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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Tuesday's Gone: Week 11 #NFL Game Reviews


Tuesday's Gone: Week 11 #NFL Game Reviews

Week 11 results: 8-5 (wins); 8-4-1 (v. spread); 7-5-1 (O/U)
Season totals: 105-54-2 .660 (wins); 76-79-6 .490 (v. sp); 88-71-2 .553 (O/U)

Note/Key (when applicable): Statistical analysis based on the following metrics (abbreviations): Points scored (PF); points against (PA); Point differential (PD) Yards gained (YG); Yards allowed (YA); Red Zone TD efficiency (RZ); 3rd-down efficiency (3rd); Turnover ratio (TO); Time of possession (TOP); Yards per play (YPP); Sacks (S); Interceptions (INT); Penalty yards (PEN); Against the spread (ATS).

 Russell Wilson has helped turn the Seattle Seahawks season around, but they face a relatively tough test on the short week at home v. the Green Bay Packers Thursday night.

Green Bay Packers 4-4-1 (+3) @ Seattle Seahawks 4-5 (48): Seahawks 27-23 Seahawks 27-24

Thursday, 8:20 PM, CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA (Weather: 40% rain; low 50s)

Reasons: The Seahawks are coming off a tough loss on the road against the Los Angeles Rams while the Packers just dismantled the Miami Dolphins in Green Bay Sunday, but Week 11 is a short one and the Seahawks didn’t have to travel far last week and don’t move at all Thursday. Both teams are 2-3 in the last five games, both defenses are banged up, and neither team is stellar at home or on the road; in fact, the Packers are 0-4 on the road so far in 2018. The Seahawks allow exactly one more yard per game (12th), but give up 2.7 fewer ppg, which is good for 9th in the league, and that’s after giving up 36 to the Rams Sunday. The Packers sack the quarterback more than any team in the league, however, which means Russell Wilson will once again by running for his life as he matriculates the Seahawks mediocre offense down the field. Meanwhile the Seattle ball-hawking defense (4th TO ratio; 7th INT) will be trying to take advantage of any bad decisions made by Aaron Rodgers, who leads the league’s 7th-ranked total offense (400 ypg). Expect a sloppy game considering the weather, the short week and the fact both these teams are two of the most penalized in the league offensively (GB: 5th; SEA: 6th).

The Packers led 14-3 in the first quarter, and had gained the lead  back late in the fourth quarter before Russell Wilson did Russell Wilson things and led the Seahawks to the push, aided by a controversial 4th&1 coaching decision by Mike McCarthy that gave the ball back to Wilson rather than letting Aaron Rodgers (332 passing yards; 2 TDs) march down the field from their own 33-yard line. I’m team Mike, it’s football. Sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way.

Cincinnati Bengals 5-4 (+4) @ Baltimore Ravens 4-5 (39): Ravens 23-20 Ravens 24-21

Sunday, 1:00 PM, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD (Weather: Cloudy; high 40s)

Reasons: A long time ago in an NFL far, far away these teams were 3-1; the Ravens were even being talked about as dark horse AFC favorites to represent the Super Bowl. Not such much anymore. No one outside of Hamilton County expected the Bengals to do anything, but I’m not sure they expected to have the worst defense in the league, either. The Ravens still have one of the best defenses in the league and are at home, which is the perfect place to snap a three-game losing streak. These teams average nearly 50 combined points per game, I have no idea why the O/U is so low. Maybe it’s because the Ravens have averaged fewer than 14 ppg their last five games (1-4).

Lamar Jackson threw for 150 yards and one INT and didn’t score, but is getting most of the credit for a tight win at home versus one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Jackson did rush for 117 yards on 27 carries, which of course is most unsustainable method imaginable. The Ravens escaped with the win, but I don’t see much upside.

Carolina Panthers 6-3 (-4) @ Detroit Lions 3-6 (51): Panthers 24-21 Lions 20-19
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Ford Field, Detroit, MI (Weather: Indoors)

Reasons: The Panthers aren’t very good on the road, but the Lions aren’t very good at all. Still, Carolina will have to improve on their sub-20.0 ppg performance their past three road games if they want to beat Detroit, who’ll be playing their fourth-straight game against good defenses and their second without Golden Tate. They’re also missing Marvin Jones, so it doesn’t look good for the Lions.

Cam Newton (357 passing yards; 3 TDs; 1 INT) had one of his best games of the season up until he made one of the worst throws of the season, badly missing on a two-point conversion that would have won the game. River Boat Ron at it again.

Tennessee Titans 5-4 (+2) @ Indianapolis Colts 4-5 (48.5): Titans 23-21 Colts 38-10

Sunday, 1:00PM, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN (Weather: Indoors)

Reasons: The Colts are on a three-game winning streak, but the competition has been laughable, while the Titans have been through the gauntlet the past four game (2-2), and are 2-0 since coming off the bye. The Titans also have a top-6 defense and are the most disciplined offensive team in the league. The Colts are a great story and Andrew Luck (26 TDS; 9 INTs) is having a Comeback Player of the Year-type season leading the Colts top-10 offense (28.9 ppg), but they’re running into a buzz saw Sunday.

The only buzz saw in Indianapolis was Andrew Luck (23-29 for 297 passing yards; 3 TDs) and the Colts, who cut the Titans in half Sunday.

 It's do-or-die time for both the Dallas Cowboys and the Atlanta Falcons, who face each other in Atlanta Sunday.

Dallas Cowboys 4-5 (+3) @ Atlanta Falcons 4-5 (48): Falcons 28-24 Cowboys 22-19

Sunday, 1:00 PM, Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA (Weather: Indoors) 

Reasons: The Falcons horrendous defense has to face the Cowboys just as their season was brought back from the dead after a win at the Philadelphia Eagles, while Atlanta just lost to a Cleveland Browns team that just los their head coach. The Falcons top-10 offense hosts the Cowboys top-10 defense and what looks to be a shoot-out, which is why I find a 48-point O/U strange, especially considering the Carolina @ Detroit game is 51 points. The Cowboys are lacking depth along the defensive line due to attrition, so Matt Ryan might have plenty of time to find his many weapons.

These two teams either have explosive offenses or explosive talent, yet it was a field goal fest until the 4th quarter, when the Cowboys scored two TDs on the legs of Dak Presscot (208 passing yards) and Ezekiel Elliot (201 scrimmage yards; 1 TD). Brett Maher kicked the game-winning FG as time expired and the Cowboys salvaged their season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3-6 (-1) @ New York Giants 2-7 (52): Giants 24-23 Giants 38-35

Sunday, 1:00 PM, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ (Weather: Cloudy; high 40s)

Reasons: The Buccaneers still gain the most yards per game of any team in the league and average nearly 26 ppg, but they’ve scored fewer pints in each of their three-straight losses (34-28-3), which isn’t a good trend facing any team, even the lowly Giants. New York is feeling themselves after their road win at the San Francisco 49ers, but I’m not really sure what that means for a 2-7 team. Clearly Las Vegas doesn’t have much hope for this game with a 1-point spread and an O/U more than a field goal below their combined season average.

The Bucs can’t seem to get out of their own way, turning the ball over four more times Sunday, their 29th lost TO of the season, and Saquon Barkley (27 carries; 142 rushing yards; 2TDs) is beginning to go from Rookie of the Year status to MVP conversation. Are the Giants about to go on one of those ridiculous runs to end the season? Probably not.

Houston Texans 6-3 (-3) @ Washington Football Team 6-3 (42.5): Texans 24-20 Texans 23-21

Sunday, 1:00 PM, FedEx Field, Landover, MD (Weather: Cloudy; high 40s)

Reasons: Both of these teams are leading their divisions, which is not only a surprise from the preseason, but a surprise just from several weeks ago. The Texans were 1-3 five weeks ago, and Washington 2-2, and neither team was leading their division, although Washington could’ve been log jammed in a terrible NFC East back then. The Texans are suddenly a top-10 disciplined (8th PEN) offense on a five-game winning streak traveling to Washington (3-2 away) to play a good defense with the 3rd-best turnover ratio in the league on their own little five-game streak (4-1). Washington is no longer one of the two teams in the NFL with a negative point differential and a winning record (+0.1), but they remain fraudulent. Expect the averages in this one, which means the over…barely.

