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- Week 11 NFL Predictions - Bye Weeks Are Gone

Chris Pokorny November 17, 2007
Chris Pokorny
PFC Owner & Writer

Tell Chris your opinion.

Say goodbye to byes, because the NFL is back to having 16 games a week for the remainder of season. With two extra games each week, that means there will no longer be a week in which a team only loses or gains partial momentum, assuming another team in their division and/or conference was not playing. For the remainder of the season, the Patriots will be on their quest to finish the season undefeated. Overall this weekend though, there isn't the "big" game that we've seen the past two weeks. Sometimes that is better for a nice change of pace. There's no sense in having a "Conference Championship Preview" every single week, because that's the reason we wait for the postseason, right?

Before I get into this week's picks, here are a few first half of the season players that I'd like to give credit to (to avoid the annoying, yet common tendency of the same player to win MVP and Offensive Player of the Year, I will not include the MVP award):


Offensive Player of the Year
AFC: Tom Brady - Being on pace to break Peyton Manning's single-season touchdown record, Brady's consistency week in and week out has been the talk of the NFL. Sure, his receivers have provided the extra boost, but there's a reason why Randy Moss didn't flourish in Oakland (Runner Up: Braylon Edwards).
NFC: Brett Favre - Who still thinks Brett Favre should retire? If there are people that vote "yes", then I'm sorry, but you're just too stubborn to admit you were wrong. Without Green Bay having a running game early on in the season, Favre cut down on his interceptions and developed deep-ball chemistry with Greg Jennings (Runner Up: Tony Romo).

Defensive Player of the Year
AFC: Bob Sanders - Entering the season, the Colts' defense wasn't thought of highly, despite the fact that they dramatically improved after Sanders returned in the playoffs last year. The Colts' defense has been solid overall through the first half of the season, and Sanders always seems to be the man that's able to come up and stop the opposition's running game, even when he's playing at normal depth (Runner Up: Albert Haynesworth).
NFC: Osi Umenyiora - I'm sure a lot of people wish they could have Umenyiora right now. Granted, six of his sacks came in one game, but his dominance at defensive end this season is also representative of the improvements the entire Giants' defense has made. From forcing fumbles to running faster than some linebackers do, Umenyiora's already having a career season (Runner Up: Aaron Kampman).

Special Teams Player of the Year
AFC: Joshua Cribbs - While teams are kicking away from Devin Hester in the NFC, teams are starting to do the same to Joshua Cribbs in the AFC. He is averaging a ridiculous 32.4 yards per return with two touchdowns and a few other runs that were stopped just short of the end zone (Runner Up: Leon Washington).
NFC: Devin Hester - It seems like the obvious pick, but that's not a reason not to pick him, right? Where Cribbs has thrived on kick returns this season, Hester has thrived on punt returns, averaging 15.9 yards per return with two touchdowns (Nick Folk).

Rookie of the Year
AFC: Joe Thomas - Considering some of the "shaky" top left tackles in recent years taken high in the draft, such as Robert Gallery, Thomas isn't getting enough credit for his work with the Browns. Cleveland's offensive line is amongst the top in pass blocking in the league this season, and a lot of that has to do with not worrying about the most important position on the line (Runner Up: Marshawn Lynch).
NFC: Adrian Peterson - Adam Scheftner made an interesting point this week: rest Peterson for the rest of the season unless the team somehow enters a playoff race. A knee injury can be serious if he's rushed back too soon, and waiting until next season is the best long-term answer for Minnesota (Runner Up: James Jones).

Surprise Player of the Year
AFC: Derek Anderson - It feels like too many Browns players are getting nominations, but their offense has been one of the best in the NFL. After not even starting the year as the team's starting quarterback, Anderson is putting up Pro Bowl numbers and has completely silenced the talk of Brady Quinn playing this season (Runner Up: Randy Moss).
NFC: Greg Jennings - How many rookies have we seen show a lot of potential in the NFC over the past several years in their first year, but then fall off the face of the league after that? Keary Colbert? Michael Clayton? The same isn't true for Greg Jennings, who has by far made more plays than the Packers' No. 1 receiver Donald Driver this season (Runner Up: Joey Galloway).

Coach of the Year
AFC: Jack Del Rio - After receiving criticism for not getting the offense on track the past several years and the quarterback situation earlier this year, the Jaguars are in great shape in the AFC to make a push for the postseason despite having to start Quinn Gray the past three weeks (Runner Up: Jeff Fisher).
NFC: Mike McCarthy - The Packers have turned out all right, haven't that? From Favre playing well, to the physical cornerbacks, to the big play receivers, to the newly found running game, everything has gone right thus far in McCarthy's tenure (Runner Up: Rod Marinelli).

