ORLANDO, November 18, 2015 — Last week was the first time in NFL history that six Super Bowl winning quarterbacks all lost. Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers and Joe Flacco have all hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. Peyton Manning won his trophy in 2006 with the Colts. Eli Manning won twice with the Giants in 2007 and 2011. Brees guided the Saints to the top of the mountain in 2009. Rodgers and the Packers prevailed in 2010. Flacco and the Ravens did in 2012. Wilson and the Seahawks triumphed in 2013.
Lest anyone think there was a Super Bowl jinx last week, two quarterbacks bucked the trend. Ben Roethlisberger was not even supposed to be playing. Despite being injured, he came off the bench when his backup, the third string quarterback, went out injured. The 2005 and 2008 Steelers champion played brilliantly in a win. The ultimate winner was the lord of the rings, Tom Brady. The Patriots quarterback won it all in 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2014. He also lost two Super Bowls to Eli Manning. This past Sunday Brady got a small measure of revenge by leading his team to a 27-26 win over Eli Manning in the final moments.
With the exception of Brady and the undefeated Patriots, it is the young turks who have zero rings that are trying to get to the next step. Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers are 9-0. Andy Dalton and the Bengals, despite stumbling at home last week, are 8-1. Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings have very quietly gotten to 7-2. Tyrod Taylor has come out of nowhere to get the Bills to 5-4. Despite consecutive losses to fall to 4-5, Derek Carr has the Raiders in the playoff hunt by revitalizing the Oakland offense and stretching the field. As for rookies Jameis Winston of the Buccaneers and Marcus Mariota of the Titans, the sky is the limit.
The NFL is a more than ever a quarterback driven league. As six Super Bowl winning quarterbacks lost, only time would tell if this was a changing of the guard or a blip on the way to more rings.
Meanwhile, despite being out with an injury this week, Peyton Manning is now the all time leader in passing yards. when he comes back, his next victory will make him the all time leader in wins. The records used to belong to the gunslinger, Brett Favre. The 1996 Super bowl winner is having his number retired by the Packers. Favre can at least say that he holds the record for most interceptions. That is how you win and lose a lot of games.
Nearly two decades later, the most important position in all of sports will be magnified down the stretch as teams fight for playoff spots and home field advantage. With that, here is the NFL 2015 Week 11 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with all times Eastern and point spreads provided by FootballLocks.com
Thursday, November 19, 2015, 8:30 p.m.
Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars (-2.5) — Both of these teams are bad, and the Jaguars were gift-wrapped a win last week. Take the home field. Jaguars cover.
Sunday, November 22, 1:00 p.m.
Washington Redskins at Carolina Panthers (-7) — Washington won by 33 points last week, but they go from facing a team with no defense to playing one of the best defenses. This week the Carolina front seven bring Kirk Cousins back to earth. The Panthers are not as perfect as their unbeaten record, but they are far better than Washington. Panthers cover.
Oakland Raiders (-2) at Detroit Lions — The Raiders have lost consecutive games while Detroit went on the road and shocked Green Bay for the first time in 24 years. Yet Detroit tried hard to lose that game and Detroit’s defense has been suspect all year until last week. Give the Raiders one more chance to show they belong in the playoff conversation. Raiders cover.
Dallas Cowboys at Miami Dolphins (Pick ‘em) — The Cowboys have lost seven straight but Tony Romo finally returns. The Dolphins look awful in stretches and solid in stretches, often in the same game. They came back from a 16-3 deficit on the road last week, so give them a chance at home. Dolphins win.
Indianapolis Colts at Atlanta Falcons (-6) — This is the underachiever Bowl. The Colts at 4-5 are tied for the top in the woeful AFC South while the Falcons started 5-0 but have since lost three of four to some inferior teams. Andrew Luck is injured, but the poor play by Atlanta in recent weeks means the spread is too high. Falcons win but fail to cover.
St. Louis Rams at Baltimore Ravens (-2) — The Rams air the ultimate team that runs hot and cold. Last week they were hideous in losing at home by 24 points to an improving Chicago team. This week they play the Ravens, who may have hit bottom last week in losing on a dumb penalty after they thought the game was over. This is the final chance to give the Rams the benefit of the doubt, but only because Baltimore really is that dreadful. Upset special, Rams win outright.
New York Jets (-2) at Houston Texans — The Texans shocked the football world last Monday night by going on the road and taking down previously unbeaten Cincinnati. The Jets lost at home to archival Buffalo. Yet the Texans have no quarterback, so consider last week a fluke until proven otherwise. Jets cover.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Philadelphia Eagles (-5.5) — The Eagles blew a 16-3 lead at home last week while the Buccaneers have very quietly gotten to 4-5. Lovie Smith gets his players to believe in his system. Chip Kelly has not. Jameis Winston is improving. Sam Bradford is injured again. Upset special, Buccaneers win outright.
Denver Broncos at Chicago Bears (-1) — Peyton Manning is out injured. Brock Osweiler starts his first NFL game. Forget that Denver has lost consecutive games or that they have a phenomenal defense. Jay Cutler has been revitalized under john Fox, and both Cutler and Fox badly want to defeat the team that fired both of them. They will. Bears cover.
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings (Pick ‘em) — Forget that the Packers have lost three straight and that the Vikings actually lead the division 7-2 to 6-3 over Green Bay. Even if everything was going right for the Packers, the game at Minnesota has always been a house of horrors for them. Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers have completed far too many passes to the Minnesota defense in Minnesota, and Mike Zimmer’s Vikings have a very good defense. Vikings cover.
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks (-12.5) — Two years ago this was a classic NFC Title Game for the ages, but both of these teams are shells of their former selves. However, even when they were both great, Seattle was frequently blowing out the 49ers in Seattle. The Seahawks lost at home last week, but Arizona is an elite team while the 49ers are wretched. Seattle still had one defensive touchdown last week and set up another one. Even a Legion of Boom that has slipped significantly should be able to beat the daylights out of Blaine Gabbert. The spread is high, but so are 49ers fans if they think they have a chance. Seahawks cover.
Kansas City Chiefs (-3) at San Diego Chargers — Kansas City went on the road and shocked Denver, but that was fool’s gold. Peyton Manning had his worst day as a pro. He was playing injured. Philip Rivers is playing at a high level even though the rest of his team is not. The Chargers have been one of the league’s big disappointments this year, but this is the week Rivers fights back. Upset special, Chargers cover.
Cincinnati Bengals at Arizona Cardinals (-4) — Forget that the Bengals were knocked from the unbeaten ranks at home against lowly Houston. Even Carson Palmer wanting to crush his old team is not the real storyline. Bruce Arians has the Cardinals flying high. They have legitimate Super Bowl aspirations. At home in the desert, they have the ability to win a shootout or a slugfest. Cardinals win but fail to cover.
Monday, November 23, 8:30 p.m.
Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (-7) — Rex Ryan is the new Bill Parcells in the sense that we now have a new version of the Tuna Bowl revenge games. Ryan got his vengeance against the Jets last week, but this is where the Bills get their reality check. They are a 5-4 team going up against an unbeaten team who despises their coach. Tom Brady and Bill Bellichick usually beat Rex Ryan, but still seek revenge for the 2010 AFC Divisional playoff loss at home. Besides, Tom Brady wants revenge against everybody this year. Rex will have to kiss Bellichick’s rings again. Patriots cover.