A couple of hometown heroes return to face off against their favorite childhood teams in this week’s version of NFL homecoming.
Two of the best to ever do it, Larry Fitzgerald and Tom Brady will be on the road in Week 11. Although, it may not feel as hostile as it normally might be since they will be playing against their favorite teams while they were growing up.
Last week was my most successful week of picking games yet, going 7-6. I know that doesn’t sound great, but picking every single NFL game isn’t easy as you might think, especially this year.
Last week, just four games were decided by more than a touchdown, so parity is at an all-time high in the NFL right now. Unfortunately that can make picking games a little bit tougher. Keep an eye on the Lions game which is my Lock of the Week.
BYE Weeks: Atlanta, Denver, NY Jets, San Diego
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-5) at Cleveland Browns (0-10)
There’s a lot to like about the Steelers and a lot to hate about the Browns in this divisional game. The Steelers are coming off a tough home loss, Ben Roethlisberger looks healthier, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell are ballin’, and Ladarius Green is back to give the Steelers even more firepower on offense. The Browns are the Browns. They will win a game this year, this just isn’t the one.
Pick: Steelers -8
Baltimore Ravens (5-4) at Dallas Cowboys (8-1)
The Cowboys are coming off a huge win on the road at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Ezekiel Elliott further bolstered his Rookie of the Year case with over 200 total yards and three total touchdowns. Dak Prescott continues to dazzle in his rookie campaign, keeping Tony Romo on the bench. This Cowboys defense has been much improved, due in large part to the time of possession control their offense employs. Last week was the first time all season the Cowboys allowed 30 points and I don’t see the Ravens coming close to that mark in this game.
Pick: Cowboys -7
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-7) at Detroit Lions (5-4)
In the battle of the jungle cats, we have the NFC North division-leading Lions against the pitiful Jaguars. No one in their right mind would have picked Detroit to be leading this division in Week 11, but here we are. Their style has been to do it mainly through their passing game which might catch up to them by season’s end. This week against the Jags though? I don’t envision a scenario in which the Jaguars keep this game close.
Pick: Lions -6.5
Tennessee Titans (5-5) at Indianapolis Colts (4-5)
The Titans put on an offensive show last week against the Packers, scoring 47 in a home win. Marcus Mariota has been on quite a hot streak lately, with at least 2 touchdowns in six straight weeks. The Colts are coming off a Bye week in which they probably focused a lot of their gameplan on stopping Mariota and Demarco Murray. The last time these two teams met, the Colts won by eight points on the road. Indianapolis is only laying three points here, so take them in this game.
Pick: Colts -3
Buffalo Bills (4-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-5-1)
The Bills are also coming off their Bye week after a last minute loss in Seattle in Week 9. The Bengals came up short at MetLife against the Giants on Monday Night Football. The main cause of their loss was their offensive line was not able to stop the pressure of the Giants defense in the 4th quarter. I think the Bengals are more talented than their record shows, but not good enough to come out winners in this one.
Pick: Bills +2.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (7-2)
The Bucs finally got Doug Martin back and he looked good, not great. They waited a long time to bring him back, but they wanted to make sure he was ready roll down the stretch. Now that he’s ready to rock he’ll face another tough defense, but this time on the road. The Chiefs ability to cause turnovers and run the ball effectively has contributed to their undefeated record at home this season. I don’t see this being the game that streak is broken. That being said, the Buccaneers have been playing better football of late and should keep it within a touchdown.
Pick: Buccaneers +7.5
Chicago Bears (2-7) at New York Giants (6-3)
This matchup between two classic franchises will not remind fans of the great Bears teams of years past. Overall, this team isn’t as bad as some may have predicted at the start of the season. Their front seven is underrated, but losing Alshon Jeffery for 4 games due to suspension is not going to do them any favors on offense. On the other hand, we have the New York Football Giants. The Giants have been historically streaky during Eli Manning’s tenure, and this year’s team is on a heater right now. Winners of four straight, the Giants have played all of their wins close this season. Their six wins have been by a combined 21 points. I think this is the week the Giants explode on offense and finally blow a team out.
Pick: Giants -7.5
Arizona Cardinals (4-4-1) at Minnesota Vikings (5-4)
Boy oh boy, how the Vikings have fallen. After starting 5-0, Minnesota has lost four straight. The curse of Blair Walsh may or may not have been real, but the Vikings cut him anyway. The Vikings have scored just 14 points per game over the course of their losing skid. The Cardinals are up and down this season, barely beating the lowly 49ers by three points last week. Watching David Johnson go up against this Vikings front seven is going to be fun to watch. Even more intriguing will be watching hometown hero Larry Fitzgerald giving it a go despite his lower leg injuries. When all is said and done I think Kai Forbath will kick one through the uprights as time expires for a three point win.
Pick: Vikings -2
Miami Dolphins (5-4) at Los Angeles Rams (4-5)
The Dolphins will be playing their second game in a row on the west coast this Sunday. Last week they came away with an impressive win in San Diego against a seasoned veteran in Phillip Rivers. This week they draw rookie Jared Goff making his first career start. You know the rookie will be prone to making mistakes and this formidable defense will take advantage.
Pick: Dolphins -1.5
New England Patriots (7-2) at San Francisco 49ers (1-8)
This will be the first time in his 17 year career that Tom Brady will face off against his childhood team, the 49ers, in San Francisco. Although New England will most likely be without Rob Gronkowski on Sunday, they have more than enough firepower to run wild on a pitiful 49ers defense. Do I dare make the same mistake I made last week by taking a two touchdown favorite against the 49ers? You bet I do.
Pick: Patriots -13
Philadelphia Eagles (5-4) at Seattle Seahawks (6-2-1)
After a huge win in New England last week, the Seahawks are looking like the Seahawks again. Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham are in sync, Thomas Rawls will be back from injury, and The Legion of Boom looks as scary as ever. The Eagles bounced back last week with a home win against Atlanta, but this team is completely different on the road. This season they are 1-4 away from home and I don’t see them improving upon that record in Seattle.
Pick: Seahawks -6.5
Green Bay Packers (4-5) at Washington Redskins (5-3-1)
The Packers do not look like the Packers and last week’s blowout loss was a big indication of that. The Redskins are playing great football right now on both sides of the ball. This was a similar story last year when these two teams faced off in a wildcard game. The Packers came out on top 35-18 in that one, though. I can see a parallel scenario happening this week and as much as it pains me to say it, I’m going to take the points and believe the Packers can right this ship now.
Pick: Packers +3
Houston Texans (6-3) at Oakland Raiders (7-2)
This game will be in Mexico City, so while the Raiders are technically the home team, Houston is actually the closer of the two cities. Brock Osweiler has looked lost all season, but has somehow managed to get his team to a 6-3 record. It is amazing that without J.J. Watt this defense has been as stellar as it has been. Unfortunately they’ll be going up against an explosive Raiders offense that has scored at least 28 points in 7 of their games this season. It will be strength versus strength in this game which is always fun to watch. The game might start out close, but the Raiders should handle the Texans pretty easily.