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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