The folks at ESPN must be in hog heaven over this week’s Monday Night Football game.
Joe and Troy and the gang get the pleasure of calling “The Game” of the year when the Philadelphia Eagles visit the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football in a rematch of their classic encounter in Super Bowl 56.
We all remember how that game went as Philly QB Jalen Hurts (374 total yards, four TDs, 3 rushing, 1 passing) and KC QB Patrick Mahomes (182 yards passing, 3 TDs) put on a show for the ages. The Chiefs won their second Lombardi Trophy in four years on Harrison Butker’s 27-yard field goal with eight seconds left in the game.
It was one of the better Super Bowls ever played and Monday night’s contest should be another good one and both teams will have an extra week to prepare as both enjoyed their byes last weekend.
Mahomes (2,442 yards, 17 TDs) and Hurts (2,347 passing yards, 15 TDs/316 rushing yards, 7 TDs) are again having outstanding seasons, and should be ready to put on a show for a national TV audience heading into the Thanksgiving weekend.
While the national spotlight will be on that game, locally Texans fans are still raving about the performance rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud put on two weeks ago to rally his team to an exciting 39-37 win over Tampa Bay at NRG Stadium. Stroud, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, set an NFL rookie passing record by throwing for 470 yards and five touchdowns. He threw the game winner to fellow rookie Tank Dell with six seconds left in the game. Stroud drove his team 75 yards in 7 plays with just 40 seconds left in the game to produce the game-winning points.
This week, Stroud and the Texans host Arizona and take on a one-win Cardinals team that should have Kyler Murray back at quarterback. Murray has missed the first nine weeks of the season recovering from a knee injury he suffered last December. This is a game the Texans should win, and they can’t afford to look past the lowly Cardinals. Dallas did it in Week 3 and it cost them a victory.
Other interesting matchups in Week 11 features the red hot Cincinnati Bengals visiting the equally hot Baltimore Ravens in a key AFC North contest. The Steelers will visit the Browns in another big AFC North contest, while Dallas, coming off a 28-23 loss at Philadelphia two weeks ago, hits the road again to take on the struggling Carolina Panthers and No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young. Cowboy fans are hoping their team learned in that loss to Arizona that they can’t take any team for granted, especially on the road.
Jacksonville entertains Tennessee, while Tampa Bay plays at San Francisco and newly-acquired defensive end Chase Young (the 49ers acquired Young in a trade with the Commanders on Oct. 31). SF fans are hoping Young helps stabilize a struggling SF defense.
The Sunday Night Football matchup pits Minnesota at Denver.
The college schedule is pretty bland as most of the big national rivalries will be played Thanksgiving weekend. No. 7-ranked Texas plays at Iowa State in a game UT needs to win to stay alive in the Big 12 title chase, while No. 19 UCLA takes on crosstown rival USC. No. 1- ranked Georgia has a tough test at No. 14 Tennessee and Kansas State and Kansas take on one another for bragging rights in the Sunflower State.
Before we take a look at this weekend’s games, let’s review last week’s record. A 9-3 week brought the season record to 72- 38 (655).
Now, onto this weekend’s game.
Texas at Iowa State: Sometimes it helps to be lucky, and was that ever the case two weeks ago when Texas stopped Kansas State at its four-yard line to preserve a 33-30 overtime win in Austin. Kansas State could have kicked the tying field goal to force a second OT, but head coach Chris Klieman decided to go for the win and UT fans were glad he did. This week, Steve Sarkisian’s team will face a tough Iowa State team on the road in what will probably be chilly conditions. The UT offense is playing well with backup Maalik Murphy (465 yards, 3 TDs) under center and if starter Quinn Ewers is back, that should only help the ‘Horns. Look for a big day from running back Jonathon Brooks (1,035 yards, 8 TDs) and wide receivers Xavier Worthy (49 receptions, 620 yards, 4 TDs) and Adonai Mitchell (37 receptions, 576 yards, 8 TDS) as Texas looks to punch its tickets to the Big 12 title game.
