1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 & 2002
NFL Weekly Picks - Week 11
By Bob Cunningham
November 13, 2003
Last Week -- 6-8 (43%)
Overall -- 77-67 (53%)
Last Week -- 5-6-3 (45%)
Overall -- 64-73-7 (47%)
Last Week -- 1-1
Overall -- 9-7 (56%)

It's time for yours truly to admit to being guilty of ignoring some of the NFL's inalienable truths, which has been directly responsible for my worse-than-mediocre prognosticating performance this season.


... That picking home underdogs in the NFL is in the Pigskin Pick'em Bible. When you go against four of the five home 'dogs, as I did last week, you're going to pay the price.

... That you're really an idiot when you have a first-place team (Carolina) getting three points at home against a .500 team (Tampa Bay) and you lay the points. And to boot, you label the choice "a premium pick." I'm obviously stuck in 2002.

... That Miami is incapable of winning on the road against a quality opponent anytime after Halloween. The Dolphins will upset the Titans? What a stupid pick. Miami will win the Super Bowl? Apparently, even more asinine.

... That Minnesota will inevitably return to Earth because of a sorry defense. Hey, I've believed all along that the Vikes weren't as good as advertised, but I've been wrong on so many other things, I lost the nerve to stick to my guns.

... That Doug Flutie is a winner. Considering the Chargers were big home 'dogs, and I knew Flutie was starting, it's incredibly moronic to lay the points with the struggling Vikings. The savvy prognos were all over that one, I assure you.

... That picking Chicago whenever the Bears are expected to have a chance to win is ill-advised.

... That predicting a team which can't score (Buffalo) to beat a team with a good defense (Dallas) on the road is not the way to the Swami Hall of Fame.

But, hey, I'm not giving up. There's still seven weeks to go, friends. We'll persevere.

PREVIEW - WEEK 11 (Nov. 16-17)

BALTIMORE at MIAMI Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Dolphins favored by 6

Records: Ravens 5-4 (5-4 ATS), Dolphins 5-4 (5-4 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: The Dolphins have won three of the last four meetings, and gone 3-1 ATS.

Game Summary: Both teams are in trouble at QB. The Ravens have lost rookie starter Kyle Boller and will go with Anthony Wright instead of Chris Redman. It will be Wright's first start since 2001 with Dallas. The slumping Dolphins may consider a return to Jay Fiedler once he's healthy, even though the consensus is that Brian Griese has played fairly well, but it's Griese this week. In the meantime, I'll go with Jamal Lewis to outgain Ricky Williams, leading the Ravens to a close, low-scoring, ugly road upset.

Prediction: RAVENS, 13-10

TE Todd Heap is the team's leading receiver, but there's no telling whether he will be within Wright's radar. Other than Lewis and the defense there are really no other legit fantasy options here.

Williams has been unproductive of late, but you can't afford to sit him. Expect the defense to bounce back from the debacle at Tenn., especially if LB Zach Thomas and CB Patrick Surtain return. Bypass all facets of the passing game.

QB Kyle Boller (out)
WR Frank Sanders (doubt)

QB Jay Fiedler (ques)
WR Oronde Gadsden (injured reserve)
WR Derrius Thompson (ques)
LB Zach Thomas (ques)
DB Patrick Surtain (ques)

HOUSTON at BUFFALO Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Bills favored by 7

Records: Texans 3-6 (4-5 ATS), Bills 4-5 (3-5-1 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: Buffalo won the only previous meeting, 31-24, last season at Houston.

Game Summary: Does anyone know what the Bills are going to do, these days? Their effort at Dallas last week was downright sad, and while their record is a game better than Houston's, the Texans have been much more respectable. I can't envision an outright upset, but Buffalo simply doesn't elicit confidence from those paid to observe and predict.

Prediction: BILLS, 20-17

RB Domanick Davis continues to be a pleasant surprise, and WR Corey Bradford can provide the big play at any moment. TE Billy Miller a decent play, and taking a shot with the Houston defense is a good risk/reward play.

If you believe strongly in playing matchups, you can go with all the main weapons. For me, only RB Travis Henry, WR Eric Moulds and the defense are worthwhile.

RB Stacy Mack (ques)


KANSAS CITY at CINCINNATI Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Chiefs favored by 6

Records: Chiefs 9-0 (8-1 ATS); Bengals 4-5 (6-3 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: The Bengals have won their last three at home. KC is perfect ATS on the road (4-0).

Game Summary: Make no mistake, this game represents a legit test for the Chiefs in their pursuit to make history. On paper, they're clearly the better team, but Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has his team over-achieving, and you know they'll be ready for this one.

Prediction: CHIEFS, 24-19

QB Trent Green, RB Priest Holmes, and TE Tony Gonzalez are regular plays, but KR Dante Hall has a sore clavicle and may not be a factor for the special teams. The WRs were productive last week, but don't expect the same.

KC can be run on - play whomever starts between Corey Dillon or Rudi Johnson. QB Jon Kitna OK in larger leagues, as is WR Chad Johnson.


RB Corey Dillon (ques)
TE Reggie Kelley (ques)

ARIZONA at CLEVELAND Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Browns favored by 6 1/2

Records: Cardinals 3-6 (3-6 ATS); Browns 3-6 (3-6 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: Arizona is 0-4 on the road, straight-up and ATS. The Browns are 1-3 at home, both ways.

Game Summary: The Cardinals are still seeking their first road win, but I doubt they'll get it against the Browns, who have demonstrated flashes of excellence on both sides of the ball but rarely sustain the efforts long enough to result in victory, especially against quality opponents (which Arizona is not, of course). On the other hand, the Browns aren't lethal enough to blow anyone out. I suspect a fairly close game.

Prediction: BROWNS, 21-17

I'm still liking RB Marcel Shipp and WR Anquan Boldin, with QB Jeff Blake and TE Freddie Jones as darkhorses. Ex-Bengal kicker Neil Rackers was signed, if you're truly desperate.

RB William Green is reportedly slated to return (you'll recall he was dinged before his arrest for marijuana possession and DUI), and he could come up big. QB Kelly Holcomb is decent, but the only WRs to even consider are Dennis Northcutt and Quincy Morgan. Give the defense a go, too.

RB Emmitt Smith (ques)
WR Jason McAddley (ques)

QB Tim Couch (prob)
TE Aaron Shea (out)

JACKSONVILLE at TENNESSEE Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Titans favored by 10

Records: Jaguars 2-7 (3-6 ATS); Titans 7-2 (7-2 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: Tennessee has won and covered each of the last four meetings, including a 30-17 win at Jacksonville earlier this season.

Game Summary: The biggest challenge for the Titans will be getting up for an opponent it has handled with little trouble over the last two years, especially after dismantling Miami last week. The fact that Jacksonville knocked off the Colts will certainly help. Coach Jack Del Rio's Jaguars are getting better and better, as is rookie QB Byron Leftwich. The Titans will win, but it won't be a blowout.

Prediction: TITANS, 27-20

RB Fred Taylor and WR Jimmy Smith continue to be good options, but that's about it... and don't expect a great deal from Taylor. Newly-acquired WR Kevin Johnson will need time to learn the offense.

Everybody who touches the ball more than three or four times a game is worth playing, including TE Frank Wycheck (but not the No. 2 RB). The D/ST a definite go.

QB Mark Brunell (doubt)
WR Jermaine Lewis (injured reserve)

WR Drew Bennett (out)
DE Jevon Kearse (ques)


Line: Eagles favored by 3 1/2

Records: Giants 4-5 (4-5 ATS); Eagles 6-3 (5-4 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: The Eagles have won four of the last five meetings, but only one was decided by more than four points. Philly won at the Meadowlands earlier this season, 14-10.

