NFL Week 11 game picks: Vikings nip Rams; Eagles > Cowboys

Print

Two forces scream toward one another from opposite sections of the States -- disparate portions of the world, really.

The game of which I speak is the league's version of Kennedy-Nixon, at least for this week. It's like INXS trying to upend U2 as the hottest foreign band in the summer of '87. It's a matchup with the familiarity of the "Jordan Rules" Pistons playing postseason games in Chicago, over and over again.

Eagles at Cowboys?

No.

Rams at Vikings is the game of the week -- if not the flavor of the next month, with the two teams having played much of the best football we've seen over the last month.

The fair-weathered fans in Los Angeles will watch as the overly-weathered fans in Minnesota take in Week 11's top offering. One team has ridden the coattails of nonstop offense, while the other cloaks itself in championship defense. It's a matchup of two franchises that couldn't get enough of each other in the big games within the wondrous decade of the '70s. Now comes a heavyweight bout on the back leg of '17.

On to everyone else. Literally.

I really haven't been on the 280-character train ... but this one's A-okay! And upon further review, notice the teams living right next to each another in the above quality check who play this week: Bills at Chargers ... Ravens at Packers ... Even the Monday night matchup between the Falcons and Seahawks is close to side-by-side.

As for the other bouts on the card, there are a few doozies. Yes, Philadelphia at Dallas counts. If only the Cowboys were at full strength, then Carson Wentz vs. Dak Prescott would really carry some weight. Your take always carries weight: @HarrisonNFL is the place.

Now, let's get to it!

Elliot Harrison went 9-5 on his predictions for Week 10, giving him a record of 88-58 thus far this season. How will he fare in Week 11? His picks are below:

Lions
23
Pick
Bears
20 (OT)
Sunday, Nov. 19 @ 1 PM ET
Oh, boy. The Lions have a cake schedule in front of them, yet this is the kind of game where Detroit's offense could come out flat. That could allow a stagnant Bears offense to hang around, put a few drives together and get the home win. Mitch Trubisky hasn't lit up the NFL yet, but OC Dowell Loggains has slowly added responsibility to Trubisky's plate. Stopping Jordan Howard is a must for the Lions, which means Jarrad Davis needs to have himself a game. Another big matchup: Golden Tate and Marvin Jones vs. Chicago CBs. Matthew Stafford and Co. are 0-4 this season against teams that currently boast a top-10 pass defense ( Falcons, Panthers, Saints and Steelers). The Bears come into this week ranked 10th. Fun. They still lose. Bearly. (I got dad jokes!)

Jaguars
24
Pick
Browns
21
Sunday, Nov. 19 @ 1 PM ET
This could be the week for the Browns -- one week after the 49ers got off the schneid. I think the Jags will pull this game out in the fourth quarter. That said, if Cleveland can completely shut down the run -- like the Brownies did against the Titans a few weeks ago -- Jacksonville will become Blake-dimensional. In that case, the much-maligned QB would need to use his mobility, and perhaps pick up a few first downs with his legs. Then again, with Jamie Collins out for the year, the Browns' run defense takes a hit. Meanwhile, the Jags are first in virtually every aspect of pass defense, while DeShone Kizer is the league's lowest-rated passer (54.4). Talk about strength versus, uh, not strength.

Packers
25
Pick
Ravens
20
Sunday, Nov. 19 @ 1 PM ET
Lots of good vibes hanging over Lambeau these days, with the uptick in Brett Hundley's play last week. Also noticeable in that win over the Bears: The play of the Packers' defense, which faces another underwhelming foe in these offensively challenged Ravens. Question is, can Baltimore's defense force turnovers when it matters? Or will Mike McCarthy play it so close to the vest that takeaways will be hard to come by? How do you intercept a none-yard out? Who knows -- which could be the slogan for these perplexing Ravens. When they win, their margin of victory is 21.8 points per game (highest in the NFL). When they lose, the margin of defeat's 13.6 (seventh-highest).

Cardinals
22
Pick
Texans
16
Sunday, Nov. 19 @ 1 PM ET
Picking the Cardinals away from Arizona has been a rough proposition this year -- their two road wins have come at Indianapolis in overtime and at San Francisco. I haven't seen enough good from Tom Savage so far to think the Texans will win. (And when I haven't watched, Twitter has more than kept everyone updated on his struggles.) Arizona will continue to feed Adrian Peterson, even after the last week's tough sledding. The nine-day reprieve between games should provide "All Day" some oomph. Houston's defense really needs to force takeaways, and give this offense a head-start or two. Back to Peterson: His four-game rushing-yards tally in Arizona is as up-and-down as it gets: 134, 21, 159, and 29.

