In Week 11, there’s a Tremendous Bowl LVII rematch and potential Tremendous Bowl LVIII preview, AFC North quarterback accidents are plentiful and the Minnesota Vikings hope the Josh Dobbs expertise retains their season trending upward.
The Athletic’s NFL writers Kalyn Kahler, Mike Sando and Jeff Howe attempt to make sense of all of it in our roundtable previewing the weekend’s motion.
Everybody has Monday’s Eagles–Chiefs recreation circled on the schedule. Who do you want on this one and what makes the distinction?
Sando: I’ll take the Chiefs even giving the two.5 factors. They’re at house, they’ve the higher protection, they’ve the higher quarterback and I’ll take Andy Reid coming off a bye nearly each time. The Eagles are 5-0 in one-score video games. Somewhat regression appears doubtless.
Howe: Despite the fact that the Eagles have been the higher workforce this season, it’s onerous to select towards Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in a recreation of this magnitude. Greater than something, I’m to see how the Chiefs’ bettering protection handles the Eagles offense. It stymied the Dolphins in Germany, however the Eagles current a special problem.
Kahler: I just like the Eagles. They’ve been a extra constant workforce that has had higher offensive manufacturing than the Chiefs this season. It feels prefer it’s been so lengthy since both of those groups has performed a recreation, and Mahomes vowed strongly to proper the ship on offense after the protection gained the sport in Germany, however I’m going to go together with the workforce that has performed higher all 12 months.
One other pivotal AFC North matchup, Steelers–Browns, is a spotlight this week. However Deshaun Watson is out for the season with a shoulder injury. Nick Chubb is already gone, too. What now for the Browns?
Sando: Cleveland is 6-3 with a bottom-five offense, so we all know its protection and operating recreation can hold it aggressive. What the Browns lose is the potential to turn into a real contender if Watson had been in a position to elevate his recreation down the stretch. Watson’s environment friendly second half towards Baltimore was a probably optimistic signal, however 11 of his 14 passes traveled not more than 5 yards previous the road of scrimmage. He was clearly diminished.
Howe: The Browns ought to nonetheless be in nearly each recreation as a result of their protection is that good. But when they’d designs on a playoff upset or two, their finest shot was clearly going to be with Watson bettering down the stretch and enjoying his finest ball in January. With that out of the equation, it provides the Browns considerably of a stress-free audition for Dorian Thompson-Robinson. There’s completely no stress on them now, and perhaps that’ll liberate the gifted rookie to show it unfastened. It’s onerous to name this a silver lining after they’ve bought Watson on a fully guaranteed contract for one more three years, however a protracted analysis of Thompson-Robinson may very well be beneficial down the highway.
Kahler: It helps that the division rival Bengals are also down their starting quarterback. The lack of Joe Burrow for the 12 months ought to permit the Browns to stay aggressive inside the division. Dorian Thompson-Robinson actually wasn’t prepared for his first begin in Week 4, and it went about as unhealthy because it might have. He completed with a 52.7 p.c completion score, no touchdowns and three interceptions. The excellent news is DTR can solely enhance from there, and he has potential to be a giant playmaker for Cleveland. Long run, this makes the Browns’ cope with Watson look even worse than it already did and doesn’t assist to reply any questions we had about whether or not Watson might show to be well worth the hefty value.
Josh Dobbs is retaining the Vikings’ season alive. Denver’s defense is doing the same for the Broncos’ playoff hopes. One thing has to provide Sunday night time. What does?
Sando: Minnesota’s protection is the neglected issue. It ranks third behind the Browns and Jets in EPA per play since Week 6. It ranks eleventh for the season. That’s why I give the Vikings an excellent likelihood to win so long as they play a comparatively clear recreation on offense, defending the ball higher than Buffalo did Monday night time.
