5 Lessons Learned – NFL Week 11

It was another great weekend of NFL action with a handful of tight finishes and a few very surprising results.

Things were helped by all three primetime games going down to the wire with Carlos Dunlap, Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff coming up big in the final minutes for their teams.

With a jam packed Thanksgiving slate on the horizon, check out our top five takeaways from the past few days in the NFL.

1 – Petty Sean Payton is the best Sean Payton

You could have been forgiven for writing off the Saints after the news Drew Brees had fractured almost half his rib cage and had also suffered a collapsed lung.

Most people expected Sean Payton to go with Jameis Winston as the interim quarterback and spell him with part-time jack of all trades Taysom Hill.

Instead, it was Hill getting the nod as the Saints quarterback for a must-win game against the Falcons.

Despite Hill’s inconsistencies throughout his career he was very impressive and measured, picking his spots as the defence helped them to a 24-9 victory.

Perhaps brimming with confidence after his team guaranteed themselves another fortnight at least on top of the NFC South (and took over top spot in the entire NFC with the Packers loss), Saints coach Sean Payton was more than happy to retweet this analysis from ex-Falcons receiver Roddy White after the game.

While losing a quarterback like Brees is never a good thing, there has to be a part of Payton who is happy with the chance to show off his coaching ability improvising at the most important position on the field for the second year in a row.

2 – Houston Will be a Spoiler Team

2020 has been a dreadful year for the Texans, but if there is one big takeaway from their win over New England yesterday, it’s that they are good enough to still have a say in the playoff race.

That is in large part to Deshaun Watson, who despite Bill O’Brien’s efforts is still looking like one of the most promising quarterbacks in the league.

He threw for over 300 yards with no interceptions for the fourth time this season and ripped apart the Patriots with minimal support from the running game.

Watson was his team’s leading rusher with 36 yards and a touchdown on six carries.

With a pair of games against the Colts and another date with Tennessee still to come, the Texans could very well decide who wins the AFC South crown.

Up next for them though is a Thanksgiving showdown with the Detroit Lions.

3 – The Chargers Found an Opponent they Could Not Choke Away a Lead Against

Congratulations to the New York Jets who were the first team to be officially eliminated from playoff contention this season.

They almost managed to mess up their Tank for Trevor campaign by putting a real scare into the LA Chargers.

Not much was expected from Anthony Lynn’s team this season but their inability to close out a game has been a real cause for concern (and source of frustration for punters).

They looked pretty good building a 31-13 lead over the winless Jets with rookie QB Justin Herbert showing some impressive poise throwing three touchdowns in the process.

From there they did enough to hold off the Jets but at some point they have to try and win a game going away.

If they play to their potential for 60 minutes, they can compete with just about anyone, but they need to start closing out games.

4 – Dallas’s Playoff Hopes are Very Much Alive

A renowned scholar once said that “default” was the two greatest words in the English language and for whoever wins the NFC East, that is how they can sum up their playoff entry.

The entire division has three wins apiece (a great number after Week 4, not so much after Week 11) and just about every team can win it.

You have to like what Dallas showed in their win over the Vikings, and all of a sudden they might be the most talented team in the division.

Andy Dalton is the most accomplished starter across the division, taking the Bengals to the playoffs in a previous life and showed he has the ability to play a supporting role to Ezekiel Elliott, CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper and company.

If he can avoid making the mistakes of Dallas’s fill in quarterbacks of the past and just throw it to the players in Cowboys jerseys, they have at least an outside chance every week.

There is every chance that 6-10 could be enough to get the NFC East crown and with a game remaining against each of their rivals, sweeping those games would get Dallas into the playoffs in the most unlikely of circumstances.

5 – The Buccaneers Have Not Quite Learned How to Play in Primetime

We’ll spare you the obvious jokes about Tampa’s primetime games being past Tom Brady’s bedtime, but their performances under the national spotlight have been uneven at best.

If you include their two times in feature game of the late afternoon window, the Buccaneers had gone 2-3 in those games as Brady and coach Bruce Arians continued to try and mesh their contrasting styles.

Up this week was a test in the shape of the LA Rams, who were trying to regain control of their division and a team that they are very likely to come across in the playoffs, especially if one has to settle for a wild card berth.

While they didn’t get by the Rams, the fact they were able to hold their own against another playoff team who was playing well themselves gives some hope that they might be figuring it all out.

Admittedly there were still some issues like the ugly interception from above and a remarkable ability to ignore Cooper Kupp even after over 100 receiving yards from him in the first half.

But considering how rough and uneven they looked in past primetime games, it was certainly a step in the right direction.

They have a chance to back up that performance with the biggest game of the weekend, and the only one in that time slot you should be watching when the reigning champion Chiefs come to town (sorry Broncos-Saints and Rams-49ers).

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