Upsets, blowouts and dominating performances highlighted the pre-Thanksgiving NFL action. All the while NFL fans are shaking their heads at all that has taken place this season and wondering what the next seven weeks will bring us. Here now is my week eleven recap of all the NFL games.
New England 25 (7-4), Atlanta 0 (4-6): Yes, even the football Gods have a sense of humor in giving the Patriots a 25-0 win over the Falcons to kick off Week 11; because, of course, it was a 25-point deficit New England overcame in order to win a game they played a few years ago (maybe you saw it?!). The only drama in this game was how badly New England would make Atlanta look, and boy, did they do a great job of that. The Falcons were overmatched and out-coached from the opening kickoff to the final whistle with the Patriots’ defense earning their extra-long weekend by pitching a road shutout, something that has been rare this season. New England looks ready to steal the AFC East from the Bills, but with a game against Tennessee to end November before a clash with Buffalo to begin December, a lot can happen between now and the end of the season.
Baltimore 13 (7-3), Chicago 10 (3-7): Without QB Lamar Jackson, what little offense the Ravens took to Chicago was almost invisible, save for a late Ravens’ TD to lock up the win. The teams posted a touchdown apiece in the game’s final two minutes, but it was Baltimore who had the ball last and did just enough to eek out another close win, this time without their MVP QB. Not sure why Justin Fields is not the Bears’ #1 QB even with Andy Dalton healthy, however, I guess Chicago has their reasons; perhaps after this loss the team will be turned over to the former Ohio State QB to allow him to earn the experience he will need in the NFC North and the NFL.
Cleveland 13 (6-5), Detroit 10 (0-9-1): The Lions have played nine quarters of football over the last two weeks, have only been outscored by three points, and all they have is a tie and a loss to show for their efforts. The Browns posted a 13-point second quarter, which was just enough to hold off Detroit in this game as the Lions defense stopped the passing game cold, but couldn’t stop Nick Chubb and his 130-yard game. Get ready for Thanksgiving and your winless Lions kicking off the early game … seeing how the ratings are for this game will be interesting, because will America take this holiday to root the Lions home with a win, or ignore the game altogether?
Minnesota 34 (5-5), Green Bay 31 (8-3): In this NFC North offensive shootout (doesn’t that seem strange to say) the QBs combined for seven scoring passes, with Aaron Rodgers tossing four for Green Bay and Kirk Cousins having three of his own for Minnesota. In the end it was a game-winning field goal that sent the Vikings’ faithful home happy Sunday as Minnesota returned to .500 with a 29-yarder as time expired. Both teams proved they can score with anyone, but may have problems stopping a balanced offense that mixes running and passing plays. With the NFC North now slightly tighter than it was heading into the weekend, how seriously we should take Minnesota remains to be seen and questions about the Packers’ defense have once again returned.
Houston 22 (2-8), Tennessee 13 (8-3): Raise your hand if you saw this AFC South game ending up the way it did in Tennessee … The Texans defense tossed a first half shutout and went into the locker room with a 12-0 advantage; yet the Titans refused to use their running back, giving RB Adrian Petersen just nine carries and have Ryan Tannehill throw for 323 yards, but only once TD. Tennessee posted 420 yards of total offense, however, it was a late fumble by Tannehill that gave Houston a TD that cost the AFC South leaders this game and make things a whole lot closer in the division, because …
Indianapolis 41 (6-5), Buffalo 15 (6-4): This game belonged to Colts’ RB Jonathan Taylor who posted 185 yards and four TD runs in this rout of the Bills. It is bad enough for Buffalo fans when their defense can’t stop anyone; but when their offense, lead by their MVP-caliber QB Josh Allen his smothered for two straight weeks, it becomes time to hit the panic button in Western New York. Are the Colts really this good or are the Bills just in a slump they can’t seem to get out of? Probably both as each team is going to read a lot more about this game when the word “tiebreaker” is attached to it towards the end of the season. That’s because with the win, Indy has a leg up over Buffalo, and this loss might knock the now second played Bills down a few spots in the AFC Playoffs, or event out of it all together if they can’t get their act together, and fast.
Miami 24 (4-7), NY Jets 17 (2-8): In this see-saw AFC East battle, it was the red-hot Dolphins who posted their third straight win and handed the hosting Jets their third loss in a row. New York went with Joe Flacco at QB, with the former Raven tossing two scoring passes, but was never able to put the Jets in front on the scoreboard. Miami scored on their opening drive; a trait they have shown all season, and let their defense help set them up with short fields off of punts to post more scores during the early afternoon. Running back Myles Gaskin was a big help for Dolphins’ QB Tua Tagovailoa in posting 89 yards on 23 carries, allowing for a balance game that didn’t see Miami’s QB leveled in the open field. This midseason surge has Miami appearing as a small speck in the rearview mirror of the Buffalo Bills, but anything has proven to be possible this season.