Dolphins
23
Pick
Buccaneers
14
Sunday, Nov. 19 @ 1 PM ET
Tall order picking the Dolphins to win, as their point differential is just 10 points better than the winless Browns' mark. Think about that. Yeah, I don't want to, either. The Bucs captured a bounty full of one win last week on the strength of a resurgent defense that mitigated a slow, if functional, Ryan Fitzpatrick offense. Think the Dolphins, who were flat embarrassed this past Monday night, will come out ready to play. Especially the defense, which got run over to the tune of nearly three bills by the Panthers.

(Not) Fun fact: Miami fields the worst scoring offense in the league. Since the AFL-NFL Merger, no team that sported the fewest points per game finished better than 6-10.

Vikings
22
Pick
Rams
17
Sunday, Nov. 19 @ 1 PM ET
What a great matchup we have here. Eagles at Cowboys has the Sunday night spotlight, but this is the gem of Week 11. This will be Jared Goff's stiffest test thus far this season -- Sean McVay's, too. The Vikings' defense was up and down on the road last week against the Redskins, but should play faster at home. Can Goff recognize what he's seeing quicker? Time will be of the essence, especially if Linval Joseph, Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr contain Todd Gurley. Rams- Vikings might be a playoff preview -- and, for that matter, a playoff review. These two franchises faced off in the postseason in 1969, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1988 and 1999. Only the Cowboys have faced either of these organizations as much in the playoffs.

Chiefs
27
Pick
Giants
17
Sunday, Nov. 19 @ 1 PM ET
The Chiefs get the win at the Big Snoopy, but not in a track meet. Sure, Kansas City is due for a big run from Kareem Hunt (who has been slowed of late), and a vertical play to Tyreek Hill over the top. Other than that, expect a meandering game that stays within one score most of the day. Maybe I'm an optimist with these Giants, but I don't see them mailing in the rest of the season. As broached in the Power Rankings, the failings of the run defense are eye-opening. The amount of openings opposing runners have had this season compared to last is more than noticeable. Is Johnathan Hankins' absence really this crippling? Stopping the run is often about playing with emotion. Haven't see much of that from Big Blue this season. From the fact-you-probably-already-know-but-might-need-reminding department: Andy Reid has the highest winning percentage (.889) following a bye of all active head coaches. That's what 16-2 amounts to, in case you failed Stats II. College Algebra. Whatever.

Saints
30
Pick
Redskins
22
Sunday, Nov. 19 @ 1 PM ET
Saints win. That said, in the wake of New Orleans' 47-10 shellacking of Buffalo last week, how many people will just assume the Saints will do the same to the Redskins? As impressive as the win over the Bills was, so much went right. Everything was clicking for the offense. Ditto New Orleans' new-look defense. Nothing has clicked for Washington lately. Everything that could go wrong has -- particularly in terms of player availability. And the 'Skins are in the midst of a meat-grinder portion of the schedule, with their last four games being at Philadelphia, vs. Dallas, at Seattle, vs. Minnesota. Not hard to imagine how they went 1-3 in that stretch. And now they head into the Superdome ... Still, I think Washington will surprise some folks this Sunday by keeping this a game. More surprising: How effective the Mark Ingram- Alvin Kamara duo has been this season. Each back's on pace to finish with over 1,400 yards from scrimmage. Only one RB duo in NFL history has pulled off that feat: Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner in 1985, also their first year as a tandem. They helped the Brown become the first 8-8 team to ever make the playoffs.

Chargers
23
Pick
Bills
16
Sunday, Nov. 19 @ 4:05 PM ET
Can the Bills recover from getting marched on repeatedly by the Saints? Not just the defense, either. While that unit has fed off turnovers this season, Buffalo's offense might as well have just given the ball away to New Orleans. Besides failing to break the Mendoza Line in total yards, the Bills punted six times, and handed the ball over on downs on another occasion. That's how you lose the time of possession battle by 23 minutes. This Chargers front has morphed into a bunch of run-sucking bandits -- as in, the Bolts made the Jaguars' ground game suck bad. That means Tyrod Taylor ... scratch that: Nate Peterman ... will have to go out and win the game. Good luck, rook.

(Not) Fun fact: The Bills have allowed 164.3 rushing yards per game without Marcell Dareus this season, as opposed to 79.2 with him. Blame @RealJackAndrade for that research, Bills Mafia. That note was his idea.

