It's supposed to get easier to pick games as the calendar turns to November and the season enters the homestretch, right? Guess again. The NFL remains a very unpredictable league, even as we enter Week 11. We expect the contenders to separate themselves from the pretenders at this point in the season, but erratic play continues to plague teams.
The biggest upset last week came at the Meadowlands where the New York Jets shocked the Pittsburgh Steelers, 20-13, a game that none of our experts picked correctly. However, perhaps we should have predicted this letdown game by the Steelers, who have shown a curious tendency to fall flat against the league's basement dwellers. Since the 2012 season, Pittsburgh is 3-10 against teams that enter the game with a win percentage of .200 or worse, and 19-10 versus everybody else. That's just horrible.
The Steelers will be on upset alert again this week when they travel to Tennessee to take on a 2-7 Titans team that is arguably one of the worst in the league. Pittsburgh can't afford another crushing loss if they want to remain competitive in an AFC North that is shaping up to have one of the wildest division races in NFL history. With the Steelers and Ravens occupying last place at 6-4, the AFC North is the first division in which every team is at least two games above .500 at any point in the season since the 1935 NFL Western Division.
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Even after 10 weeks of games, there doesn't appear to be a single dominant team in either the AFC or NFC, and the playoff picture is muddled. The AFC features a whopping 11 teams with winning records, while two of the NFC's top four teams are being led by backup quarterbacks. The parity in the league is incredible -- 21 teams are still either in a playoff spot or within one-and-a-half games of a postseason berth, which means we should have a fantastic finish to the season.
Whereas last week's slate featured more than a few mismatches and only a handful of games between teams in playoff contention, Week 11 has several marquee matchups and exciting divisional battles. This could be perhaps not only the most watchable week of the regular season, but also the most difficult week to date for picking games.
Included in the exciting Week 11 schedule are four contests on Sunday involving teams that have won at least two-thirds of their games this season, the first time in NFL history this late in the season that we have four matchups between teams with winning percentages of .667 or better. Make sure you have plenty of popcorn and chocolate bars in the house to survive a packed afternoon and evening of wall-to-wall football that you don't want to miss:
Our experts are favoring three of the four road teams -- Seahawks over the Chiefs, Lions over the Cardinals and Patriots over the Colts -- leaving the Packers as the only home team picked to win among that quartet of games. Those are some bold predictions by our panel, considering that homefield advantage is often the difference in such games pitting two highly-ranked NFL teams against each other.
As a reminder, last week we debuted the computer picks at OddsShark.com as part of our expert panel. These unbiased picks are generated purely from statistics, both traditional and advanced, and have been fairly accurate this season. Choose wisely from the picks below:
|Week 11||Ryan Van Bibber||Stephen White||Joel Thorman||David Fucillo||Danny Kelly||PFT Commenter||Matt Ufford||OddsShark Computer|
|BUF vs MIA||MIA||MIA||BUF||MIA||MIA||MIA||MIA||MIA|
|MIN vs CHI||MIN||MIN||CHI||CHI||CHI||CHI||MIN||MIN|
|HOU vs CLE||HOU||HOU||CLE||CLE||CLE||CLE||HOU||CLE|
|SEA vs KC||SEA||SEA||KC||SEA||SEA||KC||SEA||SEA|
|ATL vs CAR||CAR||CAR||ATL||CAR||CAR||ATL||CAR||ATL|
|CIN vs NO||NO||NO||NO||NO||NO||NO||NO||NO|
|TB vs WAS||WAS||WAS||WAS||WAS||WAS||WAS||WAS||WAS|
|DEN vs STL||DEN||DEN||DEN||DEN||DEN||DEN||DEN||DEN|
|SF vs NYG||SF||SF||SF||SF||SF||SF||SF||SF|
|OAK vs SD||SD||SD||SD||SD||SD||SD||SD||SD|
|PHI vs GB||PHI||GB||GB||GB||GB||GB||GB||PHI|
|DET vs ARZ||DET||DET||DET||DET||DET||ARZ||DET||ARZ|
|NE vs IND||IND||NE||IND||IND||NE||NE||NE||NE|
|PIT vs TEN||PIT||PIT||PIT||PIT||PIT||PIT||PIT||PIT|
Our panel consists of: David Fucillo, SB Nation's fantasy guru; Danny Kelly, SB Nation NFL contributor; PFT Commenter, SB Nation's hot takes expert; Joel Thorman, SB Nation NFL blogs manager; Matt Ufford, editorial producer, SB Nation studios; Ryan Van Bibber, SB Nation's NFL editor; and Stephen White, retired NFL defensive end and SB Nation NFL contributor.
Our panel's record last week and for the season: