JIMMY THE GEEK/Special to Bullet News
If you bet straight up, I won eight out of 13 last week with the 49ers game tying. If you go by the spreads, I won eight out of 14. What happened to the Giants? Steelers just squeaked one out in overtime! Tennessee certainly showed up. The 49ers tie the Rams? What a week it was.
My Week 11 Picks:
-1.5 Buffalo Bills v. Miami Dolphins
I thought it would be more than four years before the NFL put the Bills in the prime time spotlight, after two crushing/demoralizing defeats on Monday Night Football (29-27 to Cleveland in ’08 & 25-24 to Dallas in ’07). I’m not a (3-6) Buffalo Bills fan, but I remember walking out of Ralph Wilson Stadium after those games upset. Fast forward a few years and a couple more forgettable seasons and it’s Week 11 of 2012 and the division rival (4-5) Miami Dolphins are coming to town! Sure, Ryan Fitzpatrick hasn’t been the franchise QB anyone has wanted through 9 games this season, but he wasn’t that bad last week against arguably the best team in the entire NFL over the last decade, with 337 yds 2 TDs & 1 INT. Bills RB Fred Jackson is listed as out for this game which will mean more carries for the 3rd year RB out of Clemson, and the current NFL yards-per-carry leader- C.J. Spiller. Spiller’s explosiveness should open up Miami’s weak defence for QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to (hopefully) not turn the ball over. Last week I picked the Bills to cover the spread against the Patriots, this week I’m taking the Buffalo Bills to win & cover the spread.
Detroit Lions v. (-3.5) Green Bay Packers
As much as I hate the Packers, I truly believe that the (4-5) Detroit Lions will pull off the surprising upset win against their NFC North rival, the (6-3) Green Bay Packers, this Sunday. Detroit will be vying for their first win against the Packers since week 14 of the 2010 season when they took down the future 2010 Champions 7-3. This year the Lions have the top ranked passing offence through 9 games, averaging 307.3 yards per game compared to the 12th Packers who average 249.3 yds/game. Although both teams are averaging just over 99 yards per game on the ground, the 2nd year RB out of Illinois for the Lions, Mikel Leshoure, could have a big day since the dangerous Packers 4th year OLB Clay Matthews III is most likely going to be listed as OUT with a hamstring injury he suffered in Green Bays Week 9 win against Arizona. Vegas is picking the Packers, but I’m going to step out on a limb and take the Detroit Lions to win and cover the spread.
(-10) Atlanta Falcons v. Arizona Cardinals
Last week I correctly predicted the New Orleans Saints to hand the then undefeated (8-1) Atlanta Falcons their first defeat. This week, I don’t think the (4-5) Arizona Cardinals stand a chance. Mike Smith is a great coach, and Falcons QB Matt Ryan doesn’t lose at home. Arizona hasn’t won since they opened the season 4-0 and they’re only averaging 295.4 total yards per game through nine matches. Both the Cardinals and Falcons defences are having troubles stopping the run, allowing 126.1 & 129.8 yards per game, which is good enough for the 24th & 25th ranked run defences respectively. Atlanta on the other hand is averaging 385.2 total yards per game, 292.9 yards per game of which are through the air, by the arm of possible future MVP QB Matt Ryan. The only way I see Arizona competing in this game is if the 2008 Cardinals defence shows up, with retired QB Kurt Warner. Someone to watch for is Cardinals 3rd year RB out of Ohio State, Chris (Beanie) Wells who is “on target” to return to action this week after being out with a toe since week 4. Falcons for the win & to cover the spread.
-1.5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers
The (5-4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been playing some great football the last few weeks. Rookie RB out of Boise St., Doug Martin has been running all over opposing defences since the Bucs came off of their week 5 bye, and QB Josh Freeman has been quite efficient only throwing 1 INT over that same time. It’s often said that the team who turns the ball over less will win the game, and that’s been the case for the 2-7 Carolina Panthers. Since the Panthers week 6 bye they’ve racked up 6 turnovers (5 INTS & 1 Mike Tolbert fumble). They’ve also only gone 1-3 in that span. Surprisingly that only win was the only game the Carolina Panthers did not turn the ball over (week 9 @ Washington). When not giving the ball to opposing teams, 2nd year Panthers QB out of Auburn can be quite dangerous so I’m glad the spread on this game is only (-1.5) in favour of Tampa Bay. I’m taking the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to go into Carolina and come out with a victory, covering the small spread.
