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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Team Irvin 32 FINAL
Team Carter 28
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 106 FINAL
New Orleans 109
Indiana 106 FINAL
Orlando 99
LA Clippers 120 FINAL
Phoenix 100
Minnesota 100 FINAL
Atlanta 112
Detroit 110 FINAL
Toronto 114
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
San Antonio 101
Boston 111 FINAL
Golden State 114
Washington 117 FINAL
Denver 115
Houston 99 FINAL
LA Lakers 87
Team Toews 17 FINAL
Team Foligno 12
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
NJIT 72 FINAL
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 81 FINAL
NC State 78
Belmont 63 FINAL
Tennessee St 55
Creighton 50 FINAL
Villanova 71
Northwestern 67 FINAL
Maryland 68
Washington 56 FINAL
Utah 77
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
UCF 61 FINAL
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 72 FINAL
UCLA 57
(11) Stanford 71 FINAL
USC 60
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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 NoonX13-9

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