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NFL Match-Up Mania: Week 11

I used to pass judgement on people who are members of the “Survivalist” movement. Whether it was for the Y2K bug, the Zombie Apocalypse, or whatever worldwide catastrophe based in scientific paranoia or fiction, I would make fun of them and their intelligence. But now that the NFL is the way it is in 2014, I’m beginning to understand their outlook. Sure, if the playoffs started today, the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots would be atop the AFC. . . no shock there. But what kind of world do we live in where the top 2 teams in the NFC are the Arizona Cardinals and the Detroit Lions. These teams were ones I grew up seeing as the butt of jokes, as candidates for 0-16 seasons, as the perpetual state of defeat in the league. Sure, there were bright spots: Barry Sanders, Kurt Warner, Jake Plummer, Joey Harrington . . . But the light they would shine on the franchise would be fizzled, faded or prematurely extinguished leaving behind the organization in a mire of mediocrity. But as we’ll examine in this Week 11 edition of the Student of the Game’s Match-Up Mania, perhaps I should consider getting supplies to live an underground shelter of some sort thanks to a pair of excellent coaching efforts.

Pats v. Colts

So here comes the test once again for Andrew Luck. Not only is he the Colts starting quarterback and a 2014 MVP Candidate, but he represents the next generation of greatness at his position. If all things remain, Father Time will eventually grant Luck as the next NFL poster boy once his predecessor, Peyton Manning and his Week 11 opponent, Tom Brady retire. However, to keep people from saying he’s not as good as them for the rest of his life, Indy’s signal caller needs to beat Brady on the field of play and take his role as the premiere attraction rather than just let it be bequeathed via attrition.

[airesizeimg src=”$-300×186$.jpg” alt=”Andrew Luck” class=”alignnone size-medium wp-image-6580″ ]

However, the harsh reality is that football is a team game and the Patriots have a better team on both sides of the ball. While an aging Reggie Wayne and an explosive TY Hilton are featured for Indianapolis, New England has tight end Rob Gronkowski, running back Shane Vareen, and a corps of wide receivers that have been starters with other teams.

Already holding the roster advantage offensively, a relatively superior defense with corners Brandon Browner and Darelle Revis as well as Vince Wilfork on the D-Line looks more dangerous than one where the only player of note is corner Vontae Davis.

Yes, I’m picking the Pats to win, but all it will take is some “great Luck” for me to be wrong.

Eagles v Packers

When I watched Monday Night Football this week, I expected Mark Sanchez to do well enough to win filling in for the injured Nick Foles, but I did not expect the Sanchize to completely abuse the Carolina Panthers in one of his top 5 games scoring as a starter.

[airesizeimg src=”×560$-300×197$.jpg” alt=”mark-sanchez-nfl-philadelphia-eagles-houston-texans-850×560″ class=”alignnone size-medium wp-image-7748″ ]

Week 11 may prove to be different as the Packers have Aaron Rodgers on one side with linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers on the other. I know it’s a bit early to start hanging lights up on trees and houses for this year’s holiday season, but that won’t stop these offenses from lighting up points on the scoreboard. Sanchez will do well, but when it comes right down to it, I see Philly getting “Discount Double Checked”. But who knows? Maybe the Eagles have some Special Teams surprises roll their way yet again to prove me wrong.

Lions v. Cardinals

The league’s best defense faces off against the unlikeliest story in the NFL. Under new Head Coach Jim Caldwell, the Lions have given up 15.8 points per game — the least allowed in the league. Meanwhile, the Cardinals with tons of injuries and adversity are 8-1 going into this contest under their Head Coach Bruce Arians. If the playoffs were this weekend, these teams wouldn’t be featured in the Match-Up Mania. In fact, they wouldn’t be playing — they’d have byes.

[airesizeimg src=”” alt=”Jim Caldwell” class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-7868″ ]

With Arizona losing Carson Palmer to an ACL tear, I see back up passer Drew Stanton executing the game plan on offense at the same high level as he did when he filled in for Palmer earlier in the year. Despite Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate putting together one of the better receiver tandems in 2014, Patrick Peterson and the Cardinal defense aren’t pushovers and are capable of keeping the team in striking distance.

For me, it comes down to which defensive lineman has less success: Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh or Arizona’s Calais Campbell. I think Suh struggles more because the Lions O-line is slightly worse than the Cardinals. It looks to be an awesome game either way.

Honorable Mention

Bills v. Phins

Let’s get one thing out of the way immediately. I am aware of how public I’ve been with my stance on Kyle Orton and his role as the Buffalo Bills quarterback. I’ll state it he for clarity — I have no confidence in a player who was supplanted by Rex Grossman and Tim Tebow as a starter through out his career. Even stacking this fact with the loss of CJ Spiller, I’m actually on record as picking the Bills to win this game.

[airesizeimg src=”$-300×225$.jpg” alt=”Kyle Orton” class=”alignnone size-medium wp-image-7869″ ]

How? Thier defensive lineup when compared to the weakness of the Miami Dolphins’ interior O-line sets up a scenario where the Phins will struggle as they did against the Detroit Lions in Week 10.

The key will be for the rest of the Bills offensive weapons in Robert Woods, Scott Chandler, Sammy Watkins and Fred to circle their wagons around Orton to protect their playoff chances.

Author Profile

Kyle NashThe Student of the Game
Host of the Student of The Game Podcast Monday @ 7:30pm EST
Writer for NGSC Sports
Narrator of Sport Symposium on NGSC Sports YouTube Channel.

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