Philadelphia 40 (5-6), New Orleans 29 (5-5): The Eagles jumped out early on the Saints’ defense in posting the game’s first two TDs in the first quarter and using a late second quarter pick-six to build a 27-7 halftime advantage. Philly’s QB Jalen Hurts uses his legs to match scores with New Orleans’ QB Trevor Siemian as each had three TDs, the former with his legs and the latter with his arm. Playing from his front is also easier on both an offense and a defense, but it was the pick-six late in the second quarter that put the Saints in a hole too deep for them to climb out of. As the rest of the season unfolds, it will be interesting to see if this is the game where the Eagles and the Saints officially pass each other, with Philadelphia rising and New Orleans falling in the NFC.
San Francisco 30 (5-5), Jacksonville 10 (2-8): A 17-point second quarter helped the road weary ‘Niners get back to .500 in Florida. The slow-starting Jaguars were once again unable to do much on offense in the first half, posting only a field goal as San Francisco saw QB Jimmy Garoppolo toss two TDs on the day, letting their defense control the game from start to finish. The win may not be enough to put the 49ers’ back into the NFC Playoff picture, but getting back to .500 is the first step to making a second half playoff push, and considering where San Francisco fans have been this season, there’s not much more they could ask for during Thanksgiving week, other than may be a few more home wins over the rest of the 2021 season.
Washington 27 (4-6), Carolina 21 (5-6): The return of Cam Newton to the Panthers’ huddle was a big emotionally boost for some fans who were happy to see “Superman” back in the Carolina. It was, however, Taylor Heinicke who stole the show for Washington as the visiting QB tossed three TDs passes in the victory. Both of these teams are likely not playoff bound after today’s results, something Panthers’ fans and management thought Newton could help out with when the signed their former MVP QB off of his couch. It is his limited play, however, that is still evident for fans the opposing teams to see, which is why Carolina is probably not much better off now than they were two weeks ago. As for Washington, Ron Rivera won in his return to Carolina, which, for someone as popular as he was while he was head coach must be a good feeling for him.
Cincinnati 32 (6-4), Las Vegas 13 (5-5): The warts on the Raiders as a franchise are once again beginning to show themselves on the field as the Silver and Black rolled snake eyes in the desert Sunday against the Bengals. Cincy used a 19-point fourth quarter to break open a close game with RB Joe Mixon scoring the second of his two TDs to cap off his 30-carry/123-yard day on the ground. Las Vegas QB Derek Carr did little and had even less support from his teammates in posting the team’s third straight loss to fall to .500 as Cincinnati surpassed them on field and in the AFC standings with their win.
Arizona 23 (9-2), Seattle 13 (3-7): The Seattle season in a nutshell can be summed up in this sentence: Cardinals’ backup QB Colt McCoy outplayed Russell Wilson on Sunday, posting 328 yards and two TDs in a game that probably wasn’t as close as the score would indicate. McCoy used midseason acquisition Zach Ertz as the QB & TE teamed up for two scores in this NFC West matchup. It is hard to believe people in Seattle are not wondering if they missed their opportunity to trade Russell Wilson this offseason since the Seahawks are now an afterthought this season, and they likely could have been this bad without Wilson as the franchise looks to rebuild in 2022.
Kansas City 19 (7-4), Dallas 9 (7-3): Without CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper, the Cowboys offense could only manage three FGs on the road. This, while Kansas City did what the Packers did to them last week, just enough on offense to win an ugly game which still doesn’t inspire me to think they are back to their old selves again. To say Fox was probably disappointed in how this game was played, no one can be more disappointed then Dallas franchise owner Jerry Jones, who still leads the NFC East, but may be wondering if someone other than Mike McCarthy should be coaching his quarterback Dak Prescott … seeing how the Cowboys perform the rest of the season should be interesting, and how they react to it this offseason will be a must-watch this spring.
LA Chargers 41 (6-4), Pittsburgh 37 (5-4-1): What was a 27-10 one-sided game entering the fourth quarter turned into an offensive explosion with the Steelers posting 27 points to take a 37-34 lead. Pittsburgh used a blocked punt and a fluke interception to take their three point lead, but left too much time on the clock for Justin Herbert and the Chargers. The home fans left happy after a 51-yard catch and run gave LA the four-point lead late, with the Chargers’ defense sacking Ben Roethlisberger twice on Pittsburgh’s final possession to ensure the win. Roethlisberger had returned from the Covid list late this week and put on a show in the final 15 minutes; but had little to show for it other than a lot of stats and a loss. Herbert wasn’t always helped by his teammates who dropped several passes in this game; but when it mattered more, they held on to the right one and left SoFi Stadium in the thick of the AFC Playoff picture.
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NFL Week Eleven Recap | TooAthletic.com