All we need to know about this game was Washington quarterback Alex Smith suffered a gruesome leg injury reminiscent of former Washington quarterback Joe Theismann’s gruesome leg injury, which just happened to occur in Washington, with Joe Theismann watching from the box. 33 years to the exact date. In a game that ended with the same exact score that game ended with 33 years ago. <cue Twilight Zone music>

Pittsburgh Steelers 6-2-1 (-5.5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars 3-6 (46.5): Steelers 27-20 Steelers 20-16

Sunday, 1:00 PM, TIAA Bank Stadium, Jacksonville, Florida (Weather: Partly Sunny; low 70s)

Reasons: The Jaguars have lost five straight and the Steelers have won five straight. The Steelers have a top-4 offense and have become the 8th-ranked total defense, while the Jaguars top-10 defense is really an illusion at this point considering they’ve allowed 28.6 ppg during their five-game losing streak. Jacksonville just isn’t the same team anymore, and it doesn’t get any easier for Blake Bortles against a Pittsburgh team with the 2nd-most sacks in the league.

The Steelers were down 16-0 late in the 3rd quarter before the Steelers scored 22 unanswered points on the arm (314 passing yards; 2 TDs) and legs (game winning rushing TD) of Ben Roethlisberger, who also just happened to get the Steelers in that position in the first place with three INTs.  

Old Man [Phillip] Rivers is once again quietly putting together an MVP-caliber season as the 7-2 Los Angeles Chargers try to keep pace with the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West.

Denver Broncos 3-6 (+6) @ Los Angeles Chargers 7-2 (46.5): Chargers 28-21 Broncos 23-22
Sunday, 4:05 PM, Stub Hub Field, Carson City, CA (Weather: Sunny; low 70s)

Reasons: The Broncos and Von Miller play the Chargers and Phillip Rivers tough, and Carson, CA isn’t much of home advantage for Los Angeles, but the Chargers are simply too good. Add a Chargers five-game winning streak to the possibility of a Joey Bosa comeback and the Broncos don’t stand much of a chance.

The Chargers dominated this game, but two key INTs by Phillip Rivers set the stage for the upset, which ultimately came off the foot of Brandon McManus as time expired.

Oakland Raiders 1-8 (+5.5) @ Arizona Cardinals 2-7 (40.5): Cardinals 21-17 Raiders 23-21
Sunday, 4:05 PM, Univ. of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ (Weather: Indoors) 

Reasons: Las Vegas expects a 23-17 Cardinals win, which makes perfect sense considering the Raiders have given up but should score their season average, while the Cardinals should score somewhere between their putrid season average (13.8 ppg – 31st) and what the Raiders horrendous defense gives up (30.2 ppg – 30th). Oakland only win this season is an OT win versus the Browns, but the Cardinals have only won two games this season themselves and they’ve both come against a 2-8 San Francisco 49ers team. What an awful game.  

Daniel Carson kicked his third FG of the game as time expired and the Raiders won their second game of the year, a.k.a. the worst game of Week 11. The Raiders dominated this poorly played game with some help of two INTs off the rookie arm of Josh Rosen, but you’d never know it from the score.

Philadelphia Eagles 4-5 (+8.5) @ New Orleans Saints 8-1 (56): Saints 30-21 Saints 48-7
Sunday, 4:25 PM, Mercedes Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA (Weather: Indoors)
Reasons: The Eagles lost at home to the Dallas Cowboys last week and suddenly their season is in jeopardy, because they face the Saints at the Superdome Sunday, and their only two wins in their past five games have come against the New York Giants (2-7) and the Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6), meaning they’re not playing very well. Fortunately, the play three straight divisional games following their trip to New Orleans so all is not lost if they lose to the Saints, which is likely because Drew Brees (21 TDs; 1 INT) is leading an offense that scores a league-high 36.7 ppg and the Eagles aren’t getting nearly the pressure on quarterbacks they did in 2017.

