Pudge’s Picks – Week 11 2014

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons hope to do to Cam Newton what the Eagles did last week

I predicted a close game between the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins on Thursday night, and it looked like that prediction was on point through three quarters. But the Bills offense stagnated in the second half, and the Dolphins got a couple of favorable calls from the officials.

But screwing up Thursday’s pick has traditionally been a boon for me in picking the weekend games this season.

Atlanta Falcons (3-6) at Carolina Panthers (3-6-1)
Sunday, November 16 at 1 pm ET on FOX

*Line: Panthers (-1.5)

The Falcons have a very favorable matchup against the Panthers this week. Frankly, given the problems that plague the Panthers offense as of late: erratic quarterback play, poor offensive line play, and a diminished defense due to injuries and absences on the defensive line, if the Falcons cannot win this game, then I don’t know what to say about them. They are indeed playing on the road, so there’s every reason to expect another sluggish start this weekend. But I’ll reverse my pick from this week’s podcast and I’m going to pick the Falcons.

Spread Pick: Falcons
Straight Pick: Falcons

Minnesota Vikings (4-5) at Chicago Bears (3-6)
Sunday, November 16 at 1 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Bears (-3.5)

Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater looked better last week, thanks in part to the Vikings offensive line giving him a moderate amount of protection. Given that the Bears pass rush has not been very formidable since they exploited a weak Falcons offensive line in Week 6, it doesn’t seem like this is going to be a game where Bridgewater is running for his life. Thus, there’s a good chance that the Vikings can make this one competitive. However, I think the Bears offense will break out of the slump they’ve been on since that Falcons game as well and pull out the victory.

Spread Pick: Vikings
Straight Pick: Bears

Houston Texans (4-5) at Cleveland Browns (6-3)
Sunday, November 16 at 1 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Browns (-3.5)

Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is the healthiest he’s been since August, but he’ll be facing Browns left tackle Joe Thomas this week. So it won’t matter too much. Losing Arian Foster is a huge blow to the Texans, as their key to success was to establish the run against a weak Browns run defense. Without him, I don’t see how quarterback Ryan Mallett gets his first win even with the extra week of preparation.

Spread Pick: Browns
Straight Pick: Browns

Seattle Seahawks (6-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (6-3)
Sunday, November 16 at 1 pm ET on FOX

*Line: Chiefs (-0.5)

The loss of Brandon Mebane is going to be a significant one for the Seahawks, given they’ve already lost middle linebacker Bobby Wagner to injury. I’m not sure they have the pieces to replace them, especially against a Chiefs offense helmed by a running back like Jamaal Charles. This game will ultimately boil down to whether Charles or Marshawn Lynch has the bigger day. But I like how favorable a matchup that Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston against rookie right tackle Justin Britt. The way of limiting Russell Wilson is to put consistent pressure on him, and the Chiefs have what it takes to do that.

Spread Pick: Chiefs
Straight Pick: Chiefs

Cincinnati Bengals (5-3-1) at New Orleans Saints (4-5)
Sunday, November 16 at 1 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Saints (-6.5)

The Bengals, or rather quarterback Andy Dalton, looked abysmal last week and are facing a formidable Saints opponent that is starting to find their stride. The Saints are very good at home. And while I doubt Dalton will be as bad as he was last week, I do think the Saints win this game in the end. If for no other reason than Cameron Jordan will be facing Marshall Newhouse this week.

Spread Pick: Saints
Straight Pick: Saints

San Francisco 49ers (5-4) at New York Giants (3-6)
Sunday, November 16 at 1 pm ET on FOX

*Line: Giants (+4.5)

The 49ers showed some resiliency last week, holding off a Saints comeback on the road. While linebacker Patrick Willis is out for the year, the play of rookie Chris Borland last week gives them hope that they can hold the fort, at least this week. Especially since the Giants haven’t seen Larry Donnell have the sort of impact over the past six weeks as he did the first month of the season. Running back Rashad Jennings is returning for the first time since the Giants’ Week 5 win over the Falcons, but I’m not sure it makes a difference this week.

Spread Pick: 49ers
Straight Pick: 49ers

Denver Broncos (7-2) at St. Louis Rams (3-6)
Sunday, November 16 at 1 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Rams (+9.5)

I’m not sure the switch to quarterback Shaun Hill from Austin Davis is going to make much difference for the Rams. While the Rams pass rush is good enough to slow down the Broncos offense somewhat, it’s probably not going to be enough. Thus far this year, even when the Broncos have struggled the most, they are still a good bet to get to at least 21 points. And even if Hill is an upgrade over Davis, that probably means at best the Rams can put 17 points on the board. But I don’t see the Rams defense having that sort of game, especially given their weaknesses in the secondary.

