Here's what you missed from NFL Week 11: Key nuggets on every team, race for the No. 1 pick, playoff peek
It's time to get all caught up on everything you missed in Week 11 as we turn the page toward Week 12
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.
The Chiefs beat the Chargers in Mexico City and Will Brinson, John Breech, Ryan Wilson and Sean Wagner-McGough are here to break it down, size up the biggest overachievers/underachievers and much more on the Pick Six Podcast. Listen below and be sure to subscribe here for daily NFL goodness fired into your eardrums.
We have our first team officially eliminated from the playoff hunt in the Cincinnati Bengals. More on them below.
Elsewhere, the Patriots and Ravens strengthened their positioning for byes in the AFC. The Ravens have a two-game cushion on the next closest division leaders, and the Pats are a game ahead of Baltimore. The Colts and Raiders greatly helped their playoff chances with victories over fellow AFC squads, while the Steelers fell behind the pack after losing to the Browns. Indy and Houston are in a virtual tie atop the AFC South, but thanks to the tiebreaker the Colts hold the lead. Houston can take that tiebreaker back with a win on Thursday night.
The 49ers' comeback victory over the Cardinals allowed them to maintain hold of the No. 1 seed in the NFC. The Saints and Cowboys each won their games and got some help elsewhere (Falcons over Panthers, Patriots over Eagles), creating separation in the race for the NFC South and NFC East. The Seahawks and Vikings are now multiple games ahead of the pack in the NFC wild card race, and it looks like the only NFC teams not currently in playoff position that really have a chance to make it are the Rams and Eagles. Per Sportsline's Stephen Oh, the other eight NFC teams have a combined 3.8 percent chance of making the postseason.
Race for the bottom
Here's how the top 10 in the 2020 NFL Draft would shake out at this moment:
- Bengals (0-10)
- Washington (1-9)
- Giants (2-8)
- Dolphins (2-8)
- Jets (3-7)
- Buccaneers (3-7)
- Broncos (3-7)
- Falcons (3-7)
- Cardinals (3-7-1)
- Lions (3-6-1)
The Bengals are still in pole position for the No. 1 overall pick. It seems wildly unlikely that they'll win two games at any point this season, so Washington may be the only other team with a realistic shot at picking first. Cincinnati has the Steelers, Jets, Browns, Patriots, Dolphins, and Browns again remaining on its schedule. Washington has the Lions, Eagles, Packers, Eagles, Giants, and Cowboys. Washington has the tougher schedule, but it's difficult to pinpoint a win for the Bengals anywhere in their final six games.
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.
Browns 21, Steelers 7: The Browns moved to 4-6 with this win, so they're now two games back of a playoff spot. Any hope of winning the division is out the window, but could they possibly secure a wild card berth? Cleveland has the NFL's single easiest remaining schedule, with six opponents who have combined for a 0.303 winning percentage. That's the equivalent of playing a 4.8-win team every week. They have to take care of business against losing teams, but it also seems unlikely that they'll be able to get in without beating at least one of the Ravens and Steelers.
Jets 34, Washington 17: This game was one of the best of Sam Darnold's career. He went 19 of 30 for 293 yards, four touchdowns, and a pick, getting Ryan Griffin, Jamison Crowder, Robby Anderson, and Daniel Brown into the end zone. He's turned Demaryius Thomas back into a live threat on the outside, and he looks considerably more comfortable in the pocket than he did a few weeks ago. This is mostly a lost season for the Jets, but perhaps Darnold can put things together like he did toward the tail end of last season.
Colts 33, Jaguars 13: The Colts are 3-0 against divisional opponents this season, and just 3-4 against everybody else. They have two division games coming up in the next two weeks, starting this Thursday against the Texans. They'll have to play those two games without the services of Marlon Mack, who has received more carries this season than all of the team's other backs combined. That obviously means a significant change is coming for their offense, with Jordan Wilkins, Jonathan Williams, and Nyheim Hines likely to split the workload in some form or fashion. How those guys help Jacoby Brissett could determine whether or not Indy stays in playoff position.
Bills 37, Dolphins 20: Josh Allen may not be one of the top quarterbacks in the league, but his play-to-play and game-to-game consistency have shown a large improvement over last year, and that difference has allowed the Bills to win games they might have lost last season. Allen had his best game of the year against Miami on Sunday, completing 21 of 33 passes for 256 yards and three scores, as well as seven carries for 56 additional yards and another touchdown. His 93.8 total QBR made it the top-ranked game of this week.
Cowboys 35, Lions 27: In his last 16 games, Dak Prescott is 406 of 586 (69.3 percent) for 4,968 yards (8.5 per attempt), 32 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. He's added 237 yards and five additional scored on the ground. He leads the NFL in passing yards this year and is only 664 yards and three passing touchdowns away from setting new career highs. He leads the NFL in raw QBR this season and is third in the opponent-adjusted version. He has the league's most expected points added both via the pass and overall. He is an inner-circle MVP candidate and the obvious best overall player not just on his offense, but his team.