-7.5 Dallas Cowboys v Cleveland Browns
The (4-5) Dallas Cowboys need to start a winning streak soon and what better a matchup, at home, to follow a big divisional win against the Philadelphia Eagles in week 10 then the (2-7) Cleveland Browns. The Browns are horrible this year, but they are one of those teams where on any given Sunday they can squeeze out a victory as shown by their week 6 win against the state rival Cincinnati Bengals, and their week 8 upset against the San Diego Chargers. If 2nd year WR Greg Little learns how to actually catch the great passes that rookie QB Brandon Weeden dishes out to him, then the Browns might just go into Dallas and send Cowboys Head Coach, Jeff Garrett, to the unemployment line. I doubt that will happen though, so I’m going to take the Dallas Cowboys for the win, but I don’t think they will cover the spread.
Philadelphia Eagles v. (-3.5) Washington Redskins
Last week when (3-6) Philadelphia Eagles QB Mike Vick went down in the second quarter with a concussion against the Dallas Cowboys, back-up Eagles QB Nick Foles came in relief and didn’t do too bad, throwing 22/32 passes for 219 yards, 1 TD & 1 INT in defeat. The (3-6) Washington Redskins, led by the 2nd overall pick out of Baylor, former Heisman Trophy Winner & possible 2012 Rookie of the Year candidate, QB Robert Griffin III, have shown if they can protect Griffin they’re dangerous. Another player to watch out for is Redskins rookie RB out of Florida Atlantic, Alfred Morris. Through 9 games this season Morris has racked up 793 rushing yards, which is good for seventh on the list so far, with 5 TD’s. Although the Eagles are 3 games under .500, they have the 8th ranked offence and 12th ranked defence compared to Washington’s 7th ranked offence and 28th ranked defence. This is a huge divisional game which will pretty much kill the losing team’s season. It is no secret that Eagles long-time Head Coach Andy Reid’s job is on the line this season, so expect Philadelphia to come out playing hard football to save his job. I can’t see the Eagles dropping two division games in a row so I’m taking the Philadelphia Eagles to win on Sunday.
(-3) St. Louis Rams v. New York Jets
The (3-6) New York Jets sure are dysfunctional. I just read an article where an unnamed Jets player was ripping back-up QB Timothy Tebow! When players are coming out (although anonymously) in week 11 trashing golden boy Tim Tebow, the back-up QB, you know things are bad. The J-E-T-S are going into the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis on Sunday for their second away game in a row, after losing to the Seattle Seahawks 28-7 in week 10. The (3-5-1) St. Louis Rams are entering this game on the heels of the first NFL tie since the Eagles & Bengals came out with a 13-13 tie in November of 2008. Rams veteran RB Steven Jackson had his best game of his season last week posting 101 yards on 29 carries producing 1 TD on the day. If the Rams are going to beat the Jets they are going to have to hope for the same production out of Jackson in order to open up some room for the speedy Rams receivers, most notably 3rd year WR out of Texas Tech, Danny Amendola who racked up 102 yards on 11 catches last week after missing the prior 3 Rams games with a shoulder injury. I like Rex Ryan as a Head Coach, but I like Rams Head coach Jeff Fisher a lot better. I’m taking the St. Louis Rams for the win and to cover the spread.
(-3.5) Cincinnati Bengals @ Kansas City Chiefs
The (4-5) Cincinnati Bengals have been quite hard to predict this season. They lose to good teams (Pitt & BAL), beat the reigning Champions (NYG), and hardly show up against some bad ones (MIA & CLE). This week 11 matchup sees the Bengals venturing down to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the (1-8) Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs nearly pulled off an upset win last week in Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football, until Chiefs QB Matt Cassel went Matt Cassel in OT and threw a game ending interception less than a minute into overtime. I’m picking the Bengals to win this game, and to cover the spread, but if Chiefs RB Jamal Charles can get moving early in this game and QB Matt Cassel can only complete passes to Chiefs players… I think it could be close. All things considered, I think Cincinnati wins by a touchdown.
-15.5 Houston Texans v. Jacksonville Jaguars
The last time these two division rivals squared off was week 2 in Jacksonville and witnessed the (8-1) Houston Texans embarrass the (1-8) Jacksonville Jaguars 27-7. I say embarrass because the 2nd ranked Texans defence held 2nd year Jacksonville QB Blaine Gabbert to a brutal stat line of 7/19 passes completed for a grand total of 53 yards with 1 TD. The Jaguars workhorse of a RB, Maurice Jones-Drew, was only able to scrape together 12 carries for 60 yards in that Week 2 match up while his Texans counterpart, RB Arian Foster put together a line of 28 carries for 110 yards and 1 TD on the ground, and six catches for 37 yards in the air. It’s hard to believe that the Jacksonville Jaguars will keep this game close, but after the week 2 loss, and the fact that this is a divisional game…. (-15.5) is too big. I am picking the Houston Texans to win, but I don’t think they will cover the spread. Jags QB Blaine Gabbert has been able to zero in on rookie WR Cecil Shorts in the past few weeks, so keep an eye on him.
