Week 11 in the NFL offered its usual dose of memorable matchups when losing streaks were broken, personal record-highs were achieved and backup quarterbacks dominated. Additionally, some defenses were challenged beyond their abilities in stopping some rather unseasoned NFL players.
Intertwined with the usual heartaches, victories and underdog wins, here are some of the notable winners and losers from Week 11.
Winner: Jaguars, despite unexciting Thursday Night Football game, have a shot
We know each NFL division gets a couple of opportunities to showcase two teams in Thursday Night Football throughout the season, but Week 11 brought viewers a very non-enticing game between the mustard-colored clad Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans sporting baby blue.
A massive offseason renovation prior to 2014 that put in pools with party cabanas coaxed fans into attending games at EverBank Stadium, and cameras kept panning to the action on top of the pool decks to hide the ugly product on the field.
Marlins Man is Suffering through this Thursday Night Game in the Jaguars' Pool:
GREAT TIME in Jaguars pool. … https://t.co/tLiyxFpzEg
— Cameron West (@Sports42Fanatic) November 20, 2015
Marcus Mariota finally tallied the first touchdown of the game during the third quarter and gave the Titans a 13-9 lead. Blake Bortles responded with a five-yard score to Julius Thomas, and Jacksonville went up 16-13.
Mariota turned the ball over on the ensuing drives, Jacksonville added a field goal and the Jaguars finished off a 19-13 victory. No matter how slowly they took to get there, the Jags improved to 4-6 and trail the AFC South-leading Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans by one game.
Jacksonville has only managed four wins twice in its last four seasons, yet the team is on pace for its best season since 2010 and in the hunt for the playoffs.
Loser: Jay Cutler, John Fox lose to former team, backup Brock Osweiler
Peyton Manning who? The Denver Broncos were in fine hands with second-string quarterback Brock Osweiler making his first career NFL start, claiming a 17-15 victory over the Chicago Bears.
Osweiler played exceptionally well, completing 74 percent of his passes for 250 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. The Broncos also dominated the ground game for a total of 170 yards compared to the Bears’ 86. A much-needed win for Denver (8-2) that came on Osweiler’s birthday gets the Broncos back on track in the AFC West.
Brock Osweiler is first QB in NFL history to win his first start that also took place on his birthday. #DENvsCHI
— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) November 22, 2015
Unfortunately for the Bears, Cutler put up a stinky performance when he completed just 56 percent of his passes for 265 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception.
It was the first time Cutler faced his former team since his trade in 2009. Plus, head coach John Fox was also out-foxed by the franchise that fired him earlier this year.
Winner: Tony Romo and the ‘Boys are back
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo returned after missing seven games and helped the team break its miserable seven-game losing streak carelessly built by Matt Cassel and former backup Brandon Weeden.
— Kevin Ray (@kray1) November 22, 2015
The 24-14 win came at the expense of the Miami Dolphins, who were outplayed on all levels. Dallas’ win broke the franchise’s longest losing streak since 1989.
While it wasn’t one of Romo’s elite performances by any means, he managed to overcome two interceptions by completing a 31-yard touchdown to Terrance Williams and a 16-yarder to Dez Bryant, totaling 227 yards for the day. Darren McFadden added 129 rushing yards on 29 carries.
Fortunately for Dallas, the defense kept Miami bottled up on the ground, allowing 70 yards. Plus, although Ryan Tannehill tossed two touchdowns, he completed a mere 54 percent of his attempts.
Situated only one loss behind the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles, the 3-7 Cowboys have a realistic chance to climb the NFC East standings.
Loser: New York Jets allow T.J. Yates and Co. to dominate
What used to be a feared defense boasting Darrelle Revis, otherwise known as “Revis Island,” didn’t frighten Houston Texans backup quarterback T.J. Yates, even though he hadn’t started a game since 2011.
While we’re not exactly sure what is happening with the Jets’ dramatically declining secondary, we must point out that Yates was extremely impressive filling in for Brian Hoyer as the starter. Yates connected with DeAndre Hopkins for two amazing touchdowns, and the duo looked as if they have been playing football together for years.
And, kudos to Hopkins, who has been nothing short of spectacular this season and leads all other receivers in targets, averaging 12.3 per game. Hopkins’ consistency should be commended, considering he has played with three different quarterbacks this season.
Since he and Yates have now connected for three touchdowns since Hoyer has been sidelined, perhaps another quarterback change is in the cards for the Texans.
As for the Jets, the team was a major disappointment. Ryan Fitzpatrick completed less than 50 percent of his passes, managing 216 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Besides Fizpatrick’s putrid performance, New York rushed for only 70 total yards.
The win allowed the Texans to keep pace with the 5-5 Indianapolis Colts in the AFC South.
Winner: Cam Newton’s five-touchdown day keeps Panthers undefeated
Newton was in true “Superman” form when he threw for a career-high five touchdowns during a completely lopsided 44-16 victory over the Washington football team.
The Panthers remained undefeated, improving to 10-0 and continuing a 14-game winning streak that includes eight straight home wins. There really wasn’t much Washington’s defense could do to limit Newton, who connected with Devin Funchess, Greg Olsen, Ted Ginn Jr., Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert for the touchdowns.
Excluding Olsen, we can agree that Newton’s odd collection of pass-catchers aren’t exactly among the NFL’s elites. Yet the Panthers are simply getting the job done every week.
Congratulations to Newton, who spared his haters his lengthy touchdown celebration dance moves but danced all over Washington anyway.
After a four-touchdown outing, Kirk Cousins slid back to reality and posted only 207 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Since the team fell behind so early, the running game was a complete joke and notched 14 yards.
Loser: Could the San Diego Chargers be any more embarrassing?
If fans thought a bye week would get Philip Rivers and crew back on track, those thoughts were flushed down the toilet in Week 11.
The Kansas City Chiefs beat down the Chargers 33-3, so San Diego dropped to 2-8 and tied for the NFL’s worst record with the Cleveland Browns and the Titans. That’s a hard pill to swallow for a franchise that hasn’t played this poorly since a 1-15 mark in 2000.
Plus, during Rivers’ tenure as a starter that began in 2006, the team has never won fewer than seven games. That’s almost guaranteed to change this year.
Rivers was no match for the Chiefs’ secondary, passing for only 178 yards and giving up a pick-six to Kansas City linebacker Justin Houston.
— NFL (@NFL) November 22, 2015
At this point in the season, the Chargers appear to be nothing more than a lost cause headed to Los Angeles.
Winner: Those who started ultra-cheap Jameis Winston in DFS
Any daily fantasy football participant who started an ultra-cheap Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston was handsomely rewarded.
In a remarkable career-best performance, the rookie passed for 246 yards and a stunning five touchdowns, which netted at least 29 fantasy points, depending on the scoring system. Winston and the Bucs completely dominated an inept Philadelphia Eagles squad en route to a 45-17 win.
While Winston ruled through the air with his five scores, Doug Martin annihilated Philly’s rush defense with a whopping 235 rushing yards at a lightning pace of 8.7 per carry.
On the Eagles’ side of the field, Mark Sanchez was simply atrocious. He passed for 261 yards and two touchdowns but threw three interceptions.
— Matt Lombardo (@MattLombardoNFL) November 22, 2015
Tampa Bay’s win put the team into the playoff discussion and sent Philadelphia to 4-6 in the NFC East.
Loser: Minnesota Vikings get schooled by Green Bay Packers
The 7-2 Vikings entered Week 11 against Green Bay one game ahead in the NFC North, but after a fierce battle for divisional dominance favored the Packers. Minnesota lost 30-13.
Teddy Bridgewater played decently and completed 25-of-37 passes for 296 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions, but he endured six sacks along the way. Although Adrian Peterson scored once, he managed a piddly 45 rushing yards following a 203-yard outing last week.
Aaron Rodgers completed just 47 percent of his passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns, but the Packers defense humbled Minnesota’s offense. Green Bay broke its three-game losing streak that had fans wondering what the deal was after a 6-0 start.