Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Week 11 Picks & Power Rankings

Posted by: Mark Craig under NFC Updated: November 17, 2013 - 10:45 AM

What would you rather do on a Sunday morning than wake up early (hey, it's early out here in Seattle) and read weekly picks and power rankings involving 32 teams that basically are of equal strength and ability to beat, lose to or tie anyone on any given Sunday, Monday, Saturday, Thursday (and some day, when the revenue ceiling needs to be extended to a gazillion bazillion dollars, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday as well)?

CRAIG'S NFL POWER RANKINGS
BEST OF THE BUNCH
1. Broncos (8-1)
Why:
Last week’s No. 1 (Colts) got beat by 30 points. At home. By what was a three-win team from St. Louis. So, to recap, the Colts beat the Broncos and Seahawks – combined 17-2 – but the Rams beat the Colts by 30 on the road. So that would make the Rams best team in … ah, just give me Peyton Manning. At least heading into the Chiefs game.

THE REST
2. Seahawks (9-1);  3. Chiefs (9-0);  4. Patriots (7-2); 5. Panthers (6-3); 6. Lions (6-3); 7. Saints (7-2); 8. 49ers (6-3); 9. Jets (5-4); 10. Cardinals (5-4); 11. Rams (4-6); 12. Colts (7-3); 13. Giants (3-6); 14. Eagles (5-5); 15. Ravens (4-5); 16. Bengals (6-4); 17. Bears (5-4); 18. Chargers (4-5); 19. Packers (5-4); 20. Browns (4-5); 21. Cowboys (5-5).

THE VIKINGS
22. Vikings 2-7 (Last week: 25):
Christian Ponder and the defense blazed back from a 13-point third-quarter deficit to beat the Redskins on Nov. 7. That earns them a bump in the rankings because it would have been really easy to give up when they were down 27-14 to Washington.

THE REST OF THE REST
23. Raiders (3-6); 24. Steelers (3-6); 25. Bills (3-7); 26. Redskins (3-6); 27. Jaguars (1-8); 28. Buccaneers (1-8); 29. Texans (2-7); 30. Falcons (2-7); 31. Dolphins (4-5)

WORST OF THE BUNCH
32: Titans (4-6):
If you lose to the Jaguars at home, you must spend at least one week sleeping in the basement.

THE PICKS

VIKINGS
Vikings plus-12 ½ at Seahawks. The pick: Seahawks 35, Vikings 21.

It’s tempting to take the 12 ½ points. Before shutting Atlanta’s woeful running game down last week, Seattle had allowed the Rams and Bucs to rush for over 200 yards apiece. However, even when Adrian Peterson ran for 182 yards at Seattle a year ago, the Vikings still lost in one of the league’s toughest venues. Seattle’s pass defense is too good. Its quarterback (Russell Wilson) also is superior, and he’ll be even more dangerous because Seattle’s running game is rolling as well.


Last week: Redskins minus-2 ½ at Vikings: Vikings 24, Redskins 14. The final: Vikings 34, Redskins 27. Record: 5-4, 3-6 vs. the spread.

UPSET SPECIAL
Lions minus-2 ½ at Steelers: Steelers 28, Lions 21.

Why?: Just not ready to completely bury Pittsburgh and Big Ben or completely crown Detroit. Look for the Lions to struggle as they try to win a road game for the second straight week.

Last week: Dolphins minus-2 ½ at Buccaneers. The pick: Bucs 28, Dolphins 27. The final: Buccaneers 22, Dolphins 19. Record: 3-7.

THE REST

Falcons plus-1 at Bucs: Bucs by 3.
Jets minus-1 ½ at Bills: Jets by 3.
Redskins plus-4 ½ at Eagles: Eagles by 7.
Chargers minus-2 at Dolphins: Dolphins by 3.
Ravens plus-3 at Bears: Ravens by 3.
Browns plus-5 ½ at Bengals: Bengals by 7.
Raiders plus-9 ½ at Texans: Texans by 7.
Cardinals minus-8 at Jaguars: Cardinals by 10.
Chiefs plus-7 ½ at Broncos: Broncos by 3.
49ers plus-3 at Saints: Saints by 7.
Packers plus-3 ½ at Giants: Giants by 7.
Patriots plus-3 at Panthers: Patriots by 7.

Record: Last week: 7-6; 6-7 vs. the spread. Overall: 78-60; 57-78-2 vs. the spread.

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Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Brooklyn 109 FINAL
Boston 107
Cleveland 98 FINAL
Orlando 89
Indiana 109 FINAL
Detroit 119
Milwaukee 107 FINAL
Atlanta 77
Houston 117 FINAL
Memphis 111
San Antonio 90 FINAL
New Orleans 97
Charlotte 75 FINAL
Oklahoma City 98
LA Lakers 98 FINAL
Dallas 102
Minnesota 102 FINAL
Denver 106
Philadelphia 93 FINAL
Portland 114
Phoenix 115 FINAL
Sacramento 106
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
(15) Arizona State 12/27/14 1:10 PM
Duke
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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