What a week for big names and big games. Peyton Manning faces the lone unbeaten team in the NFL, Tom Brady faces a tough contest on Monday night, and Drew Brees faces off with Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers. Playoffs are right around the corner - this weeks contests showcase plenty of potential playoff teams facing off. Check here as 613 breaks down three key match ups from this week's schedule. Find out who will win, who to watch, who will surprise, and more in our Week 11 Preview. Featured games this week include; Jets @ Bills, 49ers @ Saints, Patriots @ Panthers
JETS @ BILLS
- Buffalo and EJ Manuel struggled to develop any chemistry on offense last week in the rookies first game back following his injury. The good news is that EJ should have shaken off the rust for this weeks game - the bad news is that he will be without two of his top WR's; Stevie Johnson, and Robert Woods. CJ Spiller looks to be closer to his former self but still isn't 100% yet and you have to wonder how much longer Fred Jackson can carry this offense. Scott Chandler, Marquis Goodwin, and TJ Graham will have to excel in their expanded roles this week. One bright spot for Buffalo fans will be the opportunity to watch DC Mike Pettine and the Bills defense to face his former team. Although the home field advantage at the Ralph could be one of the most underrated in the league, Mario Williams, Kiko Alonso, and Aaron Williams need to continue their high level of play for the Bills to succeed versus a tough Jets squad.
- If you hadn't noticed the Jets have the #1 rush defense in the league, are 2nd in the AFC East at 5 - 4, and they just signed a guy you may have heard of before - Ed Reed. Rex Ryan gets Ed Reed back on his team for the first time since he coached in Baltimore. Seems like good news keeps coming for Jets fans, and what better news then knowing you get to face your division rival/little brother/ whipping boy this week. Jets have a history of success versus Buffalo and that should continue as the Bills have holes on offense and defense the Jets will look to expose. Geno Smith gets another opportunity to beat the rookie QB drafted ahead of him this April (Bills QB EJ Manuel) for the second time this season.
- The battle in the state of New York. Buffalo needs to win this one for their fans - who are tired of getting pushed around by the big brother from the big city. Look for Ivory, Powell, and Geno to generate most of Jets offense as the Bills secondary is pretty strong while the Bills will rely on Freddy Jackson & CJ Spiller to move the ball. The bad news for Buffalo is that the Jets defense knows what they are trying to do and they are without two of their top receiving weapons - plus that Ed Reed guy will be lurking back there waiting to steal a pass from yet another QB. Don't throw it near ED, EJ!
- Players to watch: Ed Reed, Geno Smith, EJ Manuel
49ERS @ SAINTS
- Unfortunatley the Saints can't play Dallas every week. Wouldn't that be nice. Players weren't just open, they were WIDE open last Sunday night when the Saints faced the Cowboys. As highlighted on NFL Network no one goes from "Touchdown to Checkdown" better than Mr. Brees. Brees is best in the leagues at progressing through his reads and taking what the defense gives him every play. Although it's not the Cowboys vanilla defense this offensive attack can put points up on anyone. Jimmy Graham is battling through nagging injuries but that doesn't stop him in the red zone. He really knows how to finish when he catches it close to the goal line (perhaps Calvin Johnson could learn a thing or two from him). Darren Sproles continiues to be magnificent for New Orleans while rookie Kenny Stills keeps making plays. By the way - the defense is pretty good too. Rookie Safety Kenny Vacarro doesn't play like a rookie.
- The 49ers are getting no respect. Teams like the Broncos, the Chiefs, the Patriots, the Colts, the Saints, and even the Panthers, may sit higher on many experts power rankings but don't forget San Fran has been to back to back NFC championship games. The formula for success remains the same - and the key pieces are still there - all they have to do is execute. This contest is a great opportunity for the 49ers to showcase their toughness and steal a win on the road versus a top flight opponent. You want to get some respect 49ers fans? It starts today! Kaepernick, Frank Gore and company will look to dominate the time of possession with their power running game - but look for Kaepernick to throw more than usual in what could be a high scoring affair. Vernon Davis' availability will be vital as he recovers from a concussion. Kaepernick needs all the targets he can get in the Niners passing attack.
- Don't count the 49ers out of this one to quick. The 49ers have enough talent to beat anyone in the NFL and the motivation will be there as they need to improve their playoff chances after falling to Carolina last week. The Saints should continue to move the ball without much trouble but San Fran's offense will surprise some as they keep pace with New Orleans for most of the game.
- Players to watch: Vernon Davis, Frank Gore, Kenny Vacarro
PATRIOTS @ PANTHERS
- Are the Carolina Panthers really 6 - 3? Did they just upset the 49ers? Yes and yes. Can Cam lead this team to the playoffs? Yes he can, and he will! Although playoff success may be an entirely different story the Panthers have found their best recipe and that includes a top flight defense, a steady ground attack, an elite (that's right!) QB, sprinkle in some Mike Tolbert at the goalline and you got yourself a winner! Ron Rivera went from being on the hot seat to perhaps a coach of the year candidate over the past few weeks - but will it last? Big test for Carolina at home as they host best bud's Brady and Belichek. Carolina needs Cam to be "CAAAAAAAM!"
- It's not pretty but the Patriots continue to put together wins. Last contest for New England they put up 55 points versus Pittsburgh after the critics in Boston wouldn't shut up about the lack of playmakers on offense. Oh and by the way Michael Fabiano, Yahoo! Fantasy "Experts", and most other Fantasy "Gurus" out there told us to sit Tom Brady in our leagues. I hope you didn't listen. Once again the fantasy critics are all over Panthers defense in this one and they predict Tom to struggle. Call me nuts - but we think Brady carries over his stellar performance against the Steelers and continues to throw early and often. The dink and dunk attack mixed with a bunch of tosses to Gronk will be Belicheks gameplan to offset the Panthers dominant defensive line. You know Belichek spent the bye week looking for ways to expose an "elite" defense - and our money is on this madman/genius.
- If history has taught us anything that is don't bet against Tom Brady and Bill Belichek. Especially following a bye week. The trendy pick may be the Panthers but do we really believe Ron Rivera is capable of out coaching Belichek? Panthers will need Cam and the ground game to keep up their strong play but will also need more help from the passing game while the Patriots likely will be testing the Panthers pass defense. Another big time game for the Panthers - and another opportunity to silence the critics for Brady and Belichek - we think Pats D, Bradys arm, and Belichek's gameplan will be too much for Ron Rivera and Carolina to overcome.
- Players to watch: Shane Vereen, Aquib Talib, Jonathan Stewart