There's so much that happens every week in the NFL that you could be forgiven for not necessarily having a handle on all the major developments. Lucky for you, that's why we're here.
From now until the end of the season, we'll spend every Tuesday updating you on the current state of both the playoff picture and the race for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft; as well as making sure to provide some stats and notes and tidbits from that shed light on what happened and what mattered in the prior week's games.
Perhaps this week's biggest winner in the AFC was the New England Patriots, who saw the division rival Bills lose to the Browns, extending their AFC East lead to two games; and the Chiefs lose to the Titans, all but ensuring the Pats will not have to travel to Arrowhead Stadium to play Patrick Mahomes at any point during the playoffs. New England still has to maintain its one-game lead over the Ravens in order to secure home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, but the Pats are in a good spot right now.
Also in a good spot: the Pittsburgh Steelers! How about that Minkah Fitzpatrick trade, huh? The Steelers are in the playoffs as of this writing by virtue of owning the three-team tiebreaker with the Raiders and Colts. The offense is still untrustworthy but that defense is incredible. Buffalo now has a tenuous hold on a wild card spot, with several teams sitting just one game back.
The Seahawks handed the Niners their first loss in an OT thriller, and there's a lot to go over. Fortunately, Will Brinson, John Breech, Ryan Wilson and Sean Wagner-McGough are here to break down the game, the five most exciting players in the NFL and more. Listen below and subscribe here for daily NFL goodness fired into your eardrums.
Over in the NFC, the Vikings' win over Dallas combined with the Rams' loss to the Steelers and Panthers' loss to the Packers created a bit of separation in the wild card hunt. Seattle and Minnesota have pretty solid leads right now. Green Bay still has a one-game lead over the Vikings for the NFC North lead; and the Cowboys maintained hold of first place in the NFC East despite having the same record as the Eagles, because Dallas won the matchup between the two teams a couple of weeks ago. New Orleans got some help from the Packers, who beat the Panthers and allowed the Saints to maintain a two-game lead in the division. The 49ers maintained first place in the conference, but the Seahawks are now hot on their tail and just one game back.
Race for the bottom
Here's how the top 10 in the 2020 NFL Draft would shake out at this moment:
- Bengals (0-9)
- Washington (1-8)
- Giants (2-8)
- Dolphins (2-7)
- Jets (2-7)
- Falcons (2-7)
- Browns (3-6)
- Buccaneers (3-6)
- Broncos (3-6)
- Cardinals (3-6-1)
Woo boy are the Bengals a disaster. They've now been outscored by 122 points this season, more than every team except the Dolphins. It's obviously difficult to pinpoint a surefire win on their remaining schedule, but they do have some opportunities: the Jets in Week 13, the Dolphins in Week 16, and the Browns in Weeks 13 and 17 stand out as potential spots where Cincy can get off the schneid.
Washington is the only team within one game of the Bengals, and on Monday interim coach Bill Callahan named Dwayne Haskins the team's starting quarterback for the remainder of the year. Haskins is unquestionably the team's quarterback of the future given that they just invested a first-round pick in him, but he has not looked ready in any of his appearances and Washington should remain uncompetitive for the rest of the season.
The Week in Review
We'll use this space to give you one stat, one note, one nugget, one piece of information from each of this week's games. It won't necessarily explain the game's outcome, but the hope is it will make you a smarter, more-informed football fan for having read it.
Raiders 26, Chargers 24: With their win against the division rival Chargers last Thursday, the Raiders pushed their record to 5-4, thus ensuring they will finish this season with a better mark than they did last year. That's commendable. But while the Raiders actually have a shot to make some noise due to their current circumstances; we shouldn't necessarily be mistaking them for one of the top teams in the AFC. Oakland has been outscored by 32 points this season, a differential that yields an expectation of 3.7 wins. The Raiders have obviously out-performed that so far, and it's not difficult to pinpoint the reason why: Oakland is 5-1 in one-score games so far this season, meaning all of their wins have come in close games. Meanwhile, they have lost three games by double-digit margins. It's therefore likely that the Raiders are not as good as they look.
Ravens 49, Bengals 13: You've probably seen these numbers floating around, but they're worth nothing here anyway. Lamar Jackson has now made 16 regular-season starts in the NFL, and his numbers are absolutely bonkers: 13-3 record, 260-413 (63.0 percent), 3,150 yards (7.6 YPA), 20 TD, 8 INT, 94.4 Rtg, 225 carries, 1,258 yards, 10 TD. There's never been anybody like this guy. He has more 100-yard rushing games this season than Saquon Barkley, Derrick Henry, Aaron Jones, Marlon Mack, Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida, Joe Mixon, and more. The only players in the league to reach the mark more often than are Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliott, Chris Carson, and Nick Chubb. He's done all that and he's got a 101.7 passer rating this year.
Bears 20, Lions 13: Matthew Stafford's streak of 136 consecutive starts came to an end with this game. It took broken bones in his back to keep him off the field; and considering Stafford played in just 13 of a possible 32 games during the first two years of his career, it's pretty remarkable how durable he's turned out to be. He started eight and a half seasons worth of games before missing a start due to injury. Consider the quarterbacks Detroit started in the nine years prior to Stafford's arrival: Joey Harrington (55), Jon Kitna (36), Charlie Batch (24), Mike McMahon (7), Dan Orlovsky (7), Daunte Culpepper (5), Jeff Garcia (5), Ty Detmer (4), and Stoney Case (1). It's safe to say Stafford's been the preferable option.
