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NFL Week 11 Predictions

Sports Staff |
November 16, 2012 | 2:04 p.m. PST

I've got some bad news for you, football fans. Tim Tebow is back in the headlines this week. The good news? You won't hear another word about him in this segment. You're welcome. 

Instead, let's focus on a great slate of matchups this week that include some old rivalries with new twists.

Calvin Johnson hasn't caught many touchdowns this season. (Mike Morbeck/Creative Commons)
Calvin Johnson hasn't caught many touchdowns this season. (Mike Morbeck/Creative Commons)
Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions

Jeremy Bergman: Packers 31, Lions 19

Green Bay is one of the hottest teams in football, having won four straight, but the Pack were forced to cool off for a week, subject to their bye. Whether the week of rest will refuel Green Bay's momentum or halt it is the question. The Lions need this game to stay in the hunt for the division, but an improved Packers defense and a cold Stafford-to-Megatron connection will keep Detroit from taking this contest and moving up in the standings.

Evan Budrovich: Packers 28, Lions 14 

Aaron Rodgers is playing at an elite level right now, and will continue his hot streak against the Lions' porous pass defense. The Lions have struggled to stop anyone this season, and with Rodgers and Co. coming in this weekend, expect much of the same. Matthew Stafford’s completion percentage has eclipsed 66 percent in the last three games, which will carry over against the Packers' suspect pass defense. Expect Clay Matthews to get numerous sacks to halt some key Detroit drives. 

Aaron Fischman: Packers 34, Lions 24

Aaron Rodgers has won all but one of his seven career starts against the Lions, with the only loss coming in a late 2010 game in which he was sidelined due to a head injury. Historically, the Packers have long had the Lions’ number, and these Lions are a far cry from last year’s team. Aaron Rodgers will easily be the best quarterback the Lions have seen this season, and he’ll probably have a big day. Look for James Starks to rack up a lot of yards, especially if the game gets one-sided.  

Jacob Freedman: Packers 31, Lions 27

The Packers are coming off a bye week and are playing indoors. Expect Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford to throw for around 300 yards apiece, as neither team can put any trust in their running game. The Lions are on an uptick after a slow first quarter of the season, but the Packers have won four in a row and show no signs of slowing down.

Max Meyer: Packers 34, Lions 21

The Packers have won 12 of their last 13 against the Lions. The Lions will be without their top two safeties, which means that Aaron Rodgers will have a field day. The Packers will continue their hot streak from before their bye, and win handily in this NFC North rivalry. 

Law Murray: Packers 30, Lions 24

The Packers had the bye week to figure out how they're going to protect QB Aaron Rodgers for the rest of the season; they had to place RT Bryan Bulaga on IR, move LG TJ Lang to Bulaga's position, and start Evan Dietrich-Smith, infamously known for getting stomped out by Ndamukong "Haynesworth" Suh on Thanksgiving.  The Lions let Vikings QB Christian Ponder get on track last week, so Rodgers should have another big day.  He'll need it, as the Lions QB Matthew Stafford and WR Calvin Johnson had big games last week and are primed to torch Packers CB Tramon Williams like they did in January.

Matthew Tufts: Lions 28, Packers 24

The Packers limp into Detroit with several stars dealing with nagging injuries, despite their bye week. Detroit is in a must-win scenario to stay in playoff contention and is always dangerous with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. Expect Megatron to have a huge game against a defense lacking stars Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews.

With a win, Peyton could lock up his first AFC West title. (Football Schedule/Creative Commons)
With a win, Peyton could lock up his first AFC West title. (Football Schedule/Creative Commons)
San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos

Bergman: Broncos 34, Chargers 14

So far Peyton Manning is having an MVP-caliber season; across the field, Philip Rivers is…not. The last time these two met, Rivers threw four interceptions, three of which came in the second half, in which San Diego was outscored 35-0. The team around him is weaker than ever and it will show on Sunday against Denver, who will surely be the front-runner for the AFC West title after it blows by the Chargers. 

