Albuquerque’s favorite pro teams, the Cowboys and Broncos, who are having awfully crummy seasons, will be facing teams that haven’t lost in more than a month when the meat of the Week 11 NFL schedule kicks off Sunday.
Here’s taking a stab at predicting the outcomes of those two games and the other 11 remaining on the weekend menu.
Weather-wise, there sadly is no threat of frosty conditions anywhere, but at least fans can expect rain for the Philadelphia game in Cleveland game that will be aired on KRQE-TV.
The odds are courtesy of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.
Philadelphia Eagles (3-5-1) at Cleveland Browns (6-3)
Time: 11 a.m.
Line: Browns by 2.5
Facts: Philly QB Carson Wentz leads the league with 12 INTs and nine fumbles. The last QB to be atop both lists was the Colts’ Andrew Luck in 2014, a year Indy reached the AFC title game. … The Browns are 3-6 against the spread (ATS), but it would be better had RB Nick Chubb not infamously (for Browns fans) stepped out of bounds near the goal line last week in the closing minutes of their 10-7 home spread-losing win vs. Houston last week.
Analysis: The Eagles are catching a break with sack leader Myles Garrett (9.5) out, which is especially key since Philly has allowed more sacks (35) than any team in the league. Also, Philly wasn’t as bad as its 27-17 loss last week to woeful NYG would indicate, having an average starting field position at its 16, matching the worst for any team the past two years. The Eagles make it tight against a team that’s scored 10 or fewer points in three of its past four games.
Forecast: Browns 20, Eagles 19
Atlanta Falcons (3-6) at New Orleans Saints (7-2)
Time: 11 a.m.
Line: Saints by 3.5
Facts: Saints QB Drew Brees (ribs/lung) was placed on IR on Friday. … Atlanta has had a history of success in the Superdome, including a stretch from 1984-1999 in which it went 16-0 ATS, winning 10 times as a dog along the way. Then last season the Falcons snapped a six-game losing streak vs. the Saints and Brees 26-9 as a 13.5-point underdog. … The Falcons have won three of their past four since Raheem Morris replaced Dan “Embrace the Suck” Quinn.
Analysis: The Saints have opted to give the starting QB assignment to the league’s most notable punt coverage gunner, Taysom Hill, who has never started a game at quarterback. How bad must Jameis Winston be? Surely, the playbook will be reduced and altered to take advantage of Hill’s RPO skills. But he’s a mistake waiting to happen with his daredevil style of play.
Forecast: Falcons 28, Saints 24
Detroit Lions (4-5) at Carolina Panthers (3-7)
Time: 11 a.m.
Line: Panthers by 3
Facts: Carolina QB Teddy Bridgewater (knee) and Detroit QB Matt Stafford (right thumb) are questionable. The top RBs also are banged up: The Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey (shoulder) is out; the Lions’ D’Andre Swift (concussion) is questionable. … Then again, who needs a running game? In 2017, Carolina beat Detroit 27-24 despite having 28 rush yards on 28 carries. Detroit did that one better in 2016, averaging 0.67 yards on 21 rushes in a 26-19 win vs. Jax.
Analysis: In case Bridgewater can’t go, backups Will Grier (he was horrible in two starts last year) and rookie P.J. Walker have been splitting snaps in drills. Wouldn’t it be better if first-year coach Matt Rhule declared a No. 2 guy and given him the majority of the practice attention? As for the Lions, they have a better option — but not by much — with veteran backup Chase Daniel.
Forecast: Lions 17, Panthers 14
New England Patriots (4-5) at Houston Texans (2-7)
Time: 11 a.m.
Line: Patriots by 2
Facts: The line opened with Houston a 3-point pick, but that was before NE ran over Baltimore 23-17. … Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s pants must have caught fire after this quote about the Texans, who have the NFL’s worst run defense and air defense (based on passer rating): “They’re very good at everything.” … Since Pats QB Cam Newton passed for 397 yards in Week 2 at Seattle, he failed to reach 200 in five of his next six outings after recovering from COVID.
Analysis: This is a perfect matchup for the Patriots, who lead the league with 301 rushes and are on pace for 535 this season (only the Ravens topped that in any of the past five years). Houston, meanwhile, has a potent passing offense behind Deshaun Watson, the league’s sixth-rated passer (18 TDs/5 INTs), but the Patriots should be able to dominate possession against the Texans’ porous ground defense. Newton could have a big day here.
Forecast: Patriots 30, Texans 16
Pittsburgh Steelers (9-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8)
Time: 11 a.m.
