NFL matchups: Week 11

Published: Saturday, Nov. 19 2011 11:28 p.m. MST

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco gets up from the turf after a keeper play in the second half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2011, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Associated Press

NEW YORK — Ray Rice carried the ball just five times in last Sunday's loss by Baltimore to Seattle, which can mean only one thing: Andy Reid sneaked into John Harbaugh's briefcase and fiddled with his game plans. Rice was steamed, and he did not talk to reporters after the game, explaining later that locker-room frustration "leads to disaster, leads to trouble, leads to people pointing fingers." And disaster, trouble and finger-pointing lead to extra-awesome game previews. C'mon, Ray, some of us are trying to earn a living here. The Bengals are at the Ravens at 11 a.m. on CBS.

BILLS (5-4) at DOLPHINS (2-7), 11 a.m.

Having unsuccessfully planned for one opponent a week for most of the season, Miami coaches are preparing for two: Buffalo on Sunday, and Dallas on Thanksgiving. The Dolphins have had help in their back-to-back victories from an unlikely source: Reggie Bush, perpetual disappointment and current front-runner for Best Supporting Actor in a Reality Television Divorce Fiasco.

BUCCANEERS (4-5) at PACKERS (9-0), 11 a.m.

Like a flabby Hope Diamond, Albert Haynesworth is a fascinating, oversize trinket that brings nothing but misery to anyone foolish enough to acquire him. Tampa Bay signed Haynesworth and immediately inserted him into its defensive line; the results were 185 yards rushing allowed and a 37-9 loss. The Patriots, meanwhile, improved as soon as they rid themselves of Haynesworth.

COWBOYS (5-4) at REDSKINS (3-6), 11 a.m.

The rookie sensation DeMarco Murray has rushed for 601 yards in the past four games, but that does not mean he has earned a starting job. Felix Jones may soon return from an ankle injury, and Dallas coach Jerry Jones (if he is not going to pretend otherwise, then neither are we) gave conflicting reports last week about how the carries will be divided when Jones returns. "I haven't seen enough of DeMarco," Jones said, though he later explained that Murray would still receive the bulk of the carries.

JAGUARS (3-6) at BROWNS (3-6), 11 a.m.

Can you spot the two people on this list who are not on Jacksonville's active roster: Guy Whimper, Leger Douzable, Julius Strangepork, John Chick, Cecil Shorts, Danny Rebus.

Give up? Whimper, Douzable, Chick and Shorts are all real-life Jaguars. Rebus is a character on the new "Electric Company," and Strangepork was the Muppet medical officer on "Pigs in Space." Give the Jaguars credit for at least adding a little flair to their anonymity.

PANTHERS (2-7) at LIONS (6-3), 11 a.m.

Lions coach Jim Schwartz said that the 22-mph wind at Soldier Field, not a finger injury, hampered quarterback Matthew Stafford in Detroit's 37-13 loss to the Bears. "The wind affected his actual throwing," Schwartz said. "I don't think it had anything to do with the actual finger." Stafford's virtual throwing and hypothetical finger were not affected. Schwartz also said that his team "didn't respond well" to turnovers. Considering how often their games end in brawls, it is not clear if the Lions respond well to anything.

RAIDERS (5-4) at VIKINGS (2-7), 11 a.m.

Raiders rookie receiver Denarius Moore and Vikings rookie tight end Kyle Rudolph each made a spectacular one-handed catch in prime-time games last week. While Rudolph has been a bright spot for Minnesota, Moore has kept Oakland in the playoff picture by giving Carson Palmer exactly what he needs, on and off the field. "Denarius Moore doesn't say anything," Palmer told The San Francisco Chronicle. Having spent a year living through The T. Ocho Show, Palmer deserves a little therapeutic silence.

SEAHAWKS (3-6) at RAMS (2-7), 2:05 p.m.

