Ramblin’ Fan’s NFL Picks and Predictions: Week 11


Week 11 of the NFL schedule is all about playoff positioning. With several games having huge implications on postseason berth and seeding, starting Thursday night, games have become more and more important for some teams. Other teams have come to the point in their season where they look to play spoiler, AKA the Rams. Last week was an admirable 7-6 record both straight-up and against the spread to bring my winning percentages to 56 percent and 52 percent respectively.

What is the spread? In the gambling world, a “spread’ is a term used to handicap games by allowing a team to lose or win by a certain number of points while still winning for a bettor. If the Rams are +3 against the Seahawks, that means that the Rams could win outright or they could lose by two points and still be a victory for a bettor. In the same situation as above, the spread could also read as the Seahawks -3 which again would mean they have to win by three or more points to cover the spread.


Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins (-6)

The Bills poor offensive play calling finally caught up to them last week against the Chiefs. Kyle Orton threw the ball 48 times against the league’s top pass rush, with only 20 planned rushes sprinkled in. Orton is a game manager, but the Bills seem to determine to try and make him put the team on his back. Though a tough loss last week was hard to swallow, losing LT Branden Albert was much worse for the Dolphins. Now they are going to be moving rookie tackle Ja’Waun James to the left side after playing his entire pro and college career on the right. Both of these teams are 5-4 and in the playoff picture meaning this clash may be one of the most important games this season. Ryan Tannehill has been playing great for the ‘Fins and another good game this week will put pressure on Orton and the Bills staff which will likely mismanage another game. Dolphins win 24-21 (Bills cover)


Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears (-3)

Mike Zimmer has made an impact on the Vikings defense so far this season especially now that the team has settled in. In their past four games, the Vikings have held opponents to 18.25 points per game and Minny has held opponents to just 5.3 yards per play. The biggest benefactor has been Teddy Bridgewater, who has thrown two touchdowns and no picks in the past two games. Week by week the Bears continue to look more and more like a ship without a wheel. The team has shown no guts or leadership when faced with adversity and Marc Trestman is looking completely lost. I expect Chicago to play better this week, but that’s not saying much with last week’s throttling, but I believe the Vikings are a team on the rise. This could be the loss that breaks the camel’s back in the Windy City. Vikings wins 23-17 (Vikings cover)

Houston Texans at Cleveland Browns (-3)

With the extra week of prep, the Texans organization decided it was time to try out Ryan Mallett at quarterback. Mallett’s cannon will open up the playbook compared to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s noodle arm. If it works, this Houston team will be hard to beat. The Texans defense has only allowed 21.9 points per game and has generated 14 turnovers. The Browns are team designed to win football games and that should come into play even more in the coming weeks. Cleveland’s team is based around a great offensive line with the best tackle in the game, a deep rotation at running back and a passing attack that has no immediate threat to key in on. This is the time of year when the Browns gritty style will start really winning them games and t expect a mediocre Texans team to derail them is hard to imagine. Browns win 31-24 (Browns cover)

Seattle Seahawks at Kansas City Chiefs (-1.5)

Marshawn Lynch finally rushed for 100+ yards for the first time since Week 1 and rushed for four touchdowns last week, which is good considering the QB play the Seahawks have had. Russell Wilson has completed 55% of his with only one touchdown and three interceptions over the past three weeks. Creativity is far from the Chiefs specialty, but they play a style of football that is technically sound and wins them games. Since their bye in Week 6, the Chiefs have outscored opponents 98-40 while rattling off four straight wins. Two of Seattle’s losses have come on the road and they have been shaky as of late, going into a dangerous place like Arrowhead could be doom for the Seahawks. Chiefs win 24-17 (Chiefs cover)

Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers (-1.5)

In the terrible NFC South, the Falcons 3-6 record has them just one win back of the division crown and the playoffs. Atlanta did what they were supposed to last week against the Buccaneers by winning, mostly on the back of Tampa Bay’s horrible offensive line play, but they’ll need help to win again. If you subtract the two garbage time touchdowns by Kelvin Benjamin, the Panthers should have lost to the Eagles 45-7 last week. With no running game, an offensive line that could not stop a pop warner team and a franchise quarterback who seems as stable as Jell-O in house construction; it’s easy to say the Panthers have been pretty rough around the edges. This is a big game in the NFC South and I expect the Falcons defensive line to use the traction from last week to abuse the Panthers offense and net another win for Atlanta. Falcons win 28-21 (Falcons cover)

Cincinnati Bengals at New Orleans Saints (-7.5)

There is no way to sugar coat it, the Bengals looked like the worst team in the NFL Thursday. The most impressive feat anyone on the Bengals accomplished was Andy Dalton managing to achieve a 2.0 passer rating. Since the bye Cincy is 2-3-1, with one of those wins coming against the Jaguars, with an 0-2 record on the road. Despite an OT loss to the 49ers, the Saints are rolling thanks to a suddenly strong run game. The past three games has seen Mark Ingram rush for 392 yards and three touchdowns, with the passing game not slowing down for the high octane Saints. The Bengals next three games all come on the road, which has been their weak point this season, and will be entering a New Orleans team that is dominant at home. Saints win 35-28 (Bengals cover)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Washington Redskins (-7.5)

