The Reuters global sports blog
Week 11 NFL picks
After the last 2-4 we had a big bounce back week so that’s the game plan again.
I was going to start off by making the Miami Dolphins my Pick of the Week but since that game has been played, well that would be cheating (I think).
Anyway, I get the impression many of you think I would still make the wrong pick – even if the game had been played.
But the Lineman can take a hit and is looking for revenge this week — starting with Pick of the Week.
Record: 31-29. Last week 2-4
Pick of the Week: 5-5
San Diego Chargers (6-3) at Denver Broncos (6-3)
(Line Broncos plus 2 1/2)
Broncos let me down last week and as that ol’Who song goes, “We won’t get fooled again”. The Broncos, once running away with the AFC west after a 6-0 start, have lost three in a row and now must face a surging division rival who smells blood.
The problems are starting to pile up in the Mile High City and Broncos fast start has slowed to a crawl. Denver QB Kyle Orton is on the limp and if he is unable to play the starting assignment goes to Chris Simms, who was 3-of-13 for 13 after taking over against the Redskins last week.
The Chargers meanwhile have found their mojo racking up four straight wins, including back-to-back victories over the Giants and Eagles. San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers is having another strong year, running back LaDainian Tomlinson is shifting into high gear and the Chargers defence is starting to look like it means business.
That means trouble for Denver. Rocky Mountain meltdown continues.
Take the Chargers give up the 2 1/2 points.
Arizona Cardinals (6-3) at St. Louis Rams (1-8)
(Line Cardinals minus 9 1/2)
Cardinals QB Kurt Warner returns to the Big Top where he made his name as the ringmaster of the Greatest Show on Turf taking the Rams to the Super Bowl. But that was nearly a decade ago and now Warner returns to St. Louis calling the shots for another high powered offence. After an uneven start the Cardinals have won five of their last six and are starting to resemble the team that made it to the Super Bowl last year.
Poor Rams fan must be wondering what that have done to anger the NFL schedule Gods as yet another juggernaut rolls into St. Louis. The last three home games the Rams fans have watched the Brett Favre and the Vikings, Peyton Manning and the Colts and Drew Brees and the Saints beat up on their boys and this Sunday welcome the Cardinals, who have been one of the NFL’s hottest road teams this season (4-0).
The Rams have shown some grit in November. They beat the Lions early in the month to notch their only win and then threw a scare into the unbeaten Saints last week, hanging in there before falling 28-23.
The building momentum, however, will not be nearly enough to carry the Rams past the Cardinals who cannot let off the gas with the 49ers still within striking distance of the NFC west crown.
Take the Cardinals give up the 9 1/2.
Washington Redskins (3-6) at Dallas Cowboys (6-3)
(Line Cowboys minus 11 1/2)
Before a Lambeau meltdown last week Dallas was cruising along on a four game win streak and QB Tony Romo was once again the most popular Cowboy since John Wayne. But a loss to the Packers has seen things tighten up in the NFC East and the Cowboys return home this week to take on a rival that is showing signs of life with a win over the Broncos.
OK, the Redskins offence sucks, their play calling is done by a guy who was calling out bingo numbers a month ago and running back Clinton Portis is on the limp. But big rivalries have a way of making games interesting if not close and the Redskins have been tough on the road only once losing by more than 10 points.
Cowboys beat Indians but the Redskins cover.
Take the Redskins and the 11 1/2 points.
Manning scared Bill Belichick so badly last Sunday that he made the Patriots coach go for a fourth down gamble deep in his own end rather than put the ball back into the Colts quarterback’s hands. The Pats failed and Manning got the ball anyway and a touchdown giving Indy a big win. Nice trick. And guess what, the Colts also have the NFL’s top ranked defence allowing an average of just 15.8 yards a game.
Ok, I admit, Ray Lewis scares me but quarterback Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco has provided a few frights with his play this season as well. Ravens also come into the game off a short week and an could only manage a 16-0 win over the hapless Browns.
The Colts have won four road games by an average of 21 points and won their last six against the Ravens.
So what gives? Why is this a pick’em?
Odds makers must think this is a trap game and expect a let down from the mighty Colts.
Take the Colts, who improve to 10-0.
Seattle Seahawks (3-6) at Minnesota Vikings (8-1)
(Line Vikings minus 10 1/2)
Vikings toyed with the Lions last week then cracked the whip. With every game Minnesota looks more-and-more like a Super Bowl threat while the Seahawks look more-and-more like seagulls. Quarterback Brett Favre and running back Adrian Peterson power a balance offence while Jared Allen has 10 sacks to lead an improving defence.
The banged up Seahawks have been inconsistent. QB Matt Hasselbeck is struggling with a sore shoulder and bruised ribs while running back Julius Jones has bruised lung. Seahawks still believe they have a shot at the playoffs but that slim hope ends this weekend.
Take the Vikings and give up the 10 1/2.
New Orleans Saints (9-0) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8)
(Line Saints minus 11 1/2)
The Saints looked like they slipped into cruise control last week doing just enough to beat the lowly Rams. Time for Drew Brees to get the league’s top offense (averaging 36.8 points a game) humming again and will get that opportunity against a Tampa defence that ranks second worst in the league giving up an average of more than 28 points a game.
The Saints defence leads the league in interceptions with 17 returning five four touchdowns but looked shaky against the Rams and must be better. Tampa Bay has shown some determination with rookie QB Josh Freeman at the controls but this is still a team that needs help.
Saints get it rolling again here.
Take the Saints give up the 11 1/2.
PHOTOS: Philip Rivers (TOP) by Mike Blake, Ray Lewis by Brian Snyder.