NFL Season 101: Weeks 11 and 12
Image Courtesy of The Houston Texans
By Jack Cherico
Week 11 of the NFL season featured solid games, similar to any other, and reinforced some teams’ playoff hopes. Two Ohio State rookies and top picks in the draft, quarterback Joe Burrow and defensive lineman Chase Young, faced off in a matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Washington Football Team. It was a sad day for Cincinnati, because not only did they lose the game 9-20, but they also lost Burrow for the year, with extensive ligament damage in his knee. Burrow sustained a torn ACL and MCL but is expected to make a full recovery in 2021.
In a rematch of the 2019 divisional playoffs, the Tennessee Titans played the Baltimore Ravens. Last season, Tennessee bested Baltimore 28-12, with a great effort by Derrick Henry’s 195 rushing yards. In this week’s matchup, King Henry did what he does best and ran all over the Ravens defense, scoring the game-winning touchdown and rushing for 133 yards. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill also contributed to the 30-24 overtime win, throwing for two passing touchdowns and 259 yards. The loss dropped Baltimore to a record of 6-4 and placed them at 3rd in the division, with the Cleveland Browns winning against the Philadelphia Eagles to go 7-3.
The final notable game of Week 11 was a matchup between the sliding Houston Texans and enigmatic New England Patriots. New England has shown the whole season that they cannot win games they should, such as against the Denver Broncos and the Texans, yet they beat teams that are objectively better than them, such as the Ravens and Las Vegas Raiders. This point was exemplified at NRG Stadium on Sunday, and the Patriots lost 20-27, making the Texans 3-7 on the year. The Texans game plan consisted of a gnarly safety blitz, which free safety Justin Reid had a field day with, getting his first career sack and putting pressure on Cam Newton the entire game. Former defensive player of the year JJ Watt also had a good game, with four pass deflections as a defensive lineman, a significant disruption in the passing game.
During week 12, a few teams had COVID scares. However, most games were able to continue with tremendous showings on Thanksgiving.
The NFL moved the Thanksgiving night game between the Steelers and Ravens due to players testing positive for COVID, including quarterback Lamar Jackson and running backs Mark Ingram and JK Dobbins. As of now, the game is scheduled for Wednesday, December 2. However, the Washington Football Team and the Houston Texans lit up the scoreboard, each scoring 41 points to beat their respective opponents, the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions. The team MVPs for each group were running back Antonio Gibson, who ran for three touchdowns, and quarterback Deshaun Watson who threw for four touchdowns and 318 yards. The loss was the last straw for the Lions, and they fired head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn.
On Saturday, the Denver Broncos were quite possibly the team most affected by COVID because the NFL deemed their entire quarterback room high risk. Every quarterback in the active roster was exposed without a mask to backup quarterback Jeff Driskel, who tested positive for COVID. Drew Lock, Blake Bortles, and Brett Rypien were not allowed to play in the game against the New Orleans Saints, so Denver had to get creative. The team called up practice squad player Kendall Hinton, a wide receiver, who played quarterback at Wake Forest. Hinton had not taken a single practice rep at quarterback all year, and he didn’t take a single practice rep at the position at Wake Forest because he switched to wide receiver. Denver lost the game 31-3, and Hinton threw for 13 passing yards, two interceptions, and one completion on nine attempts.
Patrick Mahomes has cemented his place at the top of the MVP voting, with 462 yards and three touchdowns in a 27-24 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The win puts the Chiefs at 10-1, ahead of the Las Vegas Raiders in the division by four games, and brings Mahomes’ season total to 3497 passing yards and 30 touchdowns, with only two interceptions. Tyreek Hill was the real star of the game, though, with 13 receptions, 269 yards, and all three of Mahomes’s touchdowns. Hill put up 57.9 fantasy points, the highest total on the season for anyone. With a chance to close the gap, the Raiders couldn’t take care of the Atlanta Falcons, losing 43-6, and quarterback Derek Carr racked up a whopping .6 fantasy points.