For the first time since 2005, the NFL will host a regular season game in Mexico. The Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders will play Monday night in Estadio Azteca in front of 90,000 people.
It makes a lot of sense for the NFL to have a game in Mexico. The NFL has wanted to expand the game for years now, and Mexico has a large population of NFL fans. Four Mexican channels have picked up NFL games, and they broadcast nine games a week.
If the NFL were to expand outside of the United States, having a team in Mexico City would make a lot of sense. Logistically, it is not as far as London, which would require long flights and a large time difference. Mexico has a lot of economic opportunity as well, and having a team from Mexico in an American football league would also bridge a cultural gap.
However, as a member of the LGBT community, I am aware of the homophobic slurs (“puto”) chanted at Mexican soccer games and cannot help but be concerned about whether it will happen on Monday Night Football. These slurs are directed at the team opposing Mexico — usually done when the opponent’s goalie is doing a free kick — so it will be interesting to see if the slurs are yelled in the absence of a true home team.
The two teams playing in the game should have decent-sized fan bases in the stadium. The Texans are from just across the border in Houston, and Oakland has national appeal in the United States and has garnered a lot of Mexican fans. Mexican sporting events are a lot different than American ones, and hopefully the crowd of 90,000 will show some respect to the teams and the LGBT community by not uttering homophobic slurs.
I am excited by the economic opportunity that a Mexico game and potential franchise provides. However, if this crowd acts in a homophobic manner, I will be disappointed and I will hope that the NFL takes action and puts the LGBT community at a high priority.
Here are some Week 11 bits:
Game of the Week
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Seattle Seahawks
Very rarely is a game against a division winner and a division cellar-dweller is a good game, but this is one of those rare occasions. Philadelphia has a winning record but is still in last place in their division. If they were in the AFC North or the NFC North, they would be on top of their division rather than the bottom.
The Eagles are coming off a win against a division winner as well, getting a win against Atlanta at home. They did very well against one of the league’s top offenses, and now they have to face one of the league’s best defenses in one of the toughest environments to win in the NFL.
Seattle is also coming off of a very impressive win on the road against New England. After a bumpy stretch in which they failed to score a touchdown against Arizona and lost on the road against New Orleans, they have bounced back with wins against Buffalo and New England. The Patriots were seen as Super Bowl favorites, and still are, but a win for Seattle vaults them back into that conversation too.
Two talented teams face each other on Sunday, and this is a very important game for the Eagles. However, I like the fact that Seattle is at home and rookie QB Carson Wentz is unproven. This will be a huge test for Wentz and although I don’t think he will be terrible, he won’t pass this very difficult test.
Seattle 26, Philadelphia 23
Upset of the Week
Tennessee Titans over Indianapolis Colts
The Titans shocked the league last week by beating the Packers in a rout. And again, as an underdog, they have a good chance to beat their AFC South nemesis, the Colts. Both teams are coming off their best wins of the season, both against Green Bay. The Colts are also coming off their bye and this being a divisional game, and both teams need this win.
The Colts are dynamic on offense, but sketchy on defense. The Titans still have two weeks before their bye and are sitting at 5-5. If they go into the bye at 7-5, they will be serious playoff contenders with four games left in the season.
Marcus Mariota, DeMarco Murray, and Delanie Walker are part of a strong offense that is finally coming into fruition. The Titans defense is also piecing together, and they have a chance to contend earlier than expected if they win this week.
I like the Titans this week on the road because the Colts have not looked good at home this season and I am concerned that they won’t generate enough offense to win this game. Tennessee is for real.
Tennessee 25, Indianapolis 21
Fantasy Start of the Week
Giants WR Sterling Shepard
This isn’t saying that Odell Beckham is a bad start because you should always start him, but the Giants’ lineup is a favorable one against the Bears. Shepard is also a very good start this week, and he is a cheaper option than Beckham in daily formats. Shepard has also found the end zone in the last two weeks, and there is a very good chance that he could find the end zone again this week against one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL. Look to add Shepard in all formats if possible.
Fantasy Sit of the Week
Ravens RB Terrance West
In a sea of average Baltimore running backs, West beat out Justin Forsett, Buck Allen, and rookie Kenneth Dixon. He’s been decent but he has only had one 100-yard game this season and has not scored a touchdown since Week 6. Dixon is also healthier and he is starting to get more carries. And he also faces a Dallas defense that is very good against the run. The Cowboys have the best record in the league, and the Ravens will likely be trailing against Dallas at home. West is not the worst play, but there are numerous options better than him.
Fantasy Pick-up of the Week
Bears WR Cameron Meredith
With Alshon Jeffery suspended for four games, the Bears receiving corps looks thin. Enter Cameron Meredith. He has only had one catch in the last three games, but in the two games before this streak, he had more than 100 yards. The receiving situation looks bleak for Chicago, but with a No. 1 receiver sitting in free agency right now, and this late in the season, it is too good of an opportunity to pass up. Make a priority for Meredith and make a space for him on your roster.
Lock of the Week
Pittsburgh Steelers over Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns have not won a game yet this season and there is not much indication that this is the week they are going to do it, especially against one of their biggest rivals in Pittsburgh. A lot of the reason behind this does not have much to do with Cleveland’s horribleness, but rather Pittsburgh’s importance to win this game.
At 4-5 and one game back of the division lead, Pittsburgh needs to win this game, especially in one of their games in which they are expected to win. They played very well last week against Dallas, and were winning last week with less than 30 seconds in the game before Ezekiel Elliott scored his third touchdown of the game. This week, they won’t have their hands as full with Isaiah Crowell.
Each week, Cleveland shows slight promise but they have never been able to get it together for a full game. Cody Kessler played OK and had a lead at halftime last week against the Ravens, but Josh McCown replaced him and turned the ball over four times. Terrelle Pryor has been a bright spot for the team as well, but he has not been enough of a bright spot to propel the Browns to victory.
The Browns have the chance to win a game this year, but it will likely not come this week against Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh 27, Cleveland 14
Buzzer’s Best Bet
Jim Buzinski’s picks of the week
Buccaneers plus 7.5 at Chiefs
The Chiefs have not lost at home in more than a year and the Bucs are 0-2 against the AFC West this season. KC turns it on.
Last week: 1-0. Season: 5-4-1
Hot Player of the Week
Ravens K Justin Tucker
Tucker is easily one of my top crushes in the NFL, and he’s been crushing the league ever since he entered it in 2012.