Can the real identities of the 32 NFL teams please stand up? Every week, there have been critical upsets, truly playing into the “any given Sunday” narrative. Well, because of that, predicting the outcomes of games has been immensely difficult this season. Nevertheless, we’ll continue on, and if this week plays out how I feel as it may, we could have even more upsets this week. So, what could those upsets look like? Let’s predict every game in Week 11!
TNF: Steelers (5-4) at Browns (3-6)
Spread Pick: CLE (-3)/PUSH
Over/Under Pick: Under (41)
Score Predictions: Steelers 17 Browns 20
After an exciting Chargers-Raiders matchup last week, we’ll have any critical AFC divisional matchup on Thursday Night Football- the Browns will host the Steelers in a huge game for both team’s playoff aspirations. The Steelers have become a darling of the public in recent weeks, as their defense is now elite with the acquisition of Minkah Fitzpatrick. However, with a lot of turnovers, many of which have become defensive touchdowns, they’re winning in unsustainable ways, which is bound to catch up to them. Meanwhile, the Browns have lost in every way possible, and as seen last week, perhaps their luck is also reversing course. However, that’s not why I’m picking the Browns, who will undoubtedly have troubles against the Steelers pass rush, to win this game. Head coach Freddie Kitchens has been mocked throughout the season, but with running back Kareem Hunt returning from suspension, he utilized a lot more two running back formations last week. Well, luckily for them, Pittsburgh has really struggled against two running back formations, which could mitigate some of their recent defensive dominance. If that’s the case, more pressure will be put on Mason Rudolph and the offense to succeed, and if their performance throughout the season is any indication, that won’t be the case. I could definitely see the Steelers, with their dominance in trenches, coming through with another victory. However, at some point, their luck with one-score games will run out, which is exactly what I’m predicting to happen this week.
Texans (6-3) at Ravens (7-2)
Spread Pick: HOU (+4.5)
Over/Under Pick: Over (51)
Score Prediction: Texans 34 Ravens 31
In what is probably the game of the week, two of AFC’s, and the league’s premier young quarterbacks will face in Baltimore; Lamar Jackson and the surging Ravens will host Deshaun Watson and the Texans. This game is essentially a toss-up, as Watson is the better quarterback, but the Ravens are probably the better overall team. Yet, we’ve seen Watson essentially carry this team to victories throughout the season, and with some help this Sunday, I expect him to work his magic once again- this is a perfect matchup for him. Baltimore is one of the most blitz-heavy defenses in the NFL, and Watson is one of the best quarterbacks against blitzes. Plus, the Ravens have one of the worst pass rushes in the NFL, and have gotten inconsistent play from their secondary, so Watson is in a prime position to take advantage of those blitzes. Even more in his favor, Watson should also benefit from a great rushing attack, as the Ravens have also had an underperforming rush defense, despite having already played the Bengals twice. Additionally, Baltimore hasn’t yet shown that they can adapt and win in a different style that running the ball and using their tight ends, so will they be able to adjust against a Houston defense that’s pretty weak, but has a sturdy run defense and is terrific against tight ends? I’m expecting a massive shootout in this game, and since I trust Watson much more than Jackson, it’s sensible for me to pick Houston to win outright in a mini-upset.
Falcons (2-7) at Panthers (5-4)
Spread Pick: ATL (+5.5)
Over/Under Pick: Under (49.5)
Score Prediction: Falcons 23 Panthers 20
The Falcons looked like a different team coming out of their bye last week, blowing out the Saints in New Orleans by three scores. Clearly, they’re playing hard for head coach Dan Quinn, but was last week a gimmick? We’ll find out this weekend, as Atlanta will play in their second straight road divisional matchup, against the Panthers. The general expectation is that a stronger Carolina team will take care of business, but are they much better than the Falcons. Kyle Allen has played better recently, but he still makes a lot of costly mistakes, and with a change of defensive playmakers, Atlanta’s secondary was much better last week. Said secondary may be getting top corner Desmond Trufant back this week, and should also benefit from a strong interior pass rush against an offensive line that has been a disappointment this season. On the other side of the ball, Matt Ryan and Julio Jones have each typically played well against Carolina’s defense, which has regressed in recent weeks against better opponents and is banged up in the secondary. There’s a chance Atlanta comes out flat after their big win, but there’s also a likely chance that this is the start of a second-half rally- I lean with the latter choice, which is why I’ll take the Falcons in another road upset win.
