Week 11 in the NFL begins with a pseudo-AFC Wild Card elimination game between the Bills and Dolphins and continues with a Sunday slate filled with power-on-power matchups. The main event is Sunday Night Football’s heavyweight tilt between the Patriots and Colts.
Let’s look at the full schedule. (Note that Baltimore, Dallas, Jacksonville, and the Jets have a bye.)
Buffalo (5-4) at Miami (5-4) – Spread: Dolphins -5.5
If the AFC East is going to put a second team in the playoffs, it will be one of these squads. In week 2, the Bills beat Miami 29-10. The home opener for Buffalo was played in front of charged up fans who had just learned the team was being sold to a local ownership group planing to keep the team in Buffalo. Miami committed the only two turnovers in the game and, trailing early, were forced to air the ball out 49 times. The Bills are 3-1 on the road with wins over the Bears, Lions, and Jets. The Fins are 2-2 at home with victories against the Patriots and Chargers, and losses to Green Bay and Kansas City. The teams have split their last 12 meetings in south Florida. Neither could muster a win in week 10 and, consequently, both come in with 5-4 records and are on the outside of the AFC playoff race.
Minnesota (4-5) at Chicago (3-6) – Spread: Bears -3.5
The Vikings return from a bye seeking their third road win of the year. Besides getting thrashed in Green Bay, Minnesota has played well away from home, beating St. Louis and Tampa Bay, and dropping a one-point, last-second loss at Buffalo. The Vikings have dropped four straight games after a bye week, though. Chicago finishes the season with five home games in their final seven. The Bears have played in front of their own fans just once since week 4. They may not be too upset about that, though, as they are 0-3 at home, with setbacks against the Bills (in overtime), the Packers, and the Dolphins. Chicago was embarrassed on SNF in week 10 by the Packers and coach Marc Trestman may need a solid finish to save his job. These teams will meet again in Minnesota in week 17.
Houston (4-5) at Cleveland (6-3) – Spread: Browns -3.5
The Texans will be coming off of a week 10 bye at 4-5 and have a favorable schedule in the immediate future. (After Cleveland, they are home to the struggling Bengals and Titans, and then travel to face the one-win Jaguars). But Houston probably needs to go 6-1 the rest of the way to make the playoffs – a tough task in the NFL no matter who your opponent; and this game against Cleveland suddenly looks a lot more challenging after the Browns routed the Bengals in Cincinnati on TNF and more than covered as 5.5-point dogs. Houston is 2-3 on the road with wins over Oakland and Tennessee. They lost at New York (Giants), Pittsburgh, and Dallas (in overtime). Cleveland is 4-1 at home with their lone loss against the Ravens, but the Texans have won two straight and four of five in this series.
Seattle (6-3) at Kansas City (6-3) – Spread: Seahawks -1
After back-to-back home victories, the Seahawks travel to Kansas City. Seattle is 2-2 on the road with wins over the Redskins and Panthers, and losses at San Diego and St. Louis. Each of the Seahawks’ final four road games come against playoff contenders. Since an opening day home loss against Tennessee, the Chiefs have been perfect at Arrowhead Stadium. They beat New England 41-14 in week 4, crushed the Rams 34-7 in week 8, and got by the Jets 24-10 in week 9. Seattle last beat the Chiefs in 2002 and have not won in Kansas City since 1999. In week 10, the Chiefs eked out a 17-13 comeback win in Buffalo, while Seattle trailed early to the Giants but dominated the second half, eventually winning 38-17.
Atlanta (3-6) at Carolina (3-6-1) – Spread: Panthers -3
After a week 9 bye, Atlanta is on the road for a second straight game. The Falcons will be looking for their first two-game winning streak of the season in Carlolina having knocked off Tampa Bay 27-17 in week 10. The teams will swap places in the last week of the season when the Panthers travel to Atlanta. Carolina has won three straight in this series after dropping five in a row to the Falcons. Only two of the last nine meetings between these teams have been decided by seven points or fewer. Carolina is just 2-3 at home on the year, and have dropped their last two in Charlotte. The two home losses are part of Carolina’s current four-game losing streak, which got ugly on Monday in a 45-21 drubbing at the hands of the Eagles. Carolina lost at home to New Orleans 28-10 in week 9 after falling to Seattle 13-9 in week 8. If they’re going to challenge New Orleans for the division title, they will need to sweep their last three at home.
