NFL Week 11 Preview

After a very poor slate of games in Week 10 (including the two top games of the week resulting in absolute blowouts), we finally get a bunch of great games and the game of the year.  This week there are 6 teams on a bye: Patriots, Jets, Bills, Dolphins, 49ers, and Browns.  After going 8-6 last week, we’re looking at a perfect 13-0 this week.

13.  Oakland Raiders (1-8) @ Arizona Cardinals (2-7) – 4:05 PM Sunday on CBS

Vegas Odds: Cardinals -4.5, O/U 40.5

In a week where we get the best game of the year, we also get the worst game of the year.  With these two teams battling for the top pick in next year’s draft, the winner of this game may end up kicking themselves for doing so.  The Raiders look like the worst team in football, getting demolished week in and week out.  The offense is non-existent and the players just seem to not care.  The Cardinals, on the other hand, have been improving lately.  Arizona played the Chiefs surprisingly tough and despite losing by 12, the defense was able to keep the Chiefs offense in check by only giving up 26 points on the road.  For a bad Cardinals team, it was a great performance and the best defensive performance by a team against the Chiefs all season.  The Cardinals are going to win this game and will effectively end their chances at getting the 1st Overall Pick in the 2019 draft.

Cardinals 20 – Raiders 10

12.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6) @ New York Giants (2-7) – 1 PM Sunday on FOX

Vegas Odds: Giants -1.5, O/U 52.5

The Giants return home following an impressive win over the 49ers on Monday night.  Despite it coming against the 49ers, the Giants came back from 10 down in the  2nd half and Eli Manning orchestrated an impressive 2 minute drill to win it for the Giants.  Tampa Bay, on the other hand, is coming off of a dud against Washington despite Ryan Fitzpatrick going over 400 yards passing.  With both of these teams just playing out the remainder of their seasons with big questions about their futures at quarterback, look for this to be a bit of a shootout.  Manning and Fitzpatrick both have nothing to lose and neither of these defenses should impose much fear to either team.  Last week I said don’t ever doubt Fitzmagic and I still don’t doubt him.  Fitzpatrick and OJ Howard have a field day against the Giants, but the presence of Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. will be too much for even Fitzmagic to overcome.

Giants 30 – Bucs 28

11.  Cincinnati Bengals (5-4) @ Baltimore Ravens (4-5) – 1 PM Sunday on CBS

Vegas Odds: NO LINE

There is no line set for this game at this point because there are major question marks as to who will be starting at quarterback for the Ravens.  With Joe Flacco dealing with a hip injury, Lamar Jackson looks like he could possibly get his first NFL start.  The Ravens are non-committal, however, as they refuse to say if Jackson will start or if Robert Griffin III will jump Jackson on the depth chart.  I expect Lamar Jackson to get his first start this week as the Ravens try to turn their offense around.  The Bengals are also dealing with turmoil, as the offense looks completely dead with AJ Green on the sideline.  The Bengals defense looks even worse as they gave up 35 in the first half to the Saints at home.  Teryl Austin is no longer in charge of the defense and Hue Jackson somehow has another job in the NFL as he is now an Assistant Coach for the Bengals offense.  While the Ravens are currently a mess, the Bengals look much worse.  If Jackson starts, this won’t be close but the Ravens will win this game either way.

Ravens 27 – Bengals 17

10.  Carolina Panthers (6-3) @ Detroit Lions (3-6) – 1 PM Sunday on FOX

Vegas Odds: Panthers -4, O/U 51

Detroit has just been beaten up badly over the past 2 weeks, specifically Matt Stafford.  The pass rushers of the Vikings and Bears got sack after sack against Stafford, who doesn’t have any time to throw the ball.  The Lions thought they would be buyers at the deadline, trading for Damon Harrison, but ended up as sellers, giving Golden Tate to the Eagles.  This was a good move for the Lions, as they are clearly the weakest team in the suddenly loaded NFC North, but it will still hurt the Detroit fans having to see yet another year of Matt Stafford wasted.  The Panthers have looked like the 3rd best team in the NFC this season and they have been rolling lately.  That is until their visit to Pittsburgh where they were completely blown out of the water.  The Lions are not even close to the same talent level as the Steelers, however, and the Panthers should have no issues this week.  Greg Olsen looks healthy, DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel give Cam Newton two explosive weapons on the outside, and Christian McCaffrey looks like a legitimate #1 running back.  Look for the Panthers to get back to their winning ways this week.

