NFL Week 11 Picks: Straight Up, Against the Spread and Over/Under

Picks Record Through Week 10

Straight Up:  93-52   Against the Spread:  80-65   Over/Under:  71-74

Thursday Night Football

New York Jets at Denver Broncos

Straight Up:  New York

Against the Spread:  New York +4.5

Over/Under:  Over 40.5

Theoretically, the Jets should stomp all over Denver. However, I’m not sure I can trust a Gang Green team that missed two huge fumble recoveries, dropped three INTs and mangled the return game.

On the other hand, I don’t care what anyone says, I think Sanchez is talented and if they’d give him a consistent passing plan the entire team would be better off. The first half of this season Mr. Sanchez was missing Braylon Edwards (I realize I’m probably the only person on the planet who thinks this). But now that Plaxico Burress is back in his end zone-hogging form, Sanchez should be more productive. He needs to be this week.

With Tomlinson hurt, New York’s only hope of a running game rests with lukewarm Shonn Greene. I hope they mix in McKnight, because I am not at all sure that Greene can handle running against that improving Denver D.

Sanchez will have to pass if the Broncos continue to run the ball for practically 300 yards per game. This is a test for the slumping Jets’ D. Stop the run. You know it’s coming. Otherwise it won’t matter what anyone else does.

The Denver O-line has been having a field day out there run blocking. This Sunday I’m going to count the number of TEs in there blocking. You know it’s good when they are down to their third- and fourth-string backs and still come up with over 200 yards on the ground. (Lance Ball and fullback Larson by the way).

But, seriously? Two completed passes? Come on.


Carolina Panthers at Detroit Lions

Straight Up:  Detroit

Against the Spread:  Detroit +6.5

Over/Under:  Over 46.5

Detroit should win this game. In fact, if they don’t, Jim Schwartz might just kill someone. Frankly, he scares me.

Carolina has been sloppy of late. Well, they’ve been sloppy all year, but recently it has been an unproductive type of sloppy.

When your rookie QB is your leading rusher and has to throw the ball 40 times, things are not exactly ideal.

Meanwhile, the Lions gave up six turnovers in their loss to the Bears. I’m thinking that does not happen again. However, the Carolina secondary is the best part of their defense, so a pick isn’t out of the question.

Everyone knows that Detroit can’t run the ball. Carolina knows that Detroit can’t run the ball.

Chicago forced Matthew Stafford to throw the ball 63 times last Sunday. I think that’s historic.

The Lions will try desperately for a balanced attack this week. Considering all of the Panthers’ defensive injuries, the Detroit RBs may have some success.


Oakland Raiders at Minnesota Vikings

Straight Up:  Oakland

Against the Spread:  Oakland -1.5

Over/Under:  Under 45.5

This pick is based on the fact that one of the quarterbacks is Carson Palmer, who is evidently healthy again.

I like Christian Ponder (see my article on Backup Quarterbacks who can step up), but he’s been playing in the NFL for about 15 minutes compared to Palmer. Advantage Oakland. Big time.

The fly in the ointment of this selection is that the Raiders have a hard time stopping the run. To the tune of 171 yards per game in the past month. The Vikings have RB Adrian Peterson. Hmmm.

With both star runner Darren McFadden and speedy WR Jacoby Ford hurt, the Raiders’ second teamers need to shine again as they did versus the Chargers. Rookie WR Denarius Moore certainly seemed up to the task last Thursday and Michael Bush ran for over 150 yards.

If Oakland can maintain that kind of balance on offense and hold Peterson to a reasonably low amount of yards, they will win.


Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens

Straight Up:  Baltimore

Against the Spread:  Baltimore -7.5

Over/Under:  Over 40.5 (There is a chance of rain. If that materializes, change to the Under.)

I am so tempted to take Cincinnati against the spread. But they just lost excellent cornerback Leon Hall for the season. Plus TE Jermaine Gresham and WR A.J. Green are both questionable with the kinds of injuries that could hamper them even if they play.

The Steelers held Cincy RB Cedric Benson to only 57 yards last week, forcing rookie QB Andy Dalton to throw the ball 30 times. (He did manage two TDs in those throw, though.)

So, I’m picking the Ravens.

I also have to consider the fact that the Bengals have lost to almost all of the good teams that they have played.

The Ravens have only lost to the three weak teams that they have played. A fact which I’m sure drives John Harbaugh up a wall.


