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2019 Week 11 Predix

Written by Sam DeCoste

There may have not been a more thrilling weekend of football than there was in Week 10. We witnessed highly entertaining finishes and upsets in the NFL last week, including the fall of the final undefeated team in the league. But this week promises some equally exciting contests, including a rematch of Super Bowl LII, between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. Meanwhile, the Rams battle the Bears on Sunday Night Football, and the Chiefs take on the Chargers this Monday night in Mexico City.

While Week 10 was phenomenally exciting, my prediction record suffered across the board.   I finished with my worst record of the year, at 5-8. But I can easily turn my fortunes around this week with a winning record. With that, I need to keep my head up high, and see how I fare this week! Without further ado, let's get right into it!

Here are my records over this season:

My record last week: 5-8
Regular season record: 89-58-1
Lock of the Week record: 6-4

BYES: Giants, Packers, Seahawks, Titans

Both squads are looking up to Baltimore in the standings, but they are both coming off very impressive upset wins. Cleveland prevailed over Buffalo while Pittsburgh defeated the Los Angeles Rams, earning wins which could turn the fortunes of their seasons. 

Ever since the Steelers acquired Minkah Fitzpatrick in Week 3, Fitzpatrick has played seven games, he has 5 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, and has scored 2 touchdowns on defense. The Steelers identity on defense has completely transformed, and it comes down to their young playmakers. Fitzpatrick is already in the secondary, alongside the rookie Devin Bush in the linebacking core. For the first time since the departure of Troy Polamalu, the Steelers defense is adequate. They are becoming the identity of the football team with the absences of Ben Roethlisberger and James Conner, which could set them towards the postseason once again.

For the Browns, they earned their first win since Week 4, and it came over the 6-2 Bills. But the Browns were far from impressive on Sunday. The Browns scored just 9 points in the second half, conceded a safety, and failed to score a touchdown with 8 plays from inside the 5 yard line on a key red zone possession. The Browns continue to struggle finding rhythm on offense and winning at the line of scrimmage. Ultimately, the Browns lose to the Bills if Stephen Hauschka makes those two field goals. They do not match up well with the Steelers on a short week, especially facing the Steelers resurgent defense. 

The Steelers have not lost to the Browns since 2014, and they are 10-1-1 going back to 2013 versus their divisional rivals. This year's Browns are still perennial losers, and while their win over the Bills was very impressive, the Browns been inconsistent all season long, and have yet to win back to back games. The Steelers are still winning, and they will upset the Browns on the road.

Prediction: PIT 20, CLE 17

The Patriots have some serious competition in the AFC this year in the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens have rattled off five straight wins, including wins over the Seahawks and Patriots, and a sweep over the Bengals. It all comes down to Lamar Jackson, who has transformed the identity of the Ravens offense. Last week, Jackson earned a perfect passer rating for the second time this season, and earned 288 scrimmage yards and scored 4 total touchdowns. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was right when he told his quarterback that he is changing the game, and everyone is going to want to buy Jackson's jersey because he is our generation's Michael Vick. He is a matchup nightmare, and the Texans have a whole lot to lose sleep about this week.

Meanwhile, the last time we saw the Houston Texans, they throttled the Jacksonville Jaguars in London 26-3, forcing the end of Minshew Mania. Deshaun Watson was efficient, completing 22 of 28 passes for 201 yards and 2 touchdowns. But it will take an MVP caliber performance from Watson to put the Ravens winning streak to an end. Watson has already stepped up when his team needed him this season, including when he threw for 5 touchdowns against Atlanta and when he defeated Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in Kansas City. But a win over the Ravens in Baltimore would be the mother of all upsets, and I don't see it.

We are in for a blockbuster matchup this Sunday, and hopefully both quarterbacks are ready for the occasion. I think Lamar Jackson and the number one rushing offense will be ready, and the Texans will have no answers.

