One other Sunday Fun Day is within the books, with numerous teams and stars putting their stamp on Week 11. The re-emergence of the Kansas City Chiefs as the highest team within the league stands out as my top headline, but there are many subplots to debate because the regular season enters the stretch run.
After taking a while to digest all the motion and compile some notes, listed here are some thoughts and observations from a former NFL scout.
Three things I liked
1. Travis Kelce is the “GOAT”
The term “GOAT” has been loosely tagged to any player with an prolonged run of spectacular performances or production within the NFL. But it surely is time for the football world to acknowledge that Kelce is the most effective tight end now we have watched in the trendy era.
Although Kelce lacks the imposing physical dimensions and destructive game of Rob Gronkowski, he’s a pass-catching machine who’s unstoppable on the perimeter. On Sunday, Kelce, in his tenth season with the Chiefs, passed Gronkowski for essentially the most 100-yard receiving games by a good end in NFL history (33). Kelce is on the verge of posting his seventh straight 1,000-yard season despite facing double teams and bracket coverage each week.
As well as, the veteran pass-catcher stays a dominant red-zone weapon with a knack for locating pay dirt on an assortment of crafty routes from the slot or out wide. Kelce utilizes his combination of skill and savvy to outmaneuver linebackers and defensive backs to snag balls within the corners like an MLB third baseman.
In racking up one other 100-yard game in a heated battle with a division rival, the seven-time Pro Bowler displayed a sophisticated game as a route runner/playmaker that can function teaching tape for coaches across the country. With Kelce poised to dominate the league for the following few seasons because the premier player on the position, it’s time to get the gold jacket and crown ready for an all-time great who continues to dazzle between the lines.
At a time when hot take shows are debating which running back should occupy the RB1 spot for America’s Team, Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy has properly split the workload between Pollard and Elliott.
As a substitute of creating the Cowboys’ running game a “one-man” show built around the abilities of the No. 1 back, the grizzled head coach has forced opponents to organize for a dynamic tandem that meshes power with finesse.
Although Pollard has shown opponents over the past few weeks that he’s greater than able to carrying the load as a workhorse runner, it’s more practical when he’s capable of are available in and out of the sport as a change of pace back. The fourth-year pro provides the Cowboys with easy offense as a big-play threat as a runner and receiver, as evidenced by his 189 scrimmage yards against the Vikings on 21 touches.
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Meanwhile, Elliott is comfortable punishing opponents between the tackles because the team’s designated sledgehammer within the running game. Even though it will not be sexy or sizzling to look at the veteran grind out three- and four-yard gains against eight-man boxes, the cumulative effect of tackling a 230-plus-pound runner eventually wears down a defense over 60 minutes.
With each back thriving in roles catered specifically to their talents, the Cowboys have created headaches for opponents tasked with defending a various offensive attack featuring two backs with complementary skills.
3. Taylor Heinicke is the person for the job
Credit Ron Rivera for handing the Washington Commanders‘ starting job to Heinicke after the journeyman earned it by guiding the team to a few wins in his first 4 starts. The fifth-year pro has steadied an offense that lacked an identity along with his gritty demeanor and efficient play.
Although Carson Wentz could be viewed as a greater starting quarterback candidate based on his superior physical dimensions and arm talent, there’s something in regards to the spunky playmaker that works for this team. Whether it’s his unshakable confidence or his crafty improvisational skills, Heinicke makes the plays the team needs in crucial moments while ingratiating himself to his teammates along with his toughness and humility.
In a leadership position during which the team values the person greater than traits, the Commanders made the proper call handy the ball to the player who possesses the “it” factor at quarterback. With Heinicke’s earning one other win in Week 11, it is obvious that Rivera made the precise call while navigating around a difficult situation.
Three things I didn’t like
Perhaps the Jets’ QB1 doesn’t know that the clock is ticking on his tenure if he continues to underachieve on and off the sphere. Wilson has not only been disappointing as a passer between the lines as a prospect who was expected to blossom into an elite player, but he has did not display the leadership qualities and intangibles which are expected of a franchise player.
From Wilson’s lack of accountability for his performance and the offense’s failures to his questionable self-awareness throughout the locker room, the second-year pro is on the verge of losing his spot because the face of the franchise. Against the Latest England Patriots, it was a mixture of his play and lack of humility that created a buzz on the airwaves regarding his preparedness for his role.
