The Oratory's NFL Picks for Week 11
by John Canton(NFL)
Posted on November 20, 2009, 4:22 PM
John: Welcome to week eleven of the Oratory's NFL Picks. I am John Canton joined as always by my fellow prognosticators James Deaux and Matt Henry. The bye weeks are done. All 32 teams are playing every week for the next seven weeks until we get to the playoffs. You'd think that means we would have some kind of handle on who's going to win the games, right? I'm not so sure. The NFL remains unpredictable as always.
James: I’ve been doing absolutely terribly lately in my picks. I can’t even explain it. Hopefully, I’ll do better this weekend, but I already started off badly with my incorrect Carolina pick. Sigh...
Matt: Only one big time divisional game this week with playoff potential, many Wildcard efforts going on though, especially in the NFC where I think everyone but the Rams, Bucs, Seahawks and Lions still remain within grasp of a playoff berth. The NFC is going to be a ton of fun to watch in the next few weeks. .
Last week's results:
The standings for the season:
James 102-42 (.708)
John 93-51 (.646)
Matt 90-54 (.625)
All game times are Eastern.
Washington at Dallas 1:00 PM James: Washington pulled out an impressive win over reeling Denver last week, while Dallas completely mailed it in against the Packers. I think the Cowboys recover from an embarrassing display last week over a still-crappy Washington team. Dallas 22 – Washington 14
Matt: The win for the Redskins last week was more of a commentary against the Broncos than in favor of Washington. The Cowboys should be plenty motivated to avoid another embarrassment after their near shutout against the Packers. I don’t have a clue how they weren’t all over Rodgers last week. It’s almost like they just couldn’t stand the pressure of being on top in the NFC East. Cowboys 30-20
John: I refuse to pick the Redskins the rest of the way although to their credit their offense has improved since Jim Zorn gave up playcalling duties. Still, they're the inferior team. Dallas ran into a hungry Packer team last week. I think they can bounce back here in a defensive style game. Cowboy 20-10
Cleveland at Detroit 1:00 PM James: Are you kidding me? Detroit 12 – Cleveland 6
Matt: Worst game of the week. I’m picking the Lions for the upset if you can call it that. I think people have to care to be upset though. Lions 24-20
John: Maybe the worst game of the year. I'll pick the Lions because they have the best player on the field, Calvin Johnson. Lions 23-13
San Francisco at Green Bay 1:00 PM James: San Francisco showed me absolutely nothing last week in a brutally bad game against Chicago (albeit a win). Green Bay was angry as hell and beat Dallas. I think Green Bay gets a win here and pushes the 49ers all but out of the playoff picture. Green Bay 24 – San Francisco 13
Matt: Very tough game to call. As much as I think the home field advantage will help, I like the 49ers here because I don’t see the Packer line being able to stop the pass rush. I’d feel safe calling 4-5 sacks in this one. My biggest concern picking the away team comes down to can the 49ers score the few points they need to win? 49ers 10-7
John: The Packers finally showed up defensively in impression fashion against a good Cowboys team. The Niners won an ugly game against the Bears. For some reason I think this is going to end up being something of a shootout because I don't think either team is that good defensively. The Pack are the better team, though. They should prevail. Packers 31-20
Pittsburgh at Kansas City 1:00 PM James: Pittsburgh is going to be without Troy Polamalu again this week and possibly longer. It’s a good thing they’re playing such a bad team, or it might make a difference in the outcome. Pittsburgh 27 – Kansas City 20
Matt: Should be a pretty easy game for the Steelers, even with Troy Polamalu taking a rest. Rest the injured guys late in the game and throw the kicker out there and teach him how to tackle. KC is going to miss having a shot at winning a game like last week’s game with the Raiders. Steelers 28-10
John: The Chiefs seem like one of those teams that tries hard week after week, but they really don't have the personnel to succeed. The Steelers need the win to stay in the playoff hunt and they'll get it because the Chiefs won't be able to put up much resistance. Steelers 33-13
Seattle at Minnesota 1:00 PM James: Minnesota wins. Big time. (What? You expected a lengthy explanation?) Minnesota 38 – Seattle 10
Matt: The Vikings have no excuse not to dominate here at home against a team that just can’t seem to catch a break. Farve should be resting on the sidelines by the second half kickoff. I Can’t stress enough how poor a team has to be playing to be two games out of last place in the NFC West. Vikings 32-17
