NFL Week 11 Winners & Losers

By Lee Wakefield & Peter Mann


Preseason takes are starting to look exposed in some areas, now that we have just closed the book on week 11. As we move into the final third of the regular season, the new order of the NFL is beginning to become clearer.

There are some regulars appearing as winners and losers now. Some expected preseason, some expected now that we’ve seen 11 weeks’ worth of film…

Winners - Peter Mann

Mike McDaniel and the Dolphins

McDaniel and the Dolphins slammed the brakes on the early momentum of Antonio Pearce’s Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday evening, but somehow you feel as though the Raiders won’t be too disheartened by a loss to the now 7-3 Miami Dolphins. 

Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium has been pretty much a fortress in recent times, and it showed again in this, 20-13 success (somehow neither franchise registered in the fourth quarter) as Tua Tagovailoa went for 325 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT, and Tyreek Hill 146 yards, 1 TD (a new record-setting over 100 receiving yards and a touchdown for the fifth straight outing), and not forgetting Jaelen (Phillips) and Jalen (Ramsey), who notched a handful of sacks and interceptions between them. 

As the Dolphins’ defense restricted the Raiders, as does “Fortress Hard Rock” restrict any visitors to Miami. McDaniels’ cast of Super Bowl hopefuls is currently on a streak of 17 wins from the past 19 at home, a run not seen since the mid-eighties when they went 23-2 (at the old Orange Bowl) between October 1983 and April 1986 (Brett Brecheisen, Miami Dolphins Football Communications). 

With that in mind, it certainly is their house, and with four of their remaining seven at-home, and away dates at the Jets and the Commanders, what are the odds of a run deep into the postseason… 

The Kelces

The Kelce Brothers love fest; Tight end Travis and Center Jason Kelce clashed on Monday night as the former’s Kansas City Chiefs hosted the latter’s Philadelphia Eagles, at the Arrowhead Stadium, and it was the latter, who moved to an impressive 9-1, who came out on top with a 21-17 win. 

Granted the game was perhaps better billed as being a battle of QBs Patrick Mahomes (177 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) and Jalen Hurts (150 yards, 1 INT) but was it a changing of the guard, with Mahomes saying to Hurts afterward: “Great game. Good luck the rest of the way man. Do your thing.” 

Then there’s the Kelce Brothers, Travis, and Jason having last met in last season’s Super Bowl – that, like all other meetings, went the way of the young Kelce and his dominant Chiefs. This though, it belonged, at last, to the elder sibling who, for the first time in his 13-year NFL career, registered a win both over Travis, and the Chiefs. 

Afterward, the brothers shared emotional moments including Travis telling Jason: “That was a late birthday present for you. Love you big guy” – Travis turned 34 in early October, Jason 36 at the start of November – what is a brother to do?

Sean Payton and the Broncos

It’s all going on In Denver with Sean Payton’s Broncos suddenly in with a shot at the playoffs. 

That didn’t look the case a matter of weeks ago when, after the opening five matches they found themselves 1-5; now however, following the weekend’s late, 21-20 success over Minnesota Vikings, they are 5-5 having won four on the bounce. 

The longest active record in the NFL at present, the Broncos have turned things around both offensively and defensively in recent weeks, and QB Russell Wilson (259 yards, 1 TD vs. Vikings) is running with a 19:4 ratio on touchdowns over interceptions.

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It is a win that puts them in with a great shout in the overall AFC play-off scenario and has now seen them topple the Chiefs, the Bills, and the Vikings, in quick succession, the lick-up between Wilson and receiver Courtland Sutton again proving a difference-maker. 

In the last five games for the Broncos, Sutton has snagged a TD in each, becoming a key component in their recent upsurge in form, against the Vikings he posted stats of 4 recs, 66 yards, and 1 TD as his side sat second behind the Chiefs in the AFC East ahead of the 5-6 Las Vegas Raiders, and 4-6 Los Angeles Chargers. Speaking of the Chargers…

Losers - Lee Wakefield

Brandon Staley

The end is surely nigh for Brandon Staley’s tenure as the Head Coach of the Chargers?