As a substitute of owning his unit’s disappointing play, Wilson deflected questions and did not take any ownership of a situation that would derail the Jets’ playoff probabilities if it continues. Because the anointed leader of the team, he must use inclusive language when discussing the team’s successes while falling on the sword for the Jets’ failures, particularly on offense. The quarterback must exhibit championship-caliber leadership qualities to earn the respect of his teammates and coaches, and Wilson’s lack of accountability is removed from what franchises expect of their top players.
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Perhaps the young quarterback will eventually heed some advice from some elders within the locker room and acknowledge his contributions to the team’s failures as an alternative of putting up a macho front that only undermines his credibility amongst his peers.
2. Sean McVay cannot fix the Rams
It was fun while it lasted, however the Rams’ dominance of the league is over. The Rams won’t join an exclusive list of repeat champions at the tip of this season on account of McVay’s inability to repair the team’s offensive woes.
From the dearth of run-pass balance to the misuse of personnel to the poor performance of the offensive line, the Rams’ head coach/offensive architect has did not fix the problems which are keeping the defending champs from lighting up the scoreboard. Against the Saints, the Rams’ offensive woes were compounded by Matthew Stafford‘s departure on account of a suspected concussion.
Without an elite trigger man on the controls, the Rams couldn’t move the ball consistently or threaten the defense within the second half. Furthermore, Los Angeles couldn’t threaten a Latest Orleans defense that had struggled within the weeks leading as much as the competition.
Although injuries to Cooper Kupp and Stafford are actually tough to beat, the Rams’ offensive woes have been a problem from the beginning of the season, and McVay has did not provide you with a workable solution to treatment the issue. As an offensive guru with a status for creating beautiful play designs, McVay’s lack of creativity has led to questions on his adaptability as a playcaller and team builder.
3. The Browns proceed to disappoint
It is tough to win on this league and not using a franchise quarterback, however the Cleveland Browns‘ struggles during Deshaun Watson‘s suspension is one among the most important disappointments within the league. As a team expected to compete for a division title and playoff berth, the Browns have good enough talent to compete against the heavyweights within the league, but their flawed game plans and underachieving defense have resulted in five losses of their past six games.
Sure, it’s difficult to construct a game plan around a backup quarterback with limitations, however the Browns feature several blue-chip players (Nick Chubb, Amari Cooper, Joel Bitonio, Kareem Hunt and David Njoku) with the person and collective talent to raise the play of QB Jacoby Brissett. With a more run-centric game plan that puts the ball within the hands of the team’s top playmakers, the sport should turn out to be easier for the backup to flourish in a managerial role with a handful of play-action passes directed toward a talented wideout and tight end.
Nonetheless, now we have not seen the Browns keep on with a plan that emphasizes the strengths of the team while masking the quarterback’s flaws. Despite Brissett’s 300-yard game against the Bills on Sunday (28-of-41 for 324 and three touchdowns), the pass-centric plan fails to match the identity of a unit that’s at its best bludgeoning opponents between the tackles. Furthermore, it exposes an underachieving defense to too many plays against an elite opponent.
Considering Watson is poised to return in a pair weeks, it’s fair to wonder if Kevin Stefanski can construct out a complementary plan that helps the Browns climb back into the race as a playoff contender.
My top 10 teams
1. Kansas City Chiefs: The Patrick Mahomes‘ Factor makes the Chiefs the odds-on favorite to say the AFC’s No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The previous NFL and Super Bowl MVP continues to chalk up wins along with his late-game heroics. The Chiefs are never out of a game with No. 15 on the sphere, and that makes them downright scary as a title contender.
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2. Philadelphia Eagles: The resilience displayed by the Eagles in one other hard-fought win could serve them well down the stretch. Jalen Hurts‘ ability to make plays within the clutch as a runner and thrower makes the Eagles’ offense tough to defend in “gotta have it” situations.
3. Miami Dolphins: The league’s most dynamic offense could carry the Dolphins to a division title and a top seed within the postseason. With Jeff Wilson and Raheem Mostert anchoring an improved running game, the Dolphins have the capability to win with power or finesse in a shootout.
4. Baltimore Ravens: Don’t judge the Ravens based on style points or margin of victory. The team’s run-heavy approach results in close games, nevertheless it also makes Baltimore’s opponents spend 60 minutes fighting in a phone booth against an ultra-physical squad built to play “bully ball” within the trenches. Considering how the Ravens are capable of take opponents out of their comfort zone with their variety of play, John Harbaugh’s squad could emerge as a troublesome out within the playoffs.
