With games between the Giants and Broncos, Steelers and Ravens and, the biggest one of all, the Pats and Saints, this week looks like another hard one to pick!
After an 8-7 week 10, I bounced back with a 13-3 record last week, taking me to 94-34 overall. Here are my picks for this week:
Green Bay (6-4) @ Detroit (2-8)
My pick: Green Bay
-The Detroit Lions played in one of the games of the week last week – a 38-37 last-second win over the equally brutal Cleveland Browns. However, quarterback Matthew Stafford is out with a separated shoulder and wide receiver Calvin Johnson has also been sitting out of practice with hand and knee injuries. Yes, they put up big numbers last week, but this is a game the Green Bay Packers, who are riding a two-game win streak, should win this one.
Oakland (3-7) @ Dallas (7-3)
My pick: Dallas
-If you go by the stats, this game is barely worth even playing for the Oakland Raiders; however, with a new quarterback and a new outlook, they might not be as easy to beat as those stats suggest. Bruce Gradkowski took over from JaMarcus Russell last week and led the Raiders to a late win over the heavily favored Cincinnati Bengals. The Cowboys, on the other hand, needed a late touchdown to beat the Washington Redskins…7-6. Dallas QB Tony Romo hurt himself early in last week’s game, but coach Wade Phillips says he’s feeling better. The Raiders could upset the Cowboys like they did the Bengals last week, but I’m taking Dallas.
NY Giants (6-4) @ Denver Broncos (6-4)
My pick: New York
-Both teams need a win this week, but the Broncos are a team in peril right now – after a 6-0 start they’ve lost four straight, including a 32-3 thrashing at the hands of the Chargers, their only competition right now in the AFC West. Starting quarterback Kyle Orton is a game-time decision with a sore ankle – so if it comes down to a quarterbacking duel, the Giants are the obvious choice. That overtime win over Atlanta last week was very important for NY, as they snap a four-game losing skid of their own – look for them to build off that momentum.
Tampa Bay (1-9) @ Atlanta (5-5)
My pick: Atlanta
-Despite a ton of injuries and their star running back only “questionable” for this game, I think Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons will have enough juice to get past the lowly Buccaneers. Since taking over at QB, Josh Freeman is 1-2 (with one of those losses a near-upset of the Dolphins), which makes me feel like a Tampa win is possible. Having said that, the Falcons battled hard last week only to lose in OT to the Giants, which I think will be a motivator heading into this game. Also, they’re a perfect 4-0 at home so far this season. If Michael Turner can play, that’ll be a huge boost for Atlanta.
Miami (5-5) @ Buffalo (3-7)
My pick: Miami
-Ricky Williams is coming off of back-to-back 100+ yard rushing games for the Dolphins which included two rushing majors and a touchdown reception last week against Carolina last week – this could mean trouble for the Bills, who have the second-worst rush defense in the entire league. The one-two punch of Williams and Ronnie Brown is no longer, with Brown out for the season, but it looks like Ricky is up to the challenge. The Bills will really have to rely on Terrell Owens making some big plays if they want to win this game, but other than that they don’t seem to have much going for them, with streaks of three straight losses, and three straight losses at home. Dolphins QB Chad Henne has to try and limit his risks, because as bad as Buffalo’s run defense is, they lead the AFC in interceptions this season with 17.
Washington (3-7) @ Philadelphia (6-4)
My pick: Philadelphia
-If the Washington Redskins had a halfway decent offense, they might actually be a team worth talking about – I mean, what good is having the number one ranked pass defense if you can’t put points on the board. The Redskins have scored more than 20 points once this season (through 10 games), and average just shy of 15 points per game. The Eagles won a tight one last week in Chicago, snapping a two-game losing skid; they need this win to keep their NFC East hopes alive. It’ll come down to a strong performance by quarterback Donovan McNabb, who has four TD passes over the last two weeks.
Seattle (3-7) @ St. Louis (1-9)
My pick: St. Louis
-The Seahawks are 0-5 on the road; the Rams are 0-5 at home – something has got to give! The Seahawks have been a disappointing team this year as far as I’m concerned, and with nothing more than pride at stake for both teams, this is a wide-open contest. You know, the Rams have three losses of five or less points this season (which, had they pulled out wins would make them a 4-6 club as opposed to a 1-9 one). Since their one win this season, the Rams have had a bye, a close loss to the Saints and an eight-point loss to Arizona. I’m going out on a limb here, but I think the Rams pick up their second win of the season on Sunday.
Carolina (4-6) @ NY Jets (4-6)
My pick: Carolina
-The NY Jets have been a tough team to gauge this season, mainly due to the inconsistent play of quarterback Mark Sanchez. He’s thrown six interceptions over the last two weeks since the Jets bye, all while throwing just two TDs. The Jets and Panthers have identical records and are pretty even statistically, and this is a big game as both teams try to stay in the playoff picture. The Panthers are coming off a one-score loss to the Dolphins last week and have two wins over the Cardinals in the last four games. If they can provide a balanced ground and air attack, the Panthers should be able to win this one.