Some tough choices at some positions, but still ok nonetheless. With the awards in the books, it's time for this week's games of the week...



San Diego Chargers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars. When you compare the types of seasons these two teams have had, something definitely isn't right. The Jacksonville Jaguars have a 6-3 record and have overcome adversity. Jack Del Rio received plenty of criticism at the start of the season for ridding of quarterback Byron Leftwich in favor of David Garrard, but that decision ultimately turned out to be the right one. On top of that, without Garrard available the past three weeks due to injury, Quinn Gray helped lead the team to a 2-1 record. Last week, the Jaguars also picked up a huge division win over the Tennessee Titans, drawing them to within one game of the Indianapolis Colts. No matter what happens, the Jaguars can't seem to take down the Colts.

Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars are on top of their game.

On the other hand, the San Diego Chargers have played horrible this season considering the high expectations they had heading into the season. Philip Rivers has not played well at the quarterback position, LaDainian Tomlinson has had too many less than stellar games, and the systems put in place by head coach Norv Turner have been ridiculed. Despite all of that, the Chargers were able to beat the Colts last week, and they currently hold the division lead in the AFC West. That's the breaks when the Jaguars are stuck in the league's toughest division. A better team wins at hope, and this season, the Jaguars are a better team. Jaguars 21, Chargers 17


New York Giants vs. Detroit Lions. Jon Kitna proclaimed that the Lions would reach ten wins this season. Everyone started to believe in the Lions after they dominated Denver and moved to 6-2 on the season, but all of the skeptics have returned after the team's loss to the Arizona Cardinals last week. The Lions are entering one of the toughest stretches a team can face, including the Giants this week and the Packers just four days later on Thanksgiving. Mike Martz has established the ground game to the point where it has been average, but against tougher competition, there's not a chance that their ground game is going to beat the top teams in the league. The Lions need to make it a priority to get the offense back to the point where Roy Williams, Calvin Johnson, and Shaun McDonald are each averaging 100 yards per game.

Eli Manning has been mediocre in his past several games, and a lot of that has to do with Plaxico Burress' injuries catching up to him. After losing for the second time this season to the Dallas Cowboys last week, the Giants can basically forget about winning the NFC East. They are in great shape for a wildcard spot, but at the moment, the Lions hold the other wildcard spot. If the Lions do end up with ten wins this season, this game will probably determine whether the Giants finish with the fifth- or sixth-seed. I know I'm looking into the future, but the playoffs will be here before you know it. The Giants' defense was torched last week, but they've shown enough maturity to rebound and play better football than they have. Giants 24, Lions 20


Sean Taylor
A boost from the Redskins' Sean Taylor in coverage against Tony Romo will be critical if the Redskins want a shot at winning.
Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys have been in great shape in their division all season long, and the NFC East race will pretty much come to a close if they can beat the Redskins this Sunday. The past four times these two teams have met though, the Redskins have come away with three victories. Unfortunately for the Redskins, they are running into a Cowboys team showing no signs of falling asleep. In fact, the connection between Tony Romo and Terrell Owens has only seemed to get stronger since the quarterback signed a new six-year contract extension a few weeks ago.

The Redskins represent the type of team that the Jaguars have been the past several seasons: capable of playing like one of the best teams in football, only to fall flat on numerous occasions. While Clinton Portis has looked like the running back the Redskins envisioned when they brought him to Washington over the past two weeks, the defense has started to become inept. They allowed four touchdown passes to Donovan McNabb last week, and were picked apart in the open field by Brian Westbrook. That was much different than in Week 2, when the Redskins went in to Philadelphia and held McNabb without a touchdown. The offense may be in sync, but the defense is not, and Romo will easily be able to pick them apart. Cowboys 31, Redskins 19


New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills. There are two things that can get in the way of an undefeated season for the Patriots: a tough game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a few weeks, and the possibility that they just may have a little bit of rust coming off of a bye week. While having "rust" or having "more time to get healthy" is often overrated in the NFL, the simple presence of it does have some merit with some coaches, like Andy Reid in Philadelphia. The Bills are currently riding a four game winning streak, partially due to J.P. Losman finding the deep ball with Lee Evans. Despite almost losing to the Dolphins last week, Buffalo pulled out another victory.