UCLA at USC: Chip Kelly’s Bruins will look to continue USC’s late-season woes when they take on the Trojans in the LA Coliseum on Saturday. The Bruins will be led by QB Dante Moore (1,344 yards, 10 TDs) and running back Carson Steele (711 yards, 6 TDs) and will look to pile on a woeful USC defense that gave up 52 points at home to Washington two weeks ago. USC is potent on offense led by QB Caleb Williams (2,958 yards, 28 TDs/149 rushing yards, 10 TDs), running back MarShawn Lloyd (766 yards, 8 TDS) and wide receiver Tahj Washington (43 receptions, 833 yards, 6 TDs). Look for another highscoring affair with Williams being the difference maker on Saturday. My pick, USC 43, UCLA 40
Kansas State at Kansas: Kansas has a good shot to enter this game with an 8-2 record (they hosted Texas Tech last week and the Red Raiders are not a good road team) when they face their in-state rival Kansas St. The Jayhawks can put points on the board led by QB Jason Bean (1,418 yards, 10 TDs) and running back Devin Neal (828 yards, 9 TDs). The offense will get tested by a tough KSU defense that has a penchant for forcing turnovers. The Wildcats play hard. They overcame a 20- point fourth-quarter deficit at Texas two weeks ago to tie the game and send it to OT. KSU is led by QB Will Howard (1,955 yards, 18 TDs). Look for the Jayhawks magical season to continue as they win another big one on Saturday. My pick, Kansas 31, Kansas State 27
Georgia at Tennessee: The big one in the SEC pits the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs against the No. 14-ranked Volunteers in Knoxville. Two weeks ago, Kirby Smart’s ‘Dawgs survived a home scare against Missouri, 30-21. This could be a tough road test for first-year starting QB Carson Beck (2,716 yards, 16 TDs). How he handles the big crowd in Knoxville will be interesting. He will get help from running back Daijun Edwards (632 yards, 8 TDs) and wide receiver Dominic Lovett (39 receptions, 398 yards, 2 TDs). The Georgia defense will get tested by Vols QB Joe Milton III (2,017 yards, 15 TDs), running back Jaylen Wright (826 yards, 3 TDs) and wide receiver Squirrel White (46 receptions, 557 yards, 2 TDs). Look for Georgia’s biggame experience, and defense, to be the difference maker in this one. My pick, Georgia 26, Tennessee 23
Cincinnati at Baltimore: Two of the NFL’s hottest teams meet in Baltimore on Sunday in what should be a highlycompetitive game. The Bengals have won five of their last six games heading into last Sunday’s home game against Houston, while the Ravens have won four straight heading into last Sunday’s game against Cleveland. The Ravens have averaged 35 points and have allowed just 12 in their last three games. QB Lamar Jackson (1,954 passing yards, 9 TDs/440 rushing yards, 5 TDs), running back Gus Edwards (478 yards, 7 TDs) and tight end Mark Andrews (41 receptions, 477 yards, 6 TDs) are rolling. The Bengals are led by QB Joe Burrow (1,861 yards, 12 TDs), running back Joe Mixon (490 yards, 2 TDs) and wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase (64 receptions, 697 yards, 4 TDS) and Tee Higgins (27 receptions, 328 yards, 2 TDs). Look for the Ravens defense to be the difference maker late in this one as Baltimore continues its roll. My pick, Baltimore 24, Cincinnati 18
Arizona at Houston: Look for another big day from Stroud (2,270 yards, 14 TDs) and wide receivers Nico Collins (36 receptions, 631 yards, 4 TDs) and Tank Dell (25 receptions, 454 yards, 4 TDs) as the Texans look to remain in the AFC Wild Card race. Head coach DeMeco Ryans know his team can’t look past the Cardinals, especially is dual-threat QB Kyler Murray returns from an injury that has sidelined him most of the season. The Texans will take care of business and look forward to hosting AFC South leader Jacksonville on Nov. 26. My pick, Houston 32, Arizona 13
