All In The Cards: Thanksgiving Edition (Week 11 Recap and Week 12 Preview)

Welcome to a special addition of All In The Cards. Thanksgiving is the only time of the year when you are encouraged to get a second helping. So I’m going to twist that phrase and use it as an excuse to combine both the week 11 recap and the week 12 preview into one article (the real reason is that I’m okay with posting a preview after one game has been played but three games is too many). No in-depth preview for the Cards’ game this week (the only thing different about this week’s matchup and the one in week three is that the game is in San Francisco and Blaine Gabbert is staring instead of Colin Kaepernick) So to make up for that I will give a little blurb for every recap as well as every preview. I hope you enjoy and if you do make sure to follow me on Twitter @QTipsforsports or just search the hashtag #Allinthecards for in-game thoughts and analysis. Let’s get started with the week 11 recap:

How I did with my Week 11 NFL predictions:

  • Arizona 34, Cincinnati 31: The Cards’ first win against a team with a winning record was much deserved as these two teams threw everything they had at each other. Seeing the Cardinals make halftime adjustments and drive down the field in the waning seconds just reminds me how much this team has grown from just a few years ago. (1-0)
  • Jacksonville 19, Tennessee 13: Jaguars have been learning how to hold on to a lead late and now they are learning how to come from behind and win in the final minutes. A lot of progress is being made in Jacksonville while some but not a lot of progress is being made in Tennessee. (2-0)
  • Indianapolis 24, Atlanta 21: I’m jumping off the Falcons’ bandwagon because I’ve seen this before (A team that starts the season undefeated and then loses steam and becomes mediocre? Please don’t make me have to remember the 2012 Cardinals). The Colts need to keep pulling these games out because the Texans are right on their trail. (2-1)
  • Denver 17, Chicago 15: I’ll admit that Brock Osweiler did a lot better than I thought he would do but people need to temper their expectations. For as much improvement the Bears’ defense has made over the last several weeks they are still an average defense at best. If Osweiler can play like he did this week against the Patriots then I’ll start buying the hype. (3-1)
  • Dallas 24, Miami 14: Tony Romo is back and so is the Cowboys’ confidence. It’s amazing how the rest of the team suddenly plays better when Romo is around. It’s a testament to their confidence in him as well as a feeling of familiarity. It’s a shame Dallas wasn’t able to muster up a single win while he was gone. (4-1)
  • Detroit 18, Oakland 13: I’m pleasantly surprised with the quick turnaround the Lions have made. That win over Green Bay has really breathed new life into them but unfortunately it is probably too late to chase a wild card. Meanwhile the Raiders have seemed to regress after making so much progress the first half of the season. (4-2)
  • Baltimore 16, St. Louis 13: After seeing Joe Flacco silently put up with all the change and bad luck the Ravens have endured, it’s a real shame he ended up with such a serious leg injury. Meanwhile I think the Rams have gone on tilt as I’m not sure what they are doing anymore. Again, how can this be the same team that beat both Seattle and Arizona? (5-2)
  • Houston 24, New York Jets 17: Speaking of playing on tilt, things have really gone south for the Jets recently. They still have the talent and the schedule to make the playoffs but I don’t know if they can take advantage of either. The Texans on the other hand are being fueled by a pair of All-pros in J.J. Watt on defense and DeAndre Hopkins (yes I think he deserves an all-pro selection) on offense. (5-3)
  • Tampa Bay 45, Philadelphia 17: The Eagles will likely win a maximum of one more game the rest of the season, they just look dead. The Bucs are becoming everyone’s darlings in the NFC wild card race but I don’t know if this team can keep up this level of play until the end of the season. Regardless, it has been a successful year for Tampa Bay with a bright future. (5-4)
  • Carolina 44, Washington 16: This was a statement by the Panthers that their offense should be feared along with their defense. Could you imagine how good this team would be if they had Kelvin Benjamin? Also the Redskins are a decent team, so don’t take anything away from this blowout. As much as I’m a Cardinals homer, the Panthers should be the favorite in the NFC. (6-4)
  • Kansas City 33, San Diego 3: Remember when the Chiefs lost Jamaal Charles and were 1-4? The team is 4-1 since moving on from their star running back, but it has more to do with their defense stepping up to make up for the offensive shortcomings. Head Coach Andy Reid is also getting creative with the play calls, such as the Dontari Poe TD run. (7-4)
  • Green Bay 30, Minnesota 13: It wasn’t pretty but it was a necessary win for a Packers team that was close to a freefall after losing at home to the Lions. The defense really responded and held the Vikings in check. If the defense continues to play with that passion and Aaron Rodgers and the offense find their rhythm again this team will be just fine. (8-4)
  • Seattle 29, San Francisco 13: We really didn’t learn anything new from this game. I guess the only real thing to take away is that the Seahawks aren’t letting the heart-breaking loss at home to the Cardinals keep them down as they shift gears and chase the wild card. Meanwhile Blaine Gabbert continues to play decently well for the 49ers. (9-4)
  • New England 20, Buffalo 23: The Patriots’ offense continues to lose playmakers as Danny Amendola might miss time. Luckily the defense is playing very well to help mitigate any offensive drop-off. If this team still goes undefeated I think Bill Belichick deserves the Coach of the Year award, even if the Panthers go undefeated too. (10-4)

