Monday, 21 November 2011

NFL - Week 11 roundup

Whenever you survey the NFL landscape you are sure of one thing - you can never be sure of anything in the NFL.  Teams win convincingly on the road, yet lose humbly at home the next.  Injuries burden teams with insurmountable odds, heroes turn into villains from one week to the next.  Myself and other bloggers like picking the game results, no-one can ever be perfect as more than likely you will cock up somewhere, I myself went close to perfect but for two games. 

I picked the Jags to win in Cleveland, alas Blaine Gabbert could not convert four opportunities from within the five yard line to get the go-ahead touchdown; and the Vikings could not make up the half-time deficit though their future looks good as they played incredibly well -making that comeback without the influential Adrian Petersen.

Elsewhere, teams roll on though nothing is certain.  The Packers had their closest game of the season since playing the Saints in week 1 with the Bucs young team coming close to the upset, always staying tight and even intercepting Aaron Rodgers, though 35-26 was probably a fair result.

The Giants lost their second straight game this time in a divisonal match-up versus the Eagles who oddly won without Michael Vick under centre, this time Vince Young putting together a winning drive that gave the 17-10 victory in the MetLife stadium.  This was an ugly game, and could be a costly defeat for the Giants who now look like not being a 2 seed cos of the consistent Packers and 49ers, if they win the NFC East they will be a 4 seed cos the Saints will probably be ahead of them.

The most action packed game was Detroit v Carolina which ended 49-35 to the Lions though they were way behind at the half, yet the Lions who are slow starters in every game came alive behind Matthew Stafford's 5 TDs and they were helped by Cam Newton's 4 picks. The Lions play the Packers this Thursday on Thanksgiving, the Lions have a chance but they need to start early otherwise they will find it harder to overcome such a deficit against the Superbowl Champions.

The Cowboys are building momentum and it continued as they overcame a resilient Redskins 27-24 in Overtime in Washington, Romo connected well with Jason Witten for a huge TD and thanks to the Giants loss they are tied atop the division.

The Bengals suffered another defeat to a division rival as they went down to Baltimore 31-24 on the road, although they have winnable games remaining on the schedule (Redskins, Rams, Browns) so they can still grab a wildcard spot and with Andy Dalton playing some good football (24-45, 373), one pass to Andre Caldwell (49yds) was inch perfect as the receiver caught it in stride and sauntered into the endzoen.  The Ravens remain unbeaten at home, yet they need to sort out their road form as there three costly defeats (Jags, Seahawks, Tennessee) have all been on the road.

Chicago stayed in the hunt for a wildcard spot by defeating the Chargers 31-20 at home, yet it came at a price as Jay Cutler has reportedly suffered a fractured right thumb (his throwing hand) which rules him out for the remainder of the regular season.  Whilst Matt Forte has been getting the numbers and spotlight in a contract year, lately Cutler's impressive leadership and being able to stay upright has dictated the outcome of the games like the dominant win over Detroit last week.  Yet without him, the Bears will struggle down the stretch although four winnable games against west opponents (@ Raiders, Chiefs, @ Broncos, Seattle ) are not now and they finish with a brutal road double at Green Bay and Minnesota - from 7-3 to 10-6 might be good enough but if the Lions keep winning it might not be, depending on the Falcons, Giants, Cowboys.

Kudos to the Dolphins in my pick of the weekend as they destroyed the sinking Bills 35-8 at a near empty home stadium.  Miami became the first team in NFL history to start 0-7 and then win their next three games, standing at 3-7 they are now a team full of confidence, Matt Moore not making mistakes and they are getting results off of turnovers.  And to think Tony Sparano (head coach) would not have made the bye week after a 0-4 start to comeback and get this sort of result.  There last six games are at Dallas, Oakland, Eagles, @ Buffalo, @New England, ending with Jets at home, the playoffs may be out of reach but each team they play has those postseason ambitions so they can certainly influence the playoff standings and seedings.

I am liking the 49ers but they were lucky they were only playing the Arizona Cardinals who completely stunk after winning in Philadelphia last week.  In the first half, Alex Smith marched his offense down the field yet they only held a 9-0 lead at the half as they could not convert redzone possession, David Akers could even afford to miss two attempts.  Better teams would not give you so many chances, so something to keep in mind.  San Fran have a short week travelling to Baltimore as brothers go head-to-head but I feel the 49ers may come up short here.

Tonight the Patriots are at home to the Chiefs who have lost Matt Cassel for the season, expect a big win for the Patriots and a great opportunity for a young defence to get some consistency and force some turnovers.

I hope for a big win, but as week 11 like every other week shows Bo Diddley was right,'you never can tell'

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