Chops316 Monday Morning Quarterback: 2021 Week 11 Part One
Welcome to Part I of my Monday Morning Quarterback Post for Week 11. I thought that by this time of the season the cream would really rise to the top and we would start to get a clearer picture of who the contenders and pretenders are in the NFL. I was wrong. While we certainly know who the worst teams are, hardly any teams are stepping out and leading the pack. The NFL loves parity and we are getting plenty of it this year.
My football weekend started out well. I made the trip to Happy Valley on Saturday with some friends to attend the Penn State game. The Nittany Lions were missing 21 players, including some key starters, due to a flu outbreak. Luckily for me they were playing Rutgers, the college equivalent of the Detroit Lions, and Penn State won easily 28-0. I hope soon I will be able to tell people that I was at James Franklin's last game as head coach because that guy stinks and he needs to go.
Things went downhill on Sunday as my Cowboys dropped a turd in Kansas City. That was a brutal game to watch and now my television isn't speaking to me since I cursed at it all evening. Don't fret, we'll get over it. We always do.
This post will cover the Thursday night game and half the slate on Sunday. Part II will cover the rest of Sunday's games and the Monday night matchup. The Broncos and the Rams had a bye this week.
Just remember I am a Dallas Cowboys fan and I'm extremely biased. Feel free to agree or disagree about anything mentioned here. All comments are welcome.
Stick An Arrow In My Head
Chiefs 19 Cowboys 9
In case you didn’t know, the Kansas City Chiefs play their home games at Arrowhead Stadium. I always thought that was a stupid name. Who wants an arrow in their head? Except Steve Martin of course and if you get that reference congratulations, you are old like me.
Anyway I felt like somebody stuck an arrow right between my eyes as I watched the Chiefs beat up the Cowboys. Sheesh. This game was supposed to be an offensive explosion. The over/under was 55 points, highest in the league this week. Instead we got a defensive battle reminiscent of the good old days of NFL football. Who would have thought Dak Prescott and Patrick Mahomes would both have zero TD passes? I’m not complaining, I like a strong defensive game. I just like them better when the Cowboys win.
Dallas offensive coordinator Kellen Moore has been receiving a lot of attention this season with the Cowboys success on offense. Well this week he should get a dunce cap for the terrible game plan and play calling he exhibited in Kansas City. The Cowboys were missing #1 wide receiver Amari Cooper and offensive tackle Tyron Smith. #2 wide receiver CeeDee Lamb missed most of the game after getting a concussion. It was a scenario that screamed run-first game plan. Instead the Cowboys threw 43 passes and ran the ball 16 times. Ugh.
Dallas has other good receivers, but it didn’t matter as the Chiefs defense was all over Dak Prescott. He was sacked five times and under pressure every time he dropped back. His two interceptions were the result of pressure and a tipped pass. Dallas desperately needed to run the rock to take pressure off of him, but they didn’t.
The Cowboys got the ball first, did nothing and punted. The Chiefs put together an 81-yard TD drive with their first possession, by far their best drive of the game. Dallas got the ball back and lost five yards before Prescott was strip sacked. What a horrible start. The defense held firm and KC had to settle for a field goal. Dallas finally moved the ball a little and kicked a field goal of their own. KC led 9-3 after the 1st quarter.
The Chiefs scored another TD early in the 2nd quarter to go ahead 16-3. Then the defenses on both sides took over. The rest of the quarter saw 5 punts, an interception and a fumble. Things didn’t improve for either offense in the second half. Dallas managed to kick two field goals and the Chiefs kicked one. Final Score Chiefs 19 Cowboys 9.
Good Grief was the Cowboys offense bad. They had scored at least two TDs in each of their previous nine games this season. Goose egg in Kansas City. Dak Prescott (28/43, 216 yards, 2 INTs, 1 fumble) was under constant pressure and his accuracy suffered. It didn’t help either that his receivers were suffering from a case of butter fingers, they dropped several easily catchable passes. Those dropped passes and a string of penalties managed to kill the few big plays Dallas made.
The running game was an afterthought as Zeke Elliott (9 rushes, 32 yards) and Tony Pollard (7 rushes, 51 yards) saw few opportunities. The only positive for the Cowboys was the defense, who clamped down on KC after giving up a few early scores. They sacked Mahomes three times and forced two turnovers. Holding the Chiefs to under 20 points at home should have been a recipe for success. It wasn’t. The Cowboys fell to 7-3, first place in the NFC East. Quick turnaround as they host the Raiders on Thanksgiving.
The Chiefs got a much needed win, but it was mainly due to the defense. Chris Jones (3.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovered fumble) was a monster and tormented Dak Prescott constantly. The Chiefs D prevented Dallas from making the plays for large chunks of yards.
Patrick Mahomes (23/37, 260 yards, 1 INT, 1 fumble) made some plays early on, but he faded after that. The Chiefs had scored 16 points by early in the 2nd quarter, but only 3 points the rest of the game. Clyde Edwards-Helaire (12 rushes, 63 yards, 1 TD) lent support when he got the chance, he should have been given more shots. But few coaches hate to run the ball as much as Andy Reid. It didn’t cost KC since the Cowboys offense was so bad.
It was a rare game for the Chiefs since the defense bailed out the offense. The Chiefs improved to 7-4, first place in the AFC West. The Chiefs are winning, but everything still isn’t running smoothly. They have a bye next week to work it out.
Upset Of The Week
Texans 22 Titans 13
One of the perks you get from being in the AFC South is two games annually against both the Jaguars and the Texans. The Titans were 10 point favorites at home this week and why not? After losing to the Jets they reeled of six straight wins, including victories over the Bills, Chiefs and Rams. This was a team on a roll. Plus it was the Texans coming to town. Houston had dropped eight straight games after their Week One win over the lowly Jaguars. I was surprised the spread wasn’t larger, I mean how could the Texans even compete against Tennessee?
Well they play the games for a reason. We found out how the Texans could not only compete but defeat Tennessee: by the Titans shooting themselves in the foot over and over again. The Texans got the win as the Titans gave it away.
Ryan Tannehill (35/52, 323 yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs) was a turnover machine. Besides his four picks, he also fumbled twice but luckily for him the Titans recovered both of them. Tennessee had two more fumbles and lost one, giving them five total turnovers on the day. The Texans are bad, they only managed to convert all those turnovers into 13 points. Yet it was enough, especially since Houston didn’t turn the ball over once.
It was bad enough the Titans gave the ball away so much. They also got stuffed on a 4th and one attempt and missed an extra-point. Mistakes all over the field for Tennessee. The defense wasn’t bad, they held the Texans to only 190 yards of total offense. But they couldn’t make the big plays that were needed to bail out the offense. The Texans became the first team to win a game this year that didn't gain at least 200 yards of offense.
Tennessee fell to 8-3, first place in the AFC South. They need to correct the mistakes fast as they travel to New England next week to face the red hot Patriots. I’m at a loss to explain how the Titans could defeat, soundly in many cases, so many good teams and then lose to the Jets and the Texans.
The Texans have been a train wreck this season, but the defense carried the day with by far their best performance of the year. Aside from forcing a multitude of turnovers they only surrendered 13 points. Good thing for Houston because the offense still stunk. Tyrod Taylor (14/24, 107 yards) did little through the air, but was better on the ground: 6 rushes, 28 yards, 2 TDs.
Tyrod needed to make those running plays because the rest of Houston’s running backs only gained 65 yards on 25 carries. Eww. It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, but the Texans will gladly take what they can get. Houston improved to 2-8, third place in the AFC South since they hold the tie-breaker against the Jaguars. They have a legit shot at winning again next week when they host the also horrific Jets.
Upset Of The Week Part II
Colts 41 Bills 15
It isn’t shocking that the Colts beat the Bills. A little surprising, but not shocking. It is shocking the Colts kicked the Bills ass so bad in Buffalo. The Bills had the league’s #1 ranked defense entering this game and were destroyed by a one-man wrecking crew known as Jonathan Taylor.
The Colts came out running and never stopped. The Bills offense never found a rhythm. If it wasn’t bad enough for Buffalo that Indy was scoring every time they touched the ball, the Bills chipped in with a few turnovers that the Colts converted for easy scores. Not only did the Bills struggle to find the endzone, they missed two field goal attempts. They also fumbled a kickoff. The Bills stunk in all three phases of the game.
