NFL: Week 11 Predictions

Posted: November 13, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

sprolesHome cooking has been delectably sweet for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014. With a record of 5-0 at Lincoln Financial Field, the Eagles have met and exceeded every expectation of the pundits and the fans. After their 45-21, Monday night massacre of the Carolina Panthers, Mark Sanchez and Co. are riding high and on top of the NFC East. This despite ranking second to last in the NFL in turnover ratio and red zone percentage.

Sanchez, tossed to the wolves by the New York Jets and the Big Apple media, has reestablished himself as a perfect fit for Chip Kelly’s high tempo offense. The 2009 1st round pick is more mobile than Nick Foles, while still possessing the poise and moxie than helped him lead the Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship Games earlier in his career. He, along with Darren Sproles (who scored two touchdowns Monday) and Jordan Matthews (two of his own) have proven to be critical offseason pickups as the Eagles continue to fly along without the maligned DeSean Jackson.

Perhaps the most surprising improvement Philadelphia has made this season is in their pass rush. The Eagles are now atop the league in sacks, a fact thought impossible prior to the season, especially with rookie 1st round pick Marcus Smith II held to goose eggs in that category. Conor Barwin (10.5 sacks) and Trent Cole (4.5) leading the way, Philadelphia’s defense continues to wreak havoc on opposing teams. They’re still susceptible to the big play. But, the Eagles’ improvement in that facet of the game is a real testament to Howie Roseman and Bill Davis.

This week, the Eagles will face their stiffest test yet as they travel to the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field for a battle with the rodgerspackGreen Bay Packers. At 6-3, the Pack are resting right outside the playoff field. But, Aaron Rodgers is coming off of a 6-touchdown performance, and Green Bay’s offensive balance has gotten much more equal as the season has gone on. While Philly’s run defense has been brilliant, stopping the burly Eddie Lacy is a task best left to imagination.

With weapons like Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Jarrett Boykin, Rodgers will have plenty of tools with which to dissect the Eagles’ defense. Meanwhile, Green Bay’s defensive unit had a field day in their blowout win against Chicago. But, that’s not to say that they’re without serious flaw. The Packers’ run defense has ranked in the bottom-3 for most of the season, and that’s unlikely to improve against the Eagles’ running attack and healthy offensive line.

In the end, this promises to be yet another exciting matchup involving Philadelphia. Hence why the game was flexed by Fox into their America’s Game of the Week slot at 4:15 PM. After going with the Eagles all season, Skood Sports is finally siding with the bad guys. While I think the Eagles could win this game, going on the road and beating Aaron Rodgers is something few teams do. It’s also something Philadelphia has never done.

Line: Packers -6.5
Prediction: Packers, 34-30

Now, on to the rest of week 11…

Last Week: 5-8
Best Pick: Dallas, 31-17
2014 Season: 67-60

Buffalo Bills (5-4) AT Miami Dolphins (5-4) – Dolphins -4.5

Prediction: Dolphins, 24-17. I have zero faith in Buffalo’s offense, on a short week, to come up with anything resembling and NFL gameplan. The Bills under Kyle Orton have become very hit-or-miss. Meanwhile, the Dolphins may be hitting their stride at the right time. Despite a tough loss last week, Miami can be right in the thick of the AFC playoff race with a win at home.

Minnesota Vikings (4-5) AT Chicago Bears (3-6) – Chicago -3.5

Prediction: Vikings, 24-21. Remind me again why Chicago is favored here? The Bears have looked like cubs for basically the entire season. They’re also pathetic at home (0-3) and facing a Vikings team coming off of their bye week. Give me Teddy Bridgewater over Jay Cutler as Marc Trestman’s Chicago career continues to go down the tubes.

Houston Texans (4-5) AT Cleveland Browns (6-3) – Browns -3.5

Prediction: Browns, 26-20. Cleveland is 4-1 at home this season. They’re also facing a QB in Ryan Mallett who is making his first career start. That doesn’t bode well for the Texans, who need to win to keep their playoff hopes alive. A banged up Arian Foster will get some vigor back in his legs after their bye week. But, it probably won’t be enough.

