So who do you like this weekend? More importantly, who is gonna tie?
OK, probably nobody. The St. Louis Rams and New York Jets might be able to make it happen. Shoot, with two backup quarterbacks potentially starting against two disruptive defenses in San Francisco, Candlestick could host its second tie in as many weeks.
At any rate, the 24-24 deadlock between the 49ers and Rams in Week 10 provided some drama without any payoff, and guaranteed the picks record in italics below will look weird for the rest of the season. It also showed that the Niners are vulnerable -- even when it comes to their secondary, which had been considered as formidable as any back four in the league. The tie also reflected the strides the Rams have made in their first year under Jeff Fisher.
I like St. Louis this week. And for all the Atlanta Falcons fans out there, there will be no letdown.
So let's get to it ...
Elliot Harrison went 8-5-1 on his predictions for Week 10, giving him a 66-31-1 record since taking over this space in Week 4. How will he fare in Week 11? His picks are below, with home teams listed second:
What better way for the Arizona Cardinals to end their five-game losing streak than to take down the 8-1 Atlanta Falcons? The Cardinals have struggled offensively, particularly in the running game. That's probably an understatement, considering that Ken Whisenhunt's offense is dead last in the league in rushing yards with just 76.2 per game. Unfortunately, running the ball is precisely what the underdogs need to do to slow down Atlanta's track-meet-style offense. As long as the Falcons can protect Matt Ryan and block Daryl Washington, they win. #AZvsATL
The Cam Newton frowny face presses on. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will run the football to set up the vertical passing game for Josh Freeman; that's where opportunities to win will lie for the Bucs. Opposing quarterbacks have compiled a 108.3 passer rating against the Carolina Panthers when throwing the ball downfield 20 yards or more. Freeman has completed 17 passes of that distance for a league-high 700 yards. On the flip side, the Bucs' secondary has struggled, but Newton's accuracy issues and poor pass protection will keep him from capitalizing. Newton's completion percentage (57.2) ranks 29th in the NFL, and he hasn't made the kinds of big plays (like Freeman has) that can offset that low mark. Not to mention the fact that Carolina has been turning the ball over. #TBvsCAR
The Dallas Cowboys get a late field goal to extend their lead, giving Brandon Weeden too much ground to make up to win the game. On that note, the Cleveland Browns are better equipped to get back into games with the explosive Josh Gordon and improving Greg Little. How will these two fare versus Cowboys cornerbacks Brandon Carr and the (recently) struggling Morris Claiborne? With Jay Ratliff back manning the nose, rushing yards might be difficult to come by for Trent Richardson, although I'd expect him to have decent production (80 yards). The problem for the Browns will be stopping the Cowboys' offense, which has been more effective of late. Over their last two games, Tony Romo has completed 70 percent of his passes and posted passer ratings of 109.3 and 122.1. #CLEvsDAL
The Green Bay Packers are the class of the NFC North right now, with Jason Campbell starting for the Chicago Bears and the Detroit Lions playing so inconsistently. The Lions' woes can partly be blamed on the ground game -- or lack thereof -- and its effect on the offense as a whole. The Lions re-morphed into their old selves last weekend in Minnesota, rushing 17 times for 60 yards. In fact, Calvin Johnson's 207 receiving yards accounted for well over half of Detroit's offensive production last Sunday. While the Packers throw their fair share of passes, they spread the ball around. Aaron Rodgers consistently gets the ball to James Jones, Randall Cobb and whoever else is open. Did I mention that Jordy Nelson could be back in the fold this Sunday? One more guy the Lions can't cover. #GBvsDET
The Houston Texans pull away in the second half, with Arian Foster leading the charge. While No. 23 has been exceptional, as per usual, he hasn't popped a long run in weeks. His last gallop of more than 21 yards came way back on Oct. 8 versus the Jets (46 yards.) He is due. This is the week. The Texans shouldn't need Matt Schaub to throw a ton. Anticipate a 17-for-23 day with two touchdowns and no picks. With the Jacksonville Jaguars' offense being as dysfunctional as it has been -- see: Blaine Gabbert's struggles (and injury) -- there's no reason for Gary Kubiak's offense to take unnecessary risks. #JACvsHOU
The Kansas City Chiefs' late rally is not enough, as Andy Dalton shows that Week 10's boffo performance was no joke. He'll have to. The Cincinnati Bengals have not been as effective as they need to be when running the rock. BenJarvus Green-Ellis' 3.4 yards per carry have been underwhelming. Cedric Peerman has had some nice runs, but he just isn't getting many opportunities. Can K.C.'s Matt Cassel- Dwayne Bowe connection ever get going early in games, when it actually matters? When was the last time Bowe reached the end zone? Jeff Francoeur has homered more recently. No joke. #CINvsKC