My Week 12 NFL predictions:

  • Arizona 31, San Francisco 10: Blaine Gabbert may be playing better than Colin Kaepernick, but it’s still nowhere near good enough to beat the Cardinals’ defense. Chris Johnson and the run game could get back on track this week.
  • Detroit 27, Philadelphia 17: Combine the Lions’ renewed energy with the Eagles’ lifelessness and this looks like a win for Detroit. This might be a must-win for Philly after the disaster against Tampa Bay.
  • Carolina 27, Dallas 24: I’m tempted to pick the Cowboys but with Tony Romo playing on a short week after just returning from an injury I think the Cowboys will start slow and the Panthers won’t let them catch up.
  • Green Bay 33, Chicago 20: Packers will want to sustain the momentum they gained from beating the Vikings last week. That plus they can’t lose the game where they are honoring Brett Favre now can they?
  • Minnesota 20, Atlanta 17: Huge game for both teams’ wild card chances. I already said that I jumped off the Falcons bandwagon so there isn’t that much more that I need to say about this pick.
  • Kansas City 17, Buffalo 13: I still think Buffalo is a good team but there is denying that the Chiefs are red hot at the moment. Plus the game is in Kansas City so I have to give them the advantage.
  • Cincinnati 34, St. Louis 10: Bengals need this win to halt their two-game losing streak. The Rams need this win to prevent their season from falling apart. I’ve seen both of these teams play and there is no doubt the Bengals are the better team and will win easily.
  • Oakland 20, Tennessee 14: This is possibly the Raiders’ last chance to regain momentum and chase a wild card spot. I think it may be too late to make a playoff push but I do think they will turn things around against the Titans.
  • Indianapolis 31, Tampa Bay 28: A toss-up game that I’m giving to the Colts because they are at home. It would not shock me at all if the Buccaneers were able to pull out the win.
  • New York Jets 22, Miami 17: Both teams are desperate for a win so I see the loser of this match being eliminated from the wild card race. I still think the Jets are talented enough to make a late-season push but they’re running out of opportunities.
  • Houston 28, New Orleans 20: The Saints may have changed defensive coordinators during the bye week but they still don’t have anyone on defense that can stop DeAndre Hopkins.
  • New York Giants 24, Washington 21: The Redskins will give them a fight, but the Giants know that with the Eagles’ implosion and the Cowboys just starting to play catch-up that this division is theirs for the taking.
  • Jacksonville 23, San Diego 16: Another toss-up game where I’ll side with the home team. That and the fact that I can’t easily forget how the Chiefs obliterated the Chargers last week.
  • Pittsburgh 30, Seattle 27: This pick isn’t a jab at the Seahawks; the Steelers are just really good and have renewed confidence now that the division title is within reach again. The Seahawks still have plenty of chances left to stay in the wild card race.
  • New England 20, Denver 17: Tom Brady is still the best in the NFL but he’ll have a tough time against a tough Denver defense without some of his main weapons. The Patriots will still win but it will be close.
  • Cleveland 19, Baltimore 16: With Joe Flacco out for the year I expect the Ravens to go into full tank mode. Then again, the Browns might also be in tank mode so this will be interesting to watch as both teams will try not to win this game.

 

Week 11 Record: 10-4
Season Record: 100-60 (.625)
Perfect Score Predictions: 2

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All In The Cards: Palmer’s Chance To Leave His Mark (Week 11)

The Cardinals finally defeated “big brother” to take full control of the NFC West as Arizona now has a three game lead with seven games to go. However, the Cards don’t have any time to rest as they face another tough opponent in the Cincinnati Bengals. With the Bengals coming off their first loss of the season, the Cardinals will be facing a team determined to get back on track and will one that that will try to take advantage of Arizona’s mental fatigue after the Cards’ win in Seattle. I hope you enjoy and if you do make sure to follow me on Twitter @QTipsforsports or just search the hashtag #Allinthecards for in-game thoughts and analysis. Without further ado, let’s take a look at this matchup of  division leaders:

Cincinnati Bengals @ Arizona Cardinals

Last Meeting: L 23-16 @ Cincinnati (11/24/11)

There are a number of reasons why this game was flexed into primetime. Both teams are among the best in their conferences. Both teams are historically mediocre franchises who have been given hope this season. However, the biggest reason this game will be played on Sunday night instead of Sunday afternoon like it was originally scheduled is due to the resurgence of quarterback Carson Palmer.

