown.  Defensive end David Bass added a score on defense with a 24-yard interception return of Joe Flacco in the 2nd quarter. (6-4) 
  • Packers: Scott Tolzien had a chance to tie in the 4th quarter, but a pick 6 sealed a 3rd straight loss since losing Aaron Rodgers and then Seneca Wallace. Despite nearly 350 yards passing, the team couldn’t recover from Tolzien’s 3 interceptions, including the game sealing  pick 6. Rookie running back Eddie Lacy was all but shutdown, managing just 27 rushing yards and a score that turned into nothing more than window dressing.  All hope is not lost, with Rodgers back to practice and match-ups against all three division foes left on the schedule. (5-5)
  • Vikings: Neither Christian Ponder, or Matt Cassel could solve the Seahawks defense, combining for 2 touchdowns, 3 interceptions and a lost fumble on Sunday.  Toby Gerhart and not Adrian Peterson led the team in rushing yards, but the 132 combined yards on the ground didn’t help stave off defeat.  Just about the only things they did well were to keep it close at half, and limit Lynch everywhere but the redzone.  (2-8)

NFC SOUTH (The Saints Keep Marching On)

  • Saints: It was a defensive struggle in the 2nd half, but 9 points in the 4th gave New Orleans the come-from-behind home victory over San Francisco.   Tied late, Marques Colston finished off a record day with a 20-yard catch to set up Garrett Hartley’s 31-yard game winning field goal as time expired.  The wide-receiver out of Hofstra finished the day with five catches for 80 yards to become the Saints all-time leader in yards receiving with 7,922. It wasn’t the Saints best day offensively, but it was enough thanks to the play of the defense.  3 sacks and a pick of Colin Kaepernick gave Drew Brees and company enough time to get 3 scoring drives in the 4th. (8-2)
  • Panthers: Maybe now is the time to start talking about this team as a threat. A 4-point win on Monday night gives them 6 straight, and back-to-back statement wins.  Cam Newton threw for 3 touchdowns for the 3rd time this season, something he did only twice his first 2 seasons in the league.  He spread the wealth, hitting 3 different receivers for scores, while 3 finished with at least 50-yards receiving.  Ted Ginn Jr was the recipient of the game winner with just over a minute to play in regulation. Newton was also the only real threat in the run game, leading the way with 62 on the ground to go with 209 in the air.  The defense forced two turnovers, including a Brady INT in the end-zone as time expired.  According to the Panthers PR department, they’re the first team since the 1935 Giants to allow 1 or fewer first half touchdowns over their first 10 games of the season. (7-3)
  • Buccaneers: Don’t look now but the previously win-less Bucs are on a win streak. Waiver wire pick-up Bobby Rainey had himself a day in the place of the injured Doug Martin and Mike James.  162-yards rushing and 2 scores for the 2nd year back out of Western Kentucky.  Not to mention a 3rd touchdown catch for Rainey thrown by Mike Glennon, who finished with 231 and two scores on the day. Vincent Jackson had a monster day, grabbing 10 passes for 165 and a touchdown. (2-8)
  • Falcons: I never thought this team would be at the bottom of the division with all the talent they have, but here they are.  They’ve now dropped 4 straight, and according to NFL.com, they’ve been outscored 135-61 in that stretch.  Matt Ryan threw 2 touchdowns, but also another 2 interceptions.  Harry Douglas had another good game despite being questionable leading up to kick-off, catching 6 passes for 134-yards and a score.  The run game was finally decent, but if you can’t stop the run or get stops in the red-zone, you’re not going to win many games. (2-8)

NFC WEST (The Hawks Are Flying Away With It)

  • Seahawks: Marshawn Lynch didn’t have the monster yardage total he’s accustomed to, but he made his yards count, taking it in for 2 scores, one on the ground and one in the air, in a big win over the Vikings.  Russell Wilson didn’t throw it much, but he did complete 13 of 18 for 230 and two touchdowns.  It was still a game at the half, but the defense did it’s job in the 2nd half, including a pick 6 to help pull away for good.  The win makes them just 1 of 3 teams with just 1 loss, and keeps their 1-game lead for the NFC’s number 1 seed in tact after the Saints win.  Not to mention all but locks up the West after the aforementioned New Orleans win over San Francisco. (10-1)
  • 49ers: Make it two straight losses after a 5-game stretched where San Fran looked nearly unbeatable.  This team doesn’t blow many leads, but they did just that against the Saints. Colin Kaepernick was sacked 3 times, threw 2 touchdowns and an interception.  He nor running back Frank Gore could get much going on the ground.  Aaron Brooks had really the only good game on defense, picking off Brees, getting the teams lone sack and forcing a fumble.  Now they’re tied for 2nd with Arizona. (6-4)
  • Cardinals: Nobody is talking about this team, but they are in a fight for a wildcard thanks in large part to their defense.  They got off to a slow start in the 1st quarter, but then both sides of the ball dominated the Jaguars for the rest of the way. Carson Palmer threw for 419 yards and two scores and no picks for the first time all year.  Receiver Michael Floyd finished with a career-high 193 yards receiving, including a 91-yard touchdown. (6-4)
  • Rams: Bye Week. (4-6)

AFC EAST (The Pats Maintain a Decent Lead)

  • Patriots: They were down 10 early, but rallied back to take the lead in the 4th, but it wasn’t enough. Tom Brady threw for just 1 touchdown, and didn’t get the help he needed from his run game.  He had a shot with 4-seconds left from his own 18, but his final throw was picked off in the end-zone.  Controversy struck when a flag for what New England thought would be defensive holding was picked up.  Brady was visibly upset with the refs as the teams took the field to shake hands. Whether or not the call should’ve been made, the Patriots were once again shutdown by a top flight defense.  Lucky for them the Jets didn’t close the gap.  (7-3)
  • Jets: They’re consistently inconsistent. According to NFL.com, they’re the first team to alternate wins and losses the first 10 games of the season.  Geno Smith looked like a rookie on the road today, with 2 turnovers in the 1st half alone. Things got worse when he was benched in favor of Matt Simms.  Down 20-0 at the half, they could never make a threat on the Bills. Chris Ivory had really the only good day, falling just short of a 100 yards on the ground to go with a score. (5-5)
  • Dolphins: This needed a win for many reasons, and they battled til the end to get one. Their first since the bully scandal broke, Ryan Tannehill led his team to victory.  The 2nd year quarterback threw for 268 yards, including a 39-yard score to tight-end Charles Clay to break a 10-10 tie in the third. Miami also managed 104 yards rushing behind a makeshift offensive line. (5-5)
  • Bills: EJ Manuel led his team to their 1st win in 3 weeks. Manuel was on point, completing 20 of 28 passes for 245 and 2 scores.  The run game didn’t come into play much, but the way the defense stepped up, they didn’t need help on the ground.  Jarius Byrd forced two of the Jets 4 turnovers, while Da’Norris Searcy returned his interception for a score.  The two teams split the season series, each winning at home.  (4-7)

AFC NORTH (The Bengals Pounce, Give Themselves A Big Cushion)

