Week 11: Time for pretenders to leave playoff scene

Dec 4, 2001 7:39 AM

Week 11 in the NFL is where the pretenders leave the area for the contenders.

Border talented teams will hit the wall, especially one with rookies and second-year men. This is the time of the year for senior citizens of the NFL to come forward.

The Game of the Week takes place in St. Louis where the Niners and Rams hook up in the battle for first place in the NFC West.

Sunday, Dec. 9

Niners 34, Rams 31: Shootout from the start and the Niners are healthier than St. Louis. Mobility of QB Jeff Garcia is the edge. Niners have as many offensive weapons as the Rams, with just as much speed. Take Niners (+8½).

Bills 19, Panthers 7: Teams playing out the string in chilly Buffalo. Game doesn’t promise to be a thriller. Bills could use a win. Take Bills (—4).

Titans 27, Vikings 16: The Vikes continue to disintegrate and could be minus QB Daunte Culpepper. If so, curtains early for Minny. Take Titans (+2).

Packers 24, Bears 13: The Bears are leading a charmed life, and it looks like it may go on forever. Luck has a habit of changing. Have the Bears run out of luck or are they talented, or is it a combination of both? Take Packers (—6).

Lions 20, Bucs 17: The ­­Lions are the opposite of the Bears. Couldn’t get lucky if they were surrounded by a gold mine. Detroit is the hard luck team of the NFL, but never stop trying. Take Lions (+7).

Patriots 24, Browns 16: The Browns appear to be one of those teams that have hit the proverbial wall and seem made to order for rejuvenated Patriots. QB Tom Brady is the hero of New England and will continue to shine here. Take Patriots (—5½).

Falcons 23, Saints 20: The Saints are no bargain. They are in the overrated category. Atlanta keeps on hustling and good things happen when you go all out. Falcons could be minus QB Chris Chandler for this affair, but like them anyway. Take Falcons (+3½).

Jaguars 18, Bengals 13: Cincy stumbling of late and destined to do more of the same. Jags have to overcome injuries every week. Take Jaguars (—1½).

Cowboys 17, Giants 13: Dallas shocked the Redskins in Washington, where anything goes when those two get together. More of the same in this matchup. Take Cowboys (+4).

Eagles 24, Chargers 13: The Chargers are another team that has hit the wall, while Philly may have gotten its second wind. San Diego won’t like playing in cold and clammy Philadelphia. Take Eagles (—7).

Cardinals 23, Redskins 16: The Cards are a scrappy bunch, who continue to overachieve. Skins could be down after losing to Dallas. Take Arizona (pick).

Raiders 33, Chiefs 13: The Raiders won’t be caught napping. Coach Jon Gruden won’t let it happen two weeks in succession, especially with the “hated Chiefs” in the opposite corner. Chiefs are short of talent here. Take Raiders (—10).

Jets 17, Steelers 13: The Jets play better on the road. Steelers have been superb on the road and at home. The Jets looked like Super Bowl contenders in the first half against New England, but looked like pretenders in the second half. Played scared. Giving Jets benefit of doubt. Take Jets (+5½).

Dolphins 27, Colts 17: The Colts defense has made them an ordinary team. Dolphins can handle that kind of challenge. Miami’s only worry is meeting Jets in the playoffs. Take Dolphins (—6½).