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Drew Hallowell/Philadelphia Eagles

2023 NFL Game Picks: Week 11

Last week: 8-7

Season: 92-59


CIN (5-4) @ BAL (7-3)

Thursday, November 16 | 8:15 PM ET | Prime Video


The Bengals and Ravens are both coming off a tough loss and enter a short week at less than 100% with multiple key players out, but the AFC North clash should be a physical, one-score game like we saw in the first two meetings this calendar year (including a playoff matchup in January). Tee Higgins (hamstring) is arguably the biggest loss after he had two touchdowns in the Week 2 loss, so Cincinnati needs Trenton Irwin and others behind Ja’Marr Chase to step up again, and I’d like to see a more balance with Joe Mixon having just 11 carries in last week’s loss to Houston. The Ravens will try to accomplish balance of their own by giving increased snaps to impressive rookie Keaton Mitchell—who has three plays of 50+ yards on 15 touches to begin his career. We have seen Joe Burrow come through in spots like this many times before, but Baltimore gets the advantage at home with Lamar Jackson’s playmakers healthy and a chance to create some separation in the division.


Winner: Baltimore Ravens


DAL (6-3) @ CAR (1-8)

Sunday, November 19 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


Frank Reich taking back play-calling duties for Carolina shows there is a definite sense of urgency—if not pure desperation—for the current regime, but it’s an understandable decision; if the ship is going down, Reich at least wants to be at the controls. As stated time and time again, I never felt good about the situation Bryce Young was entering based on how the Indianapolis offense operated by the end of Reich’s tenure, and questionable personnel decisions have only compounded the flaws. For example, Jonathan Mingo was a promising prospect out of Ole Miss, but he should be used in the role that Adam Thielen has, so the roster construction doesn’t make a ton of sense. This weekend could be a spot where Tony Pollard finally explodes with the Panthers being attackable by running backs both on the ground and through the air, and Dak Prescott is playing some of the best football of his career.


Winner: Dallas Cowboys


PIT (6-3) @ CLE (6-3)

Sunday, November 19 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


Dorian Thompson-Robinson will start for the Browns this week with Deshaun Watson (shoulder) done for the year, but having watched a lot of DTR at UCLA over the past few years, he might profile as a guy that can make things happen in short spurts rather than being the full-time starter; in other words, the rookie might be under center this week, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see PJ Walker—who played well—back under center as soon as Week 12. In general, I’m again shouting into the void that Jake Fromm would be a tremendous addition, and while totally unprecedented, Joshua Dobbs is showing that it is possible for a quarterback to have immediate success by joining a new team in the middle of a season. If you are skeptical, go watch Fromm’s performance in the preseason win over Baltimore, and consider players like Geno Smith that have proven to be capable starters after being written off. Furthermore, the weaponry in Cleveland fits well with Fromm’s skillset, as he can drop deep balls in the bucket to Amari Cooper and accurately hit David Njoku and Elijah Moore underneath. All that said, Pittsburgh continues to win close games under Mike Tomlin, and I believe they will again this week.


Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers


CHI (3-7) @ DET (7-2)

Sunday, November 19 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


From hustle blocks by Jameson Williams to David Montgomery subbing himself out for Jahmyr Gibbs to get a goal-line touchdown, the team chemistry is off the charts for Detroit, but is the defense good enough for them to win it all? Fortunately, the rest-of-season schedule sets up very favorably for them to build confidence—including home games this week and then on Thanksgiving versus Green Bay—so there is a great opportunity to silence any concerns ahead of January. With the Bears coming to town on Sunday, the key will be making sure Justin Fields doesn’t go off as a runner after he had 132+ rushing yards in both 2022 matchups, and I would expect to see a better version of the athletic quarterback with a few weeks to watch an on-schedule offense led by Tyson Bagent. Still, the Lions are an elite team that can put up a ton of points at home, and Fields is 6-25 as a starter with pressure to perform as Chicago weighs their options for 2024.


Winner: Detroit Lions


LAC (4-5) @ GB (3-6)

Sunday, November 19 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


Los Angeles needing their pass rushers to prove themselves versus top opponents was something I brought up last week, but that obviously didn’t happen with Jared Goff barely being touched—and “not good enough” has been a theme for Brandon Staley’s defense over the past three years. The matchup this week will be easier with Jordan Love and the Packers not scoring more than 20 points since Week 2, though, and we’ll see if the run defense gets back on track after a major bump in the road versus Detroit. Offensively, the Chargers now have Keenan Allen (shoulder) at less than 100%, so getting the offensive line to open more holes for Austin Ekeler (averaging a career-low 3.6 yards per carry) is important for not only this week, but also beyond—including next Sunday night against the Ravens. Overall, the best chance for Green Bay to push LA to 4-6 is to grind out consistent yardage with Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon, funnel the passing attack through Romeo Doubs, and hit on a deep shot to Christian Watson.


