Five Cold, Hard Football Facts from NFL Week 11

Grant Mitchell

The pre-Thanksgiving week of football came and went last weekend, delivering lots of expected results, some ugly play, and a few unexpected upsets.

The MVP race is also heating up more than ever, with Matthew Stafford and Tom Brady looking, dare it be said, normal, while Jonathan Taylor is running his way into the conversation, and Kyler Murray’s injury-induced absence is taking him out.

Before you stuff yourself with turkey and mashed potatoes, or even the leftovers, here are five Cold, Hard Football Facts from the last week of football.

#5: Baker Looks Cooked

Think about this: the Cleveland Browns played three scoreless quarters of football against the 0-9-1 Detroit Lions, barely finishing on top with a final score of 13-10. Nick Chubb literally carried the team to victory with 22 attempts and 130 yards, while Baker Mayfield was once again disappointing, finishing 15/29 for 176 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions.

Cleveland stayed alive in a loaded AFC North, moving to 6-5, though they are still last in the division and have consecutive games against the Baltimore Ravens looming large.

In fairness to the Browns’ quarterback, he is extremely banged up and has been for most of the season; however, this is now his fourth year in the league, and he still has not shown that he can consistently perform at the level that he, the franchise QB, is expected to.

Cleveland’s 22nd-ranked Real Quarterback Rating starkly contrasts their league-topping position in the Offensive Rusher Rating, which does not bode well for Mayfield’s future. The upcoming draft is not particularly deep or exciting at his position, but if he is similarly unconvincing next season, expect Cleveland to look for ways to move on.

#4: Hitting a Buffa-low

A few weeks ago, the Buffalo Bills were viewed as the most complete team in football and the favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl; today, they have lost three of their last five games, relinquished their AFC East lead to the New England Patriots, and just got demolished 45-17 by the Indianapolis Colts. Jonathan Taylor carried the rock for 185 yards and four touchdowns, while Josh Allen went for 209 yards, two TDs, and two picks.

Buffalo’s once pace-setting marks have now fallen to seventh in Scoreability, down five from the previous week, and ninth in Bendability, down six. Their schedule is not going to do them any favors either, with matchups against the New Orleans Saints, Patriots, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the immediate horizon. The Bills showed that they can play at a supreme level, but they need to regain their confidence before this will happen.

#3: Minnesota: The Best of the Rest

Through 11 weeks of football, the Minnesota Vikings have not moved into the playoff picture and are on the outside looking in at 5-5; despite this, they beat the 8-3 Green Bay Packers 34-31 over the weekend, rallying behind 341 yards and three touchdowns from Kirk Cousins. Aaron Rodgers reached 385 yards and four touchdowns in the loss.

Believe it or not, the unsuspecting Cousins has elevated his side to third in Real Quarterback Rating. This is an astonishing achievement for a player that has built a reputation for folding in big games, and especially now that the Packers have formed a real defense.

With all five of their losses coming by one possession, the Vikings could easily be undefeated this season— if they clean up their late-game play, they are a dark horse contender in the NFC.

#2: Shanahan’s Show Hits the Road

The San Francisco 49ers started the season fairly slow, but now that they have won three of their last four contests, most recently knocking off the Jacksonville Jaguars 30-10, it is safe to say that they are officially competing for one of three potential playoff spots in the NFC West.

Deebo Samuel got a career-high eight carries in the duel with the Jags, also leading the team with 79 yards and a touchdown.

The Niners have slowly climbed the charts in many areas recently, and now, they are ninth in Real Quarterback Rating with a diverse offensive attack and a talented defense. They still cannot stop the run, but if they can form some semblance of what they were when they reached the Super Bowl two years ago, they are a team to monitor alongside the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams.

#1: Tyrod’s Texans Triumph

The Houston Texans got their second win of the season on Sunday, beating the Tennessee Titans, who had been riding a six-game win streak, 22-13. Tyrod Taylor finished with two rushing touchdowns, while Ryan Tannehill threw for 323 yards but also had four interceptions.

Adrian Peterson took nine carries for 40 yards and was released a few days later after failing to fill the shoes of Derrick Henry, who is dealing with a foot injury.

Following the loss, Tennessee fell six spots in Bendability and seven in Scoreability, which they had been leading. They still have the best record in the AFC and second-best in all of football, but this game served as a reminder that they cannot hit their full potential without the league’s most dominant running force in the lineup.

Thankfully for Titans fans, Henry could return for the playoffs, but until then, Tannehill will have to do a better job taking care of the ball for them to retain the top seed.