There were plenty of predictable outcomes in NFL Week 11, with a sprinkling of drama thrown in. If anything the playoff picture has got a little murkier, especially in the NFC. Here are some of the takeaways:
The Buffalo Bills are blowing the chance for a rare playoff appearance
The Bills’ bizarre decision to bench Tyrod Taylor in favour of untested Nathan Peterman backfired horrifically on Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers, as many expected. Spare a thought for Peterman, who was thrown to the wolves and coughed up five first half interceptions (out of 14 total passes) before being replaced. A wildcard spot seemed like the bare minimum for Buffalo heading into November. Since then, they have suffered three straight heavy losses, putting that in jeopardy. Reinstating Taylor as the starting quarterback for Week 12 in Kansas City is the only sensible move now, yet Bills head coach Sean McDermott says he is still evaluating his options.
The AFC looks bereft of contenders
You can start penciling in the New Patriots-Pittsburgh Steelers AFC Championship Game. The Kansas City Chiefs’ slump took another turn for the worse with a shock 12-9 defeat against the lowly New York Giants on Sunday. Alex Smith has gone from an MVP candidate to possibly playing to keep his starting job. That leaves the Jacksonville Jaguars as owners of the AFC’s third best record. The Bills and Tennessee Titans currently hold the wildcard spots. None of that suggests that there will be surprises come playoff time, though keep an eye out for the Chargers to surge into the picture.
Adam Thielen is going to be a household name after this season
The Los Angeles Rams were the NFL darlings heading into Week 11. But the Vikings snuffed out the league’s highest scoring offense. On the other side of the ball, Thielen served up a reminder that he belongs among the league’s elite receivers, with 123 yards and a touchdown to take the game away from the Rams. He is now second on the receiving yards list this season. Thielen is ahead of the likes of Julio Jones, A.J. Green, DeAndre Hopkins and Michael Thomas. He only trails Antonio Brown.
Drew Brees remains the premier quarterback in the NFC playoff race
Super Bowl contenders’ confidence often comes, in part, from snatching victories from the jaws of defeat. The New Orleans Saints did just that in beating the Washington Redskins 34-31, with two late touchdowns and a two-point conversion to force overtime. Brees’ ability to put up points in a hurry might be the difference-maker in a tight playoff race. Carson Wentz has been outstanding for the Philadelphia Eagles, but Brees remains the scariest gunslinger in the NFC.