John: Vikings continue to roll with Favre and Peterson playing incredibly well. The Seahawks are a bad road team. Easy win here. Vikings 34-13
Atlanta at NY Giants 1:00 PM James: The Falcons’ schedule has been absolutely brutal this year. This is the fourth team they’ve had to face coming off a bye. I think that’s pretty damn unfair, but whatever. In an odd quirk, the road team has won this game each of the last 12 times they’ve faced off. I’m picking New York, though, not because I have faith in their ability to win convincingly, but because I really don’t want to further jinx Atlanta. New York 28 – Atlanta 19
Matt: The Giants need the win here to keep in the hunt for the NFC East lead. They also need a win to silence the critics regarding their ability to beat teams that don’t suck. The only winning team they have managed a win over this year is the Dallas Cowboys. Their other victories came over such notable teams as the Chiefs, Raiders, Redskins, and Buccaneers. Eight wins between the four of them. As for Atlanta, I’m pretty sure the Falcons are playing for a wildcard at this point in time. It should be a tough race for them as well with many teams still being within a game or two of contention for these last two playoff slots. This game could be a factor after week 17 in determining which of these teams plays and which one watches from home. Falcons 28-20
John: The Giants have lost four straight after being 5-0, but now that they've had two weeks to sit at home to prepare they have to figure things out? I think so. Throw in the fact that the Falcons are likely without their best player in Michael Turner and they're not a good road team makes me really likes the Giants. Of course, Atlanta could definitely win if they throw the ball downfield against a Giants secondary that is playing very poorly these days. Thing is, Matt Ryan's really not playing well either. I like the rested GMen here. Giants 24-14
New Orleans at Tampa Bay 1:00 PM James: This has “trap game” written all over it, but I don’t think Drew Brees will let them lose this game. And if Darren Sharper plays, the defense will be just fine, too. New Orleans 34 – Tampa Bay 20
Matt: Closer than many people are going to think, but the Saints prevail. I can’t see them having another horrid performance against a bad team this week. The Bucs are rebuilding and it shows. The Saints don’t face many real threats the rest of the way with the exception of the Patriots in Week 12. Unless they Denver Bronco their season, they are a lock for the NFC South championship. Saints 30-24
John: My Rams came close to upsetting the Saints last week because they have the right personnel for it. They have a dominant running back in Steven Jackson. The Bucs don't really have that, so it's going to be a challenge for them to put up enough points to get the wins. I like Brees and company to continue putting up the points in sunny Florida. Saints 37-14
Buffalo at Jacksonville 1:00 PM James: Jacksonville has suddenly become a decent team and Buffalo being as terrible as they are should stand no chance whatsoever here. Jacksonville 21 – Buffalo 10
Matt: The Bills are an upper tier bad team and have already started their off season. The Jaguars are more or less a top, below average team. This game is going to be important to the teams playing as they evaluate personnel for the off season. For the rest of the league, it won’t really matter. I had a high opinion of the Jags in the Pre-season. I guess that this team is not going to meet my expectations. Piles of potential there though. Jaguars 16-9
John: The Jags have figured things out. Give the ball to Maurice Jones-Drew, then when the defense keys on him too much look for Mike Sims-Walker down the field. The hyphenated dudes on offense are working. They are playing hard defensively too. The Bills have a new coach and a rumor that Mike Shanahan is going to meet with management next week. That doesn't translate to wins on the field. I like the Jags to roll. Jaguars 24-13
Indianapolis at Baltimore 1:00 PM James: Indianapolis probably should have lost last week, were it not for the now hideously over-discussed “4th and 2” play. Baltimore, on the other hand, could only scratch out 16 points against the horrific Browns. Indianapolis wins this one easily. Indianapolis 30 – Baltimore 17
Matt: The Colts can’t keep escaping with these come from behind close wins all year. Still, it is great for any team to be able to dominate so strongly late in the game. I think this is going to be close again, but I doubt that the shockingly weak Ravens D is up to the task of stopping the onslaught of Manning. The Colts are really overdue for a letdown. Colts 18-17
