The Bears (16) and Dolphins (0) gave us a defensive battle to start Week 11 of the NFL season and now we get on with the rest of the games. There are several great games to pay attention to this weekend and most of these games will begin to show who the true contenders really are for the 12 playoffs spots. After this weekend you, as a fan should begin to realize whether it's time to fully abandon all playoff hope or be excited for the playoff race to come.
This week just like every other week, I have a few upset picks for you and of course the "Water Cooler games. So, let's kick off this GameDay with...
Baltimore vs. Carolina
The Ravens seem a little upset coming off the loss to the Falcons. Matt Ryan exploited this defense with the help of Roddy White. The problem for Carolina is that, they don't have Matt Ryan. Instead they are trotting out Brian St. Pierre against the Ravens angry defense. It makes sense when you think about it...they are offering up a Saint to be the sacrificial lamb.
This Panthers team is a shade worst than the Bad News Bears baseball team. They have key injuries to their running backs and quarterbacks and their defense has struggled to stop anyone. There's really no way I can give Carolina a chance to make this a competitive game. - Ravens Win 30-9
Buffalo vs. Cincinnati
Just a thought...Do you think Buffalo wishes they would have taken a chance on Michael Vick? Back to reality, they have too many problems and they can't fix them with one player. Someone should have told Chan Gailey that before he spent a top 10 pick on a position that needs other pieces before he can be effective. Buffalo did finally get a win against a Matt Stafford-less Lions team. They have also been competitive in games.
Cincinnati is the opposite of Buffalo, they have all the talent in the world but find themselves not even competitive. After this game is over, they could actually have the same record. You have to think that Carson Palmer should be able to get the ball to Batman and Robin along with Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Shipley against these corners. Cincy's at home and their talent will be too much. - Bengals Win 35-24
Detroit vs. Dallas
Jon Kitna faces gets to face his former team and Shaun Hill gets to face another team. This is a story of two backup quarterbacks, taking over control of their teams. Kitna actually makes the Cowboys better in my mind than Romo, but Hill doesn't have the tools or the mentality as Matt Stafford. Stafford is a fighter and even said this week that he didn't care what the Lions record was, he wants to play as soon as he can. The Lions are a team on the rise but injuries to Stafford and rookie RB Jahvid Best, will prevent this team from being as competitive as they have been all year.
The Cowboys are getting ready to roll off several wins, led by the ageless arm of Jon Kitna. Kitna has developed a good relationship with rookie WR Dez Bryant over the last few weeks but now with Bryant banged up, let's see if he can rekindle that old flame he had with Roy Williams in Detroit. - Cowboys Win 34-13
Cleveland vs. Jacksonville
Cleveland lost a heart breaker in overtime last week to the Jets, while the Jags won in miraculous fashion, on a last second Hail Mary, to beat the Texans. Which one was more impressive? I'll go with the Browns upsetting loss. Cleveland had the game won with a rookie quarterback against one of the best teams and defenses in the AFC. Look for them to stick with the formula of Peyton Hillis pounding the defense and Colt McCoy hitting the open receiver when needed. Look for McCoy, to pick apart Rashean Mathis in this game.
Jacksonville is the miracle child of all 5-4 teams in NFL history. There is no way that this team is as good as their 5-4 record. It was a great story and win for them last week but fact of the matter is, they aren't that good. Their secondary is horrendous! Cleveland will have their way with them on the ground and be successful with they go to the air. - Browns Win 27-17
Arizona vs. Kansas City
These teams need a win to stay in the hunt for their divisions. Arizona really doesn't have any known strengths other than Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald is only important however if you have a QB that can get him the ball several times a game. The Cardinals have a bad record in the worst division in football. Enough said.
Kansas City was murdered last week in Denver and the week before against Oakland. These two teams followed the game plan of stacking 8 or 9 men in the box to shut down the run and to make Matt Cassel beat them. Cassel put up some nice fantasy numbers last week, but was all in garbage time as Denver was exchanging yardage for time off the clock. Oakland and Denver also had the offenses to be able to put the game out of reach if they shut down your offense. Arizona doesn't have that. - Chiefs Win 26-13
Washington vs. Tennessee
This Redskins team was taken to the woodshed on MNF and they seem like they are being held together by a little piece of twine. It doesn't appear that anyone is on the same page in this locker room. This week they face an opponent that is desperate for a win to stay competitive with the Colts. The Skins seem outmatched in this game on both sides of the ball.