Cincinnati (5-3-1) at New Orleans (4-5) – Spread: Saints -7
The Bengals begin a three game road swing on the heels of playing three straight at home. The first two home games went well, with wins over Baltimore and Jacksonville; but in week 10, Cincinnati was manhandled by the Browns on Thursday Night Football, ending their 14-game home unbeaten streak. The Bengals are 1-2 on the road with a win over Baltimore and losses at New England and Indianapolis. Sunday’s tilt will be the second of three in a row at home for the Saints. Like the Bengals, the Saints also had an impressive home streak snapped last weekend; the Saints had won 11 straight at the Superdome before losing in OT to the 49ers. In week 12, they’ll host Cincinnati’s division rival Baltimore. The Bengals won their last game in New Orleans, 31-16, in 2006. But the Saints have been dominant at home in the last several years.
Tampa Bay (1-8) at Washington (3-6) – Spread: Redskins -7
The Redskins return from a bye having won two of their last three. Washington beat Tennessee and Dallas before falling to Minnesota in week 9. The Redskins can move the ball, but have a -9 turnover margin, which has played a big part in their 3-6 record. They are 2-2 at home but only 1-3 against the spread. Conversely, the Bucs are 1-3 on the road straight-up, but 3-1 against the number with a win over Pittsburgh and close losses to New Orleans and Cleveland. These teams are 10-10 all time against each other. After one game back (the loss to the Vikings) and another week of rest, RGIII will be looking for his best performance of the season, which could be bad news for a Bucs team that is second-last in yards allowed.
For a more in-depth early look at this game, check out our “sneak peek“.
Denver (7-2) at St. Louis (3-6) – Spread: Broncos -10.5
The last of three straight road games for the Broncos pits them against a St. Louis team that has a flare for the dramatic. Denver lost at New England in week 9 and took out their anger on the Raiders last week. While nobody would call the Rams elite, they have wins over Seattle and San Francisco this season and appeared to be trending in the right direction before losing at Arizona 31-14 in week 10. This is the lone home game in a five week stretch for St. Louis. Jeff Fisher’s squad is 1-3 at home with losses against the Vikings, Cowboys, and Niners. Denver’s last road win against the Rams came in L.A. in 1982.
San Francisco (5-4) at New York Giants (3-6) – Spread: 49ers -4.5
For a second straight week, the Niners are on the road and their margin for error to earn a playoff birth is declining rapidly. The 49ers beat New Orleans in overtime on Sunday to keep their season alive; but they still have an uphill climb to earn a postseason berth. San Francisco last beat the Giants in New York in 2002. The Giants beat the 49ers in the Bay Area 26-3 in 2012, and 20-17 in overtime during the 2011 playoffs to earn a spot in the Super Bowl. The G-men are 2-2 at home with wins over Atlanta and Houston, and ugly loses against Arizona and Indianapolis. The Niners are 3-2 on the road with wins over the Saints, Dallas, and St. Louis, and losses against K.C. and Denver.
Oakland (0-9) at San Diego (5-4) – Spread: Chargers -10
While the Raiders are 0-4 on the road, Oakland is 3-1 against the spread in those games. In week 1, the Raiders lost 19-14 in New York against the Jets. Then they fell at New England, 16-9, in week 3. Against the Browns in week 8, Oakland lost 23-13. Most recently, they dropped a 30-24 game to the Seahawks in week 9. San Diego had a week 10 bye, and it could not have come at a better time, as the once-mighty Chargers have dropped three straight. The Chargers are 3-1 at home against the number. They beat Seattle, Jacksonville, and the Jets convincingly at home before falling to Kansas City as favorites in week 7. The Chargers won at Oakland 31-28 in week 6. Derek Carr fired four touchdown passes in the loss for the Raiders, but San Diego scored ten unanswered points in the final six minutes to secure the victory.
