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Survivor Guide: Week 11

by Mark Miller
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

*Team listed in BOLD is my pick to win the game

 

Strong Play:

 

New England (@ San Francisco) – The New England Patriots went punch-for-punch against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 10, but they ultimately fell in their Super Bowl 49 rematch by the score of 31-24. The game was very exciting and went back forth with seven different lead changes. Unfortunately for the Pats, they couldn’t finish it off by scoring the game-winning touchdown while they were on the Seahawks’ 1-yard line. Tom Brady threw his first pick of the season in this game as he scrambled out of the pocket and tried to throw the ball down the field. Brady was also held without a passing touchdown for just the 3rd time in his last 42 games (including playoffs). The previous two times came in Week 17 in both the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Brady certainly wasn’t happy that the Patriots lost their second game of the season and the first with him as their starting quarterback. I’m sure he is going to want to take his frustration out on the 49ers this Sunday. Good luck to San Francisco. LeGarrette Blount rushed for three touchdowns against Seattle and he is definitely in line for a big game against the Niners and their poor run defense. San Francisco shockingly bottled up David Johnson for only 55 yards on 19 carries last week, but they were picked apart by Carson Palmer for 376 yards. The defense actually played pretty well, especially in the second half, despite allowing 443 total yards. I just don’t see them slowing down Brady this week and he should approach 300+ yards and a couple of touchdowns. Rob Gronkowski finished the game with a punctured lung and could possibly sit out this week so that they don’t risk further injuring him. If he sits, Martellus Bennett could be in line for another big game. New England has a pretty favorable schedule over the next couple of weeks, but in the off chance that you still haven’t picked them in your Survivor Pool, this would be the perfect week to do so.

 

Next 3 Games:
New England: @NY Jets, vs. Los Angeles, vs. Baltimore
San Francisco: @Miami, @Chicago, vs. NY Jets

 

Pittsburgh (@ Cleveland) – Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense bounced back in a big way against Dallas last weekend, but despite their best efforts, they couldn’t pull out the win against the Cowboys. Pittsburgh has now lost four games in a row but get a breath of fresh air as they travel to Cleveland this week to take on the 0-10 Browns. Roethlisberger threw for 408 yards against Dallas, 154 of which went to Antonio Brown. Roethlisberger looked much healthier than he did when he faced the Baltimore Ravens in Week 9 and he should be in line for a very big game against Cleveland. Le’Veon Bell only carried the ball 17 times against Dallas, but he had a prominent role in the passing game with nine receptions for 77 yards and one touchdown. I expect that he will be given a lot more carries against a Browns team that allows 143.7 rushing yards per game which ranks 31st in the NFL. Cleveland has also allowed 12 rushing touchdowns on the year which is in Bell’s favor. Ladarius Green caught three balls for 30 yards in his first game of the season against Dallas and I expect that he will be more involved this week against Cleveland because the Browns are the worst team against opposing tight ends. They have allowed tight ends to catch 72 balls for 774 yards and nine touchdowns this season. Cleveland’s offense was putrid against a tough Baltimore Ravens defense last week, but that is no excuse for generating just 144 total yards of offense and having just 11 first downs in the entire game. Josh McCown replaced Cody Kessler in the 3rd quarter, but head coach Hue Jackson has already said that Kessler will keep his starting gig. Cleveland shouldn’t struggle as badly as they did against Baltimore, but there is no way they’ll be able to keep pace with Pittsburgh’s offense who may put up at least 30 points this week. After all, Cleveland allows opponents to score 30.1 points per game, so I would be shocked if Pittsburgh only puts up 30. With Roethlisberger looking healthier, I think Pittsburgh is a very strong play this week against the winless Browns.