Cowboys (5-4) at Lions (3-5-1)
Spread Pick: DAL (-6.5)
Over/Under Pick: Under (46.5)
Score Prediction: Cowboys 34 Lions 10
Had Matthew Stafford been able to play in this game, perhaps this could be a mini-trap game for the Cowboys, as Detroit has been very competitive all season long. Alas, Stafford remains out with a back injury, which is really a death-blow to their season. The Lions fought hard in Chicago last week, but it’s hard to imagine them being able to keep playing spirited football with optimism at an all-time low, and facing a Dallas team that needs this win, they’re in danger of being steamrolled in this game. Jeff Driskel will once again be under center for the Lions, and with the team also being not able to run the ball, scoring points will be a massive challenge for them. That sets the bar very low for Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense, which should absolutely dominate against a defense struggling to defend the pass and run. This may be the biggest lock of the week- I don’t see a way where Dallas loses this game.
Jaguars (4-5) at Colts (5-4)
Spread Pick: IND (-2.5)
Over/Under Pick: Under (43)
Score Prediction: Jags 13 Colts 17
For the first time since Week 1, the Jaguars will have their $88 million investment starting at quarterback. Nick Foles’ return could energize the team coming out of their bye week, especially since this is a critical divisional game against the Colts. The problem is, we have no idea how Foles will play – he may be rusty – and either way, the difference he makes may be overblown. After all, his expected caliber of play was probably around what Gardner Minshew had been providing them, and the Jags offense has stagnated in recent weeks. The offense isn’t very efficient on early-downs, and even if they can have some rushing success against a strong Colts run defense, there’s a chance Foles will find himself in a lot of third and longs. Meanwhile, the other returning quarterback in this game, Jacoby Brissett, will be inserted into an offense that is much better on early downs, should be able to run the ball behind their elite run-blocking offensive line, and have a play-caller in head coach Frank Reich who can pick apart Jacksonville’s zone coverage- without top receiver TY Hilton, the Colts are better off facing teams that utilize more zone coverage. This is another close game that is tough to predict, but I have much more confidence in a hungry, well-coached team than a non-efficient team that’s coming off a bye and will be starting a quarterback that has barely played this season.
Bills (6-3) at Dolphins (2-7)
Spread Pick: BUF (-6.5)
Over/Under Pick: Under/PUSH (40.5)
Score Prediction: Bills 27 Dolphins 13
In Week 7, the Dolphins were a Ryan Fitzpatrick interception away from having a two-score lead against the Bills. Instead, Buffalo won by two scores, and for the time being, Miami had to wait longer for their first win. Well, they’ve now won two straight, while the Bills have lost two of their last three games- if these trends continue, the Dolphins should have a decent chance of winning this game. However, I don’t expect that to be the case. Miami’s pass defense has shown enough for them to prove capable of stopping a Josh Allen-led passing attack, but since their first game, their run defense has gotten significantly worse. Ever since the team switched to rookie running back Devin Singletary as the lead-back, Buffalo’s rushing production has skyrocketed, and assuming they dominate at the line of scrimmage, they’ll take control of this game. Plus, the way you beat the Bills defense is by attacking their weaker run defense, but Miami has been by far the least-efficient rushing offense this season- this is a matchup that favors the Bills significantly. So, although the Dolphins have played better recently, they’re in for a setback this week- they’ve greatly outperformed their talent, and I expect that to start to catch up to them this week.
Broncos (3-6) at Vikings (7-3)
Spread Pick: DEN (+10)
Over/Under Pick: Under (40)
Score Prediction: Broncos 10 Vikings 16
The Vikings are coming off of a huge primetime game in Dallas, while the Broncos are off of their bye, and although they have an uninspiring 3-6 record, lost three of those games in the last minute. So, could this be a letdown game for the Vikings, who are without star receiver Adam Thielen and safety Anthony Harris? Maybe, but probably not. I don’t see Minnesota covering as a ten-point favorite – this should be a one-possession game – but their overall talent is significantly better than Denver’s. The Broncos’ passing attack with Brandon Allen isn’t exactly ideal, and facing one of the best run defenses in the NFL, it’s hard to imagine them scoring many points in this game. Additionally, although Denver’s overall defense is tremendous, they don’t have the pass rush to throw Kirk Cousins off of his rhythm, and it’ll be a daunting task for them to contain a strong offense- because of their offense, they’ll likely be on the field for a large portion of the game.
