Week 11 NFL Early Game Previews

Week 11 NFL Early Game Previews


Photo Courtesy of Robert Robinson


Green Bay Packers (4-4-1) vs. Seattle Seahawks (4-5)

Preview

Two teams thick in the NFC wildcard race square off under the lights of Thursday Night Football, and this one is sure to come down to the final drive of the contest. This past week, the Packers put up a dominant victory over the Miami Dolphins and will head to Seattle on a short week. Since the Seahawks’ come-from-behind victory in the 2014 postseason, the Packers have managed to win three consecutive contests against the Hawks. However, each of those matchups were played at Lambeau Field and away from the feared 12th man. This is sure to be a must watch, and if it not for the Rams-Chiefs game, this one may be considered the game of the week. The playoff implications in this game are huge.


Players to watch

Although this matchup features a pair of Super Bowl winning quarterbacks in Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers, this game will come down to the ground game and the production of Chris Carson and Seattle's RB Committee verse Aaron Jones. If Wilson can continue to move the chains with his legs, the Packers defense and young secondary will certainly have their hands full. The Seahawks’ pass rush hinges on the productivity of Frank Clark, and if Rodgers has time to maneuver in the pocket, he won’t hesitate to carve up Seattle. Jimmy Graham is one of the last healthy receivers in Green Bay and this return to Seattle will mark his first revenge game since playing the Saints in 2016. He will need to have an impact in this game if the Packers want to keep their playoff hopes alive.


Keys to the game

Green Bay Packers

Spread the Ball Around

Keep Russ Wilson in the Pocket

Keep Aaron Rodgers clean

Stop the Run


Seattle Seahawks

Control the Ground

Protect the Ball

Force Turnovers


Injury list

Green Bay Packers

Bashaud Breeland, CB - Groin (Questionable)

Randall Cobb, WR - Hamstring (Out)

Kevin King, CB - Hamstring (Out)

Blake Martinez, LB - Ankle (Questionable)

Lucas Patrick, G - Concussion (Doubtful)

Nick Perry, LB - Knee (Out)


Seattle Seahawks

Maurice Alexander, S - Elbow (Questionable)

Delano Hill, S - Quadriceps (Questionable)

Dion Jordan, DE - Knee (Questionable)

Neiko Thorpe, CB - Groin (Questionable)

K.J. Wright, LB - Knee (Doubtful)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Aaron Rodgers, QB (GB)

Russell Wilson, QB (SEA)

Davante Adams, WR (GB)

Chris Carson, RB (SEA)

Aaron Jones, RB (GB)


Prediction

Green Bay is riding into primetime with an 0-4 road record this year, and will be playing a team that rarely loses at home, particularly in primetime. The short week is loathed by almost every team and player in the NFL, and it is hated by those that have to travel. The key to this game will be time of possession and the control of the trenches, and with the Packers allowing 140 rush yards per game, defending the top rushing offense could be their kryptonite. Unless Aaron Rodgers can provide another late-game magic act, Green Bay’s season may slip through its fingers.


Final Score: Seahawks 29, Packers 26

Written by: Jason Feiner



Cincinnati Bengals (5-4) vs. Baltimore Ravens (4-5)

Preview

The Baltimore Ravens will be defending their home turf this weekend. The team is coming off of their bye week, and they will most likely be trotting out Lamar Jackson for his first career start at quarterback. Jackson has been thrust into action multiple times this year in various packages, but never before as the starter. The Bengals really need to win this game if they want to continue their playoff push.


Players to watch

Lamar Jackson is going to be the player that everyone is watching on Sunday. He is an electric athlete, but people have questioned his ability to play from the pocket. If he is going to succeed, Michael Crabtree and Alex Collins will have to step up in a big way. For the Bengals, can Andy Dalton play well again without A.J. Green? Tyler Boyd and John Ross have to make plays down the field to open up some space for Joe Mixon to go to work.


