My apologies to any readers who were expecting my Week 10 preview, unfortunately, I took the week off much like my New England Patriots who enjoyed a bye week themselves. However, I am back and firing on all cylinders for the last 7 weeks of the regular season with many storylines to see out.
What do we know? The AFC is awful, with only three real contenders for the AFC Championship with two playing in one division and with the Kansas City Chiefs (9-0) playing their first test of the season on the road at Denver Broncos (8-1) before playing them again in two weeks, that division will get shaken up and answers provided. If the Chiefs win on Sunday, the division is theirs and if they split the series it could still be. The Chiefs come off a bye themselves, whilst Manning had more hits to add to the bruises he already has attained.
The NFC is all together a more entertaining conference with the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints fighting for the Number 1 seed following San Francisco's home loss to the playoff bound Carolina Panthers. There will be one bad team from the NFC in the playoffs thanks to the NFC East with the Cowboys reluctant to take the lead with the Eagles having an easy run-in and a bye week.
Bye weeks this week are for Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis Rams, why some weeks do we have six teams on a bye and this week only two. Seems bizarre in the scheduling matters to be fair, but hey we have more games this week to predict wrong.
Week 11 Preview
Colts (6-3) at Titans (4-5)
The Colts got pulverised at home to the St. Louis Rams 3-38 and now go on the road to the Titans for an in-division match-up versus the Titans who have lost Jake Locker for the season. The Colts seem reliant on Andrew Luck at moment, and not getting much help from Trent Richardson. The Titans defence is as good as the Rams defence, so I fancy an upset here on the short week as Ryan Fitzpatrick showed some cohesiveness.
Prediction: Titans by 3
Jets (5-4) at Bills (3-7)
The Jets are rolling thanks to the defence making plays and stops, this allows Geno Smith to not have to make big plays and therefore eliminating mistakes from him; this along with a ground attack of Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell is paying dividends. Feel for the Bills as they have talent but they needed EJ Manuel to lead this team, so a shame his injury has cost the Bills a possible breakthrough season.
Prediction: Jets by 6
Ravens (4-5) at Bears (5-4)
The Bears made a mistake of playing an immobile and injured Jay Cutler, Josh McCown played with some ability and when you have Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall as offensive weapons the pressure is not on McCown and more on head coach Mark Trestmann. The Ravens beat the confusing Bengals last week and are getting more from their defence than Joe Flacco and Ray Rice. Both teams could still make the playoffs but they need to win their division to do so.
Prediction: Bears by 3
Browns (4-5) at Bengals (6-4)
The Bengals have lost two in a row at Miami and v Baltimore, they should be 8-2 and with the #1 or #2 seed somewhat secure; instead their play has scuppered due to the play of Andy Dalton, also the lose of Geno Atkins and others on defence is forcing them to not make turnovers on teams they should be dominating. The Browns come off a bye with Jason Campbell having no turnovers in his two starts previously, their defence is under-rated and have playmakers in Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron ready to make a statement.
Prediction: Browns by 3
Redskins (3-6) at Eagles (5-5)
The Eagles have not won at home in nine games, methinks this may be the lucky 10th occasion to get above .500 before their bye week. Nick Foles got the win thanks to some lucky plays and bonehead defensive plays. However, they are scoring at a rate of knots was expected under Chip Kelly. Tellingly, they took the lead over the Packers and chose to protect the ball and employed LeSean McCoy effectively. The Redskins need to bounce back, but they may be the worst team in the NFC East which is due to their inconsistency and terrible injury concerns.
Predicition: Eagles by 7
Lions (6-3) at Steelers (3-6)
You have an explosive passing offence going up against an ageing defence, the Lions are one game ahead in the NFC North and one more victory whilst the Packers have Scott Tolzien at QB is just what they need. The Steelers do have Big Ben, but the Detroit front seven should be able to nullify and wrap him up.
Prediction: Lions by 4
Falcons (2-7) at Buccaneers (1-8)
Who'd have funk these teams would have 3 wins between them by Week 11, the Bucs finally got their first W due to a combination of run and throw. Revis Island should wrap up Roddy White and /or Julio Jones, and the Falcons are just poor at the moment.
Prediction: Bucs by 3
Cardinals (5-4) at Jaguars (1-8)
The Cardinals are a surprise package and could make the playoffs if things go their way and facing the Jags might be a much needed bonus. If Carson Palmer is upright he makes plays along with Andre Ellington in the backfield. The Jags beat the troubled Titans but still its the Jags, come on.
Prediction: Cardinals by 7
Raiders (3-6) at Texans (2-7)
For all of Case Keenum's impressive play since replacing Matt Schaub, he does not have a victory this may change this Sunday when they face the Raiders at home. Terrelle Pryor is suffering with a hamstring which is stopping his mobility and therefore focusing on his less than good throwing. The Texans have lost many people due to injury but they still have JJ Watt who may be able to get to Pryor enough to force mistakes.
Prediction: Texans by 4
Chargers (4-5) at Dolphins (4-5)
Two teams who should be above .500 face off to end one of the other's weak playoff hopes. The Dolphins could win but off-the-field issues regarding the Incognito/Martin situation is having a negative effect on a team that had higher expectations. The Chargers are doing okay but need to get back to basics, maybe it is a good time to go to Miami in more ways than one.
Prediction: Chargers by 3
49ers (6-3) at Saints (7-2)
The Saints had forty that's 40 first downs at home to the Cowboys on Sunday with over 600 total offensive yards. The Saints have a fortress at home, yet the 49ers won there last year but that was when Colin Kaepernick's read option play was still an enigma, however the Saints defence is better and the mixture of running backs as well as wide-out threat means the Saints are close to tying up a home playoff game. The fact that the Carolina Panthers may provide a sterner test than the Niners may say it all to the Saints.
Prediction: Saints by 7
Packers (5-4) at Giants (3-6)
The Giants are on a winning streak despite Eli throwing another pick-six last week to Tracy Porter (who became the first man to return interceptions thrown by both Manning brothers for touchdowns), yet the Packers are without Aaron Rodgers and miss him badly. The Giants defence has improved, and they finally have a running back in Andre Brown to take the pressure off of Eli when necessary.
Prediction: Giants by 6
Vikings (2-7) at Seahawks (9-1)
The Seahawks are one game away from a much needed bye week before they travel to Candlestick, they may have Percy Harvin back from his injury and they face a Vikings team led by Christian Ponder who must be have cold sweats in facing this formidable defence in Seattle - the loudest place to play. Seattle do struggle against weaker/losing sides but this should be one way traffic.
Prediction: Seahawks by 10
Chiefs (9-0) at Broncos (8-1)
The game of the weekend will help us find out a lot about both sides. Can Denver force Alex Smith to commit enough turnovers to allow Manning to score his touchdowns? Can Denver protect Manning enough to avoid getting hit by the blindside? Can Jamaal Charles run all day on this defence which gives up points for fun? A lot of questions will be answered but it all comes down to Manning and his health.
Prediction: Chiefs by 3
Patriots (7-2) at Panthers (6-3)
This should be a great Monday night game between two good sides. Brady is coming off a bye and Belichick rarely loses coming off a bye. The Panthers had their breakthrough win against a winning side last week in San Francisco which was more about their defence than Cam Newton's play. The defence will be tested by Brady and with Gronkowski having two weeks of rest and reps expect a statement from this ragged Brady bunch.
Prediction: Patriots by 3
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