Ouch. Last week was my first below .500 week of predictions of the season and the worst since Week 2. I don’t have a good answer for why they went awry. I didn’t expect the Redskins to upset the Broncos or the Packers to upset the Cowboys. I also didn’t expect the Colts to beat the Patriots, and if it weren’t for a boneheaded call by Bill Belichick or a fourth-quarter collapse by New England, I wouldn’t have lost that pick. I can’t argue, though, because the Patriots are my No. 2 on my list of least favorite teams (probably shouldn’t have to mention which team is No. 1). Other games I missed last week were San Diego over Philadelphia, Kansas City over Oakland, Cincinnati over Pittsburgh (who would’ve thought the Steelers would lose at home?), Jacksonville over the Jets, and Carolina over Atlanta. Hopefully, Week 11 goes much better.
Here’s a look at this week’s matchups and how I think they’ll play out.
Full predictions will come Saturday.
Last Week: 7-8
This Week: 12-4
Miami Dolphins (4-5) at Carolina Panthers (4-5)
I’m not sure what has been the difference between the Panthers’ first three games — all losses — and their last six games — where they’ve compiled a 4-2 mark. What I do know is that they’ve been playing much better and have home field advantage in this Thursday night matchup. The Dolphins run the Wildcat well and it’s given them the No. 4 rushing offense in the league. Carolina is No. 25 at defending the run, so that could give them problems. But I like the Panthers to control the tempo of the game better with the crowd behind them.
Prediction: Carolina 24, Miami 20
Actual Score: Miami 24, Carolina 17
Indianapolis Colts (9-0) at Baltimore Ravens (5-4)
The Ravens looked good on Monday night, but that was against the woeful Browns. The Colts should still be riding high after their comeback win against the Patriots and I like them to stay undefeated here.
Prediction: Indianapolis 23, Baltimore 20
Actual Score: Indianapolis 17, Baltimore 15
Washington Redskins (3-6) at Dallas Cowboys (6-3)
NFC East games are usually entertaining to watch, but this features the division’s worst at the division’s best. I think the Cowboys have been playing well lately and should pull away from the ‘Skins eventually.
Prediction: Dallas 27, Washington 17
Actual Score: Dallas 7, Washington 6
Cleveland Browns (1-8) at Detroit Lions (1-8)
Granted, the Ravens defense is much better than the Lions’, but the Browns spent nearly all game with the ball on their own half of the field Monday night. Detroit, although possessing just one victory, have played better than a one-win team for the most part.
Prediction: Detroit 20, Cleveland 17
Actual Score: Detroit 38, Cleveland 37
San Francisco 49ers (4-5) at Green Bay Packers (5-4)
The 49ers ended their four-game losing streak against the Bears and have had a few days extra to prepare for the Packers, but I like the way Green Bay played against Dallas and I don’t think San Francisco matches up at Lambeau Field.
Prediction: Green Bay 24, San Francisco 20
Actual Score: Green Bay 30, San Francisco 24
Buffalo Bills (3-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars (5-4)
A change at head coach isn’t going to help this Bills team play better on the field. I’m not a fan of the Jaguars’ overall talent, but they’ve been playing well enough lately to win at home in this one.
Prediction: Jacksonville 28, Buffalo 16
Actual Score: Jacksonville 18, Buffalo 15
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (2-7)
I was surprised that the Steelers lost at home against the Bengals, breaking a string of home victories that dated back to last year. But I’d be shocked if they fell to the Chiefs. Kansas City just doesn’t have enough firepower to keep up with the Steelers.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 24, Kansas City 16
Actual Score: Kansas City 27, Pittsburgh 24
Seattle Seahawks (3-6) at Minnesota Vikings (8-1)
Simply put, the Vikings are one of the best teams in the league and will not lose at home. They should cruise in this one.
Prediction: Minnesota 30, Seattle 13
Actual Score: Minnesota 35, Seattle 9
Atlanta Falcons (5-4) at New York Giants (5-4)
Which team’s slide is more surprising? I’m having trouble figuring that out. I still like the Giants’ defense, even though they’ve struggled, to stop the Falcons at home.
Prediction: New York Giants 24, Atlanta 23
Actual Score: New York Giants 34, Atlanta 31
New Orleans Saints (9-0) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8)
I thought the Saints would blow out the Rams last week and they only won by five, so I’m not willing to guarantee anything here. But the Saints should win pretty easy.
Prediction: New Orleans 34, Tampa Bay 20
Actual Score: New Orleans 38, Tampa Bay 7
Arizona Cardinals (6-3) at St. Louis Rams (1-8)
The Cardinals have been a terrific road team and the Rams just aren’t very good, even though they hung with the Saints last week. I like Arizona to stretch its division lead.
Prediction: Arizona 27, St. Louis 20
Actual Score: Arizona 21, St. Louis 13
San Diego Chargers (6-3) at Denver Broncos (6-3)
This has become a fun rivalry the past few years, but it won’t be Philip Rivers against Jay Cutler anymore. Instead, it’ll be Rivers vs. Kyle Orton, or Chirs Simms if Orton can’t go because of his ankle injury. Either quarterback doesn’t match up well with Rivers. The Broncos won the last matchup, but I like the Chargers in this one.
Prediction: San Diego 24, Denver 20
Actual Score: San Diego 32, Denver 3
New York Jets (4-5) at New England Patriots (6-3)
I’d be willing to bet the Patriots will make sure they put up a big enough lead and do everything they can to secure it to avoid a letdown and any type of a comeback like what the Colts did to them last week. Jets coach Rex Ryan can cry, but I don’t know if it’s enough motivation to get his team to upset the Pats.
Prediction: New England 27, New York Jets 17
Actual Score: New England 31, New York Jets 14
Cincinnati Bengals (7-2) at Oakland Raiders (2-7)
The Bengals waltzed into Heinz Field last week and upset the Steelers. I can’t see them failing to do the same in Oakland against a bad Raiders team.
Prediction: Cincinnati 28, Oakland 13
Actual Score: Oakland 20, Cincinnati 17
Philadelphia Eagles (5-4) at Chicago Bears (4-5)
Until I see better defense and less turnovers on offense from the Bears, I can’t predict them to beat anybody but the league’s worst — because, truth be told, aside from the victory over the Steelers in Week 2, they haven’t beaten anybody but the league’s worst.
Prediction: Philadelphia 24, Chicago 20
Actual Score: Philadelphia 24, Chicago 20
Tennessee Titans (3-6) at Houston Texans (5-4)
The Titans say they have a mission and that’s to win out and make the playoffs after starting 0-6. Never going to happen, but you have to admire the fight they still have in them. It won’t be an easy game against a pretty good Texans team, though. The Titans may be able to run the football, but they’re second-to-last against the pass, and the Texans are one of the best passing teams in football.
Prediction: Houston 27, Tennessee 20
Actual Score: Tennessee 20, Houston 17