Keys to the game

Cincinnati Bengals

Establish the run

Get open looks down the field

Contain Jackson


Baltimore Ravens

Get the QB going early

Run the ball effectively

Don’t give up big plays in the passing game


Injury list

Cincinnati Bengals

Vontaze Burfict, LB- Hip (Questionable)

A.J. Green, WR- Toe (Doubtful)

Tyler Kroft, TE- Foot (Out)

Nick Vigil, LB- Knee (Out)

Josh Malone, WR - Hamstring (Out)

John Ross, WR- Groin (Questionable)

Adolphus Washington, DL- Knee (Out)

Preston Brown, LB - Knee (Out)


Baltimore Ravens

James Hurst, OL- Back (Out)

Tony Jefferson, DB- Hamstring (Questionable)

Ronnie Stanley, OL- Ankle (Questionable)

Tim Williams, LB - Ankle (Out)

Joe Flacco, QB- Hip (Doubtful)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Joe Mixon, RB (CIN)

Tyler Boyd, WR (CIN)

Andy Dalton, QB (CIN)

Lamar Jackson, QB (BAL)

Alex Collins, RB (BAL)

Prediction

Lamar Jackson will show flashes of brilliance, but he will also make some poor decisions as well. Joe Mixon could easily have a big day, as he will be matched up with some slower linebackers on his pass routes. Andy Dalton will do just enough to get the win. The Bengals defense will step up and make some big plays late in the game to seal the victory.


Final Score: Bengals 27, Ravens 24


Written by: Jake Leicht



Dallas Cowboys (4-5) vs. Atlanta Falcons (4-5)

Preview

The Cowboys and Falcons are fighting for a chance to keep their playoff hopes alive as a loss would pretty much be a season-killer at this point of the season. Dallas is coming off a surprise win versus the Eagles and will want to continue their momentum in Atlanta. Atlanta fell on their faces after turning things around and will need to get back to the high-scoring offense that we saw during October. The Cowboys need to play like they did on offense last week if they want to walk away with a win. The Falcons will be looking control the line of scrimmage so they can make it tough for Dallas to establish the run.


Players to watch

This will be Amari Cooper’s third game as a Cowboy and he should have a better grasp of the playbook so he can make bigger impact on their offensive unit. Demarcus Lawrence has been dominating this year and if he can pressure Matt Ryan into making mistakes then that can lead to a Dallas victory. Calvin Ridley has a chance to make the Cowboys pay for passing over him in the draft and will want to be the best Alabama receiver on the field. Atlanta needs to find a way to get Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith going because they were a big part of their run that they had going.


Keys to the game

Dallas Cowboys

No costly turnovers

Pressure Ryan

Feed Zeke


Atlanta Falcons

Force Dak into mistakes

Contain Zeke

Feed Julio


Injury list

Dallas Cowboys

Tavon Austin, WR - Groin (Out)

Taco Charlton, DE - Shoulder (Out)

David Irving, DT - Ankle (Out)

Sean Lee, LB - Hamstring (Out)

Daniel Ross, DE - Calf (Out)

Antwaun Woods, DT - Concussion (Doubtful)

Maliek Collins, DT - Knee (Out)

Zack Martin, OG - Knee (Questionable)

Joe Thomas, LB - Foot (Questionable)

Connor Williams, OG - Knee (Questionable)


Atlanta Falcons

Deion Jones, LB - Foot (Out)

Top 5 Fantasy Players

Ezekiel Elliott, RB (DAL)

Julio Jones, WR (ATL)

Tevin Coleman, RB (ATL)

Amari Cooper, WR (DAL)

Calvin Ridley, WR (ATL)

Prediction

This game is difficult to predict as we don’t know what to expect from each team every week. Atlanta has the home field advantage and will be looking to take advantage of the Cowboys banged up defensive line. Tevin Coleman should be able to have one of his better ways and the Falcons defense finds a way to force some turnovers on defense. Atlanta finds a way to keep those playoff hopes alive.


Final Score: Falcons 28, Cowboys 17


Written by: Cody Manning




Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6) vs. New York Giants (2-7)

Preview

This week’s matchup features two NFC teams that rank at the bottom of their respective divisions. The Giants are ranked 5th in the draft order, while the Bucs are ranked 7th. The Giants are coming off their second win of the season in a comeback against the 49ers, whereas the Bucs are riding a 3 game losing streak. Both teams’ seasons are essentially lost at this point in the year, but I don’t believe that this will be a tank game for better draft position. Both will be playing for pride and will be looking to salvage what is left of rather embarrassing seasons. As such, this ought to be a hard fought game by two teams looking to find the right formula to play their best football for the remainder of the season.


