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We provide the best and most educated National Football League picks based on relevant statistic and resources, along with: key injuries, Historical results, and accurate comparisons.
Bears veteran cornerback Charles Tillman has the most difficult job in the NFL this weekend. His responsibility on trying to slow down the games most unstoppable force, Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson is one of the more intriguing matchups of Week 10 to endure as the Bears and Lions are set for battle at Soldier Field.
Thursday Night Football, November 7 8:25 PM ET – TV: NFL Network
Washington Redskins 3-5 @ Minnesota Vikings 1-7
Both teams success is based upon establishing the run. You have that with Washington feeding the football to Alfred Morris and Minnesota doing the same with Adrian Peterson. The Redskins have been more consistent on using that pedigree and Minnesota has had their droughts in getting Peterson the football enough. Like going three straight weeks without getting Peterson the ball 20 plus times until last week in Dallas when Peterson finally had a 20 plus carry game. Peterson finished the game in Dallas with 28-touches, 25 of them were carries and the other 3 were receptions, combining for 177-total yards and a score in game Minnesota nearly pulled off the upset. Both defenses are susceptible in allowing big plays through the air, but the major difference between these two squads is formulating favorable matchups downfield, an area where Washington has been much better at due to having more weapons that can stretch the field. One of those key targets Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III has is receiver Pierre Garcon. Garcon missed some time last season due to injury, but that hasn’t been the case in 2013. Garcon may not stand out in the crowd of being an elite receiver, but he has all the tools within his skill-traits of making big plays and he’s on pace to have a 100-catch season. The Redskins also have a tight end that the opposition needs to account for with Jordan Reed, a valuable option for RGIII on passing downs that’s getting favorable one-on-one matchups in the slot. I expect Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave to have a plan in place to get Adrian Peterson 25 to 30 touches against a Redskins defense that’s allowing 116.6-yards per game on the ground, but getting production in the passing game is in favor of Washington on third down situations. This could be a trap-game for Washington, but if Minnesota’s going to win this contest, Jared Allen and the Vikings defensive front need to be the same group they were in 2012 to make things uncomfortable for RGIII in the pocket. That’s just not happening enough for me to believe they will, but I’m going to go with my gut instinct here and roll with Minnesota at home. They showed last week they’re a better team than what their record indicates and I smell the unlikely to happen amongst the rest of the crowd that’ll be picking Washington.
Pick: Vikings 31, Redskins 30
Final Score: Vikings (2-7) 34, Redskins (3-6) 27
Sunday, November 10
1:00 PM ET
Seattle Seahawks 8-1 @ Atlanta Falcons 2-6 – TV: FOX
Like many, I had this game circled in August as a pivotal showdown with two top NFC teams battling in a rematch of January’s divisional playoff at the Georgia Dome. Well, as you can see by record, this game has lost some volume in that regard. No surprise where Seattle stands record-wise, but Atlanta’s season has headed down the road into Footballs “Lava-Pit” of a non-playoff season in the works. A lack of anything effective in the backfield and missing in action due to injuries at receiver has stumped the Atlanta offense. Mainly, they’re turning over the football with Matt Ryan forcing the issue. He isn’t forcing the issue due to the fact of getting out of his usual efficient ways. Any quarterback that’s put in position with a lack of good protection from his offensive line, a lack of production from his running game and not many options to stretch the field at receiver, makes way for a recipe of a dysfunctional offense. A bright spot could be lined up for Ryan on the outside with the possible return of receiver Roddy White (Hamstring) who’s been practicing this week, but fantasy owners shouldn’t expect anything spectacular from White that needs a decent amount of repetitions to get back in gear. Seattle has looked sluggish over the past couple of weeks with the inability to stop the run on defense and bad protection from the offensive line, but with all of that rubbish in the fold, they’re still finding ways to win games. Just to make myself clear with all of you out there, I didn’t pick Seattle to go to the Super Bowl because I think they have the best roster in the game. I picked them because they’re a unit, a team that’s in it together with a formative plan in place. I’m still waiting patiently like a member of the “12th Man” on Percy Harvin making his debut. Relax guys, they’re being cautious and I think that’s the right thing to do. No need to rush him to the rescue.
Pick: Seahawks 24, Falcons 21
Detroit Lions 5-3 @ Chicago Bears 5-3 – TV: FOX
Quarterback Jay Cutler (Groin) has been cleared to start for Chicago in a pivotal NFC North showcase showdown where the winner could take sole possession of first place, pending on what Green Bay does against Philadelphia. This is one of the more intriguing matchups with both defenses that have weaknesses on the backend, particularly Chicago with safeties Chris Conte and Major Wright. Both offenses feature dynamic running backs, Detroit’s Reggie Bush and Chicago’s Matt Forte that not only can carry the football but formulate lots of confusion on the backend of opposing defenses with them motioning around and lined up as a receiver. And I expect both offenses to have the secondary keeping an eye on Bush and Forte that will formulate favorable one-on-one matchups. Both quarterbacks, Detroit’s Matthew Stafford and Chicago’s Jay Cutler have the luxury of checking down to the runner when no one is open down field and when defenses blitz. The Bears offense needs to be looked upon seriously by you spectators out there. The emergence of Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett has added more weapons that can stretch the field in Marc Trestman’s system. Jeffery and Brandon Marshall are both big receivers that can block, get separation, out jump DB’s and beat you over the top. Detroit’s lone receiver, the best in the game Calvin Johnson can do it all from running great routes and using his physical presence to out-muscle defenders. He gets so much attention that you’ll see him doubled and sometimes tripled. Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker better not have his unit caught in a single-high zone, with Chris Conte playing center field as the lone safety deep. Detroit will use spread formations with Bush motioning towards the flanker in single coverage. If they do that, they’re dead meat with “Megatron” getting wide open down the seam and over the middle in open space. I like the matchup factors Detroit can use against Chicago’s scheme, but Bears coach Marc Trestman is an offensive mastermind. His ability to scheme plays and exploit weaknesses is what’s kept me connected to his playbook, and I see Matt Forte having a huge day catching the football with tight end Martellus Bennett getting attention over the middle form Detroit’s vulnerable linebacker’s getting caught in a chess-match. They shadow Bennett, Forte sneaks out of the backfield. They eye on Forte, Bennett gets singled up. I have a feeling this game will be one of the better games of the 2013 season to endure.
Pick: Bears 37, Lions 34 in OT
Philadelphia Eagles 4-5 @ Green Bay Packers 5-3 – TV: FOX
The Packers have been hit with the injury bug at the ultimate climax. They’ll be without their main man running the show at quarterback. Aaron Rodgers (Collarbone) will be out 4-6 weeks. The best thing Green Bay can wish for is Rodgers possibly returning for their Thanksgiving showdown with the Detroit Lions. Luckily for the Packers, they’ve been running the football with Eddie Lacy and James Starks at a high level between and outside the tackles. With Rodgers out, defenses will now stack the box on Seneca Wallace who went 11 of 19 for 114-yards and an interception on Monday. That performance in a loss to Chicago sent an alarming message to Packers head coach Mike McCarthy. “Seneca, he needs to perform better and he’ll definitely do that with a week of practice,” said McCarthy. Word out in the street is the Packers will be working out free agent Matt Flynn sometime soon. Flynn was drafted by the Packers in 2008 and spent four seasons backing up Rodgers before leaving in free agency after the 2011 season. Mainly, Flynn is familiar with the system. Wallace didn’t spend time with the Packers in training camp and barley got enough reps since signing before the first week of the season. The Packers may get the most important part of their defense back this week, however. Clay Matthews has indicated that he expects to play this Sunday against Philadelphia who’s riding a 7-touchdown performance quarterback to town, Nick Foles. Foles dismantled the Raiders defense out west with a career performance that tied the record for most touchdown passes in a single game. Not to say that Foles’ performance was a fluke, but I wouldn’t bank on Foles doing the same at Lambeau against a Packers defense that’s ranked 5th against the run and with Matthews back rushing the passer. Defensive coordinators, Green Bay’s Dom Capers and Philadelphia’s Billy Davis’ game plan will be to stack the box and send a few blitzes at the quarterback, but the running game that I favor in this matchup is Green Bay’s. Behold a “Great One” at running back in the making people. Eddie Lacy proves he’s worthy of carrying a team on his back to victory without his starting QB handing him the rock.
Pick: Packers 20, Eagles 17
Jacksonville Jaguars 0-8 @ Tennessee Titans 4-4 – TV: CBS
No defense has been worse than Jacksonville’s against the run. They’re allowing 161.8-yards per game and have also surrendered 13-rushing touchdowns, the most on the ground. Titans head coach Mike Munchak came out last week stating that running back Chris Johnson will receive a heavy-workload the rest of the way and the game-plan worked last week in St. Louis. Johnson ran for 150-yards and two scores helping Tennessee run for nearly 200-yards as a team to end their three game losing streak. No need of changing that formula as I expect Dowell Loggains, Tennessee’s offensive coordinator to continue to utilize Johnson as the focal point of the offense to help dictate the pass. That’s the only way the Titans can get anything going to open up the passing game. Here’s what some of you might not know about Jaguars team owner Shahid Khan: He’s a success story coming from a middle class life style and working his way up to billionaire status. Just imagine if he adds more chapters between the lines by getting Jacksonville out of the gutter over the next couple of seasons. First things first with his team likely setup to have the number one overall pick in the 2014 draft, a need of a franchise quarterback should be on his radar. I’m pretty sure he has Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley, Johnny Manziel and Tajh Boyd, five top QB prospects on his mind.
Pick: Titans 27, Jaguars 13
St. Louis Rams 3-6 @ Indianapolis Colts 6-2 – TV: FOX
Having a solid running game is always something positive to possess when trying to win on the road. The Rams, perhaps have the right guy for head coach Jeff Fisher’s style of philosophy. The Rams backfield had lots of questions marks when Steven Jackson left the building for Atlanta and Zac Stacy brings that missing link back in the mix. Stacy has shown that he can get a better than average number of carries and the ability to be used out of the backfield as a receiver. No reason why his number shouldn’t be called upon 20 or more times this week. The Rams have some goods and not so goods on the defensive side of the ball. They can get after the quarterback, but have been one of the worse units in allowing a chunk of yardage on the ground and big plays through the air. Indianapolis’ offensive line has been up and down the scales, good one quarter, horrendous the next, good for two series, bad on the next. But, through all that smoke and fire, Andrew Luck continues to show why he’s mentally tough enough to lead this team going forward by taking a beating and still making big plays with his arm. He’s a “Tough Cookie” and his attitude and leadership in only his second season is scary. That’s what I like most about Luck and these Colts. They’re tough and believe in each other.
Pick: Colts 31, Rams 17
Oakland Raiders 3-5 @ N.Y. Giants 2-6 – TV: CBS
What if I told you a team that started the season 0-6 still has a shot at the division? You’d probably call me crazy if I told you that it’s actually possible. Yeah, that’s right, it is folks. With Dallas capable of losing at New Orleans this week to drop them to 5-5 and if the Giants take care of Oakland this Sunday and the (Minus Rodgers) Packers at home over these next two weeks, (Guess What?) their week 12 date with the Cowboys at home might be for first place in the division. New York gets running back Andre Brown back from injury, a vital part of New York’s offensive plans they’ve been missing for several weeks. If Brown can avoid any setbacks, this could help the Giants get some balance on offense on being able to setup the play-action pass. Oakland’s Terrelle Pryor is always a dangerous threat with his ability to make plays with his feet off the read-option, but with Darren McFadden (Hamstring) doubtful, the Raiders will turn things to Rashad Jennings against a New York defense that’s stuffed the run against two top-flight running backs, Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson and Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy in their two game win streak. Jennings doesn’t present a serious threat and I like Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell to circle things in on Pryor with a bunch of different blitz packages and crowding the box with no respect for Oakland’s inept passing game.
Pick: N.Y. Giants 24, Raiders 13
Buffalo Bills 3-6 @ Pittsburgh Steelers 2-6 – TV: CBS
Some hope for Buffalo here. E.J. Manual (Knee) is expected to return at quarterback for the struggling Bills. Buffalo’s offense had some deficiencies with Thad Lewis and Jeff Tual under center in the avenue of turning over the football. Getting C.J. Spiller back from injury is a huge plus for Buffalo’s offense as well. Spiller ran for 116-yards in helping Buffalo tally 241-yards rushing as a team in a losing effort against Kansas City’s top-notch defense. Turnovers were the main cause of losing that game and they’ll need to protect the football against Dick Lebeau’s Steelers defense that’s looking to right the ship at home this weekend. Much in part of Pittsburgh’s horrific defensive performance was dealing with the hot hand of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in New England, a game Pittsburgh’s defense got shredded for 629-yards. Ouch, that has to ring a bell for head coach Mike Tomlin’s squad to be better prepared going forward. What Tomlin’s team really needs is a serious dose of running back Le’Veon Bell to be effective if Pittsburgh’s going to keep Ben Roethlisberger out of long distance passing downs. You don’t want to be throwing the ball more than often against Buffalo’s frightening pass rusher Mario Williams. Pittsburgh’s porous offensive line has led Roethlisberger to get sacked 31 times this season and he’s facing a Bills pass rush with 29-sacks, ranked third in the league. Look for both defenses to come prepared against the run. That means it’ll come down to which quarterback can extend plays away from the rush better, and I have to go with Roethlisberger over Manuel in this case.