Line: Steelers by 10.5
Facts: The Jags haven’t always been a pushover, especially when playing Pittsburgh. Only twice in Steelers history have they lost two homes games in a season to the same team, both times vs. Jax (2007, 2017). … The Jaguars are a long shot Sunday to avoid matching the team’s record for consecutive losses in a season with nine. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, is going for its first 10-0 start. … The Steelers will be facing a rookie QB, Jake Luton, making his third career start.
Analysis: Through six games Pittsburgh was running for 130 yards a game, but in its past three it hasn’t topped 48 once — even when facing a Bengals unit last week that yields 5 yards a carry, ranking 31st. Also, considering double-digit favorites are 4-7-1 ATS this season and the fact the Steelers had trouble against a Dallas QB making his first start two weeks ago, the vote here is the Jags stay close like they did in a spread-beating loss at Green Bay last week.
Forecast: Steelers 26, Jaguars 20
Cincinnati Bengals (2-6-1) at Washington Football Team (2-7)
Time: 11 a.m.
Line: Football Team by 1.5
Facts: At this stage last year, the Bengals were the first team whose playoff hopes were extinguished. … QB Alex Smith helped rally Football Team from a 21-point hole in the second half in Detroit last week, only to lose in the waning moments 30-27. … Their last meeting was a 27-27 tie in London four years ago. … Washington hasn’t defeated Cincinnati since its last Super season, in 1991.
Analysis: Washington’s pass defense has been touted as No. 1 in the league, based on yards yielded. But that’s largely a mirage because it has faced the second fewest passes in the league. But the Bengals’ offensive line is a collection of backups and walking wounded. Thus, rookie QB Joe Burrow might be in for another batch of sacks since Cincinnati has yielded the third most in the league, 32. And top RB Joe Mixon (foot) will miss his fourth straight game.
Forecast: Football Team 20, Bengals 14
Tennessee Titans (6-3) at Baltimore Ravens (6-3)
Line: Ravens by 6
Facts: Baltimore’s rushing norm of 164 yards a game is second best in the league, yet 42 below last year’s average. … In last season’s divisional round playoff, the Titans won at Baltimore 28-12 behind Derrick Henry’s 195 rushing yards. For the Ravens, it was their lowest scoring output during QB Lamar Jackson’s starting reign. … Hmm. The over/under is 50.5. Yet in their past 16 meetings, only once did the total reach 50.
Analysis: Baltimore’s weakness at the moment is stuffing the run, having given up 173 rush yards to New England last week. Missing are DTs Calais Campbell, which should open things for Henry. Another edge for the Titans is that they are coming off extended rest from their Thursday night loss to Indy, 34-17. And that defeat should make this week’s game even more crucial for them. But Baltimore still rates a small edge.
Forecast: Ravens 26, Titans 23
Miami Dolphins (6-3) at Denver Broncos (3-6)
Time: 2:05 p.m.
Line: Dolphins by 3.5
Facts: Two weeks after Denver QB Drew Lock danced off the field after rallying the Broncos from 21 down to win on the last play vs. the LA Chargers, he threw a league season-high four INTs at Vegas and also now has sore ribs. Backup QB Brett Rypien will be at the ready. He won his only start, against the winless Jets, but had three INTs. … For Broncos fans who like to throw away their money, they can get 5,000-1 odds on Denver winning the AFC West.
Analysis: Miami has a five-game winning streak (5-0 vs. spread, too) with three triumphs coming with rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa in charge. But it’s been the Miami defense carrying the load, giving up only 20.2 points a game, ranking fifth in that category. That unit should fare well against a Broncos offense that has a league-high 21 turnovers. The Dolphins have been so dominant this year, they’ve give four of their foes their most lopsided loss of the season. To make it five they’ll have to beat Denver by at least 28. Probably not, though.
Forecast: Dolphins 27, Broncos 16
NY Jets (0-9) at LA Chargers (2-7)
Time: 2:05 p.m.
Line: Chargers by 9.5
Facts: This is Week 11’s version of the “On the Clock Bowl” for the next draft. … In NFL history, teams at 0-9 have gone 10-24 in their next game. … LA rookie QB Justin Herbert, the league’s 10th-rated passer, will face a short-handed NYJ secondary that features three rookie corners. … QB Joe Flacco will make his fourth start for the Jets in place of ailing Sam Darnold (shoulder). Flacco not only has more TD throws than Darnold (4/3) but also a better record (0-3/0-6).
Analysis: The Jets, who held a late 10-point lead vs. New England before falling 30-27 two weeks ago, are coming off a bye and technically still alive for a playoff spot, although being the AFC’s top seed has long been out of reach. By the end of this game they’ll surely be wearing postseason toe tags, but the hunch is their inexperienced secondary and defensive buddies will play highly spirited ball and cause the Chargers some trouble.