 

Next 3 Games:
Pittsburgh: @Indianapolis, vs. NY Giants, @Buffalo
Cleveland: vs. NY Giants, BYE, vs. Cincinnati

 

Decent Play:

 

Oakland (vs. Houston) – The Houston Texans improved to 6-3 on the year and did so by beating the Jaguars on the road for their first road win of the season. The Texans were shorthanded on both offense and defense due to injuries, but the Texans offense, defense and special teams all had a hand in their win against Jacksonville. Will Fuller believes he’ll return this weekend against Oakland which should help Brock Osweiler improve on the 3.7 yards per passing attempt he had against Jacksonville. On paper, Osweiler should put up good numbers against the Raiders’ secondary which has allowed an average of 283 passing yards per game, but if you look closer, their defense has been improving and has allowed just 224 passing yards per game over their last four games. The Raiders’ run defense still remains their weakness and they have allowed opposing teams to rush for over 100 yards in six of their nine games. I expect that Bill O’Brien will game plan for a run-heavy attack with Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue. Oakland went into their bye week with a very impressive 30-20 win over the Denver Broncos. The Raiders are riding a three-game winning streak and have scored at least 30 points in those three games. Derek Carr struggled against Denver and he could have a tough time against the Texans on Monday night, so I expect a very balanced attack from Oakland and they will rely on Latavius Murray for a second straight game to help carry the offense. The Texans have struggled on the road this season and are headed to a pretty hostile environment in Oakland on Monday night. Couple that with the Raiders defense improving each week and Houston’s offense continuing to struggle, I believe that the Raiders will come away with their eighth win heading into Week 12 with a matchup against Carolina.

 

Next 3 Games:
Houston: vs. San Diego, @Green Bay, @Indianapolis
Oakland: vs. Carolina, vs. Buffalo, @Kansas City

 

NY Giants (vs. Chicago) – The New York Giants continued to roll on Monday night by holding onto a 21-20 victory against the Cincinnati Bengals. Eli threw for three touchdowns against the Bengals, Odell Beckham was a target machine and caught 10 passes for 97 yards and Rashad Jennings rushed for 87 yards and the defense played well after the Bengals’ opening drive. The Giants are on a roll and have won four games in a row. This winning streak has come after fans and pundits were writing them off and calling them busts after they lost three straight and fell to 2-3 on the season. The Giants are now 4-1 at home and host the Chicago Bears this weekend.  Chicago will be without Alshon Jeffery because he’s been suspended for the next four games for violating the league’s policy on PEDs. I’d say that’s a huge loss for Chicago, but the matter of the fact is that Jeffery hasn’t played a major role in their offense this season. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a good thing that they’ve lost him for four games, but over his last three games, Jeffery has only 11 catches for 143 yards. He has also only scored one touchdown this season. Jay Cutler reverted back to his old ways last week against Tampa, completing just 16 of his 30 passes for 182 yards while throwing two interceptions. The Giants’ pass rush will have him under pressure all game and I expect that he will make a number of ill-advised throws and the Giants defense will come away with a couple of turnovers. Jordan Howard is going to have a tough time running the ball against this Giants defense that only allows 3.6 rushing yards per game, 5th best in the NFL. I expect the Giants offense to continue to roll and that Beckham and Sterling Shepard will be in line for big games. There’s a pretty good chance that the Giants are still available to you in your pool and this would be a good week to take them, unless you opted to wait one more week to use the Giants next week when they travel to Cleveland.

 

Next 3 Games:
Chicago: vs. Tennessee, vs. San Francisco, @Detroit
NY Giants: @Cleveland, @Pittsburgh, vs. Dallas

 

Detroit (vs. Jacksonville) – The Detroit Lions entered their bye week on a very high note by winning a very important divisional game against the Minnesota Vikings, 22-16. With the Vikings also losing last week, the Lions moved into a tie for first place in the NFC North (and hold the tiebreaker). Matthew Stafford didn’t put up his best numbers against the Vikings in Week 9, but he’s been the biggest reason for the team’s turnaround. Prior to the Vikings game, Stafford had gone 4 straight games without throwing an interception. And during their last five games he has thrown 11 touchdowns. Jacksonville’s pass defense is underrated and has held really good QBs such as Derek Carr, Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers, Joe Flacco and Phillip Rivers to 207 yards or less. The way to beat the Jaguars is on the ground so look for the Lions to hand the ball off to Theo Riddick early and often in this game. Like Jacksonville, the Lions defense can also be run on. Detroit’s defense has allowed at least 105 rushing yards in six of their nine games. Blake Bortles is good for an interception each game and has 11 total picks on the year. He is the king of garbage time so I expect that he will pad some of his stats in the 4th quarter while they are trailing Detroit. Even though Detroit has some winnable games coming up in the next couple of weeks, this is their most favorable opponent and this is a pretty good time to take them.