Game Summary: The Giants have been remarkably hard to figure. I mean, how the heck could they possibly lose by 20 points at home to Atlanta two weeks after going into Minnesota and prevailing? Philly had a nice road win at Green Bay Monday, but now must operate on the short week against a semi-desperate team in a rivalry that's almost always tight. Looking for an upset? Here you go.

Prediction: GIANTS, 16-13

Without TE Jeremy Shockey, the Giants will rely more on RB Tiki Barber out of the backfield, if he can just hang on to the ball. WR Amani Toomer always a reasonable play.

Except for the defense, there's no clear-cut players to promote. QB Donovan McNabb is always a good risk, and I like WR Todd Pinkston's talent. With three healthy and capable RBs, ignore 'em all.

WR Ron Dixon (out)
TE Jeremy Shockey (out)

DL Hollis Thomas (out)
DB Brian Dawkins (ques)
DB Bobby Taylor (ques)

WASHINGTON at CAROLINA Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Panthers favored by 6

Records: Redskins 4-5 (3-5-1 ATS); Panthers 7-2 (5-4 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: The Redskins have dominated this series, winning all six meetings and covering the spread in the last two at Carolina.

Game Summary: The victory over Seattle was big for the Skins and coach Steve Spurrier, but can they win against a quality foe on the road? I say no, but they'll keep it close. The status of RB Stephen Davis is big -- and you know he'd love to suit up and face his former team. Defense rules the day here.

Prediction: PANTHERS, 23-13

WR Laveranues Coles is the only offensive player to recommend. The defense/special teams is a middle-rung pick.

Be sure you check the most updated reports, but my guess is that Davis will go and be fine. WR Steve Smith has become a regular play, and of course, the defense and K John Kasay are musts.

RB Ladell Betts (doubt)
RB Chad Morton (ques)
DL Brandon Noble (injured reserve)
DB Fred Smoot (ques)

WR Kevin Dyson (ques)
DL Kavika Pittman (out)

ST. LOUIS at CHICAGO Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Rams favored by 6

Records: Rams 6-3 (6-2-1 ATS); Bears 3-6 (4-4-1 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: The Rams are 1-3 on the road on grass, 2-2 ATS. Chicago is 3-1 at home. Almost exactly a year ago, the Rams defeated the Bears at St. Louis, 21-16.

Game Summary: This could be a real landmine for the Rams, whose offense has sputtered in consecutive weeks. The Bears were dreadful on offense themselves in last week's 12-10 loss at Detroit, but they're most certainly a better team at home. A typically (for this season) tricky game to predict.

Prediction: RAMS, 24-21

The weather is huge for this game. If it's bad, the Rams' big guns might shoot blanks. Still, most of the primaries are "gotta play 'em's". And the Rams' D has looked strong as well.

If the Bears give him the ball about 30 times, RB Anthony Thomas could have a big day. Steer clear of the passing game, including WR Marty Booker, until he shows he's fully healthy.

RB Lamar Gordon (ques)
DL Leonard Little (ques)

QB Kordell Stewart (ques)

ATLANTA at NEW ORLEANS Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Saints favored by 8 1/2

Records: Falcons 2-7 (2-7 ATS), Saints 4-5 (5-4 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: Atlanta is 10-1 ATS in its last 11 at New Orleans, and 17-6 against the Saints overall since 1991.

Game Summary: I usually only rely on ATS stats as a sort of tiebreaker... after all, the league is based on what-have-you-done-lately... but the Falcons edge in this series is so overwhelming and reliable, I can't ignore it. And when I consider the shockingly gaudy pointspread, I like it even more. For whatever reason, Atlanta finds a way to get it done in the SuperDome, and coming off its impressive whipping of the Giants, it does so again.

Prediction: FALCONS, 27-24 (premium ATS pick)

As was the case last week, it's not a bad idea to consider playing both RBs - TJ Duckett and Warrick Dunn - especially considering the anemic pass attack.

QB Aaron Brooks and RB Deuce McAlister are good to go. WR Joe Horn is an easy play, and WR Donte' Stallworth is worth a shot if you can verify his health status. I don't recommend anyone or anything else, however.