  • Bengals: Nothing like 31 unanswered 2nd quarter points (the largest output in a quarter in team history) to put a bad start behind you.  After losing two straight games in overtime, a rout was what this team needed to get back on track.  Andy Dalton shook off a bad start that saw two of his passes picked off in the 1st quarter, one returned for a score, to put them down 13-0 quick.  But he came back to throw 3 scores, but on just 93 yards passing. It was a good all around game, with both the defense and special teams finding the end-zone, with a fumble recovery and a blocked punt for a score.  (7-4) 
  • Steelers: Don’t look now but they’re technically not in last place anymore after a very slow start to the season.  Big Ben and company had their most impressive day on offense.  Ben Roethlisberger threw for 367 yards, 4 touchdowns and no turnovers.  Add 3 more field-goals for Shaun Suisham and it’s pretty easy to see why this team held off the Lions. (4-6)
  • Browns: They jumped out to a quick 13-0 score.  But then they fell apart on both offense and defense, and you can’t do that against a hungry team like Cincinnati. Jason Campbell threw 3 interceptions, Chris Ogbonnaya lost a fumble and their special teams allowed a score.  And despite creating a couple of turnovers of their own, they couldn’t get any real pressure on Dalton. (4-6)
  • Ravens: Justin Tucker’s 21-yard field goal forced over-time, but it wasn’t enough to save them from the loss. Baltimore jumped out to a quick 10-point lead thanks to a 1-yard Ray Rice touchdown run, and a Tucker 52-yard field goal in the 1st half. But then the weather delay happenedRice finished with his best total of the season, 131 yards and that score.  Joe Flacco ended with 162-yards passing, a touchdown and two interceptions, one of which was returned for 6.  It was a golden opportunity to move into a better spot for a possible wild card spot, instead they fall 3 games back of the division lead. (4-6)

AFC South  (Indy All But Has This Things Wrapped Up)

  • Colts: A slow start wasn’t enough to hand Indy their second straight loss, which would’ve been a first in the Chuck Pagano era.  Andrew Luck and company woke up in the 3rd quarter to rally from a 17-6 half-time deficit and get their 7th win.   The Colts got some much-needed help from Donald Brown, who ran in for two scores for the first time in his career.  Luck added an 11-yard scamper of his own.  Tight-end Coby Fleener had a career high 8 catches for 107 yards. (7-3)
  • Titans: Things looked good early, when Chris Johnson’s 30-yard and 7-yard touchdown runs in the 1st quarter put the Colts’ backs against the wall early.  But if you can’t turn over the Colts, or stop the run in the red zone, you’re in trouble.  Ryan Fitzpatrick had a good day in place of the injured Jake Locker, completing 22 of 28 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown.  But it wasn’t enough in the end.  They started off the season well, but have taken a turn for the worse as they’re losers of 2 straight and 5 of their last 6. (4-6)
  • Texans: Make it 8 straight losses.  Two early turnovers including Case Keenum’s first career interception gave the Raiders two quick drives from their own 16. Oakland scored on both turnovers and put Houston down 14-0 in the 1st.  But 17 unanswered points capped by a career-long 51-yard field goal by Randy Bullock had them up at the half.  Down 21-17 in the 3rd, Houston decided to remove a healthy Keenum for Matt Schaub, who hadn’t seen action since he went down in week 6.  (2-8)
  • Jaguars: They jumped out quick, but it wasn’t enough as they were shutout through the final 3 quarters.  They scored a touchdown (2 in fact) for the first time at home all season.  Maurice Jones-Drew only finished with 23 yards rushing on 14 carries, but he did have one of the two Jacksonville scores.  Chad Henne threw two picks, one touchdown.  The defense sacked Carson Palmer 3 times, but was unable to turn the Cardinals over.  (1-9)

AFC WEST (December is Going to Be Fun in the West)

