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NFL Playbook: Rams take perfect road record to Minnesota

Don't expect to see much change at the top of the standings in the National Football League come Tuesday morning. They will have the same look as they did last week.
The outcome of the Week 11 games can produce only one new division leader.

A change at the top of the NFC South is possible if New Orleans (7-2) should lose and Carolina (7-3) should win. Jacksonville could drop back into a tie with Tennessee for the first in the AFC South with a loss at Cleveland. Not likely, though. The Jaguars are a 7 1/2 point favorite.

Otherwise, New England, Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Philadelphia are all sure to be leading their divisions by the end of the weekend schedule no matter what the scoreboard says.

Five of the league's longest winning streaks will be on the line. One has to end for sure. The Minnesota Vikings, who have won their last five and lead the NFC North by two full games, will be home to the Los Angeles Rams, who have won four in a row and own a one-game lead over Seattle in the NFC West.

Philadelphia (8), New Orleans (7), New England (5) put their streaks on the line. The Eagles and Patriots will be on the road -- New England in Mexico City to face the Oakland Raiders -- and the Saints play at home to Washington.

A capsule look at the remaining Week 11 NFL games:

Game of the day

Rams (7-2) at Vikings (7-2)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Vikings (-2).
The scoop: Most attractive game on the schedule would have been difficult to forecast before the start of the season. ... The Rams are 4-0 on the road while the Vikings are 4-1 at home. In his second season, Rams QB Jared Goff has shown unusual poise in road games. He has passed for 10 touchdowns with no interceptions and a 124.4 passer ratings away from the L.A. Coliseum and looks every bit the elite quarterback in the making as Carson Wentz of the Eagles. They were drafted 1-2 in the 2016 selections. ... Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer unsettled things this week with his assertion that Teddy Bridgewater could start at QB for the Vikes ahead of Case Keenum. Bridgewater has not played in a game since 2015 while Keenum has directed the Vikings to the division lead after taking over for Sam Bradford. Keenum, an ex-Ram, passed for 304 yards with four TDs, two INTS and for a 117 rating last week.
Outlook: Ex-Bills Woods and Watkins torture Buffalo fans more with big days in 31-27 L.A. victory.

Top attractions

Redskins (4-5) at Saints (7-2)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Saints (-8).
The scoop: Usually a mediocre record means a team is getting mediocre quarterback play. Not so with the Redskins. Kirk Cousins has passed for 2,474 yards, third in the league, with 14 TDs and five INTs despite shaky protection. ... Saints steamrolled Bills last week with 298 rushing yards and needed no Drew Brees TD passes. Brees has thrown for only 13 TDs, low for him, in a more balanced New Orleans offense.
Outlook: Despite the record and heavy injury toll, the Redskins play everybody close. They have only a minus 2.8 points per game differential. Saints, 34-28.

Patriots (7-2) vs. Oakland (4-5)
in Mexico City
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.
The line: Patriots (-7).
The scoop: The cast around Tom Brady keeps changing but the Patriots keep winning. A win would ensure New England of a .500 record or better for 17th consecutive season. ... Ex-Bill Mike Gillislee leads the Pats in rushing (sound familiar?) but it was Dion Lewis who sparked last week's rout of the Broncos in Denver. Another RB, James White, leads the team in receiving with 46 catches. New England is allowing 483 yards per game but is outscoring opponents by 6.9 ppg. ... Oakland is coming off a bye after a three-point win at Miami. Last year, the Raiders defeated Houston, 27-20, in Mexico City's Estadio Azteca.
Outlook: How do you say "Brady rules" in Spanish? Nuevo Inglaterra, 35-21.

Eagles (8-1) at Cowboys (5-4)

TV: NBC, 8:30 p.m.
The line: Eagles (-3 1/2).
The scoop: Jerry Jones and Ezekiel Elliott outsmarted themselves. If Zeke had not fought his six-game suspension and started it in Week 1, he would be clear for the 'Boys stretch run which includes two games with the division-leading Eagles, and Thanksgiving Day home game against Washington. ... This will be the Eagles' second game with former Miami RB Jay Ajayi, who ran for 77 yards and a touchdown in debut. Philadelphia has a stock of RBs. LeGarrette Blount leads the team with 504 rushing yards and rookie Corey Clement had 66 scrimmage yards against Denver.
Outlook: No Zeke. Dallas fans should ask Jonesy for their money back. Eagles, 34-27.