Pick: Steelers 20, Bills 16
Cincinnati Bengals 6-3 @ Baltimore Ravens 3-5 – TV: CBS
This is a must win game for the defending champs, no doubt. At the same time, this is also an important game for Cincinnati that can gain so much ground in the AFC North with a win to move a step closer at a possible division title. Ray Rice and the Ravens running game continued to stink up the joint last week out in Cleveland. Rice and Bernard Pierce combined for only 28-yards on 17-carries in a 24-18 loss to the Browns. The lack of a running game is forcing quarterback Joe Flacco to throw the ball more than often, not what the Ravens offense is setup for. But, you have to wonder as the weeks go on if Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell will do some shuffling of the playbook with nothing productive coming from the running game. Baltimore’s defense will keep this game close and limit Bengals receivers A.J. Green and Marvin Jones from beating them over the top by keeping things underneath, forcing them to gain yards after the catch. This matchup will ultimately come down to which offense can keep the quarterback out of third and long situations. And the way things look at the moment for Baltimore’s inept running game, I like Cincinnati’s chances much better to gain the hard-fought yardage on early downs to setup a big play or two for Andy Dalton to get a favorable matchup downfield. Cincy finally takes matters in their own hands and shifts the power of the North over to them to steer the wheel the rest of the way.
Pick: Bengals 23, Ravens 20
4:05 PM ET
Carolina Panthers 5-3 @ San Francisco 49ers 6-2 – TV: FOX
You have two very balanced teams here with the spotlight focusing in on Carolina’s Cam Newton and San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick, both quarterbacks that can beat you with their feet off the read-option and in the pocket with their arms. Both defenses are also stout units that fly around the ball, not allowing offenses to beat them with the ground game for big plays. So…we get a battle in the trenches and which running game will get those extra inches to setup short distance passing downs to move the chains. Getting Jonathan Stewart back in the mix in using a change of pace rotation with DeAngelo Williams is a big plus for the Carolina backfield. The 49ers will continue to feature running back Frank Gore as their usual heavy-dose runner and Kaepernick on the option. The difference maker in this matchup will be how both offenses fare when in the redzone, an area I favor the 49ers with a bruising style of runner like Gore that can punch it in and a tight end like Vernon Davis who’s caught 7 of Kaepernick’s 9-touchdown passes on the season. Carolina will use Fullback Mike Tolbert as their muscle-man in that area, but they need someone shifty-like with Stewart to be able to get around San Francisco’s beast-group of linebackers, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman that can stuff the run and have enough speed to cover the tight end or slot receiver from time to time. Carolina sports two studded linebackers themselves with Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly, but they have a much more difficult task in covering Vernon Davis in the middle than Willis and Bowman do with Carolina tight end Greg Olson. Don’t expect to see lots of big plays on the outside.
Pick: 49ers 21, Panthers 17
4:25 PM ET
Houston Texans 2-6 @ Arizona Cardinals 4-4 – TV: CBS
Who would’ve thought Case Keenum, an undrafted free agent would be good enough to take Matt Schaub’s place at quarterback? He’s shown his ability to get the ball downfield and being able to elude the rush by making his plays with his feet outside the pocket. He’s completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for 621-yards and four touchdowns in his two starts. Problem is Arian Foster (Hamstring) is banged up and he’s only carried the football four times in Keenum’s both starts. Ben Tate has been dealing with rib issues and as good as Tate is, he’s no Foster. Without Foster effective in the Houston backfield, they have no balance and primarily, the play-action pass starts to waiver a little. Keenum definitely looks up to speed with the NFL game, but he’ll learn about the “Hard knocks” of playing in the desert, a place where the visiting team usually struggles on getting W’s. It’ll be on his shoulders with Arizona’s defense focusing in on stopping the (Minus-Foster) Texans running game and he won’t connect with receiver Andre Johnson for 229-yards like he did last week against Indianapolis. Why? I have two words for you on a corner that’ll be matched up on Johnson, Patrick Peterson.