  • Broncos: In the biggest game of the week, Denver put up the most points on KC of any opponent.  Peyton Manning wasn’t sharp, but the run game was huge in the red zone, while the defense did their best Chiefs impression, with a number of impressive stops and takeaways. Manning extended his record for 300 yard passing games to 81, but threw just one touchdown and lost a fumble in the process. Rookie running back Montee Ball had his best game of the season, capitalizing in the red zone by finding the endzone twice.  A huge reason for the good run game was the offensive line, which prevented a sack-happy defense from touching Manning all night.  They hold the end in the division, for now.  Their 2nd match-up comes in 2 weeks in KC. (9-1)
  • Chiefs: Alex Smith threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns as his team suffered their first loss of the season. They were in the game the whole night, but couldn’t find a way to get over the hump.  Dwayne Bowe had a 57-yards receiving and a` touchdown in a game he could have been out for days after being arrested for speeding and marijuana possession. The defense held down the potent Broncos defense for the most part, but it was still almost 15 points more than their opponents average.  Jaamal Charles had a good day on the ground, running for 78 at 4.9 yards a carry. (9-1)
  • Raiders: Matt McGloin made quite the impression in his first NFL start. 3 touchdowns (2 of which came on turnovers) and no interceptions for the former Penn State QB.  Rashad Jennings continues to make Oakland fans ask Darren McFadden who? with 150 yards and a rushing touchdown to help get his team their 4th win.  The defense forced 3 turnovers, and held late with a goal-line stand in the final seconds to stop the Texans comeback attempt. The win ensures they finish with a better win total than a year ago. (4-6)
  • Chargers: Forever the inconsistent team are these Chargers.  San Diego could only muster one touchdown, coming in the 1st quarter to fall for the 3rd straight game. They stayed in the game til the end thanks to 3 Nick Novak field goals.  But their possible game winning drive ended with an incomplete pass in the end zone.  Philip Rivers fell just short of 300 yards passing, with a touchdown and an interception.  Ryan Matthews was able to get back over 100 yards rushing, but was unable to find the end zone. (4-6)

That’s it.  Week 12 approaches as teams look to continue bettering their playoff positioning.

NFL: Week 11 Predictions

A lot of key matchups this week.  Just how you want week 11 to be.

Just two teams on their byes: Dallas and St. Louis.

Another bad week for me, thanks to a lot of good teams losing. I went just 5-8 in week 10.

Thursday Night Football

  • Indianapolis @ Tennessee: Both teams are coming off bad losses.  The Colts got absolutely man handled by the Rams at home, while the Titans gave the Jags their first win of the season.  Tennessee will be without starting quarterback Jake Locker, something that isn’t new for this team, and have a very up and down run game.  As for the Colts, Andrew Luck had maybe his worst game of his young career, and has shown bounce back ability.  For that reason alone, give me the road team in this one.  INDY WINS

1PM Sunday Games

  • New York Jets @ Buffalo: The Jets don’t seem to like winning or losing two games in a row, but I see their first win streak of the season coming.  They’re rested off the bye against a Bills team that didn’t look good in EJ Manuel’s return.  I just think New York is poised to take that next step. And to do that, they have to beat their bottom-dwelling division foes. NEW YORK WINS
  • Baltimore @ Chicago: The Ravens looked a little more like the championship squad they were last season last week. While the Bears will be without Jay Cutler and Lance Briggs coming off a two-point loss to Detroit.  I know this is a home game for the Bears, but I think Ray Rice can finally have a good game against Chicago, whose defense hasn’t been spectacular after a strong 3-0 start. BALTIMORE WINS
  • Cleveland @ Cincinnati: It’s a key AFC North match-up as the Browns look to stay relevant in the wild card chase, and with the Bengals looking to keep their two game lead.  Cincy needs Andy Dalton to play more like he did during their 4 game win streak, and less like the turnover prone guy he’s been their last two defeats.  The Browns have been up and down, and yet are still tied for 2nd with the Ravens.  I think the Bengals defense makes plays to get them back in the win column. CINCY WINS
  • Oakland @ Houston: The Raiders haven’t looked good the last couple of weeks.  Terrelle Pryor is a mobile QB, but he hasn’t looked great throwing or running of late, and that’s not going to get it done.  As for the Texans, they haven’t looked good since week 2.  But Case Keenum has impressed me in his 3 starts, and I think he can get this ship back on track.  I also like what I saw from JJ Watt a week ago.  HOUSTON WINS
  • Arizona @ Jacksonville: The Jags finally got a win, and against a decent Titans squad.  And the Cardinals are much improved from their 5 win season a year ago.  Arizona’s defense is going to give Jacksonville fits, and I think it will result in turnovers. ARIZONA WINS
  • Washington @ Philadelphia: This is a big game for both teams.  The Eagles are looking to make a statement and break a 1st place tie for first, while the struggling Reskins are just hoping to stay out of last place. Nick Foles has taken the starting job and ran with it, or rather thrown a lot of touchdowns.  RGIII hasn’t looked anything like the guy that took his team on a 7-game win streak to end the season last year.  I think this team finally breaks the streak and gets a home win. PHILLY WINS
  • Detroit @ Pittsburgh: The Lions are finally putting together the year everyone’s been waiting for.  The offense is explosive now that they have a legit run game, and the defense is showing up too.  As for the Steelers, they’re in real danger of missing the playoffs for a 2nd straight year.  There are even rumors Ben Roethlisberger is looking for a trade.  Detroit has a chance to make a statement in the North, and I think they do so on the road. DETROIT WINS
  • Atlanta @ Tampa Bay: So the Bucs aren’t winless any more, and the Falcons still only have 2 wins. Just how we all saw the South shaping up.  I keep not wanting to pick the falcons, but they’re better than the Bucs… I guess.  Tampa shutdown the Dolphins run game on Monday, but the Falcons don’t have a run game anyway. Give me the road team. ATLANTA WINS

