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NFL Week 11: Thoughts and observations

It’s time to look at the Week 11 games in the NFL schedule. With the Carolina Panthers having beaten the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night, there are another 12 games on the slate.

So what should you be watching for? Here’s a run down…

The NFC wild card picture is completely muddled. While it appears that the Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons are going to win their divisions, there are a gaggle of teams fighting it out for the No. 5 and 6 seeds.

The Washington Redskins and Green Bay Packers are a pair of those organizations, and they play each other under the lights on Sunday night. Washington is 5-3-1 and could get some revenge against Green Bay, which knocked it out of the playoffs at FedEx Field last season. A win, and the Redskins will be 6-3-1 and well on their way to a second consecutive trip to the postseason.

Another huge game is between the Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings. After five weeks, it looked like the Vikings would cruise to a bye in the NFC with a 5-0 record. However, Minnesota has not won a game since, and now sits 5-4 and second in the NFC North behind the Detroit Lions (via tiebreaker). The Cardinals were a popular pick to go to the Super Bowl after reaching the conference title game last year, but things have gone awry. At 4-4-1, the Cardinals need a win or could begin facing the very real possibility of missing the playoffs.

Over in the AFC, there is a virtual playoff game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills. Buffalo has not made the postseason since 1999, the longest drought in the NFL. Should the Bills lose at Paul Brown Stadium, they will be 4-6 and would need to win out to have any shot of reaching January. Cincinnati has the blessing of playing in the AFC North, but a loss would put it at 3-6-1 with a pair of games left against the Baltimore Ravens, as well as contests against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Texans and Philadelphia Eagles. The road would be next to impossible.

Speaking of Pittsburgh, the Steelers are facing an absolute must-win against the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland is 0-10 and now has to deal with the real notion of going 0-16. That said, the Browns are going to fight like hell against their main rival, who also happens to blow games on the road against bad teams. Pittsburgh has always struggled under head coach Mike Tomlin to avoid playing down to competition. If the Steelers do that this week, they can kiss their season goodbye.

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