Winner: Los Angeles Chargers


ARI (2-8) @ HOU (5-4)

Sunday, November 19 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


C.J. Stroud is the heavy favorite for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, and last week—even if not his best game—was the most impressed I’ve been with him after overcoming a bad interception that brought Cincinnati back to eventually lead the game-winning drive. Having a short memory is a trait of many elite quarterbacks, and Stroud showing that in a win over a top AFC opponent should give Houston the confidence to beat anyone as they look to be a surprise party crasher for the playoffs. Arizona should also be encouraged by their quarterback’s performance last week, as Kyler Murray was dynamic while leading a game-winning drive of his own, and the offense should only improve as he gains comfort in the new system. A similarity between the two teams is strength on the offensive line, and I’ll say the Cardinals are able to open more holes for James Conner, and Jonathan Gannon’s defense will do their best to eliminate chunk plays for Houston.


Winner: Arizona Cardinals


TEN (3-6) @ JAX (6-3)

Sunday, November 19 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


The Titans have continued to fall since their 2022 collapse, and rookie Will Levis gets another challenge on Sunday—after being sacked eight times with zero touchdowns over the past two weeks—versus a Jaguars defense that has Josh Allen averaging a sack per game and last year’s No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker showing signs of an emergence in recent weeks. Jacksonville’s bigger issues right now are on offense, as Trevor Lawrence has been unable to find a groove all year, and the strong connection with Zay Jones (out with an ankle injury and now facing an uncertain future following a domestic violence incident) is unlikely to be re-ignited anytime soon; that puts a lot of Calvin Ridley to become more consistent alongside Christian Kirk, but the Jags could make things easier on everyone by making sure Travis Etienne Jr. is featured every week, and Evan Engram could be a focal-point this weekend after an 11/162/2 explosion in the first matchup last season.


Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars


LV (5-5) @ MIA (6-3)

Sunday, November 19 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


There are still some injury issues throughout the roster, but Miami’s headlining players are getting healthy with game-breaking rookie De’Von Achane (knee) set to return and Jaylen Waddle (knee) reportedly looking no worse for wear after healing up over the bye, and the defense—with the talent to become a top-tier unit—already got Jalen Ramsey back last month. We’ll see how Ramsey fares this week in a matchup against Davante Adams that hasn’t worked in his favor when the superstar wideout was in Green Bay, but Achane could prove too much to handle for a Las Vegas defense that often has tackling issues, so Aidan O’Connell needing to outduel Mike McDaniel’s offense is a tall order. I’ll be interested in seeing how the Dolphins game plan around Maxx Crosby and whether they are able to somehow wear out his nonstop motor with all the pre-snap motion and post-snap creativity.


Winner: Miami Dolphins


NYG (2-8) @ WAS (4-6)

Sunday, November 19 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


The past two seasons have been disappointing for Washington in this NFC East matchup, as they’re 0-2-1 with the tie last year being a huge blow to their playoff chances—and all three games have been slugfests. In order for New York to get on track with a win, it will almost certainly have to be another low-scoring affair, and the answers that Sam Howell has for a blitz-heavy defense will be a good measurement of his continued growth after absorbing six sacks in the first meeting. I still say balance is needed for Washington to reach their potential as a team (Howell currently ranks first in the league in pass attempts with 397, which is 47 more than Josh Allen at No. 2), and Jahan Dotson being targeted just twice last week shows there is room to improve for both Howell and Eric Bieniemy. The defense also needs to be better, and Daron Payne in particular has one sack this season after exploding for 11.5 sacks in 2022—which was notably a contract year. Saquon Barkley making enough plays to pull off the upset is possible, but Sunday is a game the Commanders need to win if they want to have a shot at playoff football.


Winner: Washington Commanders


TB (4-5) @ SF (6-3)

Sunday, November 19 | 4:05 PM ET | FOX


Although last week was a needed bounce-back game for Tampa Bay to snap their four-game losing streak, they’ll now run into a powerhouse San Francisco squad that not only seems fully back after last week, but also blew out the Bucs last year, 35-7. Part of the reason for the Niners getting back to dominance was the Chase Young trade already paying dividends against Jacksonville, as the defensive line was a wrecking crew to power the unit to five sacks and four takeaways. On the other side of the ball, Brock Purdy was extremely efficient with 296 yards and three scores on 19 completions, and seeing Deebo Samuel involved as a rusher is a reminder of exactly how scary the group is. Tampa Bay also has the weapons to present problems for opponents, but Chris Godwin isn’t involved at the level he should be, and I don’t like how Mike Evans (four receptions for 44 yards last year) matches up with Charvarius Ward and the San Francisco secondary.


