The good news, RexRated had another perfect week with his Best Bets (3-0), and after a slow start is over (.500) on the season. The bad news, Sportsmasher got absolutely crushed once again both overall (5-9) and in his Best Bets (1-2), and is now a sad five games under .500 on the 2012 season. There is still time for redemption. This is also the final week of Byes in the NFL, so we have a full slate of games to pick each week going forward, do there is more opportunity to improve (or get worse) and Sportsmasher is confident that a perfect week is right around the corner. Maybe it will even be this week. Pick time.
Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills (-3) Week 11 kicks off with a very tough to pick Thursday night game, as both of these teams are very up and down, and there is a good chance that one of them will not show up for this game. If things start to go poorly early in the game for either the Dolphins (4-5) or the Bills (3-6) they tend to struggle to right themselves, and in situations like this, I give the nod to the home team. The key to this game will be if the Bills will be able to run the ball on Miami’s fifth ranked run defense, and I think the winner of this battle wins the game. However, Thursday night, three point spread with two up and down teams, I take the home squad.
The Pick: Bills (-3) FINAL SCORE: Bills 27 Dolphins 23
Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins (-4) For most of the 2012 season, I have felt that the Eagles would eventually turn their season around, and so far I have been totally wrong. The Eagles offensive line is terrible, their defense and playmakers are all overrated, and now their turnover prone quarterback Michael Vick is out with a concussion. Nick Foles gets his first start, which may be a blessing in disguise for the floundering Eagles, and I wonder if Vick will take another snap for Philly. The Redskins, on the other hand, are set at quarterback for the future with Robert Griffin III and I do not think the Eagles overpriced veterans show up for this game with so much organizational uncertainty.
The Pick: Redskins (-4) FINAL SCORE: Redskins 24 Eagles 17
Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions (+3.5) The Lions (4-5) were supposed to finally make the leap into a Super Bowl contender this season, but that is not going to happen, they need more weapons for Matthew Stafford and more players in the back seven on defense before they are ready for the next step. The Packers (6-3) have hit their stride and are playing well, plus they are coming off of a bye week and should get several key players back from injury. Green Bay’s high powered passing attack translates well to the turf in Detroit and the Lions shaky defense will struggle to stop them.
The Pick: Packers (-3.5) FINAL SCORE: Packers 34 Lions 24
***REXRATED BEST BET: Packers (-3.5)***
Arizona Cardinals @ Atlanta Falcons (-10.5) The Falcons (8-1) are no longer undefeated after losing to the Saints in New Orleans last weekend, a game which they had every opportunity to win, and I still think they are a flawed team due to a lack of pass rush. The Arizona Cardinals (4-5) actually match up well with the Falcons, they have a stout defense, and although their offensive line stinks Atlanta’s lack of a pass rush will negate this weakness. I think that Patrick Peterson will make some special teams plays on the Georgia Dome turf and the Cardinals defense will play well enough to keep this game close. I think Atlanta wins, but take the points.
The Pick: Cardinals (+10.5) Final Score: Falcons 24 Cardinals 20
***SPORTSMASHER BEST BET: Cardinals (+10.5)***
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers (+2) The Buccaneers (5-4) are suddenly a playoff contender, and their record should be better as they should have won two additional away games against both the Giants and Cowboys, which they let slip through their fingers. Quarterback Josh Freeman and running back Doug Martin have their offense on a roll, and although their defense is not spectacular, they are playing well enough. The Panthers (2-7) are really struggling, and will continue to do so, until they get quarterback Cam Newton some more weapons and they improve defensively. I see a big game from Doug Martin and the Buccaneers riding him to a victory at Carolina.
The Pick: Buccaneers (-2) FINAL SCORE: Buccaneers 24 Panthers 16
Cleveland Browns @ Dallas Cowboys (-8) Although they got off to a rough start, the Dallas Cowboys (4-5) are suddenly just 1.5 games behind the idle New York Giants for the NFC East divisional lead, and need to win this game if they want to get back in the playoff hunt. The Browns (2-7) have been playing much better, and 29 year old rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden has surpassed my expectations, however they still have not won a road game. This team has potential, but they need some weapons for Weeden in the passing game and some pass rushers, and I think the Cowboys match up really well with the Browns.
The Pick: Cowboys (-8) FINAL SCORE: Cowboys 31 Browns 20
New York Jets @ St. Louis Rams (-3.5) The Jets (3-6) are really struggling, they are below league average at every position on offense, and their defense really misses star cornerback Darrelle Revis. Although I think that this game could swing either way, the Rams are playing better lately and are coming off of a tie against their divisional rival 49ers. I like the Rams young defensive players and I think that the Jets will really struggle to move the ball on them, while Sam Bradford and the Rams offense will make enough plays to get some points. I think this is going to be a tight, low scoring game, even on the speedy St. Louis turf so I am taking the points.
