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WEEK 11 CRYSTAL BALL - WEEKEND: Chiefs and Eagles Square Off
My friends, it was a rough day at the office for the Lehigh football team yesterday with a 21-14 halftime lead evaporating as Lafayette won its first Patriot League title since 2013.
The weekend wasn’t a total loss as first-year head coach Kevin Cahill’s troops put up a valiant fight and I reunited with dozens and dozens of fellow LU football alums. And the tailgating, of course, was tremendous.
I’ve long believed that the key to a successful football party is simple: arrive at the crack of dawn and bring enough food to cover a couple of hikes up Kilimanjaro. That means meat, cheese, cakes, and more meat.
On Saturday, the animal protein was flowing like the Euphrates from the break of dawn in the Lehigh Valley with OLD SCHOOL CHRIS cranking out the pork roll sandwiches just after 7 a.m. to set the tone for the day.
Once the sun came up, CHEF WYLIE worked the grill like a maestro, GENTLEMAN JOE ROMANO delivered the brisket and LAMB SAUSAGE BUTZ lived up to one of the tastiest nicknames in sports. As for yours truly, I “contributed” by double-fisting sandwiches as if headed to the electric chair.
As I recover from the beef bacchanalia and we plot how to take down Lafayette in 2024, there are pro football games to be discussed so let’s get to it.
The most anticipated game occurs Monday with the Eagles (8-1) visiting the Chiefs (7-2) in a rematch of Super Bowl LVII, a 38-35 Kansas City victory. Kickoff is set for 8:15 pm on ESPN with Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Lisa Salters reporting the action.
Both of these teams have played well this season and are near the top of the league in point differential - Kansas City is fifth (+64 points) and Philadelphia is seventh (+57). The Eagles have been better than the Chiefs offensively, averaging 28 points per game vs KC’s 23 ppg but Andy Reid’s squad has been more stout on D, surrendering about a touchdown per game less than the Birds (16 ppg vs 22 ppg).
I’ve watched Philly and KC play several times this season and think the Eagles are simply the better of the two at this point. It’s certainly possible that will change come playoff time but the Iggles just seem more in sync than their counterparts.
Folks love to talk about the home-field advantage at Arrowhead Stadium and I can attest that it is incredibly loud, especially for big games. Yet, I don’t think that will rattle the Birds and it certainly won’t affect Jalen Hurts, the dynamic Philadelphia QB and Alabama alum who has heard opposing fans screaming for blood for years. After all, stadiums in Auburn, Ala., Knoxville, Tenn., and Athens, Ga., all have capacities of near 90,000 (or more), dwarfing Arrowhead’s 76,416.
One more fact of note: as magnificent as Mahomes is at home in his regular-season career (.814), he isn’t infallible in the friendly confines with five losses in the past two seasons. Among the defeats: an October 9th clunker vs. Denver, a 24-9 loss that raised some eyebrows around the league.
I hate to do it but I’ll go with the Eagles, 26-23.
Let’s look at the rest of the sked with the season mark at 97-56 (.634) after Thursday’s Ravens win and Saturday’s Lehigh loss. The Colts (5-5), Falcons (4-6), Patriots (2-8) and Saints (5-5) are enjoying their respective byes.
1 PM - FOX
Bears (3-7, 1-4 away) at Lions (7-2, 3-1 home). When these two teams meet near Thanksgiving, I always think of that holiday game in 1980 when Chicago’s Dave Williams (no relation) took the opening overtime kickoff 95 yards to the house to complete the shortest overtime period in NFL history.
The Lions will win today but Bears fans should watch this clip again, just to remember what a big win feels like.
Chargers (4-5, 2-2 away) at Packers (3-6, 2-2 home). Neither team is a contender, but I like Justin Herbert & Co. to put up more points than the hosts. Let’s call it 27-19, LA
Giants (2-8, 1-5 away) at My Beloved Commies (4-6, 1-3 home). As we exited MetLife Stadium following last month’s 14-7 Jints’ win, fans of the home team were feeling their oats and talking gasp (playoffs). At that time, I told my good friend NORTH END JIMBO that “these two teams won’t combine for 12 wins this season.” I’m feeling pretty good about that prediction.
As for today, the sun will shine on the Burgundy & Gold thought it may not be pretty. I see a 20-17 win.
Cowboys (6-3, 2-3 away) at Panthers (1-8, 1-3 home). I believe Dallas is the best team in the NFC and, while they likely won’t overtake Philly to win the NFC East, they’re well positioned to make some postseason noise.
Dallas is third in the NFL in point differential (+104) while Carolina is third from the bottom (-89). Bottom line: this one could get uglier than the group picture at a Lehigh tailgate. Cowboys, 37-7
1 PM - CBS
Steelers (6-3, 2-1 away) at Browns (6-3, 4-1 home). I like the Steelers here with Cleveland QB DeShaun Watson on the shelf for the remainder of the season. It’s a tough break for the Browns but, on the flip side, at least they’ve got a respectable citizen under center in Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
DTR will benefit from the absence of injured Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick1 but still has a tough road to hoe. Let’s say Pittsburgh by three.
Raiders (5-5, 1-4 away) at Dolphins (6-3, 4-0 home). We said here that Antonio Pierce would bring some juice to Vegas as interim head coach, and I hope owner Mark Davis gives him more consideration for the job than he gave Rich Bisaccia back in 2021. It’ll be a battle today with Miami winning a tight one.
In other early games on CBS, take the Jaguars (6-3, 2-3 home) vs. the visiting Titans (3-6, 0-6 away) and the host Texans (5-4, 3-1 home) against the Cards (2-8, 0-5 away).
4:05 PM - FOX
Bucs (4-5, 2-2 away) at Niners (6-3, 3-1 home). I’ve got no doubt that Tampa will make a strong effort and even less doubt that San Fran will win. Shanahan’s team is back on track after waxing Jacksonville. Niners, 29-20.
4:25 PM - FOX
Jets (4-5, 2-2 away) at Bills (5-5, 4-2 home). Buffalo’s backs are against the wall and Josh Allen now has an astonishing 17 games with at least two turnovers since 20202. Still, file this away: the team is still fourth in the NFL with a +78 point differential and #17 remains one of the top players in the league. I think they win today. Bills, 27-17
I love the Seahawks (6-3, 2-2 away) at the Rams (3-6, 1-3 home). LA is much better than their record would indicate but I adore Pete Carroll in November and beyond. Seattle by 10.
8:20 PM - NBC
Vikings (6-4, 4-1 away) at Broncos (4-5, 2-3 home). Proof that the NFL is a week-to-week league: a month ago this looked like a horrible primetime game but now, it’s a terrific matchup with fun storylines.
Head Coach Kevin O’Connell and QB Josh Dobbs save Minnesota’s season with Kirk Cousins on the shelf. Sean Payton rallies Denver’s troops with three straight victories. Russell Wilson revives his career.
It’ll be competitive and I’ll go with the hosts. Denver, 24-23.
That’s all for this week, folks. Enjoy the games!
Like THE TRE MAN, Mr. Fitzpatrick is a proud St. Peter’s Prep guy. He graduated from Prep in 2015, became an immediate starter at Alabama and is now a three-time first-team All-Pro selection.
Thanks for the info, NFL Network.