Rich Levine's Week 11 NFL Picks

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Rich Levine's Week 11 NFL Picks

After a second straight 1-4 week, Im not sure where to turn.

Im down to 24-26 on the season. My girlfriend stopped talking to me. My clergyman wont take my calls. This morning I asked my dog if she wanted to take a walk, and she played dead. (At least I hope she was playing. Hold on Yup. Pretending!)

Im getting desperate, in need of something; in need of a miracle.

Honest to him, I need Tim Tebow.

And we pray

The Game: Kansas City @ New England (-14.5)

So, the Jets host the Patriots in Week 10, and play Denver in Week 11.

The Chiefs host Denver in Week 10, and visit the Patriots in Week 11.

Crazy, right? No, not really. But either way, for either team, it spells two straight losses.

I wont be surprised if the Chiefs hang around for a little while on Monday night. Im sure Romeo Crennel has something fancy up his sleeve; a little twist that will take a few series for New England to adjust. But as creative as RACs plan may be, you cant keep pace with Tyler Palko as your QB.

Granted, I say this without ever having watched Tyler Palko play. I could be sitting next Tyler Palko at Starbucks as I type this and would have no idea it was him. I know next to nothing about the guy.

But I know you cant keep pace on the road against the Patriots when Tyler Palkos your QB.

The Pick: Patriots (-14.5)The Game: San Diego @ Chicago (-3.5)

Four straight losses now for Norv Turner (Peoples Sexiest Man Alive, 2004) and the Chargers, including last weeks pathetic effort against Oakland.

Four straight wins now for Lovie Smith (NFLs Most Popular Lovie since 1996) and the Bears, including last weeks inspirational deconstruction of Lions.

Rivers is a mess. Cutlers on fire. The Chargers backfield is one collective question mark. Matt Fortes having a career year. San Diegos defense is in shambles. Chicagos has never been better (at least this year). Throw in the fact that this game is at Soldiers Field, and I have only one question:

How is this spread only 3.5 points?

This one smells. You hear that, Vegas? I smell you. And it smells like upset.

The Pick: Chargers (3.5)The Game: Carolina @ Detroit (-7)

Its funny how quickly things can change. Well, unless youre a Lions fan.

After five weeks, Detroit was undefeated. The toast of the NFL. The sudden star of Chris Bermans naughty dreams.

Now, theyve lost three of four. And after the Panthers, still have the Packers twice, and games at New Orleans, at Oakland and at home against the Chargers. Yeeikes. (Except for the Chargers)

But, if they dont win on Sunday, none of that matters. With a loss to Carolina, the free fall begins. The playoffs start to slip away. Berman will have to find another target on which to unleash his insatiable pigskin lust.

And I dont think the Lions want that. Especially the last part.

Also, its about time for Cam Newton to hit the rookie wall, no? If this were college, hed already be fast approaching the two month break between the regular season and bowl games.

The Pick: Lions (-6)The Game: Tennessee @ Atlanta (-6)

No matter what the statistics say, I dont agree with Mike Smiths decision to go for it in last weeks overtime loss to the Saints.

Why? Because it didnt work, and I bet on the Falcons. Damn you, Smith!

But Ive tried to put that behind me this week, and look at this game objectively.

On one hand, we have the Titans. Coming off a huge win in Carolina, where Chris Johnson woke up, their defense showed its worth (against a dangerous Carolina attack), their QB stayed solid and their rookie receiver (Damian Williams) continued his emergence as a viable go-to target.

On the other hand, we have the Falcons. WITH A COACH WHO WENT FOR IT FROM HIS OWN 30 YARD LINE IN OVERTIME!

Damn you, Smith.

The pick: Titans (6)The Game: Philadelphia @ NY Giants (-5)

Give me a division game with a spread higher than three, and Ill typically take the underdog especially with a rivalry as intense as EaglesGiants.

Crazy things happen within the division. Those games are always ripe for an upset. In which case, what the hell? Take the points. Its win-win. No, wait still win-lose. But still worth a shot.

However, theres one amendment to this rule: If said underdog is on the road with a quarterback who cant walk, a wide receiver who doesnt know how to work an alarm clock and a coach who believes that the two minute drill is best run in five Im taking the home team. Every time.

The pick: Giants.

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

FOXBORO -- The highly-anticipated first Patriots injury report of the week was released on Wednesday afternoon, and it was fairly predictable. 

Both injured quarterbacks were active but limited in their practice participation, the report indicated. That comes as little surprise as both Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) and Jacoby Brissett (thumb) were spotted throwing passes early in Wednesday's practice. Neither appeared to be experiencing any significant discomfort as they made their warm-up throws. 

Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower (knee) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) were also limited. Gronkowski admitted that the team was taking it slow with him in his first game back on the field last week -- he played just 14 snaps in New England's win over Houston -- but he said on Wednesday that he hoped to go "freakin' crazy" on the field soon.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
QB Jacoby Brissett (right thumb)
OT Marcus Cannon (calf)
G Jonathan Cooper (foot)
LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
CB Eric Rowe (ankle)

BUFFALO BILLS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
TE Charles Clay (knee)
OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
DB Colt Anderson (foot)
DB Ronald Darby (hamstring)
QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder)
DB Jonathan Meeks (foot)
WR Greg Salas (groin)
DB Aaron Williams (ankle)
OL Cordy Glenn (ankle)

Garoppolo: Not pressured by Patriots to return last Thursday

Garoppolo: Not pressured by Patriots to return last Thursday

FOXBORO -- Jimmy Garoppolo spoke Wednesday for the first time since getting his shoulder separated by the Dolphins’ Kiko Alonso. Standing by his locker, Garoppolo was predictably vague about the status of his arm, unless you consider, “Getting better day by day,” as being insightful. 

The only two responses offered that were worth a damn came when asked if he could have done anything different when he got squished by Alonso while retreating and buying time.  

“Just have to be smart I guess,” said Garoppolo. “I mean, it’s football and stuff’s gonna happen like that, but have to be smart in those situations.”

Asked if he regretted holding the ball as long as he did on a third-down play with the Patriots up 21-0, Garoppolo replied, “After it’s all said and done it’s easy to say that, but it’s one of those things, you’re in the heat of the game. But bottom line I have to be smarter than that.”

Agreed.  

Meanwhile, as he worked last week to get back for Thursday night’s game against Houston, The Boston Herald reported that the Patriots were “putting pressure” on Garoppolo to be ready for the game. Working hard to get key players ready for upcoming games is standard operating procedure for a medical staff. Trying to force a player to perform is not. 

I asked Garoppolo if he felt unduly pressured. He replied, “No.”