This game was all about Jonathan Taylor. Taylor (32 rushes, 185 yards, 4 TDs) was unstoppable. He also caught a TD pass to give him five total TDs for the game. The Bills had only given up five TDs to running backs the entire season before Sunday and were only allowing 89 rushing yards per game. Taylor became the first Colt to score five TDs in a game, which is startling when you consider all of the Hall-of-Famers that have worn a Colts uniform in either Baltimore or Indianapolis.
Indy’s other running backs chipped in with another 79 yards to give the team 264 rushing yards on the day. With so much domination on the ground, Carson Wentz (11/20, 106 yards, 1 TD) didn’t need to do much except hand off the ball. The Colts defense was excellent, containing Josh Allen and forcing four turnovers.
Indianapolis improved to 6-5, second place in the AFC South. With Jonathan Taylor morphing into the second coming of Derrick Henry, the Colts are becoming a dangerous team. They’ll face another stiff test next week when they host the Buccaneers.
Who are the Buffalo Bills? When they are on they can crush any competition. When they are off look out, they can even lose to Jacksonville. This might be a worse loss because you can’t excuse looking past the Colts and it came at home.
Josh Allen (21/35, 209 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs) didn’t play well and his turnovers were very costly. One of the Bills issues this year is they have focused their offense nearly 100% on Allen. When he is on the Bills rack up points, when he struggles the offense is completely shot. It is the same problem the Chiefs have faced this season. When the playcallers become too enamored with their quarterback the whole offense can suffer. It’s not unusual for Andy Reid to forget about his running game, but Bills head coach Sean McDermott has a history of using a more balanced game plan.
The Bills running back committee (11 rushes, 91 yards) were good, but underused. They had to be abandoned in the second half when Buffalo fell behind huge, yet the Bills came out firing passes in lieu of running. The defense simply didn’t show up. The Bills fell to 6-4, second place in the AFC East. They don’t have much time to figure out what went wrong as they have to play the Saints in New Orleans on Thanksgiving.
Around The League
Patriots 25 Falcons 0
Week 11 kicked off with the usual: a Thursday night stinker. This game was so boring I got to squeeze in a nap. It was time well spent. Then again punching yourself in the face would have been time well spent in comparison to watching this dog show.
After the game everybody was fawning over the Patriots defense, who were excellent. Nobody is talking about the Falcons defense, who played pretty good as well. New England’s offense got bailed out by turnovers forced by the defense. But at least the Patriots did something on offense, for the second week in a row the Falcons offense looked horrible.
Mac Jones (22/26, 207 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) was efficient, but also fairly boring. In his defense he didn’t have to do much since Atlanta never threatened the Pats. The running back committee did the dirty work, grinding out yards and chewing up the clock. The gang gained 134 yards on 30 carries.
The defense were the real heroes for New England. They overwhelmed Atlanta, who only registered 165 yards of total offense. Yeesh. The defense also recorded four sacks and forced four turnovers, including a pick-six. Spartan effort by the Patriots, who did just enough to win handily. New England improved to 7-4. Don’t look now but they have gained first place in the AFC East. They have a bigger matchup next week when they host Tennessee.
In a five day span the Falcons lost two games by a combined score of 68-3. I think it’s safe to say Atlanta has hit rock bottom. Matt Ryan (19/28, 153 yards, 2 INTs) lacks weapons on offense and at this stage of his career he is unable to raise the bar on his own. After Ryan was benched in the 4th quarter his backups Josh Rosen (1/3, 5 yards, 1 INT) and Feleipe Franks (0/1, 0 yards, 1 INT) played even worse. Atlanta should have just taken a knee the entire last quarter. It would have been less embarrassing.
Of course the passing game gets nearly zero help on the ground. The Falcons came into this game with the league’s 28th ranked rushing offense and were somehow even worse against New England: 40 yards on 16 carries. Blech. The defense showed up, but their efforts were wasted. The Falcons fell to 4-6, last place in the NFC South. They travel to Jacksonville next week.
Ravens 16 Bears 13
Lamar Jackson needs to find a new doctor. He has been sick on and off again all season, not with covid which he had in the preseason, and had to miss this game in Chicago. The Ravens needed the defense to step up and they did. At least they did until the Bears inserted a red-haired quarterback in the line-up.
Without Jackson the Ravens started Tyler Huntley at quarterback. Yea I never heard of him either. Combined with the fact that the Ravens running backs have been decimated by injuries you knew Baltimore was going to struggle to score. And they did, only kicking two field goals in the first half. The Bears on the hand had all of their starters on offense. Unfortunately for Chicago they stink and the Ravens shut them out in the first half.
The Bears caught a break in the second half when Justin Fields went down with an injury. Enter Andy Dalton, literally the red-headed stepchild of the Bears offense. Dalton was ready to play and he sparked the Bears offense with a long TD pass to Darnell Mooney. Chicago took the lead 7-6 and held it until midway through the 4th quarter.
The last seven minutes of the game saw the most action on offense. The Ravens found a little rhythm and kicked a field goal to retake the lead 9-7. Andy Dalton retaliated with another long TD pass, this time to Marquise Goodwin. The Bears went for two and failed, yet still held a 13-9 with less than two minutes left in the game.
The Ravens looked to be dead, but at the end Tyler Huntley came alive with his best passes of the day. He threw for 56 yards on the final drive and Devonta Freeman capped it off with a 3-yard TD run to give the Ravens back the lead at 16-13. The Bears had 22 seconds left for a miracle, but Dalton was out of magic and the Ravens escaped with the win.
The Ravens offense did just enough to win. Tyler Huntley (26/36, 219 yards, 1 INT) was forgettable until making a few plays on the game-winning drive. He got support from the running back committee that gained 123 yards and a TD on 34 carries. What Baltimore did best on offense was hold onto the ball. They kept the Bears defense on the field for nearly 40 minutes, it paid off in the end as Chicago looked gassed.
The Baltimore defense was superb before Andy Dalton entered the game. Then they got burned by a couple of long TDs. Still anytime you win with a backup quarterback it is a good win. Baltimore improved to 7-3, first place in the AFC North. They host the Browns next week.
The Bears offense was lost until the 3rd quarter as Justin Fields (4/11, 79 yards) was chewed up by Baltimore. Andy Dalton (11/23, 203 yards, 2 TDs) wasn’t accurate, but made the big throws that nearly won Chicago the game. All those missed passes kept the Bears defense on the field a lot. They were great most of the game, sacking Huntley six times and holding the Ravens to a few field goals. But all that time on the field caught up to them at the end, they faltered when the game was on the line.
The Bears dropped to 3-7, third place in the NFC North. I think we can officially declare their season dead. Now it is just a matter of time before head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace are kicked to the curb. Bears fans can’t wait. Chicago goes to Detroit for a Thanksgiving Day showdown.
Browns 13 Lions 10
It was fitting this game was played at the “Dog Pound” because that’s where this game belonged, right next to all the collected dog turds. Damn the Browns have fallen hard, from supposed Super Bowl contender to barely beating the Lions at home.
The 1st quarter featured two punts and two interceptions, one each by both teams. In the 2nd quarter Cleveland remembered they are a professional football team and they were playing the Lions. The Browns scored two TDs, but were burnt by poor kicking. Chase McLaughlin missed a field goal attempt and only converted one of two extra point attempts. The Browns carried a 13-0 lead into halftime.
Both teams limped along in the 3rd quarter until Lions running back D’Andre Swift broke off a 57-yard TD run to cut the deficit to 13-7. It stayed that way until the 4th quarter when a Baker Mayfield interception set up Detroit with excellent field position at the Cleveland 34-yard line. Of course the Lions couldn’t cash in the turnover with a TD, they settled for a field goal instead.
Now only up by three, the Browns needed a score badly. They didn’t get one and punted to the Lions. The Lions now had a chance to tie the game or even take the lead with 5 minutes left. Yea right. 5 plays later they punted back to Cleveland. A couple of first downs courtesy of Nick Chubb let the Browns kill the clock and escape with an ugly win.
Baker Mayfield (15/29, 176 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs) was awful and his turnovers kept Detroit in the game. Nick Chubb (22 rushes, 130 yards) was the bulk of Cleveland’s offense. The defense only gave up 10 points, but if you looked at who the Lions started it isn’t impressive. A really bad game by the Browns, lucky for them really bad is still good enough to beat Detroit. The Browns improved to 6-5, but still sit in last place in the AFC South. They travel to Baltimore next week.
