Week 11 saw the best and worst of the NFL come to the fore. Cam Newton threw five TD’s to dominate a dismal Washington Redskins, Aaron Rodgers bested Teddy Bridgewater and the Minnesota Vikings in the battle for the NFC North and Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco went down with a season-ending ACL injury, but continued to play.
But while Cam and #Tommy stayed perfect, and the Titans and Browns continued to suck, the action for the lower playoff seeds and wild-card spots heated up. Let’s have a look at some of those situations.
Is #TheReturn of Tony Romo all the Dallas Cowboys need to make the playoffs?
It certainly could be. The Dallas Cowboys with Tony Romo under centre are a completely different proposition to the Brandon Weeden/Matt Cassell led side that lost seven straight games. Despite throwing two interceptions to go with his two TD’s, Romo showed the necessary poise to help the Cowboys come away with the win and reignite their hopes of an NFC East comeback; as unlikely as it may seem, Dallas are only two games back from the division-leading New York Giants, who are the only NFC East team at .500.
But regaining their fearless leader might not be enough to get “America’s Team” into the playoffs; a crucial month of football begins today with their Thanksgiving Day clash against the Carolina Panthers – who are yet to be defeated. Following that, the Cowboys will face divisional rivals in the Washington Redskins and AFC East hopefuls the New York Jets, with a match-up against the NFC North leading Green Bay Packers sandwiched in the middle. If Romo really is the miracle worker Cowboys fans need him to be, the Dallas Cowboys will walk away from their week 15 game against the Jets leading the NFC East.
Fantasy watch: RB Darren McFadden has emerged as a solid option in recent weeks; McFadden had another solid outing against the Dolphins with 149 total yards for 14.90 fantasy points.
Does Jameis Winston’s five TD’s prove he is learning how to be an NFL QB?
It sure does. Early in the season, Winston looked panicked when dropping back, and the resulting throws were poor. Against the Philadelphia Eagles, “Famous Jameis” made great decisions, and while he did release the ball quickly on many occasions, this was not due to being rushed. On the contrary, Jameis appears to be making reads and working through his progressions much faster than I’ve ever seen him, including during his time at college.
The stats also back up Winston’s improvement. Since his week four, four-interception flameout against the Carolina Panthers, Winston has thrown nine TD’s – and just two interceptions.
While much of the credit for Winston’s improvement should go to the man himself, RB Doug Martin and WR Mike Evans also deserve a mention. In recent weeks Evans has produced at a much more consistent level, and Martin has simply been beastly. With those weapons at his disposal, there’s no end to what Jameis Winston can do – he just needs a little time.
Fantasy watch: RB Doug Martin exploded for 235 rushing yards against the Eagles, and only just missed out on adding to his tally of 23.5 fantasy points, being stopped on the 1-yard line after an 84-yard, second-quarter run.
The Kansas City Chiefs are slowly getting back on track
After a 1-4 start, and losing possibly the best RB in the league to an ACL injury, a lot of people would have expected the Kansas City Chiefs to simply lay down and accept the 2015/16 season as lost. But a four-game winning streak, including a win over division leaders the Denver Broncos, and the discovery that back-up RB Charcandrick West can actually play has renewed hope that the Chiefs can take an AFC Wild-Card spot.
Of course, their poor start to the season means that Alex Smith’s side now find themselves amongst the glut of 5-5 teams in the AFC; the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets and Houston Texans will all be looking to thwart the Chiefs in their efforts to secure a playoff spot.
With a favourable draw coming up – including games against the Cleveland Browns, the newly Flacco-less Baltimore Ravens and two meetings with the Oakland Raiders – the Chiefs will be looking to capitalise. Watch this space.
Fantasy watch: Kansas City RB Spencer Ware put in a big game against the San Diego Chargers – he had 101 total yards and two TD’s for 22.10 fantasy points.
The Atlanta Falcons are slowly imploding
A lot can change in a month, especially in the NFL – the Atlanta Falcons are the perfect example of that. After a very healthy 5-1 start to the season, the Falcons are now finding themselves in strange territory – only one game ahead of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC South, and in danger of failing to make the playoffs altogether.
To make matters worse, star RB Devonta Freeman suffered a concussion in the first-quarter of the Falcons’ 24-21 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, and did not return to the game. The Colts, who were without first-string QB Andrew Luck, had no problems scoring against the lacklustre Atlanta D; if the Falcons are to get out of the funk they are currently in, it will need to come from the defence.
The Falcons have shown us how good they can be. If their defence can get their act together, the offense – which was so impressive early in the season – will follow.
Fantasy watch: This game wasn’t exactly a fantasy football gold mine, but Ahmad Bradshaw put in a solid effort totalling 52 combo yards, two TD’s and 17.2 fantasy points.
Questions? Insults? Let us know in the comments section.