10 things to know about NFL Week 11
Brock Osweiler made his first start for the Broncos, NFC South QBs dominated, and more from Week 11.
10 things to know about NFL Week 11
Didn’t catch every moment of NFL Week 11? PFF has you covered with the top 10 things you need to know based on our grades and data.
1. Brock Osweiler can keep the Broncos in the playoff picture.
While Brock Osweiler certainly didn’t post the best quarterback performance we saw in Week 11, he graded out slightly below average overall. More importantly, it was enough to help his team get a road win in Chicago.
Osweiler’s starting debut ended with 250 yards, two touchdown passes, and no interceptions on 33 dropbacks—but he was also the victim of five sacks.
As colleague Sam Monson explained in fantastic detail on Monday, Osweiler provided—and will likely continue to provide in Manning’s absence—exactly what Denver needs. That is, just enough to secure a win.
Osweiler demonstrated the type of efficient game-management ability that the Broncos have longed for all season, especially with the high-powered defense carrying the load.
It’s not time to throw in the towel on Manning for the year, but Denver fans should find solace in the fact that Osweiler can be an adequate fill-in as needed.
2. Don’t count Dallas out of the postseason just yet.
In a backup-starter situation opposite of Denver, Dallas was reminded on Sunday of just how critical the presence of Tony Romo is to their offense. For the first time since Romo’s Week 2 injury, the Cowboys earned a win—corresponding with their QB’s return.
Romo posted a slightly above average overall grade for the outing in Sun Life Stadium, with 227 passing yards, a pair of touchdowns, and a pair of interceptions. A positive grade is certainly something to be optimistic about, however, with Romo not seeing the field since Week 2.
Romo is obviously a big step up from Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel, who are PFF’s 26th and 32nd ranked QBs this season, respectively.
More importantly, the win pulls the Cowboys to 3-7—and back into divisional contention. The Giants lead the NFC East at 5-5, with the Eagles and Redskins right behind at 4-5. Dallas’ remaining schedule isn’t a walk in the park, by any means—with games against Carolina, Green Bay, Buffalo, and the New York Jets—but the team’s odds are greatly improved with Tony Romo under center.
3. Doug Martin posted the most single-game rushing yards of any RB this season.
Now officially a repeat on Khaled Elsayed’s Team of the Week, the Buccaneers’ Doug Martin racked up 235 yards on the ground on Sunday, the most of any running back this season.
Martin had 162 yards after contact, and forced six missed tackles on the day. His elusive rating tops the league at 79.4 this season (not counting injured Le’Veon Bell), with an average of 3.32 yards after contact.
Martin’s incredible performance played a key part in the Bucs’ big win over the Eagles, despite the running back not finding pay dirt.
4. Rookie RB Thomas Rawls also posted 200+ rushing yards.
If not for Martin’s performance, Seahawks’ running back Thomas Rawls would now own the highest mark for single-game rushing yardage this season (needless to say, it was a great week for RBs).
Rawls, filling in for the injured Marshawn Lynch, showed why he won’t be considered a backup for long in Seattle. The former Central Michigan star posted 209 yards on the ground against the 49ers, in addition to 46 yards through the air. He also had both a rushing and receiving touchdown.
This season, Rawls, is PFF’s 15th-ranked RB—Marshawn Lynch is third. What’s more, Rawls’ performance of 209 yards is 52 more than Lynch’s single-game high, which came last season in the NFC Championship against Green Bay.
5. Todd Gurley’s rookie charge hit a major bump.
Staying in the backfield, one of Rawls’ fellow rookies recorded his worst grade of the season. Gurley, who notched just 63 yards on 25 attempts against the Ravens, earned a spot on Bryson Vesnaver’s Worst Team of the Week, tying Atlanta’s Tevin Coleman for the lowest grade of any running back in Week 11.
This may come as a blow to many Rams’ fans who have been calling in the Rookie of the Year award for Gurley already—but it’s not time to give up on the first-round pick just yet.
Gurley had a tough task ahead of him entering the matchup, as the Ravens own PFF’s fourth-ranked run defense. In fact, the only backs to fare significantly better against Baltimore on the ground this season, in terms of yardage, were Le’Veon Bell and Chris Johnson. Gurley could very well bounce back in the next two weeks, with matchups against the Bengals and Cardinals, two middle-of-the-pack run defenses.
6. Joe Flacco will miss his first start ever next week.
On the final (and game-winning) drive of Sunday’s matchup with the Rams, Joe Flacco suffered an ACL and MCL tear. However, in the process, he proved, once and for all, that he is one tough QB.
Despite suffering the season-ending injury, Flacco stayed on the field for two more handoffs, then stopped the clock to set up Baltimore’s game-winning field goal.
Flacco leave’s the season as our 22nd-ranked QB. His injury came in the same game as running back Justin Forsett, who broke his arm in the first quarter—he’ll also miss the rest of the season.
Both of these key offensive injuries come in the wake of Steve Smith Sr.’s season-ending Achilles tendon tear in Week 8.
Up to this point, Flacco has never missed a start in his NFL career (drafted with the No. 18 overall pick in 2008, he took over the starting job immediately).
7. NFC South quarterbacks shined in Week 11.
Even with Drew Brees and the Saints on bye this past weekend, the NFC South was well-represented at the quarterback position.
Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston earned the best QB grade of the week, posting 246 passing yards and five touchdowns. More importantly, he threw no interceptions in the Bucs’ rout of the Eagles.
Cam Newton tied Marcus Mariota for the third-best overall QB grade of the week. Newton matched Winston’s five touchdown passes with five of his own, and an identical 246 passing yards and no picks.
Shortly behind Newton with the fifth-best Week 11 overall grade was Matt Ryan. Despite falling to the Colts, Ryan threw for three touchdowns—and three interceptions. One of his picks cost of the Falcons severely, practically tossing it right into the chest of D’Qwell Jackson for the easy TD return, but overall, his performance was solid.
Not to shabby of a showing from the NFC South—three QBs in play, three top-five QB grades.
8. The Jets had a really, really bad week.
When colleague Bryson Vesnaver pulls together the PFF Worst Team of the Week each Monday, there are typically a few teams who played exceptionally poorly that contribute multiple players to the roster.
This week, however, the Jets contributed five players to the Worst Team of the Week—an honor typically earned by posting the lowest grade in the league for a position.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, TE Kellen Davis, WR Devin Smith, OT Breno Giacomini, and DE Leger Douzable all found their way onto the roster. (Fitzpatrick was the only one of those players not to have the lowest grade at his respective position, but found earned a spot due to his exceptionally bad passing grade.)
The Jets will need to bounce back in Week 12 against the Dolphins, with both teams fighting for an AFC Wild Card bid.
9. The AFC South is wide open.
One of the more interesting divisional races to watch this season is in the AFC South. No team has a winning record, with the Colts and the Texans each level at 5-5. The Jaguars are nipping at their heels at 4-6, while the Titans trail a distance behind at 2-8.
Removing the Titans from the picture, you have a legitimate three-horse race. With Andrew Luck sidelined, it seems like the rolling Texans could potentially steal the lead after two big wins against the previously undefeated Bengals on Monday Night Football, then against the aforementioned Jets (coming off a short week, nonetheless).
The Colts were easily the division favorite entering the year, but with Luck struggling—and now sidelined with a lacerated kidney and abdominal muscle injury—it seemed that Indy may drop the division for the first time since 2012. With a big win in Atlanta, though, they stay ahead of Houston via the head-to-head tie-breaker—for now.
Then there’s the dark horse: Jacksonville. The Jaguars knocked off the Titans on Thursday Night Football, showcasing their duo of top-10 receivers. With a matchup against the 2-8 Chargers in Week 12, then the Titans again, the Jaguars have a very real shot of tying Houston and Indianapolis for the division lead—if not overtaking them.
10. The Patriots’ secondary took care of business on Monday Night Football.
In an impressive showing against the Bills, every New England safety that saw a snap on MNF earned a positive overall game grade. Tavon Wilson was forced to corner after the shortage at the position continued for the Pats; he answered the call, though, maintaining the high standard set by New England’s cornerbacks this season (CBs Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan are ranked 11th and 16th at position, respectively).
It was fitting that the defense would help the team to 10-0, as the offense suffered another key injury. Danny Amendola left the game with a knee injury; while his status is still unknown at this time, if he is to miss any games, he will join WR Julian Edelman, RB Dion Lewis, and LT Nate Solder on the sideline.
Amendola posted a highly-graded performance before being forced to exit, stepping up in the absence of Edelman. If he’s forced to miss significant time, it will be interesting to see how the Pats can cope with yet another offensive weapon out of the lineup.
Chase Howell | General Editor
Chase is a General Editor at PFF, focusing on the site’s NFL content strategy. His work has been featured in ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Insider, and The Cincinnati Enquirer.