 

Next 3 Games:
Jacksonville: @Buffalo, vs. Denver, vs. Minnesota
Detroit: vs. Minnesota, @New Orleans, vs. Chicago

 

Cincinnati (vs. Buffalo) – The Bengals have had a tough time on the road this year and are now just 1-4 on the year away from Cincinnati, so they must be happy to be heading back home to take on the Buffalo Bills this weekend. Cincinnati looked like they were going to put up a ton of points and be in a shootout with the Giants after their opening drive to tie the game at 7-7 which included a 71-yard pass to tight end Tyler Eifert. But the Bengals offense stalled and they were forced to punt on seven of their next 11 possessions.  They need to keep the ball and chains moving and Andy Dalton needs to make sure he gets the ball into A.J. Green’s hands and lets him make plays. I also expect Eifert to be targeted often and be a difference-maker in the game. The Bills are on a three-game skid and they have allowed exactly 100 points during their last three games. LeSean McCoy had extra week of rest due to the bye and he should be healthy and ready to go against Cincinnati. The Bills will ride him all game and he should accumulate over 100 yards on the ground against the Bengals’ run defense that allows opposing teams to rush for 116.8 yards per game. The reason I like the Bengals is because I think Tyrod Taylor is going to have trouble moving the ball through the air. If they are unable to pass the ball, they aren’t going to be able to win this game and their losing streak will stretch to four games after this Sunday.

 

Next 3 Games:
Buffalo: vs. Jacksonville, @Oakland, vs. Pittsburgh
Cincinnati: @Baltimore, vs. Philadelphia, @Cleveland

 

Risky Play:

 

Dallas (vs. Baltimore) – People may be surprised that I am listing the Cowboys this low in this week’s rankings, but Baltimore is going to be a tough matchup for Dallas. Baltimore’s defense allows just 210 passing yards per game (5th in the NFL) and is 2nd in the NFL in interceptions with 11. Baltimore’s defense also allows a miniscule 71.3 rushing yards per game which is tops in the league. Granted, I highly doubt that they will contain Ezekiel Elliot to 71 yards or less, but Dak Prescott may have trouble moving the football against the Ravens this weekend. Joe Flacco came alive in the second half against the Browns last week, but overall he hasn’t played that great over the last three games. He has turned the ball over five times in the last three games and I believe he and the Ravens offense won’t have the easiest time finding the end zone against Dallas. I think this game will end up being a low-scoring affair with Dallas winning by a field goal.

 

Next 3 Games:
Baltimore: vs. Cincinnati, vs. Miami, @New England
Dallas: vs. Washington, @Minnesota, @NY Giants

 

Kansas City (vs. Tampa Bay) – Kansas City pulled out a great win on the road in Carolina last week to improve their record to 7-2 on the year. With 37 seconds left in the game, Marcus Peters set up the game winning field goal by stripping Kelvin Benjamin, forcing a fumble, picking up the ball and returning it for 10 yards to the Carolina 24. Kansas City’s defense played extremely well in the 2nd half of the game, holding Carolina to just 103 yards and forced the Panthers to punt on three of their five second-half possessions. The other two possessions resulted in turnovers, including Marcus Peter’s fumble recovery and Eric Berry’s pick-six. Kansas City’s defense is going to have to step up against a Buccaneers team that has scored an average of 30.5 points per game. Kansas City has only allowed a total of 76 points and have created 12 turnovers during their five-game winning streak. KC’s offense will have to run through Spencer Ware because the Bucs defense has allowed at least 122 rushing yards per game and averaged 136.5 yards per game over their last four games.  Jameis Winston has 11 touchdowns and two interceptions over his last five games and he’ll have to play smart against Kansas City’s defense. Doug Martin should get roughly 20 carries this week, but he will continually be stuffed in the game. I don’t think this will be a high-scoring game and that Tampa Bay will keep it close throughout the game. I like KC in this game, but there are much better options this week and would suggest using one of the teams ranked higher than them this week if any of those teams are still available to you.

