It's Week 11 of the 2017 NFL regular season. And as we draw closer to the end of this year, the playoff picture is becoming easier to decipher.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots are asserting themselves as the class of the AFC. The Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings are doing the same in the NFC.
There's still plenty to be decided in terms of the lower seeds, though. And some big individual fantasy performances are doing a lot to sort things out from top to bottom.
|Week 11 NFL Scores, Fantasy Stars|
|Titans||17-40||Steelers||Antonio Brown||10 rec, 144 yds, 3 TDs|
|Ravens||23-0||Packers||BAL D/ST||0 points allowed, 3 INTs, 2 fumbles recovered|
|Rams||7-24||Vikings||Latavius Murray||95 rush yds, 2 TDs|
|Lions||27-24||Bears||Jordan Howard||125 rush yds, TD|
|Jaguars||19-7||Browns||JAX D/ST||7 points allowed, 3 fumbles recovered, 2 INTs|
|Cardinals||21-31||Texans||D'Onta Foreman||65 rush yds, 2 TDs, 3 rec, 15 yds|
|Buccaneers||30-20||Dolphins||Kenny Stills||7 rec, 180 yds, TD|
|Chiefs||9-12||Giants||Orleans Darkwa||74 rush yds, TD, 2 rec, 16 yds|
|Redskins||31-34||Saints||Kirk Cousins||22-of-32, 322 yds, 3 TDs|
|Bills||24-54||Chargers||Keenan Allen||12 rec, 159 yds, 2 TDs|
|Bengals||20-17||Broncos||Andy Dalton||15-of-25, 154 yds, 3 TD|
|Patriots||33-8||Raiders||Tom Brady||30-of-37, 339 yds, 3 TDs|
|Eagles||37-9||Cowboys||PHI D/ST||9 points allowed, 3 INTs, 1 fumble recovered, TD|
|Week 11 Playoff Standings|
|AFC Division Leaders||W||L|
|AFC Wild Card||W||L|
|NFC Division Leaders||W||L|
|NFC Wild Card||W||L|
Through his first nine games of the season, Steelers superstar wideout Antonio Brown averaged 6.7 receptions and 98 receiving yards per game. Those are solid numbers, but they weren't leading to touchdowns. At least they weren't before Week 11.
Brown doubled his season total for receiving touchdowns on Thursday, with a 10-catch, 144-yard, three-touchdown performance.
The big night prompted this superlative from NFL.com's Adam Rank:
And that may not be much of an exaggeration, at least according to fantasy production. Over 200 wide receivers have piled up 1,000-plus career fantasy points (point-per-reception formats). Among that group, Brown is third in PPR points per game, trailing only Julio Jones and Don Hutson (who played from 1935 to 1945).
It should come as no surprise that Brown's 2017 breakout coincided with one from his quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger.
Coming into Week 11, Big Ben was averaging 255.3 yards, 1.3 touchdowns and 1.1 interceptions per game. He blew those numbers away on Thursday, throwing for 299 yards, four scores and no picks on his way to his first 30-point fantasy outing of the season.
Of course, Brown deserves some credit here too. Especially for this helmet catch the NFL shared that gave Roethlisberger one of his touchdowns:
If those two are finally on the same page for this stretch run and the postseason, the Steelers could be legitimate contenders.
Ravens Defense/Special Teams
The Green Bay Packers were 1-3 since Aaron Rodgers went down with a broken collarbone in Week 6 (including the game he left early). Despite the losing record, they were fairly competitive.
That all changed on Sunday, as the wheels came off thanks in large part to a ball-hawking defensive effort by the Baltimore Ravens.
Not only did the Ravens pitch a shutout, they forced five turnovers on the way to the result, including three interceptions of Rodgers' backup, Brett Hundley.
The Baltimore win pulls it to .500 on the season and very much in the hunt for a playoff spot. With this defense playing the way it is, the Ravens are a real threat to sneak in as a wild card.
The Miami Dolphins came up short in a 20-30 loss to the Tampa Buccaneers, but you can't lay the loss at Kenny Stills' feet.
The Dolphins wideout went off for seven receptions, 180 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown. Miami shared video of his 61-yard score:
Despite the loss, Miami's still only a game and a half out of a wild-card spot. And if Stills and quarterback Matt Moore have some chemistry brewing, they're still in the hunt.
Like Stills, Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins was the fantasy star in a game his team wound up losing, 31-34, in overtime.
Cousins did what he could, but Washington's defense couldn't hold off a furious comeback. He finished 22-of-32 for 322 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
The loss puts the Redskins under .500, but like the AFC, the bottom of the NFC is still wide-open.
The Los Angeles Chargers absolutely lit the Buffalo Bills up. And wide receiver Keenan Allen was a big part of the 54-24 onslaught.
He went off for 12 receptions, 159 yards and two touchdowns. The NFL shared video of one of the scores in the second quarter:
With the win, the Chargers' slim playoff hopes remain alive. And if Philip Rivers and Allen can stay on this wavelength, they could cause some problems for other teams down the stretch.
The New England Patriots crushed the Oakland Raiders in Mexico City. Tom Brady was predictably prolific in the 33-8 win.
Brady connected on 30-of-37 pass attempts, piling up 339 yards, three touchdowns and no picks.
After a rough start to the season, the Patriots appear to be firmly in control of the AFC.