15 most compelling matchups in NFL Week 11

By Vincent Frank
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

A battle between two surprising first-place teams…

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Week 11 of the NFL season offers us a whole lot to look forward to. The league’s two-best teams will do battle in Mexico City wth Patrick Mahomes leading his Chiefs against Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams.

The defending champion Philadelphia Eagles find themselves in must-win mode after falling to 4-5 on the season. Can they finally employ recently-acquired receiver Golden Tate in a way that will make a huge difference? That will be the biggest matchup against a red-hot New Orleans Saints squad.

In a battle between two surprising first-place teams, we’re intrigued to see how Redskins cornerback Josh Norman holds up against Houston Texans stud pass catcher DeAndre Hopkins.

These are among the most-compelling matchups in NFL Week 11.

 

Patrick Mahomes vs Jared Goff

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Two of the NFL’s best teams taking on one another on an international stage with two young MVP candidates tossing the rock in Mexico City. Is there really much more we could ask for?

Mahomes heads into Week 11 having accounted for 33 total touchdowns on a Chiefs offense that ranks No. 1 in the league in scoring and sits at 8-1 on the season. While Goff himself has been overshadowed some by the ridiculous performance from Todd Gurley with the Rams, he’s also been tremendous this season. The third-year quarterback has now put up 22 touchdowns and six picks for a fellow one-loss team. This one should be a blast.

 

Riley Reiff vs Khalil Mack

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In his return to action this past Sunday after missing two games to injury, Mack led his Bears to yet another win. It was a downright dominant performance from Chicago’s defensive line. This unit got to Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford for six sacks. Two of them came from Mack, who absolutely bullied multiple Detroit blockers on one of those sacks.

If Kirk Cousins and the Vikings are going to knock off the first-place Bears here, he’ll need to get protection from the left side of the line. That includes a high-priced blindside protector in Riley Reiff who has struggled at times with consistency this season.

 

DeAndre Hopkins vs Josh Norman

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After being on the receiving end of many jokes earlier in the season, Norman might have saved the Redskins’ two-game lead in the NFC East with an early interception of Ryan Fitzpatrick this past week. It came in the first quarter with the Buccaneers driving. It also changed the momentum big time in a game Washington ultimately won by the score of 16-3. We’re not sure if this means Norman is back. But his No. 4 ranked defense will have their hands full Sunday.

Having won six in a row after an 0-3 start to the season, DeAndre Hopkins and the Texans are clear favorites in the AFC South. For his part, Hopkins has tallied 43 receptions for 620 yards and six touchdowns during said streak. It’s vital that he continues to perform well against one of the league’s best defenses.

 

Andrew Luck vs Titans defense

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After starting the season 1-5, the Colts have won their past three games and are averaging 36 points per game during that span. It’s not a coincidence that Luck has thrown his hat into the MVP ring during the team’s most-recent run of success. Here’s a guy that’s tossed 26 touchdowns in nine games this season and is leading the league’s sixth-best scoring offense.

If Indianapolis wants to have any chance to remain in the division race, it will have to knock off a Titans team that dismantled the New England Patriots at home last week, 34-10. Tennessee now ranks first in the NFL in points allowed and No. 6 in total defense. It has the team at 5-4 in the season and right in the thick of the AFC South race.

 

Golden Tate vs Marshon Lattimore

Apr 27, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Marshon Lattimore (Ohio State) reacts with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (right) as he is selected as the number 11 overall pick to the New Orleans Saints in the first round the 2017 NFL Draft at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

It was readily apparent in his Eagles debut last week that Tate was being eased into the action. He saw reps on less than one-third of the team’s offensive plays, catching just two passes for 19 yards on four targets. The end result was an Eagles loss to the Cowboys and a 4-5 record on the season.

Simply put, Philadelphia didn’t trade a third-round pick for a pending free agent in order for him to be eased into the action. This must change in Week 11 against a Saints team that’s won eight consecutive games. Sean Payton and New Orleans know this full well. If so, expect the NFL’s hottest team to shadow Tate with its best cover guy.

 

Cameron Erving vs Aaron Donald

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Donald has been a complete freak of nature for a Rams team that heads into this week’s best matchup against the Chiefs with an 9-1 record. He recorded 2.5 sacks in last week’s narrow win over the Seattle Seahawks and has a league-high 12.5 sacks on the season. The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year has also racked up 26 quarterback hits and 16 tackles for loss.

In order for the Rams’ struggling defense to shut down a league-best Chiefs scoring offense in Mexico City, Donald will have to dominate a lesser interior of Kansas City’s offensive line. After all, Patrick Mahomes was dropped a surprising five times in Week 10’s win over the Arizona Cardinals.

 

Russell Okung vs Von Miller

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Okung and the Chargers’ offensive line has done a tremendous job keeping the immobile Philip Rivers upright during what has been a surprising 7-2 start to the season. Rivers has gone down just 12 times in nine games, with Okung responsible for a single sack during that span. This has Los Angeles as one of the top contenders in the AFC heading into Week 11.

Needless to say, Okung and Co. are going to be challenged big time by a dominant Broncos pass rush. Miller has put up nine sacks and a league-high four forced fumbles. Los Angeles can’t afford to double team the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year with rookie Bradley Chubb having racked up eight sacks opposite him. It’s in this that the Okung-Miller matchup will loom large.

