NFL Week 11 - Patriots vs. Saints

All season long leading up to the Patriots-Indianapolis game, we were hearing about it being the game of the season. But all that hype was based on last season, on things that had happened before and not on things that were happening now. The Patriots are, admittedly, not their former selves. And there was almost no way they were going to win against Indy. The game turned out to be just the sort of coronation for Peyton Manning that NFL advertising execs and pundits across every network had been dreaming about. Sure, that game will go down in history as the one where Peyton finally got the monkey off of his back. But this week’s Indy game, against Cincinnati, is the game that I would argue will be the game of the year.

And I won’t be able to watch it.

Normally, I’d want nothing to do with an Indianapolis game, my hatred for the Mannings being well-documented. But I’m dying to see what the Colts do against another of the league’s rising teams. The Bengals have a chance to really solidify themselves as one of this year’s top-tier organizations. They have a chance to give the Colts their first loss of the season, to prove that Peyton is human (which used to be the Patriots’ job) and I think they’ll do it. I just wish I was going to be able to watch that game instead of whatever pointless contest CBS will be broadcasting locally after the Pats contest.

Patriots vs. Saints

And speaking of the Patriots game this week… This should be an interesting one. It’s another game that the Patriots should win. If they come out as fired-up as they did against Miami last week, I think they will win. But this season has proven for sure that the Pats can’t win ‘em all, and that they have had a hard time winning even two in a row. Is this the week that they finally get two games over .500? I think if it’s going to be any week, it’s got to be this one.

The Saints have so much going against them, from being moved from city to city for their home games, to losing one of their stars in running back Deuce McAllister. I have a feeling that, for some of them, this season can’t be over soon enough. Still, they’ll put up a fight. Their QB is decent and they’ve got a familiar face in the backfield in the person of Antowain Smith, one of my favorite Patriots of recent memory. The dude is no Corey Dillon, but this season not even Corey Dillon is Corey Dillon, so I’ll pick Antowain to be the potential difference-maker in this one. If the Saints can get the run going, I think the Pats will have trouble. After all, the Saints, like every other team the Pats have faced, should have no problem with the passing game.

Still, I think the Pats will eek this one out. They’ll make us sweat again and they’ll piss off some people whose expectations are still dangerously high after the past few years of success. But, in the end, they’ll win.

Around the League

As I’ve already mentioned, I think the Colts-Bengals match-up is not only the game of the week, but the game of the season. If the Colts get by the Bengals, I think there’s a good chance that they go undefeated and that—God, it pains me to say this—they might actually make the Superbowl.

Aside from that game, I look for Tampa Bay at Atlanta to be a marquee match-up that helps determine whose going to challenge Carolina for the NFC south. And don’t sleep on the Chicago Bears this week, who are playing against Carolina. They’re 6-3 and you never know if they might pull an upset.

My Picks

I won 10 out of 14 games last week after winning 11 out of 14 the week before. Bye weeks are over and everyone plays this week, which means I have two more shots to look brilliant or look like an ass. Let’s see what happens.

Arizona at St. Louis
Detroit at Dallas
Jacksonville at Tennessee
Carolina at Chicago
Miami at Cleveland
Oakland at Washington
Tampa Bay at Atlanta
New Orleans at New England
Philadelphia at New York Giants
Pittsburgh at Baltimore
Seattle at San Francisco
Buffalo at San Diego
New York Jets at Denver
Indianapolis at Cincinnati
Kansas City at Houston

Minnesota at Green Bay