John: I was very tempted to pick against the Colts in this game until I looked closer at the play of Ravens QB Joe Flacco of late. In his last three games he's thrown only 1 TD while throwing 2 INTs. That's not good. I'm not sure what happened. Maybe teams are figuring him out. It's not like the Ravens have a lot of options at WR for him to go to. They're a predictable team to defend against. With a defense that is still very good, but is not great, I like the Colts here in another close game. The Colts have won their last three by a combined total of just 8 points. I see another nailbiter for the Manning crew here. Colts 23-20
Arizona at St. Louis 4:05 PM James: St. Louis, bless their hearts, are really showing everyone that they are on the upswing with how they took it to New Orleans. They play their asses off for Coach Spagnuolo and it’s clear. But they have a brutal schedule and Arizona generally owns them. Arizona 31 – St. Louis 21
Matt: Good thing this is a road game with the way the Cardinals have been playing at home this year. The Rams looked impressive last week, but I just don’t think that they can keep from tripping all over themselves long enough to win here. Cardinals 27-14
John: The last three home games for my Rams? Minnesota, Indianapolis and New Orleans. Combined record of 26-1. Now they get a break by playing the 6-3 Cardinals who, by the way, are a great road team. I hate this season. Warner always does well at the Ed Jones Dome and I think that will continue this week although the Rams will put up their fair share of points too thanks to one of the top five RBs in the game, Steven Jackson. Cardinals 31-24
San Diego at Denver 4:15 PM James: Denver has completely crashed and burned and San Diego is on their usual late-season tear. Denver also has to worry about Chris Simms likely starting for them, which is a frightening proposition. San Diego should win this one in a cakewalk. San Diego 34 – Denver 13
Matt: Big game with more Divisional playoff implications than anything else being played this week. Chances are that the losing team here doesn’t get to the playoffs at all. The AFC West won’t have a wildcard. I just don’t know what’s happened to the Broncos of late, but I’m thinking that the main source of their problems is that they lose momentum late in the game. Consider them the anti-Colts. If the Chargers can stay strong in the last 15 minutes, they have a win here and surprising sudden division lead. Chargers 24-17
John: I thought Denver overachieved a lot early this year, which is why I picked against them so much during their 6-0 start. Now that they've lost three straight I feel vindicated a bit. With Kyle Orton so banged up that they might have to start Chris Simms it's really hard for me to pick the Broncos in this game. The Chargers are playing at a high level earlier than normal, which should scare the shit out of the rest of the league because that team has talent. Chargers 24-10
Cincinnati at Oakland 4:15 PM James: Oakland finally got the memo about Jamarcus Russell—you know, the one that reads, “He sucks.” Cincinnati continues their roll here. Cincinnati 28 – Oakland 6
Matt: I’d love to see the Raiders win here, but the QB change isn’t going to make them a much better team. Replacing a bad QB with another bad QB changes nothing. Funny that LJ comes back to play an AFC West team. Bengals 33-6
John: To give you an idea of how bad Jamarcus Russell is I want to point out that their new starter Bruce Gradkowski has been released by the Bucs, Browns and Rams in the past three years. This is his fourth stop in his fourth year. Russell, a number one overall pick, is worse than a journeyman that didn't even journey to good teams. That's really bad. Bengals 24-3
NY Jets at New England 4:15 PM James: New England doesn’t lose back-to-back games. It just doesn’t happen. And it sure as hell won’t happen against a mediocre team at home with the team extremely pissed off at the result of last week’s game. New England 35 – New York 17
Matt: If the Jets weren’t imploding in the same fashion as this point last year, this might be an entertaining game. As it stands, there is no reason to believe that the Patriots aren’t going to come out angry after what will likely be considered the second worst call in the career of Bill Belichick. The first? Cheating at the beginning of the almost perfect season. Patriots 30-18
John: The Pats are pissed off after last week's debacle. Let's look past the Belichick thing for a second. My question is what happened to the Pats offense in that fourth quarter? They have to close out a game better than that. I don't like rookie QBs on the road against pissed off teams. Sorry Jets. Patriots 42-13