Winner: San Francisco 49ers


NYJ (4-5) @ BUF (5-5)

Sunday, November 19 | 4:25 PM ET | CBS


The Bills are not in a great spot right now, and facing the Jets—who also have their backs against the wall—should make for a very intense matchup this weekend. Whether or not Ken Dorsey’s firing was warranted or simply a short-term attempt at a fix, the Bills have put far too much on Josh Allen (more than any player in football) for most of his career, and the overall identity needs to be less reliant on Allen making things happen, which can be helped by more run balance. Even considering the loss of Aaron Rodgers (Achilles), New York is also underperforming on offense, but Zach Wilson has done plenty of good under center (despite what many are saying), and it’s a similar situation to Buffalo in that things just aren’t working. From a longer-term perspective, the Jets need to fix the offensive line by 2024, and the Bills need to have their pass rush take control this week and beyond to help take the pressure off Allen and the offense.


Winner: Buffalo Bills


SEA (6-3) @ LAR (3-6)

Sunday, November 19 | 4:25 PM ET | CBS


After a couple of quiet games with single-digit touches, Seattle got Kenneth Walker III more involved in the second half of their win over Washington—including a 64-yard catch-and-run that could lead to him being the offensive centerpiece again. Perhaps more encouraging was Geno Smith and DK Metcalf connecting for a couple of chunk plays on the game-winning drive, and I don’t expect the Seahawks to look ahead to their Thanksgiving showdown in primetime versus San Francisco after Los Angeles already beat them in the opener. On defense, Puka Nacua went off in Week 1, but we’ll see if fellow rookie Devon Witherspoon has anything to say about it (although he could see more of Cooper Kupp), and 2022 second-rounder Boye Mafe has quietly emerged with a sack in each of the past seven games. I like the Seattle front to at least create some pressure on Matthew Stafford, and they can’t slip up with the Niners and Cowboys up next on back-to-back Thursday nights.


Winner: Seattle Seahawks


MIN (6-4) @ DEN (4-5)

Sunday, November 19 | 8:20 PM ET | NBC


Believe it or not, the Vikings (five games) and Broncos (three games, tied with the Eagles) have the longest winning streaks in the league entering the weekend, and both teams having a clear identity is a crucial factor in the success. For Minnesota, they have been steady even when they started 1-4 by playing aggressive defense and running an efficient offense under Kevin O’Connell, while Denver has focused the offense on Javonte Williams (55 touches over the past two games) and enjoyed a complete turnaround on defense after a disastrous start. On Sunday night, linebacker Jordan Hicks (shin) will create a huge void in the middle of Brian Flores’ defense, and I can’t shake the feeling that Russell Wilson might be able to hit on a couple of downfield throws when all-out pressure is brought; Wilson has absorbed at least four sacks in four of the past five games, though, so he needs to be quick on the trigger to avoid strip sacks and back-breaking takedowns. Joshua Dobbs’ mobility is the wild card, but a tough road environment might be enough to cool him off with the Denver fanbase suddenly feeling optimism.


Winner: Denver Broncos


PHI (8-1) @ KC (7-2)

Monday, November 20 | 8:15 PM ET | ESPN/ABC/ESPN2


A rematch of last season’s Super Bowl is almost being billed as a miniature one, and I don’t think anyone would be surprised if it also ended up being a preview of the matchup we get in February. Jalen Hurts had a Superman-like performance in the 38-35 loss with 374 total yards and four total touchdowns, but you know not getting the win has been something on his mind for the last nine months, and the Philadelphia defense must be better for him to get another shot in the Big Game—whether it be against the Chiefs or someone else. On Monday night, the game plan might be trying to take away Travis Kelce, which could open up the downfield throws that weren’t available to Patrick Mahomes in February. Philosophically, it’s an intriguing decision with most defenses being afraid to let Mahomes throw it deep, but I’d rather take that chance than get picked apart, and a healthy Jordan Davis should make running the ball more of a challenge. Again, the Chiefs being at home in primetime could be too much to overcome, but Hurts and the Eagles are determined.


Winner: Philadelphia Eagles