Saints (7-2) at Buccaneers (3-6)
Spread Pick: TB (+5)
Over/Under Pick: Over (50)
Score Prediction: Saints 13 Bucs 38
In an NFC South matchup, the Saints will travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Bucs. New Orleans will be looking to bounce back after a blowout home loss to the Falcons, while Tampa Bay will look to make it two straight after winning a close game against the Cardinals. Unfortunately for the Saints, this matchup massively favors the Bucs. New Orleans’ pass defense has already been suspect all season long, and now, they’ll be without top corner Marshon Lattimore. Therefore, Eli Apple and PJ Williams will be forced to contain the elite receiver duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin (the latter dominates in the slot)- Jameis Winston could legitimately throw for 400, or even 500 yards in this game. Plus, with just a 6.5 average depth of target, Drew Brees is refusing to throw the ball down the field, which is an issue facing a Bucs defense that dominates against the run, and has the interior pass rush necessary to fluster Brees. This has the makings of a blowout, which is exactly what’ll happen- Tampa Bay should win this game with ease.
Jets (2-7) at Redskins (1-8)
Spread Pick: NYJ (+2.5)
Over/Under Pick: Under (38.5)
Score Prediction: Jets 16 Redskins 6
Last week, the Jets got the luxury of playing against a two-win Giants team. Now, staying within the NFC East, they get to face a team with an even worse record- the 1-8 Redskins. Somehow, New York is actually a 2.5-point underdog in this game, which is simply a complete underestimation of their talent. Or, rather, a foolish belief in Washington, who hasn’t scored a touchdown in a month. To be frank, Dwayne Haskins is simply not throwing the ball down the field, and it doesn’t have that the coaching staff is trying to protect him by being run-heavy and relying on short passes. Therefore, there’s no way the Redskins offense takes advantage of some of New York’s problems in the back-end. Rather, their rushing attack will be shut down by a solid run defense, and Haskins will likely be confused by the different stunts that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will run, similar to Daniel Jones last week. Furthermore, Sam Darnold’s struggles have been mostly under pressure, and the Redskins don’t have the pass rush needed to force him into bad decisions. This will be an ugly game that will almost certainly be overshadowed by the other much more intriguing games of the week, but regardless, the Jets should win.
Cardinals (3-6-1) at 49ers (8-1)
Spread Pick: ARI (+9.5)
Over/Under Pick: Over (44)
Score Prediction: Cardinals 23 49ers 27
Two weeks ago, Kyler Murray was three points short of a major comeback win against the 49ers? Now, can he lead them to an upset in San Francisco? The chances of that are extremely unlikely, but with tight end George Kittle and receiver Emmanuel Sanders trending towards not playing, this should be a close game. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to see the 49ers winning this game. After all, Jimmy Garoppolo torched Arizona’s pass defense last game, and even without Kittle and Sanders, Kyle Shanahan should naturally be able to scheme up a winning formula, whether through the air or against a below-average run defense. Furthermore, Murray didn’t exactly play well the first time these two teams met up, as his offensive line was obliterated by San Francisco’s pass rush. There remains a notable talent discrepancy between these two teams, which gives the 49ers the upper-hand. Still, this should be a very entertaining game to watch.