Panthers 31 – Lions 16

9.  Denver Broncos (3-6) @ Los Angeles Chargers (7-2) – 4:05 PM Sunday on CBS

Vegas Odds: Chargers -7, O/U 46.5

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The Chargers have been perfect this season if you takeaway their games against the Rams and Chiefs, two of the three best teams in the NFL.  Aside from those games, it’s hard to find a game in which the Chargers have struggled in.  Melvin Gordon is having his best season to date and Phillip Rivers has only turned the ball over 4 times this season.  Defensively, the Chargers have given up less than 20 points in each of their past 5 games.  Aside from the Chiefs, the Chargers have looked like the team that is best equipped to take down the class of the AFC in the Patriots.  The Broncos have had yet another disappointing season and Vance Joseph is squarely on the hot seat.  John Elway has not given Joseph any help whatsoever, as his drafting has missed on all levels and he has not been able to find an answer at quarterback (besides 2 great seasons of Peyton Manning).  Does Joseph deserve all of the blame?  Certainly not, but he will be the fall guy unless Denver can start turning things around.  After trading away Demaryius Thomas and removing a weapon from an already struggling Case Keenum, the Broncos will have a tough time keeping this game close.  The Chargers stay right on the tails of the Chiefs after winning this divisional matchup.

Chargers 34 – Broncos 17

8.  Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2-1) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6) – 1 PM Sunday on CBS

Vegas Odds: Steelers -5.5, O/U 47

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This game was circled on so many calendars before the season began and was even slated to be this week’s Sunday Night game.  Now?  The game is bundled with 6 other games at 1 PM and will predominantly only be seen by the local markets.  After winning in Pittsburgh twice last season, the Jaguars are almost a touchdown underdog at home with basically the same team as last year and Pittsburgh playing without Leveon Bell.  Jacksonville can’t seem to get out of their own way and it looks like Doug Marrone has lost all control of this team.  Blake Bortles once again looks like a backup quarterback at best and as a result, the Jaguars have the 4th worst scoring offense in the NFL.  The defense has played well at times, but has severely underperformed all season.  It’ll be tough for the Jalen Ramsey led defense as they go against a Pittsburgh offense that has looked better this season with James Connor leading the backfield.  With Bell finally being ruled ineligible for the remainder of the season, Connor no longer has to look over his shoulder and worry about whether he will lose his job.  Connor looks like he will be playing this weekend as he recovers from a concussion.  With Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster leading the way through the air, the Steelers should win this game with ease, no?  Call me crazy, but I don’t think so.  I expect the Jaguars to work Leonard Fournette all day and keep the ball out of Bortles’ hands and the defense will force Big Ben into a few turnovers.  The Steelers are one of the hottest teams, however, and I think they barely squeak this game out.

Steelers 23 – Jaguars 20

7.  Tennessee Titans (5-4) @ Indianapolis Colts (4-5) – 1 PM Sunday on CBS

Vegas Odds: Colts -2.5, O/U 49

Both teams are right in the midst of a battle for the 6th seed in the AFC Playoffs.  Hell, they’re both right behind the Texans in the AFC South, though Houston has been playing great lately.  This isn’t necessarily a must win for either team, but the loser of this game will be dealt a huge blow to their playoff chances.  Tennessee has been led by great performances by their defense, having given up 21 points or fewer in each of their last 5 games, including only 10 last week to Tom Brady.  The problem is they are inexplicably only 2-3 in those games.  Those 2 wins have come in their last 2 games and the offense has actually shown signs of life as they may have finally turned a corner.  The Colts have been the opposite this season, having been led by an explosive offense and hindered by a struggling defense.  Andrew Luck looks like the same quarterback he was before missing last season and Marlon Mack has emerged as a very good lead back that gives the Colts what should be a balanced offense.  This hasn’t been the case much of the season, however, as the Colts have gotten too pass happy in many of their contests.  Luck has thrown the ball at least 40 times in 5 of 9 games this season.  Not surprisingly, those 5 games were all games which the Colts lost.  Those passing numbers have come as a result of the Colts playing from behind so they are a little skewed, but it is a telling stat.  The Titans defense ranks in the top 10 in both pass and rush defense, so the Colts may struggle to get the offense going.  If that happens, look for another busy day for Andrew Luck and a road win for the Titans.