The Pick: Jets (+3.5) FINAL SCORE: Rams 20 Jets 17
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans (-15.5) The Jaguars (1-8) are the worst team in football and cannot move the ball against average defenses, so they are in big trouble this weekend when they run into the best defense in football (in my opinion) on the road. The Houston Texans (8-1) are the best team in football right now, their defense and their running game are top notch and they will control the tempo of this game on both sides of the ball. If my memory serves me correctly, this is the biggest spread that we have seen during the 2012 season, and it could not be high enough. There is simply no way that the Jaguars can move the ball against the Texans.
The Pick: Texans (-15.5) FINAL SCORE: Texans 34 Jaguars 6
SPORTSMASHER BEST BET: Texans (-15.5)
Cincinnati Bengals @ Kansas City Chiefs (+3.5) The reason that this line is so low is the fact that the Chiefs (1-7) are coming off of a game where they hung with the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Monday night and because they historically have a great home field advantage in Kansas City. However, they played Pittsburgh so well because Ben Roethlisberger was severely injured in the game and the Chiefs are (0-4) at home this season. The Bengals (4-5) are coming off of a huge home blowout win over the defending champion New York Giants, and they have elite players on both sides of the ball (Geno Atkins on defense and A.J. Green of offense). As long as the Bengals can stop the one-two rushing attack of Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis, they should win this game easily, and get back in the playoff hunt.
The Pick: Bengals (-3.5) FINAL SCORE: Bengals 24 Chiefs 13
***REXRATED BEST BET: Bengals (-3.5)***
New Orleans Saints @ Oakland Raiders (+5.5) The Saints (4-5) got off to an awful start this season, and they will never catch the Atlanta Falcons for the division lead, but with a win here they will be right back in the playoff hunt. They are playing better, and although their defense stinks, their offense is good enough to make up for it. The Raiders are horrible, although they are better at home, their defense will really struggle to stop the high powered Saints offense. Everything about this game screams “TRAP GAME” for the Saints, and although I do not think it will be a huge blowout, I think the visiting Saints cover.
The Pick: Saints (-5.5) FINAL SCORE: Saints 28 Raiders 21
***REXRATED BEST BET: Saints (-5.5)***
Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots (-9) This is one of the tougher games on the schedule to pick, the Colts (6-3) are better than anyone expected, and Andrew Luck is the best rookie quarterback we have seen, he makes the right read and has incredible arm strength and accuracy. The Patriots (6-3) are not the Patriots of old, and while they continue to win close games, they are not the well oiled machine they once were. I think the Patriots win this game, and there is a chance that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady may flex their muscles and blow out the young upstart Colts, however I think that the lack of a pass rush and secondary for the Patriots allows the Colts to keep it close.
The Pick: Colts (+9) Final Score: Patriots 35 Colts 30
San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos (-7.5) The Chargers (4-5) are coming off of a tough loss in Tampa Bay, and the last time they met the Broncos, they blew a 24 point lead in a home loss. Despite their head coach Norv turner blowing off steam in his press conference after the loss to Tampa Bay, I do not think this team is fired up and I do not like the Chargers chances against the Broncos. Peyton Manning is currently the league MVP and he has the Broncos (6-3) offense playing excellent football, and I think that they will run up the score against a struggling Chargers team at home.
The Pick: Broncos (-7.5) FINAL SCORE: Broncos 31 Chargers 17
SPORTSMASHER BEST BET: BRONCOS (-7.5)
Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers (+3.5) I am shocked this line is so low, although this is a game between the two fiercest rivals in the NFL, the Steelers will be without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He was seriously injured last Monday night and the rest of his season could be in jeopardy, so Byron Leftwich will start in his place, which is not good for the Steelers. Although Pittsburgh’s defense will try to keep the game close, Leftwich will make too many mistakes, and Baltimore’s offensive playmakers will capitalize. It’s a shame that Big Ben is out, because a game that I had circled on the calendar will get out of hand quickly, Ravens win big.
The Pick: Ravens (-3.5) FINAL SCORE: Ravens 27 Steelers 13
SPORTSMASHER BEST BET: Ravens (-3.5)
Chicago Bears @ San Francisco 49ers (-5.5) This could change by game time, but as of right now it sounds like Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler will be out with a concussion, while 49ers quarterback Alex Smith will try to play with a concussion. This game will still be about defense, as two of the best in the league square off, and I think it will be a low scoring affair. The Bears defense is good enough that they will keep them in this game no matter who the quarterback is, while offensively the Bears will struggle to move the ball with Jason Campbell under center. I think that, without Cutler, the 49ers win this game. I think the Bears defense is close enough to keep it close, take the points.
The Pick: Bears (+5.5) FINAL SCORE: 49ers 20 Bears 16
Week 1: (9-7)
Week 2: (7-8-1)
Week 3: (10-5-1)
Week 4: (8-7)
Week 5: (5-9)
Week 6: (6-7-1)
Week 7: (6-7)
Week 8: (5-9)
Week 9: (8-6)
Week 10: (5-9)
2012 Season: (69-74-3)
Sportsmasher Best Bets: 13-15
RexRated’s Best Bets: 16-14-1
BYE WEEKS: Tennessee Titans, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks