Friday, November 15, 2013

The Hail Mary - Week 11

Sunday, November 17

Washington (3-6) at Philadelphia (5-5), Philadelphia favored by 3

It seems like I have been saying this every week for the past month, but this Sunday is really do or die for the Redskins season. If they lose this game they will fall 2 1/2 games out of first place, and really 3 1/2 since the Eagles would have swept the season series. The Eagles probably wish this game was in Washington, as they have lost 10 straight games at home. To me, everything is lining up just right for the Redskins to be the team the Eagles break that streak against. Nick Foles incredible run continued last week against Green Bay, as he threw three more touchdowns and no interceptions, upping his season total to 16 TDs and 0 INTs. The Redskins have been saying all week that they will be prepared this time around for Chip Kelly's offense, but they were saying that before the season opener as well. The Eagles defense has been playing better as of late, even when the Eagles could do nothing on offense, so Philly might be coming together as a football team at the right time. Redskins fans hanging their hat on a turnaround this season because it happened last year need to get with reality. The defense seemingly can't stop any quarterback, so I expect Foles to have another impressive day and Philly to drive a stake through the heart of the Redskins playoff chances.

Prediction: Philadelphia 28, Washington 23

New York Jets (5-4) at Buffalo (3-7), Buffalo favored by 1

Ed Reed wasn't out of work long. Rex Ryan, his former defensive coordinator in Baltimore picked up the safety and Reed may make his debut for the Jets on Sunday. Believe it or not the Jets currently sit all alone in the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC. The Bills are starting at another playoff-less season and will be looking to develop EJ Manuel the rest of the season and play the role of spoiler. The Jets, especially QB Geno Smith have had their share of troubles on the road with turnovers, and I think Mario Williams will make some plays that will carry Buffalo to a win.

Prediction: Buffalo 23, New York Jets 17

Baltimore (4-5) at Chicago (5-4), Chicago favored by 3

Jay Cutler came back sooner than anyone thought and then was promptly hurt again, meaning Josh McCown is back in the saddle as the Bears starter on Sunday. McCown has been very good any time he has played for Cutler this season so I don't expect the Bears to miss a beat. The Ravens held on to beat Cincinnati at home last weekend, but the road has been a different story for them this season. The Bears are banged up and not very good on defense, but the Ravens don't have an offense that will be able to exploit those weaknesses. The Ravens have to be hoping that Ray Rice's struggles this season are just a mirage and not a sign of an impending decline.

Prediction: Chicago 24, Baltimore 17

Cleveland (4-5) at Cincinnati (6-4), Cincinnati favored by 6 1/2

The Bengals goal in this game will not only be to win but to actually score a touchdown this time against the Browns stingy defense. Jason Campbell has been a breath of fresh air for the Browns offense since he was inserted for the putrid Brandon Weeden. The Bengals have had some tough road losses the past two weeks so they will be excited to return home. Especially Andy Dalton, who has struggled badly in the Bengals two straight losses. This will be a tough, defensive battle, and likely will come down to whichever team has the ball last winning the game.

Prediction: Cincinnati 18, Cleveland 15

Detroit (6-3) at Pittsburgh (3-6), Detroit favored by 2

Last week's win over the Bears at Soldier Field was a statement win for the Lions. With Aaron Rodgers out indefinitely for the Packers, the Lions appear to be the front runners in the NFC North. They have another tough road test this weekend at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh has won two straight games at home, and their defense has been especially stingy in those games. However, they haven't faced a combo like Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson in those games. I also think the Lions pass rush could have a field day chasing after Ben Roethlisberger and expect Ndamukong Suh to make his presence felt. If anyone has any doubts left about the Lions, another road win this weekend will squash them.

Prediction: Detroit 30, Pittsburgh 23

Atlanta (2-7) at Tampa Bay (1-8), Atlanta favored by 1


Prediction: Atlanta 25, Tampa Bay 21

Arizona (5-4) at Jacksonville (1-8), Arizona favored by 6 1/2

I thought Jacksonville was on their way to being the second team to finish 0-16 but lo and behold they went to Tennessee and beat the Titans. Next step, score a touchdown in a home game at Jacksonville, something they have not yet done. I expect that streak to fall as well, but I don't expect this to be the start of a winning culture for the Jaguars. Not when their offense takes on the talented Cardinals defense, especially that secondary. Offensively, Arizona has to find a way to get Andre Ellington the ball more. I am not just saying that because I have him on multiple fantasy teams either. Rashard Mendenhall has nothing left in the tank, and the Cardinals could take a lot of pressure off mistake prone Carson Palmer if they ride with Ellington more. The Cardinals are quietly creeping up on the 49ers and could be a factor in the playoff race in the last few months of the season.

Prediction: Arizona 35, Jacksonville 14

Oakland (3-6) at Houston (2-7), Houston favored by 7

Another putrid game on this weekend's schedule. I don't think the Texans are going to finish 2-14 and with how well Case Keenum has played since becoming the starter, they seem due for a victory. The shine is starting to come off Terrelle Pryor who is struggling mightily to get the Raiders passing game going. Maybe the return of Gary Kubiak to the sidelines will inspire the Texans to victory.