Things have been made tougher on the Bills than they had hoped for in their re-match against New England after learning that Marshawn Lynch would miss this game due to injury. Lynch has been a significant contributing factor the past several weeks since Losman has taken over the quarterback position, and being without him allows the Patriots to focus more attention on Losman (as if they needed more focusing). New England's simply played too well against every team in the league this season to even consider picking against them while facing a team that isn't the Cowboys, Colts, Steelers, or Packers. Patriots 38, Bills 13


Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Atlanta Falcons. If the Atlanta Falcons win this game against the Buccaneers, not only would it put them on a three-game winning streak, but it would put them within one game of the division lead. That sounds hard to believe, but they have been quietly playing better football the past two weeks in large part due to the resurgence of veteran running back Warrick Dunn. Dunn's running, along with the play of the defense, are the primary reasons Atlanta has been succeeding, which is why there isn't a controversy about the team getting ready to bench Joey Harrington again in favor of the returning Byron Leftwich. The Buccaneers' defense remains solid though, and Jeff Garcia has still held onto the football well this season with the exception of a quick two-game stretch. Buccaneers 20, Falcons 14

Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens. Too many people make a big deal about poor offenses finding their grooves against teams that have a lot of holes on defense. While that may cause certain teams, like the Ravens, to be more aggressive early on in games such as this one, the downfalls are seen later in the game, when they can't put the games away. Baltimore's bad on offense, no matter which quarterback they start, because nobody on the team can make a play beyond ten yards. The Ravens are still hurting defensively, and Derek Anderson was already able to pick them apart earlier this season with Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow. After a tough road loss to the Steelers last week, the Ravens won't find any ground against Cleveland. Browns 27, Ravens 13

Arizona Cardinals vs. Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals last week failed to score a touchdown, as Shayne Graham kicked seven field goals on the way to a 21-7 win over the Ravens. Although the touchdowns were kept off the board, the Bengals' offense still showed some positive signs. They were able to play a little more conservative and not risk a turnover because their defense was constantly getting them the ball right back. With Chris Henry finally back in the slot for the Bengals, a little less pressure is off of Chad Johnson, opening the field even greater for Carson Palmer. Kurt Warner finally for provided a spark to the Cardinals' offense last week, but the consistency has been absent for awhile. They can move the ball against Cincinnati, but the Bengals will be able to counter in this shootout. Bengals 28, Cardinals 24

Carolina Panthers vs. Green Bay Packers. It's hard to believe a team looks forward to playing on the road, but when you're 0-6 in your last six home games like the Panthers are, that may very well be the case. The Packers are playing at the top of their game right now: they only have one loss this season, and against the Vikings last week, they counteracted both of the Vikings' biggest strengths. Adrian Peterson was pretty much held in check prior to his injury, and they ran all over the Vikings' top ranked run defense with rookie Ryan Grant. David Carr will probably get the start for the Panthers, which is as motivating for a team as the head coach flat out saying they have no chance of winning. Packers 23, Panthers 16

Andre Johnson
Andre Johnson returns this week for the first time since Week 2 in what should provide a boost to the Texans' offense again.
New Orleans Saints vs. Houston Texans. While the Saints' four-game winning streak ended last week, they still built enough offensive momentum late in the game against the Rams so that they wouldn't be inclined to getting side tracked this week. They'll need to be at the top of their game early on offense, because the Texans will be ready to showcase the high-powered offense they brought to the table the first two weeks of the season. Both Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson will be back in the lineup, but another story here is the match-up of what "could have been". The Texans drew criticism for passing up Reggie Bush, and he'll be fired up to play on the road in this game. With Brees leading the attack, the shootout edge goes to the Saints. Saints 27, Texans 20

Kansa City Chiefs vs. Indianapolis Colts. The Colts' offense has a much different feel without Marvin Harrison in their, and it's starting to show after Peyton Manning's six interceptions last week against the Chargers. Everything is depleted right now with the Colts: the offensive line is missing starters, the only healthy receiver is Reggie Wayne, Dwight Freeney is down for the year, and Bob Sanders is still ailing. The Chiefs are starting Brodie Croyle this week in hopes that he can elevate the team's offense. Despite the Colts being banged up though, they are playing well on defense and the home atmosphere should allow Manning to control the tempo of the game much more effectively than he did on the road a week ago. Colts 24, Chiefs 14

Oakland Raiders vs. Minnesota Vikings. Usually it's tough to pick the premiere games of the week, but this has to be one of the toughest games to pick this season. Granted, the Raiders haven't won a game in awhile now, and they are on the road, but we all know what the Vikings' offense looks like with Tarvaris Jackson under center and Adrian Peterson not in the game. Daunte Culpepper is back at quarterback for the Raiders, and after beating one former team, the Dolphins, earlier this season, he's ready to make it 2-for-2 this week against the Vikings. I expect this game to be full of mistakes on offense, but because I have zero faith in the Vikings to do anything without Peterson, I'm picking Oakland by default. Raiders 16, Vikings 13

