Last week 5–9
Byes: Atlanta, Denver, New York Jets, San Diego
Well, the winning streak couldn’t go on forever. Just 5–9 last week, but I took great satisfaction in watching the Packers get throttled by the Titans. How exciting was the Denver vs. New Orleans finish?! If you didn’t see the highlights, watch them below. You’ve got to love sports!
On that note, to week 11 we go.
New Orleans (4–5) at Carolina (3–6), Thursday 5:25 p.m.
Both teams are coming off excruciating losses last week and need to win to keep any hopes of a playoff appearance alive. See above for the recap of the Saints method of losing. The Panthers went a more traditional route, by blowing a comfortable 17–3 fourth quarter advantage at home to the Chiefs. These two teams played earlier in the season with the Saints prevailing in a high-scoring shootout. This time, the Panthers have home field advantage and the Saints have to play on grass where they are less dynamic. I don’t see the same determination and drive from Cam Newton this year, whereas Drew Brees has left it all on the table. I’ll take the Saints in this one.
Prediction: Saints 33 Panthers 27
Jacksonville (2–7) at Detroit (5–4), Sunday 10 a.m.
With both Minnesota and Green Bay reeling, the Lions have a chance to sprint away with the NFC Central if they can put some wins together. They are rested off the bye and face one of the worst teams in the league.
Prediction: Lions 28 Jaguars 17
Buffalo (4–5) at Cincinnati (3–5–1), Sunday 10 a.m.
What a difference a year makes. Last year, the Bengals were 8–1 at this point and looked like a Super Bowl contender. They have been in the playoffs the last four years despite playing in the ultra-competitive AFC Central. Meanwhile, Buffalo looked good earlier in the season with a 4–2 record in head coach Rex Ryan’s second season. The Bills then promptly lost three straight games, but are coming off their bye. I found this to be the hardest game to call this week and will roll with Buffalo and their exciting offensive tandem of quarterback Tyrod Taylor and running back LeSean McCoy.
Prediction: Bills 32 Bengals 28
Chicago (2–7) at New York Giants (6–3), Sunday 10 a.m.
There are reports out of Chicago that the Bears players have lost faith in quarterback Jay Cutler. Chicago also found out this week that star receiver Alshon Jeffery has been suspended for four games for taking performance-enhancing drugs. Add the fact that the Bears are playing consecutive road games and facing a hot Giants team coming off an impressive victory over the Bengals, and this will be an easy win for the Giants.
Prediction: Giants 38 Bears 13
Tennessee (5–5) at Indianapolis (4–5), Sunday 10 a.m.
OK, the AFC South is beginning to look presentable, so I will comment on this matchup. With an exciting and dynamic young quarterback and an outstanding running game, the Titans are looking like a solid ball club. Facing them is a Colts team with a weak defence and poor offensive line. These are two ingredients that are essential to winning. How have they won four games, you might ask? Andrew Luck is really, really good. I like the Titans to keep the mojo rolling despite being on the road against a rested Colts squad. Look for another strong game from Titans running back DeMarco Murray.
Prediction: Titans 38 Colts 31
Pittsburgh (4–5) at Cleveland (0–10), Sunday 10 a.m.
The Steelers demonstrated last week that they could play at an elite level, despite falling late to the Cowboys. They will be highly motivated to win this divisional battle as the Ravens at 5–4 are within sight for the division lead. A citation to one of my former players, Jesse Batchelor, for providing this key statistic: Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is 20–2 all-time against the Browns, and has faced 12 different starting quarterbacks in these matchups. The Steelers should easily win this one.
Prediction: Steelers 40 Browns 21
Arizona (4–4–1) at Minnesota (5–4), Sunday 10 a.m.
Has a 5–0 team ever fallen to 5–5 in NFL history? Minnesota is facing this ignoble prospect. The Vikings are a mess on offence and regressing on defence. They are facing a Cardinals team that has disappointed overall this season and is coming off an ugly win against the woeful 49ers. The Cardinals have the edge in this matchup because they can actually score points, whereas the Vikings have the worst statistical offensive output in the league.