Bengals (0-9) at Raiders (5-4)
Spread Pick: OAK (-12)
Over/Under Pick: Under (48.5)
Score Prediction: Bengals 13 Raiders 31
Who would’ve thought the Raiders would be a twelve-point favorite at the beginning of the season? Well, here they are, at 5-4 and with what looks to be an easy game en route to an extremely surprising 6-4 start. Now, this isn’t certain to be a blowout, as Oakland has yet to win a game by more than one score and has a negative 32-point differential. Still, the Bengals have played so abysmally recently, that this looks like a three-score victory for the Raiders, at the very least. Cincinnati’s defense has been embarrassed all season long, but particularly in run defense. Therefore, Oakland’s strong rushing attack will thrive in this game- Josh Jacobs is as elusive as any running back in the NFL, and the Bengals have notorious tackling issues. Furthermore, for all of the Raiders’ defensive problems, they’re facing an offense led by rookie Ryan Finley, who is behind a horrible offensive line and with little supporting talent. So although Oakland may not be a great, or even a good team, they’re more than capable of cruising to a home win against the only remaining winless team.
Patriots (8-1) at Eagles (5-4)
Spread Pick: NE (-4.5)
Over/Under Pick: Under (44.5)
Score Prediction: Pats 24 Eagles 10
In a rematch of the Super Bowl 51, which feels like an eternity ago, the Patriots will try to get their revenge against the Eagles in Philadelphia. While this may look like a game that should go down to the wire, given the two teams’ recent successes, I’m not sure it will be- New England should get their revenge, and then some. Philadelphia’s offense has looked out of sorts all season long, and now, they’ll be without top receiver Alshon Jeffrey against the best pass defense in the NFL. Then, you also add that Bill Belichick is coming off of bye (although both teams are), and it’s easy to see him designing a gameplan that confuses Carson Wentz, who’s never faced New England. That’s without mentioning the other side of the ball, as Tom Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels have constantly destroyed defenses coached by Jim Schwartz, and their quietly improving passing offense looks to be in good shape against a subpar Philadelphia secondary. So yes, there’s a chance this game will be extremely exciting. However, in typical Patriots fashion, they should coast to an easier-than-expected victory.
SNF: Bears (4-5) at Rams (5-4)
Spread Pick: CHI (+6)
Over/Under Pick: Under (39.5)
Score Prediction: Bears 13 Rams 9
At the beginning of this season, this Bears-Rams matchup looked like a thrilling game between two of the premier teams in the NFC. Now? A subpar matchup against two disappointing teams with suboptimal offenses. It’s extremely hard to trust either offense, especially against two of the top defenses in the NFL. Because of that, this a very hard game to predict- we don’t know who’s going to actually be able to score. Therefore, I’ll go with my gut, which leans Chicago to win this game. Los Angeles’ offensive line has been a liability throughout the season, and now, it is without center Brian Allen and right tackle Rob Havenstein. Therefore, against a Bears pass rush, and defense as a whole, that’s due for a dominant outing (they’ve been underperforming), I expect little to change for the Rams offense, which relies too much on 11-personnel. Additionally, Mitchell Trubisky has been one of the league’s worst quarterbacks last season, but even Mason Rudolph was able to play decent against Los Angeles last week; perhaps not all hope is lost for Trubisky. I don’t feel great about this pick at all, but I’ll take the Bears to provide a rude awakening on the fall of the Rams.
MNF: Chiefs (6-4) at Chargers (4-6) (Mexico City)
Spread Pick: KC (-4)
Over/Under Pick: Over (52)
Score Prediction: Chiefs 34 Chargers 20
Last year, the Chiefs and Rams were supposed to play in Mexico City, but due to poor field conditions, the game was moved to Los Angeles. This year, the NFL is trying to make up for that blunder, but this time, Kansas City will be taking on a different LA team- the inconsistent Chargers. Los Angeles has shifted between good and bad all season long, and coming off of a tough loss in Oakland, they could be due for a rebound. Furthermore, they’ve been practicing at altitude in preparation for this game, while the Chiefs have remained in Kansas City, giving them a slight advantage. Nevertheless, an upset still seems unlikely in this game. The Chiefs, for their part, are also coming off a loss, and likely will match Los Angeles’ sense of urgency- they need to win this game to stay in the driver’s seat in the AFC West. It also helps them that they are one of the fastest starting teams in the league, while Los Angeles is one of the slowest out of the gates. If Kansas City can control this game, the Chargers won’t be able to take advantage of the league’s worst run defense and keep the ball out of Patrick Mahomes’ hand- it’s scary to pick against the Chargers for some of the reasons mentioned, but the Chiefs look like the way more logical pick to win this Monday night showdown.