Top takeaways from Sunday’s Week 11 NFL action

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday’s Week 11 NFL action was riddled with some horrific quarterback play. From a rookie in Buffalo that showed he didn’t belong on the field to another in Denver that has yet to prove himself worthy of being a starter, that was the name of the game for multiple teams around the league.

On the other hand, the likes of Tom Brady and Drew Brees put up impressive games in vintage fashion for the two future Hall of Fame signal callers. They also helped their teams make major statements against lesser opponents.

And in Minnesota, the Vikings also made a statement against what had been a red-hot Los Angeles Rams team. These are among the top takeaways from Sunday’s Week 11 NFL Action.

Cowboys can’t do anything without Zeke

A week after scoring a grand total of seven points, the Dallas Cowboys’ offense once again proved to be futile Sunday night against the Philadelphia Eagles. Even with pass protection holding up better than we saw last week against Atlanta, Dak Prescott was a complete and utter mess in this one.

The second-year quarterback threw three interceptions and lost a fumble in an embarrassing 37-9 loss to the Eagles. That one fumble resulted directly in a touchdown for Philadelphia linebacker Nigel Bradham for the Eagles’ fourth touchdown of the second half.

What’s so shocking here is that Alfred Morris actually performed well in replacing the suspended Ezekiel Elliott. He put up 91 yards on 17 attempts.

It was Prescott’s complete inability to do anything through the air and the Cowboys’ defensive meltdown in the second half that made all the difference in the world. Prescott completed 18-of-31 passes for 145 yards with four giveaways. Meanwhile, Philly gained an absurd 270-plus yards in the second half alone. Now at 5-5 on the season, it’s wildcard or bust for Dallas.

Jay Cutler, Dolphins remain a hot mess

Jay Cutler and the Dolphins are BAD.

For the 11th time in his career, Cutler threw three first half interceptions Sunday against Tampa Bay. The fact that there’s a sample size this large just shows us how underwhelming said career has been.

And in the least shocking news ever, Cutler’s Dolphins fell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. He’s now 0-11 when crossing that three-pick threshold we mentioned above. It’s just a continuation of what has been a disastrous past few weeks in South Beach.

Miami did make a game of it when Cutler exited in the third with a concussion, but inexcusable mistakes continued to plague this team. The Dolphins were penalized an NFL season-high 17 times in the game. That made all the difference in what ultimately was an overtime home loss to the last-place Buccaneers.

Raider Nation embarrassed internationally 

Coming off their bye, the Oakland Raiders needed a win Sunday against the defending champs in Mexico City. Relatively early in this one, it was readily apparent that Jack Del Rio’s squad was simply going to be outclassed by the New England Patriots.

Tom Brady and Co. opened up a 7-0 lead on a long scoring drive early in the first quarter. In the meantime, Oakland’s offense stalled to the tune of punt, interception, punt, fumble, punt and turnover on downs before finally getting a garbage-time touchdown down 30-0 in the final quarter.

It was bad. Really, really bad. Tom Brady completed 30-of-37 passes for 339 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Now through 10 games, the Raiders’ defense has yielded 17 passing touchdowns compared to zero interceptions. Meanwhile, the Derek Carr-led offense turned the ball over two more times against a Pats defense that entered Week 11 having yielded the most passing yards in the NFL.

Sure it helps Oakland that Kansas City lost to the hapless Giants. But despite being just two games back in the division, there can’t be much confidence in Oakland that this team has any opportunity to play meaningful January football. Simply put, it was not competitive against the class of the AFC Sunday afternoon in Mexico City.

Vikings’ statement win

Sunday’s home game against the Los Angeles Rams afforded Minnesota an opportunity to prove that its 7-2 start to the season was not a fluke. That’s exactly what the team did, winning by the score of 24-7 in dominating fashion.

Proving once again that he should remain the starter over Teddy Bridgewater, stop-gap quarterback Case Keenum completed 27-of-38 passes for 280 yards, including this touchdown to the suddenly unstoppable Adam Thielen. It was another great performance for the career backup.

Though, it’s what the Vikings did against Los Angeles’ NFL-best scoring offense that put the rest of the league on notice. After Jared Goff led a touchdown drive on the Rams’ first possession, Minnesota shut out Los Angeles for the remainder of the game. Todd Gurley was held to just 37 yards on 15 attempts while Goff himself failed to throw a touchdown.

Now at 8-2 on the season, Minnesota gained separation from the Rams for a potential first-round playoff bye. It also remains two games up on Detroit in the NFC North. This was most definitely a statement win.

The Browns 

Nothing more. Nothing less. There’s not a headline here that can do justice to what we saw from Cleveland on Sunday. In the game for the most part against Jacksonville, the Browns had an opportunity to pull off their first win of the season.

Then, in the Brownsiest way possible, it came to a crashing halt. Down 13-7 with the ball at their own 20-yard line and just over a minute left, rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer coughed up the ball. After a mad scramble, Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown to give Jacksonville a two-score lead. The play itself should have been accompanied by Benny Hill music.

It represented Kizer’s fourth turnover of the game and the 22nd giveaway of the rookie quarterback’s season. Now at 0-10 on the year and with one win since Hue Jackson took over as head coach, this is almost an all-time low for the Browns. With a potential power struggle looming, it could potentially get even worse from here on out.

Packers need something at quarterback

For the first time since Aaron Rodgers was backing up Brett Favre back in 2006, the Packers were shut out at home. It came by virtue of a 23-0 loss to a Baltimore Ravens team that entered Sunday’s action with a losing record.

More than anything, the performance of stop-gap starting quarterback Brett Hundley was the reason behind this humiliating loss. Hundley led an offense that put up less than 300 total yards of offense and had fewer third-down conversions (four) than turnovers (five). For his part, Hundley threw three interceptions and lost a fumble in the loss.

There might be something to say about knowing an offense. But at some point, it’s readily apparent someone isn’t a starter in the NFL. And there’s a certain Wisconsin native still looking for a job in the league. At 5-5, what in the world does Green Bay have to lose here?

Sean McDermott already done in Buffalo? 

Bills head coach Sean McDermott

One of the worst quarterback decisions in modern NFL history unfolded in Western New York. Inexplicably, first-year Bills head coach Sean McDermott benched former Pro Bowl quarterback Tyrod Taylor in favor of rookie Nathan Peterman. It’s a move that reminded us why Buffalo has not earned a playoff spot since the Bill Clinton Administration (more on that here).

Like clockwork, Peterman would go on to throw five first half interceptions against the Chargers before being benched at the half. This led to the social media world giving McDermott and Co. all it had to offer.

More than that, Buffalo dropped the game in embarrassing fashion by the score of 54-24 against a Chargers squad that was 3-6 heading into Sunday’s action. It led to an awkward scene on the Bills’ sideline in a game that it looked like players simply quit on McDermott.

We know full well that Buffalo’s front office is a fickle bunch. Perception is everything. This team entered Week 11 in playoff positioning. It exited Sunday’s action with a head coach that clearly on the hot seat after just 10 games. Only in Buffalo, ladies and gents.

Glimmer of hope for Houston

The Texans really had nothing working in their favor heading into Sunday’s game against the equally pedestrian Cardinals. But a loss in Week 11 would have all but ended the team’s playoff aspirations.

Down 21-17 heading into the fourth quarter, Houston woke up big time in front of its home crowd. It put up the final two touchdowns of the game, including a stellar 12-play, 75-yard drive to go up for good. That series saw the always embattled Tom Savage rely on rookie running back D’Onta Foreman for 33 yards on six touches.

Then on the very next possession, Foreman broke off a 34-yard touchdown run to give Houston a two-score lead. Now at 4-6 on the season, Houston is three games behind the red-hot Jaguars in the AFC South. It may look like an insurmountable division lead, but anything is possible in what has been an average AFC South over the years.

Lions save season with strong second quarter 

Facing the real possibility of falling to 5-5 on the season, Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions stepped up big time in the second quarter against a weaker Bears team in Chicago. After falling down 10-0, Detroit reeled off three touchdowns in the second quarter.

Two of the touchdowns included long drives in which Stafford completed 10-of-12 passes for 143 yards and two scores. While Chicago did tie the game late in the fourth quarter, Stafford ultimately led Detroit on a game-winning field goal drive to help his team come out on top.

The win is absolutely huge. It moves Detroit to 6-4 on the season, right behind Carolina and Seattle for the two wild card spots in the NFC. Now heading into their Thanksgiving matchup against the 8-2 Vikings, these Lions can actually pull to within one game in the NFC North.

Time to go with Paxton 

Following Sunday’s 20-17 home loss to Cincinnati, the Denver Broncos find themselves at 3-7 on the season and mired in a six-game losing streak. This, despite the fact that Denver’s defense held the Bengals’ offense to less than 200 total yards and 12 first downs.

Really, it started and ended with another disastrous performance from one Brock Osweiler. With his Broncos set up to take an early lead after a blocked punt, Osweiler threw this interception into the waiting hands of Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick in the end zone.

It was returned all the way down to Denver’s one yard line, setting up one of two Andy Dalton touchdown passes. Young receiver Cody Latimer shares in some of the blame for this, but Osweiler obviously telegraphed the pass.

At the end of the day, this one major mistake made all the difference in the world. For his part, Osweiler completed 23-of-42 passes for 254 yards with that interception and a touchdown.

It wasn’t an absolutely brutal performance from Osweiler. But at 3-7 on the season, Denver finds itself in last place. It’s now time to go with second-year quarterback Paxton Lynch under center.

The former first-round pick was inactive for the first nine games of the season with a shoulder injury prior to jumping Trevor Siemian on the depth chart Sunday. With nothing else really to play for this season, Denver must now find out what it has in the young signal caller. The time is now for Vance Joseph to make that move. Period.

What in the world, Kansas City?

There’s no reason on this green earth that the Chiefs should have gone into New Jersey and even saw the Giants keep the game close. New York was coming off a blowout loss to the previously winless 49ers, and the Chiefs just had their bye week. History tells us a story of Andy Reid-led teams dominating after a week off. That didn’t happen here.

Instead, by virtue of a horrendous performance from Alex Smith and some costly penalties, Kansas City fell by the score of 12-9 in overtime.

Having thrown one interception on the season heading into Sunday’s game, Smith was picked off twice by what had been a horrible Giants defense in recent weeks.

It also didn’t help that the Chiefs committed a whopping nine penalties and saw five drives that ended in New York territory result in nine total points. Kansas City has now lost four in a row. Thankfully for Reid and Co., the rest of the AFC West is a hot mess.

Redskins screw the pooch, season now over

Up 31-16 after scoring a touchdown with under six minutes left in the fourth quarter, Washington did everything possible to lose Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints.

After holding Drew Brees without a touchdown pass for the first 57-plus minutes of the game, Washington allowed him to lead the Saints on two touchdown scoring drives to force overtime.

All said, Brees converted on his final 10 passes in regulation before seeing Mark Ingram break off two huge runs to open overtime, ultimately leading to a Wil Lutz game-winning field goal.

The issue here was two-fold for Washington. Kirk Cousins took an intentional grounding penalty late in the fourth quarter after New Orleans had tied the game. It came at the Saints 34-yard line with just over a half minute left. This forced Washington from field goal range, eventually leading to an overtime loss.

Then, to open that extra stanza, both Samaje Perine and Vernon Davis dropped easy passes. It led directly to a three-and-out. Game, set, match. Now at 4-6 on the season, this loss pretty much ended any hope that Washington might play meaningful January football.

Jags keep clawing 

For the second consecutive week, the Jaguars did not look good. They struggled moving the ball on offense and allowed a lesser team to remain in the game for far too long. But when all was said and done Sunday, Jacksonville took out the winless Browns by the score of 19-7.

Much like we’ve seen all season, it was all about Jacksonville’s defense. This unit forced four DeShone Kizer turnovers, sacked the rookie five times, hit him a total of nine times and held Cleveland running backs to 28 yards on 13 attempts.

Now at 7-3 on the season, Jacksonville is alone in first place in the AFC South. It has also given up a grand total of 31 points during the team’s current four-game winning streak. Yes folks, this squad is for real.

Eagles continue to throttle opponents 

For a while there Sunday night, it looked like Philadelphia was going to be given a game by Dallas. The Cowboys actually opened up a 9-7 halftime lead. Prior to that, Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz — a true MVP candidate — went 1-for-11 during a quarter-plus stretch.

Then, once the third quarter started, the now 9-1 Eagles absolutely laid the hammer down on Dallas. They put up north of 270 yards in the second half, scoring 30 unanswered points. It was a complete and utter ambush in Big D.

Philadelphia has now won its past eight games after a Week 2 loss to Kansas City. That very same span has seen Wentz put up 21 touchdowns compared to three picks. It’s also seen the Eagles average north of 150 rushing yards per game. This team is legitimately the class of the NFC. That came out in droves during a 37-9 win over Dallas on Sunday night.

Patriots remain class of the AFC

The Pittsburgh Steelers might have something to say about this in January. But for now, it’s readily apparent that the defending champion New England Patriots are the class of the AFC. That came out in droves Sunday against the Raiders in Mexico City.

From the time this game kicked off to when the final seconds ticked off, New England absolutely dominated a lesser team. It came in an environment that was much more friendly for the Raiders.

There was nothing here that pointed to any foreseeable struggles for New England. Tom Brady completed all but seven of his 37 pass attempts for 339 yards with three touchdowns. The Pats’ rushing attack averaged 4.4 yards per attempt. The likes of Brandin Cook and Danny Amendola caught 14-of-18 targets for 215 yards and two touchdowns.

We’re talking about a well-oiled machine in New England. Sunday’s 33-8 win over Oakland was just the latest example of this. And now, at 8-2 on the season, the Pats remain the top dog in the AFC.