Cleveland (1-9) @ Cincinnati (7-3)
My pick: Cincinnati
-If the Bengals want to keep their hopes of winning the AFC North alive, they need this win – they’ve got the Browns this week, the Lions next week, then Minnesota and San Diego. So if they can pick up these two wins, it’ll take some of the pressure off down the stretch. The Browns are coming off a heartbreaking last-play loss to the Lions, following a shutout loss at home…so you know they’re not feeling great. The Bengals have something to prove this week too, after giving up a late lead and losing the Raiders in week 11. Prior to that, they completed the sweep of divisional rivals Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Look for them to complete another sweep this weekend.
Indianapolis (10-0) @ Houston (5-5)
My pick: Indianapolis
-The Houston Texans need this win more than the Colts do – but can they do it? They’re coming off back-to-back 20-17 losses where their kicker Kris Brown missed potential game-tying field goals. If they can’t depend on him to make field goals, I think they’ll have a tough time against the Colts, because they’re going to need all the points they can get. Matt Schaub has been having a heck of a season for the Texans, with 19 TD passes, and they seem to have a pretty balanced offense – but against Indie, it’s going to be a tough one. The Colts have been getting all kinds of lucky bounces in the past few weeks, but lets not forget – their last big test came against the Patriots and they overcame a 17-point deficit for the win. 11-0.
Kansas City (3-7) @ San Diego (7-3)
My pick: San Diego
-The AFC West leading Chargers are another team that is better on the road than at home, but they’re rolling right now with five straight wins. The Chiefs will provide a bit of a challenge, but their offense just doesn’t compare with the production of the Chargers. If LaDainian Tomlinson can keep playing the way he’s been playing the last two weeks, it’ll make things even easier for San Diego. LT has three touchdowns in the last two weeks, which is half of his total of six for the season. KC is riding a two-game win streak, which included an overtime win over the Steelers last week, but it’ll take something really special for them to beat San Diego.
Jacksonville (6-4) @ San Francisco (4-6)
My pick: Jacksonville
-The Niners are starting to play a little better with Ales Smith at pivot and Michael Crabtree is getting better every week (imagine if he hadn’t held out), but the Jags have won three in a row and four of five coming into this week. They’ll need running back Maurice Jones-Drew to get going early, though he’ll face a tough test against the league’s sixth-best rush defense. Jones-Drew leads the league in rushing touchdowns with 13 and is averaging about 93 yards per game, which puts him in the top six in the NFL. The Jags are 5-1 when Jones-Drew has 20 or more carries, so they’d be smart to get the ball in his hands often.
Chicago (4-6) @ Minnesota (9-1)
My pick: Minnesota
-The Vikings are sick in the air, sick on the ground, undefeated at home and against their division – and I think that’ll continue. Brett Favre is having one of, if not the BEST season of his career with 21 touchdown passes and just three interceptions this season and shows no signs of slowing down. Adrian Peterson is questionable for this game, but the coaches say they think he’ll play. That would be a big blow to the Vikings offense, though Favre has shown he is more than capable of winning games in the air. The Bears have lost three straight, and face their toughest test during that stretch in this game.
Arizona (7-3) @ Tennessee (4-6)
My pick: Tennessee
-This is an interesting one: with Vince Young at the helm, the Tennessee Titans are 4-0 after starting out the season winless through six games (and Young has actually won his last 8 starts). On the other hand, the Cardinals have won three straight and are 4-0 on the road. Arizona held on for a win against the lowly St. Louis Rams last week, but lost QB Kurt Warner – he’s questionable for this week after suffering a concussion. I think this will be a tough game for Young and the Titans to win, but they’re playing with an insane amount of confidence right now and that could be what pushes them over the top.
Pittsburgh (6-4) @ Baltimore (5-5)
My pick: Baltimore
-The Steelers will be playing without Ben Roethlisberger this week due to a concussion he suffered last week, which is good news for the Ravens defense. Not to say that Big Ben is the one player that makes the Steelers a good team, but not having him will be a big blow to the club. The Ravens are coming off a close loss to the Colts last week and will probably be able to use that to motivate them for this week. A Baltimore win would move them into a tie with the Steelers for the second in the AFC North.
New England (7-3) @ New Orleans (10-0)
My pick: New Orleans
-I sat here and discussed this one with the girlfriend, and we decided that the Saints will continue their perfect season, even though they’re facing probably their toughest test in the New England Patriots. The Saints looked shaky against some teams they should have pounded a couple of weeks ago, but were back in fine form last week with a 38-7 win over the Bucs (without Reggie Bush). The Pats have been good after a slow start but that loss to the Colts, where they squandered a 17-point lead, concerns me a little bit. The Saints have proven game in and game out that whether it’s on the ground or in the air, they can make you pay. This should be an amazing game to watch!