Broncos
26
Pick
Bengals
20
Sunday, Nov. 19 @ 4:25 PM ET
You can only think of 10 games you'd rather watch than this one, so read up. Did you know that the Bengals and Broncos have never met in the playoffs? Even though both made it every year from 2011 through 2015. Yeah, well, neither of these teams is heading toward the postseason this year, so that fun fact wasn't really all that fun. If either 3-6 team has designs on putting together a run at a wild-card slot, winning six of the last seven -- starting this Sunday -- could be necessary. While it's surprising how many points Denver has been allowing lately, remember that the Broncos' last three games were at Kansas City, at Philadelphia and vs. New England. That said, the 33.0 points per game they've allowed since Week 6 = the worst figure in the NFL. Who saw that coming?

Patriots
30
Pick
Raiders
21
Sunday, Nov. 19 @ 4:25 PM ET
What looked to be one of the juiciest matchups of 2017 in the preseason has lost a bit of luster. Yet, now it could over-deliver. The Silver and Black could be Silver and Back if the offensive line overwhelms the Patriots' front seven. No amount of ingenious Belichick/Patricia scheming can blot out that advantage -- IF Oakland's offensive line plays up to its talent. I'll bet you a buffalo nickel the Pats get their convoy of RBs isolated on Oakland LBs -- and when the Raiders adjust ... Gronk. By the way, the Patriots have won 12 consecutive road games dating back to last season, tying their own franchise mark set from 2006 to '08. The 49ers own the longest streak in NFL history with 18, from 1988 to 1990. Of course, those Niner teams darn-near three-peated. (Is three-peated OK to use as a verb? Who wants to piss off Pat Riley?)

Eagles
30
Pick
Cowboys
25
Sunday, Nov. 19 @ 8:30 PM ET
So, uh, who's playing left tackle for Dallas? Can we call ole Flozell Adams? Pat Donovan has to be around somewhere. The Cowboys will have their hands full this Sunday night -- well, unless whoever is at LT fails to get his hands on the Eagle version of Adrian Clayborn. Even in the strength-on-strength department, Fletcher Cox has given All-Pro Zack Martin fits in the past. Then again, Martin has answered. Which is why Dallas must run behind the right guard and center Travis Frederick. Buck it up in there. When Philly does the same, will Jaylon Smith get caught on the wrong side of the scrum, or can he read plays a la Sean Lee? Anthony Hitchens' play will be a factor in this huge NFC East matchup, especially if Carson Wentz looks Corey Clement's way.

Fun fact: Each of the last eight players to lead the NFL in passing touchdowns on the team with the best record also won MVP. Wentz is pacing the league in that category right now. And yes, the 8-1 Eagles currently boast the NFL's best record.

Seahawks
27
Pick
Falcons
24
Monday, Nov. 20 @ 8:30 PM ET
Is it crazy to take the Falcons on the road? Richard Sherman being out is scary for the Seahawks. Even if he hasn't played quite at the level he did during the Super Bowl days, the prospect of those Atlanta receivers against Seattle's other CBs must tug at the 12s' confidence a little. Which Matt Ryan will show up might be the better query. With Devonta Freeman in concussion protocol, and Bobby Wagner at MLB, running will be tough bidness for Atlanta. The Falcons were fortunate to not have to face Sean Lee much last week. Oh, man. Can't decide who to pick. You tell me this time: @HarrisonNFL. Maybe I can leave nastygrams on your Twitter when you're wrong. That would be so lit. Or not.

Fun fact: Russell Wilson has accounted for 82.1 percent of the Seahawks' scrimmage yards this season -- the highest percentage in the Super Bowl era. The current full-season record? Jon Kitna's 81.8 percent mark on the 2006 Lions. I'm sure you could've guessed that. Jon Kitna, running machine.

THURSDAY NIGHT'S GAME

Steelers
29
Pick
Titans
17
Thursday, Nov. 16 @ 8:25 PM ET
With the Titans coming into Pittsburgh as a playoff contender, we'll see top-end speed from the Steelers. If Tennessee were, say, 3-6? Pittsburgh would probably turn the football over five times and go to OT. Tell me I am wrong, Steelers faithful. This matchup always reminds me of that sick interception Troy Polamalu made with one hand against Kerry Collins during the 2009 NFL Kickoff Game. Remember that? One key matchup to watch: Tennessee's run game (which sprung to life last week) vs. Pittsburgh's so-so run defense. Opponents are averaging a solid 4.2 yards per carry on Keith Butler's defense. Offensively, Pittsburgh boasts the NFL's rushing and receiving yards leaders ( Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown). Two teams have finished the season with both: the 1991 Cowboys and 1999 Colts. Both lost in the Divisional Round.
Print

Headlines

The previous element was an advertisement.

NFL Shop