Bet On It: Week 11 predictions
With Fred Jackson injured, C.J. Spiller will get a chance to shine vs. the Dolphins
Andrew Luck and RGIII will excel, tightening the offensive Rookie of the Year race
With a number of backup QBs playing this week, rookie Nick Foles will be the best
Last week: 5-5 (.500); Season record: 36-54 (.400)
Since my editor won't accept any bribes to improve my cumulative record, let's view my early struggles as a positive. Over the course of time, most prognosticators end up near .500, as I expect to be by the end of the year.
Right now my win percentage is in Norv Turner/Andy Reid territory. That doesn't seem like good company, but those two coaches always get hot late in the season. Turner is 33-13 with the Chargers after Nov. 1 and Reid is 39-15 in December. All three of us could go on late runs to shock the NFL world.
1. C.J. Spiller has at least 150 yards from scrimmage
Spiller is averaging 7.3 yards per carry this season. That figure will go down because Spiller has to take on a bigger load with Fred Jackson out, but his total yards will go up against the Dolphins. Spiller has also become a bigger part of the passing game as the season has progressed.
2. Nick Foles throws for more yards than any of this week's other backups-turned-starter
Foles couldn't have asked for a better defense to face in his first NFL start. The Redskins rank 30th against the pass and have only 14 sacks this season. The Steelers' Byron Leftwich is capable of decent statistical games, but won't have one against Baltimore. Right now we don't know if Chicago's Jason Campbell and San Francisco's Collin Kaepernick will play, but if they do, both offenses will stay conservative.
The way QBs are falling like dominoes, other backups will likely get to play in Week 11, but none of them will have an opportunity like Foles. And Tim Tebow doesn't scare me in this case. Cardinals quarterback John Skelton might actually have a big game against the Faclons, but he doesn't count as a backup since he was Arizona's starter at the beginning of the season.
3. Tom Brady and Andrew Luck throw for at least 650 yards combined
Expect Luck to pick up right where Peyton Manning left off in making this one of the more exciting rivalries in the league. The Patriots rank 29th against the pass, while the Colts rank 15th. Indy did have success slowing down Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, but Brady will be fired up to teach the young gun Luck a lesson or two.
4. Packers score at least 31 points against the Lions
The Lions rank 10th in the NFL in defense, but they've been inconsistent and will struggle against the surging Packers. Aaron Rodgers has a career 115.7 rating against the Lions and has adjusted nicely to life without Greg Jennings.
5. A.J. Green has at least 90 yards and a touchdown
The Chiefs came into the season confident about their secondary, but that unit is one of their many disappointments. They'll have no one to contain the Bengals' star receiver, who has a touchdown in all but one game this season.
6. Buccaneers' defense forces at least two turnovers against the Panthers
Tampa Bay has a knack for getting into wild, sloppy games. The Panthers are a dangerous 2-7 team, but they've made too many mistakes all season and will continue to do so against a Bucs D that ranks third in the NFL with 19 takeaways.
7. Joe Flacco has less than 250 yards passing, along with two turnovers
Flacco actually played well in two games against the Steelers last season -- 262 yards per game, 4 TDs and 0 INTs -- but he's been hot and cold this season. Either Flacco has a great game, like last week against Oakland, or he can't find his rhythm. Expect the Steelers to stay conservative with backup Byron Leftwich on Sunday night in order to create a slow tempo that would hurt Flacco.
8. Robert Griffin III has at least 300 combined passing-running yards
The Rookie of the Year race has been swinging back and forth between RGIII and Luck. Griffin has a chance to get back into the spotlight against the reeling Eagles defense, which has struggled incredibly since firing coordinator Juan Castillo.
9. Rams rack up over 150 yards on the ground against the Jets
The Jets' defense wasn't built to stop the run -- they rank 30th in the NFL. Rams running backs Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson totaled 159 rushing yards against the 49ers in their tie last week, and will pound away at the Jets.
10. Carson Palmer ranks in the top five in passing yards this week
Palmer was the second-leading passer in the NFL in both Week 9 and Week 10 -- both losses. A lot of those yards came in garbage time, but expect that trend to continue in a wide-open shootout against the Saints.