Ravens 41, Texans 7: Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore offense are getting all the publicity, and it's incredibly well-deserved. But the Ravens defense has also been balling out for a while now. Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders noted that the Ravens are the top team in defensive DVOA since Week 7. Baltimore allowed 349 yards or more in three of its first six games; in the four games since, it has not allowed more than 347. They've also forced multiple turnovers in each of their past four games, which is a big help to an offense that doesn't even really need one.
Falcons 29, Panthers 3: In two games since returning from the bye, the Falcons have held the Saints and Panthers to a combined 12 points. They allowed every previous opponent but one to score more than twice that many, having allowed at least 24 points to each of the Vikings, Colts, Titans, Texans, Cardinals, Rams, and Seahawks. Perhaps just as important as the defensive improvement, though, is that they stopped turning the ball over. After averaging nearly two turnovers per game through eight weeks, they've got just one in the past two games.
Saints 34, Buccaneers 17: Another game, another incredible line for Michael Thomas: 8 catches, 114 yards and a touchdown. Ho-hum. Thomas now has 94 catches this season, the most ever through a team's first 10 games. He also has more catches than the entire wide receiver corps of both the Eagles and the Ravens. Once again, though, what truly separates Thomas from other wideouts is his insane catch rate. He's snagged 82.5 percent of throws in his direction this season, the top mark among all receivers with 50 targets or more. Only one other player (Tyler Lockett) is above 80 percent.
Vikings 27, Broncos 23: As our own Will Brinson noted, teams trailing by 20 points at halftime were 0-99 over the past five years ... until Sunday, when the Vikings came back to beat the Broncos. If we extend it all the way back to the AFL-NFL merger, we find that teams trailing by 20-plus at the half were just 23-1,203. That's a 2.2 percent win rate. The Vikings had the 10th-best second-half point differential (+24) among that group of 23 comeback victors, placing this game in the top 1 percent of unlikely victories.
49ers 36, Cardinals 26: Jimmy Garoppolo probably wishes he could play the Cardinals every week. In two games against Arizona, he has completed 62 of 82 passes (75.6 percent) for 741 yards (9.04 per attempt), eight touchdowns, and two interceptions. In eight games played against every other team, Garoppolo is only 156 of 235 (66.4 percent) for 1,737 yards (7.39 per attempt), 10 touchdowns, and eight picks. That's the difference between a 125.1 passer rating and an 88.2 rating.
Patriots 17, Eagles 10: The Patriots are 9-1 and the current favorites in the AFC. It's difficult to imagine them not having home field advantage in at least one round, and it seems likely they'll have it throughout the AFC playoffs. But their offense is lacking, and not just in comparison to some of their all-time great units. The Pats ranked 11th in offensive DVOA before a relatively muted performance against s below-average Eagles defense, so it's likely they'll be moving down when the rankings are updated on Wednesday. New England is averaging only 5.14 yards per play, which both ranks 24th in the league and is their worst 10-week mark since 2008.
Raiders 17, Bengals 10: According to data from Sportsline's Stephen Oh, the Raiders' playoff chances improved from 38.7 percent to 43.9 percent with Sunday's win over the Bengals. That pushed them past the Steelers after Pittsburgh lost to the Browns on Thursday, but the issue for Oakland is that the Colts' win over the Jaguars meant they leapfrogged Oakland. The Raiders rank seventh in the AFC in playoff odds after Sunday's games.
Rams 17, Bears 7: Mitchell Trubisky may not have been benched for performance reasons, according to his coach, but perhaps he should have been. Trubisky has backslid terribly this season, regressing badly in completion percentage, yards per attempt, and touchdown rate. He's throwing shorter passes. He's not running as often (1.7 attempts per game vs. 4.9 per game) or as well (3.9 yards per carry vs. 6.2 per carry). He's been spectacularly ineffective throwing to his left, with Sunday night's loss to the Rams no exception: he completed only 5 of 10 throws to his left, for 40 yards and a pick.
Chiefs 24, Chargers 17: Patrick Mahomes threw for just 182 yards Monday night, the lowest total of his career in a game that he did not leave due to injury. He's previously thrown for at least 243 yards in all 24 other full games he had ever played. Kansas City was just 2-3 in the prior five full games where he failed to reach 280 yards, so their managing to walk away with a win in this one was a rarity. Mahomes' 72.7 passer rating in the game was the second-worst mark of his career, by the way. The Chiefs, somewhat incredibly, now have a 6-2 record in games where Mahomes' passer rating is south of 100.
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