Prediction: Houston 30, Oakland 24

San Diego (4-5) at Miami (4-5), San Diego favored by 1 1/2

A key AFC matchup between two teams trying to stay in the race for the final playoff spot in the AFC. The Dolphins had a terrible loss at Tampa last weekend, and of course everyone blamed it on the controversy surrounding the team. However, the Dolphins had the lead late in that game and it simply came down to them not executing on offense or defense. They couldn't run the ball at all and Ryan Tannehill is not skilled enough to carry the offense without help. Maybe Mike Wallace can make an appearance in this game against the porous Chargers secondary. I am just not sure if the offensive line will be able to keep Tannehill upright enough, and the Dolphins are really trending downwards right now.

Prediction: San Diego 26, Miami 23

San Francisco (6-3) at New Orleans (7-2), New Orleans favored by 3

The 49ers struggles in the passing game reared their ugly head last week in a disappointing loss to Carolina. The passing game is the worst in the NFL and it is hard to figure out if it is Colin Kaepernick regressing, or the fact that the 49ers receivers aren't very good. Vernon Davis left the game early with a concussion and anytime he has been out this season, the 49ers can get nothing going through the air. Michael Crabtree can't come back soon enough. The Saints put on an offensive and defensive clinic last Sunday night, and are looking unbeatable in the Superdome. The 49ers defense is going to have win this game for San Francisco, by creating turnovers and short fields for the offense. Unfortunately, I don't believe the defense is at the level they were a couple years ago, and I think Drew Brees and his many weapons will be too much.

Prediction: New Orleans 29, San Francisco 20

Minnesota (2-7) at Seattle (9-1), Seattle favored by 13

Seattle got a nice, dominant win over Atlanta last week after two straight underwhelming wins. They could just about clinch the NFC West with a win and a Niners loss on Sunday. Christian Ponder had one of the best games of his career last weekend against Washington, but the competition steps up considerably on Sunday. The Seahawks have struggled at times to stop the run so I feel like Adrian Peterson can make some plays happen and keep the Vikings within shouting distance. There is a chance that former Vikings WR Percy Harvin will make his Seahawks debut in this game. Even without Harvin, the Seahawks could just give it to Marshawn Lynch all game and they would beat the Vikings.

Prediction: Seattle 35, Minnesota 24

Green Bay (5-4) at New York Giants (3-6), New York Giants favored by 6 1/2

Aaron Rodgers is making it plain as day that he is clearly the MVP of the league. The Packers offense looks like the Colts offense did two years ago when they didn't have Peyton Manning. They finally signed Matt Flynn after losing Seneca Wallace for the season, but Scott Tolzein, who was on the practice squad a few weeks ago, will be the starter for now. The Giants have a great chance to win their fourth straight after an 0-6 start. I don't think they are particularly good, they just have benefited from a break in their schedule. Their run game will be drastically improved, as shown last week with the return of Andre Brown. The Packers don't have a good enough defense to compensate for their offensive struggles. They are lucky that Eddie Lacy has been as good as he has, because with no run game, they would be getting blown out each week. Eli Manning will do something stupid to keep the Packers in the game, but the Giants should hold on for the win.

Prediction: New York Giants 27, Green Bay 20

Kansas City (9-0) at Denver (8-1), Denver favored by 8 1/2

The schedule makers had no idea when they put the schedule together that this game would be so huge, but it has added to the buildup that these teams beasts are meeting for the first time in Week 11. It is Denver's high octane offense against Kansas City's beast of a defense. Peyton Manning was hobbling at the end of last week's game and it looked like for a second the Chiefs would once again get to face a backup quarterback. But Peyton insists he will play and the Chiefs defense will have to be ready for their biggest challenge yet. I think the Chiefs can hold Denver to their lowest offensive output so far this season, but Alex Smith and Jamaal Charles are going to have do their part if Kansas City will have a chance to pull off the upset. Charles should be as good as ever, but Alex Smith might get exposed on a national stage. He has been riding the coat tails of the defense all season long, much like he did in San Francisco. He still isn't someone you can ask to go out and win a game for you. Also, KC might want to keep tabs on Dwayne Bowe, considering he will be in Colorado and could have plenty of access to marijuana. The Chiefs are good, but they aren't well rounded enough of a team to beat Denver, especially on the road.

Prediction: Denver 26, Kansas City 22

Monday, November 18

New England (7-2) at Carolina (6-3), Carolina favored by 2

Another excellent prime time game will be on Monday night between the Patriots and Panthers. This could prove to be another offense versus defense battle, as the Patriots offense showed some life two weeks ago, while the Panthers defense has looked dominant during the team's five game winning streak. I wasn't sold on Carolina but after watching last week's game, that is a championship defense they have over there. While the offense isn't great, its not like Cam Newton is Alex Smith or anything. I'm not ready to believe that because they obliterated Pittsburgh, now the New England offense and especially Tom Brady are going to roll the clock back to 2007. The Steelers defense is old and leaky, the Panthers are very young on defense and I think it could be a very frustrating night for Brady and company. The Panthers are equally as stout against the run, so it will be interesting to watch how effective the Patriots offense can be. I expect another huge win for the Panthers and their bandwagon to start to get full.

Prediction: Carolina 20, New England 17

Last Week Against the Spread: 8-6
Overall Against the Spread: 74-69-4

Last Week Straight Up: 8-6
Overall Straight Up: 100-47

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