Prediction: HOU 21, BAL 30

Once the Cowboys spotted Minnesota a 14 point lead, the game was out of the hands of Jason Garrett's squad. The Cowboys continue to get off to slow starts in games and it repeatedly turns out to cost them. Through 9 games, the Cowboys have trailed in the first quarter in 5 of those games, and they lost 3 of them. A fast start is the key to a Dallas win, and it comes down to Dak Prescott, who is playing the best football in his career. Prescott threw for 397 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Vikings in the loss, but he is developing into a legitimate star at the position. He will need another big game in Detroit to get out with a win.

For the Lions, Matt Stafford was a late scratch versus the Bears, and his absence virtually ends Detroit's season before Thanksgiving. That being said, Jeff Driskel did a fine job filling in for the Iron Man Stafford, throwing for 269 yards and a touchdown, but ultimately, he is not the game changer which Stafford is, and it cost them in the loss column once again. Jeff Driskel facing the Cowboys defense is a substantial mismatch, and he could potentially be embarrassed by the Cowboys if they step up to the occasion.

This has trap game written all over it for Dallas, but the Cowboys have lost enough trap games this year to lose another one against a very average team. The Cowboys will bounce back with a win over the Lions.

Prediction: DAL 27, DET 23

The injury bug is starting to affect what is happening on the field for the Colts, who have now lost two straight games to the Steelers and Dolphins. Jacoby Brissett was a late scratch versus the Dolphins while Brian Hoyer threw 3 interceptions in relief, and T.Y. Hilton has missed the past two games. The offense is suffering without their top playmakers, and a once 5-2 team is one loss away from a .500 record. There is no sugar coding it, this week is must win for Indianapolis. Brissett should return this week, he will move the ball downfield, but most importantly, protect the football. 

Over in Jacksonville, the Gardner Minshew era is over, as former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles returns to the field after he was placed on injured reserve following his Week 1 injury. Head coach Doug Marrone made a bold decision to start Foles over Minshew the rest of the season, considering the tear Minshew was on, and the high level of play we were witnessing from the former sixth round pick out of Washington State. Minshew won over the Jacksonville faithful and stole the hearts of the football conglomerate everywhere. With Foles in, fans will expect him to play at the level which won the Eagles a Super Bowl. But the jury is still out if Foles can be a consistent franchise level quarterback, and Doug Marrone is giving him the opportunity to prove himself through the second half of the season.

It is difficult to predict what we will see out of Nick Foles and his version of the Jags offense, as we only saw him play for two drives in Week 1 before he went down. But if Brissett and Hilton return for the Colts, they will not miss a beat from what they were doing before their injuries. The Colts should get the dub back at Lucas Oil Stadium, otherwise it will be time to panic in Indy.

Prediction: JAX 20, IND 23

The Saints are making a habit out of losing random divisional games at home out of the blue. They opened the 2018 season with a home loss to the Bucs and are coming off a shocking defeat to the 1-7 Falcons. The Saints somehow went four quarters without getting into the end zone, settling for just 9 points on the day against the 25th ranked passing defense in the NFL. The loss hurts a little less with the 49ers also losing this week, but the Saints cannot afford to drop easy games on paper like they did a week ago. 

For Jameis Winston, he followed an impressive 335 yard, 2 touchdown performance against the Seahawks with 2 interceptions against the Cardinals. Winston continues to be inconsistent as a passer and has not stopped putting his team in a hole. The problem will not go away until Bruce Arians decides to bench Winston, and sitting at 3-7, Arians has nothing to lose by giving somebody else a shot. 

The last time we watched the Bucs and Saints square off, the Bucs were 2-2, coming off an amazing win over the Rams, but have since lost four of fives games, and did not have an answer for Teddy Bridgewater or his four touchdown passes. With Drew Brees back in the starting lineup, and coming off a loss, the Saints will be ready to go and will not let another divisional game slip away. New Orleans will get back to winning ways.

Prediction: NO 24, TB 17

Where have the Falcons been all season long? They won their second game of the year in Week 10, which is a massive underachievement for a team as talented as the Falcons. The role they played in New Orleans will be the role they play for the remainder of the season with 7 games to go, and that would be spoiler. Against the Carolina Panthers this week, the home team will be desperate to rediscover their winning ways, and the Falcons may be able to capitalize. 

After Kyle Allen's hot start to the season, and being the one quarterback remaining yet to throw an interception, Allen has turned the ball over in every game since the bye week. Allen threw three hot air balls to the 49ers and has turned it over against the Titans and Packers as well. Allen is killing his team with the turnovers lately, and it is crucial for him to learn how to play ball security once again in order for the Panthers to stay in the playoff race. Against the 25th ranked defense of the Falcons, Kyle Allen will have a great opportunity to bounce back, but the same could be said when they faced the Saints, but the Saints fell flat on their face when Atlanta came marching in. 

The Panthers need to be wary of what happened to the Saints last week, and not fall into the same trap. As long as they do not take the Falcons for granted, the Panthers should move to 6-4. Anything but could derail Carolina's season in the style they capitulated last year.

Prediction: ATL 16, CAR 23

What an impressive win it was down in Dallas for the Minnesota Vikings. For as poor as their track record is against high caliber opposition in primetime, the Vikings put their demons to rest as they dominated the line of scrimmage in a 28-24 win over the Cowboys. Cousins is continuing to play like an MVP candidate this season, while Dalvin Cook churned the clock out with his 26 carries for 97 yards and a touchdown. Not to mention Adam Thielen could not even suit up for the Vikings. The Vikings are a dangerous commodity on offense, and they will have another pivotal matchup this week against a very underrated Broncos secondary.

The Denver Broncos are quietly a top 5 defense this year, only behind the Patriots, 49ers, and Bills for total yards and passing yards allowed this season. Their most recent performance against the Browns was outstanding in all three phases, as they shut down Baker Mayfield and the Browns offense, somehow scored 24 points in an offense led by Brandon Allen, and won the game. The Broncos may be out of the playoff race, but nobody will want to play them down the stretch. Philip Lindsay is a poor man's Christian McCaffrey, as he is a multi-dimensional threat in the Broncos offense. He has 744 scrimmage yards this year along with 9 total touchdowns this season with Joe Flacco and Brandon Allen quarterbacking, which is absurd. Denver needs to utilize him against a stout Vikings defense to stand a chance. 

On paper, this game should turn out to be a mismatch. But you never know, do you? That being said, I like Minnesota's chances. This is my Lock of the Week.

Prediction: DEN 6, MIN 21

Don't look now, but the Miami Dolphins are scorching hot! A team that looked like one of the worst the NFL has ever seen in the Super Bowl era has won two straight games, including a shocking road win over the Colts last week. The Dolphins are no joke anymore, and the Bills certainly cannot afford to overlook them like they almost did back in Week 7. The Bills allowed season highs in yards and points against the Dolphins, when their championship defense had no answers for Mark Walton on the ground or Ryan Fitzpatrick's aerial attack. 

That being said, the Bills are the one remaining team in the NFL yet to allow a receiver to go over 100 yards this season. Their defense is legitimate, but they faltered when the going got tough in Cleveland, allowing a 10 play, 82 yard drive allowing the Browns to come back and beat them. The Bills defense needs to play as well as they have for the first half of the season to keep the Bills competitive and formidable for their opponents, and it starts with the possible season sweep of the Dolphins. But Bills quarterback Josh Allen is a scoring machine when he faces the Dolphins. Allen has scored 9 touchdowns in 3 career games versus the Dolphins, and the defense does not know how to contain Allen on the ground or stop him from carving them through the air. Not to mention Allen has not thrown an interception since Week 5, but his aerial attack has not been the same since he is taking fewer downfield shots.

The Bills may be catching the Dolphins at the worst time, but the Bills have yet to lose back to back games this season, and they can be depended on to throttle any momentum the Dolphins are bringing in to this contest. The Bills will complete the season sweep of the Dolphins.

Prediction: BUF 19, MIA 17

Tank Bowl III. We saw Redskins Dolphins. We saw Jets Dolphins. This week, we get to witness two teams with a combined record of 3-15 face off in the Jets and Redskins. The New York Jets are coming off a prolific offensive performance versus the Giants in which they were able to win New Jersey bragging rights for the next four years. Go figure that the apocalyptic New York Jets won last week just seven days after losing to the Dolphins, and the offense was firing on all cylinders. But unsurprisingly, the Jets defense was shredded by Daniel Jones on the count of 304 yards and 4 touchdown passes.