Players to watch

One would be remiss if one didn’t mention Saquon Barkley when talking about this New York team. As the Giants barely did enough to squeak by the lackluster 49ers, their star rookie will be the key for their offense to catch fire. In addition, Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard will need to to exploit the Bucs’ 26th-ranked passing defense. For the Bucs, Desean Jackson and Mike Evans will be important weapons for Ryan Fitzpatrick. They will try to break through against Janoris Jenkins and Landon Collins, and whichever unit wins that battle could be the key to this game.


Keys to the game

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Pressure Eli early

Keep Barkley’s YPC low

Air it out downfield


New York Giants

Feed Barkley at all costs

Protect Eli against edge rush

Stop “Fitz-magic” from reappearing


Injury list

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Vinny Curry, DE - Ankle (Out)

Lavonte David, LB - Knee (Out)

Justin Evans, S - Foot (Out)

Ronald Jones, RB - Hamstring (Out)

M.J. Stewart, CB - Foot (Out)

Chris Godwin, WR - Ankle (Questionable)

Ryan Jensen, C - Hamstring (Questionable)

Carl Nassib, DE - Elbow (Questionable)


New York Giants

No injury designations - Everyone cleared to play

Top 5 Fantasy Players

Saquon Barkley, RB (NYG)

Odell Beckham Jr., WR (NYG)

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB (TB)

Mike Evans, WR (TB)

Desean Jackson, WR (TB)


Prediction

This game is between two teams that are rather evenly matched in terms of overall effectiveness, despite both rosters boasting talented players. I believe that this will be a relatively low-scoring game, with both offenses being unable to fully exploit the weaknesses in the opposing defense. Barkley’s play against an average Bucs rushing defense will also keep the game close. As the Giants did just enough last week to squeak by the 49ers, I believe that they will do the same this week. It is very possible that we could see another vintage 4th quarter comeback drive orchestrated by Eli Manning.


Final Score: Giants 20, Buccaneers 17


Written by: Phillip Salmo



Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2-1) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6)

Preview

The Steelers and Jaguars have each come a long way since meeting in their shootout AFC Divisional matchup in the playoffs last year. Pittsburgh is redhot after they stumbled into the season. Jacksonville is on a five game losing streak after starting 3-1. The Jaguars need to work out whatever issue is present in their locker room before their season is officially a lost cause. The Steelers will be looking to continue their momentum as they have a shot at getting a 1st round bye for the playoffs.


Players to watch

Ben Roethlisberger is coming off one of the best games in his career and will be looking to shake away his road game woes against a stout pass defense. This is officially James Connor’s backfield and the Steelers should look to establish the run in order to help wear down Jacksonville’s defense. Leonard Fournette had a solid first game back from his injury and will need to improve his rushing numbers if Jacksonville wants to keep Pittsburgh’s offense off the field. Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell will need to dominate the Steelers offensive line and pressure Roethlisberger into making mistakes so they can give their team a chance to walk away with a victory.


Keys to the game

Pittsburgh Steelers

Establish the run

Don’t let Fournette get going

Force turnovers


Jacksonville Jaguars

No costly turnovers

Pressure Big Ben

Don’t get beat deep


Injury list

Pittsburgh Steelers

Marcus Gilbert, OT - Knee (Out)

Stephon Tuitt, DE - Elbow (Out)


Jacksonville Jaguars

Quenton Meeks, CB - Knee (Out)

Josh Walker, OT - Foot/Ankle (Doubtful)

Eli Ankou, DT - Calf (Doubtful)

Marcell Dareus, DT - Triceps/Back (Questionable)

A.J. Cann, OL - Hamstring (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Antonio Brown, WR (PIT)

Leonard Fournette, RB (JAX)

James Conner, RB (PIT)

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR (PIT)

Ben Roethlisberger, QB (PIT)

Prediction

After getting beat in their previous two matchups last year, I expect Pittsburgh to come out swinging versus Jacksonville. The Jaguars will make this a close match-up, as this is a must-win if they want any type of shot at turning this season around. In addition, the Jags that extra confidence from beating them the previous game. But, the Steelers offense is rolling and the Jags just simply can’t be trusted this season. Pittsburgh will find a way to get out Duval County with a win this Sunday afternoon.


