NFL Week 11

NFL Week 11: Good, bad and ugly

Jenna Watson, Indy Star

Week 11 in the NFL is in the books. We saw great performances, even better celebrations, and perhaps some of the worst calls from officials. Here's how I saw it play out:

The Good

-The Colts' offensive lineman Quenton Nelson thought he scored on a fullback dive and what ensued was a celebration that should be top 5 this season: they simulated a keg stand and used a fellow lineman as the human keg! Was it choreographed? Of course. But these guys get style point nonetheless because it's something we haven't seen before. He didn't get in after review, but the celebration was still awesome.
-Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott had himself a game against the Lions. The Cowboys needed all 444 of his passing yards and three touchdowns to beat the hapless Lions who were playing with backup quarterback Jeff Driskel. This was one of those games in which his contract demands went up like a good day at the Stock Market. But just like the market, it can fall quickly.
-The Patriots defense is for real. Despite their one hiccup against potential league MVP Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, they've been lights out. They beat the Eagles 17-10 and held the Eagles to only 255 total yards, sacked Carson Wentz five times, and held them to 3.9 yards per pass and the same per run. The aforementioned Prescott and Cowboys come to Foxboro next week and should present another test.

The Bad

-The Falcons have won their last two games by a combined score of 55-12. Not only did they dominate, but they beat the top two teams in their division. Why would I say this is bad? Because they're only 3-7 after those two wins! This team is way too talented to have that bad of a record after 10 games. Their Super Bowl hangover has lasted two seasons now!

-The 3-6 Broncos were up 23-7 over the Vikings heading into the 4th quarter in Minnesota. They ended the day 3-7 after giving up 20 unanswered points. They only committed one turnover which was a first half interception that the Vikings failed to do anything with. They simply stopped being able to move the ball or stop the Vikings from scoring. Remember when they decided to stand pat at the trade deadline? Wondering if Broncos general manager John Elway is regretting that decision now?

-Here's a reminder that the Bears moved up from #3 to #2 unnecessarily to draft Mitchell Trubisky and passed on Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Trubisky went 24/43 for 190 yards with a touchdown and an interception, as well as getting sacked once. Not only do they have kicker issues, but the guy pulling the trigger for them sucks. Guess having the TVs off at Halas Hall to drown out the noise didn't help.

The Ugly

-Broncos fullback Andy Janovich suffered a gruesome injury Sunday. The injury occurred when he caught a short pass and tried to brace himself for the tackle, but ended up dislocating his elbow. It was so bad, CBS refused to show any replays of the play. Think of the Alex Smith leg injury, but at the elbow.

-Browns defensive end Myles Garrett and Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph were at the center of a melee Thursday night. It started with Rudolph being a jackass and trying to rip Garrett's helmet off after he got hit. Garrett, in turn, ripped Rudolph's helmet off and managed to hit him with it which sparked an all out brawl between the two teams. A number of guys were suspended and/or fined, but Garrett received an indefinite suspension. Sure it's not wise to hit a guy with a helmet after ripping it off, but an indefinite suspension is a bit much NFL.

-Pass interference is the new catch rule. Remember a few years ago when the league tried to define waht was and wasn't a catch, only they never really did and we're still all not sure? Pass interference is now the same thing. In the 49ers vs Cardinals game, Cardinals linebacker Joe Walker was flagged for PI after 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk tackled him! Texans' wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was interferred with at least twice on one play, no flag was thrown and the ruling on the field was upheld upon challenge. Seriously, something needs to be done because the refs simply aren't doing their jobs when it comes to the calls and challenges.

By opening Pandora's Box on being able to review pass interference, I don't think the league and competition committee really took into consideration human nature. How likely is a ref to admit he or one of his crew messed something up? On the other hand, it's been great seeing the celebrations the last couple years. For as much as we bitch and complain about things in the league, it's pretty healthy. Games are good, young players are stepping up as new stars, but there's still much left to be desired. We'll all keep coming back for more because the product is so enjoyable and popular. It's like that one restaurant you go to time and again despite the service not being up to par, but the food is so good, you don't mind paying the prices they charge.

Friday the 13th. Triskaidekophobes' worst nightmare. It's silliness. Like believing in the Texans as Super Bowl contenders.

