The first half of the season is over and now we start to move into crunch time. No more Bye Weeks for the rest of the season, and there will be one game per week played on Thursday night from here on out. There are only a handful of teams that aren’t in a playoff race, and this week features some matchups with clear playoff implications.
Last week’s prediction record: 7-7
Record on the season: 75-53
Upset Special record: 4-5
Here are my predictions for Week 11 of the 2010 NFL season:
Thursday, November 18: Chicago Bears (6-3) at Miami Dolphins (5-4)
The Miami Dolphins get a Thursday night game at the most inopportune time, after quarterbacks Chad Pennington and Chad Henne left Miami’s Week 10 game with injuries. Tyler Thigpen and a heavy dose of the wildcat formation were able to seal up the Dolphins’ win against the Titans, but I don’t think it’s something Miami can rely on for an entire game. Despite all of their offensive inconsistency this season, the Bears’ defense has been consistently strong and should be able to handle a very banged up Dolphins team.
2010 Week 11 Prediction: Chicago Bears defeat Miami Dolphins
Arizona Cardinals (3-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (5-4)
The Kansas City Chiefs are a perfect 4-0 at home, while the Arizona Cardinals are 1-4 on the road. The Chiefs rank in the top half of the league in total offense, while the Cardinals rank in the bottom fourth of the league in both categories. Any questions?
2010 Week 11 Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs defeat Arizona Cardinals
Baltimore Ravens (6-3) at Carolina Panthers (1-8)
The Baltimore Ravens almost beat the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome. The Carolina Panthers can barely put together offensive numbers against…anyone. This is probably one of the easiest predictions of the week.
2010 Week 11 Prediction: Baltimore Ravens defeat Carolina Panthers
Buffalo Bills (1-8) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-7)
Tough to get excited about a game when the two teams playing are a combined 3-15, so let’s just get to the point: The Bengals and Bills are probably both slightly better than their records indicate, and the Bengals’ offense should be able to take advantage of an awful Bills rush defense.
2010 Week 11 Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals defeat Buffalo Bills
Detroit Lions (2-7) at Dallas Cowboys (2-7)
The Cowboys started the Jason Garrett era with a bang. Dallas got a convincing win over the New York Giants, and now they get to face a team that has lost 25 straight road games. For the first time in a while, it looks like the Cowboys are easily the favorite for this matchup.
2010 Week 11 Prediction: Dallas Cowboys defeat Detroit Lions
Washington Redskins (4-5) at Tennessee Titans (5-4)
Donovan McNabb manages to look terrific one play and absolutely dreadful the next. He had moments like this when he played in Philadelphia, but he’s been infinitely more confounding since joining the Washington Redskins. The Titans are struggling to fit Randy Moss into their offense, but if Vince Young is able to go for Tennessee come gametime, the Titans should be able to come out of this one with a win.
2010 Week 11 Prediction: Tennessee Titans defeat Washington Redskins
Green Bay Packers (6-3) at Minnesota Vikings (3-6)
The later we get into the season, the more likely we’re going to start seeing huge road vs. home splits for Brett Favre. He’s been notoriously bad through most of his career when playing in cold weather, but the Vikings get to take on the Packers in the friendly (and warm) confines of the Metrodome. It’s a good thing for Minnesota, too, ’cause Green Bay has been playing terrific football over the past few weeks. Divisional battles of this magnitude are almost always competitive, but I think the Packers have enough to pull out the win.
2010 Week 11 Prediction: Green Bay Packers defeat Minnesota Vikings
Houston Texans (4-5) at New York Jets (7-2)
Over their last four games, the New York Jets have gone 3-1 despite needing two overtime games and a last minute drive to get those three wins. Over their last three games, the Houston Texans have been torched by opposing offenses and are 0-3. In fact, if Houston hadn’t orchestrated a last minute drive to beat the Chiefs, the Texans would be heading into this game with five straight losses. Neither team is playing exceptionally well right now, but the Jets are getting the wins while the Texans aren’t.
2010 Week 11 Prediction: New York Jets defeat Houston Texans
Oakland Raiders (5-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3)
The Raiders are one the hottest teams in the NFL right now, riding a huge three game winning streak and coming fresh off a Bye Week. Unfortunately for Oakland, they have to face a Steelers team that is sure to be angry after getting blown out by the New England Patriots.
2010 Week 11 Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers defeat Oakland Raiders.
Cleveland Browns (3-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars (5-4)
Colt McCoy has put a spark into the Cleveland Browns offense. Since naming McCoy as the starter, the Browns have beaten one of the top teams in the NFC (the New Orleans Saints) and one of the top teams in the AFC (the New England Patriots). Last week, Cleveland almost beat the Jets before falling to New York in overtime. The Jaguars, however, have won back-to-back games, and David Garrard has done an amazing job when playing against teams that are in the bottom half of the league in pass defense. The Browns’ pass defense is in the bottom third in the NFL.
2010 Week 11 Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars defeat Cleveland Browns
Atlanta Falcons (7-2) at St. Louis Rams (4-5)
I really like this year’s St. Louis Rams team, especially at home…but they’re probably not going to beat an Atlanta Falcons team that’s riding high after beating the Baltimore Ravens. Sam Bradford and company should keep the game reasonably close, but Atlanta comes out with the win.
2010 Week 11 Prediction: Atlanta Falcons defeat St. Louis Rams
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3) at San Francisco 49ers (3-6) **Upset Special**
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been one of the surprise teams in the NFL this season, already doubling their win total from last season. They haven’t been blowing teams away, however, and they’re facing a San Francisco team that looks rejuvenated with Troy Smith as their quarterback. It’s a tough call, but I just feel like there’s an upset brewing here.
2010 Week 11 Prediction: San Francisco 49ers defeat Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Indianapolis Colts (6-3) at New England Patriots (7-2)
Never bet against Tom Brady at home. Ever. Even if you think the Colts have a chance, just don’t do it. Talk yourself down and go with the Pats.
2010 Week 11 Prediction: New England Patriots defeat Indianapolis Colts
Seattle Seahawks (5-4) at New Orleans Saints (6-3)
The Seattle Seahawks still sport a -33 point differential, despite a convincing 36-18 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 10. The Saints, meanwhile, have the second best point differential in the NFC at +50. Any questions?
2010 Week 11 Prediction: New Orleans Saints defeat Seattle Seahawks
Sunday Night Game: New York Giants (6-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (6-3)
If you had asked me before last weekend who would win this game, I would’ve said the New York Giants in a close fought battle. After the Giants lost to the Cowboys and the Eagles demolished the Washington Redskins, I’ve definitely changed my mind. Michael Vick is not just making the most of his second chance at football: He’s a legitimate MVP candidate. Vick hasn’t thrown an interception all season and he has 11 passing touchdowns and 4 rushing touchdowns. The Giants have a good defense, but they’re going to have their hands full with an Eagles offense that seems to be completely in sync right now.
2010 Week 11 Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles defeat New York Giants
Monday Night Game: Denver Broncos (3-6) at San Diego Chargers (4-5)
The San Diego Chargers have two splits working in their advantage this week: They play much better at home (3-1 this season, 9-3 over the past two seasons) and often play much better in the second half of the season than the first half (see San Diego’s 11-0 run to end the 2009 season). The Chargers still have the best total offense and the second best total defense in the NFL, and they should be able to easily dispatch an underachieving Broncos team.
2010 Week 11 Prediction: San Diego Chargers defeat Denver Broncos
All stats and standings from espn.com