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Each Tuesday morning, we will preview every NFL game of the upcoming week. All of our NFL content, including our most recent power rankings and links to the pre-season preview are located here.
The inputs to the 10,001 simulations of each upcoming game are based on a rigorous analysis of each team that considers strength-of-schedule-adjusted team and player ratings and then makes modifications for injuries and depth at each position. To see other picks like our Upset and Locks of the Week, as well as our season-to-date performance, click here.
Game of the Week: #22 Atlanta 21 @ #20 New York Giants 24
At one point, it appeared you could pencil them into the NFC playoffs. Ten games, three combined victories and a lot of erasing later, the New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons are clinging to postseason hopes.
Now they'll take a crack at each other with perhaps a wildcard spot - and certainly with some semblance of pride - on the line.
The Giants rolled out to 5-0 behind a hot start from Eli Manning and steady play from an always ferocious defense. But four of those five wins came against the likes of the Washington Redskins, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs. Against playoff-caliber teams in New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Diego and Arizona, Manning has slowed and the Giants' defense has evaporated in an 0-4 start. They'll be looking to end that skid coming off a bye week.
Atlanta has almost equaled New York’s demise. Matt Ryan picked up where he left off and the Falcons started off 4-1, but those victories came over Miami, Carolina, San Francisco and Chicago. They are 1-3 since then, have given up four touchdowns in all three of those losses and their only victory came against Washington.
Who shakes the skid to put themselves back in the playoff picture?
Ryan certainly isn't enjoying the success of last year's rookie campaign, but whether or not this season will be deemed a sophomore slump is yet to be seen. He's still completing nearly 60% of his passes and is averaging 6.7 yards per attempt with tight end Tony Gonzalez added to his arsenal. Many had predicted Michael Turner to falter this season after carrying so much of Atlanta's offensive load last year, but he's shaken all of those doubts to average 5.0 yards per carry, scoring 10 touchdowns. Unfortunately for the Falcons, Turner could miss this week's game with a high ankle sprain.
Gonzalez wasn't Atlanta's only big-name addition in the offseason. The Falcons added linebacker Mike Peterson to try and bolster their defense, but that side of the ball ranks in the bottom fourth of the league in numerous categories and has given up 117 points in the last four games. Atlanta is giving up 4.6 yards per carry on the ground and 7.4 yards per pass through the air.
The Giants' defense has long been the team’s focal point and with most of the questions surrounding the wide receiver position for the G-Men, the defense was supposed to carry them into the playoffs once again. Some of their numbers don't look as bad as Atlanta's, but New York has given up 143 points during its four-game losing streak. The Giants allow 4.5 yards per carry, 6.7 yards per pass attempt and 5.1 yards per play.
Manning is trying to prove he's worth the big-money deal he received from the Giants and has thus far passed that test by playing tough and producing. He averages 7.5 yards per pass attempt and has thrown nearly twice as many touchdowns as interceptions. He could use a little more help on the ground. The two-head monster of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw has scored just six touchdowns this season with Jacobs averaging just 4.1 yards per carry.
In the battle of two of the NFL's most slumping teams, the host New York Giants re-energize their playoff hopes coming off the bye week 55% of the time and by an average score of 24-21, in 10,000 simulations.
Ryan and Manning produce eerily similar numbers as do their teams in general. Behind a near-100-yard game from Jason Snelling, the Falcons actually outgain the Giants in terms of yards and first downs. But Jacobs and Bradshaw each find the end zone about 50% of the time and while Lawrence Tynes actually has a decent chance of missing a kick, his leg seems to be the difference as indicated by the average score.
To see other picks like our Upset and Locks of the Week, as well as our season-to-date accuracy, click here.
Click on the Boxscore below to the average results from 10,001 simulations of that game. Or click on Simulate Game to play the game once and view stats and play-by-play from that simulation.
NFL Week 11
|@ Minnesota Vikings||83.8||32||Simulate Game|
|@ Dallas Cowboys||79.1||27||Simulate Game|
|New York Jets||24.0||19||Boxscore|
|@ New England Patriots||76.0||31||Simulate Game|
|@ Jacksonville Jaguars||72.8||26||Simulate Game|
|@ Detroit Lions||64.8||23||Simulate Game|
|@ New York Giants||55.0||24||Simulate Game|
|San Francisco 49ers||46.7||21||Boxscore|
|@ Green Bay Packers||53.3||24||Simulate Game|
|@ Carolina Panthers||53.0||22||Simulate Game|
|@ Houston Texans||35.5||20||Simulate Game|
|@ Baltimore Ravens||31.1||20||Simulate Game|
|San Diego Chargers||69.7||24||Boxscore|
|@ Denver Broncos||30.3||20||Simulate Game|
|@ Chicago Bears||29.0||20||Simulate Game|
|@ St. Louis Rams||24.1||20||Simulate Game|
|@ Kansas City Chiefs||19.5||19||Simulate Game|
|@ Oakland Raiders||14.6||12||Simulate Game|
|New Orleans Saints||89.1||33||Boxscore|
|@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers||10.9||18||Simulate Game|
Other Notable Games in Week 11
At one point it looked like the Denver Broncos might surprisingly run away with an AFC West title. That lead has evaporated and the driver's seat of the division will be on the line this week when they host the San Diego Chargers. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers takes down whichever signal-caller Denver throws his way, winning 69.7% of the time on the road and by a score of 24-20.
The NFL's unbeatens nearly stumbled last week and the Colts could have their hands full again. Peyton Manning throws at least two touchdowns as Indianapolis wins, but just 68.9% of the time at Baltimore. Drew Brees and New Orleans should have an easier go of things against Tampa Bay. The Saints keep their perfect run going 89.1% of the time and by more than two touchdowns.
Other Notable Names in Week 11
Kurt Warner has looked like his old MVP self the past two weeks, throwing for more than 600 yards and seven touchdowns while leading Arizona to a two-game lead in the NFC West. He should keep that run going against the St. Louis Rams, averaging two touchdowns and 270 yards in nearly 10,000 simulations while leading the Cardinals to victory more than 75% of the time.
Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew has at least one touchdown in each of his last four games, only not eclipsing the 100-yard mark once over that span when he ran for 97 yards against the Chiefs. He should keep that impressive streak going when the Jaguars host the Bills as he averages over 100 yards and about one touchdown. Sorry fantasy owners, no formula for finding out how often he downs the ball at the one.
Eric Schmoldt is a writer and Paul Bessire is the Product Manager of Content and Quantitative Analysis for WhatIfSports.com, a division of FOX Sports Interactive specializing in fantasy football simulation analysis and football sim games. With any comments, questions or topic suggestions, Paul and Eric can be reached at BtB@whatifsports.com. Thanks!