NFL Week 11 picks

Thursday November 18th, 2010
NFL Week 11
Thursday, Nov. 18
8:30 p.m. ET (NFL Network) Chicago Bears (6-3) at Miami Dolphins (5-4)
Love this game. Tyler "Don't Call Me Yancey'' Thigpen proves he's got a future in this league as something other than a clipboard-holder. (Actually, have you noticed that no backup quarterbacks actually carry a clipboard? We need to revise the cliché.) Key to the game: Where and how often Devin Hester touches the ball. Based on Tony Sparano's 2010 history with special-teams coach firings, it might be a good idea for special-teams-coach/temporary-seat-holder Darren Rizzi to kick away from Hester early and often.
Sunday, Nov. 21
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Houston Texans (4-5) at New York Jets (7-2)
You could have told me a lot of things after Week 2 of this season, after the Texans had beaten the Colts and Redskins to start the season atop the AFC South, but losing six of the next eight (which would be the case with a loss at the Meadowlands on Sunday) wouldn't be one of them I'd have believed. Matt Schaub spent Tuesday night in the hospital. Burst bursa sac in his right knee. Figures.
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Baltimore Ravens (6-3) at Carolina Panthers (1-8)
Brian St. Pierre vs. Ray Lewis. Not really a fair fight.
1 p.m. ET (Fox) Arizona Cardinals (3-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (5-4)
Weird, back-to-earth stretch for Kansas City. For the Chiefs to have a real shot to win the division, this is a must-win. Too many tough games (at Seattle, at San Diego, Tennessee, Oakland) to survive a fifth loss in a very winnable game here.
1 p.m. ET (Fox) Green Bay Packers (6-3) at Minnesota Vikings (3-6)
OK. Now you can start the clock ticking on the Bench Brett Lottery. This would be a seventh loss. Vikes would need eight, in my mind, to consider playing Tarvaris Jackson. With the 'Skins and Bills up next for Minnesota, I don't see if happening for a few weeks, but at least now it has to come to Brad Childress' frontal lobe.
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Oakland Raiders (5-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3)
The more I think this can't happen, and that the Steelers have to win a game they need badly in the wake of the New England debacle, the more I think: Who's going to block Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly? I can't come up with an answer -- at least not an answer for 60 Pittsburgh offensive plays.
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Buffalo Bills (1-8) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-7)
Who knows what Bengals team shows up? Maybe the one that has two TV star receivers playing without drama -- but with full effort -- for 60 minutes.
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Cleveland Browns (3-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars (5-4)
I'm not going to let one loss, in the 75th minute of as hard-fought a game as any you'll ever see, soften my newfound respect for the Men of Mangini. Amazing how, in the span of a month, the Cleveland fans -- frothing to fall back in love with their heroes -- have taken to Peyton Hillis and Colt McCoy like no young runner-passer combo since the team re-emerged in 1999.
1 p.m. ET (Fox) Washington Redskins (4-5) at Tennessee Titans (5-4)
Much has been written and said about the Donovan McNabb contract in the past few days. We've gone from being shocked by it Monday, to being reassured that McNabb really didn't hit the lottery on Tuesday, to wondering if he can even get to Year 2 on Wednesday. And now? McNabb's got seven weeks to prove he should be the Redskins' quarterback of 2011, never mind the future. The task begins in Nashville, and I say he plays better and gets the ball to Chris Cooley eight or nine times.
1 p.m. ET (Fox) Detroit Lions (2-7) at Dallas Cowboys (2-7)
Forget Jason Garrett's influence for a minute. What about Jon Kitna's? If he has a second straight strong game here, all of a sudden I see the Cowboys finishing 5-3 under Garrett, assuming they can win one of the following games they'll be favored to lose down the stretch -- New Orleans (Thanksgiving), at Indianapolis, Philadelphia, at Philadelphia. All kinds of fun things are dancing around Jerry Jones' head with a win over the Leos.
4:05 p.m. ET (Fox) Seattle Seahawks (5-4) at New Orleans Saints (7-2)
I'll write a little bit more about this game in my Friday GamePlan column, but I think the Saints will have their good buddy Reggie Bush's back in this one. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a sentiment among some on the Saints who think Pete Carroll left Bush out to dry when he returned his Heisman in September over the USC football scandal.
4:05 p.m. ET (Fox) Atlanta Falcons (7-2) at St. Louis Rams (4-5)
Look across the field during warmups, Matt Ryan. You'll see your top-of-the-draft peer Sam Bradford. Interesting that Ryan faces his 2008 first-round alter-ego, Joe Flacco, one week, and then Bradford the next. So many similarities between Ryan and Bradford. Smart, accurate, precocious, understand the important things about leading and playing well early at the next level. Bradford's the kind of ascending player who could pull off a shocker at home.
4:05 p.m. ET (Fox) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3) at San Francisco 49ers">49ers (3-6)
You keep this up, Josh Freeman, and I'm going to have to start thinking about putting you in my MVP Watch.
4:15 p.m. ET (CBS) Indianapolis Colts (6-3) at New England Patriots (7-2)
Peyton Manning has thrown five touchdown passes in his past five games. His Jimmy Clausenish passing line against the very mortal Bengals D last Sunday: 20 of 36, 185 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions, two sacks, 69.8 rating. Not saying he can't rise to the occasion in Foxboro the way he did in the two-minute drill last year in Indy, but it'd surprise me if he did.
8:20 p.m. ET (NBC) New York Giants (6-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (6-3)
I have never heard Tom Coughlin, and I mean never, say he watched an upcoming opponent "like a fan.'' But I have to give the man credit. Too often we think of Coughlin as a totally unfeeling automaton. If he'd spoken of Vick in a clinical, here's-what-we-need-to-do-to-win way at his Wednesday presser, I'd have thought of him as that Jacksonville robot he used to be. But this was perfect. Coughlin saw what we all saw Monday night: absolute brilliance by one of the special players of our time. I expect that to continue -- with a few more knocks from the Giants' defensive front -- Sunday night.
Monday, Nov. 22
8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) Denver Broncos (3-6) at San Diego Chargers (4-5)
A good old-fashioned shoot-em-up AFC West donnybrook, in which Philip Rivers simultaneously gets the Chargers back to .500, keeps the Chargers' division title hopes alive and sharpens his own case for the MVP.
SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide — from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Grant Wahl, Andy Staples and more — delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.