This week in: The NFL – Week 11 2012

WR Danny Amendola got the Rams to the 2 yard line in OT, but the play was called back for an illegal formation

For the first time in four years, an NFL game ended in a tie last weekend, as NFC West foes San Francisco and St. Louis ended up with 24 points apiece after overtime.  The Rams scored two touchdowns in the first quarter to open up an early 14-0 lead, but the 49ers pulled to within seven before half-time, only to lose their starting quarterback, Alex Smith, to a concussion.  His replacement, Colin Kaepernick, rushed for a score in the fourth-quarter, before running back Frank Gore added another to give San Francisco a 21-17 advantage.  Sam Bradford drove St. Louis back down the field and got them to First and Goal from the two-yard line, but the Rams then took a timeout with less than 90 seconds to go – a decision that meant, when they then scored on the next play, they were kicking the ball back to the 49ers with more than a minute left to play.  San Francisco duly tied it up to force overtime and twice more St. Louis contributed to their own failure to win the game.  An 80-yard pass from Bradford to Danny Amendola was wiped out because of an illegal formation, then a game winning field goal was also nullified as the Rams had failed to snap the ball before the play clock ran out and were called for a delay of game.  The tie was the first in the NFL since 2008, when Philadelphia and Cincinnati were also deadlocked after 75 minutes.

Last week saw Atlanta’s unbeaten start to the season came to an end in New Orleans, as the Falcons fell 31-27 to the Saints, who have now won four of their last five contests, after starting the season 0-4.  Also in the NFC South, the Buccaneers beat the Chargers in Tampa Bay, 34-24;  and the Panthers lost at home to Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos, 36-14, with the veteran QB tying Dan Marino on the all-time wins (147) and touchdown passes (420) lists.  In the NFC East, the Cowboys beat the Eagles in Philadelphia, 38-23; and the Giants lost in Cincinnati, 31-13, with Eli Manning failing to throw a touchdown pass for the third consecutive week, during which time he has racked up four interceptions.  Seattle improved to 5-0 at home for the season, with a 28-7 win over the NY Jets; the Vikings defeated divisional rivals Detroit, 34-24, in Minnesota; while Tennessee, Indianapolis and Baltimore all had big wins, over Miami, Jacksonville and Oakland respectively.

The Texans and Bears entered their matchup in Chicago with identical 7-1 records, but it was Houston who came out on top with a 13-6 victory over the NFC North leaders.  Both starting quarterbacks threw two interceptions, but the Bears lost Jay Cutler to a concussion before half-time, after he took a helmet-to-helmet hit from Tim Dobbins and they may be forced to start Jason Campbell in his place this weekend.  In comparison to that matchup, which was a defensive battle that saw the two teams combine for just 222 passing yards, New England’s 37-31 win over Buffalo included two touchdown passes each for Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tom Brady – who between them threw for 549 yards.  Monday night’s game saw another starting quarterback suffer an injury, on this occasion it was Ben Roethlisberger who was forced to depart early, with a sprained shoulder injury he suffered in the third quarter.  Pittsburgh did recover to beat the lowly Kansas City Chiefs, 16-13, but only after forcing an interception by Matt Cassell on the second play of overtime, and the Steelers face a much tougher matchup this week against the Ravens, a fixture in which Roethlisberger will now be unable to play.

Elsewhere this week, the Packers come off their bye week to face the Lions in Detroit; Atlanta seeks to return to winning ways in their home contest against Arizona; the Bengals are in Kansas City to play the Chiefs; while the Cowboys host the Browns.  The Colts and Patriots, who both have 6-3 records, meet in New England; while two 3-6 teams, the Eagles and Redskins, square off in Washington; Denver have a home game against their divisional rivals, the Chargers; the Jets are in St. Louis; and the Dolphins and Bills play in Buffalo.  Both the Bears and 49ers are waiting to see if their starting quarterbacks will be ready to return from concussion for their Monday night encounter; the Saints will try to get to .500 for the first time this season, which they would do with a win in Oakland; Houston are considered the biggest favourites of the season for their game against Jacksonville; and the Buccaneers are away at the Panthers.

Predictions

Last week, 5-9; Season 74-71

Home teams in bold

Bills -1.5 over Dolphins

Falcons -9.5 over Cardinals

Browns +7.5 over Cowboys

Lions +3.5 over Packers

Bengals -3.5 over Chiefs

Rams -3.5 over Jets

Redskins -3.5 over Eagles

Buccaneers -1.5 over Panthers

Texans -15.5 over Jaguars

Raiders +4.5 over Saints

Chargers +7.5 over Broncos

Colts +9.5 over Patriots

Ravens +3.5 over Steelers

49ers -4.5 over Bears

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