By Tony McClean
Updated: November 17, 2005
NEW HAVEN, Ct. — As we get closer to Thanksgiving, the separation points between contenders and spoilers are becoming clearer and clearer. Teams like the Colts, Panthers, Steelers, and Seahawks look to win and stay healthy.
However, there’s always a New Orleans, or Miami, or Arizona that looks to take the top dogs down a peg. Like the commercial says “This is why we watch”.
The fans realize it too. For the fourth time this season, all 16 games of the NFL’s Week 11 schedule this Sunday and Monday have sold out in advance of the local TV blackout deadline, enabling every game to be televised in the home-team market.
FACTOID OF THE WEEK
Seattle’s Shaun Alexander leads the NFL with 17 rushing touchdowns – the most by a player in a season’s first nine games in history. Alexander’s 17 total touchdowns ties Hall of Famer Jim Brown (Cleveland, 1958) for the most in a season’s first nine games.
The Steelers enter Sunday’s game at Baltimore having won 11 consecutive road games. What team holds the NFL mark for the most consecutive road wins?
LAST WEEK’S ANSWER
Since 2000, the Packers have gone a combined 19-4 (.826) in the months of November and December. They’re followed by the Chiefs (16-4, .800) and the Eagles (15-5, .750).
LAST WEEK: 9-4 (84-53 overall)
Hey, we’ll take it. Especially after getting burned by the Giants, Eagles, and Falcons.
COLTS at BENGALS
If Indy reaches 10-0, it will be the 16th club in NFL history to do so, starting with the 1929 Green Bay Packers and ending most recently with the 1998 Denver Broncos. But chew on this: The last team to go 9-0 in the NFL, Kansas City, was defeated two years ago this week (11/16/03) in Cincinnati 24-19, led by the Bengals current backup QB, Jon Kitna. Could it be deja vu all over again? Hey, why not!!!
PANTHERS at BEARS
A possible playoff preview matches two division leaders in Soldier Field. This is a game of irrisistable forces battling the immovable objects (especially if the howling winds return for a second straight week). Here’s all you need to know: Carolina ranks first in NFL red-zone offense, Chicago first in red-zone defense. Something’s gotta give. While Da Bears are on a roll, I think Carolina is just a tad bit better.
BUCS at FALCONS
Taking a page out of Dick Vermeil’s playbook, Chucky and the Bucs went for the win last week against the Redskins. Meanwhile, the Falcons got skunked at home by the lowly Packers. By all rights, this is another playoff preview as well. Chris Simms has shown that he can do the job for the Pewter boys. But I just don’t thing that the Dirty Bird’s D will play badly for two straight weeks. Especially at the Dome.
EAGLES at GIANTS
After Monday’s gut wrenching home loss to Dallas, the defending NFC champs are just looking to win a division game (0-3 in the NFC East). They won’t get any help from Big Blue, who still licking their wounds from last Sunday’s loss to the Vikes. Usually I like to take the most desperate team theory here. But I just can’t see Philly pulling this off. Mike McMahon brings more to the table than Koy Detmer. But asking the Iggles D to win this game is a bit too much.
VIKINGS at PACKERS
When the schedule makers came out with this game, it had all the makings of an NFC North showdown in the “Froooooooozen Tundra” of Lambeau Field. While Minny has some flickering post season hopes, the Cheeseheads are just looking for some respectability. With that said, this should still be an entertaining contest. With a pair of mediocre at best defenses, this will probable be one of those last team with the ball wins it games. We’ll go with the home team in this one.
Steelers over Ravens: Big Ben will be rusty, but he should have enough to foil Baltimore.
Dolphins over Browns: The two newbies get a chance to compare notes and lick their wounds.
Lions over Cowboys: Just a hunch…..Plus I think the Tuna Helpers just used their last “How The Hell Did We Win This Game” card in Philly.
Patriots over Saints: Haven’t the people of New Orleans suffered enough?
Rams over Cardinals: The Birds will keep it close…….Right up until the National Anthem.
Jaguars over Titans: This game could get Aunt Esther ugly as well.
Seahawks over 49ers: How about some MVP love for Shaun Alexander, folks?
Redskins over Raiders: Norv would kill to win this game. Really, all he has to do is to get his boys to tackle. NOT!!!
Broncos over Jets: Is Reverend Herm really thinking about leaving?
Chargers over Bills: Sorry, Roland. Back to reality this weekend.
Chiefs over Texans: How did Houston sneak back on national TV?