QB Michael Vick (out)
LB Keith Brooking (ques)

WR Donte' Stallworth (prob)
TE David Sloan (out)

NEW YORK JETS at INDIANAPOLIS Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Colts favored by 6 1/2

Records: Jets 3-6 (2-5-2 ATS); Colts 7-2 (6-3 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: This is the first meeting since last year's playoffs, when the Jets routed the Colts at The Meadowlands, 41-0.

Game Summary: You know the Colts have had this one circled on their calendar since the gun went off on that debacle last January. And they should a little extra riled after stumbling at Jacksonville. The Jets are playing better, hoping to make a late run at a playoff berth. But the Colts will be a team on a mission, as the cliche goes, in this one.

Prediction: COLTS, 34-20

Stick with the hot hands (second week in a row using that one), meaning that WR Santana Moss has to be in the lineup. I like QB Chad Pennington and TE Anthony Becht, too. Not so hot on the running game.

The Colts have so many weapons, and they all could factor in this week. RB Edgerrin James has become a risky play, but against the Jets it's good upside risk.

WR Wayne Chrebet (out)
LB Mo Lewis (ques)
CB Donnie Abraham (doubt)

WR Marvin Harrison (doubt)

SAN DIEGO at DENVER Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Broncos favored by 8 1/2

Records: Chargers 2-7 (3-6 ATS); Broncos 5-4 (4-5 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: The home team has won five of the last six meetings, by an average of more than two touchdowns.

Game Summary: Last week's drubbing of Minnesota was great for the Chargers, but they'll find the going a lot tougher at Denver. The Broncos are rested, but the equalizer is QB Doug Flutie, whom Bolts coach Marty Schottenheimer should have inserted more than a month ago. Better late than never. The status of Denver's QBs may decide this one, because I can't see Danny Kanell leading a rout. Jake Plummer is tentatively set to start.

Prediction: BRONCOS, 26-20

RB LaDainian Tomlinson will again be asked to carry the load, but Flutie makes it a lighter burden. WR David Boston may be primed for a big second half of the season.

RB Clinton Portis will be asked to do no worse that equal Tomlinson's output. TE Shannon Sharpe and WR Ashley Lelie are the best plays if Kanell is the QB, with Rod Smith more valuable if Plummer returns.

WR Eric Parker (out)
TE Stephen Alexander (ques)

QB Jake Plummer (prob)
RB Mike Anderson (out, suspended)
WR Ed McCaffrey (doubt)
LB Ian Gold (out)
LB John Mobley (out)
K Jason Elam (ques)

MINNESOTA at OAKLAND Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Vikings favored by 4 1/2

Records: Vikings 6-3 (6-3 ATS); Raiders 2-7 (0-8-1 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: After starting the season with six straight wins, straight-up and ATS, the Vikings have dropped three in a row. Oakland has yet to cover a number, losing eight and pushing last week against the Jets.

Game Summary: Believe it or not, the Oakland attack actually looked pretty decent against the Jets. RBs Tyrone Wheatley and rookie Justin Fargas stepped up, and even QB Rick Mirer played respectably. Oakland is an organization with a lot on the line, especially at home. I foresee the Raiders finally getting off the schnide and reversing their fortunes against the suddenly reeling Vikings.

Prediction: RAIDERS, 27-21

Expect a huge dose of Daunte Culpepper-to-Randy Moss, with a little Michael Bennett and Moe Williams mixed in. None of the other offensive players are reliable enough.

Like the Vikings going to Moss, I expect the Raiders to begin relying on the big-play abilities of WR Jerry Porter, who is reportedly healthy, if Mirer can get the ball to him. The RB committee will likely go another week.


QB Rich Gannon (out)
QB Marques Tuiasosopo (out)
RB Charlie Garner (ques)
DL Dana Stubblefield (ques)
LB Bill Romanowski (out)

GREEN BAY at TAMPA BAY Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Buccaneers favored by 4

Records: Packers 4-5 (4-5 ATS); Buccaneers 4-5 (4-5 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: The Bucs have won three of the last four meetings and covered the spread in all of them.

