Week 11 of the NFL season is upon us. The NFC North race is heating up and there are three big matchups this week. Let’s take a look.
Ravens (4-5) at Packers (5-4) 1 PM (ET) CBS
Green Bay stayed alive with a win at Soldier Field last week with Brett Hundley at QB. The Packers played good defense holding the Bears to 16 points with the aid of a John Fox challenge gone awry. Now the Packers will face another struggling offense in the form of the Baltimore Ravens. Hundley is dealing with a hamstring injury but could play. If not Joe Callahan will get the start for the Packers against a tough Ravens defense.
Joe Flacco has really struggled with a 72.7 QB rating on the season with 8 TDS and 10 interceptions. Green Bay should be able to force some turnovers this week at Lambeau Field. Nick Perry had a nice game against Chicago and looks to build on that against the Ravens.
Baltimore is missing their starting guards and top backup guard to injury but Ronnie Stanley and Austin Howard have been good players at tackle for Baltimore. Perry and Clay Matthews must win their matchups and get pressure on Flacco. Mike Daniels, Dean Lowry and Kenny Clark should have the advantage on the interior against the Ravens.
The Ravens can run the ball at 4.2 YPC led by Alex Collins (93 carries at 5.6 YPC). Baltimore most establish the run to keep pace in this game. If they can run the ball, it will open things up for Flacco.
Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman and Ben Watson are the Ravens top targets. Flacco must get time for these players to get open. The Packers secondary (95.8 QB rating allowed) has been susceptible to being beat and Davon House has struggled lately. We’ll see if Maclin, Wallace and Perriman have success against House, King and Randall.
The Ravens pass defense has been great this season allowing only 69.8 QB rating. Baltimore is excellent at forcing turnover and Brett Hundley will have a big challenge. Hundley has only a 69.9 rating but finally looked solid against the Bears solid defense last week.
The Ravens pass defense is a tougher test and they have plenty of pass rushers. Terrell Suggs leads the way but rookie Tyus Bowser and 2nd year man Matt Judon have some ability. The Packers have issues due to injury at right tackle and could be exploited there. David Bakthiari is a top left tackle and should lock down his rusher.
The Ravens can be run on (4.2 YPC) but improved with the return of Brandon Williams at nose tackle. Aaron Jones and Ty Montogmery are injured and it will be up to rookie RB Jamaal Williams for the Packers this week. CJ Mosley is a beast in run defense for the Ravens along with Brandon Williams.
The Packers win last week gives them hope. This would be a big win and really help hold things together until Aaron Rodgers returns in Week 15. Look for a low scoring game but the Packers should pull this one out against the weak Ravens offense.
Packers 20 Ravens 17
Rams (7-2) at Vikings (7-2) 1 PM ET FOX
This is a huge matchup in the NFC. The Vikings lead the North by 2 games and got a big win in Washington last weekend from 4 TDs by Case Keenum. Keenum remains the starter over Bridgewater for now until he struggles. The Vikings will be at home but face their biggest test of the year.
The Rams have had a great turn around this year. Jared Goff has earned a 101.5 QB rating with protection and better weapons around him as he develops. Todd Gurley is back to form at 4.4 YPC on 172 carries with 7 rushing TDs and 3 receiving TDs. Gurley is a beast and the Vikings run defense will be heavily tested. Tavon Austin is quick and has 4.8 YPC on 36 carries as well.
The Vikings have a good pass defense allowing 80.8 rating on the season. Everson Griffen leads the way with 10 sacks but has a real tough matchup with Andre Whitworth. Danielle Hunter, Linval Joseph, Tom Johnson and Brian Robison must step up if Griffen is neutralized.
Robert Woods was a nice free agent addition with 622 yards and 4 TDs as the Rams top target. Rookie Cooper Kupp has produced with 417 yards and 3 TDS. Todd Gurley is a receiving threat too with 406 yards and 3 TDs. Finally, Sammie Watkins has 372 yards and 3 TDS coming from a trade from Buffalo.
The Rams allow only a 73.3 rating so Keenum will be challenged. Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are having great years for Keenum but the Rams secondary is the best they will face. Trumaine Johnson can shut anyone down. Lamarcus Joyner and rookie John Johnson are nice surprises at safety for Los Angeles too.
Aaron Donald is a beast that will wreak havoc on the Vikings interior. Michael Brockers is good in run defense and Robert Quinn is a solid pass rusher in DE/OLB hybrid role. Connor Barwin, Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron have been very good at LB. The Rams have a good underrated defense that has been playing good football.
The Vikings must establish the run as the Rams weakness is run defense (4.5 YPC). If McKinnon and Murray have good days, the Vikings offense can outscore the Rams. The Vikings defense is strong but will be tested by the Rams QB, run game and weapons with Head Coach Sean McVay calling great plays.
The key to the game will be pressure on Goff. If the Vikings get consistent pressure, they can limit Goff and the Rams offense enough.
This should be a great game. Vikings win at home 24-21.
Lions (5-4) at Bears (3-6) 1 PM ET FOX
The Bears were playing well and have a solid defense (10th DVOA). However, Chicago had two bad losses in a row against the Saints on the road and Rodgers-less Packers at home. Chicago will look to play spoiler at home against Detroit as the Lions try to keep pace with the Vikings and wild card race.
Stafford has been great since the bye due to more health and is now top 10 in QB rating again. The Bears pass defense had been solid but gave up a lot to Hundley inexplicably last week. The Bears allow a 90.6 rating and Stafford should be able to feast as long as he is protected.
Speaking of protection, Taylor Decker is back for Detroit to bolster the LT spot. TJ Lang returns from concussion protocol this week which is a big boost at right guard. Graham Glasgow has been excellent since the bye at left guard and Wagner has been good all year at RT. Center Travis Swanson is the lone struggling starting lineman.
The Lions will need another good protection game because Akiem Hicks, Pernell McPhee, and Leonard Floyd can rush Stafford and disrupt the Lions offense. Eddie Goldman can disrupt in the interior and will be a test for Swanson and Glasgow.
The Lions run game has been poor but did have 5.5 YPC against the Browns. Cleveland was only allowing 2.9 YPC before the game and Detroit ripped off some big runs in the game. The Lions must run on the Bears who allow 3.9 YPC. If Detroit gets some semblance of a run game, the Lions offense should have several long drives in this game.
Mitch Trubisky has played like a rookie but showed signs of life against Green Bay with a 97 rating in the game. The new addition of WR Dontrelle Inman has paid off and rookie tight end Adam Shaheen showed a big play last week. Tarik Cohen is a receiving threat at RB and Kendall Wright is a solid slot player to test Quandre Diggs.
Slay is having a great year for Detroit and the Lions are second in turnovers forced. Glover Quin forced a ton of turnovers too and is a great roaming free safety. If the Lions force multiple turnovers in this game, Detroit should win by double digits. Lawson and Hayden have struggled splitting time at QB2 so Trubisky must learn to throw to his left in order to beat them.
The Bears best chance is their run game. Howard has been inconsistent with good games and bad this season. Howard has 4.0 YPC and Cohen earned 4.2 YPC. The Lions have been strong most of the season but had poor games against the Falcons, Saints and Browns in run defense.
Chicago has a good interior so the Lions DTs and LBs must be on point in their gaps and tackle well as Howard can break tackles for big runs. Ziggy Ansah missed the game last week and the Lions really need him back to set the edge in run defense. Detroit stopping the run is another key to the game.
Ansah missed practice with a back injury again this week and probably won’t play which is a blow to Detroit’s pass rush. Kyle Long (finger) and Danny Trevathan (calf) are Bears injuries to monitor.
This is a huge game for Detroit to keep pace with the Vikings before an epic Thanksgiving show down with Minnesota. The Lions can’t lay an egg on the road as they lost in Soldier Field last year to a worse Bears team. The Lions must execute and earn their third divisional road win of the year. Caldwell is 10-3 in November with the Lions and must make it 11-3.
Enjoy Week 11.