Week 11 was a bit quirky. I had a good week at 12-4, but it could’ve been better if not for a couple of extreme upsets. I’m not sure how the Chiefs beat the Steelers or the Raiders defeated the Bengals. The Titans have now won four in a row as they beat the Texans in Houston and I also missed last Thursday’s game as the Panthers lost to the Dolphins. Let’s hope I do better this Thursday because there’s three games to pick.
Here’s a look at this week’s matchups and how I think they’ll play out.
Full predictions will come Saturday.
Last Week: 12-4
This Week: 11-5
Green Bay Packers (6-4) at Detroit Lions (2-8)
In Week 6 at Lambeau Field, the Packers shut out the Lions, 26-0. While I don’t expect another shutout this week, I do expect the result to be just as lopsided. The Packers have played good ball since being upset by the Buccaneers three weeks ago and will be looking to exploit a Lions team that could be without Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson.
Prediction: Green Bay 31, Detroit 13
Actual Score: Green Bay 34, Detroit 12
Oakland Raiders (3-7) at Dallas Cowboys (7-3)
I don’t know how they did it, but the Raiders somehow upset the Bengals last week in Oakland. On a short week on national television, I don’t expect to pull off another one. The Cowboys didn’t not look good last week against the Redskins, but should look better in winning this game.
Prediction: Dallas 23, Oakland 14
Actual Score: Dallas 24, Oakland 7
New York Giants (6-4) at Denver Broncos (6-4)
To me, this game is tough to predict. The Broncos have dropped four straight after winning their first six, but the Giants haven’t looked good in more than a month since their schedule got tougher. I think the key to this game is Kyle Orton. He didn’t start last week but wound up getting playing time and didn’t fair too well. If he can play like he did during the Broncos’ six-game win streak, I think the Broncos pull this off at home.
Prediction: Denver 24, New York Giants 17
Actual Score: Denver 26, New York Giants 6
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-9) at Atlanta Falcons (5-5)
Atlanta actually has a statistically worse defense than Tampa Bay, but their offense is much more ineffective. I expect the Buccaneers to struggle on the road as the Falcons stay alive in the wild card chase.
Prediction: Atlanta 27, Tampa Bay 19
Actual Score: Atlanta 20, Tampa Bay 17
Miami Dolphins (5-5) at Buffalo Bills (3-7)
Even without Ronnie Brown, the Dolphins have a pretty good run game. Ricky Williams put up 119 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Panthers last week, and the Bills defense is ranked 31st against the run.
Prediction: Miami 24, Buffalo 20
Actual Score: Buffalo 31, Miami 14
Washington Redskins (3-7) at Philadelphia Eagles (6-4)
The Redskins nearly defeated the Cowboys last week, which proves either Dallas isn’t very good or the Redskins’ defense is playing well in spite of a bad offense. I think it’s more of the latter. The Redskins may have the No. 1 pass defense in the league, but I like the Eagles to tough one out at home, mostly because Washington can’t score.
Prediction: Philadelphia 23, Washington 17
Actual Score: Philadelphia 27, Washington 24
Seattle Seahawks (3-7) at St. Louis Rams (1-9)
This surely will be an ugly game pitting two of the league’s worst against one another. While the Rams are more than capable of pulling off the victory, they’ve scored the fewest points in the league this year and I don’t think their offense will keep up with Seattle.
Prediction: Seattle 24, St. Louis 17
Actual Score: Seattle 27, St. Louis 17
Carolina Panthers (4-6) at New York Jets (4-6)
Neither of these teams have played consistently enough for me to feel good about picking either of them. The Jets and Panthers are Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, in running the football, so it should be a ball-control game. They’re also Nos. 3 and 4, respectively, defending the pass. I’ve got to go with the Panthers because I’m not sold on Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.
Prediction: Carolina 22, New York Jets 20
Actual Score: New York Jets 17, Carolina 6
Cleveland Browns (1-9) at Cincinnati Bengals (7-3)
The Bengals suffered a letdown last week against the Raiders, but it won’t happen again this week. They should cruise against their cross-state rival.
Prediction: Cincinnati 27, Cleveland 14
Actual Score: Cincinnati 16, Cleveland 7
Indianapolis Colts (10-0) at Houston Texans (5-5)
This game could be a shootout between two of the league’s top passing offenses. And if that’s the case, I like the Colts in that type of game. Indy’s secondary is missing some key pieces, but I’ll take my chances on Peyton Manning to keep the streak alive.
Prediction: Indianapolis 24, Houston 21
Actual Score: Indianapolis 35, Houston 27
Kansas City Chiefs (3-7) at San Diego Chargers (7-3)
Kansas City pulled off an upset over the Steelers last week, but I don’t expect any magic this week. Although this game is being cast as a revenge game for the Chiefs’ Chris Chambers, who was cut by the Chargers a few weeks ago, I think San Diego proves why they didn’t need him.
Prediction: San Diego 27, Kansas City 17
Actual Score: San Diego 43, Kansas City 14
Jacksonville Jaguars (6-4) at San Francisco 49ers (4-6)
Aside from sneaking away with a win over the Bears, the 49ers haven’t played well since early this season. I’m not convinced that the Jaguars are legitimately worth their 6-4 record, but I don’t like San Francisco in this matchup.
Prediction: Jacksonville 20, San Francisco 17
Actual Score: San Francisco 20, Jacksonville 3
Chicago Bears (4-6) at Minnesota Vikings (9-1)
The Bears can’t stop the run, so Adrian Peterson will run all over them. They can’t rush the quarterback or defend the pass, so Brett Favre will complete passes all around them. The game plan to beat the Vikings is simple to concoct but impossible to execute. Vikings win big.
Prediction: Minnesota 37, Chicago 17
Actual Score: Minnesota 36, Chicago 10
Arizona Cardinals (7-3) at Tennessee Titans (4-6)
The Cardinals have been one of the league’s best road teams this year as they’ve won all five contests they’ve played away from home. Their best shot to keep that streak alive is to defend the Titans’ league-leading run game. The Cardinals’ No. 4 passing offense should have success moving the ball all game against the Titans’ No. 31 pass defense.
Prediction: Arizona 27, Tennessee 20
Actual Score: Tennessee 20, Arizona 17
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) at Baltimore Ravens (5-5)
It has been confirmed that Ben Roethlisberger will not play this week against the Ravens, making the Steelers a very average team this week. Their defense should keep the game close, but I like the Ravens at home.
Prediction: Baltimore 23, Pittsburgh 17
Actual Score: Baltimore 20, Pittsburgh 17
New England Patriots (7-3) at New Orleans Saints (10-0)
New England is arguably the toughest team the Saints have remaining on their schedule, which means New Orleans could be shooting to become only the second team in NFL history to finish the regular season 16-0. While I don’t think that’d happen anyway, the Patriots will make sure their 2007 season record stands untouched with a victory this week.
Prediction: New England 27, New Orleans 24
Actual Score: New Orleans 38, New England 17