Can the Cardinals Keep Rolling? & Other Things to Watch During NFL Week 11
NFL teams are beginning to jockey for playoff spots as the 2014 season enters its final seven weeks. Here's a look at the most interesting storylines for Week 11:
Thursday, Nov. 13
The Bills & Dolphins Rivalry Returns
Buffalo at Miami | Sun Life Stadium; 8:25 p.m. (ET) on NFL Network
Wayyyyyy back before the Patriots took over the AFC East, Buffalo (5-4) and Miami (5-4) had one of the best rivalries in the NFL. The teams played smash-mouth, trash-talking, Bryan Cox double bird-flipping football games with the division title often hanging in the balance.
New England still rules the AFC East, but the Bills and Dolphins each have playoff aspirations this season. The Thursday night prime time game could come down to whether Buffalo's Kyle Orton or Miami's Ryan Tannehill has the better game at quarterback. (And by better, we mean sucks less.)
Sunday, Nov. 16
Who Dey? vs. Who Dat?
Cincinnati at New Orleans | Mercedes-Benz Superdome; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
The Bengals and Saints have a long tradition of phonetically-inspired war chants… and disappointed fan bases. The keepers of the 'Who Dey?' flame, Cincinnati (5-3-1) hasn't won a playoff game since 1990. After a fast start this season, the Bengals find themselves losing ground in the AFC North with a 2-3-1 record over the past six games. All Cincy's Andy Dalton needs to do to make things better is win in the Superdome this Sunday. Oof!
New Orleans (4-5) is still leading the NFC South despite a losing record. Quarterback Drew Brees and tight end Jimmy Graham make the Saints difficult to beat at home, as do the 80,000 fanatics yelling 'Who Dat?' A victory over the Bengals would give New Orleans an inside track to the playoffs and a reason for nervous fans not to break out those paper bags just yet.
Mark Sanchez Ready To Chill In Green Bay This Week, Bro
Philadelphia at Green Bay | Lambeau Field; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez is possibly his franchise's most bro-lific passer ever. After winning his first start for Philadelphia (7-2) on Monday, 'The Sanchize' met Philly fans for a cheesesteak in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. One dude even offered the QB his cheese fries. Solid game, brah: you kept your squad in first place in the NFC East.
Sanchez will go from a relatively balmy November night at home to the 'frozen tundra' when he faces Green Bay (6-3) at Lambeau Field on Sunday. Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers will likely send some gnarly blitzes at Sanchez (and hope that the Eagles' running game doesn't render his scheme bogus). Regardless, Philadelphia can't let Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers take too many shots at its porous — but improving — defense.
Cardinals Try To Keep Flying Without Carson Palmer
Detroit at Arizona | U of Phoenix Stadium; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Raise your hands if you had Arizona (8-1) and Detroit (7-2) as the two best teams in the NFC before the season…PUT YOUR HANDS DOWN, you poser. Regardless of whatever wacky sorcery the Cardinals and Lions have used to achieve their lofty records, the two division leaders are steaming toward the playoffs — usually foreign territory for both teams.
Snarky pundits who expected Arizona's inevitable fade may have gotten their wish when Cardinals' starting quarterback Carson Palmer went down with a season-ending knee injury against the Rams last week. Drew Stanton stepped in to lead the team to a win, but things could go much differently this Sunday against the Lions, whose defense has yielded the fewest yards per game in the NFL.
The Patriots Win Streak Heads West
New England at Indianapolis | Lucas Oil Stadium; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on NBC
Since getting steamrolled by Kansas City in Week 4, New England (7-2) has arguably been the NFL's best team. Led by quarterback Tom Brady, the Patriots offense has averaged more than 40 points per game during the team's five-game winning streak.
Indianapolis (6-3) has lost only once since starting the season 0-2, as Andrew Luck has led the NFL's best passing attack. However, the Colts' 27th-ranked pass defense has given up big games in losses to Denver, Philly and Pittsburgh already this season. That doesn't bode well with Brady due in Indy this Sunday night.
Sunday, Nov. 16
Minnesota at Chicago | Soldier Field; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Houston at Cleveland | FirstEnergy Stadium; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Seattle at Kansas City | Arrowhead Stadium; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Atlanta at Carolina | Bank of America Stadium; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Tampa Bay at Washington | FedEx Field; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Denver at St. Louis | Edward Jones Dome; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
San Francisco at N.Y. Giants | MetLife Stadium; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Oakland at San Diego | Qualcomm Stadium; 4:05 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Monday, Nov. 17
Pittsburgh at Tennessee | LP Field; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
Bye: Dallas, N.Y. Jets, Jacksonville, Baltimore