Falcons (5-4) at Seahawks (6-3)

TV: ESPN, Monday, 8:30 p.m.
The line: Seahawks (-3).
The scoop: Statistically and record-wise teams are almost even. Each is averaging 368 yards on offense and Atlanta (311.9) has a small advantage of the Seahawks (318.9) on defense. Both are holding opponents under 20 points per game. Each is coming off a win. ... Atlanta DE Adrian Clayborn, who did not even start, had franchise-record six sacks last week (giving him eight for season) against Dallas and backup LT Chaz Green. He won't do that against veteran Duane Brown this week.
Outlook: Falcons handled Cowboys (without Elliott) 27-7 at home last week but this one is in Seattle. Seahawks 27-20.

Best of the rest

Bills (5-4) at Chargers (3-6)

TV: CBS, 4:05 p.m.
The line: Chargers (-4).
The scoop: Change from Tyrod Taylor to rookie Nate Peterman at QB for Bills shook every one up. Looks like Sean McDermott, who seemed like a rookie head coach who would not panic, has panicked. ... Beware Chargers' pass rush (Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram with 18 sacks between them) going against rookie making debut on road.
Outlook: Unless Nate the Great can plug those gaps in the Bills "D" its Chargers, 24-13.

Lions (5-4) at Bears (3-6)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Lions (-3).
The scoop: Lions' 14-point home win over winless Browns last week was not impressive. Cleveland outrushed Lions, 301-104. ... Bears lost to Green Bay at home despite 297-yard passing day by rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky. He's
had a passer rating of 95 or better in his three home games.
Outlook: Lions have won last seven in rivalry. Teams split three-point games last season. Push seems possible here but Detroit, 21-20.

Jaguars (6-3) at Browns (0-9)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Jaguars (-8).
The scoop: Jags' coach Doug Marrone was 1-1 versus Cleveland when he was coach of the Bills but those were powerhouse teams compared to present Brownies. ... Jacksonville is third in league in defense (285.8) but has faced four of the six worst offenses in the AFC.
Outlook: Chicken or egg? Do Jags rank high on defense because of opposition or are opposing offenses ranked low because they had to face the Jags? Jacksonville, 24-20.

Ravens (4-5) at Packers (5-4)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Ravens (-2 1/2).
The scoop: Not a very attractive matchup. Ravens are third-least productive offense in league (286.6) with Joe Flacco having poor season (8 TDs-10 INTs, 72.7 rating) and Pack without Aaron Rodgers.
Outlook: Green Bay won at Chicago last week with Brett Hundley at QB. They can do it at home this week with Hundley. Packers, 23-13.

Cardinals (4-5) at Texans (3-6)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Pick'em.
The scoop: A match of fill-in quarterbacks (Drew Stanton or Blaine Gabbert versus Tom Savage). ... No matter who QB is in Houston, DeAndre Hopkins is having huge year. He is second in league with 803 receiving yards on 58 catches, eight for touchdowns. Cards' Larry Fitzgerald has 60 catches (tied for second in league for 677 yards.
Outlook: Birds on playoff fringe, need win here. Arizona, 27-24.

Chiefs (6-3) at Giants (1-8)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Chiefs (-10 1/2).
The scoop: Seems long time since Chiefs were talk of the league after wins over Patriots, Eagles and Redskins. Losses to Steelers, Raiders and Cowboys chilled some of that. ... Giants ownership sticking with coach Ben McAdoo for rest of season but the hammer has to fall in January because of fan and Gotham media uprising.
Outlook: Giants are next to last in league in defense. Chiefs coming off much-needed bye with a lot of banged-up defensive players. Losing to Niners brought NY to all-time low. Chiefs, 35-20.

Bengals (3-6) at Broncos (3-6)

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.
The line: Broncos (2 1/2).
The scoop: Hard to believe that Bengals offense, coached by Ken Zampese, whose father was OC with Air Coryell Chargers, is last in league with 274.0 ypg. Despite record, Denver defense is still formidable, fourth in league at 293.6 despite getting shelled at home by Brady and Co. last week.
Outlook: Broncos at home seem like good bet against sad-sack Bengals. Denver, 27-17.

Dog of the day
Buccaneers (3-6) at Dolphins (4-5)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Pick'em.
The scoop: Only Cincinnati and Arizona rank below Dolphins in rushing offense. Good reason to exile Jay Ajayi to Eagles? Unimpressive win at home over Jets last week ended five-game Tampa Bay losing streak. Ryan Fitzpatrick due to start again at QB for Bucs. WR Mike Evans back from one-week suspension should help cause.
Outlook: A year ago, Miami coach Adam Gase was miracle worker. Not any more. Fish by virtue of home court, but not because of unenthusiastic home crowd. Miami, 17-14.

Last week's results: 11-2 outright, 5-8 versus spread.
Season's record: 85-51 outright, 65-64-7 versus spread.

(Picks are made against Latest Line in Thursday's News).

 

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