Philadelphia’s tie vs. Cincinnati, Rian Lindell’s missed field against Cleveland, and my failed upset pick of the Chiefs over the Saints put a damper on my Week 11 predictions. This week’s Thursday night game should be a lock, but come back on Saturday for my full predictions for the week.
Here’s a look at this week’s matchups and how I think they’ll play out.
Originally published Nov. 20 at 7 p.m.
Last Week: 10-5
This Week: 10-6
Cincinnati Bengals (1-8-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3)
Not much of a divisional rivalry in this game. It’s worst meets first as the 1-win Bengals face one of the best teams in the league… on the road in Pittsburgh on top of it. The Steelers should win this one rather easily.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 23, Cincinnati 13
Actual Score: Pittsburgh 27, Cincinnati 10
Philadelphia (5-4-1) at Baltimore (6-4)
The Eagles lost — actually, it was a tie, but since it was against the Bengals, it’s as bad as a loss — to a woeful Cincinnati team and now face a much better Ravens team on the road. The Eagles’ only shot at winning this game is if their defense contains the Ravens’ offense. If not, they’re in trouble.
Prediction: Baltimore 20, Philadelphia 16
Actual Score: Baltimore 36, Philadelphia 7
Houston (3-7) at Cleveland (4-6)
The Browns continue to irritate me with their unpredictability. They should have lost last week if it weren’t for a Rian Lindell missed field goal. Nevertheless, I think Brady Quinn keeps his guys rolling against a Texans team that can’t get their act together.
Prediction: Cleveland 24, Houston 21
Actual Score: Houston 16, Cleveland 6
Tampa Bay (7-3) at Detroit (0-10)
The Buccaneers’ backfield is banged up with Earnest Graham on IR and Warrick Dunn hobbled by a bad back, but this Lions run defense is worst in the league. I think the Buccaneers do this the old fashioned way with a ball control offense and solid defense.
Prediction: Tampa Bay 26, Detroit 16
Actual Score: Tampa Bay 38, Detroit 20
Buffalo (5-5) at Kansas City (1-9)
The Bills have lost four in a row and have gone from first to worst in the AFC East. The Chiefs, meanwhile, have also lost their last four games but have looked much better in doing so. I think this is the game they pick up their second victory.
Prediction: Kansas City 24, Buffalo 20
Actual Score: Buffalo 54, Kansas City 31
Chicago (5-5) at St. Louis (2-8)
The Rams are 24th against the pass and 29th against the run, so the Bears should be able to move the ball with ease this week. Matt Forte should have a big game on the ground and be among the leaders in receptions as well. St. Louis averages just 14 points per game while it gives up 31 points per game — worst in the NFL. If the Bears can’t win this one, they have bigger problems than expected.
Prediction: Chicago 30, St. Louis 17
Actual Score: Chicago 27, St. Louis 3
New York Jets (7-3) at Tennessee (10-0)
The Jets are the first of three remaining opponents who have a good shot at handing the Titans their first loss. If they can’t beat them this week, the Titans might not lose until Week 16 against Pittsburgh because they face Detroit, Cleveland, and Houston over the course of the next three weeks. I’d like to see the winless Lions have a shot at giving the Titans their first loss, otherwise, what good will next week’s Turkey Day game be? However, I think the Jets get the job done here with their No. 4 run defense and their No. 2 scoring offense.
Prediction: New York Jets 23, Tennessee 21
Actual Score: New York Jets 34, Tennessee 13
New England (6-4) at Miami (6-4)
It seems so long ago that the Dolphins trounced the Patriots, 38-13. I have a feeling it’ll be much closer this time and I have a hard time believing that the Dolphins will beat Bill Belichick’s team twice in one year.
Prediction: New England 20, Miami 17
Actual Score: New England 48, Miami 28
Minnesota (5-5) at Jacksonville (4-6)
The Jaguars have been one of the most up-and-down teams of the year, but they still have one of the most talented rosters despite their 4-6 record. They’re 20th in the league against the run, so Adrian Peterson could cause problems. But I don’t think Minnesota will win this one on the road.
Prediction: Jacksonville 20, Minnesota 17
Actual Score: Minnesota 30, Jacksonville 12
San Francisco (3-7) at Dallas (6-4)
I had a flashback the other day to the 90s when a San Francisco versus Dallas game was the most memorable game of the week. It could be that way again if the 49ers were to pull off a huge upset, but even though they’ve been playing better under Mike Singletary, I just don’t see an upset in the cards.
Prediction: Dallas 24, San Francisco 20
Actual Score: Dallas 35, San Francisco 22
Oakland (2-8) at Denver (6-4)
I think Denver should cruise to a victory in this one. Oakland may keep it close, but I don’t think they can pull off an upset.
Prediction: Denver 24, Oakland 17
Actual Score: Oakland 31, Denver 10
Carolina (8-2) at Atlanta (6-4)
This is one of the two late afternoon games I’ll have on this week — the Giants-Cardinals game is the other — because it should be a hotly contested NFC South battle. The biggest hurdle for the Falcons to overcome is their poor run defense facing the No. 6 rushing offense from Carolina, averaging 133 yards per game on the ground. The combo of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams combined for 250 yards on the ground last week against the Lions. I can’t give a reason why, but I believe the Falcons will knock off the lead dog.
Prediction: Atlanta 21, Carolina 20
Actual Score: Atlanta 45, Carolina 28
New York Giants (9-1) at Arizona (7-3)
A battle between the two highest scoring teams in the league. What more can today’s NFL fan ask for? The Giants may be without Plaxico Burress, who is questionable for the game. This game features strength against strength as the Cardinals, who pass the ball well, face the Giants’ No. 2 pass defense, and the Giants’ strong ground game will face the Cardinals’ No. 7 run defense. I think the Giants’ ability to defend the run may give them the advantage here.
Prediction: New York Giants 27, Arizona 23
Actual Score: New York Giants 37, Arizona 29
Washington (6-4) at Seattle (2-8)
This is a rematch of last year’s NFC Wild Card game, but whereas the Redskins have become a more efficient team, the Seahawks have completely fallen off the map. I think with or without Clinton Portis — who is questionable with a knee injury — the Redskins walk out of Seattle with a victory.
Prediction: Washington 21, Seattle 17
Actual Score: Washington 20, Seattle 17
Indianapolis (6-4) at San Diego (4-6)
Yet another great Sunday night matchup, this one will come down to whether or not the Colts can stop LaDainian Tomlinson or if the Chargers can stop Peyton Manning. The Colts are 25th against the run and the Chargers are dead-last at stopping the pass. I think the home field advantage swings the edge to the Chargers, although Ron Rivera hasn’t had success defending Manning.
Prediction: San Diego 24, Indianapolis 21
Actual Score: Indianapolis 23, San Diego 20
Green Bay (5-5) at New Orleans (5-5)
If Reggie Bush plays, I think the Saints have an easier time winning this game, but his return doesn’t look so good. The Packers’ secondary has been arguably the best defensive backfield this year as three of their defensive backs are in the Top 4 in interceptions, and their defense has had an uncanny ability to score points off turnovers. Green Bay is No. 3 in the league against the pass. In order to win this game, Drew Brees will have to take care of the ball, something he hasn’t done very well up to this point. He’s second behind just Brett Favre with 11 interceptions thrown.
Prediction: Green Bay 28, New Orleans 24
Actual Score: New Orleans 51, Green Bay 29