NFL season 2013, Week 11: What to watch in Sunday's games

Donald Miralle

With only two teams on a bye, it will be a busy Sunday in the NFL.

The playoff races are tightening around the NFL and with the season approaching the three-quarter mark, Week 11 could potentially be an elimination week for some teams on the edge of contention.

There will be key games in both the AFC and NFC on Sunday with 11 of the 13 games having playoff implications. Even if it's not a must-win for teams to stay alive, playoff seeding and potential tiebreakers are on the line. Here's a complete look at the slate of games on Sunday.

New York Jets at Buffalo, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Jets currently hold a one-game lead for the final playoff spot. With New England two games ahead in the AFC East and the other wild card slot likely going to one of the two AFC West teams, the Jets will need to hold on to the No. 6 seed to stay in the playoff picture. Picking up a win on the road would be a big boost for New York.

The game will be a battle of rookie quarterbacks. Both E.J. Manuel and Geno Smith have had up-and-down seasons. The Jets knocked off the Bills, 27-20, in a game that came down to the final possessions. At 3-7, Buffalo likely needs a win if its going to have any shot at the postseason.

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Baltimore at Chicago, 1 p.m. CBS

The Ravens and Bears are both on the outside edge of playoff contention. Baltimore has fought its way back into the race, but at 4-5, still has work to do. Chicago is coming off a loss to Detroit and will be forced to play without starting quarterback Jay Cutler once again.

Josh McCown had success filling in for Cutler earlier this season. The Ravens haven't been great against the pass this season, possibly putting the game on McCown's shoulders. A loss won't end either teams' season, but it would give them significant ground to make up.

Cleveland at Cincinnati, 1 p.m., CBS

Cincinnati continues to lead the AFC North, but its lead in the division has shrunk in recent weeks. If the Bengals lose their third straight game on Sunday, their lead in the division will be down to a half game. A win would pull the Browns back to .500 and keep them in both the division race and the AFC wild card picture.

Many expected the Steelers, Ravens and Bengals to battle for the AFC North, but the Browns have played their way into the mix and could make even bigger waves this week.

Washington at Philadelphia, 1 p.m., FOX

Having won back-to-back games, the Eagles are suddenly tied for the lead in the NFC East. No team has pulled away from the pack, but if the Eagles make it three in a row, they could make it very difficult for the Redskins moving forward. Washington is 3-6 and has very little margin of error, even in a poor division.

Nick Foles will once again start at quarterback for the Eagles. He's coming off two monster statistical games where he racked up more than 625 passing yards and 10 touchdowns. Washington ranks near the bottom of the league in pass defense, possibly setting up another huge game for Foles.

Detroit at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.. FOX

After knocking off Chicago last week, the Lions have a one-game lead in the NFC North heading into their matchup at Pittsburgh. It's all about offense for Detroit, but the Lions will have to keep the passing attack going on the road and against a good defense.

This will be a battle of strengths. The Lions are third in the NFL, averaging 306.9 passing yards per game. Pittsburgh has struggled to stop the run, but is No. 4 against the pass, allowing just 201.3 passing yards per game. Something will have to give when they meet at Heinz Field.

Atlanta at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m., FOX

Heading into the season, this matchup looked like a potential battle for the division lead. Not a lot has gone right for either team through 10 weeks, though, and the game will be one of two on Sunday without major playoff implications.

The game will, however, have an impact on the NFL Draft order. Despite losing its first eight games, Tampa Bay could tie Atlanta at 2-8 with a win. The Buccaneers have been playing better recently, while Atlanta's struggles have gotten worse as the season has gone along.

Arizona at Jacksonville. 1 p.m., FOX

Despite playing in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL, the Cardinals have played their way back into playoff contention. Arizona is one game back in the NFC wild card race and while a loss wouldn't end their chances to make the playoffs, losing to the 1-8 Jaguars would be a massive missed opportunity.

Jacksonville proved its capable of pulling the upset, going on the road to knock off Tennessee last week, despite the fact the Titans were in the thick of the AFC playoff race.

Oakland at Houston, 1 p.m. CBS

The disappointing season for Houston continues this week against the Raiders. Despite opening the season as one of the favorites in the AFC, the Texans have sunk to 2-7 and out of the playoff picture. The Texans will have Gary Kubiak back this week after he missed a game following the mini-stroke he suffered.

With back-to-back losses, the Raiders have fallen further out of playoff contention. Terrelle Pryor has struggled mightily recently. Things won't get any easier this week when he'll go against the No. 1 defense against the pass. If for no other reason, this game is watchable just to see what J.J. Watt might do against Oakland's porous offensive line.

San Diego at Miami, 4:05 p.m., CBS

The Chargers and Dolphins both got off to solid starts this season, but things have gone sour lately. San Diego has lost two straight games and has a difficult schedule remaining playing in the AFC West. San Diego is one of just two teams with a positive point differential and a losing record.

Miami is even more of a mess, combining on-the-field struggles with an off-the-field circus. The Dolphins have lost three straight, including last week to the previously-winless Buccaneers. Despite the issues on both sides, the winner of the game could be tied for the final wild card slot if the Jets lose.

Minnesota at Seattle, 4:25 p.m., FOX

Sunday's game in Seattle is watchable for many reasons, but a lot of eyes will be on Percy Harvin. The former Minnesota wide receiver is expected to make his 2013 debut against his old team. Harvin may not play a lot, but if he's anything close to his old form, he may only need a few snaps to make a major impact.

The Seahawks have struggled to stop the run in recent weeks, setting up an interesting matchup with Adrian Peterson. Seattle was better last week, but could risk being upset if they fail to slow Peterson. A home loss to 2-7 Minnesota could prove costly in Seattle quest for home-field advantage.

San Francisco at New Orleans, 4:25 p.m. FOX

This is the highlight game in the NFC this week. The 49ers and Saints are widely regarded as two of the top three teams in the NFC. San Francisco dropped to 6-3 with a loss last week, and another this week would do major damage to their attempt of catching Seattle.

The Saints are also chasing the Seahawks in the race for the No. 1 seed, but also need a win to hold off the surging Carolina Panthers. Despite being in good position entering the game, a loss for either team could prove to be extremely costly.

Green Bay at New York Giants, 4:25 p.m., FOX

A matchup of Aaron Rodgers vs. Eli Manning looked very attractive at the start of the season. Instead it will be Scott Tolzien taking on a struggling Manning. Despite their 3-6 record, the Giants are still alive in the NFC East. New York could potentially be just a half game back in the division if things break right. A loss could also end any chance it has to make the postseason.

Green Bay needs to tread water while Rodgers is out and picking up a win on the road in New York would be a major plus. The Packers have lost two straight and could fall two games out of the NFC North lead with a loss.

Kansas City at Denver, 8:30 p.m., NBC

The game of the week will take place in Denver with the 8-1 Broncos facing the 9-0 Chiefs. Kansas City will bring its No. 1 scoring defense into Denver to face Peyton Manning and the Broncos' No. 1 scoring offense. Not many think the Chiefs can hang with the Broncos in a shootout, so the game may need to trend toward a defensive battle if Kansas City is going to have a chance.

The winner of the game will be the No. 1 seed in the AFC heading into Week 12 while the loser will be the No. 5 seed and top wild card. Even with a lot of season to play, there will be a lot on the line in Denver on Sunday.

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