 

Next 3 Games:
Tampa Bay: vs. Seattle, @San Diego, vs. New Orleans
Kansas City: @Denver, @Atlanta, vs. Oakland

 

Seattle (vs. Philadelphia) – Seattle just played arguably their best offensive game of the season against the Patriots in their highly anticipated Sunday night matchup. Seattle scored on seven of their first nine possessions of the game including three passing touchdowns from Russell Wilson to Doug Baldwin. Wilson also threw for 348 yards and completed 68% of his throws. The Seahawks have released Christine Michael now that Thomas Rawls is set to return this week, but it is believed that rookie C.J. Prosise will dominate the carries this week. The Eagles allow 4.4 yards per carry so Seattle will focus on running the football because the Eagles’ pass defense only allows 222 passing yards per game. The Eagles defense played very well against the Falcons last week in their win over Atlanta and held Matt Ryan to 267 yards. If the Eagles could have eliminated the 76 yard play in the 4th quarter, they may have been able to hold Ryan to under 200 yards on the day. I expect that the defenses for both teams will keep this a low-scoring game and that this game will come down to a field goal. But because this game is being played in Seattle where the Seahawks are 4-0 and the Eagles are have struggled away from Lincoln Financial with a 1-4 record, I think Seattle ultimately wins their 7th game of the year and gets one game closer to locking up the NFC West.

 

Next 3 Games:
Philadelphia: vs. Green Bay, @Cincinnati, vs. Washington
Seattle: @Tampa Bay, vs. Carolina, @Green Bay

 

Miami (@ Los Angeles) – Don’t look now, but the Miami Dolphins have won four games in a row and are 1.5 games behind the Broncos for the 6th playoff spot. The biggest reason for their turnaround has been their ground attack and their defense. Jay Ajayi has slowed down a bit since his back-to-back 200 rushing yard games, but he has still rushed for 190 yards over the last two games and has averaged 4.4 yards per carry. Miami’s defense allowed Philip Rivers to throw for 309 yards, but he was the first QB to throw for over 200 yards against them in the previous four games. Jared Goff has been announced as the starting quarterback for the Rams this week and this isn’t exactly the best matchup for him to begin his career. The Rams will be conservative with Goff and I expect that they will have Todd Gurley be the focus of the offense with Goff throwing the ball roughly 30 times. The issue is that Miami won’t allow Gurley to beat them and they will be focused on stopping the run this week. Like the Philadelphia/Seattle game, I expect this to be a low-scoring game which will be decided by the defenses. Even though I think it’s smart to start Goff at home for his debut, I’m expecting some rookie mistakes to be made this week which could ultimately lead to a Dolphins victory.

 

Next 3 Games:
Miami: vs. San Francisco, @Baltimore, vs. Arizona
Los Angeles: @New Orleans, @New England, vs. Atlanta

 

Avoid:

 

Arizona (@ Minnesota) – The Vikings’ season is seemingly slipping away now that they have lost four straight games and they have a fairly tough schedule going forward. Minnesota has released kicker Blair Walsh due to his connecting on only 75% of his field goals and having missed four of his 19 extra point attempts. But Minnesota’s defense has not played well of late and their run defense has allowed an average of 121 rushing yards per game over their last four games. Arizona needs to give the ball to David Johnson, let him find running lanes to carve up the Vikings defense, which should in turn open up the passing game. Minnesota’s offense on the other hand won’t be able to do much against Arizona and their top-ranked pass defense. Arizona’s front seven is going to dominate the Vikings’ offensive line and they will make sure that Sam Bradford is constantly under pressure throughout the entire game. Tyrann Mathieu may return this week from his shoulder injury, but even if he sits out, the Cardinals’ secondary should keep Stefon Diggs in check. As long as they don’t let Diggs beat them deep, they could potentially hold the Vikings to 14 points or less in this game.

 

Next 3 Games:
Arizona: @Atlanta, vs. Washington, @Miami
Minnesota: @Detroit, vs. Dallas, @Jacksonville

 

Washington (vs. Green Bay) – The Green Bay Packers have lost three straight games and have lost four out of their last five. They have given up at least 30 points in all four of those losses and their secondary was absolutely torched last week against Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans. I can no longer expect Green Bay to bust out of their slump and start playing like the Packers that we are all used to. Washington will host the Packers this week and Kirk Cousins should be able to pass all over Green Bay and their secondary. Look for Jordan Reed to be targeted often in this game because Green Bay has allowed opposing tight ends to catch 50 passes for 647 yards on the season. I also think Rob Kelley will be handed the ball 22-25 times in the game and may finally break through for over 100 yards. In the first four games of the season, the Packers’ run defense was superb and allowed only 2.0 yards per carry. Since then, they’ve allowed 4.7 yards per carry and an average of 119.4 rushing yards per game. This is also the last home game for Washington before they hit the road for three straight games. With Green Bay playing so poorly on both sides of the ball, this is the week that I’d take Washington if you are struggling to find a team to take in your pool.