Titans 31 – Colts 27

6.  Dallas Cowboys (4-5) @ Atlanta Falcons (4-5) – 1 PM Sunday on FOX

Vegas Odds: Falcons -3.5, O/U 48

The Falcons have been one of- if not the– biggest disappointment of the season and that continued last week with a disheartening loss to the Browns.  The Falcons have not looked like the same team since their run to the Super Bowl in 2016.  The defense has not excelled like it expected to under Dan Quinn, and Steve Sarkisian has been an abomination as offensive coordinator.  Julio Jones has 5 touchdowns in the past season and a half and the Falcons have completely abandoned the rushing attack since Devonta Freeman went down with foot and groin injuries.  The Cowboys, on the other hand, may have saved their season last week with a big win in Philadelphia.  Ezekiel Elliot has been getting more touches weekly and has been a more prominent figure in the passing game, already setting a career high in catches through only 9 games.  Dak Prescott has turned his game around lately too and the Cowboys are now only 2 games behind the Redskins in the NFC East.  The Cowboys are just an average team, however, and only go as far as Zeke takes them.  The presence of Amari Cooper will help keep the Cowboys from getting too one dimensional on offense, but the Falcons have too much skill to not win at home this weekend.  Does this game save the Falcons season?  Possibly, but a loss will all but end it.

Falcons 27 – Cowboys 24

5.  Green Bay Packers (4-4-1) @ Seattle Seahawks (4-5) – 8:20 PM Thursday on FOX

Vegas Odds: Seahawks -2.5, O/U 49

Like the Falcons, the Packers have been one of the more disappointing teams this season, but it is not nearly as surprising.  Aside from Aaron Rodgers, the Packers have little skill on the team but they have had some nice surprises this season.  Aaron Jones has finally taken over the role of lead back and exploded last week against the Dolphins.  Marquez Valdes-Scantling has also emerged as a legitimate #2 receiver behind Davante Adams.  The Packers have been playing very well as of late, but are still losers of 2 of their last 3 albeit those losses have come against the Rams and Patriots.  The Seahawks have been a pleasant surprise this season as most experts picked the Seahawks to finish with a top 10 draft pick after gutting the Legion of Boom.  The Seahawks have also gone back to their roots and become a heavy running team sprinkled with a few explosive plays through the air.  Tyler Lockett has been a great deep threat this season and David Moore is a red zone machine lately.  If Seattle can get Doug Baldwin going and keep it going on the ground, they can make a late run to the playoffs.  Expect this game to be a tight one as both of these teams desperately need a win.  Seattle gets the edge, however, as they are 23-5-1 in prime time games under Pete Carroll.

Seahawks 24 – Packers 20

4.  Houston Texans (6-3) @ Washington Redskins (6-3) – 1 PM Sunday on CBS

Vegas Odds: Texans -3, O/U 42.5

NFL: New York Jets at Houston Texans

I don’t think many people expected this to be a battle of first place teams yet here we are.  Houston has won 6 straight and Deshaun Watson looks like he did before going down with a torn ACL last year.  DeAndre Hopkins is the most skilled wide receiver in football, making his connection with Watson the most fun to watch every week.  The Texans also have one of the best rush defenses in the league and dare teams to beat them through the air while feeling the pressure of J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney.  The Redskins have an even better rush defense, however, so both of these teams will need to win the game through the air if they want to get anything going on offense.  The Redskins have been carried all season by Adrian Peterson and Alex Smith is keeping the turnovers to a minimum like he always does.  In a game that will see Peterson struggle to get going, though, can Alex Smith do enough to win this game at home?  This will be a low scoring game, but I don’t see Washington having the fire power to score enough to win.

Texans 17 – Redskins 6

3.  Philadelphia Eagles (4-5) @ New Orleans Saints (8-1) – 4:25 PM Sunday on FOX

Vegas Odds: Saints -8.5, O/U 55

The Eagles go on the road to face the best team in football in a game that they need to win to keep their playoff hopes alive.  The addition of Golden Tate did not help the Eagles much last week against Dallas, as they fed Zach Ertz over and over again.  The problem with that is the run game has been completely abandoned, which may not be the worst thing for this Eagles team.  Josh Adams is the new lead back for Philadelphia and he has looked decent in his few attempts.  The Eagles really miss Darren Sproles out of the backfield as another option in the pass game.  Couple him with Ertz, Tate, and Alshon Jeffrey and the Eagles have a very deep and dangerous aerial attack.  The Saints can beat you in any way they want but it typically involves them dropping a ton of points.  The Saints have scored at least 40 point FIVE times this year!  The Saints have been without a true #2 receiver all year and Mark Ingram missed the first 4 games of the season, making that feat even more impressive.  This is going to be a shootout that the Eagles just cannot win.  They don’t have the play makers to keep up with the Saints and they don’t have the running backs who can take control of the game and bleed the clock to keep the ball out of Drew Brees’ hands.

Saints 45 – Eagles 31

2.  Minnesota Vikings (5-3-1) @ Chicago Bears (6-3) – 8:20 PM Sunday on NBC

Vegas Odds: Bears -2.5, O/U 45

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The Bears are the surprise leaders of the NFC North halfway through the season, thanks to Matt Nagy breathing life into Mitchell Trubisky and Khalil Mack giving the defense an unstoppable pass rusher.  Trubisky looks nothing like the incompetent quarterback was last season, similar to Jared Goff’s improvement after the Rams fired Jeff Fisher and brought in Sean McVay.  Defensively, the Bears have forced 24 turnovers and scored on 5 of them.  Add in 30 sacks and giving up 19.4 points a game and this Bears defense looks the best its been since their Super Bowl run in 2006.  The Vikings went all in on Kirk Cousins this offseason, thinking they were only a quarterback away from the Super Bowl.  While Cousins has played well, he has not given the Vikings that edge they need to get over the top.  Minnesota had been missing a few key pieces in Dalvin Cook and Everson Griffin who have returned and the Vikings have won 4 of their last 5.  This is going to be a gritty, back and forth game that will likely come down to the last minute.  Kirk Cousins pulls an Aaron Rodgers and breaks Chicago’s hearts again.

Vikings 20 – Bears 16

1.  Kansas City Chiefs (9-1) @ Los Angeles Rams (9-1) – 8:15 PM Sunday on ESPN

Vegas Odds: Rams -3.5, O/U 63.5

No game will be more hyped than this game is.  Just when you thought this game couldn’t get more exciting or better, the NFL made the right call to move the game back to Los Angeles.  The Mexico City field is trash and the high altitudes would take away from the high powered offenses of these teams.  The Chiefs come into this game coming off arguably their worst performance of the season against the Cardinals despite winning by 12.  Patrick Mahomes has played like a star, proving the doubters wrong when the Chiefs traded away Alex Smith this offseason.  Tyreek Hill is the most exciting player Kansas City has had since Dante Hall and Kareem Hunt has proven he is a top 5 running back in the league and that his rookie season wasn’t a fluke.  With Travis Kelce performing as a top 2 tight end, the Chiefs are not at a loss for weapons.  The Rams are just as equipped as the Chiefs, although Cooper Kupp’s torn ACL is a tough break for the team.  What the Rams lack in tight end star power, they make up for elsewhere.  Todd Gurley has separated himself from the pack and is clearly the best running back in football.  Out wide, Brandin Cooks continues to show that he deserves a long term home after being traded in each of the last 2 offseasons and Robert Woods continues to impressive after moving on from Buffalo.  Both team defenses have been disappointing this season, but is anyone actually tuning into this game to watch defense?  This is the highest over/under since 1986 and this game is going to turn into what we saw in the second half of the Chiefs-Patriots game earlier this year: back and forth scoring until the end.  I’m expecting these two teams to easily go over 40 points each, we may even get to 50.  Whoever has the ball last wins this game and I think the Rams will barely squeeze this one out.  Hopefully we see this rematch in the Super Bowl.

Rams 48 – Chiefs 44

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