Another painful, one-score, loss. Another fairly mid-level QB having a career day against his defense. The defense gave up multiple third and long conversations. Again. Opponents have a 50% conversation rate on 3rd and 15 or longer this season on Staley’s group, which in itself should get him a place in this column.

To top things off, in his post-game press conference, Staley said that the team was a “work in progress”. He also got firey with reporters and said he would continue to call defensive plays.

Back in week 2, in this very column, I said that Staley is on paper-thin ice. At this stage, 9 weeks later, I have to assume that the Los Angeles ownership, headed by Dean Spanos, is just waiting until Black Monday to relieve Staley of his duties.

With this team wasting Justin Herbert’s career so far, I have to wonder whether General Manager, Tom Telesco, is going to get his marching orders too.

Telesco has overseen three Head Coach hirings. I can’t think of a GM who has been allowed to hire four. Especially after 1 [one] playoff win in eleven years.

On the field, it’s the same errors, week in and week out, and personally don’t see much progress in the defense. It’s year three for Staley and it’s way beyond the point of being “a work in progress”, this team is “All-In” as their in-house, in-season series is boldly titled.

These past two years were supposed to be big, Super Bowl run-type seasons. The defense is the most expensive starting defense in the league, yet is amongst the worst defenses in the league per multiple advanced metrics.

Chargers are way over the cap next year, and this team will look a lot different in 2024. But will those differences start at the top?

Zach Wilson

Oh, Zach. What are we to do with you?

It’s safe to say that the former number two overall selection hasn’t fulfilled the redemption arc storyline that was on the table when he replaced Aaron Rodgers in the Jets’ season opener.

Over the off-season, Wilson was replaced after being widely regarded as the 32nd-best starter in the league.

Wilson spoke in January about making life “hell” for any veteran QB who signed. Rodgers, as always, had a nice line in response.

Fast forward to week 11, the Jets are 4-6 after a thorough beating from the Bills.

The night didn’t start well for Wilson as he tripped when running on to the field;

The game didn’t go much better as Wilson went 7 of 15, for one touchdown and one interception. Wilson was benched for Tim Boyle, who didn’t fare much better… 

In fact, it seemed like veteran punter Thomas Morstead threw the best ball of the night… I’m sure his week at practice will be dreadful, as Zach potentially fears for his job once again.

Tim Boyle has now been named starter, with Wilson sensationally QB3 behind Trevor Siemian.

Cincinnati Bengals

Thursday night football against the Ravens proved to be a brutal one for Cincinnati.

Not only did they pass up the chance to make it one win apiece in their season with Baltimore, but they also lost Joe Burrow to a season-ending wrist injury.

Losing the tie-breaker with the Ravens feels like less of a big deal, now that Burrow is done for the year.

The Browns and Steelers (somehow) continue to win, despite deep-seated issues with their respective offenses, so making the playoffs was always going to be tricky, but with Burrow, nothing is impossible.

The Bengals are always in it when #9 is on the field. The issue for Cincinnati, in the grand scheme of their season, is that #9 has been hampered all year.

Burrow won’t play, and the Bengals season looks like a busted flush despite lofty preseason expectations, especially amongst our staff.

To add insult to injury, the NFL seems to want to investigate whether Cincinnati hid a pre-existing injury with Burrow’s wrist prior to the game. How successful this will be, is questionable, considering it seemed quite obvious that it was caused by being fallen on by Jadeveon Clowney.

Feature Image Credit: Bleeding Green Nation

Lee Wakefield

NFL, CFB & NFL Draft

Lee Wakefield IS A defensive line enthusiast, Chargers Sufferer, and LONG-TIME writer and podcaster with a number of publications. Find his Chargers content over at Bolt Beat. @Wakefield90 on twitter