NFL Week 11 Picks

Last week: 6-8
Season: 73-70-3

Arizona at Atlanta (-9.5)
Analysis: The Falcons are coming off their first loss of the season and get to face a team riding a five-game losing streak after a 4-0 start. The Cardinals bring a fierce defense but a patsy offense, meaning they will be hard-pressed to keep up with Atlanta in a track meet. However, for all the accolades being thrust upon Atlanta this year, they’ve been lucky to escape a number of close games and may have a hard time blowing the Cardinals out of the building. Cardinals

Cincinnati (-3.5) at Kansas City
Analysis: The Bengals may have found new life after last week’s thrashing of the Giants. The Chiefs did everything in their power to lose to the Steelers despite a game effort and one has to wonder if this team has any real desire to play disciplined football for Romeo Crennel. The Bengals need to be wary of a trap game here with a real chance to get back into the AFC playoff race, and figure to do just enough in a potential letdown spot against the woeful Chiefs, who are winless at home. Bengals

Cleveland at Dallas (-9)
Analysis: The Cowboys can look so impressive at times, can’t they? Last week’s win over Philly kept them alive in the NFC East, and now they host the woeful Browns with a crack at .500. The Browns are going nowhere fast, and the Cowboys could finally have a rout in store for an inferior opponent. It’s always dangerous to give the Cowboys nine points, but then again it’s always dangerous to pick Cleveland for anything. Cowboys

Green Bay (-3.5) at Detroit
Analysis: What to make of the Lions? They appear to be so talented, yet can’t put it all together. Their season is truly on the line Sunday against the red-hot Packers coming off a bye. The Lions have yet to beat an elite team this year, and the Packers are in a real groove right now in hot pursuit of the first-place Bears. But something tells me the Lions will muster up a spirited effort and give the Cheeseheads a run for their money, because a loss means the end of the line. It’s that extra half-point that makes the Lions easier to pick here. Lions

Jacksonville at Houston (-15)
Analysis: Boy are the Jaguars a mess. Initially my read on this game was to take the points with Jacksonville, but then thinking back on how anemic they were against Indianapolis, I realize their talent level is so far off from most teams that 15 points actually seems generous. Houston is rolling right now and while this feels like a potential trap spot, I just can’t fathom the MJD-less Jaguars hanging with the Texans past the first quarter here. Texans

New York Jets at St. Louis (-3.5)
Analysis: The Rams botched a chance for a win last week and had to settle for a tie, essentially killing their hopes of making noise in the NFC West race. Everyone and their mother is going to pick them here because the Jets are in turmoil, making it that much easier to take Rex Ryan to turn his bunch into harmonious hounds and right the ship. Jets

Philadelphia at Washington (-3.5)
Analysis: Two teams with loyal fanbases and lost seasons starting rookie quarterbacks is a tough pick. The Eagles are in almost as much turmoil as the Jets, while the Redskins are just… well, the Redskins. Still, a week off likely did RG3 and company good, so Washington is catching its rivals at the right time. Redskins

Tampa Bay (-1) at Carolina
Analysis: One of the feel-good stories so far is the Buccaneers, although their head coach makes them less likable. Winners of four straight, the Bucs travel to Carolina to take on the hugely-disappointing Panthers, whom they beat 16-10 in Week 1. The momentum is with Tampa Bay and against Carolina, giving me my only logic to go with on this game. Buccaneers

New Orleans (-4.5) at Oakland
Analysis: Like the Rams, everyone and their brother will be on the Saints here, proclaiming New Orleans is back after last week’s win over the unbeaten Falcons. The Raiders were torched by Baltimore last week, but they can score and the Saints defense is susceptible to big play, meaning this could be closer than anticipated. Raiders

Indianapolis at New England (-9.5)
Analysis: The Colts have been one of the great stories of the NFL season, with rookie Andrew Luck leading the resilient bunch, playing for ailing coach Chuck Pagano, to a 6-3 start a year after finishing with the league’s worst record. But now comes their biggest test yet in New England, the league’s best offense and highest scoring team. New England got a wakeup call last week against Buffalo and should be sharp and ready to go in this one against Indy, who seems ready for a letdown after a series of inspiring wins. Patriots

San Diego at Denver (-8)
Analysis: This one looks too easy. The Broncos rallied from 24 points down to beat the Chargers in Week 6, they’re rolling, the Chargers are reeling, Norv Turner’s job is in jeopardy, etc., etc. But this is a rivalry game and a good one at that. The key, as always, is Philip Rivers avoiding the turnovers. This one should be close regardless with two strong offenses and two questionable defenses, and while the Broncos should find a way to win as much as the Chargers should find a way to lose, I’ll take the points. Chargers

Baltimore (-3.5) at Pittsburgh
Analysis: Both these teams are severely banged up. Pittsburgh will be without Ben Roethlisberger and Troy Polamalu, while the Ravens are missing Ray Lewis and their top two cornerbacks in LarDarius Webb and Jimmy Smith. People seem to think Byron Leftwich isn’t capable of pulling the upset, but the Ravens know better (after all, they jumped through hoops trying to draft him to no avail in 2003). These games, Big Ben or no Big Ben, are always close no matter what, so why would this one be any difference with first place on the line? Steelers

Chicago at San Francisco (-5)
Analysis: If it comes down to the backups, give a slight edge to the 49ers because Colin Kaepernick has played some this year and has some special packages designed for him. Still, neither offense figures to do much against either defense, meaning the score should resemble the one of the last time these teams met in San Francisco, which was 10-6. Bears

This just isn’t the Saints year, and coming off a big emotional win New Orleans could be due for a letdown traveling to the West Coast, not to mention neither defense can really stop anyone, meaning this is anyone’s game. Carson Palmer should have a big game.

Miami at Buffalo (-2.5)
Analysis: The Bills gave New England a spirited effort last Sunday while the Dolphins essentially rolled over to Tennessee. Both teams are conceivably alive for a playoff spot in the tepid AFC. Rookie quarterbacks on the road in divisional games are usually hard to count on, so Buffalo has a slight edge here despite their poor track record. Bills

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