Philadelphia (7-2) at Green Bay (6-3) – Spread: Packers -7
Another difficult road test for Philadelphia will be made a little more difficult by the absence of Nick Foles. The Eagles’ starting QB suffered a broken clavicle in week 9 and will be out for the foreseeable future. With Mark Sanchez as the next QB up, there were likely moments of panic in Philly. But the Eagles haven’t missed a beat with the former USC Trojan under center: Sanchez looked more than competent filling in for Foles against the Texans and had no trouble embarrassing the Panthers on Monday. With Foles under center, the Eagles went 2-2 on the road, beating Indianapolis and Houston and dropping tight games at San Francisco and Arizona.
Green Bay is at home for a second straight Sunday, which is usually a recipe for success for the Pack. After beating the Jets by a touchdown in their first home game this year, Green Bay has obliterated Minnesota, Carolina, and the Bears at Lambeau. But the Eagles have won two of their last three trips to the Frozen Tundra, including a 27-13 victory last year. (Though I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Aaron Rodgers missed that game due to injury.) The Packers are among the worst rushing defenses in the NFL while Philadelphia, particularly without Foles, will give LeSean McCoy plenty of opportunities on the ground.
Detroit (7-2) at Arizona (8-1) – Spread: Cardinals -1.5
The Lions play their first true road game since week 6 after beating the Falcons (22-21) in London in week 8. Detroit is 3-1 on the road, with their only loss coming at Carolina (24-7) in week 2. Prior to the win over Atlanta, the Lions beat the Jets in New York (24-17) in week 4, and took care of business at Minnesota (17-3) in week 6. This is the second straight home game for the Cardinals. They beat St. Louis 31-14 last week, but lost Carson Palmer for the year with an injury. Drew Stanton, who filled in admirably for Palmer early in the year, will now re-take the reigns. Five of the Cards’ last seven games are against plus-.500 teams, including two against the defending champs, Seattle (week 12 and week 16). Arizona has won five straight against the Lions with four of the games played in Glendale. Detroit has dropped seven straight in Arizona dating back to 1993.
New England (7-2) at Indianapolis (6-3) – Spread: Colts -2.5
In a game that could have huge playoff ramifications at the end of the year, the Patriots travel to Indy to face the Colts on Sunday Night Football. Whoever wins this week 11 tilt will likely hold one of the top two spots in the AFC; whoever loses will drop to third or fourth and trail the winner in any head-to-head tiebreaker necessary at season’s end. Looking ahead, it’s entirely possible that this game will be the difference between a top-two finish in the Conference (which comes with a bye in the first round of the playoffs and home-field advantage in the second) and a simple division title (which comes with neither). The Pats and Colts squared off in the playoffs last year, and home-field proved crucial. New England got four touchdown runs from LaGarrette Blount en route to a 43-22 win in Foxborough.
Both the Pats and Colts will enter week 11 after a week 10 bye. This year, the Colts are an NFL-best 7-2 against the spread and are also 8-2 in their last ten games following a week off. The Patriots are 15-3 after a bye in recent years (including playoffs), and will come into this game on a five-game winning streak.
For a more in-depth early look at this game, check out our “sneak peek“.
Pittsburgh (6-4) at Tennessee (2-7) – Spread: Steelers -6
The Steelers started the season 3-3, looking like completely different teams from week to week. Pittsburgh then won three straight and seemed to have put its inconsistencies in the rearview mirror. The Steelers entered their week 10 game with the 1-8 Jets as heavy favorites, and QB Ben Roethlisberger was predicted to stay very hot. But that’s why they play the games. The Jets jumped on Pittsburgh early and the Steelers rally fell short in a 20-13 loss. This week’s game may feel like a must-win for Mike Tomlin’s crew, as the Steelers’ schedule gets tougher looking forward. Following a week 12 bye, Pittsburgh faces the Bengals twice plus New Orleans, Kansas City, and Atlanta in the final five weeks. The Titans are in the midst of a rebuild, and are just 1-3 at home on the season after going 3-5 last year. They are not any better against the number, going 1-7-4 ATS at home over the last two years. Their only home win this year came against Jacksonville (16-14). Despite recent struggles, the Titans have been successful against the Steelers of late. Tennessee beat Pittsburgh 16-9 at Heinz Field last year, and 26-23 at LP Field in 2012.
(Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)