Budrovich: Broncos 34, Chargers 20 

Peyton Manning will not need a second-half comeback to defeat the San Diego Chargers. The Broncos have used solid offense and strong defense to win four straight games. This team is ready to erupt as one of the best teams in the AFC. The Chargers meanwhile are a turnover machine that can not play a consistent game of football. Therefore, the Broncos should have no problems, contrary to conventional wisdom between these division rivals. 

Fischman: Broncos 31, Chargers 21

It will be really interesting to see how the Chargers respond to their embarrassing second-half meltdown in the teams’ first meeting. While anything can happen in a divisional rivalry, there’s no way I can pick the Chargers against a Broncos team that has played extremely well this entire season. Denver has posted 31 points or more in five of their last six games.  

Freedman: Broncos 31, Chargers 17

The Chargers enter this game 4-5, and a loss will make it nearly impossible to eke out a wild-card berth if the Broncos continue their success. Based on what we've seen in the Norv Turner era, this means one thing: a dud. Peyton Manning will add another pretty stat line to his MVP resumé, while Von Miller and the Broncos' pass rush will have Philip Rivers already looking forward to the offseason.

Meyer: Broncos 28, Chargers 17

In their first game, the Broncos needed a massive comeback to win. Now, with the Chargers continuing to slide further, this will be a much easier victory. Peyton Manning will further his MVP case, as the Broncos extend their big lead in the AFC West.

Murray: Broncos 28, Chargers 23

Broncos QB Peyton Manning is completing a career-high 69.7% of his passes so far this season, and the only time his TD % has been higher was in the 2004 season when he threw 49.  The Chargers already know there isn't much of a margin for error when playing against Manning, as they found out last month on Monday Night Football.  In fact, the Chargers have lost every game this season when they've lost the turnover battle (0-5).  Chargers head coach Norv Turner has to hope the Chargers have gotten their stupid mistakes out the way last week at Tampa Bay.

Tufts: Broncos 31, Chargers 27

Last time these two teams played, Peyton Manning led the Broncos to a historic comeback after trailing 24-0 at halftime. Denver probably isn't expecting such heroics this game, but a win would give the Broncos a season sweep of San Diego and leave them as the only team in the AFC West with a winning percentage above .500. Manning and his dominant receiving duo of Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas have found success recently and there is no reason why that shouldn't continue as Denver rattles off its fifth straight win.

Tom Brady renews his rivalry with the Colts this weekend. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
Tom Brady renews his rivalry with the Colts this weekend. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots

Bergman: Patriots 27, Colts 21

When Peyton left Indianapolis, so went an era of spectacular quarterback duels between him and Brady, and the decade-long rivalry between the Colts and Pats. But a new Luck-y era is coming, and coming fast. The Patriots' Achilles' heel has been their pass defense - as it seems be every year - and Indianapolis relies on its air game led by the Caveman to move the ball. If Andrew Luck can control time of possession with short passes and a balanced ground attack, I'll give Indy a shot; but Luck is still a rookie in the biggest game of his young career. He's destined to throw a game-losing pick. 

Budrovich: Patriots 24, Colts 21 

Tom Brady vs. Andrew Luck will turn out to be the best quarterback matchup of the weekend. Luck will build upon his rookie record 433 yards passing two weeks ago, attacking the Patriots pass defense. Luck-to-Wayne will victimize the Pats, but not at the level that Brady-to-Welker-and-Woodhead will attack the Colts. Expect Brady to lead the Pats on a late drive to seal the victory for the more proven winner. 

Fischman: Patriots 24, Colts 20

Andrew Luck and the Colts are coming along nicely, but they haven’t been tested by a quality opponent since Week 5. This is now not only a test, but one of the calculus variety. Luck may not quite be ready to face the Patriots in Foxboro.

Freedman: Patriots 34, Colts 28

Welcome to the big show, Andrew Luck. The rookie QB out of Stanford has the Colts on a four-game winning streak, but those four teams have a combined 11 wins. With a weak running game and a mostly-anonymous pass-catching unit, the Colts' offense actually resembles the Patriots' Super Bowl core. Tom Brady and Stevan Ridley will be too much for the Colts' defense to handle, but Luck will put on a show of his own and show that you don't need Peyton Manning to have thrilling Colts-Patriots showdowns.