So how did the Texans go from toppling the 10-1 Patriots one Sunday, to having the 4-8 Broncos humiliate them the next? That is what mediocrity is all about, Houston Texans style. Imagine how ugly it would have gotten had the Broncos not had to deal with the intimidation factor of playing under a closed roof on a gorgeous autumn afternoon. There was a surprising number of no shows for an 8-4 home team off of two quality wins. Coincidence? Certainly not entirely. Ticket holders who opted to stay away joined essentially the entire team in no-showing.

With their record 8-5 the odds still favor the Texans making the playoffs. Winning two of the remaining three games does the job (and secures other one of those cute little AFC South Champion banners!). Of course, the odds favored the Texans not trailing 31-3 at home at halftime to a Broncos' team that hadn't scored more than 24 points in any game all season. Winning one to finish 9-7 could mean a Wild Card. Yippee!

They are only three point underdogs at Tennessee Sunday. If the Texans' feeble pass rush can't pick it up the Texans' D figures to be D-stroyed again. Ryan Tannehill's career revival with the Titans has been astounding. What reasonable person would have believed that entering this game Tannehill would be playing better quarterback than Deshaun Watson over the last month? Defending Derrick Henry's power running is a big problem, and that has made Tannehill devastating in the play action passing game. Good chance the Texans will need to score more than 28 points to win. They last did so eight games ago in their 31-24 victory at Kansas City. The Titans look like the better team right now, but week to week in the NFL who knows.

As I put it on the radio show earlier this week, in an either or scenario which would you prefer: the Texans do win their division, maybe win a wild card weekend home game, and if they do then take a shot at not getting crushed at Baltimore again. OR…the Texans lose twice to the Titans, lose in Tampa, tumbling from 8-4 to an 8-8 playoff miss and Cal McNair decides to fire Bill O'Brien?

Tough spell for Astros

Given that Oakland wasn't a possibility, Gerrit Cole picking the Yankees is the Astros' worst case scenario. If you're thinking nine years 324 million dollars is nuts, of course nine years is crazy long, but the Yankees are a money printing machine. Forbes magazine estimate for 2018 had the Yankees generating roughly 300 million dollars more in revenue than did the Astros.

Another bottom line: with Cole the Yankees are markedly better, without him the Astros are markedly worse.

The Astros are in a payroll bind, hence the trade Carlos Correa rumblings. In isolation, trading Correa would be dumb. Yes he has proven brittle. But Correa is also super-talented, 25 years old, and for two more years in Major League Baseball terms, dirt cheap. Trade Correa for what? A desperate play to escape the 13 million dollar anvil that is Josh Reddick's 2020 contract? Offered for nothing in return the Astros have no takers for Reddick. As a must take in a Correa deal, Reddick would drive down the return the Astros could get.

The Astros would be seeking a cheap, multi-years team-controlled stud young starting pitcher for Correa. They're not getting one for him. Guys like the Dodgers' Walker Buehler, the Cardinals' Jack Flaherty, the Braves Mike Siroka, the Indians Shane Bieber, those teams wouldn't swap their guy for Correa straight up. They'd laugh at an Astro offer of Correa and Reddick. Reds' starter Luis Castillo's name has been thrown against the wall. He's had one really good full big league season. At 27 years old, Castillo isn't eligible for arbitration until 2021. Why would the Reds trade him for Correa who can walk as a free agent after the 2021 season? Mets starter Noah Syndegaard? Probably not available, and he can become a free agent the same time as Correa.

It's always easy to burn someone else's money, but the Astros' best play is keeping Correa and swallowing the Reddick 13 mil if necessary, rather than taking 70 cents on the dollar back in a trade. Jim Crane and his partners can make back any loss in profit margin during this Astros' window of excellence by cutting costs when the next rebuilding time comes around and/or by selling the team down the line for several times the 610 million dollars they paid to buy it.

Buzzer Beaters

1. If you can get a ticket, UH-Oklahoma St. at Fertitta Center is the place to be Sunday afternoon. 2. The NBA has captivated very few around here so far this season, but the relentlessness of James Harden's scoring pace (37.6 points per game) is stupefying. 3. Absurd actual phobias: Bronze-Somniphobia, fear of sleep Silver-Cherophobia, fear of happiness Gold-Arachibutyrophobia, the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth


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