With Jared Goff injured Detroit used Tim Boyle at quarterback. Oh boy. Goff has been atrocious this year yet Boyle (15/23, 77 yards, 2 INTs) was even worse. I guess it says something good about the Lions that they only lost by three points with one of the worst quarterback stat lines you’ll ever see. D’Andre Swift (14 rushes, 136 yards, 1 TD) was the hero of the offense, makes you wonder why he didn’t get more touches. Then again everything about Detroit makes me wonder strange things about the football and the universe in general. The lions fell to 0-9-1, last in the NFC North and the NFL. They host the Bears on Thanksgiving.
Dolphins 24 Jets 17
This game was an interesting experiment that was needed to answer an important question: What kind of game can you expect when both teams absolutely reek of ineptitude? I was stunned to discover the answer was a surprisingly close, interesting football game. Who knew? In the end the Dolphins were able to win because the Jets are the Jets.
This was a back and forth affair until late in the 4th quarter. It was tied 7-7 at the half and 14-14 entering the 4th quarter. The Dolphins pulled ahead for good in the final period. The Jets had a chance to win, but missed more opportunities to score than the Dolphins. The Jets missed two field goal attempts, the Dolphins only one. In the 2nd quarter the Jets had a 2nd goal at the Jets 5-yard line when Joe Flacco was strip sacked. Driving that deep and coming away with zero points to show for it sunk New York.
Tua Tagovailoa (27/33, 273 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) was good even though his turnover set up a Jets TD. Tua was able to put the error behind him and make enough plays to win. For once he got help from the ground game as Myles Gaskin (23 carries, 89 yards) was solid. Too close for comfort as the defense wasn’t very good, but still a victory. The Dolphins improved to 4-7, third place in the AFC East. Miami will host the Panthers next week.
Eschewing the kids the Jets started the old man, I mean veteran, Joe Flacco at quarterback. Flacco (24/39, 291 yards, 2 TDs) had good numbers, aided by wide receiver Elijah Moore (8 receptions, 141 yards, 1 TD). Flacco kept the Jets in the game, but his fumble robbed them of a shot at winning it. New York dropped to 2-8, last place in the AFC East. They travel to Houston next week to face another team that reeks. Will we get another good game?
49ers 30 Jaguars 10
The 49ers played their best game of the season last week as they went run-heavy and played tough defense to beat the Rams. I guess they figured if it ain’t broke don’t fix it as they used the same game plan to stomp the Jaguars.
San Francisco broke the game wide open with a 17 point 2nd quarter to take a 20-3 lead into halftime and they cruised to the final whistle. The Jaguars tacked on a TD in garbage time to make the final score look slightly less egregious. But we know the truth.
The Niners imposed their will on the ground, gaining 171 yards and a TD on 42 carries. Deebo Samuel, who is technically a wide receiver, led the way by gaining 79 yards with a TD on only 8 carries. Once again Jimmy Garoppolo (16/22, 176 yards, 2 TDs) was able to pick his spots with so much ground support and his numbers with limited opportunities were good. The Niners offense was nearly flawless with zero turnovers and zero penalties. They only punted twice and held onto the ball for nearly 40 minutes.
San Francisco was good on defense as well, only surrendering two hundred yards to Jacksonville and that number was aided by garbage time. All around top notch win for the Niners, which should be expected when facing a team as bad as the Jaguars. The Niners evened out their record at 5-5, third place in the NFC West. Big game next week as they host the Vikings.
Let’s list what went right for the Jaguars in Week 11: nothing. Gee that didn’t take long. Jacksonville’s offense couldn’t stay on the field and their defense couldn’t get off, at least until the 49ers scored. Trevor Lawrence (16/25, 158 yards) has little to work with and is unable to figure out what to do with what he has. James Robinson (12 rushes, 29 yards, 1 TD) found no room to run. The situation in Jacksonville is just bad and Urban Meyer doesn’t seem to have a clue to go about fixing it. The Jaguars fell to 2-8, last place in the AFC South. They’ll host another clueless team next week when the Falcons come to town.
Man this post ended in a downer with a few bad games. Don't fret, things will pick up in Part II later this week. There are still some good games that I'm going to cover.
But until then I need something to cheer me up. Let's me see what the internet can deliver.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment below.