-4.5 New Orleans Saints @ Oakland Raiders
The (4-5) New Orleans Saints are sporting the league’s worst defence. They’re allowing 307.3 yds/game in the air (second worst only to Tampa Bay), and 162.0 yds/game on the ground (second worst only to the Buffalo Bills). That’s horrible. You’re not going to win many games, unless you have offensive weapons like veteran QB Drew Brees & any receiver they put on the line, pretty much. Even though they have gone over the 100 rushing yards point only once this season (*Carolina week 2) it seems like their RB’s are breaking big runs at big times. I guess I should say something about the Raiders! but it’s really a case of the same old story. When Talented RB Darren McFadden is healthy he runs like a bullet… but he’s not. Veteran QB Carson Palmer can throw that ball all over the field, and he’s going to pepper the Saints’ Swiss cheese defence… but even the 31st ranked New Orleans Saints defence will pick some sixes out of the air. I’m taking the New Orleans Saints to win & cover the spread.
San Diego Chargers v. (-7.5) Denver Broncos
The (6-3) Denver Broncos are coming into this game on a win streak of 4 games, which began with the week 6 35-24 victory, in San Diego. The Broncos have the 3rd ranked defence through 9 games this season averaging 395.1 yards per game compared to the (4-5) San Diego Chargers 334.6 yds/gm. The Chargers have the 2nd ranked defence against the rush this season, allowing 82.9 yds/game, and against the pass they have allowed 234.1 yds per game. Head coach Norv Turner better hope his defence shows up this weekend because Broncos veteran QB Peyton Manning has been getting better each week, throwing for 292.9 yds/gm & 21 TDs on the year. He has only thrown 6 INTs so far, compared to Chargers QB Philip Rivers’ 12. All things considered, I’m picking the San Diego Chargers to, at the least cover the spread. It feels wrong to say Manning is going to lose, I have to call my shot! Upset of the week. Let’s go Chargers! Malcolm Floyd & Antonio Gates all day please.
Indianapolis Colts @ (-9) New England Patriots
It feels like just last week we were almost lucky enough to witness a Buffalo Bills comeback victory in Foxboro? A high scoring game no doubt. As long as Bill Belichick is coaching in New England then that’s how long I think the (6-3) New England Patriots will be Super Bowl contenders. That being said, I think (6-3) Indianapolis Colts have someone who is going to keep them in the AFC conversation for many years to come in rookie 1st overall QB out of Stanford, Adam Luck. The Colts are playing spirited football these days in honour of their Head Coach who’s battling cancer, Chuck Pagano, and have proven that they can stay in games long enough to come out with a victory. They beat Green Bay. I’m going to take the Indianapolis Colts to cover the spread, but I think the New England Patriots will come out victorious.
(-3) Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Twice a year we get the pleasure of seeing these two perennial AFC contenders slug it out. Steelers QB Big Ben Roethlisberger took a nasty shot last week and it’s unclear at this moment if he’s going to suit up on Sunday, which would be a devastating blow to the Steelers season since all games from here on out are must win situations. The 2012 Baltimore Ravens have put the ball in the hands of their QB Joe Flacco much more this season, throwing for 249.2 yds/gm while rushing for only 104.9 yds/gm. The Steelers have a revolving door this season at RB, but it’s quite possible that RB Rashard Mendenhall will be returning after being out for most of the season nursing an Achilles injury he suffered last season. I think that the Baltimore Ravens will beat the Steelers, in Pittsburgh, pretty bad on Sunday. Taking the Ravens to win & cover.
Chicago Bears @ (-5) San Francisco 49ers
I’m a huge Bears fan so please don’t expect me to bet against them. Instead I’ll try my best to sell Da Bears to you! This past off-season the Bears brass went out and signed free agent QB Jason Campbell (Oakland, Washington) to replace outgoing back-up QB Caleb Hanie. QB Jason Campbell has the most NFL experience next to Eli Mannings back-up in New York, QB David Carr. Sure the offence hasn’t been firing on all cylinders this season, yet, and sure WR/kick-return specialist extraordinaire/Hall of Fame bound Devin Hester hasn’t return a kick/punt all season, yet…. Have you seen Da Bears defence? The (6-2-1) San Francisco 49ers are entering this game after tying the St. Louis Rams in a tight week 10 matchup which seen both teams miss overtime field goals. The 49ers have allowed more than 15 points only three times this season. It will be interesting to see how 2nd year QB Colin Kaepernick fares in his first career start, if veteran 49ers QB Alex Smith is not able to suit up after going down with a concussion in the second quarter of last week’s game.