Philadelphia at Chicago 8:20 PM James: Philadelphia is doing their typical inexplicable thing where they lose games for seemingly no reason. Chicago can’t score, nor can they defend anything. Philly should win this, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see Chicago somehow pull out a win against them. Philadelphia 23 – Chicago 17
Matt: It is very odd for a non-divisional game played at this time of the year to have such major potential to set up the playoff picture. The Bears have to win this game to keep in contention with the majority of the NFC which fits into that “just average” category for the wildcard slots. Outside of the Saints, there isn’t a standout NFC team, and every game for nearly every team may be must win for the rest of the season. The Eagles need some redemption after losing two in a row following the impressive win over the Giants and the subsequent attainment of the NFC East lead. Unless the Giants continue to free fall, the NFC East will be very fun to watch in the next few weeks as there are three teams in legitimate contention for the Divisional championship. Eagles 21-17
John: The Eagles are road favorites in this game despite the fact that they're 2-2 on the road and lost to the Raiders in Oakland (I think I bring that up weekly because I was so mad I lost that bet.) Their problem is they have no running game and everybody knows that. You'd think that one of these weeks they'd go into the game with the plan to run the ball 60% of the time instead of their usual 30%. But no, they keep throwing. That's fine for teams like the Colts or Pats. It's not fine for the Eagles. McNabb's good, but he's not Manning or Brady. The Bears are a tough team to figure out. They started out well with everybody thinking Cutler was one of the best QBs in the game. Lately, though, they've struggled big time. I don’t know what's going to happen here, so from a betting perspective I'm staying away from this one. For the sake of making picks, I'll go Bears just because there's something about home dogs in primetime games that I like. Bears 23-20
Tennessee at Houston 8:30 PM (Mon) James: This should be a lot of fun to watch, if nothing else. The offenses of both these teams are exciting as hell with Chris Johnson and Andre 3000 running around. I think Houston will win here because they are just a better team than Tennessee is. Expect a shootout here. Houston 38 – Tennessee 28
Matt: This earlier season matchup was won by the Texans on the road. Don’t underestimate the Titans right now though. This is a motivated team and they have to play every week as if their playoff lives depend on it, because if they drop another one, they will be all but eliminated from the playoffs. I really want to by into the Titans making a miracle 10-0 run to the playoffs after starting 0-6 but there is such a thing as too big of a hill to climb. The Titans fall flat this week as their Defense continues to get torched through the air. Besides, the Texans are a sure thing every other game. Texans 26-18
John: You know what's crazy? If the Titans win this game they would be only a game back from a playoff spot if things went their way. After a 0-6 start they've shown a lot of life since inserting Vince Young at QB (it was at least two games too late, in my opinion). They have a special weapon in Chris Johnson in the backfield. When they're not running it with him they're throwing it to him and if he's covered they're finding other ways to move the ball down the field. Then there are the Texans sitting there at 5-4. Before the year I had them in the playoffs. I think this is the year they find a way to put it all together to get that coveted first ever playoff berth. They have to win a game like this. Get that ball to Andre Johnson on the outside, let him make some plays and find some way to slow down Chris Johnson to get the victory. I think they'll do it. Barely. Texans 27-26
JC's Money Picks John: Every week I'll pick four games against the spread or using the over/under. I was 2-2 last week. These odds come from pinnaclesports.com as always.
Season: 23-16-1 (.590)
Chargers -3½ over BRONCOS – The Chargers are heading in the right direction while the Broncos are not.
PATRIOTS -10½ over Jets – Over 10 is a little tough, but I think they'll win this one comfortably.
Bengals -9½ over RAIDERS – Loving the Bengals defense right now.
DETROIT -3½ over Cleveland – Hey don't judge me for betting on this game. Betting against the Browns is a smart move!
Thanks for reading. We'll see you next week for week twelve.