On Monday night, Nov. 23, 2015 the New England Patriots defeated the Buffalo Bills by a final score of 20-13 in front of a packed house at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. This was the final game played on the eleventh week of football in the 2015 NFL regular season. By virtue of the win, the Patriots kept pace with the undefeated Carolina Panthers; both teams now stand at 10-0 with just six regular season games remaining.
As usual, the ability to play superior situational football was key to the Patriots’ victory. The Bills definitely had their chances but could not execute when it mattered most. The most memorable moment for the visiting team, was a spectacular one-handed reception made by wide receiver Sammy Watkins in the fourth quarter. With the loss, Buffalo falls to a record of 5-5 on the season.
The bulk of the Week 11 games were played on Sunday, Nov. 22. Unfortunately there were some significant injuries during the Sunday games. The Baltimore Ravens may have won a game, but their horrible 3-7 season is about to get even worse. The Maryland-based franchise lost both quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Justin Forsett for the season, due to injury. In the team’s 16-13 win over St. Louis, Flacco suffered a torn ACL and MCL, and Forsett suffered a broken arm.
As far as noteworthy individual performances in Week 11, running back Douglas Martin of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a career day when he ran for 235 yards in his team’s 45-17 rout of the Philadelphia Eagles. It was a game which also saw Bucs rookie quarterback Jameis Winston throw five touchdown passes.
In the category of great team efforts, the Green Bay Packers defense may have played their best game of the year. In an important division matchup, the oft-maligned group managed to sack Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Briidgewater six times while also limiting star running back Adrian Peterson to just 45 yards on 13 carries. Green Bay won the game handily, 30-13.
Week 11 marked the end of the bye weeks, as the New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers were not in action. From here on out, every team will see play each week all the way through to the end of the regular season on Jan. 3, 2016. With crunch-time coming, here is a look at the latest NFL Power rankings.
1) LW # 1: New England Patriots (10-0) They won’t talk about it, but another perfect 16-0 season is well within reach. Pick your poison, high-scoring shootout or low-scoring grind it out type game, the Patriots do whatever it takes to win.
2) LW # 2: Carolina Panthers (10-0) Six wins now stand between this team and regular season perfection. Fortunately they will face the Dallas Cowboys in a marquee matchup on Thanksgiving day. This will put this greatly under-appreciated squad, on display in front of the entire Nation. Believe.
3) LW # 3: Arizona Cardinals (8-2) Fought the Bengals tooth and nail in their victory in Week 11. This looks like the most solid team the Cards have had since the run to Super Bowl XLIII. With a healthy Carson Palmer at quarterback, the sky’s the limit.
4) LW # 6: Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) Coming off a bye week. Both quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Antonio Brown will be healthy and ready to go in Seattle. This should be the most exciting game of the week, as Pittsburgh looks to take advantage of the Bengals recent woes while the wildly up and down Seattle Seahawks try to stay relevant in the NFC playoff race.
5) LW # 4: Cincinnati Bengals (8-2) After an unlikely loss to Houston in Week 10, Cincy went to Arizona and lost a very winnable game against the Cardinals. They will face a desperate St Louis Rams team in Week 12. With a big game against Pittsburgh coming in a few weeks, it behoves the Bengals to right this ship, post haste.
6) LW # 8: Green Bay Packers (7-3) Fortunately for the Packers, running back Eddie Lacy came up big against Minnesota in Week 11. After having been benched for the team’s loss to Detroit in Week 10, Lacy responded well after being reinserted into the lineup against Minnesota in Week 11 – Lacy had 100 yards on 22 carries. The Pack may be back.
7) LW # 5: Minnesota Vikings (7-3) Seriously stumbled in the big matchup with Green Bay. The Vikes will face a reeling Atlanta team in Week 12 before facing Seattle in Week 13. It is gut-check time for this squad. If they are for real, now is the time to prove it. Expect a big game from Adrian Peterson this week.
8) LW # 9: Denver Broncos (8-2) The first game of the Brock Osweiler era went quite well. Though sacked five times, he made the plays he needed to make and did not throw any interceptions. The Denver defense seems sound once again as well. There may be some tough decisions to be made, if and when Peyton Manning is ready to play.
9) LW # 7: New York Giants (5-5) The home stretch begins now. Still leading the NFC East division and coming off a bye week, the Giants will face the Washington Redskins in Week 12. This New York still seems to be finding their identity but considering how well they played against the Patriots in Week 10, there is reason for optimism.
10) LW n/a: Houston Texans (5-5) Call them lucky if you will, but beating the Bengals and New York Jets in back-to-back weeks is rather impressive. Nobody knows how far they can go with TJ Yates at quarterback, but with the defense playing at the level they are, Yates just needs to manage the game and avoid turnovers.
Honorable mention: 11) LW # 12: New York Jets (5-5) Facing a virtual most-win game against Miami in Week 12. 12) LW # 10: Seattle Seahawks (5-5) One day at a time, one game at a time, and they might just wind up in the playoffs. 13) LW # 15: Kansas City Chiefs (5-5) Buried San Diego this week. Very much alive in the AFC playoff race 14) LW # 11: Buffalo Bills (5-5) If only this team were more consistent. 15) LW n/a: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5) Every week, rookie QB Jameis Winston keeps getting better.
Every NFL team have now played 10 games of the 16 game regular season. There are eight teams with a .500 record, and 10 teams which or either one game above or below the .500 mark. This should make for some great playoff races down the stretch.
The most notable games in the upcoming Week 12 will be Carolina at Dallas, Chicago at Green Bay, Minnesota at Atlanta, Pittsburgh at Seattle, and New England at Denver. All five games will have a big impact on the playoff races and also should be highly competitive contests.