5. Minnesota Vikings: Kevin O’Connell might want to rebuild the boldness of his squad after suffering a 60-minute beat down in front of a house crowd. The whipping exposed a few of the team’s flaws and raised concerns in regards to the team’s inflated record. With a brief week before a Turkey Day battle with the Patriots, the rookie head coach might want to fix the mistakes on the run before the league identifies those errors as a trend that may lead to future losses.
6. Tennessee Titans: Toughness and physicality never exit of favor. That is why Mike Vrabel’s squad can compete with the elites and not using a roster loaded with blue-chip players. The Titans’ wins are usually not all the time pretty, but they still count within the standings.
7. Buffalo Bills: After a couple of lackluster performances, the Bills got back heading in the right direction despite coping with difficult circumstances, playing away from home on account of the snow in Buffalo. As a tough-minded squad with a superstar quarterback, the Bills remain a dark-horse contender despite suffering a couple of hiccups.
8. Dallas Cowboys: The bounce-back performance from America’s Team suggests that McCarthy’s squad is a legitimate contender within the NFC. The emergence of Pollard as a reliable big-play threat has added a dimension to an offense that’s balanced and explosive. With Micah Parsons and Demarcus Lawrence anchoring a disruptive defense, the Cowboys are rounding into form as an elite squad.
9. Latest York Jets: Robert Saleh’s defense is nice enough to spark a championship run, but a struggling offense is keeping the Jets from maximizing their potential. Wilson’s ineffectiveness and the dearth of a consistent running game could derail this team’s playoff probabilities.
10. Latest York Giants: Perhaps the clock has struck midnight on the Giants’ Cinderella run. The shortage of offensive weaponry outside of Saquon Barkley makes it hard for the G-Men to consistently hit the 20-point mark against good teams. The defense all the time will keep the sport close, but Brian Daboll will need to seek out a method to scratch out a couple of more points to notch wins against a couple of heavyweights down the stretch.
Week 11 Game Balls
Most Useful Player of the Week: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
Mahomes is a lock to win the NFL MVP award based on his recurring appearance on this list. Despite losing a top-five receiver within the offseason, Mahomes continues to direct essentially the most explosive offense in the sport. The Chiefs not only lead the NFL in scoring but in addition rank first in total offense and pass offense on account of Mahomes’ wizardry from the pocket. Against the Los Angeles Chargers, the gunslinger accomplished 20 of 34 passes for 329 yards and three touchdowns. He engineered the twelfth game-winning drive of his profession with a spectacular series of passes that showcased his superior arm talent and ultra-cool demeanor. Given his ability to maintain the Chiefs offense humming with a revolving door at wideout, the NFL’s QB1 deserves this honor this week and each week of the 2022 season.
Offensive Player of the Week: Davante Adams, Las Vegas Raiders
Credit Adams for single-handedly ending the Raiders‘ three-game losing streak with a sensational performance against probably the greatest defenses within the league. Against the Broncos on Sunday, the superstar wideout totaled 141 yards on seven catches with two touchdowns while displaying exceptional route-running ability and ball skills on the perimeter. Adams’ ability to outmaneuver top cover cornerbacks playing in a scheme designed to limit his touches speaks volumes about his dominance as a premier playmaker.
Defensive Player of the Week: Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys
Parsons’ name is already etched on the 2022 Defensive Player of the 12 months Award on account of his weekly dominance. The second-year pro enhanced his résumé with a standout performance against the Vikings (4 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble) that showcased his skills as a disruptive force off the sting. Parsons’ energy, effort and enthusiasm set the tone for a Cowboys’ defense that absolutely dominated the Vikings from starting to finish.
Unsung Hero of the Week: Marcus Jones, Latest England Patriots
Jones’ walk-off punt return touchdown earns him a spot on this list. The rookie zig-zagged through the Jets’ coverage unit on an 84-yard scamper with five seconds left in the sport to seal a win for the Patriots. Considering that Jones scored nine kick/punt return touchdowns as a collegian (at Houston and Troy), it will not be a surprise to see the Patriots returner make a house call with the sport on the road.
Bucky Brooks is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. He frequently appears on “Speak For Yourself” and in addition breaks down the sport for NFL Network and as a cohost of the “Moving the Sticks” podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.
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