Seattle Seahawks (6-3) AT Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) – Chiefs -2

Prediction: Seahawks, 19-14. This is a classic, old school battle of two teams with impenetrable defenses and fierce running games. A lot of pundits are drinking the Kansas City Kool-Aid, and not only because Andy Reid looks like the Kool-Aid man in his red Chiefs’ jumpsuit. I like both of these teams. But, I think Russell Wilson is going to be the difference in what should be a stellar affair.

Atlanta Falcons (3-6) AT Carolina Panthers (3-6-1) – Falcons -1

Prediction: Falcons, 28-25. There’s nothing pretty about the 2014 NFC South. A pair of teams with 3 wins after 10 weeks are still right in the thick of things. The sad part is that one of these also-rans is going to host a playoff game against a team with a better record. Regardless, neither of these teams can afford another loss in the division, and after watching Cam Newton last week against Philadelphia, I cannot bring myself to pick the Panthers any time soon.

Cincinnati Bengals (5-3-1) AT New Orleans Saints (4-5) – Saints -7.5

Prediction: Bengals, 33-24. The Saints’ defense didn’t look as bad as it typically does against a 49ers team without a game breaking receiver. That will change this week, when the Bengals will look to avenge a pathetic offensive performance behind AJ Green. If Andy Dalton doesn’t come to play for the second consecutive game, it’s panic time for Marvin Lewis.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8) AT Washington Redskins (3-6) – Redskins -7.5

Prediction: Redskins, 36-20. Typically, I make it a point not to pick the Washington Redskins to cover, especially when it’s over 6.5 points. However, Tampa Bay has redefined the definition of “tomato can.” They can’t run. They can’t pass. They can’t defend. It might be one-and-done for Lovie Smith in Tampa, who haven’t been competitive in half-a-decade.

Denver Broncos (7-2) AT St. Louis Rams (3-6) – Broncos -10

Prediction: Broncos, 34-17. The Rams are going back to veteran QB Shaun Hill after two months starting rookie Austin Davis. That won’t make much of a difference against Denver, who will continue to prey on lesser opponents until Peyton Manning and Co. inevitably meet Tom Brady and the Patriots in January.

San Francisco 49ers (5-4) AT New York Giants (3-6) – 49ers -4.5

Prediction: 49ers, 23-20. New York hasn’t won in a month and their season rests on the line this week. Tom Coughlin’s career might, as well. If the Giants are to have any hope, they’ll have to run the ball. The return of Rashad Jennings should help. Still, the 49ers are the better team; and even though they’ll be travelling across the country for this one, they’ll still be in fine shape come Sunday night.

Oakland Raiders (0-9) AT San Diego Chargers (5-4) – Chargers -10.5

riverspPrediction: Chargers, 35-21. It’s been a month now since San Diego was everyone’s flavor of the week. Three losses later, and they seem to have been forgotten in the myriad of AFC contenders. I still think that San Diego is talented enough to make noise if they get to the tournament. Tomato cans like Oakland shouldn’t stand in their way. Another blowout on Sunday and the Raiders continue to inch closer to 0-16.

Detroit Lions (7-2) AT Arizona Cardinals (8-1) – Cardinals -1

Prediction: Lions, 20-17. Neither of these two contenders are without flaw. Arizona’s became magnified with Carson Palmer’s season ending torn-ACL. This promises to be a great, defensive battle between two clubs who still draw skepticism from the pundits. It’s a coin flip in my eyes.

New England Patriots (7-2) AT Indianapolis Colts (6-3) – Colts -2.5

Prediction: Patriots, 27-24. The Patriots come into this game underdogs for the second consecutive affair. While Andrew Luck may be having the best season of his career, beating New England’s improving defense will take a Brady-like performance. Speaking of Brady, the Patriots’ veteran QB has put together two months of stellar play. Two more months of vintage Tommy and the Pats should be hosting the AFC Championship Game in January.

Indianapolis Colts v New England Patriots

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) AT Tennessee Titans (2-7) – Steelers -6.5

Prediction: Steelers, 27-17. Pittsburgh’s offense isn’t nearly as good as it looked against Baltimore. They’re also not as bad as they appeared in New York. Ben Roethlisberger’s ability to avoid the pass rush has kept him upright for years. He shouldn’t have too much to worry about in Tennessee, where the hapless Titans will look to avoid another mediocre performance in front of their home crowd.

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