Meyer: Patriots 31, Colts 24

The Patriots have yet to blow anyone out at home, simply because their defense isn't good enough. This game will hopefully be the first of many between Tom Brady and Andrew Luck. The difference is that the Patriots have more offensive talent than the Colts, which is why they will win this game.

Murray: Patriots 31, Colts 28

The Patriots only seemed to play defense when it mattered last week.  They gave up 31 points and 481 yards of offense at home to the Bills, 246 of them by RBs Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller.  But the Patriots forced two key takeaways in the 4th quarter, one on the goal line, the other in the end zone to end the game. Missing from that is how this Patriots team not only scores the most points, but turns the ball over the least (QB Tom Brady: 18 TDs, 3 INTs).  The Colts beat Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, but the other QBs the Colts have beaten (Ponder, Weeden, Hasselbeck, Tannehill, Gabbert) don't compare to the points Brady can put up. Rookie QB Andrew Luck is going to have to find a way to play the best game of his career on the road to win, especially considering his defense gives up 4.7 yards a run and forces the least turnovers in the league.

Tufts: Patriots 35, Colts 20

Coming out of Gillette Stadium with a win is no small task for any team, and even harder for a rookie quarterback. Andrew Luck will be facing a very porous Patriots' secondary that is hoping for some rejuvenation from recently acquired cornerback Aqib Talib. While Luck may find some success through the air, it will not be enough to match New England's offensive machine that will be operating in high gear at home.

With Big Ben out, Rashard Mendenhall will have to carry the load. (Wikimedia Commons)
With Big Ben out, Rashard Mendenhall will have to carry the load. (Wikimedia Commons)
Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Bergman: Ravens 19, Steelers 17

The Steelers will be without their starting quarterback for this Sunday Night matchup and may face some offensive hiccups with veteran Byron Leftwich at the helm, but Pittsburgh is playing a Ravens defense weakened by injury and age like never before. Disregard the 55 points Baltimore put up against Oakland last week - it's Oakland, for Pete's sake. Joe Flacco and Co. are good, just not that good. Like always, this AFC North matchup will come down to less than seven points and will be decided by a late defensive stop by the Lewis-less Ravens defense. 

Budrovich: Ravens 24, Steelers 13

Both teams are banged up, and will most likely leave this game even more battered. Byron Leftwich will need to use his deep passing game and his legs to move the chains as the Ravens will definitely send lots of pressure. Meanwhile, Joe Flacco must incorporate Ray Rice to counter the Steelers improved defense. 

Fischman: Ravens 20, Steelers 17

Since 2007, the Steelers have won nearly 80 percent of their regular-season home games. This will be a close game, but even Pittsburgh’s stellar defense won’t be able to make up for the absence of Ben Roethlisberger. Byron Leftwich hasn’t started and won a game since Oct. 8, 2006. That should concern Steelers fans.

Freedman: Ravens 17, Steelers 10

Already without Antonio Brown, the Steelers incurred their biggest blow with the loss of Ben Roethlisberger. The Ravens, on the other hand, are coming off a 55-20 dusting of the Raiders in which Joe Flacco looked to regain a little bit of his mojo. Byron Leftwich won't be able to get it done stepping in for Big Ben, and a healthy dosage of Ray Rice earn the Ravens a gritty win Sunday night.

Meyer: Ravens 14, Steelers 10

Losing Ben Roethlisberger at this point of the season will be a nightmare for the Steelers. How bad is Byron Leftwich? He somehow overthrew Mike Wallace on a deep ball, which is nearly impossible to do. Ravens, who aren't that good of a team themselves, will win a squeaker at Heinz Field. 

Murray: Steelers 20, Ravens 17

I have a feeling the Ravens are going to wish they saved some of those points they used last week to blow out the Raiders.  Even without Ben Roethlisberger, I like this game for the Steelers because even though they aren't getting sacks and turnovers, they are allowing the fewest yards in the league.  Pittsburgh has held their last four opponents under 300 total yards.  This won't be an easy game for Joe Flacco or Ray Rice.  Steelers QB Byron Leftwich hasn't won a start since 2006, but he'll get a week of practice in and RB Rashard Mendenhall might return to face a Ravens defense that continues to lose bodies every week.