Jacksonville Jaguars at Cleveland Browns

Straight Up:  Cleveland

Against the Spread:  Cleveland -.5

Over/Under:  Under 36.5 (50 percent chance of rain)

I know that Jacksonville has a running game and Cleveland doesn’t.

I know that, even though it isn’t saying much, the Jaguars’ WRs are better than Cleveland’s. Okay, except for Greg Little, but they don’t seem to get the ball to him often enough.

I know that the numbers show JAX having a 17 point advantage in points scored and allowed.

I know that this is the king of all “who cares?” games.

I just really want Cleveland to win.

But, don’t listen to me. I’m clearly delusional.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers

Straight Up:  Green Bay

Against the Spread:  Green Bay -13.5

Over/Under:  Over 49.5 (50 percent chance of rain, but unless it’s pouring you have to go with the Pack scoring points.)

The Bucs turned the ball over four times on Sunday. If they do that, the Packers could score 50 points all by themselves. In fact, Green Bay has averaged over 40 this month.

Tampa Bay struggled against the Texans to put up 231 total offensive yards. Ouch.

There appears to be no passing defense in Tampa Bay. Matt Schaub threw 11 complete passes on 15 attempts. Two of them were touchdowns.




Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins

Straight Up:  Dallas

Against the Spread:  Washington +7.5

Over/Under:  Under 41.5 (I will be ecstatic if the ‘Skins score 17 points.)

I am picking Washington because I will enjoy the game more if I cheer for them, because I need to go against the grain to regain the lead in my pool and because I am an incurable optimist.

I do not suggest that you pick Washington.

The ‘Skins are scoring less than seven points per weekend and giving up 20.7 points in return.

The ‘Skins have rushed for an average of 46 yards per game in the last three weeks, while giving up over 125 yards rushing to opponents. Did I mention that Dallas rookie RB sensation DeMarco Murray is coming to town?

Unless the Cowboys have one of their psychotic breaks and fall apart, there is no way they will not win this game.

But it is the Cowboys, so maybe I have a chance.




Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins

Straight Up:  Buffalo

Against the Spread:  Buffalo -2.5

Over/Under:  Under 43

We all know that injury, lots of game film and the tougher part of the schedule is catching up with the Bills. But I still believe. Here’s where we find out if the Bills have as much heart as we hope they do.

Steve Johnson’s shoulder injury could be significant, so you may wish to re-consider on Sunday morning if he can’t go.

The key for Buffalo will be to not turn the ball over four times. See, that’s a bad thing. Fred Jackson did his part with over 100 yards and the defense tried on Sunday. But they couldn’t get a single INT from Tony Romo, while Ryan Fitzpatrick gave up three.

Miami’s Matt Moore has yet to prove himself a consistent winner. After looking practically Marino-esque two weeks ago, he had Dolphins’ fans gasping at some of his passes. And not in a good way.

However, Brandon Marshall has proven himself to be a certified No.1 WR in this League. He came down with footballs for 98 yards, averaging almost 15 yards per catch.

Meanwhile, Reggie Bush may only have managed 47 rushing yards, but he scored twice.

Both teams are a little twitchy and this game will be won by the most grounded squad.


Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams

Straight Up:  Seattle

Against the Spread:  Seattle +2.5

Over/Under:  Over 37.5

Sam Bradford and Brandon Lloyd seem to be getting along just fine in St. Louis. Steven Jackson continues to eat up rushing yardage like he was 25-years-old (128 yards last week). But the Rams remain offensively challenged and couldn’t get it in the end zone at all on Sunday. It was pitiful.

They’ll have to do a bit better at home against a Seahawks’ team that may be the most disorganized group I’ve seen on a pro field, but they have managed to win three games. Two of them against good teams. It’s a mystery.

As incredible as Jackson is, Marshawn Lynch appears ready to play pro ball and tore it up in Week 10:  109 rushing yards on 32 carries and five receptions for another 58 yards. And a touchdown.

But of course, the ‘Hawks aren’t exactly an offensive juggernaut either and needed Steven Hauschka’s five field goals to beat the exhausted Ravens.

Kickers, start your engines.


Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers

Straight Up:  San Francisco

Against the Spread:  San Francisco -9.5

Over/Under:  Over 41.5 (It is supposed to rain. If it looks like more than showers, change to the Under.)

Well, this certainly isn’t the sure thing it was three weeks ago! Let’s hear it for parity—and backup quarterbacks.

