At the Week 11 mark of the season, the 2019 NFL playoff picture is slowly forming. While it is not surprising that the New England Patriots are in a class of their own, other less-predictable situations have been brewing.
Here are 10 developments that we never saw coming ahead of the 2019 NFL season.
49ers keeping the NFC on its toes
The 49ers, now 8-1, proudly remained the only undefeated franchise up until their Week 10 nail-biting overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks. This is an exciting statement in itself. Even though the 49ers experienced their first defeat of 2019, they are still very much in the race to win their division. Heck, they are still on pace to claim the top seed in the entire NFC. However, the wins must keep coming. The 49ers have stiff competition breathing down their necks in that of the Green Bay Packers and Seahawks, who are both sitting pretty at 8-2.
Ryan Tannehill to the rescue
The Titans were off to such a rough enough start this season that in Week 6 it was time to call upon Tannehill to salvage the wreckage. Marcus Mariota got the hook, and ever since Tannehill has been performing very impressively under center. Since then, the veteran quarterback sports a career-high 71.3% pass completion rate. This is quite exceptional considering the Titans lack an elite No. 1 wide receiver.
Somehow, Tannehill keeps his offense operating and is coming fresh off of a sweet and surprising victory against the Kansas City Chiefs. If he keeps delivering the goods, Mariota’s days with the Titans should be numbered.
Downfall of the Los Angeles Rams
The NFC overall is stacked when it comes to competition this season. This especially pertains to the NFC West where the Rams (5-4) currently reside at third within their division. In order to better their standing, the Rams are going to have to get their act together. At this time last season, the Rams had a comfy divisional lead and had only one loss on record.
Unfortunately, Jared Goff is just off. Plus, the offensive line has been weak, allowing Goff to endure 16 sacks in nine games. Even worse, Todd Gurley is nowhere near as explosive as he was in 2018.
Lastly, the team’s defense just allowed Mason Rudolph and Co. more time of possession on the field than the Rams offense spent making plays in Week 10. Is it too late for this team to turn things around?
How sensational Lamar Jackson is
It is hard to not be in NFL love with Jackson even if you are not a Ravens fan. The young quarterback is so much fun to watch on game day. He runs, he throws and he just participated in a Heisman winners special trick play with Robert Griffin III and Mark Ingram. We are never sure what trick Jackson will next pull out of his NFL jersey.
While he doesn’t exactly lead the league in passing with 226.2 averaged per game, Jackson does boast an NFL-best 702 quarterback rushing yards. He has accomplished this at the swift pace of 6.6 yards per tote, we must note. Fun, stuff!
The Bears imploding
The 4-5 Bears’ troubles are as clear as daylight. Defensively, the Bears have slid down the pecking order from where they were ranked last season. The booming pass rush and takeaways are lagging and opposing quarterbacks are throwing for an average of 326.6 yards per clash.
On offense, the Bears do not know who is on first or who is on second. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky often looks confused and has managed to throw only eight touchdowns in eight games. The Bears rank fifth-worst in the NFL in rushing offense. At the end of the day, head coach Matt Nagy definitely has a hot mess on his hands.
Raiders sneaking their way into contention
On the other side of the league, the Raiders rank second in an AFC West division currently not being dominated by the Chiefs. Oakland is only one win shy of Kansas, having notched victories in its last two matchups. Quarterback Derek Carr has been playing at an improved level and he has a completion rate of 70.8%. Meanwhile, the Raiders have turned the ball over only eight times on the season.
A favorable pair of upcoming opponents against the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets could bring Oakland more wins. Plus, we last saw Kansas City stumble up and lose with Patrick Mahomes back in the game. Don’t count out Jon Gruden’s Raiders as potential winners of the AFC West just yet.
Minkah Fitzpatrick thriving with the Steelers
Some NFL trades work out and some don’t. With this one, Fitzpatrick is having a career year as a member of the Steelers. He is quickly becoming Public Enemy No. 1 when facing opposing quarterbacks. To date, Fitzpatrick has accomplished a league-high five interceptions, along with one touchdown, one fumble recovery, and 36 combined tackles.
His presence is definitely felt and feared on what is considered one of the more scary defenses in the NFL.
Odell Beckham Jr., who?
Speaking of trades, the jury is still out as to how impactful Beckham has been as a member of the Browns. He is simply not seeing the volume of work that was expected ahead of all of the hoopla involving his trade. Instead, OBJ has tallied only two 100-plus yard games and he has not found the end zone since his lone score in Week 2.
A huge factor contributing to OBJ’s lackluster campaign is inconsistent quarterback play by Baker Mayfield. The Browns have looked more like a dumpster fire than on fire for the most part this season. It is no wonder that earlier in the year Beckham said it would be his dream to play with Tom Brady.
How horrible the Falcons are
The Falcons won in Week 2 and then produced one flukey win in Week 10 against the New Orleans Saints. But, for the most part, they have looked absolutely wretched on game day. There has been no shortage of yards on Matt Ryan’s part, but 20 sacks and a total of 16 giveaways on offense thus far have negated any progress made on the field. To further rain on the Falcons’ parade, injuries to key offensive players will not help moving forward.
On defense, the Falcons have delivered complete garbage. Outside of some magic the team last pulled off against the Saints, the Falcons’ pass rush has been terrible and the defense has gained only two turnovers.
At the end of the day, it is not surprising that head coach Dan Quinn remains under a microscope.
The magnificence of Dalvin Cook
Widely overlooked in the first round of fantasy football drafts is Cook, who is enjoying the last laugh. The young running back has been nothing if not incredible on the field. While he’s breaking tackles and finding his running lanes, Cook has managed 4.9 yards per carry.
He is the glue that holds the Vikings offense together. Plus, the 99.1 yards he has run per game puts him on pace for 1,586 total rushing yards. We must also mention Cook’s 10 rushing touchdowns in addition to his 40 receptions for 424 yards. With that said, Cook has far exceeded any expectations that were set ahead of the season. And, he is a cool guy.