All four NFC West teams won last week, the kind of cosmic convergence that makes you want to climb into a teepee and listen to old Yes albums until the lyrics make sense. The schedulers knew we could take only so much, so the NFC West teams all face each other this week in a kind of toddler swim meet. The St. Louis Rams have scored 13 points in back-to-back games, so it can be argued that their offense has found consistency, though four of those points came from the defense. The Seattle Seahawks are nearly unbeatable when you turn the ball over to them in the red zone three times.

CARDINALS (3-6) at 49ERS (8-1), 2:05 p.m.

A predictable, rather sad quarterback controversy is brewing in Arizona after John Skelton's back-to-back wins over the Rams and the Eagles. It is hard not to go through the motions on the Skelton versus Kevin Kolb debate. Fordham bona fides aside, Skelton is an adequate backup at best, his performance against the Rams (two safeties!) was dreadful, and the Cardinals are terrible. The San Francisco 49ers, who actually know how to use their defensive talent, will not be as obliging as the Eagles.

CHARGERS (4-5) at BEARS (6-3), 2:15 p.m.

Lovie Smith does not receive the credit he deserves. His Chicago Bears coaching staff is filled with temperamental geniuses who have impulse-control issues. The offense is loaded with divas: When Roy Williams comes across as normal, you know you are dealing with some Timothy Leary-level team chemistry. On paper, Smith's blitzed-up take on the stodgy cover-2 defense, built around the talents of 30-something linebackers, looks about as dangerous as a Toyota Celica with mag wheels. This is a team that strives to beat opponents with punt returns, for heaven's sake. Norv Turner also has mixed playoff runs with .500 seasons during his Chargers tenure, but he has done so under much more favorable conditions. His division is much softer, he has an indisputable franchise quarterback and he does not have to hold the reins on assistants like Mike Martz. Turner needs everything to break right to win, and this year nothing has.

TITANS (5-4) at FALCONS (5-4), 2:15 p.m.

Tennessee and Atlanta are now second-place teams behind flawed, injury-plagued division front-runners that have byes. As compelling as this game may be, the real action is in the training and meeting rooms of New Orleans and Houston, where Sean Payton tries to cope with injuries to himself and others, and Matt Leinart acquaints himself with the children's menu of the Texans' playbook. ("I can't decide between the Donald Duck Zone Stretch to Arian Foster and the Andy Panda iso to Ben Tate!")

EAGLES (3-6) at GIANTS (6-3), 6:20 p.m.

Andy Reid's Traveling Cautionary Tale Tent Revival has arrived from Philadelphia, and we are celebrating with a quiz. Match these Eagles Dream Teamers — 1.) Nnamdi Asomugha, 2.) Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, 3.) Steve Smith, 4.) Ronnie Brown, 5.) Vince Young, 6.) Jason Babin — with their unique accomplishments this season. a.) I chase receivers with the enthusiasm of a teenager walking to the principal's office after a food fight, b.) My quarterback rating of 0.0 is lower than the punter's, and I may be starting on Sunday, c.) I line up offside when not inexplicably covering Cardinals receivers not named Larry Fitzgerald, d.) I am among the league leaders with nine penalties this season, e.) I crumple untouched after catches in the open field as if the superimposed television first-down line were real and made of plutonium, f.) I throw the ball straight into the air while being tackled at the goal line.

The answers: 1-c, 2-a, 3-e, 4-f , 5-b, 6-d. If you need reasons Giants general manager Jerry Reese did not dive headfirst into the free-agent pool last offseason, here are six.

CHIEFS (4-5) at PATRIOTS (6-3), Monday, 6:30 p.m.

With Matt Cassel (hand) out indefinitely, the left-hander Tyler Palko takes over a Kansas City offense that has scored 13 points in the past two weeks. Todd Haley has reinstated his rotate-the-backfield lunacy, limiting the playing time of Jackie Battle (4.6 yards per carry) so he can find a role for Thomas Jones (2.9 yards per carry). So things are not going well for the Chiefs' president, Scott Pioli, who may feel the urge to barricade himself inside his old office in Foxborough and refuse to come out.

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