4/4:25PM Sunday Games

  • San Diego @ Miami: The Dolphins are in turmoil, the Chargers are inconsistent.  Both got off to good starts to the season, but have been bad of late. Both teams have had trouble to get the run game going at times, while both have very inconsistent QBs. Can I pick nobody?  No, ok give me the drama free team.  SAN DIEGO WINS
  • San Francisco @ New Orleans: One of my right match-ups here between two of the NFCs best.  The niners were absolutely shut down by the Panthers a week ago, while the Saints put on an offensive clinic against Dallas.  San Fran needs to keep pace with the division leading Seahawks, while the Saints have to hold off a hot Carolina squad. The 49ers defense is better than the boys, but this game is home for the Saints, and they are nearly unstoppable in the dome.  And I think that’s the difference.  NEW ORLEANS WINS
  • Green Bay @ New York Giants: The Pack are starting their 3rd different quarterback in their last 3 games, and two straight losses.  Not what you want in an improved North division.  As for the Giants, Eli Manning needs a good game, and he always finds a way to play the Pack tough.  With the run game finally showing up big time last week, and the defense rounding into shape, I think the Giants make it 4 straight. NEW YORK WINS
  • Minnesota @ Seattle: The Seahawks put their recent struggles (if you can call winning ugly struggling) behind them with an easy win in week 10.  That while the Vikings picked up their 1st win since week 3 on Thursday Night.  Adrian Peterson has looked better the last two, but it’s not going to be enough against Seattle’s defense.  Not to mention the hawks crazy good running back of their own. SEATTLE WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Kansas City @ Denver: Talk about a must-see match-up.  The top 2 teams in the West flexed out the Packers/Giants game and for good reason.  A combined 17-1, this battle will be key for the number 1 seed in the AFC.  And it’s only their 1st match-up. The Broncos offense is far superior to the Chiefs, while KC has the edge defensively.  Peyton Manning is banged up (ankles) but will be under center.  As good as the Chiefs have been defensively, the Broncos are far more balanced, and this being a home game, to me, this means a tie atop the division come early Monday morning. DENVER WINS

Monday Night Football

  • New England @ Carolina: I know Sunday Night is probably the biggest game, but this to me, is the most intriguing.  The Patriots are starting to round into shape, while the Panthers are maybe the hottest team in the league.  New England has been shutdown a couple times this season by defenses similar to Carolina’s but not as good as the Panthers have been.  I think Cam Newton and company can run over this team with a little help from their shutdown D. If this were a home game for the Pats, I might pick differently.  But it’s not. CAROLINA WINS

The match-ups to get you started and finish you off aren’t necessarily what you’d hope, but it’s still football. So enjoy.