Seventeen NFL teams finished the week at or above .500. Somehow, the AFC south is the hottest division in football. The Patriots keep winning despite losing a major contributor every week. And Cam Newton is ramping up his MVP campaign.
Jacksonville kept its division title hopes alive with a 19-13 victory over Tennessee. The win was the first time the Jaguars had won consecutive games in almost two years. Indianapolis used a 4th quarter rally to upend the Falcons 24-21. Neither team played great as the game was mired with 7 total turnovers. The Colts moved into a tie with Houston for the AFC South lead, while the Falcons, losers of four out of its last five, are suddenly in danger of missing the playoffs after a 5-0 start.
T.J. Yates led the Texans to a 24-17 win over the Jets. Yates wasn’t necessarily efficient (16/34 and 1 fumble) but he didn’t throw an interception and made two beautiful touchdown passes to DeAndre Hopkins. He played as well as anyone could expect a 3rd string quarterback to play. For the Jets, also losers of four in past five games, the ship is beginning to sink. Denver’s Brock Osweiler delivered in his career start by leading Denver to a 17-15 road victory over the Chicago Bears. Chicago pressured Osweiler all game (sacked Osweiler five times) but he still completed 20-out-of-27 passes for 250 yards and 2 TDs. Osweiler will need to continue to show poise with the Patriots coming to town next Sunday. Baltimore played another close game, but this time they managed to come out on top beating St. Louis 16-13. However, the win did come at a cost; Joe Flacco (ACL) and Justin Forsett (broken arm) were both lost for the year.
Kansas City moved to .500 by beating division rival San Diego 33-3. Alex Smith finished with a QBR of 83.5, the running game averaged almost 5 yards per carry and the defense continued on its torrid pace (fourth straight game holding teams to 13 points or less). The Chiefs, winners of four straight, suddenly look a like a legitimate contender in the AFC playoff race.
The Patriots moved to 10-0 after beating a game Buffalo team 20-13 on Monday night. This wasn’t the prettiest of wins for the Patriots, but Buffalo ended up making more mistakes. With an upcoming matchup against another AFC playoff hopeful next week, all isn’t lost for the Bills.
Jameis Winston tied a rookie record with five touchdown passes and Doug Martin darted through the Eagles defense for 235 rushing yards (177 in the first half) en route to a 45-17 victory. Tampa Bay had 521 yards of total offense which was the team’s most yards from scrimmage in 35 years. Detroit won back-to-back games by beating the upstart Raiders 18-13. Matthew Stafford didn’t have gaudy statistics, but he played the type of game that Lions’ faithful has been trying to get him to embrace the past few seasons. This was a must win for a Raiders team looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
The Redskins had an opportunity to make a statement, but instead came up lame in a 44-16 thrashing by the Panthers. Washington hung tough early, but a disastrous 2nd quarter proved too much to overcome. Meanwhile, Cam Newton continued to make his case for MVP by tossing five touchdown passes (to five different receivers). Tony Romo returned from a collarbone injury suffered back in Week 2 and led the Cowboys to a 24-14 win over Miami, snapping a 7 game losing streak in the process. Dallas was able to gain a ½ game on the division leading NY Giants and now find themselves only 2 games behind. Green Bay moved into a tie with the Vikings atop the NFC North by picking up a 30-13 win. Finally, Packers’ running back Eddie Lacey looked healthy in rushing for his first 100-yard game of the season. The existence of a demoralizing ground attack allowed Green Bay to feature a balanced offense. For the Vikings, it was the classic, “step up to big brother, get knocked down” type of performance. Minnesota’s playoff hopes are still well-intact, but a dreadful performance against one of the league’s top teams questions to how well they’ll perform when it matters the most in January.
Seattle kept its playoff hopes alive with a 29-13 win over the 49ers. At 5-5, the Seahawks are in the thick of the playoff hunt. Arizona moved to 8-2 after an epic 34-31 victory over the reeling Bengals. Carson Palmer (317 yards, 4 TDs) led the Cardinals on a 6 play, 70 yard drive to seal the victory. Arizona probably won’t catch Carolina, but still has a great chance at a bye in the NFC playoffs.
Top Performances from Week 11
- Seahawks’ Thomas Rawls – 209 rushing yards, 46 yards receiving (2 TDs) in a win over 49ers.
- Panthers’ Cam Newton – 21/34, 246 yards 5 TDs in a win over the Redskins.
- Buccaneers’ Jameis Winston – 19/29, 246 yards 5 TDs in a win over Eagles.
Honorable Mention: Doug Martin (235 rushing yards), Carson Palmer (317 passing yards, 4 TDs), DeAndre Hopkins (118 yards, 2 TDs), Brock Osweiler (20/27, 250 yards, 2 TDs), Mason Crosby (5 FGM).
- Raiders’ Derek Carr – 13/25, 169 yards in a loss to Lions
- Chargers’ Phillip Rivers – 19/30, 178 yards 1 INT in a loss to Chiefs
- Lions’ Eric Ebron – 0 catches (5 targets), 3 drops in a win over Raiders