With Week 11 Sunday now in the books, below are some of our most-significant takeaways from a wild weekend in the NFL.
Atlanta Falcons 27 – Chicago Bears 24
Falcons Keep Pace
The Falcons needed this victory in every way. Atlanta’s offense had fallen off entirely over the past few, but it turns out a date with Chicago was all the unit needed to fall back into rhythm. The Birds ran the ball with ease, and QB Marcus Mariota managed to avoid negative plays en route to the victory.
The Falcons keep their head above water in the NFC South with this victory, but don’t expect them to challenge Tampa down the stretch.
Buffalo Bills 31 – Cleveland Browns 23
Home away from Home
The Bills took care of business, but it wasn’t pretty. Perhaps Buffalo’s slow start to the game can be excused due to the team’s unique travel circumstances, but QB Josh Allen’s performance cannot be overlooked. Allen had been playing erratic of late, and it is concerning he could not find his footing opposite the Browns’ porous pass defense.
Regardless, the Bills rebounded, and it was encouraging to see the team find success on the ground with RBs Devin Singletary and James Cook.
Philadelphia Eagles 17 – Indianapolis Colts 16
Birds Bounce Back?
The Eagles managed to gut out a win, but this was hardly the rebound Eagles fans had hoped it would be. Indianapolis controlled the game from its onset and would have won this game had they not so often settled for field goals in Philly territory. The Colts have no doubt played better under interim HC Jeff Saturday, but that does not mean that they are suddenly a good team, and does not excuse the Eagles’ pedestrian play.
The NFC favorite Eagles won’t be tested much for the remainder of the season, but their play of late is a red flag worth noting.
New England Patriots 10 – New York Jets 3
Battle of Struggling QBs
The bye week did not solve either of these teams’ deficiencies on offense. The Jets continue to be handcuffed by their QB, and despite Zach Wilson’s post-game comments, he did indeed let down the team’s defense. As to the Patriots, Mac Jones’ stat line contradicts the on-field play. Efficiency in the passing game is worthless when it fails to result in scores, and stalling in opposing territory is a recipe for a loss.
New Orleans Saints 27 – Los Angeles Rams 20
This game was more exciting than it had any right to be, but it will go down as a footnote in the 2022 NFL season. The stakes were absent in this contest, and the Rams continue to spiral from their Super Bowl high of last year. Further, these two teams mirror each other in the worst of ways. Neither team is equipped to win now, nor do they have the assets necessary to rebuild quickly. Two of the NFC’s best for years are now stuck in purgatory and have thoroughly disappointed with the aim to win now.
Detroit Lions 31- New York Giants 18
The Lions are making noise, and consecutive road wins should not be ignored by a Jared Goff-captained team. The story, however, is the Giants. Those skeptical of New York’s legitimacy amongst the NFC’s elite were vindicated today, as the team displayed an inability to play to the opposing team’s tempo. Additionally, the 7-3 Giants are far from a playoff lock. New York travels to face Dallas on Thanksgiving and still has two looming contests with a suddenly formidable Commanders’ team.
Baltimore Ravens 13 – Carolina Panthers 3
Super Bowl Defense
Suddenly and surprisingly, the strength of this Baltimore Ravens team appears to be its defense. Carolina’s defense is more than capable of frustrating the opposition, and perhaps the Ravens’ offensive struggles can be overlooked because of this. However, prolonged offensive woes cannot be excused. Baltimore may lack the firepower that other contenders possess, but this is a somewhat intentional decision of the team’s front office, and has not held the team back in the past.
It is not often that a double-digit victory feels like a letdown, but that is exactly the case for the Ravens. More is expected of this team and their offense.
Washington Commanders 23 – Houston Texans 10
This game had letdown written all over it for the Commanders, but the team refused to let that narrative come to fruition in this game. Washington steamed Houston early, as the Texans’ offensive line was overwhelmed from the onset. Washington has found a spark in QB Taylor Heinicke, and the defense has formed into one of the better units in the NFL. The Commanders have a somewhat favorable schedule moving forward and the opportunity to make up ground in a contentious NFC East. Washington may well be a playoff contender and is nipping at the heels of the New York Giants for a wildcard spot.
Las Vegas Raiders 22 – Denver Broncos 16
Disastrous Denver Season
If the Denver Broncos had scored just 18 points in regulation in every game this season, they would be 9-1 and atop the AFC West. For as incredible as the team’s defense is, the offense is so much worse. The decision to invest their entire future into QB Russell Wilson attributes even more to this season’s depression. This was likely Russ’ best game of the season, and even this was so pedestrian that the Broncos could not beat the lowly Raiders.
The outlook is glum in Denver, and the team is currently slated to hand over the fifth overall pick to Seattle in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Dallas Cowboys 40 – Minnesota Vikings 3
As high as the Vikings’ Week 10 victory over Buffalo was, this loss was so much lower. Minnesota was handled in every aspect and looked far from the Super Bowl contender that many had thought them to be. The Vikings, despite their 8-2 record, now have a negative point differential on the season. Conversely, the Cowboys quickly hushed any concern drawn from their loss to the Packers. Dallas scored on their first seven possessions, and it is apparent that when Firing on all cylinders, the team has a claim to the title of the best team in a wide-open NFC.
Cincinnati Bengals 37 – Pittsburgh Steelers 30
The Bengals deserve our attention. It will always be impressive to lay 37 in Pittsburgh, but even more so considering the absence of WR Ja’Marr Chase, and the early exit of RB Joe Mixon. Cincinnati’s remaining schedule is among the toughest in the NFL; but when playing like this, the team is more than capable of replicating their Super Bowl run of a season ago, and this is familiar territory for the team (Cincy was 6-4 at this point in 2021).
Kansas City Chiefs 30 – Los Angeles Chargers 27
The Chargers Can’t Tackle Travis Kelce
Prior to Mike Williams’ premature exit, it was briefly exciting to watch the Chargers operate with a stacked deck at WR. Nevertheless, and as they have done so often in the past, the Chargers went blow for blow with Kansas City. And while their efforts may have been futile, it is not coincidental that LAC was once again a thorn in the side of the Chiefs. Los Angeles is on the outside looking inward in a stacked AFC, but they have the ammo necessary to make a run. Mahomes v Herbert is appointment viewing, and here’s hoping we may be so fortunate to see these two teams compete at full strength once more this season.
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