This will be the week that Chris Johnson gets going? I threw in a question mark to cover all my bases. Vince Young and Randy Moss have had a little time to get situated with one another and I wouldn't be surprised to see some deep shots down the field. If VY can get going early, then the second half will belong to CJ1K. - Titans Win 28-17
Houston vs. Jets
The Texans will see if free agent pickup CB Jason Allen can be the savior to this year's defense as S Bernard Pollard was to last years. He can't be any worse than what they have been trotting out there. There's only one place to go from dead last in pass defense, and that's the unemployment office. Houston still has a top notch running game but with Schaub having knee problems and being less elusive than an Oreo from a fat, single women on the couch, it's hard to see the Jets defense not being successful shutting down the offense.
New York has struggled against the Browns and Lions the last two weeks, pulling out both games in overtime. If they underestimate this Texans offense, they could get caught sleeping and an upset could be on the horizon. But they are built to face this Texans offense. You have a CB in Darrelle Revis that might not shut down Andre Johnson but will certainly contain him and the rest of the defense is free to head hunt Arian Foster. On offense it's painfully obvious that Mark Sanchez will be able to have his way with the cornerback of his choosing like a cowboy in a brothel in an old western movie. - Jets Win 27-13
Seattle vs. New Orleans
This week we will see Seattle to start giving up that division lead. Oh wait, after looking at who the rest of the NFC West plays this week, maybe not. All 4 teams may lose this week..or maybe not, you have to keep reading. Let's cut to the chase on this game, the Seahawks have as much of a chance to win this game as Al Bundy having another 4 TD game.
New Orleans has been lost in all of the hype surrounding Atlanta, NY Giants, Green Bay, and Philly, but they keep winning and seem to be content with hiding behind the scenes until the playoffs get here. I'm just glad I don't have to hear Who Dat every time I step outside...I mean seriously, am I the only one that finds that extremely annoying? Hey guys, let's all say the same thing a thousand times, over and over after every tackle, sack, touchdown, completion, discount on beer, etc. - Saints Win 38-20
Tampa Bay vs. San Francisco
I'm coming around on this Bucs team. LeGarrette Blount runs with a purpose (great call Jeff Fisher) and Josh Freeman can make all the throws and is building a good rapport with his young receivers. I would like to see Freeman dominate for 60 minutes though. He seems to not turn it on until the end of the 4th quarter and this will end up costing him games. The best player on this team though, is Aqib Talib. This is a top 5 cornerback and will change the way offenses attack Tampa Bay.
Wow! Who know that Troy smith would give the 49ers a good chance at winning games...everybody except Mike Singletary. We all knew that San Fran had the talent to compete with the best teams but they were just missing a QB. San Fran now has a QB that can manage their offense now, so I see no reason why they won't now come back and win the NFC LEAST. This shouldn't be a surprise because plenty of people including myself picked them to win this division, even with Alex Smith running the show. - Upset Alert 49ers Win 24-23
Atlanta vs. St Louis
I'm getting ready to be blasted for the next sentence but I plan on writing an article to explain why. Matt Ryan will be the new Peyton Manning! Peyton has to pass the reins sooner or later and Ryan has all the qualities that Manning showed at this age. Ryan understands defenses completely and shows no fear with the pocket collapsing. Atlanta has too many weapons for the up and coming Rams.
Sam Bradford is playing great for a rookie with no weapons. It makes you wonder how this team will look next year with Bradford throwing to AJ Green and getting Donnie Avery and Mark Clayton back. The James Laurinaitus / Chris Long led defense will also be stellar if they can add a few more missing pieces. Unfortunately for Rams fans, this game is being played in 2010, without AJ Green. - Falcons Win 24-16.
Denver vs. San Diego
I don't what it is but just like last week, I feel this Broncos team is poised to roll off a few wins before falling flat on their faces. Last week Knowshon Moreno played like he was back in college at Georgia again. If he can keep giving that effort with this passing attack, the Broncos could cause problems. The defense is getting healthy so perhaps Philip Rivers won't able to abuse them as he has most teams this year.