Tufts: Ravens 23, Steelers 17

The Steelers face one of their biggest tests of the season playing a tough Ravens team without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Backup Byron Leftwich will face a Baltimore defense that is not up to its usual par, though the squad has tallied ten interceptions this season already. This game will be close, but Leftwich won't be able to hang with the Ravens' offense, led by Joe Flacco and Ray Rice.

Matt Forte will be the key to the Bears' offense. (Mike Shadle/Creative Commons)
Matt Forte will be the key to the Bears' offense. (Mike Shadle/Creative Commons)
Chicago Bears @ San Francisco 49ers

Bergman: Bears 12, 49ers 10

Concussed Alex Smith? No Jay Cutler? Let's just call it a tie. (Too soon?) Monday Night's matchup won't be a dual between offenses though, but between defenses. The Monsters of the Midway will frighten, pressure, and confuse the woozy Niners starter into making too many game-altering mistakes, while the balanced Bears attack will bend the San Francisco defense enough to surrender the necessary field goals to win.

Budrovich: 49ers 21, Bears 10

With Alex Smith healthy and Jay Cutler out, the Niners will pull out the Monday Night Football showdown. The Bears' weaknesses on offensive line will be exposed against the strong Niners' pass rush, Aldon and Justin Smith specifically. Matt Forte will have success against a Niners' defense that has surprisingly allowed 100-plus yard rushers in three out of their last four games. Both teams need bounce back victories, but expect the healthier home team to pull out the thriller. 

Fischman: Bears 13, 49ers 10

With no disrespect to the Seahawks, these are the best two defenses in the NFC. That means the Bears will be involved in another tight, low-scoring game. With Jason Campbell starting, points will be hard to come by for Chicago. If each team’s backup quarterback starts, I think the Bears will force some huge turnovers against Colin Kaepernick and win. If Smith and Kapernick split time, however, and I expect that to happen, the 49ers should have just enough to outscore the Bears, who will be without Cutler.

Freedman: Bears 21, 49ers 14

Both teams' QBs are dealing with concussions right now, so each squad will be relying heavily on the ground game. However, the Bears' defense has been superb, and only allowed 13 points to a dynamic Houston Texans squad last week. The backfield duo of Matt Forte and Michael Bush will carry the load Monday night, and show that life without Cutler is possible.

Meyer: 49ers 20, Bears 13

With Jay Cutler already out for this game, and Alex Smith likely to follow, this will be another defensive struggle. But I think Colin Kaepernick is a more competent backup quarterback than Jason Campbell. In the battle of the best of the NFC, the 49ers will exploit the Bears' offensive line and win in a close one. 

Murray: 49ers 17, Bears 13

It appears that concussed 49ers QB Alex Smith will start and concussed Bears QB Jason Campbell will not.  Neither of these teams are going to want to pass the ball much.  The Texans pretty much showed the league how to defend Chicago (extra attention on WR Brandon Marshall, take advantage of turnovers, inclement weather), while the Bears are a lock for a multi-takeaway game.  The difference between the teams may come down to the run game, and the last time these two teams faced off, 49ers RB Frank Gore had 102 yards and a TD while Bears RB Matt Forte was held to 41 yards.  The Niners are at home, so I can't see Campbell coming into the Bay and having a big day.

Tufts: 49ers 17, Bears 10

With the starting quarterbacks of both teams suffering from concussions (Jay Cutler has officially been ruled out by the Bears), this matchup for NFC supremacy will rely heavily on defense and the run game. Both defenses have been outstanding this season and set up this game to be a low-scoring affair. San Francisco's run game will be the difference however, and will make up for a sub-par or absent Alex Smith.

Season Standings

Jacob Freedman 33-18

Matthew Tufts 33-18

Max Meyer 32-19

Evan Budrovich 31-20

Aaron Fischman 29-22

Jeremy Bergman 29-22

Law Murray 22-18



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

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