This feels like a Ryan-Sanchize-Fireman Guy rebound game. Except it's not. In fact, there won't be any fireman helmets in the stands, because this game is in St. Louis, where the Rams' defense has played relatively well. The Rams are giving up 18.5 points per game in the Edward Jones Dome, but they've yet to play an offense that is in as much disarray as the New York Jets' unit. Well, they did play the Cardinals. That 31st-ranked offense is actually worse than New York's bunch, which cracks the top 30 ... at 30th. But Rex Ryan's club makes up for its offensive ineptitude by playing some of the worst run defense in the league. I'm sure Jeff Fisher won't try to exploit that at all. #NYJvsSTL
Nick Foles gives it his best shot. Andy Reid does his best to take LeSean McCoy out of the game right after he rips off a 25-yard run. Did you know McCoy had four carries on the Philadelphia Eagles' opening touchdown drive versus Dallas? Reid gave him 12 the rest of the game. You know Reid's eyes are getting huge at the prospect of facing a Washington Redskins secondary that hemorrhages yards and has rubber-stamped 20 touchdowns (tied for most in the league). Hopefully Reid will tap the brakes, realize he's got a third-round draft pick out there under center, and put the ball in McCoy's belly. #Run25 #PHIvsWAS
Marcel Reece reprises his role as a leading cog in the Oakland Raiders' offense. The tight-end-slash-H-back-slash-fullback was a rare bright spot in last Sunday's five-touchdown loss to the Baltimore Ravens, piling up 104 total yards on 20 touches. There's no question the New Orleans Saints will have some trouble covering him with their linebackers, but Reece and receiver Denarius Moore just do not give the Raiders enough to win this game. Confidence has to be at a low for a team that just had 55 dropped in its lap. Drew Brees is the last quarterback you want to see the week after giving up that many points. By the way, without too many people noticing, Marques Colston is having a very nice season. #NOvsOAK
This AFC West bout is all about the quarterbacks. On one side is Philip Rivers, a player who is being questioned from every corner about his decision-making ability and a noticeable regression. On the other is Peyton Manning, who has also "regressed" ... back to MVP form. San Diego should give the Broncos a game, but Denver's pass rush will present a problem for Rivers. The Broncos' front seven got to Cam Newton seven times last week. The Chargers already have allowed 22 sacks, and they aren't utilizing Ryan Mathews enough to make pass rushers slow their roll. #SDvsDEN
Andrew Luck will make this one exciting for a while, but the New England Patriots pull away in the fourth quarter on the strength of their up-tempo offense and Stevan Ridley. Other than a dumb false-start penalty last Sunday, Ridley has been playing lights-out for Bill Belichick. Do you realize he's fifth in the NFL in rushing with 814 yards, and easily leads all running backs in first downs (54)? Over 30 percent of his carries net his team a new set of downs. Luck will play well -- no one on the Pats can cover Reggie Wayne -- but the Indianapolis Colts' 22nd-ranked run defense will have its hands full with No. 22. #Ridley'sbelieveitornot OK, that was bad. #INDvsNE
You're going to hear about "the best rivalry in football" so much this weekend that you'll want to puke. You'll hear about it more than you were inundated with
"Jerome Bettis is from Detroit!" during the week of
Super Bowl XL. ... More than you hear
" 'Tango & Cash' was on Spike last night!" ... More than you hear
"You know, Tom Brady was a sixth-round draft pick."
Well, it's tough to win when the Baltimore Ravens are coming to town and former first-round draft pick Byron Leftwich is your quarterback. Baltimore's defense has struggled at times, but how much can the Pittsburgh Steelers threaten with Leftwich, a running back-by-committee and a banged-up Antonio Brown? Am I seeing this wrong? Feel free to feed back at @Harrison_NFL. #BALvsPIT
Given the uncertainty at quarterback for both clubs, the outcome of this game is extremely difficult to divine. If Jason Campbell starts, how much hope do the Chicago Bears have? They're not getting enough from the running game to overcome a quarterback who's known more for "check-downs" than "first downs." Colin Kaepernick is an unproven commodity for the San Francisco 49ers, not a proven mediocre quarterback like Campbell. But how will he fare versus Chicago's swarming defense? Well, this nod is for the defense playing on its own field. Also, consider that Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh probably won't let Kaepernick (or Alex Smith) throw the ball enough to let the Bears create the turnovers they thrive on. #CHIvsSF
Ryan Tannehill hasn't been throwing interceptions all season. That's awesome for a rookie quarterback. Too bad he hasn't been throwing touchdown passes, either. He has five on the year. Tannehill suddenly became turnover-prone against the Tennessee Titans, though, giving up three picks. Thursday night on NFL Network, he faces a Buffalo Bills defense that has allowed opposing passers to post a 96.8 passer rating and score 18 touchdowns to just six interceptions. While I foresee C.J. Spiller putting up 120 yards from scrimmage, I trust the Miami Dolphins' defense to get back on track in Buffalo -- and Reggie Bush to hold on to the football. #MIAvsBUF