At the age of 35, Palmer is on pace to have his greatest statistical season, as his 2,749 passing yards and 23 passing touchdowns puts him on pace for 4,887 passing yards and 41 touchdowns. Here is a look at some of Palmer’s best seasons:

  • 2005 (Cin) – 3,836 pass yards, 67.8% pass comp, 32 TDs, 12 INTs, 101.1 QBR 
  • 2006 (Cin) – 4,035 pass yards, 62.3% pass comp, 28 TDs, 13 INTs, 93.9 QBR 
  • 2007 (Cin) – 4,131 pass yards, 64.9% pass comp, 26 TDs, 20 INTs, 86.7 QBR
  • 2010 (Cin) – 3,970 pass yards, 61.8% pass comp, 26 TDs, 20 INTs, 82.4 QBR
  • 2012 (Oak) – 4,018 pass yards, 61.1% pass comp, 22 TDs, 14 INTs, 85.3 QBR
  • 2013 (Ari) – 4,274 pass yards, 63.3% pass comp, 24 TDs, 22 INTs, 83.9 QBR
  • 2014 (Ari) – 1,626 pass yards, 62.9% pass comp, 11 TDs, 3 INTs, 95.6 QBR (6 games)

Now compare those seasons to the nine games Palmer has played this season:

  • 2015 (Ari) – 2,749 pass yards, 64.0% pass comp, 23 TDs, 7 INTs, 108.0 QBR

By looking at those stat lines, there is no clear answer as to which was Palmer’s previous best season. However, if you are given the option to couple back-to-back seasons together I think the answer would be the 2005 and 2006 seasons. Other than the fact that those seasons were 10 years ago, something very important happened between those two seasons: Palmer’s first major leg injury in the 2005 playoffs. It’s very interesting that he played his previous two best seasons before and after that injury, because a decade later Palmer is again having back-to-back career seasons, one before a major leg injury (2014) and one after that injury (2015).

Now I have no way to completely explain why this has occurred (maybe it’s a complete coincidence), but to me it feels like Palmer has a strong determination to continue what he starts. He’s a veteran who has traveled the beaten path and, due to succumbing to multiple serious leg injuries, knows that he only has a limited amount of chances to leave that mark.

Sunday night Palmer has a chance to take a big step toward leaving his mark. This week will be the second time in Palmer’s career that he will face the Bengals with the first time coming in 2012 when his Oakland Raiders lost 34-10. In that game, Palmer completed 19 of his 34 passes for just 146 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

This time around Palmer will be facing a good but not great Cincinnati defense. The Bengals rank 13th in both passing yards allowed (236.3) and rushing yards allowed (102.4). After throwing for 363 yards against a Seattle defense that still ranks second in passing yards allowed (202.8), Palmer should be able to throw on a tamer Bengals secondary while playing in front of the home crowd. Meanwhile, Andy Dalton will have to rely on Tyler Eifert a lot as Patrick Peterson (17 receptions allowed on 35 passes targeted towards his assignment) will more than likely shut down A.J. Green. As long as the rest of the secondary can slow down Eifert, the Bengals will have a hard time passing effectively.

While beating his former team would be great for Palmer, the main reason this game is so huge for Palmer is that a win would bring him and his team confidence as the playoffs approach. The Cardinals proved a lot of things with their win in Seattle last week but the fact still remains that Arizona has yet to beat a team with a winning record. While the Seahawks could still make the playoffs, there is no guarantee that they will, where as the Bengals are almost certainly going to the playoffs unless they lose the rest of their games. A win over Seattle proved the Cardinals were the best in the NFC West, but a win at home in primetime against a championship-contender would solidify Arizona as a championship-contender itself and would improve Palmer’s a chances of becoming a champion, the ultimate way a quarterback can leave their mark in the NFL.

Prediction: Arizona 27, Cincinnati 20

My Week 11 NFL predictions:

  • Jacksonville 26, Tennessee 20
  • Atlanta 24, Indianapolis 23
  • Denver 16, Chicago 13
  • Dallas 27, Miami 17
  • Oakland 31, Detroit 21
  • Baltimore 23, St. Louis 17
  • New York Jets 20, Houston 19
  • Philadelphia 28, Tampa Bay 23
  • Carolina 20, Washington 10
  • Kansas City 23, San Diego 20
  • Green Bay 24, Minnesota 20
  • Seattle 27, San Francisco 13
  • New England 28, Buffalo 20

Week 10 Record: 4-10
Week 11 Record: 1-0
Season Record: 91-56 (.619)
Perfect Score Predictions: 2