Week 11 Matchup Predictions
Dolphins (4-5) @ Bills (3-6): The Dolphins had their first loss by more than three points last week, and it came at home against a Titans team that had just been whooped by 31 in Tennessee. The Bills are coming off of a tight loss to the Patriots, in which they had a shot at winning the game late, but Ryan Fitzpatrick threw his lone interception of the game at the worst possible time. I picked the Dolphins to win last week because I thought their 5th ranked run defense would shut down Chris Johnson, but they didn't even come close to containing CJ2K. Looking back on their schedule, the Dolphins haven't played against a top ten rushing team since Week 1, so maybe their ranking of 5th against the run is a bit misleading. After last week's awful performance, I say the Dolphins can't handle CJ Spiller and his ridiculous 7.3 yards per carry in Buffalo this week.
Bills win 24-20.
Cardinals (4-5) @ Falcons (8-1): The Cardinals have now lost five straight after starting the season 4-0. The Falcons, on the other hand, nearly maintained perfection through Week 10, and would have if not for Roddy White misjudging a beautifully thrown game-winning touchdown pass. The best way to take advantage of the Falcons is to run the football. They give up 4.9 yards per carry (30th in the league) and it keeps Matt Ryan off the field. However, the Cardinals can't run the football. The Cardinals' defense is good, but not nearly good enough to make up for their offense's inefficiencies against the high powered Falcons.
Falcons win 31-17.
Browns (2-7) @ Cowboys (4-5): The Browns just can't do much of anything these days. They throw the ball for 5.7 yards per attempt (26th in the league) and run the ball at 3.9 per carry (19th). Their defense is ranked 22nd in passing and 27th in rushing. The Cowboys are looking to put back to back wins together for the first time this season, and they'll have a chance to do so at home. Though the Cowboys are only 1-2 at home this season, their 8th ranked defense will give the Browns enough problems for Romo and company to get the victory.
Cowboys win 23-10.
Packers (6-3) @ Lions (4-5): The Lions have been extremely disappointing this season, but they have two things working strongly in their favor for this week's matchup against the Packers: they're playing indoors at their home field, and the Packers won't have Clay Matthews (out, hamstring). The Packers don't have more than 2.5 sacks from any player aside from Matthews, so Matt Stafford should be able to take his time in the pocket and deliver deep shots down field. Aaron Rodgers hasn't been tearing through defenses as of late, and he'll face the Lions' 9th ranked pass defense in Detroit this week. All that being said, I'm very hesitantly going with the upset.
Lions win 30-28.
Bengals (4-5) @ Chiefs (1-8): The Chiefs shocked everyone who actually watched Monday night's game against the Steelers, making the Steelers play some overtime football before getting their victory. However, that was a sloppy, rainy game, and Ben Roethlisberger missed most of the second half due to injury. In addition, the reason the Chiefs usually struggle is because of turnovers, but forcing turnovers isn't the Steelers' style (30th in takeaways). Now playing the Bengals (12th in takeaways), I expect the Chiefs to return to their beautifully balanced turnover distribution (15 interceptions, 15 lost fumbles), and for Andy Dalton to come in with great confidence from his dominant performance against the Super Bowl champion Giants last week.
Bengals win 24-13.
Jets (3-6) @ Rams (3-5-1): The Jets are, once again, turning into a mess. You've got dozens of unnamed players saying Tim Tebow is terrible, while Shonn Greene is essentially calling Mark Sanchez terrible, when Greene is pretty terrible himself. The Jets' offense was an embarrassment last week. The only two times they got the ball past Seattle's 40-yard line, they turned the ball over. The Rams have a surprisingly strong defense with a great young pass rush led by Robert Quinn and Chris Long. Excluding games against the Packers and Patriots, the Rams only give up 19.3 points per game. The biggest question for the Rams is - can they score enough to win? With a solid rushing attack led by Steven Jackson facing the Jets' 30th ranked run defense, I'll say yes.
Rams win 20-17.