Buccaneers 30, Cardinals 27: Pretty much the entire Cardinals passing offense runs through the slot. It's not that surprising given that their top two receivers (Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald) are primarily slot guys, but the numbers are staggering. On throws to players aligned in the slot, Kyler Murray has completed 73.1 percent of his passes at 7.49 yards per attempt; on all other throws, he's at just 57.7 percent and 6.82 yards per attempt. Arizona needs to start testing other areas of the field if they want this offense to be as successful as Murray's skill set leads one to believe it could be when operating at peak efficiency.
Titans 35, Chiefs 32: It might be time to discuss whether Kansas City's defense is bad enough to undermine its season. The Chiefs rank 20th in yards allowed per game and 19th in points allowed per game, but they've been helped out by poor opponent field position and they still rank 23rd in points allowed per drive. They've also rarely forced turnovers and they're one of just 12 teams allowing a score on at least 39 percent of opponent possessions. According to Sharp Football Stats, Kansas City is also allowing opponents a 55 percent success rate on running plays, eight percent worse than the league average and second-worst in the league to only the Packers. Patrick Mahomes was good enough last season to overcome a similarly-bad defense. Is the same true this year?
Jets 34, Giants 27: It's not the easiest thing in the world to find a silver lining in this disaster of a Giants season, but let's talk about rookie wideout Darius Slayton. A fifth-round pick out of Auburn, Slayton has 27 catches for 394 yards and five touchdowns in just eight games. Since the Houston Texans entered the league back in 2002, only 19 wideouts drafted in the fifth round or later have recorded 27 catches in their entire rookie season, only 13 have reached 394 receiving yards, and only six have caught five or more touchdowns. Those six: Marquese Colston, Tyreek Hill, Johnny Knox, Denarius Moore, Kenny Stills, and Slayton. Colston is the only one of that group to average more receiving yards per game than Slayton (49.3); and remember, Slayton still has six games left to play.
Falcons 26, Saints 9: Drew Brees has started 209 games for the Saints. Sunday's loss to the Falcons was just the 21st time he has thrown for fewer than 300 yards and not thrown a touchdown pass. Two of those 21 games saw Brees throw only five passes, so it was really the 19th time in 207 starts, which means these games have accounted for around 9.2 percent of Brees' total games in New Orleans. The Saints have a 7-12 record in these games, which is actually somehow better than I would have expected. Four of those seven wins, though, have come since 2017.
Browns 19, Bills 16: Tre'Davious White is an absolute baller. Shadowing Odell Beckham all game on Sunday, White allowed just four completions for 39 yards on 11 throws in his direction. On the season, White has yielded a truly disgusting passer rating of 49.4, fifth-best among 120 corners who have played at least 100 snaps in coverage. He's yet to allow a touchdown (and he kept that streak alive with an incredible play on Beckham in the end zone; see below) and he's got three interceptions. He may not be the single best corner in the league, but he's damn close.
Tre'Davious White was pretty fantastic against OBJ today.— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) November 11, 2019
This was such a great play on the end-zone fade. pic.twitter.com/Jbn6jeRq3Z
Dolphins 16, Colts 12: Very quietly, the Dolphins have looked much more competent since returning from their Week 5 bye. Sure, they didn't get any wins until these past two games, but there were signs of progress before that. In each of their first four games, Miami scored 10 points or fewer and gave up 30 points or more. Since the break, they've scored at least 14 in every game and only given up more than 30 once. Their average margin of defeat has gone from 34.3 points to just 2.4 points. This is a real, competitive football team now. They're still not good, obviously, but at least they're not an embarrassment.
Steelers 17, Rams 12: Allow us a moment to show you a chart that will exemplify the impact Minkah Fitzpatrick has had on the Pittsburgh defense. In the chart below, we go week by week and show you Pittsburgh's opponent, how many yards and points they put on the board against the Steelers, and how many they averaged in their games against non-Steelers opponents. (Games played without Fitzpatrick are denoted with an asterisk.)
|Week||Opp||Avg Yds||PIT Yds||Avg Pts||PIT Pts|
Pittsburgh has gone from allowing teams an average of 24.8 fewer yards and 4.4 points per game than their season averages to allowing them 52.5 fewer yards and 6.2 fewer points per game. That's a heck of an impact.
Packers 24, Panthers 16: Will the Packers ever get their offense and defense going at the same time? If so, they could be pretty scary. Early in the season, the defense was smothering teams, with Jaire Alexander looking like a superstar and both Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith harassing quarterbacks in the pocket. But the offense couldn't get untracked early on, and it didn't help when Davante Adams went down with a toe injury. Then they went through a stretch where the offense looked great but the defense backslid. They haven't looked fantastic in either of the past two games, but they managed to come away with a split against the Chargers and Panthers. The Packers are 8-2 and it doesn't feel like they've hit their stride just yet.
Vikings 28, Cowboys 24: Let's bring in two tweets that give a visual and visceral explanation of how much Dak Prescott is being held back by his coaching staff.
Even in the loss, Dak Prescott consistently defied the odds against the Vikings, completing +6.5% of his attempts above expectation.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 11, 2019
5 of Prescott's 10 most improbable completions of the season came in tonight's game, including 3 to Amari Cooper.#MINvsDAL | #DallasCowboys pic.twitter.com/AZYuQujdnm
Cowboys have already triggered 93rd and 99th percentile cowardly punts from @surrender_idx90, which seems like a heck of a thing to do— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) November 11, 2019
Folks, that's not what you want.
Seahawks 27, 49ers 24: Is the San Francisco defense taking a step backward? The 49ers allowed 20 points or fewer in each of their first seven games, but have given up 25 and 27 in their last two. After allowing only one opponent (the Bengals, of all teams) to gain 300 or more yards in those first seven games, they allowed both the Cardinals and Seahawks to exceed that mark as well. The Niners have an incredibly tough schedule down the stretch of the season: Cardinals, Packers, at Ravens, at Saints, Falcons, Rams, Seahawks. Let's see if they can bounce back.