Facing off against another rookie quarterback this week poses a unique challenge which the Jets defense could potentially capitalize on, considering Haskins is not ready to play in the NFL. Against the Bills in his first career start, Haskins completed 15 passes for 144 yards and threw to receivers like Paul Richardson and Terry McLaurin. while relying on Adrian Peterson to make plays on the ground. Haskins will be the starter for the rest of the season, so we will be able to watch his growth over the course of the second half of the year. While Haskins is far from the finished product, I have faith that he will have a breakout game this week because the Jets defense is just that terrible.

The Jets are the better team, and should wallop the Redskins. But the Jets have a way of winning one week, then laying an egg the following week, and that is what the crystal ball holds in my eyes. The Redskins will win their second game of the year.

Prediction: NYJ 17, WSH 20

The Cardinals and 49ers face off for just the second time in 17 days. The first matchup proved to one of San Francisco's tougher tests, as they outscored Arizona by just three points and needed to outlast a late Kyler Murray comeback attempt to move to 8-0.

At the moment, several of San Fran's key playmakers are not practicing, and their stratus for game day is on the line. George Kittle, Matt Breida, and Emmanuel Sanders are all banged up going into the rematch, which is decisive, because these three players combined for 30 touches, 283 yards and 2 touchdowns in their win over Arizona on Halloween. The potential loss of these three players leaves the 49ers incredibly shorthanded at the skill positions, and makes it even more challenging to move the ball after losing their first game in heartbreaking fashion. 

The 49ers will need to rely on their prolific running game to carry them over the line this Sunday. San Francisco ranks second in the NFL in rushing yards per game with 162, and it comes down to the running game of Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert, and a potentially healthy Matt Breida to move the ball. Jimmy Garoppolo was exposed through the air last week as the weak point of the 49ers offense, which means Kyle Shanahan will want to keep the ball out of his hands as much as possible. Arizona poses an admirable matchup for any offense, which could produce positive results for the 49ers this week. The losing streak will end this week, and the 49ers will get back to winning ways.

Prediction: ARZ 13, SF 22

Patriots and Eagles fans circled this one on their calendars as soon as the schedule released. The highly anticipated rematch of Super Bowl LII is finally upon us, and it will be New England's chance at vengeance for their 41-33 to Philadelphia back in the 2017 postseason. Both teams go into this game fresh off their bye weeks, which means we should be in for a highly entertaining and competitive football game. 

This game marks the first time this season in which the Patriots are coming off a defeat. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense ran circles around the Patriots number one ranked defense, and they could not stop the running game no matter what they tried. They made uncharacteristic mistakes, committed backbreaking penalties, and were throttled in every sense of the definition. But Bill Belichick does not let his team lose back to back games. The Patriots will have spent the past two weeks dissecting every mistake in execution versus the Ravens in excruciating detail, to the point where the team will be ready to go. Oh and don't forget that Tom Brady broke a Super Bowl record for passing yards the last time he facd the Eagles, so don't be surprised to see Brady carve the Eagles defense which has been inconsistent all season.

The last game action for the Eagles was a 22-14 win over the Bears, in which Zach Ertz finally had his breakout game, and the Eagles defense was able to neutralize the Bears woeful offense. But Carson Wentz has yet to play like his MVP self from 2017 this year. His best performance came in Week 1 against the Redskins, but his performances have since declined. Head coach Doug Pederson will most likely lean on the running game to move the chains against the Patriots, and exploit the same weaknesses which the Ravens did two weeks ago, and pray that Carson Wentz does not throw a costly interception.

This may be the most highly anticipated game of the year, and it should certainly live up to the hype. Because of the emotion and hype loaded into this game, it is hard to look past a Patriots victory, because they will be ready to go while the Eagles may be nostalgic about their first Super Bowl win. The Patriot way is coming back with the win.