Final Score: Steelers 28, Jaguars 24


Written by: Cody Manning



Houston Texans (6-3) vs. Washington Redskins (6-3)

Preview

The unequivocal top team in the NFC East will face off against one of the hottest teams in the NFL. The Redskins are sitting with a comfortable two game lead over the Cowboys and Eagles in their division, despite ranking 26th in total yards and 27th in points per game. Their defense has been smothering, allowing the 4th least points per game and forcing 13 fumbles on the season (4th most). The Texans, meanwhile, have turned their season around after dropping their first 3 games of the season. They are winners of six straight, but they face a tough test with the Redskins, Titans, and Browns defenses coming up. Will Deshaun Watson continue his electric play, or will the Washington defense be too stout?


Players to watch

It’s become a weekly segment at this point — the Redskins need a wide receiver to step up. Their offense is completely stagnant, even though Adrian Peterson is 8th in the league in yards per game. He will have to continue to play lights out, but some combination of Maurice Harris, Josh Doctson, and Jamison Crowder need to step up. Redskins corners Josh Norman and Quinton Dunbar have the height to match up with Houston’s Deandre Hopkins and Demaryius Thomas, so Houston will have to lean on Lamar Miller and their running game. Washington’s offensive line is decimated, so J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Merciless have to get pressure on Alex Smith.


Keys to the game

Houston Texans

Protect the football

Establish the running game

Get the first score


Washington Redskins

Protect against Watt and Clowney

Keep Watson in the pocket

Keep pounding the rock


Injury list

Houston Texans

Aaron Colvin, CB - Ankle (Questionable)

Keke Coutee, WR - Hamstring (Questionable)

Zach Cunningham, LB - Knee (Questionable)

Duke Ejiofor, OLB - Shoulder (Questionable)

Johnathan Joseph, CB - Ankle/Knee (Questionable)


Washington Redskins

Jamison Crowder, WR - Ankle (Out)

Samaje Perine, RB - Knee/Calf (Out)

Chris Thompson, RB - Rib (Out)

Quinton Dunbar, CB - Shin (Questionable)

Dustin Hopkins, K - Groin (Questionable)

Trent Williams, OT - Thumb (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Deandre Hopkins, WR (HOU)

Adrian Peterson, RB (WAS)

Deshaun Watson, QB (HOU)

Demaryius Thomas, WR (HOU)

Lamar Miller, RB (HOU)

Prediction

Here’s a strange stat: Washington Redskins games have not seen a lead change all season. That’s right — whichever team scores first will win the game, no matter if it’s a field goal or touchdown. Who knows if that will continue this week, but I’m going to predict that Houston gets an early lead and doesn’t relinquish it. Yes, Washington kept an explosive Bucs offense to 3 points last week, but they also allowed 500 total yards. That’s a dangerous game to play, and they can’t rely on the opposition’s inability to score. As long as Houston converts in the red zone, which I think they will, they’ll win this game.

Final Score: Texans 23, Redskins 19


Written by: Alexander Amir



Tennessee Titans (5-4) vs. Indianapolis Colts (4-5)

Preview

The Titans and Colts find themselves in a crucial AFC South showdown that could determine the division winner or a wildcard spot for this year’s playoffs. Tennessee will be looking to continue their two-game winning streak as they are coming off of a dominating win against the Patriots. Indianapolis is riding a three-game winning streak and will put themselves into the playoff picture with a win. The Titans offense is starting to click and they could be a team to reckon with because of how well their defense is playing. The Colts are finding ways to win these close games, and they have a shot to make this season a surprise with how well the offensive line is currently playing.


Players to watch

Corey Davis is coming off of his best game of the season. As Indianapolis doesn’t have a shutdown corner, he should be able to have a big afternoon for the Titans. Harold Landry has been a big part of Tennessee’s pass rush and will need a big afternoon if they want to frustrate Andrew Luck. T.Y. Hilton hasn’t yet had a dominating game in 2018, but if he can show up on Sunday, then the Colts will be able to move the ball against the tough Titans defense. Darius Leonard will need to continue to rack up tackles to help shut down the opposing running back duo in Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry.