John Skelton. Who knew? Of course, throwing to Larry Fitzgerald doesn’t hurt. Plus, RB Beanie Wells wasn’t injured for once in his career and had a great day last Sunday.

Ah, but San Francisco’s run defense is only giving up 70.3 yards per game on the ground these days.

In the scary when healthy department, too, is San Francisco CB Carlos Rogers, who had a fine day himself against Eli Manning last week.

Unless Beanie can break through and Skelton can have a career afternoon (in the rain), the 49ers should win and cover.


Tennessee Titans at Atlanta Falcons

Straight Up:  Atlanta

Against the Spread:  Atlanta -5.5

Over/Under:  Under 44.5

Atlanta is simply the better team right now. And they are probably spittin’ mad right now after that loss to the Saints.

I do not see them dropping two in a row in that dome.

However, statistically, the Titans come out with a two point advantage over the past three games. Although that gives me pause, I still have to go with QB Matt Ryan, RB Michael Turner, Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez and WR Roddy White (Julio Jones’ hamstring has him doubtful again).

Even the Falcons’ defense impressed me last week against the Saints. They couldn’t stop them enough to win, but they weren’t doormats.

If Chris Johnson is truly back on track, then the Tennessee offense might be able to play keep-away from Matt Ryan. But I don’t trust him.

Finally, the heart of the Titans’ D (LB Barrett Ruud) is questionable with a groin injury. Boy, do they need him out there.

Tennessee is capable of winning this game. I just don’t think they will.


San Diego Chargers at Chicago Bears

Straight Up:  Chicago

Against the Spread:  Chicago -3.5

Over/Under:  Over 44.5

It’s going to be cold at Soldier Field. Advantage Bears.

Chicago has scored 30 points per game for a month and San Diego has given up 30 points per game for a month. Advantage Bears.

Chicago’s offensive line has discovered pass protection. Advantage Bears.

Chicago has RB Matt Forte. Game, set and match to Bears.


Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants

Straight Up:  New York

Against the Spread:  New York -3.5

Over/Under:  Over 46.5

I love it: The injury report lists Michael Vick with “several broken ribs.” And he’s questionable. You gotta hand it to the guy, he’s tough.

This game will partly depend on how much painkiller they can give Michael and how healed Vince Young’s hamstring is.

Two Offensive linemen are iffy, which is never good news for a QB. Plus, WR Jeremy Maclin is hurt. He is also listed as questionable, but with a bad hammy and a sprained AC joint in his shoulder, I don’t see how he can play. And CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is doubtful. Good news for Eli.

I have to say, that as a non-Andy Reid fan, I was happy that his hubristic benching of DeSean Jackson backfired in the loss to Arizona. Yeah, like he would have benched No. 10 if they had been playing Dallas.

The Giants aren’t the healthiest bunch, either. RB Ahmad Bradshaw is still not 100 percent with a cracked bone in his foot and they may have lost powerful LB Michael Boley for the weekend.

The key matchup will be flat-out fantastic Philly RB LeSean McCoy versus Big Blue’ run D. I must say that Reid and his group seem to continually strike gold in the running back department. I hope he can stay healthy.

Eli Manning is getting some well-deserved recognition in 2011 and will probably have another great fourth quarter.

Giants’ fans had just better hope they haven’t fallen too far behind against an unpredictable Eagles’ offense and a much-improved Philly D. Eli might want to take note of DB Asante Samuel’s position since the cornerback is making a point of re-announcing his presence in that star-studded secondary.

Note to New York defense:  know where TE Brent Celek is at all times.


Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots

Straight Up:  New England

Against the Spread:  New England -15.5

Over/Under:  Over 46.5

I’m not quite sure what the schedulers had in mind here. Sure, KC was the big “feel good” story last year, but did we really think that they could travel across country and take on New England?

Drug testing in the NFL offices, please.

Now that the Chiefs are playing with RB Jackie Battle (no offense, he and Dexter McCluster did combine for 100 yards) and Backup QB Tyler Palko, how much is there to say about this game? One can only hope that Palko will be able to get a football in the general vicinity of rookie WR Jonathan Baldwin. This kid puts the “circus” in “circus catch.” If you’ve been out of the sports universe this week, Google it—flat out amazing. A crime it was called back.

And here’s another reason to watch: Let’s all tune in to see if OchoCinco and Tom are finally on the same page. It looked as if they might be at least in the same chapter on Sunday.

That’s it. That’s the best I can do.



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