Pick: Cardinals 19, Texans 16
Denver Broncos 7-1 @ San Diego Chargers 4-4 – TV: CBS
All over the place, you have signal-callers on the sideline and on the field. I feel like putting on a headset just thinking about the coach McCoy effect. Mike McCoy was an offensive assistant in Denver a year ago with Peyton Manning at signal caller and he’s now on the opposite sideline spicing things up for Philip Rivers. San Diego did some work in the offseason in adding some ammunition through free agency and the draft with the addition of running back Danny Woodhead, a former Patriot that leads the team in receptions with 49. Rookie receiver Keenan Allen shows promise with his athleticism of being a reliable go-to-target for Rivers the rest of the way. Most importantly, the running game has been up to par with Ryan Mathews healthy. Veteran tight end Antonio Gates is looking like the young and primed player he was when he first hit the scene. Quietly, Gates is on pace for 1,000-yard plus season. No need for me to really go down the road of what Denver’s offense is about with Peyton Manning running the show, but it’ll be interesting to see if tight end Julius Thomas (Ankle) will be limited or not. He appears ready to go this Sunday and I’d love to see an Old-Lion vs. Young-Lion tight end duel between him and Gates with both top-gunslingers throwing them the football. If you like offense, you got it here and San Diego Punter Mike Scifres and Denver’s Britton Colquitt might as well stay home. Nobody needs you this week. Rivers and Manning put on a show dissecting the secondary. In the end, it’s Manning that gets the last chance to set his team up on a game winning field goal drive.
Pick: Broncos 41, Chargers 38
Sunday Night Football in America 8:30 PM ET – TV: NBC
Dallas Cowboys 5-4 @ New Orleans Saints 6-2
We have serious matchup issues on both sides of the ball on defense for both teams. Dallas doesn’t have a DB like New England’s Aqib Talib that’s big and physical to go one-on-one with Saints “Super-Duper” tight end Jimmy Graham. And I think the Dallas linebackers and safeties are going to be caught in a cross-fire of dealing with him and New Orleans’ running backs Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas, both running backs that are also a big part of the Saints prolific passing-attack, working on screens, check-down passes and every now and then, Sproles could be singled up with a linebacker on spread formations on wheel-routes. That element the Saints have catches the safeties out of position in eying in on the tight end and backs that leaves New Orleans’ receivers in favorable one-on-one matchups. So…you need pressure and you need to provide it with a physical approach for four quarters of football. The Jets defense did get burned for a bulk of yardage last week, but their ball-hawking approach and pressure on Drew Brees got the Saints offense off-guard on critical possessions. Offensively, Cowboys offensive coordinator Bill Callahan better have a plan in place to get running back DeMarco Murray 20 plus touches. The slim 9-carries on the ground they displayed in their struggling win over Minnesota, isn’t a formative plan to create balance on offense. They’ll need a solid performance from the running game to help negate the crowd and keep Tony Romo out of third and longs. Both defenses have provided pressure in spurts, but not on a consistent basis. This game really comes down to which defensive coordinator, New Orleans’ Rob Ryan and Dallas’ Monte Kiffin on how they can formulate different looks by manufacturing pressure on passing downs. The return of DeMarcus Ware rushing off the edge for Dallas will be a huge factor to look at. He has to be on his A-game for Dallas to disrupt Brees’ pocket. I like both offenses to be able to move the ball, but the team that I’m going with that’s better suited in terms of play-calling and creating more favorable matchups to move the sticks, is New Orleans in a “See-Saw” battle, with Brees guiding the New Orleans offense on a late game-clinching touchdown drive.
Pick: Saints 34, Cowboys 30
Monday Night Football, November 11 8:30 PM ET – TV: ESPN
Miami Dolphins 4-4 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0-8
You have two teams surrounded by a pile of drama-like instances between players and coaches. Tampa Bay has put the Josh Freeman saga behind them and Miami is dealing with a bullying controversy between O-lineman Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito. I just don’t know where to really put my hands on with this mess. First Martin leaves the team because of an incident at the team cafeteria. Then we get the whole voice message shown to us that Incognito left for Martin and the team suspends Incognito indefinitely. Then rumor has it that Miami’s coaching staff played a part in Incognito bullying Martin by telling Incognito to toughen him up. You also have players on the team telling us that Martin and Incognito were actually good friends. I’m getting dizzy just thinking about all of this. What’s the truth? Sounds to me like a toxic relationship with a good and bad to it. As far as the game goes, seeing Miami get some juice going running the football with Lamar Miller and having Cameron Wake healthy to create havoc upfront is everything Miami needs to win this game. Miami beat an AFC Top-Dog last week with all the fussing going on. What makes you think they won’t do it against the lowly Bucs?
Pick: Dolphins 20, Buccaneers 13
Bye: Cleveland Browns 4-5, Kansas City Chiefs 9-0, New England Patriots7-2, N.Y. Jets 5-4
You can follow Massimo Russo on Twitter @NFLMassimo and SilverandBlueReport.com @SilverBlueRpt