NFL Week 11 - Five Games To Watch
With just seven weeks left in the NFL season, every game is critical for teams in playoff contention.
This week, our writers preview several games featuring teams trying to hang on to playoff spots (Giants, Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati), teams in the running to get one of those six coveted spots, and an Eagles team that almost certainly needs to win out to be in the hunt.
New York Jets (5-4) at Denver Broncos (4-5) [Thursday Night]
Jeremy Bergman: NY Jets - The All-Hype Game! It's the big city and big mouth Jets against the humble and unconventional Tebows. Don’t get me wrong - I respected Denver's performance last week. To celebrate Veterans Day, they played like a throwback Army or Navy team from the Roarin' Twenties and threw the ball only eight times. Okay, maybe it wasn't to honor our troops but instead to cover up the inadequacies of Saint Tebow's passing game. But so what? It worked...against the Chiefs.
Despite the shalacking that the Jets took on Sunday night, they are still a top-10 defense and will not be intimidated by the Veer - their run defense in recent weeks has been top of the league. Denver won’t be able to consistently win in this league as a one-trick bronco; they'll learn that the hard way.
Danny Lee: NY Jets 23, Denver 19 - Amazingly, Broncos QB Tim Tebow might not be the most scrutinized signal-caller in this game. Jets head coach Rex Ryan's description of an ill-timed Mark Sanchez timeout as "the stupidest thing in football history" touched off media rumblings that the two were butting heads.
A win for Tebow here could go a long way in silencing doubt over how he factors into his team's long-term plan—a loss for Sanchez to drop the Jets to .500 might do the exact opposite. That being said, it's hard seeing Tebow having any success in the air against this Jets secondary.
Ryan Nunez: Denver - Tebow Mania is running rampant, some speculate much to the chagrin of the Denver front office and coaching staff. Regardless, he's winning and the Jets are showing chinks in the armor. Against my better judgment, I'm going Broncos. I usually know better but I've got a Tebow Fever and the only prescription...is more Tebow!
Aaron Fischman: NY Jets - Stack the box, Sexy Rexy! The Broncos have not yet proven that they can beat teams with the pass. I expect the Jets to take my advice. Players should always be motivated, but the Jets may be playing with some added intensity after a miserable second half showing versus the Patriots last Sunday night.
Cincinnati Bengals (6-3) at Baltimore Ravens (6-3)
Lee: Baltimore 20, Cincinnati 16 - Just like last week against Pittsburgh, the inexperienced Bengals face another division foe with hungry, battle-tested veterans this week in the Ravens. Baltimore coming off an embarrassing Week 10 loss to the Seahawks only increases the sense of urgency to pick up this win if the team wants to keep pace with its rival from the Steel City.
Nunez: Baltimore - Seeing Andy Dalton's numbers makes it easy to believe that he and Cincy could come out of this one with a win. Receiver A.J. Green and Dalton have a thing going on and RB Cedric Benson would love nothing more than to extend his welcome in Cincy with a nice performance in this one, but I just can't see it.
The Ravens are one of the most enigmatic teams in the league, but that reputation has been earned on the road, in their three losses. They're going back to Baltimore for some home cooking and a W against a rookie quarterback. Ravens and the under looks delicious.
Fischman: Baltimore - I realize that the Ravens were trailing the Seahawks nearly all game, but for the team to be successful, Ray Rice must be given more than five carries. If Baltimore is able to diversify their offensive attack (and I think they will), they'll win a tight game against the Bengals. The winner of this contest moves into a tie with the Steelers for the AFC North lead, so keep an eye on this one. Maybe two eyes?
Tennessee Titans (5-4) at Atlanta Falcons (5-4)
Lee: Atlanta 27, Tennessee 17 - Falcons head coach Mike Smith probably won't have to worry about a botched call to go for it on fourth down costing Atlanta a game this weekend. A Titans team dead last in the league in rushing will have difficulty moving the ball against a Falcons run defense that has allowed the third fewest yards per game this season.
Nunez: Tennessee - The Falcons are inconsistent and appear dispassionate to the point where it is tough to root for them. The Titans, on the other hand, have mediocre Matt Hasselbeck playing well, Damian Williams leading a ragtag wide receiver core, and CJ finally breaking through with a CJ-worthy performance. The fan in me wants the Titans to go into Atlanta and punch them in the face so bad that I'm making it my official call.
Fischman: Atlanta - Someone should tell Falcons head coach Mike Smith that this is the NFL, not Madden 2012. Dumb coaching decisions aside, the Falcons will win, because the Titans are not very good. Chris Johnson finally had a good game last week. So what? He has been being paid more than $9 million per year. He should be able to string together at least two quality games, something he has failed to do all season long.
San Diego Chargers (4-5) at Chicago Bears (6-3)
Lee: Chicago 24, San Diego 10 - The Chargers are a team in disarray after dropping their last four contests. Running into a surging Bears team that has put up more than 32 points per game during its current four-game winning streak is the worst thing that can happen to a free-falling squad that has struggled to beat plus-.500 teams all season.
Nunez: Chicago - Chargers QB Philip Rivers has been off since week 1 and Vincent Jackson looks to be off Rivers' Christmas list. TE Antonio Gates looks like he got into a time machine, aged 10 years and came back. San Diego has the stench of failure in 2011 and the Cutler-led Bears are cruising. Earl Bennett, Matt Forte, Cutler and everyone else are fantasy-relevant and reality-relevant this week as the Bears stomp SD.
Fischman: Chicago - The Chargers are a mess right now. Meanwhile, Da Bears have won five of their last six, posting 30 points or more in all but one of those wins.
Philadelphia Eagles (3-6) at New York Giants (6-3)
Lee: NY Giants 30, Philadelphia 13 - The questionable status of QB Michael Vick and turmoil involving disgruntled WR DeSean Jackson points to signs that this game could end all playoff aspirations for an Eagles team that started the season with so much hype and expectations.
Nunez: NY Giants - In the best use of the words "allegedly" and "Michael Vick" in a long, long time, Michael Vick allegedly has broken ribs and shouldn't play this week. Even if he does, this game could be a grotesque blowout. If Vick doesn't play, Vince Young should turn in an "extremely poor man's" Cam Newton performance by going for 150 passing and 30 rushing yards in a grotesque blowout. Either way, this one is NYG all the way.
Fischman: NY Giants - This division has been strange since its inception. Even when you think you've figured out the NFC East, you never really know. With that said, Michael Vick's recent struggles lead me to believe that the Giants are the smart pick here. If John Skelton (who? Exactly!) can beat the Eagles, Eli Manning should be able to, as well.
Best way to find more great content from Neon Tommy?
Or join our email list below to enjoy the weekly Neon Tommy News Highlights.