Game Summary: This game was expected to be big when it was first observed on the schedule, but not for the reasons that have come to be. Instead, this is a sort of elimination game - the loser will likely be ousted from postseason consideration. So, advantage Bucs... who are at home and with an extra day to prepare. Undoubtedly, the disheartening home loss to Philadelphia Monday night has deflated the Pack.

Prediction: BUCCANEERS, 24-14

The Bucs' defense hasn't been that good lately, so QB Brett Favre remains a decent play, and you have to stick with red-hot RB Ahman Green. Donald Driver is the only WR worth considering.

QB Brad Johnson and RB Michael Pittman could have big days, with WRs Keyshawn Johnson and Keenan McCardell surfacing as good plays. And by the way... I wouldn't give up on the D just yet.


RB Mike Alstott (injured reserve)
WR Joe Jurevicius (ques)
DB Brian Kelly (injured reserve)

DETROIT at SEATTLE Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Seahawks favored by 10

Records: Lions 3-6 (5-4 ATS); Seahawks 6-3 (3-6 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: Seattle is a perfect 5-0 at home, 3-2 ATS.

Game Summary: Coming off back-to-back victories at home, the Lions figure to hang tough with Seattle. But the Seahawks have the superior talent, and they're coming off a disappointing loss that could serve to fire them up before the home folks. Just like upsets, there are always a game or two that get ugly.

Prediction: SEAHAWKS, 31-10

None. Nobody. Move on.

QB Matt Hasselbeck, RB Shaun Alexander and WR Koren Robinson form an under-rated triumverate. The defense should also enjoy a bountiful week.

RB James Stewart (injured reserve)
RB Shawn Bryson (prob)
WR Charles Rogers (doubt)
WR Shawn Jefferson (ques)
DB Dre' Bly (ques)

DL Chad Eaton (injured reserve)

DALLAS at NEW ENGLAND Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Patriots favored by 4

Records: Cowboys 7-2 (6-2-1 ATS), Patriots 7-2 (8-1 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: New England has covered ATS eight in a row.

Game Summary: The Game of the Week -- a fantastic clash of head coaches. Here's the difference in the game -- QB Tom Brady. Both teams have solid defenses, and both have difficulty running the ball. Dallas' wideouts are better, but Brady uses six, seven eight different receivers effectively. The Pats will get just enough big plays to win.

Prediction: PATRIOTS, 23-12

I still like the Dallas defense, and WR Terry Glenn is a good sleeper play in his longtime home stadium. QB Quincy Carter and the running game is not recommended.

Brady-to-Troy Brown may get resurrected, and RB Kevin Faulk could get some yards running and receiving. The defense is an excellent play.

RB Richie Anderson (ques)

WR David Patten (injured reserve)
DL Ted Washington (ques)
LB Roosevelt Colvin (injured reserve)

PITTSBURGH at SAN FRANCISCO (Monday) Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: 49ers favored by 4

Records: Steelers 3-6 (4-5 ATS); 49ers 4-5 (4-4-1 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: The 49ers are 4-1 straight-up at home, and have routed the Bucs and Rams in their last two there.

Game Summary: QB Tim Rattay gets the start for the 49ers, but that doesn't matter a great deal if he plays like he did against St. Louis two weeks ago. The Steelers remain very susceptible through the air, and the offense is going to have to prove it can score against someone other than Arizona.

Prediction: 49ERS, 24-17

WR Hines Ward is the only truly reliable player in the Steelers' attack. QB Tommy Maddox and WR Plaxico Burress are good to go in larger leagues. The running game remains dubious.

Rattay is unproven, but there's huge upside for this week. Go with he and WR Terrell Owens. The running game isn't a strong play, because of two backs against one solid run defense.


QB Jeff Garcia (doubt)
TE Eric Johnson (doubt)
DL Andre Carter (ques)