Howe: Dobbs and the Vikings really feel like a extra sustainable formulation for achievement. I must see extra out of the Broncos, who completely deserve credit score for profitable three in a row given what the group has gone by means of lately. However they beat a reeling Packers workforce, Mahomes in a flu recreation and the Payments when Josh Allen and that offense couldn’t have been any extra reckless with the ball. The Broncos are about to tackle the Vikings, Browns, Texans and Chargers — 4 groups which are in related playoff standing. In the event that they’re legit, they’ll maintain their very own on this stretch.
Kahler: I’m not offered on the Broncos but. Had the Payments not made a really questionable choice to sub out their defense for the sector objective block unit Monday night time, Sean Payton could be going through a whole lot of questions on his recreation administration of that ultimate sequence, when he selected to place his kicking unit in a “mayday” state of affairs with the clock operating, when he might have had Russell Wilson throw out of bounds on third right down to kill 5 seconds and cease the clock so the sector objective workforce would have had its regular setup and a relaxed tempo. Payton mentioned he did it as a result of he didn’t need his kicking workforce to need to assume too onerous as a result of it had made its “mayday” subject objective on the finish of the primary half however had tousled two additional level makes an attempt. Anyway, Minnesota has been a extra constant workforce this season on either side of the ball, and I count on Dobbs to proceed his run.
The Payments will attempt to cease their free fall towards the Jets. Joe Brady gets another shot to be an offensive coordinator, this time in Buffalo. What ought to we count on along with his play calling?
Sando: Brady is taking up on a brief week, so he can have much less time to place his stamp on the offense. I believe we’ll see a concerted effort to function Stefon Diggs. We’ll see an effort to get straightforward completions for Allen. We’ll see elevated use of tempo. We’d see extra effort to run the ball. We’ll in all probability see fewer turnovers. We’d have seen a few of these issues anyway. I’m most enthusiastic about seeing what sort of emotional vitality the Payments deliver to this recreation and to the rest of their video games. They appear fragile.
Howe: Brady was the following huge factor when he took Burrow and LSU to a nationwide championship, but it surely’s onerous to get a really feel for his trajectory after a few misplaced seasons beneath Matt Rhule in Carolina. I don’t wish to low cost the significance of play calling, however the success of the Payments offense hinges virtually totally on Allen’s decision-making. He’s bought the instruments and expertise round him to methodically transfer down the sector and take the deep photographs when accessible if he needs to go that route, however he hasn’t proven the self-discipline this season to try this.
Kahler: I believe we’ll see fewer two-tight finish units and extra pre-snap movement, one thing that could be a remedy for nearly any NFL offense.
Might Las Vegas Raiders interim head coach Antonio Pierce be significantly thought-about for the everlasting position? (Kyle Terada / USA In the present day)
The Raiders take a two-game win streak to Miami. Ought to they begin to contemplate eradicating the interim tag from Antonio Pierce with a win Sunday? Or is the potential of a splashy new rent too intriguing to disregard?
Sando: Beating the Dolphins would give Pierce nice momentum, however there’s zero benefit for the workforce to hurry into any choice. The Raiders ought to wait till the top of the season earlier than deciding how you can proceed. They need to be researching candidates within the meantime whereas honing of their minds what it’s they need in a head coach. Flashy shouldn’t be a part of the equation.
Howe: Too early and never fairly vital. It is a main leap up the ranks for Pierce, so give him an opportunity to indicate what he can do, particularly within the face of adversity after a loss or a key damage or no matter else comes the best way of the pinnacle coach. There are going to be a number of very high-profile head teaching candidates this offseason. It’d be weird if Mark Davis didn’t give himself the chance to see the method by means of.
Kahler: Undoubtedly too early to try this, and Davis’ previous habits makes me assume he gained’t. He didn’t rent interim Wealthy Bisaccia after the 2021 NFL season, and Bisaccia had the identical impact Pierce has had on this Vegas workforce. Davis ought to be beginning his means of determining what he’s in search of and who’s going to assist him search for it.
(Prime photographs of Patrick Mahomes, Joshua Dobbs and Jalen Hurts: Nathan Ray Seebeck, Brad Rempel and Invoice Streicher / USA In the present day)