25 Things We Learned from NFL Week 11
Every time we think we know something about the NFL, the greatest sport in the land continues to show us that we really know nothing.
Week 11 brought us some of the most exciting games of the season. From the Houston Texans' thrilling overtime victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars to Aaron Rodgers finally getting that fourth-quarter comeback, there was plenty to learn this week in the NFL.
Today, we are going to run through 25 things that we learned this week.
C.J. Spiller Deserves More Touches
Few players have been as electric with the ball in their hands as C.J. Spiller has been this year for the Buffalo Bills. Unfortunately, he continues to be heavily underused by the Bills.
Against the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night, Spiller had 25 touches (22 carries and three receptions) for 130 total yards of offense. It was the first time this season that Spiller had more than 20 touches in a game, and his ability to move the ball on the ground and pick up yards through the air was a huge reason why Buffalo won in Week 11.
Even if Fred Jackson returns from a concussion to play in Week 12, Spiller has earned the right to get the majority of the touches for Buffalo. He's a game-changing player every single time he touches the ball, and he deserves to touch the ball more down the final stretch of the 2012 season.
Ryan Tannehill Still Has a Long Way to Go
After looking impressive during the early part of the season, Ryan Tannehill has taken a step back in the Miami Dolphins' past two losses.
In those two games, Tannehill has thrown five interceptions and only one touchdown, and he posted an average quarterback rating of 44.7. On top of that, he has barely averaged over five yards per attempt in those games, showing just how much he is really struggling to move the ball down the field.
There is little doubt that Tannehill has the skills necessary to be a successful quarterback. But he definitely appears to still be quite a ways from becoming truly successful.
Everyone Needs to Go in Kansas City
Can anyone remember the last time that the Kansas City Chiefs even looked like a competent team? Maybe in their lone victory against the New Orleans Saints. But even that game was more of New Orleans looking absolutely terrible than the Chiefs looking good.
There simply isn't any member of the front office or coaching staff that deserves to retain their job in Kansas City. Even the majority of the players on the roster should probably be looking for a new home at the end of the season.
The Chiefs are the worst team in the league, and it isn't even close. I wouldn't be surprised if they lose the final six games of the season by more than 10 points to ensure a 1-15 overall record.
Matt Schaub Needs to Get More Credit
Ask anyone who the premier players are for the Houston Texans and the names that'll come up are J.J. Watt, Arian Foster and Andre Johnson. But no one seems to remember just how good Matt Schaub is in this offense.
On Sunday, Schaub was in prime form and proved that he is just as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than anyone else on the Texans. He completed a ridiculous 78.2 percent of his passes for 527 yards and five touchdowns.
One of those touchdowns was a 48-yard, game-winning touchdown pass to Andre Johnson. If Schaub continues to play at this high of a level, there simply isn't a team that can keep up with the Texans.
Time for Blaine Gabbert to Sit on the Bench
While Matt Schaub was doing his thing for the Houston Texans, Chad Henne came in for an injured Blaine Gabbert and played beautifully for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Gabbert injured his elbow in the first quarter after only throwing two passes, which opened the door for Henne. He stepped in and threw for modest 354 yards and four touchdowns while almost leading the Jaguars to a huge upset on the road.
However, the main reason why Henne needs to start the rest of the season for Jacksonville is because of his ability to get the ball into Justin Blackmon's hands. On the day, Blackmon had seven receptions, 236 yards and a touchdown. His 236 yards on Sunday was only 14 yards less than he had gained on the entire season.
With Henne in the lineup, Jacksonville has a quarterback who can get the ball into the hands of its playmakers.
No Team Is as Frustrating as the Jets
Just when you think the New York Jets are going to become a complete mess, they go out and play a game like they did on Sunday.
They got back to their old ways of playing solid defense and pounding the ball on the ground. While neither Shonn Greene or Bilal Powell were exceptional (combined 3.7 yards per carry average), they still moved the chains when necessary.
On defense, the Jets forced turnovers and got pressure on Sam Bradford enough to keep the St. Louis Rams out of the end zone until the fourth quarter. When this team plays like this on Sunday, they are a very difficult team to play against.
However, the fact that we can't get the same New York team week after week is extremely frustrating.
Cleveland Is Going to Surprise Down the Stretch
While a 2-8 record isn't anything to write home about, the Cleveland Browns continue to look somewhat impressive.
This is a team that has vastly improved from Week 1, and it's really starting to put things together on both sides of the ball. Trent Richardson, Brandon Weeden and Josh Gordon continue to look impressive on offense and will only get better.
Cleveland may only be favored in one of its six remaining games, but I guarantee that this team is going to be difficult to beat for the remainder of the season.