Forecast: Chargers 21, Jets 16
Green Bay Packers (7-2) at Indianapolis Colts (6-3)
Time: 2:25 p.m.
Line: Colts by 1.5
Facts: The Colts are coming off an extended break after thumping the Titans in Nashville last Thursday 34-17 to take over first in the AFC South via tiebreaker. … The Packers are listed as an underdog for the third time this season. They already have won in this role at Minnesota and vs. New Orleans. … GB’s streak of scoring on its first possession of every game this season ended last week at home vs. Jacksonville. GB wound up punting on its first three possessions.
Analysis: Both teams have solid offensive lines with regard to pass protection, so GB’s Aaron Rodgers and Indy’s Philip Rivers should fare well. The difference could be the Packers’ pass-catching duo of Davante Adams (ankle, but “good to go”) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who leads the league with a norm of 21.0 yards a reception on 22 catches. The crystal ball says the Packers pull out their first victory on the road vs. the Colts since 1974 when they were based in Baltimore.
Forecast: Packers 28, Colts 20
Dallas Cowboys (2-7) at Minnesota Vikings (4-5)
Time: 2:25 p.m.
Line: Vikings by 7
Facts: Minnesota RB Dalvin Cook is averaging a league-best 119.1 yards rushing a game. That’s the top norm in the NFL since another Viking had 131.1 a game in 2012 — Adrian Peterson. … Dallas QB Andy Dalton has been cleared to play after first suffering a concussion four weeks ago and later having a tough go with COVID-19. … Dallas has a minus-13 turnover differential, worst in the NFL. But that margin didn’t stop the Raiders from winning the Super Bowl in the 1983 season. … Cowboys RB Zeke Elliott benefited from last week’s bye (hamstring) and was a full participant in drills this week.
Analysis: Can’t see Dalton being any sort of savior for the Cowboys the rest of the way as he replaces the rookie QBs who started the past two Dallas games. After all, last year with Cincinnati Dalton was the worst-rated passer in the league, and now in parts of four games with Dallas this year, his numbers are worse. And, although Dallas is coming off a bye and facing a team on short rest coming off a 19-13 win on MNF in Chicago, teams with such an edge are 0-2 this year (0-2 ATS, too). But what about Dallas coach Mike McCarthy’s familiarity with the Vikings after his long career in Green Bay? Well, his Packers were 1-6 in their last seven meetings.
Forecast: Vikings 29, Cowboys 14
Kansas City Chiefs (8-1) at Las Vegas Raiders (6-3)
Time: 6:20 p.m.
Line: Chiefs 7.5
Facts: The Raiders pulled the biggest upset of the season when they won at Kansas City in Week 5, 40-32, as a 10.5-point underdog. Based on passer rating, it was the best game of the year for Las Vegas QB Derek Carr and the worst for KC’s Patrick Mahomes. … Seven Raiders who were on the COVID restricted list earlier in the week have been activated. … KC is coming off a bye. Coach Andy Reid’s record as sideline boss in his career after a week off, including playoffs, is 25-5 (20-10 ATS).
Analysis: The Chiefs were victimized by the Carr’s out-of-character propensity to throw deep in that first meeting, and the Chiefs vow to be lots more prepared this time. And one of these days Kansas City RB Le’Veon Bell is going to have a break-out game for his new team. He’s had only 16 carries for 54 yards in his three games.
Forecast: Chiefs 38, Raiders 28
LA Rams (6-3) at Tampa Bay Bucs (7-3)
Time: 6:15 p.m.
Line: Bucs by 4
Facts: This will be LA’s fifth game in the Eastern time zone this season, going 2-2 (2-2 ATS), but the first that’s not a “jet-lag” outing in the early Sunday time slot. . … Tampa Bay rebounded from its 38-3 drubbing by New Orleans two Mondays ago with a 46-23 rout at Carolina last week, generating 544 yards, a jump of 350 from a week earlier. … The Rams had won five in a row in this series before the Bucs won last year in LA, 55-40, which tied for the 12th highest-scoring regular season game in history.
Analysis: The Rams will be looking to foil QB Tom Brady much like they did two seasons ago in the Super Bowl, when they held his Patriots to 13 points and not allowing NE a TD until seven minutes remained. And now LA will has stud corner Patrick Ramsey to cause trouble. So far so good for LA, but they’ll be without veteran OLT Andrew Whitworth (knee) for the first time this season. The trust is Rams sideline boss Sean McVay will mastermind an offense that will provide the new guy at that spots of help.
Forecast: Rams 23, Bucs 20
Last week: 6-6-1 vs. spread, 10-3 straight up
Season total: 17-19-3 ATS, 27-12 straight up