Wait, What? The Biggest Surprises from Week 11 in the NFL

Sunday wasn’t much of an encore for the NFL’s epic week 10. It was pretty ho-hum, with the exception of a dozen missed extra points. Those have, unsurprisingly, launched an obnoxiously ubiquitous debate amongst fans and pundits alike over whether or not the rule change was good or bad for the league.

Not to worry though, week 10 helped set up another fantastic slate of Thanksgiving Day football. All six teams scheduled to play on Thursday took home a victory this week. There’s no better time to give thanks for all of football’s fantastic, unpredictable madness.

Suddenly touchdowns aren’t worth 7 points: It’s too early to make a call on whether or not the added importance will prove more exciting or frustrating, but messing with the rules of the best sport in America seems like a bad idea in general. Perhaps once fans get used to factoring in the post touchdown decision and conversion, it will add a genuine thrill to the game. For now though, it makes each game feel cheap and pathetic.

Five straight for the Fins: It wasn’t pretty, but Miami capped off their second straight West coast victory with a dramatic 4th quarter comeback in the Coliseum on Sunday. The defense stifled Jared Goff in his NFL debut, while the offense came up big when it mattered most. Missing their three best offensive linemen, the Dolphins may struggle with San Francisco this week. Still, Adam Gase and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph have this team playing hard, believing, and making plays in big moments.

A tight end end around touchdown: Say that five times fast. The Lions dialed up a nifty reverse to Eric Ebron on the goaline and fooled the Jags defense. Even if they saw it coming, Ebron’s speed made it nearly impossible to stop. This is the type of play that everyone will attempt in Madden, only to watch it fail miserably every time.

It rained in Los Angeles: Not a good sign for Jared Goff. Given that the Rams were hosting a team from Miami, they might have surrendered any home field advantage. It might as well be a proven fact that home crowds don’t cheer as loud when they’re soaking wet and miserable watching a sorry football game. The fact that L.A.’s opponent spent the week practicing in California, and regularly practice in the rain anyway, foreboded bad things for the Rams.

Adam Vinateri missed a FG: Enough said.

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Cincy will miss A.J. Green and the playoffs

The Bengals are 3-6-1: Marvin Lewis is one of the more underrated coaches in the league. Year in and year out, the Bengals produce winning records and make the playoffs competing in the toughest division in football. Because Lewis’ teams come up small in the playoffs, nobody puts him in the category of elite coaches. Fair or not, it looks like that reputation won’t change this year. A.J. Green’s injury means Cincinnatti likely won’t make it 6 straight playoff appearances. Putting aside the Bengals postseason woes, it’s stunning to see this team with such a bad record.

Things that shouldn’t have surprised anyone

Jeff Fisher playing it safe (and losing): This week Fisher lauded his quarterback for protecting the football and…snapping it on time? Indeed. That playclock can sneak up on the league’s best signal callers and Jared Goff had none of it on Sunday. Rain or shine that kid is getting his squad read to run a play, which shouldn’t be too difficult considering every play is either a handoff or a slant pass. Fisher kicked a long field goal instead of going for fourth down that would’ve likely finished the Dolphins off if the Rams converted. Hindsight is 20-20 and Miami hadn’t moved the ball much up to that point, but the decision unfortunately fits perfectly into Fisher’s 8-8 resume.

Bortles Service: Another Sunday, another pick-six for Blake Bortles. Detroit knew they simply needed to get out of Bortles’ way in order to take home another improbable victory. Ever Jacksonville fan knows deep down that management needs to ditch both their QB and head coach. Unfortunately, this is the league of denial—in more ways than one. Surely a new coach will be brought in, likely under the condition that he promise to turn around what seems like a hopeless case under center.

Make it 9 straight for dem Boys: Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot are the real deal and the offensive line has stayed healthy. Dez Bryant is back and Jason Witten is Jason Witten. Romo is simply expensive insurance for a potential Prescott injury. This team deserves to be the Super Bowl favorites until someone proves they can stop the offense for 4 quarters. New England and Seattle appear to be the only teams that could threaten the Cowboys, who are once again America’s team.

Author: Zac Howard

Freelance Journalist based in NYC

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