Spread Pick: Broncos
Straight Pick: Broncos

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8) at Washington Redskins (3-6)
Sunday, November 16 at 1 pm ET on FOX

*Line: Redskins (-6.5)

There have been games this year where the Redskins have been gashed on the ground, and that will be the hope for the Bucs if they want to pull the upset. They will also need defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to have a big game against Redskins guard Chris Chester and get consistent pressure against Robert Griffin III. But the Redskins will be relying on their ground attack, which should be able to exploit the Bucs given that the Falcons found success last week. Throw in an injury to cornerback Alterraun Verner, and you have the recipe for the Redskins being very successful.

Spread Pick: Redskins
Straight Pick: Redskins

Oakland Raiders (0-9) at San Diego Chargers (5-4)
Sunday, November 16 at 4:05 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Chargers (-10.5)

The Raiders almost got their first win of the season in their Week 6 matchup against the Chargers, holding a 28-21 going into the fourth quarter before allowing 10 fourth-quarter points in the loss. I’m not sure that means that they will be able to pull out the upset this week, but it probably means they can at least cover. At some point in the next two weeks, the Raiders should be able to get their first win of the season, as they face the Chiefs at home next week followed by a road game against the Rams.

Spread Pick: Raiders
Straight Pick: Chargers

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Stanton takes the mantle for the Cardinals

Detroit Lions (7-2) at Arizona Cardinals (8-1)
Sunday, November 16 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX

*Line: Cardinals (-1.5)

A backup quarterback in Drew Stanton facing the league’s top defense is normally a recipe for disaster for the Cardinals. But what many don’t understand is that the drop-off from Carson Palmer to Stanton isn’t significant. In fact, based off how Stanton performed earlier this season, that drop-off might be non-existent. The real key is less about the quarterback, and more about whether the porous Cardinals interior offensive line can hold up against defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

But the Cardinals defense is nothing to sleep on either. The matchups of Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie against Golden Tate and Calvin Johnson will be a fun one to watch. And Calais Campbell and the recent emergence of Alex Okafor over the past month could also do a lot of damage against Matt Stafford. Both teams have had a lot of success this year winning close games and given the Cardinals are at home, I like their chances to keep that trend going.

Spread Pick: Cardinals
Straight Pick: Cardinals

Philadelphia Eagles (7-2) at Green Bay Packers (6-3)
Sunday, November 16 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX

*Line: Packers (-5.5)

This should be another fun game to watch as there is a pretty high potential for a shootout. The Packers are at an advantage given they are at home and have the advantage as far as quarterbacks go. Thus, the Eagles will likely rely more on their running backs to exploit the Packers defense. LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles certainly have the capacity to do damage against Packers inside linebackers A.J. Hawks and Sam Barrington. But I’m not sure it will happen.

Spread Pick: Packers
Straight Pick: Packers

New England Patriots (7-2) at Indianapolis Colts (6-3)
Sunday, November 16 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC

*Line: Colts (-2.5)

While the Colts are a good bet at home, the Patriots and Bill Belichick have had an extra week to prepare for this game. The only other time Andrew Luck and Tom Brady have squared off came in the former’s rookie season, when they Patriots beat up on the Colts 59-24. That was the Colts only loss during an eight-game span that year, so I have reason to believe that Belichick knows a little something about slowing down the Colts. I also believe that the Colts lack the pieces on defense to slow down what appears to be a resurgent Patriots offense.

Spread Pick: Patriots
Straight Pick: Patriots

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) at Tennessee Titans (2-7)
Monday, November 17 at 8:30 pm ET on ESPN

*Line: Titans (+5.5)

The Jets were able to control the games in the trenches last week in their upset win over the Steelers. I’m not sure the Titans have what it takes to do that, as they did in the 2013 season-opener where they got after Ben Roethlisberger and sacked him five times. Jurrell Casey was very good in that game and will need a repeat performance. The Titans will also need to find the success on the ground against a weak Steelers defense that the Jets had a week ago. I don’t see that happening to the degree where the Titans win, but they could certainly keep it close.

Spread Pick: Titans
Straight Pick: Steelers

About the Author

Aaron Freeman
Founder of FalcFans.com