In these weekly previews, I’ll highlight the results that I found shocking from the previous week, as well as preview the game I am most looking forward to from the weekend ahead. As we get later into the season, I may add some other sections to this, including playoff positioning and a look forward to the upcoming draft.
The Top Games From Week 10
This space will be less about games that were shocking based on preseason expectations and more about the games that had the most impact on the standings as we move past the halfway point in the schedule. This game was kind of a dud in overall impact to the playoff seedings, though it did set up a Week 11 that will feature a couple of “win or (possibly) go home” games. One top game was featured as the Game of the Week last week (which didn’t really pan out) and the other features a team that we talked about a lot the first few weeks of the season that might have playoff implications down the road.
Pittsburgh Steelers 52 – Carolina Panthers 21
I was way off in my prediction for this one. So much for a low scoring game.
The Panthers took the early lead in this one, but the rout was on by the end of the first quarter. The Panthers never got closer than that initial 7-0 score, with their other touchdowns making the score 24-14 Steelers and the final score above. Christian McCaffery scored all three Panthers’ touchdowns (1 rushing, 2 receiving), but Ben Roethlisberger had five touchdown passes to five different receivers. It sure wasn’t pretty, and the Steelers moved into second place in the conference after New England’s surprising loss to the Titans on Sunday. The Panthers fell another game behind the Saints, but are still leading the wildcard race in the NFC.
Cleveland Browns 28 – Atlanta Falcons 16
The Cleveland Browns probably aren’t going to make the playoffs this season, but they are no longer the automatic win on the other teams’ schedule every year. Will this loss end up costing the Falcons a chance at the playoffs? Probably not, as they are one of four teams tied at 4-5 and are 1 1/2 games out of a wild card spot (they would need to climb over the Panthers and the New Orleans Saints to win the NFC South). Matt Ryan threw 52 times for 330 yards and two scores, but the Browns scored three consecutive touchdowns after the first Falcons touchdown to win a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. Baker Mayfield didn’t have a huge yardage number, but he did complete 17 of 20 passes for 216 yards and 3 touchdowns, ending the game with a near perfect QB rating. The Browns have their bye this week, so let’s hope that doesn’t sap the momentum from this game, but this is probably the longest they’ve gone into a season still mathematically eligible for the playoffs in a long time.
Week 11 Game of the Week
There are a lot of games to choose from this week that will have major impact on the playoff standings below. Green Bay and Seattle kick off the week tonight with both teams trying to climb back into the 6th slot in the NFC. Cincinnati and Baltimore tangle for second place in the AFC North, with the Ravens looking for a win to get back on top. Houston and Washington face off in a game between two surprise division leaders. And Minnesota and Chicago fight it out in the cold of Chicago for first place in the NFC North.
But the Game of the Week is probably the one that ends it, even though it is no longer being played in Mexico City. The Kansas City Chiefs will face off against the Los Angeles Rams in a possible Super Bowl preview. Were the game still going to be played in the elevation of Mexico City, it might have slowed down the multiple options of the Kansas City offense. But with the game back near sea level, it evens the matchup ever so slightly, which seems to be the reason why the Rams are only 1 point favorites at home. I think the Chiefs will prevail, but it could honestly go either way.
Prediction: Chiefs 35 Rams 33
With each team having played at least eight games on the season, we’ll use the space to update the playoff picture each week. Here’s how it currently stands:
1. Kansas City Chiefs (West) – 9-1
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (North) – 6-2-1
3. New England Patriots (East) – 7-3
4. Houston Texans (South) – 6-3
5. Los Angeles Chargers (WC #1) – 7-2
6. Cincinnati Bengals (WC #2) – 5-4
Next two teams: Miami Dolphins (5-4) & Tennessee Titans (5-4)
1. Los Angeles Rams (West) – 9-1
2. New Orleans Saints (South) – 8-1
3. Chicago Bears (North) – 6-3
4. Washington (East) – 6-3
5. Carolina Panthers (WC #1) – 6-3
6. Minnesota Vikings (WC #2) – 5-3-1
Next two teams: Green Bay Packers (4-4-1) and four 4-5 teams (Cowboys, Eagles, Falcons, & Seahawks)
Week 11 Bye Teams
To make sure you get your fantasy lineups adjusted as necessary, the following six teams are on byes this week:
Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Jets, and San Francisco 49ers
Until next time…