Week 11 Recap - King Henry reigns over the Ravens again
A very topsy-turvy Week 11 of the 2020 NFL season leaves us with much to discuss in this week’s recap. The playoff picture is really starting to take shape, as we head into the big Thanksgiving week. For some teams, old frailties reared their ugly heads (See: Baltimore, Miami). For others, hopes were reborn, usually out of chaos (See: Dallas). And some found ways to be simultaneously enthralling and confusing in equal measure (See: Packers, Browns). The only two consistencies? The Steelers won again and Patrick Mahomes is the best player in the league.
Henry Breaks Baltimore
There’s just something about these Titans. The siege mentality is special. After a disappointing defeat to AFC South rivals the Colts last week, Mike Vrabel’s crew have bounced back in typical fashion, ramming a spike in the heart of Harbaugh’s attempt to repeat as AFC North Champions. This is the second time in very recent memory the Titans have swarmed all over the Baltimore Ravens and handed them a crushing defeat. Last time, it knocked Baltimore out of the playoffs. This time, it might contribute to Baltimore having bad seeding in the playoffs this year.
I still think the Ravens have enough to get into the big dance (they still have to face the Giants, Jets and Burrow-less Bengals), but Lamar is not leading the league in a merry dance like he was in 2019. It was nice to see Mark Andrews have the kind of performance we know he’s capable of. He’s still the closest Tight End to the elite tier who hasn’t quite found his way in yet. It’s coming though. The Ravens need it – and better play from Jackson – to arrive sooner rather than later.
However, the story of this game – and the Titans entire season really – flows through “King” Derrick Henry. The Titans are 14-2 when Henry has 100 yards rushing. Ironically, those two defeats have both happened in the last month (Cincinnati and Indy), but you get the picture. The Titans have a recipe for success, and when they’re able to follow it (game script depending), they usually find success.
Ryan Tannehill overcame an early interception to revert to his calm poise in the pocket, finding AJ Brown, Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith with reliability rarely seen during his tenure in Miami. The ability for Tennessee to trust their QB to make big plays when they need them is something any championship contender must have. You could make the case that – right now – the Titans have the more consistent quarterback out of these two teams. Vrabel deserves so much credit for the coaching job he’s doing, but if the Titans can continue to embrace #TractorcitoSzn (google it), they could be on their way to another nice playoff run.
Rivers' Statement Win
Marquez Valdes-Scantling isn’t going to sleep this week. The fumble he lost, that led immediately to Rodrigo Blakenship’s game-winning field goal, is the stuff of absolute nightmares. You have to feel for him.
The Packers were a bit on an enigma on Sunday. Came out hot, looked great early on, big half time lead, then failed to adjust to the Colts defensive adjustments. I’m still a believer in LaFleur and his squad, but the Packers are losing some games against the tougher defenses. Buccaneers, Colts, Vikings… all teams I think are definitively less talented than Green Bay, but found ways to limit Aaron Rodgers late on.
Green Bay will look to bounce back against the hapless Bears next Sunday night, and with the Eagles and Lions after that, you’d expect to see the Pack as a 10 win team within 3 weeks, but losses like this do provide questions over their championship credentials.
However, this was a real statement from Rivers and the Colts. They’ve quietly put together a nice run after that egregious opening day defeat to Jacksonville. They’re right in the thick of the playoff picture and the decision to go get free agent Phil Rivers in the offseason has paid dividends so far. Arm strength is obviously down, but competitive fire cannot be diminished in Rivers. He’s made Nyheim Hines a legit gamebreaker in the right situations.
BUT, I do – unfortunately – remain convinced that JUST when the Colts really can’t afford it, when they’re driving in the 4th quarter to try and win the game in the playoffs, Rivers will revert to San Diego Phil and throw that back-breaking interception that we all know is coming eventually. The Colts defense is very legit, but I have no actual belief long term that they’re good enough to push for that elusive AFC Championship they crave so desperately. I’m not even convinced they’ll beat Tennessee again next weekend. That one has become must see all of a sudden.
Dallas Ain't Dead
Let’s start with the headline… The Dallas Cowboys are… going to win the NFC East. Yeah, I said it. I mean it. Dalton, Zeke and that Wide Receiver trio can carry this team to a playoff berth. CeeDee Lamb… that touchdown catch? Stop it. Exceptional. Boomer. And now, Dallas is better positioned, both in terms of talent and schedule, than any of it’s division mates to put a late season charge towards the upper end of mediocrity together. Now, that could all come crashing down if they lose to Washington on Thursday, but after a huge road win like this I just don’t see that happening.
Andy Dalton is huge part of that. Jerry Jones continues to look very smart that he paid a reliable back up in the offseason, whilst surely seeing now he also MUST pay his regular starter come the end of this season. But, for Dalton, this was a lovely comeback win. Yes, there was a VERY hairy almost interception that would’ve ended the game late on, but Dalton has enough poise, experience and – most importantly – exceptional weapons around him to push this team into the postseason.