 

Antonio Brown vs Jalen Ramsey

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At 3-6 on the season and losers of five consecutive, the Jaguars are pretty much done. From here on out, it’s going to be all about how the youngsters perform and whether Ramsey continues to make news for all the wrong reasons. In his third NFL season, the talented cornerback has regressed a great deal. He’s no longer seen as one of the top shutdown guys in the NFL.

That’s not a great thing given that Ramsey will be asked to shadow Brown in Week 11. With his Steelers in the midst of a five-game winning streak and averaging 35.4 points during that span, Brown is back to his usually-dominant self. He’s caught 28 passes for 418 yards and seven touchdowns during said winning streak. With how much each player likes to chirp, this should be fun.

 

Terron Armstead vs Michael Bennett

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It might not have been enough for his Eagles to take out the Cowboys last week, but Bennett accounted for two sacks against a dominant left tackle in Tyron Smith. Given Philadelphia’s injuries at cornerback and the fact that it’s in must-win mode after dropping to 4-5 on the season, Bennett needs to continue this excellence against the Saints.

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In no way is it going to be easy. One of the underrated aspects of New Orleans’ 8-1 start to the season has been its pass protection. Drew Brees has been sacked just nine times in as many games. As one of the best, if not the best left tackle in the game, Armstead is the primary reason for this.

 

Amari Cooper vs Desmond Trufant

Desmont Trufant

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Unlike Tate in Philadephia, Cooper has not been eased into action for his new Cowboys team. The former Oakland Raiders first-round pick is coming off a six-catch performance in a win over the Eagles last week. He’s now tallied 11 receptions for 133 yards in two games with Big D. Last week, it made the world of difference for Dak Prescott in the passing game. He put up north of 270 yards in a near-flawless performance.

Fresh off a disastrous road loss to the Browns last week, Trufant and the Falcons must rebound here if they want to have any chance of competing for a playoff spot. The loss to Cleveland saw rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield throw as many touchdowns (three) as incomplete passes. If Atlanta’s pass defense is as incompetent in this one, the Cowboys will win going away. That’s where the team’s best cover guy comes into play.

 

Redskins offensive line vs Texans defensive line

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For as good as Deshaun Watson and the Texans have been in recent weeks, the offensive line remains an issue. Starters Julién Davenport and Martinis Rankin rank among the two-worst tackles in the NFL in allowing quarterback pressures. Watson has been sacked 30 times and hit a league-high 75 times in nine games. That’s just not sustainable, especially given the injuries Watson has dealt with thus far this season.

In a battle between two surprising first-place teams, how Houston’s offensive line holds up will loom large. Washington ranks in the top-12 of the NFL in sacks and is fourth in points allowed. If it can get to Watson consistently, look for Jay Gruden’s squad to come away with a win here.

 

Mitch Trubisky vs Vikings pass defense

Can Mitchell Trubisky now win Bears starting QB job? NFL preseason Week 1

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Don’t look now, but this Sunday Night Football matchup is for first place in the old black and blue division. Riding a wave of success that has seen them win three consecutive games, the Bears head into Week 11 averaging a robust 29.9 points per game. It’s been stunning just how much sophomore quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has improved in head coach Matt Nagy’s first season in Chicago. He’s now put up 22 total touchdowns compared to just seven picks on the season.

It won’t be easy this week against a Vikings defense that’s picked up its performance in a big way recently. Minnesota allowed just nine points and got to Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford for 10 sacks in its previous game prior to last week’s bye. If Trubisky is given time here, the onus will then land on Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith to hold up in the secondary.

 

Marcus Peters vs former team

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To say that Peters has been atrocious in his first season with the Rams would be an understatement. He’s now allowed a league-high six touchdowns to go with a 130-plus passer rating on the season. Given that the Rams yielded multiple picks to Kansas City for the Pro Bowl cornerback, the time is now for Peters to step up.

In a clear sign that the football gods have a sense of humor, Peters will now take on his former Chiefs team in a game between squads that boast the two-best records in the NFL. Can he hang with Tyreek Hill on the outside? Given that Hill is coming off a two-touchdown performance, we’re not entirely too sure. But it should be a blast.

 

James Conner vs Jaguars run defense

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Even when the Jaguars boasted the NFL’s top defense last season, they were average against the run. That’s pretty much been the same case during what has been a lost season in Duval. Jacksonville heads into Week 11 ranked in the middle of the pack against the run and yielding an average of 4.2 yards per rush.

If the Jaguars can’t stop Conner both on the ground and through the air, it really won’t matter how well their secondary plays. In replacing Le’Veon Bell thus far this season, Conner has now tallied 1,158 total yards and 11 touchdowns. He’s definitely the X-factor in this one.

 

Aaron Rodgers vs Russell Wilson

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers after beating the Cincinnati Bengals in NFL Week 3

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Both Green Bay and Seattle are battling for their playoff lives in Week 11. Rodgers and his Packers put up a much-needed win over Miami last week after having lost its previous two games. Even then, Green Bay sits two games behind Chicago in the win column in the NFC North. Taking on a surprisingly good Seahawks pass defense, Rodgers will have to prove his worth here.


That’s even more true when we talk about a quarterback in Russell Wilson who has now put up 21 touchdowns compared to five interceptions on the season. Despite this, Seattle heads into Week 11 with a 4-5 record and on the outside looking in. Taking on a Packers pass defense that ranks in the top five of the NFL agianst the pass, Wilson must continue this tremendous play.