Road to MetLife: Week 11 Cheat Sheet
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 that 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 for the Seahawks in the 2013 regular season, second-year Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson has 20 regular-season wins thus far. Which NFL quarterback holds the record for most regular-season wins in his first two seasons during the Super Bowl era?
Now on to the picks …
Last Week: 11-3
Overall Record through Week 10: 86-60
Note: OK, so I blew that one. But hey, I did get the Titans’ point total right. Tennessee did control the line early, with Chris Johnson running for 80 yards and a pair of TDs in the first quarter, but he had only six yards the rest of the way and Luck outshined Fitzpatrick in the second half of the 30-27 Indianapolis win. But here was my prediction:
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 the team’s 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. He is starting for the Titans on Thursday, in place of the injured Jake Locker, who is out for the season. Tennessee will dominate the line of scrimmage and 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 to tie the fame regulation. 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 in Week 12, 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 all-time worst 55 points in New England, we saw the Steelers D of old against the Bills. They’ve got their mojo back, even if just temporarily, as they fight the sands of time. Everyone’s high on the Lions and rightfully so. 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. These players — 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 last Sunday. But the Cardinals are suddenly a wild-card contender and that makes this a must-win game for Arizona. The Cardinals are 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, just days after Arizona beat Houston by a field goal in Week 10. “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 Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito news was the fact that Miami was losing two starting offensive linemen. The result was a franchise-low two yards rushing last week versus Tampa. And with backup tackle Will Yeatman now out for the season with a torn ACL, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Dolphins fail 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 Saints in the playoffs two seasons back. It’s payback time this week.
The Pick: Saints 31, 49ers 17
Green Bay at New York Giants: Tolzien — the Packers’ third QB in as many games — 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, the NFC 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. Oh yeah, and it looks like Percy Harvin may finally make his long-awaited debut this Sunday, and against his former team.
The Pick: Seahawks 27, Vikings 21
Kansas City at Denver: No John Fox. Peyton Manning is coming off a minor injury. The Denver offensive line has looked awfully mortal. But 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 come Tuesday.
The Pick: Panthers 27, Patriots 17
Cheat Sheet Trivia Answer of the Week: Ben Roethlisberger, who won 22 regular-season games in the 2004-05 seasons. I should note, however, that Big Ben also won five playoff games — and one Super Bowl — in his first two seasons, as well.