Dalton converted a 4th and 6 to Amari Cooper to extend what would become the game-winning drive, before finding Dalton Schultz wide open in the end zone to break Minnesota hearts, and breathe life back into what seemed like a doomed season for Dallas. Thursday’s match up with Washington is now – yep, you’ve guessed it – must-see.
For the Vikings, this was a season-killer. Despite the brilliance of Adam Thielen & Justin Jefferson as a receiver tandem, and Dalvin Cook leading the league in touchdowns, they really needed this one if they still harboured hopes of sneaking into the NFC playoff conversation. The Packers defeat, plus the ineptitude of both Detroit and Chicago, would have meant a win here and Minnesota could have been back in with a shout. Instead, they’re left wondering how they managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Monday Night Football Prediction: (Season Record 12-2)
I’ve managed to keep this Monday Night Football winning run going quite nicely – thanks to the Vikings for being decent and the Bears for being abjectly bad last week. Yikes for Chicago.
This week, we’ve got Brady vs Goff II. I’ve repeatedly tried to eradicate their first meeting (unsuccessfully) from my memory bank, both for the outcome (Patriots championship) and the absolutely ABJECT game it was from start to finish. Something tells me tonight will be different.
Both defenses are admittedly stout, but I think there’s enough offensive firepower on both sides to create some entertainment for those watching at home. Goff and the Rams have built themselves a pretty impressive resume this year, largely based on stout defensive play, and have climbed back into NFC West championship contention. However, I’m leaning towards TB12 and Tampa Bay tonight, as I don’t think Jalen Ramsey has yet worked out how to cover four receivers at the same time – though I’m sure he’s close to it. Evans, Godwin, Brown, Gronk… I think that’s too much for the Rams to repel over the evening.
Buccaneers to win tonight.
- Get well soon Joe Burrow. Cincy, PLEASE use your first round draft pick to help protect this man. Thank you.
- I really dislike the Washington Football team. Aside from the Alex Smith story, there’s very little likable about that team. They’re making good cultural changes, but you’ve got a long way to go before I’ll cheer for your franchise to be successful.
- Mahomes is still the clear league MVP. You almost felt like it was a bad game yesterday for him. He threw for 348 yards, 2 TDs and had only his second interception of the season. That’s his “bad” game. Unbelievable.
- The Raiders have a formula and it’s clearly working. Shout out to Derek Carr. He was great last night. Waller is a monster. Jacobs is hard to stop. Their defence packs a punch. They just got Mahome-d. Tough one to take for Vegas.
- Only the Chargers could NEARLY lose to the Jets.
- Justin Herbert is very very very good. There are a couple execs in Miami getting a LITTLE bit worried that they might have made the wrong choice…
- That said, give Tua time. Yesterday was bad. Miami SHOULD have moved to 7-3 and in clear playoff contention. Instead, at 6-4, they’ve still got a lot of work to do. Keep the faith though. Jets and Bengals up next… 8-4 in two weeks time, please?
- Taysom Hill, good for you. Congrats to the Saints and Sean Payton for taking a risk and seeing it pay off big time. Shout out the Saints D – very impressive.
- Also, to everyone who complained about facing him as a “tight end” in ESPN Fantasy Football… you should’ve been quicker and picked him up yourselves! Sincerely, a smug owner of a TE with 24 points on Sunday.
- The Steelers keep winning. Chase Claypool keeps catching touchdowns. Mapletron is for real. The Steelers are for real. I would LOVE to see them face the Chiefs in the Playoffs.
- The Cleveland Browns are going to be a playoff team in 2020. If they manage to get a home game, and the weather in Cleveland doesn’t improve… look out… Keep running that rock, Stefanski.
- Yeesh. Carson Wentz. It’s not looking good for you, son. Philly in freefall.
- I love the PJ Walker story. Respect the XFL!!!
Thanksgiving & Week 12
So, Thanksgiving. I love it. Food and Football. I’m gutted to be spending this one in the UK, rather than stateside as I’ve managed to accomplish every year since 2013. Thursday’s games: I’m going for Texans, Cowboys, Steelers all to win. Week 12 Sunday? Gimme some Colts – Titans, and Bucs – Chiefs. Mahomes vs Brady again? Yesssssss pleeeeeease. Can’t wait. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, wherever you are in the world. As usual, I’m @CallumJDSquires on Twitter and Instagram. Come let me know why I’m wrong to still believe the Dolphins are a playoff team. Stay safe, stay healthy.
CALLUM IS FROM LONDON BUT PLAYED COLLEGE SOCCER AT UNIVERSITY IN SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, WHERE HE LEARNED NEVER TO CHEER FOR THE COWBOYS. CALLUM IS A LONG-SUFFERING DOLPHINS FAN WHO BELIEVES THE TUA HYPE.