Rant Sports NFL Week 11 Picks: Experts Give Thoughts on the Games
Welcome back to the Rant Sports NFL Pick Em, where several of our NFL experts weigh in and predict the games of the weekend. The experts have done a solid job so far, and we certainly hope you're enjoying them. There are many divisional matchups this week and that trend will continue as the season starts to near its end.
The Chicago Bears are once again part of my game of the week as they travel across the country to take on the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football. The Bears have the daunting task of replacing Jay Cutler, hopefully for this game only, as he suffered a concussion against the Houston Texans last week. He took vicious hits on back-to-back plays and was forced to miss the second half of the game. There is no time-table for his return, but they expect him to be back at some point this season.
Alex Smith also left his last game with a concussion, but early reports indicate he will play on Monday. If the 49ers have their starting quarterback and the Bears are without Cutler, it gives the 49ers a sizable advantage. Though it should be a low scoring affair, and anything can happen.
The AFC marquis matchups are ones that we've gotten used to seeing over the years. The Pittsburgh Steelers welcome the Baltimore Ravens to town in their first divisional matchup of the season, and the Indianapolis Colts will play the New England Patriots as well. The Colts-Patriots contests have been so exciting over the years; hopefully Andrew Luck can keep the excitement level at a maximum.
This slideshow will highlight each writer's pick of the team they cover. Be sure to check out their full predictions at the links provided!
Kase Brammer Picks Atlanta Falcons over his Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals have lost 5 games in a row and are going on the road against the 8-1 Atlanta Falcons. I thought about calling the upset for this game, but then I realized that was just not going to happen. The Cardinals don’t score enough points to keep up with the high flying Falcons. Too many weapons and better coaching will be the reason the Falcons destroy the Cardinals on the field, but not on the scoreboard, at least till the fourth quarter. The Cardinals do have a good defense, but their effort will not be enough.
Prediction: QB John Skelton is replaced by Ryan Lindley at halftime. Cardinals 13, Falcons 31.
Craig Moir Picks his Denver Broncos over San Diego Chargers
It is simply amazing how people's perceptions can change in just a few short weeks. The Denver Broncos are now considered by most "expert" analysts on major stations as the most complete team in the AFC, and a favorite for the two seed going into the playoffs. And it all began when these two teams met last on Oct. 15th. That is the day when Peyton Manning and the Broncos reeled off 35 unanswered points when trailing the San Diego Chargers by 24, and kicking off a four game win streak.
Now, after finishing a stretch of one of the toughest schedules in the league, the Broncos should be able to coast to the playoffs with one of the easiest schedules. But there is one piece of business they must tend to first. A win over the Chargers will all but assure them of the AFC West title and maybe even put the nail in the Chargers coffin for any playoff hopes. Philip Rivers has looked unimpressive lately, and Norv Turner has basically lost control of this talented, yet underachieving squad. The Broncos will not need a comeback in this one.
Denver 38 San Diego 17
Craig Ballard Picks his Miami Dolphins over Buffalo Bills
Ryan Fitzpatrick is 2-2 vs Miami with 5 TDs and 7 INTs.
Ryan Tannehill has been decent at best. He threw 3 INTs in his first road game, but just 2 road INTs since (but just 2 TD passes). His top 4 passing games have come on the road, and this is a Bills secondary that yields a lot of TDs. Despite this being a short week for Miami this should be a game where the sputtering passing game gets going.
The pass offense had a historic day at Arizona in week 4, but since then things have been ugly. The 'Phins are averaging just 197 passing yards since, and if you take out the shootout in Indy then the average pass yards dips to just 177 (yikes).
As bad as that has been the run game has actually regressed even worse. In their past 6 games the Dolphins are getting just 71 yards on the ground. Reggie Bush has plummeted all the way down to a measly 42 yards per game since week 3 (yikes).
This Bills D has the cure for what ails you, especially for the ground game. Buffalo yields a whopping 5.5 yards per carry (by far the worst in the NFL). The Bills have also been torched for 16 rushing TDs (also the worst in the NFL).
On offense the Bills will not have Fred Jackson, but their run game will still have a chance in this game. C.J. Spiller averages just 7 carries for 29 yards vs the 'Phins, but 2012 has been a massive year for Spiller. He has gone north of 100 combined yards (rushing and receiving) in his past 4 games. Hard to believe that Spiller averages just 10 carries per game, but this week that should double.
The Dolphins rush-D allowed a 100 yard rusher last weekend for the first time since week 2 of 2011. Spiller has just 1 TD in the last 6 games so while he has great explosion and potential he could be in tough vs the 'Phins.
The Dolphins secondary has strayed from the solid technique they were using to open the season. They will need to create INTs in this game. Fitz has 5 TDs and 0 INTs in Buffalo's 3 victories.
One key will be can Miami generate pressure on Fitz? The Dolphins pass rush was non-existent in the past 2 weeks, but the Bills are yielding way more sacks in November than the previous 2 months combined. In his career Cameron Wake has 4.5 sacks vs Buffalo (Miami is 4-2 vs Buff in Wake's 3 seasons).
I would be taking Buffalo in this game, but the Dolphins just saw the sort of effort required to win a bounce-back game and I think they will play much better this week (the Titans were smoked in the game prior to playing Miami and as a result they were determined to play better vs Miami and they laid a beat-down on the road).
I also wrote a piece last Sunday about the horrid attendance at Miami games so I am glad this game is on the road. The brutal home crowds can have an adverse effect, but the road leads to a "us against the world" mentality.
Anthony Blake Picks his St. Louis Rams over New York Jets
It’s safe to say that this one won’t be a tie, right? The St. Louis Rams showed some real fight in their draw last week and the New York Jets really don’t have much fight left in them. Based purely on the trend lines of these two teams, the Rams will have a clear edge with their offense finally getting healthy.
Rams 27 – Jets 24
Ben Grimaldi Picks his Dallas Cowboys over Cleveland Browns
The Dallas Cowboys finally head home for an extended stay as they host a rested Cleveland Browns team. This is the most dangerous game on the schedule for any team; the Cowboys always seem to find a way to disappointment themselves and their fans when you start to believe in them. Dallas needs to find a way to play more consistent football no matter who the opponent is and the Browns will battle the Cowboys with their physical style. Dallas wins this game, not razor close, but in a close game.
Joe Morrone Picks his Denver Broncos over San Diego Chargers
The season turned for both the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers in the second half of the October meeting. The Chargers were rolling and on their way to a two game lead in the division, and then Manning happened. The Broncos scored 35 second half points to get the win and haven’t been challenged since. Meanwhile, the Chargers have only one win since that night and are right on the ledge. The Broncos will push them over that ledge with their fifth straight win.
With Minnesota Vikings on Bye, Gil Alcaraz IV Picks San Francisco 49ers over Chicago Bears
Both of these teams are likely without their starting quarterbacks, who went down with concussions last weekend. That means that the battle of the backups will come down to who can make plays at opportune times and get the most support from their teammates. Colin Kaepernick will be the X-factor here, using his athleticism and sneaky passing to score a much-needed win.
My pick: 49ers win as a new hero is born in San Fran