The Super Bowl hangover is real and it’s even realer when the keys to your success from the season before can’t stop talking. Whether it’s about a book they just wrote or about how much they hate other team’s philosophies and fan bases, the Eagles can’t seem to concentrate on the one thing they need to: winning games. In the meantime the Saints are quietly destroying records and NFC title hopes alike as their defense begins to match the intensity of the offense. New Orleans might just be the best team in the NFL.

Minnesota Vikings 5-3-1 (+2.5) @ Chicago Bears 6-3 (45): Bears 26-23 Bears 25-20
Sunday, 8:20 PM, Soldier Field, Chicago, IL (Weather: Clear; low 30s)

Reasons: The Bears have won three straight games after losing a close game to the New England Patriots following a heartbreaking OT loss to the Dolphins, which theoretically means Chicago could be 8-1 hosting the Vikings and a full two games ahead in the NFC North. The Vikings, on the other hand, are 2-1-1 in one-possession games, meaning they could easily be even further behind. Alas, hypotheticals don’t mean anything in the NFL, so instead we have an incredible divisional battle between two of the more talented defenses in the league that get after the quarterback featuring two offenses that can score points in bunches; in fact, Mitch Trubisky has the 5th-ranked Bears eating with nearly 30 ppg. I expect a defensive battle that goes over if that makes any sense.

The Chicago Bears are a great football team with a good offense and a stellar defense. At times the offense has surprised football fans and dropped 30+ points, something Chicago doesn’t see often, and sometimes via 6 TD passes from their quarterback Mitch Trubisky, something no one in Chicago has ever seen. The defense is the heart and soul of this team, however, and it’s never been more apparent than it was Sunday night. The Bears scored one offensive TD and kicked three FGs, meaning they would’ve lost 20-19 at the very least if not for that stellar defense scoring another TDs off of an Eddie Jackson pick-6.

Let's just blame Rodger Goodell for the Mexico City field mess.

Kansas City Chiefs 9-1 (+3.5) @ Los Angeles Rams 9-1 (63.5): Rams 33-31 Rams 54-51

Monday, 8:20 PM, Los Angeles Memorial Stadium, Los Angeles, CA (Weather: Partly cloudy; low 60s) NOTE: MOVED FROM MEXICO CITY TO LAR

Reasons: The game was supposed to be played in Mexico City, but then Shakira ruined everything. What is there to say, this is one of the best Monday Night Football games in recent memory featuring two of the most dynamic offenses in NFL history, averaging a combined 68.8 ppg, which is higher than the 63.5-point spread, which is another NFL record, the third of its kind this season. ”The times they are a changin’.” Much will depend on Kansas City’s bend-don’t-break defense, as even the stellar Chiefs offense will have a hard time keeping up with the Rams at home, but the true test will be which offensive line can keep a clean pocket the longest as both of these teams get after the quarterback. Getcha’ popcorn ready.  

I can only come up with the same game analysis everyone else has come up with: HOLY SH*T. If the game were played in Kansas City it certainly would have gone a different direction, but it didn’t. These teams combined for the third-most points in an NFL game in league history (105) and if it weren’t for two missed PATs this game would’ve been the second-highest scoring game in NFL history. Both teams also combined for over 1,000 total yards of offense and both quarterbacks combined for 10 TD passes. Unfortunately for Kansas City, Patrick Mahomes (478 passing yards; 6 TDs) also had five TOs, which was the difference in the game. Don’t be surprised if we see these teams again in the Super Bowl.

BYEs: Buffalo; Cleveland; Miami; New England; NY Jets; San Francisco

Stay tuned for Week 12: #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis) coming Thursday & Sunday!

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