Dallas at Carolina: The Cowboys head to Charlotte to face a Panthers team that lost seven of their first eight games. As stated earlier, the Cowboys can’t play down to the Panthers or it could cost them and they have little room for error from here on out. Dak Precott (2,011 yards, 13 TDS) needs to take the starch out of Carolina early with strikes to CeeDee Lamb (57 receptions, 824 yards, 3 TDs) and tight end Jake Ferguson (32 receptions, 328 yards, 3 TDs). If they are successful throwing the ball, that should open up the running game for Tony Pollard (474 yards, 3 TDs). Look for Micah Parsons and the Dallas defense to pressure rookie QB Bryce Young (1,375 yards, 8 TDs/7 interceptions) early and often as the Cowboys take care of business and head home for their Thanksgiving Day game against Washington. My pick, Dallas 33, Carolina 13
Pittsburgh at Cleveland: This should be a defensive struggle as both teams have issues on offense. These are two of the best defenses in the NFL so the team that makes the fewest mistakes will come out on top. The Steelers offense has been pedestrian, but they have won five of their first eight games. QB Kenny Pickett (1,490 yards, 6 TDs) and wide receiver George Pickens (30 receptions, 521 yards, 3 TDs) need to make some plays downfield against a Browns defense that has 27 sacks (led by Myles Garret’s 9.5) in its first eight games. The Steelers defense has recorded 19. It appears Deshaun Watson (920 yards, 6 TDs in four games) is back for the Browns. He will look to make plays downfield to Amari Cooper (35 receptions, 617 yards, 2 TDs). Look for the Cleveland defense and home field advantage to be the difference maker in this one as the Browns pick up a big win on Sunday. My pick, Cleveland 17, Pittsburgh 13
Tennessee at Jacksonville: The Jags will look to keep rolling when they host the best up Titans on Sunday. Jacksonville had a five-game winning streak heading into last Sunday’s home game against the 49ers. QB Trevor Lawrence (1,935 yards, 9 TDs), running back Travis Etienne (583 yards, 8 total TDs) and wide receiver Christian Kirk (43 receptions, 520 yards, 3 TDs) should continue the good times for Jag fans as they roll to an easy win. My pick, Jacksonville 31, Tennessee 14
Tampa Bay at San Francisco: The 49ers host the struggling Bucs on Sunday looking to get things back on track. SF entered its bye week riding a three-game losing streak and had a tough road game at Jacksonville last Sunday. Look for Brock Purdy (2,033 yards, 12 TDs), Christian McCaffrey (652 rushing yards, 9 TDs/32 receptions, 292 yards, 4 TDs) and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (35 receptions, 620 yards, 2 TDs) to get better against a TB team that was riding a four-game losing streak heading into last Sunday’s game against Tennessee. My pick, San Francisco 34, Tampa Bay 16
Minnesota at Denver: This is kind of a stinker for the Sunday Night Football crew, but it is what it is. The Vikings won a big road game two weeks ago at Atlanta behind newly-acquired QB Josh Dobbs (158 yards, 2 passing TDs, 1 rushing TD) who was picked up to replace injured starter Kirk Cousins. The Vikings are a gritty bunch and will face a Denver team that could be putting things together behind QB Russell Wilson (1,613 yards, 16 TDs). Look for the Denver defense to get after Dobbs and force a turnover or two as the Broncos look to make a run for an AFC Wild Card slot. My pick, Denver 23, Minnesota 20
Philadelphia at Kansas City: This should be a fun game to watch on Monday night. It pits two high-scoring offenses and two better than average defenses. Philly is led by QB Jalen Hurts (2,247 passing yards, 15 TDS/316 rushing yards, 7 TDs), running back D’Andre Swift (614 yards, 3 TDs) and big-play wide receivers A.J. Brown (67 receptions, 1,005 yards, 6 TDs) and DeVonta Smith (42 receptions, 533 yards, 4 TDs). The defense can get after the QB (30 sacks), but they will have their hands full against Mahomes (2,442 yards, 17 TDs), running back Isiah Pacheco (525 yards, 3 TDs) and big-play tight end Travis Kelce (57 receptions, 597 yards, 4 TDs). The Chiefs defeated Miami 21-14 in Frankfurt, Germany two weeks ago and Mahomes said after the game that the offense will work out its kinks. Head coach Andy Reid had two weeks to work out the kinks and I have a feeling the veteran head coach will have a new wrinkle or two for the Eagles come Monday night. Look for another tight, high-scoring game with Mahomes making one or two more plays than does Hurt on Monday Night Football. My pick, Kansas City 34, Philadelphia 31