San Diego has been banged up in the receiver position. When you factor in Antonio Gates injuries, then you begin to see where Denver can pull out a Monday night surprise. Denver still has one of the best corners in the game and my personal favorite, Champ Bailey. Bailey can take out San Diego's top receiving threat and really leave Rivers starving for an option until the pass rush gets him. - Upset Alert Broncos Win 30-27
"Water Cooler" Games
Oakland vs. Pittsburgh
I'm excited about a Raiders / Steelers game and it's not 1970. This is a must watch game. Oakland exploded on offense against the Chiefs before their bye week. Was it a fluke or are they finally reaping the benefits of a draft class based on talent instead of variables. Can Jacoby Ford become the consistent receiver the Raiders are lacking or was his 140 yard receiving game and 95 yard KR TD a game of a lifetime?
The Raiders obviously have questions but surprising so do the Steelers. Pittsburgh was picked apart by Tom Brady and the Patriots last week. The Steelers lost some of the fear that they put into opposing offenses. Let's not get crazy though, Jason Campbell has never been confused for Tom Brady. The Raiders do have a better rushing attack then New England though. Is it possible that Pittsburgh over compensates for Darren McFadden and gets beat through the air? No! - Steelers Win 23-14
Green Bay vs. Minnesota
I wonder what the talk will be surrounding this game. Sidney Rice! Okay, maybe they'll be a little talk about Brett Favre. Love him or hate him, you can't miss Favre's last game against the city he personally kept a NFL franchise in for years. Aaron Rodgers has been as good as advertised and this is probably the last time he can face his mentor. He's going want to prove to the Packers fans and himself that Green Bay made the right decision in choosing him to replace a legend.
Favre knows his season is over and his career is too. There won't be any triumphant parade through the playoffs. This is his last meaningful game for personal reasons. This will be his Super Bowl and it appears that he'll have his favorite target, Sidney Rice for it. Their chemistry should be off at first but Rice should factor into the game in the second half. Expect Adrian Peterson to have a good game and Favre will have his final big come from behind victory. - Upset Alert Vikings Win 31-27
Indianapolis vs. New England
Most people will have this as their game of the week. Manning vs. Brady; the 2 winningest teams of the new millennium, etc. etc. It's just not my favorite game of the weekend. There's another game that will have more importance to me.
Peyton is the best quarterback in the NFL, without question as nobody has done more with less. Peyton also did his winning without cheating for the first 8 years of his career. Manning sees the weaknesses in any defenses and there are a ton of soft spots in the 2010 version of the Patriots defense. Manning isn't getting much help from his running game or defense, so this does tip the scales to New England but is it enough to override Manning's personal ability.
Brady has a lot of weapons, but he too suffers from a weak rushing attack. The Colts defense has been gashed mostly by the running game and factor in better versus the pass, due in large part to the pass rush of Freeney / Mathis. If they can force Brady into bad passes and keep him distressed for a large part of the game, then the Colts could pull off another victory. If the Pats O-line holds off the rush like last week against Pittsburgh, Brady will have his way with the defense. - Colts Win 34-31
Game of the Week
New York Giants vs. Philadelphia
This game is more important than Brady / Manning because it tells a lot about which one of these division rivals is the real powerhouse in the NFC. Were the Giants as bad as they looked against Dallas last week or were they the team that had been jumping off film the last few weeks of the season? Is Michael Vick and the Eagles as dynamic as they looked against the Redskins on MNF or did they just have a great game against a team that is about to implode?
The Giants will definitely have a spy dedicated to Vick the whole game. The Giants pass rush will be the key. Even if they get pressure, if they don't make the tackle, then Vick will be able to run for miles. Which Eli will show up and will he be on cue with Hakeem Nicks? The Giants running game should be able to sustain long drives and keep Vick on the sideline.
Mike Vick's improved throwing will be key in this game. Even if they put a spy on him, he can now create with his feet and make throws on the run to beat the fewer men that are dropping into coverage. Lesean McCoy will have to carry some of the weight so the defense can't just sell out on stopping Vick. Everyone will come back down to earth on the Eagles after this game. - Giants Win 28-26
I'll be back next Sunday morning week for Week 12 of NFL GameDay. Don't forget to check out NFL Rage mid week where I vent my frustrations at some of the dumbest calls and decisions from this week's games. NFL Gameday - It's easy like Sunday Morning! - Jayson Braddock
Jayson appears on Sports Radio 790 AM in Houston, TX, every Thursday morning at 11:19 am CST as the football insider on the Dylan Gwinn show. He's a graduate of the Sports Management World Wide Football GM & Scouting Course and has been mentored by former NFL player / executive John Wooten and Sporting News.com NFL Draft Expert Russ Lande. His work is mostly appreciated by die-hard fans interested in every little detail about their team and not just watered down mainstream talk. - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports7910.com.
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