NFL television ratings had been a big topic of discussion thus far this season because they had been markedly down across the board. The league kept saying it was because of the uptick in people watching cable news television with all of the election madness. And that's probably true to a limited point.
But the biggest reason, in my opinion, was a lack of quality matchups and fantastic finishes -- especially in the Thursday, Sunday and Monday night games. But, wow, Week 10's action changed all that. I've never quite seen a final two minutes or so like what happened between the Cowboys and Steelers in Pittsburgh -- and that drew boffo ratings. No game had ever been decided by a returned PAT like in Denver at New Orleans. The Seattle-New England Super Bowl rematch somehow was as good a game as that Super Bowl and also was decided at the 1-yard-line. Carolina stole defeat from the jaws of victory at home against Kansas City.
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The Thursday night game was a dog again, with the Ravens routing the Browns, but the MNF matchup between the Bengals and Giants was entertaining and decided by one point. It was easily the best NFL week of the year, and the ratings did jump up now that we are post-election. I don't think the Week 11 schedule matches up to last week's, however. Many matchups that appear fairly even but none I would call marquee.
My top choice in Week 10 was Arizona as the biggest betting favorite on the board against San Francisco. It was too many points to give, but the Cardinals did escape 23-20 and close calls don't matter in a Survivor Pool competition (I have seen some that go by the spread.). If Arizona wasn't the majority pick in your league, then I'm sure Baltimore was. There were no really shocking upsets in Week 10. Sorry, Packers fans, your loss in Tennessee wasn't an upset.
Here are the picks for Week 11 with the recommended team first. The Falcons, Broncos, Jets and Chargers are on the bye.
Detroit vs. Jacksonville: One would think I've learned my lesson on the Lions as they burned me last year. But usually Detroit is a good home team, and the Lions are off their bye week. The Jaguars have obviously quit on the current coaching staff, which absolutely will not be back next year.
NY Giants vs. Chicago: I will be debating whether to shift this game up to the top spot heading into my league's deadline Sunday at noon ET. My Bears are terrible and now have lost top receiver Alshon Jeffrey to a four-game suspension and top offensive lineman Kyle Long for the season. Running back Jordan Howard may or may not be hurt. This franchise needs to be blown up and rebooted. The only reason I don't list this as my top choice right now is the Giants are on a short week and I haven't seen their injury report yet.
Pittsburgh at Cleveland : I thought the Steelers might lose four games all regular season if they stayed healthy, but they are on a four-game skid entering this one. How can a team that offensively gifted be under .500? Highly doubt the Browns have a shot here as Ben Roethlisberger loves to torment the team he grew up rooting for, but if they do win a game it will likely be at home.
Kansas City vs. Tampa Bay: The Bucs destroyed my Bears last week but actually didn't play that great as Jay Cutler kept giving them the ball. The Chiefs had one of their most unlikely regular-season wins in years at Carolina, so this could be a major trap game against an unfamiliar opponent out-of-conference.
New England at San Francisco: Obviously the Patriots will win this game, but I'd take the points as they are likely to be flat off the big Sunday night loss to Seattle. It's Tom Brady's first regular-season game in the area where he grew up.
Dallas vs. Baltimore: I keep thinking the Cowboys are going to have that one game where they really lay an egg with rookies playing such big roles, but they refuse to. This is the best defense Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have seen in a while.
Indianapolis vs. Tennessee: I actually say the Titans are the better overall team, but the Colts are off their bye and Andrew Luck has never lost to Tennessee.
Cincinnati vs. Buffalo: I'd move this up a level if the Bengals weren't on the short week and Buffalo off its bye week. Yeah, now I'm starting to think about flipping this pick.
Minnesota vs. Arizona: These teams would have met in last year's divisional round if Vikings kicker Blair Walsh hadn't soiled himself while attempting a potential winning 27-yard field goal in the wild-card game vs. Seattle. The Vikes finally cut Walsh this week, which was way overdue.
Seattle vs. Philadelphia: Major kudos to the Seahawks for going across the country to New England on a short week against a Patriots team off its bye week and winning. What a great game. Could this be a letdown game? Seattle is finally expecting back Thomas Rawls this week from injury, sadly way too late for my fantasy team.
Washington vs. Green Bay: Rematch of last season's wild-card game in Maryland won handily by the Packers. But Green Bay's defense is terrible right now, and Coach Mike McCarthy's job status is very tenuous.
Oakland vs. Houston (Monday): It's the NFL's first regular-season game in Mexico since 2005. I bet Raiders ownership is not happy at the moment for giving up a home game to play south of the border considering that Oakland is in a dogfight in the AFC West.
Miami at Los Angeles: This game will not be pretty offensively, but at least Rams coach Jeff Fisher is finally giving No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff his chance under center. In my local market, I get all Dolphins games, so maybe I'll watch now.
Carolina vs. New Orleans (Thursday): Our 2016 Thursday scheduling nightmare continues with two losing teams from the NFC South. The loser can most likely start making tee times for January. Panthers should hold serve at home, but they haven't been trustworthy very often.
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