 

Next 3 Games:
Green Bay: @Philadelphia, vs. Houston, vs. Seattle
Washington: @Dallas, @Arizona, @Philadelphia

 

Tennessee (vs. Indianapolis) –The Tennessee Titans have won four out of their last six games and are currently sitting at 5-5 and are shockingly a playoff contender. The Titans have two very winnable games before their bye week in Week 13, so they could potentially find themselves a game out of the playoffs in two weeks. Or in a perfect world, tied for the 6th seed. Their schedule gets a lot more difficult after the bye with games against Denver, KC and Houston, so this is essentially a must-win game this week. Marcus Mariota had arguably the second best game of his career last week against the Green Bay Packers, having thrown for 295 yards, 4 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He’s looking to carry over that performance this week against the Indianapolis Colts who allow 288 passing yards per game (31st in the NFL), and have just three interceptions on the season, which is tied for dead last in the league. Indianapolis also can’t stop the run and allows an average of 114.9 yards per game and 4.7 yards per carry on the season. It won’t be a surprise to anyone when Tennessee hands the ball off to DeMarco Murray 25 times and he rushes for 115+ yards on the afternoon. My biggest concern for Titans is on the defensive side of the ball and not being able to stop Andrew Luck. The Titans have allowed at least 301 passing yards in four of their last five games. In their last game against the Colts back on October 23, Andrew Luck threw for 353 yards and three touchdowns. T.Y. Hilton also exploded for 133 yards in that game and I’m not sure that Tennessee will have an answer for Hilton in this game. Andrew Luck also led the Colts on a 12 play, 70-yard drive to give the Colts the lead with less than two minutes to play in the game. It was a very good game between these two teams in their first matchup and I’m not expecting anything different. There may be a number of lead changes throughout the game and the game could be decided and won by the team that has the ball last, which is why I highly recommend you avoid taking either team this week.

 

Next 3 Games:
Indianapolis: vs. Pittsburgh, @NY Jets, vs. Houston
Tennessee: @Chicago, BYE, vs. Denver

 

Bold Prediction:

 

Carolina (vs. New Orleans) – The Panthers and Saints faced off against one another back in Week 6 and it was a very high-scoring game with both teams combining for 70 points and 929 total yards. These two teams will play their second and final game Thursday night on short rest. Carolina’s defense had been surprisingly bad this season but they have played much better over the last two games allowing a total of 30 points and an average of 298 total yards per game. But keep in mind that their two opponents in those games were the Rams and Chiefs, not exactly the New Orleans Saints. Cam Newton has had a lot of success against the Saints over his last four matchups and has thrown for 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He’s also averaged 323 passing yards per game over his last three games against New Orleans and I expect that he will throw for 300+ against New Orleans again this week. Drew Brees was spectacular in Week 6 against Carolina, throwing for 465 yards, four touchdowns and completing 69% of his throws. I don’t think he’ll put up those types of numbers again this week, but he will be able to move the ball against Carolina for a second straight game. If Carolina refrains from digging themselves into a 21-0 hole this week, then Carolina has a very good shot at getting revenge. It could very well be another high-scoring game, and this is a game I’d personally try to stay away from, but if you are in desperate need to pick a team, I would take Carolina in this game.

 

Next 3 Games:
New Orleans: vs. Los Angeles, vs. Detroit, @Tampa Bay
Carolina: @Oakland, @Seattle, vs. San Diego

 

Week 11 Survivor Pool Rankings:

 

1.    New England Patriots
2.    Pittsburgh Steelers
3.    Oakland Raiders
4.    New York Giants
5.    Detroit Lions
6.    Cincinnati Bengals
7.    Dallas Cowboys
8.    Kansas City Chiefs
9.    Seattle Seahawks
10.    Miami Dolphins
11.    Carolina Panthers
12.    Arizona Cardinals
13.    Washington Redskins
14.    Tennessee Titans

Mark Miller
Mark Miller writes the Survivor Picks column for Rotoworld. He can be found on Twitter.