This Is What Dez Bryant Is Capable of Doing on a Weekly Basis
No one would argue that Dez Bryant has yet to even come close to reaching his full potential in his short career. However, on Sunday, we saw what type of player that Bryant is capable of being on a weekly basis.
His 12 receptions and 145 yards were exactly what the Dallas Cowboys needed to keep things moving on the offensive side of the football. His touchdown reception late in the fourth quarter gave the Cowboys the lead with just under seven minutes remaining.
When Bryant plays like he did on Sunday, it is easy to see why so many people loved him entering the 2010 NFL draft. Let's hope he continues to play at this high of a level for the remainder of the season, because it was sure fun to watch.
Tampa Bay Is a Dangerous Team
After Cam Newton's fourth-quarter touchdown pass with six minutes remaining gave the Carolina Panthers a 21-10 lead, everyone expected the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to lose.
However, Josh Freeman and Co. scored 11 points in the final six minutes to send the game into overtime. A 15-yard touchdown pass from Freeman to Dallas Clark in overtime gave Tampa Bay its fourth straight victory.
What the Buccaneers did in that comeback proved just how dangerous of a team this is going to be for the remainder of the season. They're capable of winning any game and definitely look like they could be making a trip to the 2012 playoffs.
Matt Ryan Is Mortal
Zero touchdowns and five interceptions certainly isn't how Matt Ryan expected his stat sheet to read following Sunday's game with the Arizona Cardinals. Unfortunately, that is exactly how it looked after Ryan had one of the worst games of his career.
He was never able to get into a rhythm, and Arizona had an answer for anything Ryan tried to do. The good news, however, is that even with Ryan playing absolutely horrible, the Atlanta Falcons were still able to walk away with a win.
The Arizona Cardinals Will Be Looking for a Quarterback in the 2013 NFL Draft
After John Skelton was benched against the Atlanta Falcons, the Arizona Cardinals turned to their third quarterback of the season in Ryan Lindley.
Unfortunately, Lindley had the same struggles that both Skelton and Kevin Kolb have suffered this season. He finished the game 9-of-20 with only 64 yards and no touchdowns.
This loss was the sixth loss in a row for Arizona, and the majority of the problems lie at the quarterback position. Look for the Cardinals to spend a high draft pick on a quarterback in the 2013 NFL draft.
The Packers Look Like the 2010 Version of Themselves
Despite injuries ravaging their roster, the Green Bay Packers continue to figure out how to win games. On Sunday, the Packers were without Clay Matthews, Greg Jennings and Charles Woodson, three perennial Pro Bowl players, yet they still came out with a victory.
It all starts with Aaron Rodgers, but even behind Rodgers, Green Bay has the depth to overcome all these devastating injuries. This season is looking more and more like the 2010 season that saw the Packers hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season.
Sunday's victory over the Detroit Lions made it five straight for the Packers, and a loss by the Chicago Bears on Monday night will put them into first place in the NFC North.
Matthew Stafford Is Far from Elite
Entering the 2012 season it seemed as if everyone, including myself, had Matthew Stafford pegged as an elite quarterback. However, we all seemed to forget that Stafford has had only one good season in his short career.
Sunday's loss just went another step in proving that Stafford is still far from an elite quarterback in this league. His two interceptions against the Green Bay Packers gave him 10 on the season, compared to only 12 touchdown passes.
There is still plenty of room for improvement in Stafford's game, and until that happens, the Detroit Lions will continue to be a mediocre team.
Calvin Johnson Has Broken the 'Madden Curse'
Don't look now, but Calvin Johnson has posted three straight 100-yard receiving games with his 143-yard effort on Sunday. In the past three weeks, he has 479 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
After an extremely slow start to the season, Johnson is starting to put it all together. He's certainly proved over the past three weeks that the "Madden Curse" simply can't affect the best receiver in the league.
Andy Reid Deserves to Be Fired This Week
I had a hard time understanding why Andy Reid still had his job after last week's loss to the Dallas Cowboys. However, if the Philadelphia Eagles don't fire Reid this week, I'll be at a complete loss of words.
Yes, he did lose Michael Vick last week and was forced to start a rookie quarterback. But there is simply no reason that the Eagles should have been beaten 31-6 by the Washington Redskins.
This is a talented team that is underachieving under Reid.
He needs to go, and he needs to go before Week 12.
Robert Griffin III Got out of His Short Funk
Before his 200-yard, four-touchdown performance on Sunday, Robert Griffin III had been in a small funk in the previous three weeks.
He struggled to move the ball down the field, and the Washington Redskins were in the midst of a three-game losing streak because of it. However, any struggles Griffin had recently weren't evident, as the Redskins completely dismantled the Philadelphia Eagles.