Miami Dolphins vs. Philadelphia Eagles. I've praised the fact all season long that the Eagles have been too inconsistent to have a shot at the postseason. Things will only get more inconsistent for the Eagles this week if they lose to the winless Dolphins: can you imagine the amount of frustration that would add on to the fans of Philadelphia? Thankfully, it's difficult to even consider "upset" and "Dolphins" in the same sentence this season, although it is enticing to see what rookie John Beck brings to the table in his first start of the season. And, if Ricky Williams plays, you never quite know what will happen on gameday. Eagles 24, Dolphins 23

Ben Roethlisberger
You can bank on the Steelers handing the ball to Willie Parker often as they gear up for their big game against the Patriots in a few weeks.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Jets. After a tough come-from-behind victory over the Browns last week, the Steelers have pretty much locked up the AFC North. Rather than relying on Ben Roethlisberger this week though, I envision them trying to establish the running game early and often to physically prepare for their game against the Patriots in a few weeks. The chances of Kellen Clemons dissecting the Steelers' defense are as good as the Jets' chances of making the playoffs for a second straight season. It's never safe to project a blowout, but it's appropriate in this case. Steelers 34, Jets 7

St. Louis Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers. In terms of momentum, it's hard to believe that almost everyone in the league firmly believes that these teams are heading in opposite directions when you consider the Rams have only one win while the 49ers only have two wins. The Rams' offense finally put a complete game together last week on offense thanks to the second return of Steven Jackson. They won't have to worry much about their defensive woes, because the 49ers have had a worse offense than the Ravens have this season. Trent Dilfer will be back under center this week for San Francisco, which certainly doesn't make a lick of a difference. Rams 21, 49ers 13

Chicago Bears vs. Seattle Seahawks. I'm not surprised that Rex Grossman is back under center for the Chicago Bears. Most of the fans got what they wanted in seeing Brian Griese have the opportunity to run the offense. The results were up-and-down, and overall not a significant upgrade over Grossman. Grossman has shown the ability to get hot for a few games in the past, so giving him another chance is worth a shot considering their record. In the re-match of a playoff contest from last season, the Seahawks should have the edge due to Hasselbeck's weapons in the passing game coming together again. Also, Seattle is 4-1 at home this year, and their defense can force enough pressure on Grossman to force him into the mistakes that we're all-too-familiar with. Seahawks 17, Bears 14


Tennessee Titans vs. Denver Broncos. Most of my prediction here has to do with the belief that Albert Haynesworth will be back in the lineup for the Titans. Despite not practicing all week, he can step into the game and clog the line and prevent Selvin Young from repeating the type of performance he had last week against the Chiefs. Vince Young actually threw a touchdown last week, but it wasn't enough to bring the Titans close to a victory in part because the Jaguars shut down their running game. The Titans need to find a week in which both their passing game and running game work efficiently together. Unfortunately, I don't think it'll happen this week, but I also don't think the Broncos will muster enough against the Titans' defense. Titans 21, Broncos 17


I'm starting to use my bank of teams I've saved up all season, although I wish it would've been with a better record. Last week I made the right choice in taking the Seahawks over the 49ers, and this week I'm picking the Indianapolis Colts to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs. The Colts are still banged up, but the Chiefs have too tough of a task ahead of them to have an inexperienced quarterback win their first start in Indianapolis.


Predictions Record to Date: 90-54 (I hope to reach 100 wins after this week is all said and done.)
Last Week: 5-9 (Perhaps my worst week ever.)
Survivor Streak: Won 1 (Min over Atl, Den over Oak, Car over Atl, [NYJ over Buf], Ari over StL, Cle over Mia, Cin over NYJ, NYG over Mia, [SD over Min], and Sea over SF.)

I won my fifth straight game in my primary fantasy league, and having Brett Favre ready for Tom Brady's bye week definitely paid off. I've been fortunate enough to snag the likes of Priest Holmes, Ryan Grant, and D.J. Hackett in recent weeks to add solid depth to my team as well, putting my fantasy team in great shape for the rest of the season. If you have any fantasy advice you'd like to hear from me, feel free to drop me a line.

Do you have an opinion on this article? Do you want direct fantasy football advice from one of our writers? You can e-mail us at pokorny@pfcritics.com. Be sure to label your subject line appropriately so we don't think it is spam. Please include your name (can be a screename), city and state. We guarantee a response to any questions or comments you have, and will publish them in our next mailbag session if appropriate.
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