Prediction: Cardinals 21 Vikings 14
Game of the Week
Baltimore (5–4) at Dallas (8–1), Sunday 10 a.m.
It’s official everyone: the quarterback controversy in Dallas is over, as Tony Romo has officially conceded his starting position to upstart rookie Dak Prescott. This matchup of division leaders features an underdog in Baltimore that sports an outstanding defence and Super Bowl champion quarterback. While that recipe is an intriguing blend for an upset of the week pick, I do not see the Ravens able to keep pace with the explosive Dallas offence. The other Dallas rookie sensation, Ezekiel Elliott, continues to dazzle with a big game against a stellar defence.
Prediction: Cowboys 27 Ravens 19
Tampa Bay (4–5) at Kansas City (7–2), Sunday 10 a.m.
Tampa is coming off a convincing win last week over the Bears, whereas the Chiefs escaped with a quality win on the road against the Panthers. The Chiefs vs. Broncos game next week was bumped up by the NFL to the premier Sunday Night time slot over the New England game and pretty boy quarterback Tom Brady. The Chiefs validate the league’s belief in them with a hard-fought victory over the Bucs.
Prediction: Chiefs 29 Buccaneers 24
Miami (5–4) at Los Angeles (4–5), Sunday 1:05 p.m.
The Rams have finally pulled the trigger and will be starting first overall draft pick Jared Goff at quarterback. All season, they have been plagued by poor quarterback play and watched while several other teams inserted rookie quarterbacks and won. The Rams clearly understand that they made a huge mistake trading away multiple draft picks for Goff with the likes of Dak Prescott being available in the fourth round. I expect Goff to struggle and Miami to continue its torrid play as they cruise to their fifth win in a row.
Prediction: Dolphins 30 Rams 10
New England (7–2) at San Francisco (1–8), Sunday 1:25 p.m.
Could the week 17 matchup between the Patriots and Dolphins determine the division winner? With the Patriots stunning loss last week to the Seahawks, the AFC East is now in play. The Patriots have a long trip out west and are facing a team that has received increasingly strong play from controversial quarterback Colin Kaepernick. If the Patriots are complacent, it could come back to bite them in a big way. Belichick, Brady, and company will not allow a let-down in this one.
Prediction: Patriots 35 49ers 24
Philadelphia (5–4) at Seattle (6–2–1), Sunday 1:25 p.m.
The Eagles are coming off a big-time win at home against the Falcons and are facing a Seahawks team that is flying high after an extremely emotional victory over the Patriots. An encouraging sign for the Seahawks was that their line play seemed improved last week, and they were able to achieve some offensive balance with a strong running game from rookie C.J. Prosise. Seattle is also one of the toughest places to play in the NFL and boasts unreal crowd noise. The 12th man coupled with the Seahawks defence will be enough to rattle Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz in a big Seahawks win.
Prediction: Seahawks 31 Eagles 19
Green Bay (4–5) at Washington (5–3–1), Sunday 5:30 p.m.
The Packers have lost four of their last five games with the only win coming over the lowly Bears. They got throttled last week at Tennessee in a 47–25 beat down and are playing consecutive road games. Meanwhile Washington is coming off a solid victory over Minnesota and looks like a team that can vie for a wild card.
Prediction: Washington 27 Packers 24
Houston (6–3) at Oakland (7–2), Monday 5:30 p.m.
Here is the argument for a Texans victory: Houston is coming off back-to-back wins which include a quality win over the Lions. They were also able to defeat the Chiefs in week one, giving them two quality non-division wins. Oakland is a young team that a few weeks ago set the league record for accepted penalties in a game, and may have lost momentum as they were on bye last week. With that being said, Oakland is exponentially more talented than Houston, and will win this game in convincing fashion.
Prediction: Raiders 37 Texans 20