These NFL weeks are going faster now with the addition of the Thursday Night Game. It seems like yesterday that Bill Belichick went for it on 4th down and gave Peyton Manning another opportunity at an NFL memory. After two weeks of Rodgers vs. Favre and Brady vs. Manning rivalries, there are no juicy quarterback matches on the docket this week. Yet for some NFL teams, the playoffs start this week with must-win games.
The first game with huge playoff implications pits the undefeated Indianapolis Colts against the 5-4 Baltimore Ravens. After coming out gangbusters, the Ravens have hit a bit of a slide recently. The Week 10 games for both of these teams couldn’t have been anymore different. The Colts squeaked by once again with a win against the Patriots while the Ravens laid a smack down on their division rival on Monday Night Football. I expect something in between this week.
The Ravens are the kind of a team that you talk about every year that could have won the games they lost. Three of the Ravens four losses came by less than a touchdown. Joe Flacco has hit a bit of sophomore slump, but the emergence of Ray Rice as a premiere running back in the NFL has made this team very difficult to keep down. Just when you think you have the Ravens beat, Rice breaks off a big run or pass play for seven and turns the momentum completely around. He will need quite a few of those to hang with the Colts.
The Colts are 9-0 and had to fight until the final minute for every win the last few weeks. This is a tired and beaten up team right now. The timing is perfect for the Ravens to come in and play a physical game against the Colts. The Colts have a very difficult schedule over the next several weeks. They aren’t going to run the table and I will predict a big upset here by the Ravens. The Ravens have a new kicker, will make their field goals, and pull out yet another squeaker.
The grudge match of the day takes place in New England. The Patriots will play their second grudge match in a row as they host the New York Jets. These teams don’t like each other one bit and it goes further back than “Spy Gate.” The Jets talked a lot of trash earlier this season and backed it up with a huge upset over the Patriots in Week 2. Well an upset in most places, but I did pick the Jets here on CamelClutchBlog.com. Can the Jets do the unthinkable and sweep the Pats? I don’t think so.
These two teams were in very different places from Week 2. For one, the Patriots won’t have to worry about Leon Washington. Washington averaged 31 yards a kickoff return in their first meeting. Two, Tom Brady was out of rhythm and still getting used to the speed of the game. Quite frankly, Brady was terrible. Three, Belichick had no book on Mark Sanchez or Rex Ryan. Finally, the momentum is in the Patriots favor as the Jets have lost some very close games in ugly fashion. The heat is already on in New York and in New England, 4th and 2 will be a distant memory at kickoff.
I look for a big win here. I look for Belichick to run the score up on the Jets. Belichick was already mad at the Jets and after last week, he is just mad at the world. Tom Brady will look to prove something here after that poor effort in Week 2. Not too mention the fact that after last week’s loss, the Patriots need to win out for any hopes at home field in the playoffs. I love the Patriots here and in the end, I don’t think it’s even close.
Another game with playoff implications for both teams features the Philadelphia Eagles and the Chicago Bears in a Donovan McNabb homecoming game. Jay Cutler will look to rebound from his Jake Delhomme impersonation in a Sunday Night Football headliner. McNabb and the Eagles will look to try and convert a short yardage situation at the goal line and give Philly fans some playoff hopes. This is one of those games that features two of the most inconsistent teams in the NFL in a situation where you just have no idea what either team is going to give you on a week to week basis.
Jay Cutler has been horrendous in night games this season. The bulk of his interceptions this season came in his two night games. The Eagles have gone 1-1 in night games, but Donovan McNabb hasn’t had his best moments in either one of them. I do like Donovan in Chicago. McNabb is a Chicago native and has had big wins in Chicago. He just loves coming home and playing in front of friends and family. Unfortunately, the Eagles defense is going to make it very difficult for him to continue that great stretch of winning games in Chi-Town.
The Eagles are just decimated by injuries and personnel problems on both sides of the ball. The offensive line is a mess and Brian Westbrook is out for the game. On defense, they could be without several starters depending upon Sheldon Brown’s status at game time. As an Eagles fan I hate to say it but this game is tailor-made for Jay Cutler. I look for Cutler to have a huge game here and give him and Greg Olsen high fantasy recommendations. The Eagles will have to surprise the Bears with a run game here and that isn’t going to happen with Big Red. I look for a big Bears win and another embarrassing Eagles loss in prime time.
