Pro Picks slumped like the Chargers and Redskins, so the early start to Week 11 is welcomed.
The NFL put the New York Jets in a difficult spot, scheduling them for a Sunday night game with the archrival Patriots, then a trip to Denver for a Thursday nighter. To compound things, New York comes off a thrashing by New England just when control of the AFC East was within reach.
Plus, tailback LaDainian Tomlinson has a sprained left knee, diminishing what already is a spotty offense. On defense, tackling issues and an inability to get to the quarterback resurfaced against the Patriots.
Of course, Tim Tebow resembles Tom Brady as much as the Colts resemble the Packers this year. Tebow completed all of two throws last week in a win at Kansas City, but one of them was a 56-yarder to emerging receiver Eric Decker.
With Knowshon Moreno out and Willis McGahee uncertain, Denver also has problems in the backfield. Which means an even heavier concentration on Tebow’s running.
“You think of running quarterbacks, and most guys are a little more shifty and kind of got that make-you-miss (style),” Jets safety Jim Leonhard said. “He’d rather run you over than run around you. It’s just different, a different mentality. He’s more like a fullback than a true tailback when he runs the football.”
And he will run the ball.
Tebow is 47 of 105 for 605 yards and seven touchdowns and just one interception, and is Denver’s second-leading rusher with 320 yards and two scores on only 48 carries.
“I think you have to have that mentality a little bit as a football player, that mentality that we’ve got to go in there and set a tone with our physicality and with how we play,” Tebow said. “Ultimately, you have to be ready to do whatever is asked of you: run, pass, whatever it is, and as an offense, be ready to adjust to anything.”
Anything probably doesn’t include lots of passing. Nor a victory for the 4½-point underdog Broncos.
Tampa Bay (plus 14½) at Green Bay
Packers can score at will against just about anyone these days.
BEST BET: PACKERS, 38-20
Oakland (minus 1½) at Minnesota
Vikings celebrate positive stadium news with a positive outcome.
UPSET SPECIAL, VIKINGS 21-20
Kansas City (plus 14½) at New England, Monday night
If not for expected Packers rout, this would have been best bet.
San Diego (plus 3½) at Chicago
Urlacher and company will not be kind to Philip Rivers.
Buffalo (plus 2½) at Miami
Bottom starting to fall out for Bills just as Dolphins have come alive.
Dallas (minus 7½) at Washington
Bottom has fallen out for Redskins.
Tennessee (plus 6) at Atlanta
Titans could climb back into AFC playoff picture. More likely Falcons do same in NFC.
Cincinnati (plus 7) at Baltimore
Ravens are much different team at home, but will get a test from Bengals.
Jacksonville (minus 1) at Cleveland
Maurice Jones-Drew only offensive player worth watching here.
Carolina (plus 7) at Detroit
Either Lions get straightened out now, or they don’t do it at all.
Arizona (plus 9½) at San Francisco
Niners soon will clinch NFC West, but Cardinals are improving.
Seattle (plus 2) at St. Louis
Last time they met was for 2010 division crown won by 7-9 Seahawks.
Philadelphia (OFF) at New York Giants
Eagles’ implosion continues, with or without Michael Vick.
Against spread: 6-9 (overall 77-59-3); straight up 7-9 (overall 95-51).
Best Bet: 2-8 against spread, 5-5 straight up.
Upset Special: 8-2 against spread, 6-4 straight up.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.