Week 11 Pigskin Predictions
FINS 20, bears 17
Miami’s little-known QB rises from obscurity to earn his team a key win to extend the Dolphins playoff hopes. Tyler Thigpen (a 7th-round draft pick by Minnesota in 2007) threads his throws through Chicago’s mediocre pass D – finding prime target Brandon Marshall several times – in leading the Fins (5-4) past the Bears (6-3) in a closely fought Thursday night match-up.
RESULT: bears 16, FINS 0
So much for the ol’ Vikes draftee, Thigpen was pretty ineffective last night as Miami was squelched by a stifling Bears defense last night. Thigpen definitely should not take all the blame, however, as his O-Line was horrific (protection-wise) and the Fins coaching was awful as well (not establishing a running game at all and hardly trying to -- Miami called only our running plays in the first half despite trailing by 6 or fewer points). I’ve got to say, though, the Bears are much better than I’ve thought they are and that doesn’t bode well for Minnesota’s long-shot playoff hopes.
Sunday Noon Games
VIKES 27, pack 24
To say this game is a must-win for the Vikings would be an extreme understatement. Minnesota needs this game for two reasons: (1) Narrowly keeping its playoff hopes alive and (2) Pride (the thought of being swept by the Pack is sickening). Brett Favre has had a mostly miserable season, despite displaying his greatness in a couple of contests. The good Gun Slinger shows up for this one as Favre’s ol’ buddy Mr. (Sidney) Rice returns to action and those two -- along with Adrian Peterson -- lead the Purple past the Pack ... Hey, the Vikes might not make the playoffs, but at least this win would give them something to hang their hat on.
Bills 24, BENGALS 20
Upset Special: Want a surprise pick? Her’s my Upset Special for Week 11: Buffalo defeats the Bengals in Cincinnati. Overall, Cincy easily has more talent, but their chemistry appears to be awful this season. The Bills come in to this game with a dreadful rush defense but Cincy’s RB Cedric Benson has been fairly disappointing himself. Also, while the Bengals passing attack has been the team’s strength, the Bills pass D is better than most people would think -- Buffalo ranks 3rd in the AFC in passing yards allowed.
BOYS 30, lions 24
Two teams with combined records of 4-14 meet in Big D this Sunday afternoon. I firmly believe both are better than what their records present (especially Dallas) and that this will be an entertaining game. The change at head coach -- Jason Garret in, Wade Phillips out -- fared well for the Cowboys last week in New York, but after starting the season 1-7 can they make it two in a row? Yes. They can and they will. The Lions are tougher than they’ve been in recent years past and if they had a healthy Matthew Stafford for this game I’d say it’s a toss-up. However, without their young stud QB (Stafford -- out to due shoulder injury), Detroit’s respectable back-up (Shaun Hill) and star wideout (Calvin Johnson) come up on the losing end this week.
TITANS 23, skins 20
The Redskins? How about the Dreadskins? Yuck. The Burgundy and Gold were a bloody mess on Monday. However, with its 4-5 record Washington is not done yet and has the talent to fight back. This week the Redskins hit the road for a midday clash with the Titans tomorrow. Tennessee, who is 5-4 after losing at Miami last week, is in dire need of a win as well. Expect Washington to play well, but for Titans All-Pro RB Chris Johnson to collect his 6th 100-plus rushing yard game of the season en route to his team’s Titanic 3-point win over the Skins.
CHIEFS 34, cards 17
Remember Kansas City’s incredible Cassel-to-Bowe combo last week? (if not, I’ll remind you -- QB Matt Cassel: 33-for-53 for 469 passing yards and 4 TDs, WR Dwayne Bowe:13 receptions for 186 yards and 2 TDs) That was in a losing cause at Denver, this week the Chiefs will welcome the woeful Arizona Cardinals to KC’s Arrowhead Stadium. With AZ’s weak pass D it’s very possible for those two to put up big numbers again, only this time their performances will pay off victoriously as the playoff-hopeful Chiefs pound the clueless Cards by 17.
JETS 23, Texans 17
Houston’s pass defense is so pathetic that they’ll manage to make Mark Sanchez look Pro Bowl-worthy. While Sanchez lead the Jets offense tomorrow, prized cornerback Darrelle Revis puts the clamps on Texans WR Andre Johnson as Gang Green comes away with the home W.
STEEL 23, raiders 10
Following Pittsburgh’s ugly home loss to the Patriots on Sunday night last week, coach Mike Tomlin had his teams in full pads for practice this week. Meanwhile, Oakland comes of its bye with serious thoughts of -- wait for it -- the playoffs!?!? The Raiders, in the playoffs? Well, I must say it seems like a valid possibility as Oakland has a 5-4 record and competes in arguably the AFC’s worst division (the AFC West). An interesting match-up will be Oakland’s 2nd-ranked running offense versus Pittsburgh’s top-ranked run defense. The Raiders run hard but Darren McFadden and company fall short tomorrow. Tomlin’s tough tactics pay off fas Pittsburgh wins comfortably.