You need to feel for Josh McCown this week. He has been in an unenviable position going from starter to backup back to starter and truly had a pretty solid game, but the team around him was terrible. Bucs backs rushed for 53 yards, McCown rushed for 39 yards himself, and the offensive line let him get sacked four times against the weak Falcons defense. Going into last week’s bye, the Redskins had managed to go 2-1 with three different starting QB’s. I expect the offense to start playing better now that RGIII has had the extra week to learn the offense too. McCown has proven that he can be a solid, if unspectacular, but the surrounding team won’t be enough to keep up with the Redskins offense. Redskins win 17-13 (Buccaneers cover)

Denver Broncos at St. Louis Rams (+9)

It’s almost gotten boring watching the Broncos trounce opponents while routinely scoring 40 or more points. The Broncos took out every bit of aggression they had from losing to the Patriots on the poor Raiders last week. Jeff Fisher has decided to revert back to Shaun Hill at QB, in hopes that experience will help this Rams team to end the season. Hill brings what Austin Davis never did, which is consistency. Hill is not going to be mistaken for an All-Pro, but he will be serviceable and he will not lose the Rams the game. Defensively, the secondary as touched by the Cardinals when the team had no answer for Bruce Arians downfield passing attack. If the Rams look to stay in the game this week, it could very well be on the shoulders of the defensive line once again. You’d be hard pressed to find a better defensive tackle in the game than Aaron Donald right now and since his inclusion in the starting lineup the defense has reverted to their sacking ways. Optimism is great, delusion is sad. Broncos win 42-17 (Broncos cover)

San Francisco 49ers at New York Giants (+4)

The 49ers managed to beat the unbeatable when they topped the Saints at home in dramatic fashion, but the game should not have been that close. San Fran went up 14-3 after the first quarter, but Drew Brees picked apart the defense to drive the game into overtime. The secondary needs to improve for the 49ers. The New York Giants are still wondering what truck hit them last week when they allowed 350 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground. The football giants have been allowing 144.7 yards on the ground per game, which is easily the worst in the NFL. The 49ers need this game much more than the Giants to keep their season alive and Eli Manning is not going to be pulling a Drew Brees impression this week. 49ers win 24-21 (Giants cover)

Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers (-10.5)

The 41-17 beat down the Raiders suffered last week was really bad. The defense was completely non-existent, the running game amassed 30 yards on 15 carries and Derek Carr was adequate at best. The Raiders will go winless this season if they play like that down the stretch. The bye could not have come at a better time for the Chargers who dropped three straight and got wrecked by the Dolphins in Week 9. Phillip Rivers has thrown six interceptions in those three games while only averaging 60 rushing yards per game. The Chargers are certainly getting an opportunity to ease back into the world of competitiveness, but I’m expecting a rebound from the Raiders. This game will be closer than expected, but the Chargers should still win. Chargers win 38-21 (Chargers cover)

Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals (-2)

There has been no conversation of it, but the Detroit Lions are legitimate contenders this season. The team has some of the best playmakers in football offensively and their defense is one of the tops in the league. The rest of the schedule will show how tough they are as they face the Cardinals, Patriots and four NFC North clashes. The loss of Carson Palmer is big, but let’s face it; none of us expected Palmer or the Cardinals to be this good. The Cards coaching staff has managed to turn this team of pieces into a genuine top team in the NFL this season. An adjustment period will be expected, but Drew Stanton should be a fine compliment. This will be a close battle, but the Lions defense will make the difference against the journeyman Stanton. Lions win 27-17 (Lions cover)

Philadelphia Eagles at Green Bay Packers (-6)

People have finally realized that Mark Sanchez is not as bad as we all perceived. Anyone coming from that Jets team will look bad, but once Chip Kelly put him in a Pac-12 style offense he is comfortable with, it’s clear Sanchez can still be a capable QB in the NFL. Sure he might not be a Pro Bowl caliber player, but there are much worse starters in the league. At the start of the season, the Packers looked like they were destined for mediocrity. However, Aaron Rodgers has the offense flying high and the defense has settled down to a “bend don’t break” style that fits them. Offensively, the Packers have the edge and defensively the Eagles have the edge. This game should be a bout of two giants, but after Dom Capers has figured out how to get Clay Matthews and Nick Perry on the field at once, Sanchez could get flustered. Packers win 32-28 (Eagles cover)

New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts (-3)

Let’s hope the Patriots enjoyed their bye week because this season is about to get rough. Six of the final seven games come against teams in playoff contention. Though it seems like forever ago, the Patriots two losses this season have come on the road and they will be visiting Indy, Green Bay and San Diego in the coming weeks. The Colts are coming out of their bye week with an easier schedule, but this game with the Pats and a matchup in Cleveland will determine the AFC playoff picture. This game will be a shootout and with both teams so evenly matched, the home field advantage seems to be the only defining trait between the two teams. Colts win 28-27 (Patriots cover)


Pittsburgh Steelers at Tennessee Titans (+6)

Pittsburgh came crashing down to earth once they left the friendly confines of Heinz Field last week and got beaten by the lowly Jets. Ben Roethlisberger managed just one touchdown compared to 12 in the previous two outings and the offense and with the running game not clicking, the team stalled. Zach Mettenberger has been feed to the wolves so far in his two starts. Seven sacks and innumerable pressures have caused the rookie to make some bad plays and hurt the Titans. Until Tennessee can protect ‘The Met Show,’ the Titans are doomed to fail, even with the Steelers road woes. Steelers win 24-21 (Titans cover)