So we have Week Eleven in the season and already the Patriots and Jets have a potential fight for Ed Reed, cut by the Texans. While that sorts out, picks for the week -
Titans over Colts - The Titans are struggling after another bitter loss to the Jaguars and now face the Colts having to use Ryan Fitzpatrick as quarterback. Fitz is a hair-pulling quarterback who fails even as he puts up promising numbers. But the Colts themselves are coming off a bigger embarrassment, getting crushed by the mediocre Rams and I'm still confident in the Titans defense. The division has been tighter than it may have looked, and I'll go out on a limb and pick the Titans, whose last Thursday Night appearance was last year's shocker over Pittsburgh.
NY Jets over Bills - The Bills actually filed a complaint about the schedule to the league office, an embarrassing act betraying an organizational inability to figure out how to win or how to toughen up. They should be a lot better than this as they face the radically uneven Jets; but it's looking like the Jets will again become the AFC East's playoff pest.
Ravens over Bears - Neither team is all that good; the Ravens show more promise than the ever-overrated Bears.
Bengals over Browns - The Browns got their win in this rivalry; the Bengals need to keep winning after falling short in a game they forced into overtime, and this could be a high-scoring affair.
Lions over Steelers - The Steelers got a needed win last week but the Lions are now on a march.
Texans over Raiders - Houston has collapsed and didn't do what they were supposed to do against the Cardinals; this time they get the Raiders, who aren't good even though they couldn't quite stay dead against the NY Giants.
Jaguars over Cardinals - The Cards are somehow 5-4; that won't cut it having to travel to the east coast against a Jaguars team that finally broke through.
Eagles over Redskins - Shockingly the Eagles are winless at home so far this season; they can rectify that against a fading Skins team.
Buccaneers over Falcons - The Bucs have been awful but the Falcons have worse problems.
Chargers over Dolphins - The Dolphins blew it on Monday Night, face a possible blowup of their front office, and the Chargers now are in must-win mode.
NY Giants over Packers - The Giants have no realistic chance at the playoffs, but it's the Packers who have the real problem - they're a falling team.
Seahawks over Vikings - This should be a better-than-expected game with the Vikings showing fight almost every week and the Seahawks winning more on guile than muscle lately; the Bucs attack plan likely will be studied by Minnesota.
Saints over 49ers - The 49ers no longer are the sure thing for the Superbowl a lot of us thought they'd be, and the Saints, despite a burgeoning challenge from the Panthers, have regained a lot of their championship muscle. This nonetheless should be a good game as the Niners aren't going to go down easy.
Chiefs over Broncos - I'm going out on a limb again given the explosiveness of the Broncos offense, but there may be more to Peyton Manning's physical issues than the Broncs are letting on; his arm strength weakened noticeably late last year and now he has an ankle issue, plus Andy Reid finally figured out how to beat him last time he played him (I know, it was 2010 with the Eagles) and the Chiefs have kept defying the odds this year.
Patriots over Panthers - The Panthers are for real, and this game may bring back memory of Superbowl XXXVIII. Offensively they're only 15th in points scored, while the Patriots are now eighth in points scored and seventh in points allowed (the Panthers are second). The Patriots have their bye and usually win coming out of it, plus their offense has gained much of its 2007-12 swagger back. An intriguing angle is Panthers Hall Of Famer to be Stevonne Smith; according to 2003 Panthers teammate Jermaine Wiggins, Smith is easy to rattle because he refuses to back down from a fight and thus can be taken out of his game.
I like both teams; I expect the game to be decided by a very-late field goal. I think the Patriots have a slight edge based on having gone through such big games before.
So we await Thursday Night and the start of Week Eleven.