NFL Week 11 observations: The good, bad and ugly

Case Keenum has the Vikings rolling.

There are still some questions left to be answered. Are teams like the L.A. Rams, New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles for real? Can the Buffalo Bills pick back up where they left off with the change at quarterback? Weekends like this make football addicting!

The Good

-The Minnesota Vikings are starting their backup quarterback Case Keenum and haven’t missed a beat. Credit their stellar defense and Keenum’s superb play for keeping the wheel rolling as they beat the Los Angeles Rams 24-7. The Rams entered the game with the league’s best offense and a good defense. Keenum and the Vikings made them look very subpar.

-The New Orleans Saints became the first team to start 0-2, and win 8 straight. Their 34-31 overtime win against the Washington Redskins was nothing short of a miracle. Down 31-16 with less than six minutes left, the Saints managed to tie the game thanks to a key stop on third and short, as well as an intentional grounding call that went their way. They may be legit contenders this season, and it’s mainly due to a much improved defense along with a commitment to the run.

-The Detroit Lions are now 6-4 following a 27-24 victory over the Chicago Bears. Averaging less than 90 yards rushing per game, the burden has fallen on quarterback Matt Stafford’s shoulders. After signing the richest contract in league history, many questioned whether or not Stafford was worth the money. If the Lions can get anything from the run game and defense, Stafford could lead them to the playoffs.

The Bad

-The Oakland Raiders lost to the New England Patriots 33-8 in Mexico City. Considered preseason contenders, the Raiders are now 4-6 and look like a run of the mill team. They have talent on both sides of the ball, but haven’t been able to put it together this season. In two years, they’re leaving Oakland for Las Vegas. Making such a move, it would be nice to have a winning team. But because they play in the AFC West, they’re still alive.-Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota threw 4 interceptions Thursday night in a 40-17 throttling at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Time of possession, total yards, and penalty yards were all similar. If the Titans are to be taken seriously, Mariota can’t have games like that, even if it is on a short week.

-The Kansas City Chiefs started off this year 5-0 with two early contenders for MVP. Following Sunday, they’re 6-4 after losing 12-9 to the 1-8 (now 2-8) New York Giants. Chiefs coach Andy Reid’s teams have been very good coming off a bye week. This time, it seems as if his team has stayed cold losing 4 of the last 5.

The Ugly

-The Green Bay Packers were shut out by the Ravens 23-0. The Ravens forced 5 turnovers (3 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries) in the victory. The Packers are now 5-5 on the season and have their franchise quarterback due to return towards the end of the season. His return won’t be needed if they keep playing this way.

-The Buffalo Bills thought it would be a good idea to start rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman instead of veteran Tyrod Taylor. Peterman went on to throw 5 interceptions in the first half and the Bills went to Taylor to start the second half, but were already down 37-7.

- What the hell was Pete Carroll thinking?!? The Seattle Seahawks coach went for a fake field goal with 7 seconds left in the first half down by 7 on the Atlanta Falcons’ 21 yard line. Considering they were getting the ball back after halftime, that was a bad move. That same field goal was the one they needed at the end of the game as they lost 34-31.

As the playoff picture becomes clearer and the season enters the home stretch, things will continue to be looked at with more scrutiny. A play here or there could cost a team a playoff spot (looking right at you Pete Carroll).

In more serious news, former Patriots and Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terry Glenn died in a car crash on Monday. Former quarterback Drew Bledsoe called Glenn the best receiver he ever threw to. In a season filled with so many surprises and parity, this news hits hard as the season is in full swing. I watched Glenn from his days at Ohio State on through the balance of his NFL career. When I heard of his passing, I had to pull over. It’s hard watching a guy’s career from its infancy to its culmination, only to learn of his tragic passing following a car accident. We don’t know how much time in our lives we have until we punch the ultimate clock. Let’s try to spend it doing good and leaving this crazy world a better place.

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Houston now focused on postseason

Altuve and Correa homer, Astros drop final regular-season game

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With no playoff impact at stake if the Astros won or lost the game, Houston took Sunday's final regular-season game as a chance to get their lineup a few more at-bats before shifting focus to Tuesday's first game of the post-season. Here is a quick recap of the game against the Rangers:

Final Score: Rangers 8, Astros 4.

Record: 29-31, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Wes Benjamin (2-1, 4.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Chase De Jong (0-1, 14.73 ERA).

Houston's main bats get a final tune-up

Knowing they'd only have a couple of at-bats to work with, some of Houston's big bats took advantage, starting with Jose Altuve. He crushed a pitch in the top of the first, a solo homer to put the Astros in front 1-0. After the Rangers tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second, Altuve started the third with a walk before moving to third base on a Michael Brantley single, which improved Brantley's season average to .300.

Aledmys Diaz would pick up the RBI on a groundout to score Altuve, putting Houston back in front 2-1. In Correa's last at-bat in the top of the fourth, he extended the lead to 3-1 with a solo home run of his own.

Rangers hand Astros a loss to end the regular season

After getting the early run against Chase De Jong, the Rangers would put together a big inning against him in the fourth. After two one-out singles, Rougned Odor would give Texas their first lead of the day on a three-run homer to make it 4-3.

De Jong would continue to struggle in the inning, getting just one more out while loading the bases, prompting a move to the bullpen to bring in Nivaldo Rodriguez to try and eat up more innings. The Rangers greeted him with a two-RBI single to extend their lead to 6-3 before ending the fourth. Odor would hit his second home run of the game in the bottom of the fifth, a solo shot to make it a four-run lead at 7-3.

Rodriguez allowed another run in the bottom of the seventh, making it 8-3. Diaz, who drove in a run earlier, would account for another RBI in the top of the eighth, getting Houston's third solo homer of the day. That would make it an 8-4 game, which would go final as the Rangers would win the regular season's last game.

Up Next: Houston's first game of the playoffs will be on Tuesday, with the start time and opponent TBD while the rest of today's games wrap up, and the schedule is announced. Regardless, the Astros are expected to begin that best-of-three series with Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03 ERA).

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