Quick Hits – The Detroit Lions have hung with all of the big boys yet lost to the Rams. Look for the Lions to smash it up against the Browns. Jake Delhomme looks to be back and he’ll have big opportunities against the Dolphins. Are the Broncos still on a bye week? Remember the Favre-Young games? Well this week’s game is going to be far from it. I am curious to see what kind of changes that the Giants make coming off of the bye week. Who would have thought four weeks ago that this Monday night’s game between the Titans and Texans would be this big? The Vikings struggled a bit against the Lions, but will have a great matchup against the Seahawks who are terrible on the road. Is it even possible for the Saints to struggle this week against the Bucs? Oh how I would love to see Washington beat Dallas at home this Sunday.
Fantasy Fix – If you have followed my fantasy recommendations since Week 1, I have given you at least one sneaky sleeper every week. Last week, all four of sleepers hit for lucky fantasy owners. I recommended Ricky Williams last week who gave you double-digits, Braylon Edwards who had 79 receiving yards, Matthew Stafford who had 14 points last week (only two less than Drew Brees), and Jamaal Charles who had a big day as predicted against the Raiders. I won’t hit on all of my sleepers every week, but I have hit on at least two a week. You won’t find the obvious names like Peterson and Manning here. I do the work, look at the numbers, and find you the guys under the radar that you can plug in for a quick fix. Here are this week’s sneaky sleepers you likely won’t be seeing anywhere else but here on the CamelClutchBlog.com.
Jake Delhomme, Carolina Panthers – I can’t believe I would ever recommend Jake the Fake, but I love him this week. Delhomme is getting Miami on a short week and the Dolphins are struggling on defense. The Dolphins give up over 30% more fantasy points than the average team to quarterbacks. Delhomme and the Panthers are rolling and the guy is getting hot. The Dolphins will be without Ronnie Brown and the running game won’t be the same. The defense is going to get tired from the Stewart-Williams machine and open up some spots for Delhomme and Steve Smith. If you need a quarterback fix this week, go with Jake…for this week only!
Greg Olsen, Chicago Bears – I know his quarterback is an interception machine, however the Eagles are the absolute worst team in the NFL against tight ends. The Eagles give up a whopping 76% more points to tight ends than the average team on a weekly basis. The Eagles will also be without several key defensive players, including Sheldon Brown who is questionable. Olsen gave me seven points in one league last week and was Cutler’s go-to guy in the end zone (although those targets wound up being interceptions). I own Olsen specifically for this week. I don’t think Olsen lets me or you down if you play him.
Jacoby Jones, Houston Texans – I may be a bit too bullish on him here, but I really like him if you need a fantasy fix. We saw our first glimpse of the Schaub-Jones connection before the Texans bye week. Everyone expects Kevin Walter to step up and so will the opposing defenses. This leaves Jones some opportunities to make some big plays down the stretch. The Titans give up a lot of points to wide receivers and will be spending all game defending Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter. I look for Jones as a sneaky play this week.
Bonus – Ricky Williams, Miami Dolphins – Don’t forget as I pointed out last week, he has double-digits against all of the Dolphins NFC opponents. NFC teams didn’t spend a lot of time preparing for the Wildcat in the off season and won’t start now. Injuries to the Panthers defense and a returning lineman for the Dolphins make Williams a very appealing play.
CamelClutchBlog.com Fantasy Football Standings
Dusty’s RedBellySpot 7-3 (Eric Gargiulo)
Havertown Spoilers 6-3-1 (Bryan Reigel)
Team Nuetral Zone 4-5-1 (Brett Clendaniel)
Team We Own You 4-6 (Erik Espenberg)
Team Wheelhouse Radio! 3-7 (Jeff Peck)
Team The Nice Guys 9-1 (Jeff Porrini)
…Not You!!! 7-3 (John Yomtov)
1st Place 4-6 (Derek Sabato)
The Kings of Krista 3-7 (Josh Usher)
Team Rowland 2-8 (Justin Rowland)
NFL Week 11 Picks!
I had a huge bounceback week going 10-5 last week. More importantly I had both the Redskins and the Packers in games that were considered upsets. Unfortunately, I never predicted that Belichick would give a game away and the Eagles would continue to struggle in the red zone. I am 94-50 overall on the season. Now for the NFL Week 11 Picks (Picks in BOLD) –
Miami Dolphins vs Carolina Panthers
Washington Redskins vs Dallas Cowboys
Cleveland Browns vs Detroit Lions
San Francisco 49ers vs Green Bay Packers
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Kansas City Chiefs
Atlanta Falcons vs New York Giants
New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Bucs
Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars
Indianapolis Colts vs Baltimore Ravens
Seattle Seahawks at Minnesota Vikings
Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams
New York Jets vs New England Patriots
Cincinnati Bengals at Oakland Raiders
San Diego Chargers vs Denver Broncos
Philadelphia Eagles vs Chicago Bears
Tennessee Titans vs Houston Texans
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