Keys to the game

Tennessee Titans

Pressure Luck

Establish the run

Control the clock


Indianapolis Colts

Get a fast start

No costly turnovers

Don’t let Mariota run all over you


Injury list

Tennessee Titans

David Fluellen, RB - Knee (Out)

Tajae Sharpe, WR - Ankle (Questionable)

Quinton Spain, OG - Ankle (Questionable)

Taywan Taylor, WR - Foot (Questionable)


Indianapolis Colts

Ryan Hewitt, TE - Ankle (Out)

D.J. Killings, CB - Ankle (Out)

Erik Swoope, TE - Knee (Out)

Nate Hairston, CB - Ankle (Questionable)

Malik Hooker, S - Hip/Illness (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Andrew Luck, QB (IND)

Dion Lewis, RB (TEN)

T.Y. Hilton, WR (IND)

Corey Davis, WR (TEN)

Eric Ebron, TE (IND)

Prediction

This is going to be a tough AFC South matchup that will come down to which team makes less crucial mistakes in the 4th quarter. Andrew Luck is 9-0 versus the Titans and I expect the streak will continue at home. Their offense is humming and has already picked apart Top 5 defenses in Buffalo and Jacksonville. The Colts will find a way to get the job done in a close matchup that depends on Adam Vinatieri kicking the game-winning field goal as Indy climbs to a .500 record.


Final Score: Colts 24, Titans 21


Written by: Cody Manning



Carolina Panthers (6-3) vs. Detroit Lions (3-6)

Preview

Each team will be looking to rebound after both the Panthers and Lions got blown out last week. The Panthers lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday by a score of 52-21, while the Lions suffered a defeat to NFC North divisional rival Chicago Bears 34-22. The Lions are looking to salvage an already lost season, while the Panthers were humbled in defeat and will be looking to use last week as a learning lesson as they make a final push for a playoff spot. With Detroit limping into this game with injuries to the wide receiving core, O-line, and secondary, expect the Panthers to beat the Lions in Detroit decisively.


Players to watch

Cam Newton will be need to be motivated after being sacked 5 times, throwing an interception, fumbling, and failing to throw for 200 yards. With Detroit featuring one of the worst-run defenses in the league, Christian McCaffrey should have a big game this Sunday. Matt Stafford has Kenny Golladay and Kerryon Johnson as remaining offensive weapons, so the Lions will need big days from both players if they have any hopes of coming out with a W. If Luke Kuechly and company can shut down the Lions run game, it’ll be a long day for Detroit.


Keys to the game

Carolina Panthers

Limit Kerryon Johnson on the ground

Force Stafford to throw & get after him

Limit turnovers and metal mistakes


Detroit Lions

Get Kerryon Johnson the ball in space

Establish the run to set up play action

Hold Christian McCaffrey in check


Injury list

Carolina Panthers

Torrey Smith, WR - Knee (Out)


Detroit Lions

Marvin Jones Jr., WR - Knee (Out)

T.J. Lang, OG - Neck (Injured Reserve)

A'Shawn Robinson, DT - Shoulder (Out)

Damon Harrison, DT - Shoulder (Questionable)

Ezekiel Ansah, DE - Shoulder (Questionable)

Michael Roberts, TE - Shoulder (Out)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Christian McCaffrey, RB (CAR)

Cam Newton, QB (CAR)

Kerryon Johnson, RB (DET)

Matthew Stafford, QB (DET)

Kenny Golladay, WR (DET)

Prediction

The Panthers simply have a lot more to play for this week. Playoffs and seeding are on the line, and Carolina is a few losses away from missing out on a wildcard spot altogether. Detroit does have an adequate pass defense, so Newton and C-Mac will have to do it on the ground against the 28th ranked run defense. But if Darius Slay, who’s nursing a knee injury, happens to be a no go, this game could easily wind up being another blowout loss for the Detroit Lions. Unless Matt Patricia can come up with a miraculous game plan to slow down the Panthers elite offense, I can’t see how the Lions win at home, regardless of Carolinas poor 1-3 road record.


Final Score: Panthers 27, Lions 16


Written by: Jack Bourgeois

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