NFL Week 11 did not look like much on paper, but it did deliver some theatrical moments.
Joe Burrow sustained a season-ending injury, the Chiefs and Raiders gave us a high octane and fun-filled game, and the Saints proved that you do not need Drew Brees to beat the Falcons, writes Matthew Carolan.
An ACL injury for Burrow
Unfortunately, one of the biggest headlines from NFL Week 11 was a gruesome ACL injury for Joe Burrow against Washington.
The debate over who deserves the coveted ‘Rookie of the Year’ award this season swung between Burrow and LA’s Justin Herbert, with the edge going to Herbert so far. Barring Herbert getting a similar injury, this should seal him winning it. For Burrow, it is a sad end to a very promising season that has seen Cincinnati fans dreaming about their team’s future potential.
Going forward, they know they have their man. If the Bengals can shore up their offensive line and supply Burrow with some weapons, they should trend in the right direction in 2021. An ACL injury is awful, of course, but as far Burrow’s style of play goes, he is not one to rush for 100 yards a game, so hopefully, he can recover with little to no impact on his abilities.
The Ravens have regressed
One of the more shocking narratives this season is the apparent regression of the Baltimore Ravens, and in particular, their offense.
This is particularly shocking because Lamar Jackson was the MVP in 2019. They were outstanding last season - a joy to watch and highly effective. Statistically, Baltimore was one of the best offenses in the league in 2019, albeit, in large part, because of their run game. It felt like they were a piece or two away from winning a Super Bowl, and yet, they are in a state of regression right now.
Have teams just figured them out, or is their inconsistency down to injuries? The answer is a bit of both, plus they never added the receiving talent that they needed to excel further.
In an off-season where the Cardinals acquired DeAndre Hopkins and the Bills got Stefon Diggs, Jackson must have been wondering why they chose not to make a move. Instead, they must lean heavily on the run again, and look to Mark Andrews as their most effective receiver, with Marquise Brown underperforming in his second season. Had Brown developed into a true number one receiver, we might be singing a different song about Baltimore, but as it stands, they are in a slump.
You do not need Drew Brees to beat Atlanta
Drew Brees is going to miss some time. He has fractured multiple ribs, so the Saints’ hand has been forced. They have to start Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston.
When it was announced that New Orleans would start Taysom Hill against Atlanta, the reactions were largely hysterical. A laughable matter in some quarters. How could you possibly start Taysom Hill? The alternative was Jameis Winston, so it was peculiar that the NFL world was upset by the idea of Hill starting. Have people forgotten just how flamboyant Winston was in Tampa Bay? The man threw 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in one season!
The hysteria was over the top, of course, because the Saints were playing against the Falcons, not the Chiefs.
In the end, Taysom Hill had a solid game. He completed 18/23 passes for 233 yards, and ran for 51 yards and two touchdowns. An efficient game, and it could have been all the better if not for a holding call too, when he finally unleashed a bomb towards the end. Hill has a big arm, but they did not use that aspect of his play often, in keeping with the Saints' short and simple methodical approach that we usually see.
It is unclear whether Taysom Hill will start the next few games, but they showed that they can be decent with him under centre.
The Chiefs and Raiders deliver fun games
The Chiefs are the best team in the NFL, but they do have flaws, namely on defense. The Raiders, seemingly more than any other team so far this season, know how to play against the Chiefs too. They do damage to that defence more than most. The end result is a highly entertaining back and forth game.
Looking for their second win against Chiefs this year, the Raiders took a lead in the fourth quarter, but there was a resounding feeling that the Chiefs would score again. It always feels like they will score.
A bit like Manchester United in 1999, we all thought similarly here; “Can Kansas City score? They always score.” Sure enough, they did. Whenever there is time on the clock, there is a strong possibility that they will come back.
The Raiders are an interesting team this season. When they are good, they are very good. They run the ball well, Derek Carr is playing his best football in years, and they are consistently competitive. But they do have errors in them, and Kansas City are not a team to make errors against.
Were these two to play in January, it is a game many would welcome.
Written by Matthew Carolan.
Read Matthew's last 'Shocked, Not Shocked' right here.