The weekly preview runs into the endzone with NFL tips for the eight best match-ups of Week 11, featuring a Ravens-Texans blockbuster and the Philadelphia Eagles’ first meeting with the New England Patriots since the 2018 Super Bowl.
History: Played 134: Steelers 75 V Browns 58 (1 Tie)
Last meeting: October 28, 2018: Steelers 33 d Browns 18 at Heinz Field
Final Thoughts: NFL Week 11 gets underway with a vital AFC North showdown, with the 5-4 Pittsburgh Steelers looking to keep their run going when they travel to take on the 3-6 Cleveland Browns, who are essentially at the last-chance saloon.
The Steelers have won four straight, grinding down the LA Rams 17-12. But four of their five wins this season came at Heinz Field – they are 1-2 on the road and play just twice more at home. The Browns arrested a four-game slide with a 19-16 eclipse of the in-form Bills, their first win at home in this campaign.
The Browns are on an eight-match winless run against the Steelers, though they did manage a 21-all tie at home last season. The Steelers won the return bout in Pittsburgh 33-18.
While the Browns can take real heart from last week’s win, the Steelers boast genuine momentum and are tremendous underdog value here.
History: Played 36: Colts 23 V Jaguars 13
Last meeting: December 2, 2018: Jaguars 6 d Colts 0 at TIAA Bank Field
Final Thoughts: The AFC South is super-tight with all four teams still a huge playoffs chance. This week the 5-4 Indianapolis Colts host the 4-5 Jacksonville Jaguars in a vital division showdown.
The Colts have gone down narrowly in their last two to the Steelers (26-24) and the previously struggling Dolphins. Back-up QB Brian Hoyer tossed three picks against Miami, a loss that could really come back to haunt this side. The Jags put away the Bengals and Jets comfortably before crashing 26-3 to the Texans in London. They sat out last week with the bye.
The Jaguars have won four of their last six against the Colts. Last season the Colts squeaked home 29-26 in Indianapolis, while the Jaguars won a dour Jacksonville struggle 6-0.
Nick Foles makes a long-awaited return from injury this week for Jacksonville, while Indianapolis are sweating on their top QB, Jacoby Brissett, making a comeback. The Colts’ 3-2 home record doesn’t inspire enough confidence that they will bounce back from last week’s disaster.
History: Played 10: Ravens 8 V Texans 2
Last meeting: November 27, 2017: Ravens 23 d Texans 16 at M&T Bank Stadium
Final Thoughts: Match of the week alert! The AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens host AFC South front-runners the Houston Texans, with both teams in white-hot form.
The 7-2 Ravens backed up their 37-20 win over the previously unbeaten Patriots with a 49-13 beatdown of the Bengals in Week 10 to make it five straight. Quarterback Lamar Jackson is steaming towards MVP honours, posting an insane 158.3 passer rating in Cincinnati.
Jackson’s match with Deshaun Watson – who has 18 touchdown passes in nine games – shapes as an absolute belter. The 6-3 Texans had the week off after smashing the Jaguars 26-3 at Wembley.
The home team is on a six-game winning streak in this rivalry. The Texans are 0-5 all-time in Baltimore.
Both teams also boast impressive defensive units and there’s nothing in it if this becomes a Jackson-Watson shootout. There’s little between these Super Bowl hopefuls and the over may be the best value on offer here, though the Texans with the start is also enticing.
History: Played 55: Saints 34 V Buccaneers 21
Last meeting: October 6, 2019: Saints 31 d Buccaneers 24 at Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Final Thoughts: The New Orleans Saints are on the march towards another NFC South title. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can keep it interesting while simultaneously maintaining their tenuous playoffs hopes.
Tampa Bay ended an excruciating four-game slide with a 30-27 home win over the Cardinals in Week 10. They are entertaining but big question marks remain around QB Jameis Winston’s suitability for this Bucs line-up.
New Orleans, meanwhile, suffered a shock 26-9 loss to the battling Falcons in Drew Brees’ return from injury. Whispers have even started about the Saints needing to revert to Teddy Bridgewater under centre – so expect a big game from the 40-year-old Brees this week.
The Saints have won 12 of their last 16 against the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay jagged a 48-40 away upset last season, but New Orleans responded with a 28-14 win at Raymond James Stadium.
Brees and the Saints have a point to prove; the Bucs are set to bear the brunt of it.
History: Played 56: Cardinals 30 V 49ers 26
Last meeting: October 31, 2019: 49ers 28 d Cardinals 25 at University of Phoenix Stadium
Final Thoughts: The San Francisco 49ers’ sensational run came to an end via an overtime loss to the Seahawks in Week 10. But with a 9-1 record, the Niners are still sitting pretty in the NFC West. The 3-6-1 Arizona Cardinals bring up the rear in the division and have lost three on the bounce, including a 30-27 defeat at Tampa Bay last weekend.
The 49ers snapped an eight-match losing streak against the Cardinals with a 28-25 away victory in Week 9. Jimmy Garoppolo had a blinder with 317 passing yards and four TDs for San Francisco.
The Cardinals have won their last four at Levi’s Stadium – including the last three by 10-plus margins – but this 49ers outfit is a different beast. They should do it far more comfortably than they did in Phoenix a fortnight ago.
History: Played 14: Eagles 8 V Patriots 6
Last meeting: February 4, 2018 (Super Bowl): Eagles 41 d Patriots 33 at U.S. Bank Stadium
Final Thoughts: The Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots square off since the Eagles’ stunning Nick Foles-led 41-33 Super Bowl triumph two seasons ago. But it’s Carson Wentz that will get his chance opposite Tom Brady this week.
The 5-4 Eagles are right in the NFC East hunt after consecutive wins over the Bills (31-13) and Bears (22-14). The 8-1 Patriots are also coming off the bye, so they have had an extra week to contemplate their 37-20 loss to the Ravens – the defending champs’ first of the season.
The Pats will be determined to ensure it was only blip after winning seven of their previous eight games by 14 points or more.
The Patriots have won their last three in Philadelphia. With the best offensive and defensive numbers in the league, they should have little trouble making it four.
History: Played 93: Bears 54 V Rams 36 (3 Ties)
Last meeting: December 9, 2018: Bears 15 d Rams 6 at Soldier Field
Final Thoughts: It’s crunch time for the 5-4 LA Rams and the 4-5 Chicago Bears, who both sit third in their respective divisions.
The Rams put away the Falcons (37-10) and Bengals (24-10) in emphatic fashion ahead of their Week 9 bye, but crashed 17-12 in Pittsburgh last weekend. QB Jared Goff is under immense scrutiny after another poor showing against the Steelers.
The Bears snapped a four-game losing streak with a 20-13 home win over the Lions. Mitch Trubisky fired three touchdown passes in a confidence-boosting display for what has been one of the NFL’s least potent offences.
The Bears have won six of their last seven against the Rams, including a 15-6 home victory last season. This is the teams’ first clash in Los Angeles since the Rams relocated there.
After what both sides delivered last week, the Bears with the points looks like the way to go.
History: Played 118: Chiefs 61 V Chargers 56 (1 Tie)
Last meeting: December 13, 2018: Chargers 29 d Chiefs 28 at Arrowhead Stadium
Final thoughts: Much of the focus will be on the field at Estadio Azteca after last season’s match had to be relocated to Los Angeles at late notice. But there’s far more at stake for AFC West rivals the LA Chargers and Kansas City in Mexico this week.
The 6-4 Chiefs lead the division have been patchy with only two wins in their last six outings. Patrick Mahomes returned in style last week with 446 yards and three TD passes, but the Chiefs went down 35-32 to the Titans.
The 4-6 Chargers are coming off a 26-24 road loss to the Raiders. Phillip Rivers threw for two touchdowns but also tossed three picks with a completion rate of just 54.8 percent.
Last season the Chiefs chalked up a 38-28 season-opening win in Los Angeles. But the Chargers broke a nine-match losing streak in the division rivalry with a 29-28 eclipse in Kansas City in Week 15.
It’s unlikely the Chargers have the defence to contain Mahomes and the offence to go with the Chiefs when this inevitably becomes a points-fest.