A couple blowouts and a couple teams that continue to disappoint at the wrong time. Here comes Week 12.
Week 11. 9-5.
Philadelphia at Detroit. The Lion don’t suck. Then again, any team seemingly can win against another in this league. Calvin Johnson has been good (not retro Megatron, but good) of recent and the lack of a running game hasn’t hurt them. The defense isn’t good but they have been able to get it done. Mark Sanchez is probably the starter for the immediate future as Sam Bradford was a joke of an experiment. Chip Kelly also might be somewhere else next year (though he will value is pick of the litter with all the openings in college this offseason). The short week won’t be kind to either teams, but look for the “surging” Lions to get the better of this one. Lions 24, Eagles 17
Greg Olsen is the go-to guy in Carolina.
Carolina at Dallas. Skip Bayless is an idiot and a loyalist. Greg Hardy is a great player who doesn’t deserve a job, much less one that pays him millions upon millions of dollars to play football (and do nothing last year). Tony Romo is back, but he wasn’t great in his return and the Dallas offense needs a secondary option other than Jason Witten to take some attention off of Dez Bryant (who will be shadowed by Josh Norman all game). Meanwhile, Cam Newton is the unquestioned MVP of the NFL this season. He might be even if the Panthers lose out for the rest of the season. Seriously, who thought the Panthers would be a playoff team, much less undefeated in Week 12, this year? Kelvin Benjamin was the only real threat at receiver and Devin Funchess is still a ways away. Greg Olsen has been awesome and Jonathan Stewart has been very good too. Panthers 21, Cowboys 20
Chicago at Green Bay. Jay Cutler seems to pull out games we expect him to lose and then lose the games we expect him to win. Still, the Bears have been banged up all season and even with a healthy Matt Forte will have trouble keeping up with an Aaron Rodgers-led team that looks like they have actually hit their stride. Eddie Lacy finally had a good game and the Pack will need him and a good running attack to compete going forward. Packers 30, Bears 21
Minnesota at Atlanta. The Falcons are just so tough to figure out. The defense has improved and the offense is still potent, but what is Matt Ryan’s problem? He’s either invincible (on a game-by-game basis), or he’s a complete dud who fumbles the ball more than Muhammad Ali in a game of jenga. Julio Jones needs some help from Roddy White or Jacob Tamme or Justin Hardy (because a good, young slot receiver would be awesome for this team). But Tevin Coleman will be in the spotlight for the Falcons if Devonta Freeman can’t return from a concussion suffered last week. Almost as impressive as the Panthers season has been, the Vikings are an impressive young group of guys. They just can’t get over the hump against the league’s best. Falcons 28, Vikings 17
Buffalo at Kansas City. Both teams have had issues, like many others, with injuries. Charcandrick West should be good to go this weekend but Pete Carroll thought Marshawn Lynch was a sure thing up until Friday and now he’s talking about a significant enough injury to keep him out this weekend as well. Not sure they will get the same effort of last week, but the Chiefs will have their home crowd and a defense that is peaking at the right time. The Bills have had some bad luck recently, even though they are starting to play pretty well after that terrible excuse of a game against the Jaguars. Give the ball to Sammy Watkins! Chiefs 23, Bills 18
St. Louis at Cincinnati. How dirty are the Rams? Don’t ask Jeff Fisher that question or he will try to fight you. Stedman Bailey, who’s been out due to a drug suspension, just got shot in the head twice last night. Maybe this will be a reason to band together and play some inspired ball. The offense has come from somewhere and Todd Gurley needs some help. The Rams also need a competent quarterback. They won’t be able to keep up with the Bengals who just have too many weapons on offense. Bengals 27, Rams 17
Oakland at Tennessee. Just when you think the young Raiders squad has figured it out, they go and lose a game they had control of and should have won. Back to the drawing board. And for as bad as the Titans seem to be, you don’t know what will happen. Latavius Murray has done everything he can and Derek Carr has really made strides in his overall game. I will continue to point out that I called that one even when the popular sports pundits were saying otherwise about the second-year QB. So, other than Marcus Mariota, can you name at least 4 other starters for Tennessee? Raiders 34, Titans 20
