A lot of intrigue in Week 11.
Can QB Drew Stanton keep the Cardinals flying without Carson Palmer?
Can Eagles QB Mark Sanchez possibly win a tete-a-tete with perhaps the NFL’s hottest passer, Aaron Rodgers?
Can the banged-up Seahawks deal with a deafening stadium aimed at messing up their offense?
And who will win the probable shootout between the NFL’s two top scoring offenses—New England or Indianapolis?
Let’s take a close look at this week’s NFL action….
Atlanta Falcons (3-6) at Carolina Panthers (3-6-1)
Is Cam Newton banged-up or overrated? That is the big question in Charlotte these days.
Newton has dealt with a number of injuries this year, but also has been inaccurate and hasn’t been making quick decisions.
This game will be a test for Newton facing a defensively-challenged Falcons team at home.
If Newton lays an egg in this game, maybe it’s time for the Panthers to start thinking QB in the 2015 draft.
Cincinnati Bengals (5-3-1) at New Orleans Saints (4-5)
When you travel to the Superdome (where the Saints are super) with a bad defense (31st in the NFL), what kind of shot do you have against Drew Brees?
The Saints pass rush has come alive the last three weeks with 12 sacks, and the Bengals play without starting right tackle Andre Smith.
It’s very hard seeing the Bengals winning this game.
Denver Broncos (7-2) at St. Louis Rams (3-6)
Jeff Fisher said early this season that Austin Davis was going to be the quarterback for the rest of the season.
That was until last week, when Davis threw two picks and lost a fumble in the fourth quarter of 31-14 loss to Arizona. Entering the fourth quarter, the Rams were up 14-10.
So veteran Shaun Hill starts to help keep the slight playoff hopes of the Rams alive.
The problem is Denver is coming to town, with Peyton Manning and his 29 touchdowns this year.
The Rams pass rush isn’t nearly as good as it was last year due do to an injury to Chris Long. If you can’t get to Peyton Manning, you have almost no chance of beating him.
Denver should have little trouble winning this game.
Detroit Lions (7-2) at Arizona Cardinals (8-1)
On November 7, Cardinals QB Carson Palmer signed a three-year contract extension worth $50 million. On November 9, against the Rams, he blew out his knee trying to avoid a blitz by safety Mark Barron.
What a bizarre three-day period for the Cardinals franchise.
Lucky for them, they have a very capable backup in Drew Stanton, who filled in admirably for Palmer earlier this year, beating the Giants on the road and the 49ers at home. Stanton hasn’t thrown an interception in 144 straight attempts, a league high.
While Stanton is no Palmer, he’s no slouch, either. And with the top-shelf play calling of Bruce Arians, the Cardinals should still be able to have success.
This game is a toss-up.
Houston Texans (4-5) at Cleveland Browns (6-3)
The Texans start Ryan Mallett at quarterback this week.
Is this the beginning of the Mallett era or error? We shall see.
After three years backing up Tom Brady in New England, the six-foot, six-inch Mallett, who has a howitzer arm, finally gets his chance.
It’s hard to know what to expect. So this game is a real mystery.
Minnesota Vikings (4-5) at Chicago Bears (3-6)
It’s easy to fault Jay Cutler for the demise of the Bears. But a defense that has given up 106 points in the last two games deserves their share of the blame.
The Bears have lost five of six.
If they can’t beat a rookie quarterback (Teddy Bridgewater) at home (most rookie QBs struggle on the road), then it’s possible that the Bears coaching staff has lost this team.
Oakland Raiders (0-9) at San Diego Chargers (5-4)
The Raiders have the #32-ranked rushing offense.
When you start a rookie quarterback (Derek Carr), this is a disastrous stat. Young signal-callers need to be buttressed by a running game.
The Chargers should be able to end their three-game losing streak well-rested, coming off a bye-week against the NFL’s worst team.
Philadelphia Eagles (7-2) at Green Bay Packers (6-3)
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers might be playing the best football of his career. He has 25 touchdowns, just three interceptions, and a gaudy 120.1 QB rating.
In his first start for the Eagles, QB Mark Sanchez had a terrific game against the reeling Panthers.
Green Bay is no Carolina. In a Rodgers-Sanchez matchup, Rodgers has a major edge. The Packers should prevail, especially since the Eagles secondary gives up a lot of big plays.
San Francisco 49ers (5-4) at New York Giants (3-6)
The Giants field a porous run defense, so expect a heavy dose of RB Frank Gore in this game.
Also, the 49ers already-formidable pass rush gets their best edge rusher back with the return of linebacker Aldon Smith from a league suspension. This front should give the Giants patchwork line fits.
The Giants 32nd-ranked defense, and poor offensive line, should lead to a victory for the road team.
Seattle Seahawks (6-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (6-3)
Great matchup of strengths—Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch, who had four touchdown runs last week against the Giants, against a Chiefs defense that hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown this season.
This is a battle of teams that have the two loudest stadiums in the league, so Kansas City gets the big edge here playing at Arrowhead.
Expect the Chiefs to win a close game over the banged-up Seahawks.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8) at Washington Redskins (3-6)
The Redskins enjoy a slight edge in this battle between two bad teams for a couple reasons—they are coming off a bye-week and they are at home.
New England Patriots (7-2) at Indianapolis Colts (6-3)
This one should be fun, a battle of two of the game’s top quarterbacks: the Patriots’s Tom Brady (22 TDs) and the Colts’s Andrew Luck (26 TDs).
The Colts lead the NFL in scoring, and the Patriots place second.
The Pats might have a slight edge in his game since they have the better secondary.
“In my 14 years playing New England, this is probably their best secondary,” said Colts WR Reggie Wayne.
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) at Tennessee Titans (2-6)
Which “Berger” QB are you going with in this game?
Pittsburgh’s star Ben Roethlisberger or Tennessee’s rookie sixth-round pick Zach Mettenberger.
Pretty easy choice.
The Steelers should prevail against the reeling Titans.