Week 10 brought us the start of the Scott Tolzien Era in Green Bay, Kellen Clemens outplaying Andrew Luck in a real-life National Football League game, and victories for the previously winless Jaguars and Buccaneers. Tavon Austin had about as grand a coming-out party as any player could ask for, Rob Ryan got the last laugh against the Cowboys (for now, at least), and the Giants — though by no means aesthetically pleasing — won their third straight after starting the season with six consecutive losses.
What does Week 11 have in store?
Let’s dig in.
Cheat Sheet Trivia Question of the Week: With six games remaining in the 2013 season, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has 20 wins in his first two seasons. Which NFL quarterback holds the record for most wins in his first two years?
Now on to the picks …
Last week: 11-3
Overall record: 86-60
Indianapolis at Tennessee: As any unlucky fantasy football owner will tell you, Trent Richardson ran the ball just five times for two yards a week ago in Indy’s horrible loss vs. St. Louis. Overall, the Colts running game has been held under 75 yards in three of its last four outings. These Thursday night games have been tricky ones, with home underdogs pulling off victories the past two weeks. In Ryan Fitzpatrick’s last home game against the Colts, while a Buffalo Bill in 2010, he threw three touchdowns and no interceptions with a 120.8 rating. Tennessee will dominate the line of scrimmage and Ryan Fitzpatrick will save the Titans’ season on Thursday.
The Pick: Titans 27, Colts 23
New York Jets at Buffalo: The Bills have lost five of their last six games, but the Jets haven’t exactly been lights out on the road this season. This is it for Buffalo. If they’re going to make a run at it, they need to beat the Jets in Orchard Park. They’ll find a way.
The Pick: Bills 20, Jets 13
Baltimore at Chicago: Don’t look now, but the Ravens could be primed for a nice second-half run. Sure, the offense is a nightmare. And yes, they were fortunate to win last week after almost giving it up on an inexplicable 51-yard Hail Mary pass as time expired. But, the defense looks about as good as it ever did last season. Elvis Dumervil’s having arguably his best season as a pro and appears to be worth every penny. The bandwagon is completely empty at the moment, but with a Cutler-less Bears team up ahead on Sunday, the Jets in Baltimore next week, and then a Thanksgiving battle with the Steelers in Baltimore, we could be looking at a 7-5 Ravens team going into Week 14.
The Pick: Ravens 23, Bears 20
Cleveland at Cincinnati: Cool moment before last week’s Ravens-Bengals game in Baltimore. With no cameras rolling and no one really else around, Marvin Lewis ran out on to the M&T Bank Stadium field three hours before kickoff so he could personally thank the handful of veterans who were on hand for their service. Marvin’s team is coming off two terrible overtime losses, but both those games were on the road. They’ll get right on Sunday.
The Pick: Bengals 27, Browns 16
Washington at Philadelphia: Sunday will mark 364 days since Nick Foles’ first career start. His opponent that week in 2012? Oh, the same opponent as this week. Quick. If you were to pick a second-year quarterback to lead your team over the next eight weeks, would you go with Robert Griffin III or Foles? The fact that’s not an easy answer says all you need to know about the latter.
The Pick: Eagles 34, Redskins 23
Detroit at Pittsburgh: A week after giving up a franchise-worst 55 points in New England, we saw the Steelers defense of old against the Bills. They’ve got their mojo back, even if it’s just temporary as they fight the sands of time. Everyone’s high on the Lions, and rightfully so. But this Steelers team has too much pride to lose in their building as underdogs on Sunday.
The Pick: Steelers 27, Lions 24 OT
Atlanta at Tampa Bay: Skye Dawson, Bobby Rainey, and Eric Page all played key roles in the Bucs’ victory over the Dolphins on Monday night. And no, it was not a preseason game. Tampa’s relying on third- and fourth-string guys on offense, but I like their spirit. This team — whether you believe it or not — wants to finish the season up strong. Both for themselves and for their head coach.
The Pick: Buccaneers 27, Falcons 16
Arizona at Jacksonville: Break up the Jags! Jacksonville’s got some talent on the roster and put it together to win one on Sunday, but the Cardinals are in an almost a must-win situation, as they’re suddenly a real contender for a wild-card spot. They’re not losing this one.
The Pick: Cardinals 33, Jaguars 20
Oakland at Houston: I spoke to someone within the Cardinals organization this week about the Texans, a team they beat on Sunday. “I have no idea how that team has lost seven straight games. They’re darn good.” Agreed.
The Pick: Texans 24, Raiders 17
San Diego at Miami: Lost in all the Jon Martin/Richie Incognito news was the fact that Miami was losing two starting offensive linemen. The result was two yards rushing last week versus Tampa. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Dolphins failed to win another game this season.
The Pick: Chargers 30, Dolphins 20
San Francisco at New Orleans: Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers got the best of the Saints in New Orleans a season ago and San Francisco took out the high-powered 2011 Saints in the playoffs two years back. It’s payback time this week.
The Pick: Saints 31, 49ers 17
Green Bay at New York Giants: Scott Tolzien is ready to go. He might not be a household name, but he’s a big kid, he won a lot of big games at Wisconsin, and he’s been waiting for his shot in the spotlight. He’ll get it on Sunday. The Giants will win at home, but it won’t be the blowout some folks are expecting.
The Pick: Giants 24, Packers 20 Minnesota at Seattle: The entire NFC is rooting for the Vikings on Sunday. If Seattle has home-field advantage in the playoffs, that could be a wrap. Might as well book the tickets to MetLife Stadium. I think the Vikings give Seattle a game, but it’s another victory for the Seahawks in a building they haven’t lost in since 2011.
The Pick: Seahawks 27, Vikings 21
Kansas City at Denver: No John Fox. Peyton Manning is coming off a minor injury. The offensive line’s looked awfully mortal. I still think the Broncos take care of business in their building. Two weeks from now in Kansas City? I’m not as sure.
The Pick: Broncos 31, Chiefs 20
New England at Carolina: How about this matchup? In August, did anyone circle Patriots and Panthers as the top Monday night game of the year? No. Well, I’m all in on this Panthers team. Carolina’s D is as good as any in the league. If you weren’t buying into this team before Sunday’s game in San Francisco, you will after Monday night.
The Pick: Panthers 27, Patriots 17
Cheat Sheet Trivia Answer of the Week: Ben Roethlisberger has the most wins for a quarterback in the Super Bowl era with 22 over the 2004 and 2005 seasons.