Capped off by the greatest football game I’ve ever seen between the Rams and Chiefs, Week 11 was as good as it could get. With so many close, chaotic endings, this was easily the most entertaining week of the year so far. Let’s look at some winners and losers from this terrific week of football.
Winner: Indianapolis Colts (Won 38-10 vs TEN)
In this divisional matchup against the Titans at home, the Colts had a chance to make a statement with a victory. They did that, and much more. Not only did Indianapolis beat Tennessee, they dominated them in all facets off the game. Andrew Luck has been an under the radar MVP candidate this season, and he was terrific once again this week. He completed 79% of his passes, threw for 297 yards and three touchdowns, and had a 143.8 passer rating. He was protected once again; he wasn’t sacked once. On the ground, the Colts weren’t as dominant as they had been, but still put up 102 yards rushing and kept the Titans defense honest. It also looks like the Luck-Ty Hilton connection is finally back to its lethal form; Hilton caught all nine of his targets for 155 yards and two touchdowns. The most impressive part of this game may have been Indianapolis’ defensive effort. They limited the Titans to 263 total yards, had five sacks, and forced two turnovers. If the Colts continue to play a complete brand of football around a player of Luck’s caliber, they are going to continue to give opposing teams problems. Now at 5-5 and with a home matchup against the Dolphins coming up, they’re in great position to get a wildcard spot or even compete for the division.
Loser: Philadelphia Eagles (Lost 48-7 at NO)
Yes, you read that score correctly. The Eagles, the reigning Super Bowl champions, just lost by 41 points in a game in which their season may have been on the line. It looked like no one could have topped the Bengals’ 51-14 loss against these same Saints or the Jets’ 41-10 loss against the Bills for the worst loss of the year, and that’s what the Eagles just did. On offense, Philadelphia was horrible. Carson Went had a whopping passer rating of 31.9, threw three interceptions, and had just 156 yards through the air. They got a solid performance from running back Josh Adams (55 yards, touchdown, 7.6 yards per carry), but they were down by so much that they practically ditched the running game, as they ran just 12 times. On defense, the Eagles had no chance. The rush defense was vulnerable once again; Philadelphia allowed 173 yards and 4.7 yards per carry. They allowed Drew Brees to have all day to throw – they didn’t sack him once – which enabled him to throw for 363 yards and four touchdowns to wide open receivers. The Eagles were out gained by the Saints by 350 total yards (546-196). They never stood a chance in this game after they fell behind 17-0 early , and quit in the second half. The reigning Super Bowl champs are an extremely flawed them that doesn’t have the same hunger that the team from a year ago had. As a result, they’re 4-6 and one game closer to watching the playoffs from their couch.
Winner: Chicago Bears (Won 25-20 vs MIN)
Don’t let the final score fool you, this NFC North matchup between the Vikings and Bears was never that close. It took a garbage time touchdown by Minnesota just to make this game look competitive. That’s just how dominant the Bears, especially on defense, were. Chicago allowed just 268 yards to the Vikings, forced three turnovers, and pressured Kirk Cousins the whole game despite racking up only two sacks. They held the Vikings rushing attack to 1.6 yards per carry, forced Minnesota to rely on the pass, and then did damage from there. There’s no doubt that they are the best defense in the NFL. The Bears were shaky on offense – they had just 308 total yards and had three turnovers – but they rushed the ball effectively (148 yards). That allowed them to control the time of possession, which is all they need to do with such a fearsome defense. This was the Bears’ coming out party. At 7-3, they now have a 1.5 game lead in the division and are in control. The NFC North runs through Chicago, and with half their games against teams with a losing record, the Bears will almost certainly win this division.
Loser: Los Angeles Chargers (Lost 23-22 vs DEN)
Before we can all take the Chargers seriously as Super Bowl contenders, they’re going to have to learn how to stop playing down to their competition and beating themselves. That’s what they did on Sunday in what looked like a very winnable game against the previously 3-6 Denver Broncos. In fact, early in the third quarter with a 19-7 lead, it looked the Chargers were going to win this game. Then, they fell apart. Phillip Rivers threw an awful interception to Von Miller, which instantly led to a Phillip Lindsay touchdown that made it 19-14. After Denver took a 20-19 lead in the fourth quarter, the Chargers retook the lead and led 22-20 with the ball late in the fourth quarter. Despite Denver having no timeouts, the Chargers decided to pass, and Rivers’ pass was incomplete. To make matters even worse, the defense allowed Case Keenum of all people to march down the field with no timeouts and starting from his own eight yard line all the way to Chargers’ 16 yard line. This set up an easy field goal for Brandon McManus, and once again, the Chargers found a way to lose a game in which they had several opportunities to win. They out gained the Broncos by 154 yards, but turnovers and poor coaching led to yet another miserable defeat. The Chargers are still likely on their way to the playoffs at 7-3, but with a rough schedule coming up, they need to win games against losing teams. They’ll have a chance to do this week against a 2-8 Cardinals team that just lost to the Raiders, but even that’s not a gimme for the Chargers anymore.
Winner: Baltimore Ravens (Won 24-21 vs CIN)
With unpolished first round rookie Lamar Jackson making his first NFL start under center in place of Joe Flacco, Sunday’s matchup versus the Bengals could have been a disaster. Instead, Baltimore picked a huge win and Jackson played better than expected. He wasn’t spectacular by any means – he had just 150 passing yards and a 70.1 passer rating – but he did just enough to lead the Ravens to victory. He did most of his damage with his legs with 117 rushing yards. Jackson’s presence also allowed the running backs to get going, as Gus Edwards had 115 yards and 6.8 yards per carry as the leading ball carrier that wasn’t Jackson. Edwards looks like the answer to Baltimore’s issues of lack of production from the running back position and the Ravens’ 265 rushing yards allowed them to have the ball nearly twice as long as Cincinnati did. The defense also played well, allowing just 255 total yards. They’re a top five defense, so if the offense is putting up 20+ points a game, they have a tremendous chance to win.Jackson is currently one-dimensional towards the run, but he brings a level of excitement that the Ravens have not had for a long time and brought a whole new level to the Ravens offense. If he continues to progress, the Ravens could make some noise down the stretch and compete for a wild card spot with him at the helm. Running the option over and over again isn’t sustainable, but for his first start, Jackson was already serviceable and could become a lethal, all around threat if he can refine his throwing ability.
Loser: Green Bay Packers (Lost 27-24 at SEA)
The Packers came into Thursday Night desperately needing a win in Seattle to boost their playoff chances. When they led 14-3 in the second quarter, it looked like that would indeed happen. What followed was poor coaching and poor execution that the Seahawks were able to take full advantage of. Aaron Rodgers made plenty of plays and had a 128.8 passer rating, but was constantly pressured (5 sacks), and couldn’t connect on some easy throws. One was on a 3rd and 2 late in the game down by 3, where Rodgers skipped a pass to a wide open Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Even more confusing was head coach Mike McCarthy’s decision to not go for it with four minutes left, one timeout, and the fact that the Packers’ rush defense was exposed all game long. Indeed, he punted, and Seattle ran out the clock. It no world should the Packers defense ever be trusted more than Aaron Rodgers. Maybe they wouldn’t have converted, but they certainly had a better chance of converting than the defense had of making a stop. McCarthy looks to be on his way out, as are the Packers’ playoff chances. At 4-5-1 with a tough road divisional matchup with the Vikings, Green Bay’s chances at a playoff push rely on that game. Win, and they can redeem themselves for this horrible loss. Lose, and they’ll miss the playoffs and will likely see a lot of roster turnover as a result.