Eagles (3-6) @ Redskins (3-6): Most people probably had this game marked on their calendars as a matchup between two of the most athletic quarterbacks in the league, but thanks to Michael Vick's concussion, it has become a matchup between the two NFC East rookie quarterbacks. Robert Griffin III has the clear cut advantage over Nick Foles, who is making his first career start, but RG3 will be throwing into a far superior secondary to what Foles will be faced with. The fact that RG3 has only thrown three interceptions all season has me leaning towards the Redskins, but I'm not sure if his receivers are talented enough to move the ball on the Eagles' talented secondary. What I think I'll go with is the Redskins winning the turnover battle significantly, giving them more short field opportunities and capitalizing on them.
Redskins win 27-23.
Buccaneers (5-4) @ Panthers (2-7): Cam Newton pulled out a nice victory in Washington two weeks ago, but went back to struggling when he faced a decent secondary. Fortunately for Cam, the Bucs secondary is pretty terrible too - in fact, their pass defense is ranked last in the NFL. However, Cam could only put up 21 points on the Redskins and their 30th ranked pass defense. Cam may be able to put together a solid game, but Josh Freeman is slinging that football as well as he ever has, and Doug Martin is turning into a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate. The Panthers lost to the Bucs in Week 1 when Freeman and Martin weren't playing half as well as they are now.
Buccaneers win 34-24.
Jaguars (1-8) @ Texans (8-1): The records pretty much say it all. The Texans - one lousy game away from a perfect record - and the Jaguars - one surprisingly solid performance away from the perfect imperfection. These teams played in Week 2, and the Texans ran the ball for 99 more yards than the Jaguars had of total offense. The Texans aren't playing any worse, and the Jaguars aren't playing any better. On top of that, the first game was in Jacksonville, and this game is in Houston.
Texans win 28-10.
Chargers (4-5) @ Broncos (6-3): Remember what happened last time these two faced off? The Chargers took a nice 24-0 lead into the half, then got blasted 35-0 in the second half to lose 35-24. This time, Peyton won't get his offense to a slow start, and fluky special teams turnovers won't give the Chargers short field opportunities. However, Philip Rivers won't throw three fourth quarter interceptions again, so the score won't be that different.
Broncos win 35-20.
Colts (6-3) @ Patriots (6-3): Who would have thought that in Week 11 Andrew Luck and Tom Brady would be going head to head with the same record? Luck has been incredible this season, and while I don't at all believe he's the league's MVP, I can see where people are coming from when making an argument for him. What this game comes down to, however, is Andrew Luck keeping up with Tom Brady in Tom Brady's house. The Colts' and Patriots' defenses have given up the same exact amount of points this season, but Brady runs the league's highest scoring offense, while Luck is behind center for the 22nd highest scoring offense. Some day, Luck will scare Brady and have his shot at taking him down, but not yet.
Patriots win 38-27.
Ravens (8-2) @ Steelers (6-3): I would have gone with a Steelers in a heartbeat if Ben Roethlisberger were playing in this one, but with Byron Leftwich behind center, it becomes much more difficult. The Ravens are a completely different team outside of Baltimore, averaging 36.8 points at home, but only 17.5 on the road. However, the Steelers will be playing their first game without Big Ben, which leaves Byron Leftwich - who hasn't started a game since 2009 - as their signal caller. While both of these teams have become aerial threats that can put points on the board, I'm thinking this will be more of an old school Ravens-Steelers defensive battle due to it being in Pittsburgh and Big Ben being hurt. Because of that, I'm picking the team with the top ranked pass defense and top ranked total defense.
Steelers win 17-13.
Bears (7-2) @ 49ers (6-2-1): I think I'd usually go with the Bears in this matchup, but with no Jay Cutler (out, concussion), it's a whole different story. Jason Campbell is a fine game manager, but he's far too conservative and the Bears gave him very few opportunities to push the ball downfield after he replaced Cutler last week. The 49ers, who give up only 3.7 yards per carry, will force the Bears to put the game in Campbell's hands. The 49ers ultra efficient offense won't turnover the ball to give the Bears the short field opportunities that they usually receive, so there will be a ton of pressure on Campbell to sustain long scoring drives without turning the ball over. If he's conservative, he won't be able to move the ball, but if he's aggressive, he'll be overwhelmed by the 49ers' defense and likely end up giving the ball away.
49ers win 24-16.