With Andrew Luck struggling against the New England Patriots, Griffin has taken back his lead as the favorite to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award at the end of the season.
The Saints Aren't Going Down Quietly
Last week, we saw the New Orleans Saints end the Atlanta Falcons' perfect season. This week, we saw the Saints manhandle the Oakland Raiders to get their third straight win.
They're now sitting at .500 on the season and are back in the thick of the playoff hunt. Drew Brees is playing beautiful football, and the defense has begun to step up in a big way.
Considering how dangerous of an offense the Saints have, you can be assured that they won't be going down quietly to finish the season.
Marcel Reece Is a Stud
Since Darren McFadden went down with an ankle injury in Week 9, Marcel Reece has come in and played extremely well.
He continues to make a huge impact in the ground game, as well as a receiver out of the backfield. On Sunday, Reece gained 103 rushing yards and added another four receptions for 90 yards.
While he certainly won't take over McFadden's starting job once McFadden returns, he has definitely shown that he needs to be a vital part of the offense for the Oakland Raiders.
Danario Alexander Is a Star in the Making
Over the past three weeks, Danario Alexander has recorded 291 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Not only has he made Robert Meachem completely irrelevant, but he looks like a legitimate No. 1 receiver in this league.
He's got the perfect combination of size, speed and athleticism, and he'll only get better as the weeks progress. Alexander appears to have quickly become Philip Rivers' top target, and he should continue to dominate for the remainder of the 2012 season.
Peyton Manning Continues to Look Like an MVP
Another week and another win for Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. This victory over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday marked the fifth straight game that the Broncos have won.
The only real reason that Denver continues to run away with the AFC West is because of the Manning's play. He threw for 270 yards and three touchdowns this week, bringing his total up to 2,975 passing yards and 24 touchdowns.
It Is Time to Get off the 'Andrew Luck for MVP' Train
After leading the Indianapolis Colts to their fourth straight victory last week, many threw Andrew Luck into the pool for possible candidates for Most Valuable Player.
However, we saw on Sunday just how far Luck is from being considered a legitimate MVP candidate. He was thoroughly outplayed by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in a devastating loss.
There is no doubting that Luck will be an extremely productive player in this league, but it is way too soon to consider him MVP material.
The Patriots Are Becoming Extremely Balanced
Don't get me wrong, Tom Brady is still the man who makes it all go for the New England Patriots, but this team is looking extremely balanced heading into the final stretch of the season.
The Patriots scored touchdowns in four different ways on Sunday, including passing and rushing touchdowns, a punt return for a touchdown and an interception for a touchdown. They caused turnovers on defense and were able to move the ball on offense at will in a number of ways.
They'll especially need this balanced with news that Rob Gronkowski could be out up to six weeks with a broken forearm. New England is always a threat in the AFC, but the way it's been playing lately should scare the rest of the conference.
Trading for Aqib Talib Could Be the Move of the 2012 Season
In his first game after being traded to the New England Patriots earlier in the month, Aqib Talib put on quite the performance on Sunday.
He finished the game with seven total tackles, one pass defended and one interception. Oh yeah, he also took that interception 59 yards for a touchdown.
If Talib can continue to be this type of defensive playmaker for the Patriots for the remainder of the season, trading for him could end up being the move of the year.
Clock Management Really Is Important
We hear about wasting timeouts almost every week, but rarely does it even come back to haunt the team wasting timeouts. This could lead us to believe that clock management is just some myth spoken about.
However, on Sunday night, the Pittsburgh Steelers saw just how much damage wasting timeouts can cause a team. Head coach Mike Tomlin called his team's final timeout just before the two-minute warning, with the Steelers down by three points and the Baltimore Ravens facing a third down.
Unfortunately, a penalty from Pittsburgh ran the clock to the two-minute warning, and the following play from Baltimore drained the clock to a point where the Steelers had no chance to win without any timeouts.
It was certainly a questionable call on Tomlin's part, and it reminded us all just how important clock and game management can be.
Baltimore Is Still the Team to Beat in the AFC North
You have to wonder what Ben Roethlisberger would have been able to do offensively against this Baltimore Ravens defense, but this was still a dominating performance for Baltimore.
Okay, maybe not dominating on offense, as both Joe Flacco and Ray Rice struggled to get anything moving. But it was dominating on the defensive side of the ball. While the Ravens did give up over 300 yards of offense, the three turnovers they caused were huge in getting this victory.
Baltimore now sits with an 8-2 record and has a two-game lead on the Pittsburgh Steelers with only six games remaining.
These two teams meet again in two weeks. It wouldn't be surprising if the outcome was the same and Baltimore stretched out its lead in the division even further.