Prediction: NE 24, PHI 20

The Cincinnati Bengals are the new Miami Dolphins of football. They are now 0-9 on the year and are coming off a 49-13 hammering to the Baltimore Ravens. Ryan Finley was mediocre in his first start, and he played just as anyone would expect. He completed around 50% of his passes for 167 yards with one touchdown pass and an interception. There are positive signs from his first start that the Bengals coaching staff can take away from it, but he is fighting for his NFL career right now. The Bengals are a prime candidate to draft a quarterback at the top of the draft this offseason, and the rest of their season is practically a wash. They will hope to play spoiler the rest of the season, beginning with their tilt in Oakland.

On the other side, the Raiders are finally clicking under Jon Gruden. The team is sitting at 5-4, tied with the Steelers and Colts in the heavily competitive AFC playoff race, and it comes down to the efficient play of Derek Carr, and the coming out of star rookie running back Josh Jacobs. Carr has completed 71% of his passes this season, and only has 4 interceptions all season. The efficiency of his game under Jon Gruden has been phenomenal, and he is handling the loss of Antonio Brown and the injuries to the receiving core better than anyone could have expected. Not to mention the Raiders are winning games again, and they are right in the thick of the playoff race.

Playoff teams should win games like these, and the Raiders should have no problem handling the league's remaining winless team. 

Prediction: CIN 10, OAK 26

Mitchell Trubisky was not so much of a liability last week in Chicago's win over Detroit. While he completed just 16 passes for 173 yards, he threw for three touchdowns, and led the Bears to an ultimately comfortable win. But this week poses a unique challenge in the high octane Rams offense. The Rams are a highly productive offense which will run up the scoreboard, and Trubisky will need to keep up with them. But as he has showed this year, Trubisky is not capable of doing so, and he will be exposed once again on Sunday night. 

Meanwhile, the Rams are due for another offensive explosion. After being shut down by Minkah Fitzpatrick and the surging Steelers steel curtain, they have a chance to right the ship at home versus a lethargic offense in the Bears. The Rams will be challenged to protect Goff and keep Khalil Mack in check, but their offense is just too powerful to be contained for four quarters, especially when Trubisky is throwing incompletions left and right all game long. However, Brandin Cooks will miss this game, just as he did in Pittsburgh, and his absence is significant for the potency of the offense. Goff will need to rely on Cooper Kupp like he has been able to do for most of the season, before last week when he posted zero receptions. 

The Rams will not lay an egg for consecutive weeks on offense, and the Bears pose an ideal bounce back game for them. It will be a comfortable victory for the Rams on Sunday night when it's all said and done.

Prediction: CHI 13, LAR 28

The final game of the NFL's International Series will take place in Mexico City, where the Chiefs battle the Chargers in what is stacking up to be a pivotal game for the AFC West. 

Somehow, the Chiefs sit at 6-4 after 10 games, and have already lost as many games as they did all of 2018. While Pat Mahomes threw for 446 yards and 3 touchdowns, his production wasn't enough to compensate for the ineptitude of the Chiefs defense. Titans running back Derrick Henry did whatever he wanted, on the count of 188 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. The Chiefs continue to atrociously perform on defense and allow opposing running games to dictate the pace of play. Not to mention that Ryan Tannehill was able to lead a come from behind victory late in the fourth quarter. The Chiefs defense continues to hold the team back and it will be exploited once again versus a powerful Chargers offense.

The key to a Chargers win is Melvin Gordon. He ran for over 100 yards and scored a touchdown versus the Raiders in the loss, but he is finally starting to produce like the top 5 running back he believes himself to be. The Chiefs have been unable to stop opposing running backs all season long, so this game is a brilliant opportunity for him to continue his hot streak. It is also a chance for Philip Rivers to stop turning the ball over. Rivers already has 10 interceptions on the season, and he is on pace to throw the most in a season in his career since 2016 when he threw 21. The Chargers cannot afford any Charger-esque turnovers this time around, and they need to score points against a potent Chiefs offense led by Pat Mahomes.

The division is certainly up for grabs, and both teams are extremely vulnerable coming in. But Mahomes is a pure difference maker, and the Chargers do not have the coaching or the consistency to keep up. The Chiefs will take a big step this week in sealing the division. 

Prediction: KC 30, LAC 20


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