Tue. Dec 1st, 2020

  | USA TODAY

Show Caption

Hide Caption

Lorenzo’s Locks: The 3 best bets you should consider for NFL Week 11

SportsPulse: Lorenzo was one Nick Chubb away from a perfect weekend of bets. He’s back with his three best bets for Week 11 in the NFL.

A quick rundown on items of interest as Week 11 rolls on in the NFL … 

Who’s hot: Ben Roethlisberger. It’s striking that a man standing 6-foot-6 as the quarterback for the NFL’s only undefeated can fly so far under the radar of the MVP conversation. And with Alex Smith’s inspiring return, it’s also a longshot that Big Ben will garner Comeback Player of the Year honors after his 2019 campaign was defined by elbow surgery. Yet for the lack of splash and gaudy numbers, Roethlisberger is quietly having one of the best seasons of his career. No, this is nowhere close to a carbon copy of Roethlisberger’s last full season in 2018, when he led the NFL in passing attempts (452), passing yards (5,129) and, well, interceptions (16). Now, with Pittsburgh’s offense ranked a ho-hum 24th for yards (18th passing), he’s an efficient, steadying force for a balanced team that doesn’t need him to win a shootout each week. Sure, he’s still capable, throwing for a season-high 333 yards and four TDs against the Bengals last weekend. But heading into Sunday’s game at Jacksonville, Roethlisberger ranks sixth in the NFL for passing attempts and significantly, sixth-best for interception rate, a big reason why the Steelers are second in the league with a +9 turnover ratio. A team will win a lot of games when the quarterback has a 22-to-4 TD-to-INT ratio as Roethlisberger has, while riding a three-game streak without a pick. Keep that up and maybe the Steelers will win the biggest games that fuel visions of the biggest trophies.

Pressure’s on: Carson Wentz. Remember the second-guessing when the Browns traded away the second pick overall in 2016, allowing the Eagles to draft Wentz? Well, with Wentz set to play his first game in Cleveland on Sunday, there’s no outcry of remorse from Browns fans. Wentz has the NFL’s third-worst passer rating (73.1), bolstered by his league-high 12 interceptions and paltry 58.2% completion rate. It’s not all on the quarterback, as Wentz’s propensity for faulty decisions coincides with injuries that have devastated the offensive line and wreaked much havoc on the receivers corps. The good news: Philadelphia (3-5-1) is in first place … in the NFL’s worst division. But now, the second guessing involves the level of buyer’s remorse for the Eagles after signing Wentz to a four-year, $128 million ($32M per year) contract extension while letting Super Bowl hero Nick Foles walk. 

Key matchup: Derrick Henry vs. Ravens defense. When New England’s Damien Williams gashed and slashed for 121 rushing yards last weekend, it was the most allowed to a single ball-carrier by Baltimore since Henry shredded and stiff-armed the unit for 195 yards in the AFC divisional playoff upset in January. Now here comes the 247-pound Henry again, second in the NFL with 946 yards and catching the Ravens defense at a vulnerable time. Baltimore could be without its two Pro Bowl-decorated interior defensive lineman, Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams. Regardless, it will take more than a few with an aggressive mindset to contain Henry, which is exactly why Ravens coach John Harbaugh had them practicing in pads on Wednesday.  

Next man up: Taysom Hill. Surprise! With Drew Brees placed on the injured list (reportedly with five fractured ribs and a collapsed lung), Saints coach Sean Payton bucked his recent history and installed his hybrid weapon as the fill-in starter rather than handing the reins to Jameis Winston as the Falcons visit the ‘Dome on Sunday. Last year, when Brees missed five games, Payton went with Teddy “Two Gloves” Bridgewater (5-0), while the athletically gifted Hill was still available for his impact as a specialty weapon. What’s different is Bridgewater had already spent more than a year in Payton’s system, whereas Winston came aboard this year. Still, it’s a bit stunning when considering Winston’s experience as a starter and the fact that he played the second half last week after Brees went down. Hill, a fourth-year vet, has never started a game and in his multi-faceted duty – quarterback, option quarterback, runner, receiver, special teams ace – has never thrown more than two passes in a game. Maybe Winston’s track record with turnovers (last year with the Bucs, he became the first in NFL history to pass for 30 TDs while throwing 30 INTs) was a factor. Or maybe Payton, who has long maintained that Hill has the potential to be a long-term quarterback, has seen enough behind the scenes. In any event, this is a huge opportunity for Hill to prove that he might ultimately become Brees’ successor and for Payton to find more creative tweaks for an offense that will have a new role for Hill.  

Rookie watch: Henry Ruggs III. When the Raiders stunned the Chiefs in a Week 5 shootout at Arrowhead, they took their first lead late in the second quarter when the first-rounder from Alabama struck with a 72-yard touchdown. Somewhere, Al Davis was smiling. Ruggs, who blazed at the combine with a 4.27 time in the 40, is exactly the type of speed burner that Davis drooled over. In the rematch at Death Star on Sunday night, Kansas City will undoubtedly try slowing Ruggs off the blocks. While Ruggs, whose only TD this season came against the Chiefs, has done the bulk of his damage against soft coverage, no team in the league plays as much press coverage as Kansas City, on 39% of the snaps, according to NextGen Stats.

Stomach for an upset: Patriots at Texans. The last time Bill Belichick came to town, Deshaun Watson led Houston to a big win with four TD passes. Can he do it again? So much has changed since last December. Tom Brady’s gone. DeAndre Hopkins was traded. Bill O’Brien, fired. If the Texans (2-7), two-point underdogs, are to get it done, Romeo Crennel will need to shore up his run defense after it allowed two Browns runners (Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt) to post 100-yard games last weekend. And with Cam Newton as an added running threat, the ground game is undoubtedly the ticket for the Patriots (4-5). Which brings us back to Watson as the X-factor…if he can keep the ball away from New England ball hawk J.C. Jackson, who has intercepted a pass in five consecutive games. 

If the playoffs were today: The Dolphins (6-3) would be in as the sixth seed in the AFC. And that standing could get better with Buffalo (7-3) in striking range as the race for the AFC East title heats up. Miami, heading into Denver, has been perfect (3-0) since Tua Tagovailoa took over at quarterback and has kept mistakes to a minimum. The roll, though, is also reflective of the huge help that Tagovailoa has received from the opportunistic Dolphins defense and particularly Emmanuel Ogbah. The defensive end has had a breakout season with eight sacks and both of his forced fumbles during the Tua Era were returned for touchdowns.  

Did you notice? DeForest Buckner, the mountain of a defensive tackle, has been everything the Colts could have bargained for when they obtained him from San Francisco in an offseason trade. The Colts will greet Aaron Rodgers on Sunday with the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense and with Buckner providing a relentless rush up the middle. His 16 quarterback hits rank third in the league among interior defensive linemen, behind Aaron Donald and Chris Jones. Memo to Rodgers: Look out, dude.  

Stat’s the fact: Justin Herbert, with 19 scoring strikes, is the first rookie to pass for at least two TDs in six consecutive games. Now if only the Chargers (2-7) can use the TDs to win again. They’ll try to end a three-game losing streak on Sunday against the winless Jets. 

Facebook Email

Source

By Editor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *