NFL Week 11 Observations

The good, bad and ugly in the NFL from Week 11

The Rams and Chiefs gave us a remarkable show. Rams team web site

What a week of football! We saw some great performances, and we saw some boneheaded decisions that could’ve cost teams playoff positioning. Here’s how I saw it play out:

The Good

-Ravens rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson led his team to a 24-21 win over the Bengals. But this isn’t your father’s NFL. While Jackson’s 13 of 19 for 150 yards passing was respectable, his 117 yards rushing on 27 carries was unreal! Welcome to the new NFL where your quarterback will pass 50-60 times, or run it damn near 30 times.

-Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley totaled 152 yards on 29 touches and three touchdowns in their 38-35 win over the Bucs. He’s an all-purpose threat that can win a game rushing or receiving. He did drop Eli Manning’s only incompletion though.

-The Rams and Chiefs played one hell of a game Monday night! The chess match between Sean McVey and Andy Reid was special. It looked more like a Big 12 matchup rather than an NFL game. The Rams pulled out the win 54-51 win. In one of the highest scoring games in NFL history!  

The Bad

-The Raiders own approximately 327 first round picks in the 2019 draft. They could’ve secured the No. 1 overall pick had they not won Sunday against the Cardinals. Trading two of your best players is a sign of tanking. So if you’re going to tank Chucky, tank properly.

-The Falcons and Jags are both in a free fall. Both teams were expected to be Super Bowl contenders but are 4-6 and 3-7 respectively. Injuries have hampered the Falcons, while chemistry issues, and injuries, have hurt the Jags. No matter, both teams should be much better than what their records show.

-The Chargers lost to the Broncos 23-22 on a field goal as time expired. Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers missed Keenan Allen on a third and seven and they decided to punt. This loss will hurt them in the tightly contested AFC. 7-3 puts them in 5th spot in AFC playoff standings when 8-2 could’ve left them with a shot a 1st.

The Ugly

-The Panthers were 6-3, second place in the NFC South, and looking like a contender. That sort of changed when they decided to go for a two point conversion and missed. Cam Newton missed an easy throw. Now they’re 6-4 and within a game of missing the playoffs.

-The Bucs’ quarterback situation has been like a bad game of musical chairs. They have bounced back and forth between Ryan Fitztragic and Jameis No-Winston. Hopefully for their fans, they can move on from both and draft one in the offseason.

-I know I hit on this in my Texans article Sunday, but since we’ve learned the true extent of Alex Smith’s injury. He had to have emergency surgery Sunday not long after the game to repair a broken tibia and fibula. Thoughts and prayers to him and a speedy recovery.

When I look back on football games, I look for certain triggers. Turnover battle, points off turnovers, rushing yards, and time of possession. When I look at playoff positioning, I look at teams that hit their stride late in the season that can remain healthy. Saints, Rams, Chiefs, Steelers, and Bears are the ones I see that are separating themselves right now. I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of this season has in store!   

 

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Houston gets the lopsided win

Valdez, Astros dominate the Angels in 10-0 rout in Anaheim

Framber Valdez was dominant against the Angels on Monday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

With a series win at home over the weekend, the Astros started their final regular-season road trip on Monday, squaring off against the Angels in Anaheim. They held the momentum firmly in their favor all night, dominating both sides of the game to start the series with a victory.

Final Score: Astros 10, Angels 0

Astros' Record: 89-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (11-5)

Losing Pitcher: Jaime Barria (2-4)

Siri leads off with a bang

With Jose Altuve being given the night off, Houston gave Jose Siri a shot at the leadoff spot, and he delivered to start the opener in Anaheim. He launched a missile to left field, 426 feet, to put the Astros in front 1-0 before the Angels could record an out. Later that same inning, they strung together three singles, the third being an RBI by Carlos Correa to double the lead.

Valdez goes seven shutout innings

That gave Framber Valdez a lead to work with as he stepped on the rubber in the bottom of the inning, and he didn't give it up as he would post a dominant start. He started with a 1-2-3 first, worked around a couple of singles in the second, then used a double play to face the minimum in the third.

He retired Los Angeles in order again in the fourth, stranded a two-out single in the fifth and a single and a walk in the sixth. He had his worst inning of the night in the seventh, giving up a leadoff single then loading the bases on back-to-back two-out walks. He'd escape the jam, though, keeping the shutout alive and finalizing his impressive line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 98 P.

Astros take the opener in lopsided fashion

Houston tacked on an insurance run in the top of the eighth, getting a one-out double by Correa to set up an RBI single by Marwin Gonzalez, pushing the lead to 3-0. Things escalated from there, as another single put two on base for Martin Maldonado, who blew the game open with a three-run homer to make it a six-run lead.

Brooks Raley took over for Valdez in the bottom of the inning, and with a 1-2-3 inning, made it his eighth appearance in a row without allowing a run. The Astros didn't let up in the top of the ninth, getting two hits and a walk to load the bases before a grand slam by Gonzalez made it 10-0 and gave him 5 RBI in a two-inning span. Seth Martinez, called up by the Astros earlier in the day, made his big-league debut in the bottom of the ninth and closed out the lopsided win to put Houston's magic number at 6.

Up Next: The second of this four-game set will be another 8:38 PM Central start on Tuesday. Jose Urquidy (7-3, 3.38 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros, going opposite Packy Naughton (0-2, 4.32 ERA) for the Angels.

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