Ravens 27, PANTHERS 13
By tomorrow’s game in Charlotte (NC), Baltimore will have had 10 days to think about its primetime loss to Atlanta last Thursday. This is not good news for the Panthers, a team that’s struggled enough already this season and (due to injuries) will feature the NFL starting debut of 30-year-old QB Brian St. Pierre tomorrow. Eke! Barring a miracle, the Ravens will rip up those hapless Cats of Carolina and win the game handily.
JAGS 27, browns 14
Was last week’s Hail Mary miracle grab by Jaguars WR Mike Thomas an omen? Is Jacksonville, perhaps, a team of destiny? Not too many pundits picked Jack Del Rio’s Jags as a playoff team this year, but a home win against the Browns would push their record a respectable 6-4 mark. However, Cleveland’s rookie QB (Colt McCoy) and stunning young RB (Peyton Hillis) hope to earn another win and restore Brownie pride. Well, not tomorrow guys. Maurice Jones-Drew, David Garrard and Jacksonville’s WR tandem of Mikes (Thomas and Mike Sims-Walker) battle through Cleveland’s 24th-ranked defense and lead the Jags to victory.
Sunday Late Games
falcons 20, RAMS 17 (in OT)
Atlanta flies into St. Louis on a high -- having won seven of its past eight games -- but they’ll be taking on an improved 4-5 Rams team that’s collected all four of its wins at home. Rookie QB Sam Bradford and the Rams’ always-dangerous RB, Steven Jackson, will be a tough task for the Falcons. This game promises to be a tight tilt. Both teams have good RBs (St. Louis’ Jackson and Atlanta’s Michael Turner) but the Rams and Falcons’ staunch run defenses (ranking 6th and 7th in the NFL, respectively) will neutralize that factor. I’m seeing this game going to overtime with the League’s most prominent QB-WR connection (Atlanta’s Matt Ryan to Roddy White) providing the difference as the Falcons triumph by a field goal.
SAINTS 31, hawks 20
Nine games into its 2010 season, Seattle’s victory total (5) ties its total win tally from last season. Can the Seahawks (5-4) ride its momentum into New Orleans and bolster its hopes of a playoff appearance? No. Not this week. The Seahawks have improved, but the team’s record might be a bit deceiving (Seattle’s four losses combine for a 125-27 point differential). The Saints, conversely, have appeared to rebound from their home loss to Cleveland in week 8 (defeating the Steelers by 10 and the Panthers by 31). While these 6-3 Saints don’t quite have the feel of last year’s Championship team, they are good enough for an 11-point home W over the Hawks tomorrow.
NINERS 27, bucs 17
The surprisingly 6-3 Buccaneers travel coast-to-coast to face the 49ers tomorrow. Host San Francisco had been a bit surprising too (in a bad way) as the team began its season 0-5. However, a switch at the QB position -- Troy Smith replacing Alex Smith -- has seemed to make a difference as the Niners haves won three of its last four games, giving them post-season potential in a weak NFC West division. Smith, RB Frank Gore and the Niners continue its playoff surge by beating the Bucs by 10.
PATS 31, colts 24
The annual battle of these two AFC powerhouses takes place at New England’s Gillette Stadium tomorrow afternoon. Since 2003, the Patriots and Colts have clashed 10 times (seven times in the regular season, three in the playoffs). Of those 10 games, this epic series is appropriately even at five wins each. This year’s battle looks as tantalizing as ever with both teams leading their respective divisions (6-3 Indianapolis leading the AFC South and 7-2 New England atop the AFC East) and the team’s QBs -- Peyton Manning and Tom Brady -- both producing MVP-worthy seasons thus far. As always, this game will likely be a shootout, but Brady and New England’s 13-game regular season home winning streak stays intact as the Pats win by a touchdown.
EAGLES 31, giants 27
CHARGERS 34, broncos 20
San Diego enters week 11 recharged after its bye while division rival Denver comes off its impressive 49-29 blowout of the Chiefs last week. There has been much talk about Chargers QB Phillip Rivers passing yardage pace giving him a feasible chance to pass up Dolphins legend Dan Marino’s single-season passing record. Rivers current pass yards per game is 327.11 while Marino’s record-setting pace in 1984 was 317.75 (en route to his 5,084-yard passing total that season). Through nine games, Rivers has thrown for 2,994 yards. But what about the Chargers’ opposing QB this week? While Rivers’ passing yardage mark leads the NFL, Denver’s Kyle Orton ranks 2nd in the League with 2,806 yards. Rivers almost assuredly is the better quarterback and this week’s Monday Night game will go to the better team -- San Diego; however, due to the Broncos’ lack of running game and propensity to fall behind quickly, don’t be surprised if toward the end of the season it’s Orton (not Rivers) who will be the QB in better position to challenge Marino’s longstanding record.