Tampa Bay at Indianapolis. Not sure what to make of the Colts win last week. Not really sure what to make of the Bucs this entire season. Both teams have talent. Andrew Luck is great. Jameis Winston is good. Neither team has a dominant defense. Who will run the ball better? It’s been the Bucs recently, but Frank Gore hasn’t quit on this team and neither should you. The Colts will do all they can to make this division interesting, but Tampa Bay won’t surprise anyone in this one even though Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson will be scary from here on out. Colts 38, Buccaneers 28
Miami at NYJ. What’s happened the Jets’ defense recently? Well, having Darrelle Revis hurt doesn’t help. But that run defense hasn’t been as imposing lately and they play a team that is either really solid or really terrible. What will it be for the Fins this week? Lamar Miller needs to get the ball. Last week he only had a few touches and the offense struggled. Tannehill needs a good start. Brandon Marshall should have a big game in this one, but Chris Ivory really needs to get his shit together. Jets 24, Dolphins 23
New Orleans at Houston. Can the Saints win a game that they obviously should win? They have been just as unpredictable as several others in the NFL. Drew Brees has not be the reason for the mediocre season. They need Benjamin Watson to continue to bring it and one of the many receivers to dink and dunk their way to a productive day. Most importantly, New Orleans needs to contain DeAndre Hopkins. Imagine what Hopkins would do in an offense with a healthy Arian Foster and a quarterback that shouldn’t be on the practice squad? Saints 40, Texans 24
Allen Robinson has been a big part of the solid play from Jacksonville.
San Diego at Jacksonville. Wow. The Jaguars are finally respectable. Either that or they’ve played a lucky schedule. Either way, they’ve been improving. They’ve found ways to win and the defense has been better than average. When their first round pick from last year gets it together and they find some more help in the defensive secondary then watch out! And can Philip Rivers get some help? Antonio Gates was trying to fight him last week, but I’d guess everyone is frustrated. It’s not getting any better any time soon. Jaguars 27, Chargers 23
Arizona at San Francisco. I’m not going to waste your time. Cardinals 34, 49ers 17
Pittsburgh at Seattle. A tough matchup for two tough teams. With all the injuries the Steelers have had this year it’s a testament to their depth that they’ve done this well. But this is a game at a Seattle team that will be playing hungry and feeding the ball to Thomas Rawls and whoever else is in that backfield in spades. Don’t be surprised by lots of offense from both teams. Seahawks 31, Steelers 27
New England at Denver. Brock Osweiler isn’t the second coming of anyone in particular. He beat the Bears. Everyone beats the Bears (okay, not really but you get what I’m saying). He won’t beat the Patriots. Rex Ryan was doing anything and everything possible to confuse Brady and they still won handily. Rob Gronkowski will have a big day to make up for the dud on Monday and James White will continue to integrate himself into the Dion Lewis role on this offense. The Broncos will be solid on defense but the run game has to take some pressure off the inexperienced quarterback. The Pats will load up on the line and Osweiler won’t beat their corners. Patriots 38, Broncos 24
Baltimore at Cleveland. That was a fun game to watch as a Ravens fan. Oh wait, no it wasn’t. And that’s how the season has been. They lose Flacco and Forsett and now they don’t have anyone left to carry the load. Matt Schaub was terrible in the preseason and I don’t see him getting much better with a hodge podge of receivers. But the Browns haven’t been much better and have to deal with the media bullshit of Johnny Manziel. The Dawg Pound will be rocking in their last showcase game of the year and they will likely sweep a desperate Baltimore team with no real chance to do much more than play for a high draft pick. Browns 28, Ravens 20