NFL Nutshell: Week 11

21 11 2011

 

San Diego 20, Chicago 31

This was a fairly evenly matched game with the score remaining in reach for the Chargers throughout the game. However, another Phillip Rivers’ interception in the red zone during the fourth quarter when the Chargers were closing in on making the deficit four points brought this game to a close. The Chargers’ 2-4 red zone efficiency could not hold up against the Bears’ 3-3 efficiency. Counting Rivers’ two interceptions from last night, he now sits atop the league with an alarming 17 total interceptions. These two teams couldn’t be headed in more different directions; the Bears have now won five straight games and are becoming a solid, balanced offensive club without Matt Forte having to do all of the work while the Chargers are on a five game losing streak and are creating doubt in the minds of all the San Diego fans as to whether this Norv Turner and Phillip Rivers duo has run its course (if you ask me, I say it has).

 

Buffalo 8, Miami 35

Buffalo actually had more total yards (247) than Miami (242). In fact, Matt Moore threw the ball 20 times and racked up only 160 yards. There are some glaring aspects to this game that explain why it was a 27 point blowout. To put it simply, the Bills could not make a play when the pressure was on. They were 0-12 on 3rd down, 0-2 on 4th down, and were a horrid 0-3 in the red zone. Fitzpatrick’s two interceptions occurred right in their own red zone, leading to easy Dolphins’ touchdowns. The Dolphins couldn’t have been more efficient. While the team was perfect in the red zone (4-4), Matt Moore almost matched that perfection, completing 70% of his passes, producing three touchdowns, and throwing no interceptions. To a lesser extent, these two teams are headed in directions similar to the Chargers and Bears. Even though the Dolphins are most likely out of playoff contention, their three game winning streak has allowed Reggie Bush to show his value and has given the fans a reason to show up to their home games. The Bills, on the other hand, continue to give us the impression that “they are who we thought they were.”

 

Dallas 27, Washington 24 (OT)

No matter where these two teams sit or when the game takes place, a Cowboys-Redskins match-up always finds a way to be a great game. With neither team gaining more than a seven point lead and an early fourth quarter field goal putting the score at 17-17, this game called for some clutch play from Romo and Grossman. Both men stepped up and made some big plays. Romo started it off with a great 59-yard touchdown pass to Jason Witten, which is the longest touchdown reception of Witten’s career. That gave Romo his eighth touchdown in the last three games. Grossman wasn’t down and out yet though. The Redskins’ final drive started at 5:35 on the clock before Grossman decided to take his game to another level. He went 8-11, converted three third downs, and threw a perfect fade ball for Donte Stallworth to go and get. This left only 14 seconds on the clock and forced the game to go into OT. Overtime consisted of a Graham Gano missed field goal followed by a Dan Bailey just-made field goal to give the Cowboys their third straight win and the Redskins their sixth straight loss. The Cowboys now lead the NFC East with two easy Miami and Arizona games coming up, while the Giants have to take on the Saints and the undefeated Packers before facing the Cowboys on December 11th.

 

NY Jets 13, Denver 17

As an avid sports fan, I am continuously bewildered at Tim Tebow’s complete transformation when the last drive comes along. It’s not simply “clutch” play; he turns into an entirely different player. Tim Tebow was 4-6 with 46 passing yards and 50 rushing yards on the winning drive of this game. Prior to that drive, he was 5-14 with 58 passing yards and only 18 total rushing yards – matching Willis McGahee’s total rushing yards to finish the game. (That tells you something about the balance of their offense….) What happens when the Broncos face a team that puts up more than 13 points and Tebow has to play like he does in the waning minutes for the entire game? I don’t have an explanation for his baffling statistics, but Tebow and his Broncos are winning, which is all that matters in the standings.

 

Monday Night Football:

Kansas City vs. New England – 7:30 p.m. CT

It has been difficult to get a grip on where these two teams are headed. The Chiefs have a four game winning streak sandwiched between a bunch of losses. During those wins, they looked like the team that won the AFC West last year. During their five losses, it looked like they were regressing to their 2007-2009 football days. Matt Cassel has had as high of a passer rating as 138.9, but also as low as 38.3. The Chiefs’ main running back, Jackie Battle, has been the closest thing to consistency since his 119 rushing yard burst against the Colts. Even though the Patriots sit at a much better 6-3 and lead the AFC East, many questions are still revolving around this ball club. Tom Brady has put this team at the top of the league in passing yards per game (326), but the defense is counteracting that by being dead last in passing yards given up per game (308.9). When you have Golden Boy, many times simply out-throwing your opponent can be a reasonable option. However, this reliance on their offense might hurt the Patriots in the long run. Even though both of these teams come in to this conference showdown with their own problems, I can’t see the Patriots dropping a game like this. They are 13-5 on Monday Night Football under Bill Belichick and get to play on their own turf. BenJarvus Green-Ellis will go back to his early season form and attack the Chiefs 27th ranked rushing defense, while Tom Brady will… well, be Tom Brady. Pick: Patriots

 

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