The Huddle: NFL Week 11

With five weeks left in the regular season, we break down the goings-on for Week 11.
With five weeks left in the regular season, we break down the goings-on for Week 11.

Week 11 of the NFL is in full swing, and this week our panel examines the week that was, the week that is, and the playoff picture as it takes shape on the gridiron.

With that, let’s get inside The Huddle!

Kickoff questions:

1. A lot of huge wins this week; which one was the most significant?

2. With the Lions taking first in the NFC North during a bye week, what are the weakest overall first-place teams at the moment?

3. Early picks for AFC & NFC conference playoffs (aka Final Four)?

J Arsenio D’Amato:

Houston is easily the weakest first-place team and easy first-round fodder for the AFC West wild card winner that draws the Texans.

Roger Morrissette:

The Ravens aren’t very good either. If we assume Pittsburgh gets its shit together and wins that division, then Houston is clearly the worst division leader.

And my my picks right now would be NE over Denver in the AFC, and Seattle over Dallas in the NFC, with the Pats beating Seattle in the Super Bowl.

Brian Bayless:

Seattle and Dallas had two huge road wins this week. I’d say Dallas, with a rookie QB going into Pittsburgh, was bigger though and it seems the Cowboys are the team to beat in the NFL.

I would say that Baltimore is the weakest division leader by a hair over Houston. I do not see either team winning in the playoffs though.

Right now, I would say Oakland and New England in the AFC and Dallas and Seattle in the NFC. From that, I’ll go old school with a Dallas/Oakland Super Bowl.

Dak Prescott (4) and the Cowboys won big at home over the Steelers this week and their sights set on bigger things to come.
Dak Prescott (4) and the Cowboys won big at home over the Steelers this week and their sights set on bigger things to come.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

We were treated to two of the best games of the season with Dallas/Pittsburgh and Seattle/New England. The latter involved some curious coaching decisions by two of the best. Pete Carroll electing to go for two with a seven-point lead — trying to stretch it to 9 — late in the game would have put New England away although they didn’t convert.

Coach Belichick played things a little to cute at the end close to the goal line, giving away a down to take some time of the clock. When you are down seven, you should just take care of business and tie the game.

JT Rozzero:

I think Philly holding off Atlanta was the biggest win of the week as the Eagles needed a nice marquee win after Carson Wentz had come back to earth. Also, their D is legit. Tough loss for Atlanta with a golden opportunity to take control of the South as everyone else lost.

Also thought the Titans win over the Packers was huge, but not sure if that tells us more about Tennessee or Green Bay. One thing for sure is that Marcus Mariota has figured it out, and the (Tennessee) coaching staff is building around him now instead of squeezing him into the system.

Baltimore is easily the weakest division leader. If Ben can get healthy (always an “if”) Pittsburgh should surpass the Ravens. Houston isn’t a world-beater, but I’ll take their run game and D over Baltimore’s any day.

Detroit could be set for a hot streak thanks to collapse of the Packers and Vikings, and especially with the way Stafford has been playing. That said, it would behoove the Lions to bury Green Bay, because regardless of how much they have struggled, you don’t want to see Rodgers come playoff time.

Can Matt Stafford lead the 5-4 Lions to a Thanksgiving win over the Packers and onward to a division title?
Can Matt Stafford lead the 5-4 Lions to a Thanksgiving win over the Packers and onward to a division title?

JT Rozzero:

At this point it is hard not to say New England versus Oakland or Seattle versus Dallas, but you have to figure one of those teams gets knocked off somewhere.

I’ll say Philly upsets the Cowboys and battles Seattle in the AFC championship game.

Also, thoughts on Thomas Rawls returning and being well enough for Seattle to dump Christine Michael? And who will sign him? Packers?

J Arsenio D’Amato:

C.J. Prosise’s emergence led to Seattle dropping Michael. Prosise was very effective receiving the ball out of the backfield and he will be a major part of Seattle’s drive towards the postseason. The Seahawks’ offense, led by Russell Wilson, looked dynamic against the Pats.

Brian Bayless:

Michael is truly a preseason warrior. He always gets cut and, for whatever reason, cannot get the job done when it matters.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

G.B. grabbed Michael.

JT Rozzero:

Not a shock at all.

Roger Morrissette:

I think Prosise slides into the third-down running back role pretty quickly. Word is that Rawls is ready to roll. I think Prosise is better suited to a pass-catching role. His success running between the tackles was more a product of the Patriots’ putrid defensive performance than anything else.

JT Rozzero:

Makes sense. No way they hand Prosise the main gig so quickly; so if they cut Michael it has to mean Rawls is taking over the top running-back slot in the next week or so.

You guys think the Vikings can get back to winning against the Cardinals? And who do we like in the big Philly/Seattle game? Seattle has had a pretty interesting schedule.

Also does Ben get right against Cleveland?

Despite a solid showing against Dallas, our guys are still not sold on Big Ben's return.
Despite a solid showing against Dallas, our guys are still not sold on Big Ben’s return.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

Seattle is rolling as the offense is finding its groove. The Seahawks carry their momentum over Philly.

Minnesota’s offensive line is deteriorating and Sam Bradford has a knack for tossing that soul-crushing interception at the most inopportune time. With that, the Vikings are due for a win as Arizona has lost its mojo and has reverted back to a soft touch.

Cleveland is going to win one of these weeks, right? Coach Tomlin has kept the Browns from long losing streaks during his tenure. The weakness and overall poor play of the entire division makes any predictions dicey.

Brian Bayless:

I like Seattle over Philly, and Minnesota has problems along the offensive line and at running back, so I think Arizona will take that one. Roethlisberger should be able to throw against Cleveland all game long.

Roger Morrissette:

Man, if Cleveland beats the Steelers… What a disaster that would be! I can’t see it happening. It is tough not to like the Seahawks at home, but the Eagles will play tough. The two teams are very similar, really. Philly is good against the run, and will be a test for Seattle’s shaky line, but that is a brutal place to play.

I like Minnesota at home for no other reason than Palmer’s fallen off a cliff. I think these are two bad teams, frankly.

Green Bay at Washington is a big game. A loss and you can almost stick a fork in the Pack.

Also, Buffalo at Cincy is a loser-goes-home type of game. New Orleans at Carolina (Thursday) is the same type of deal. All three of these games intrigue me more than Arizona/Minnesota.

I like Green Bay and Carolina to hold serve and stay alive. I think the Bills take Cincy out and you may finally see the end of the Marvin Lewis era.

Enjoy the games this week, Place to Be Nation! Next week, we hit the gridiron a bit earlier in advance of Thanksgiving. Until then, see you in The Huddle!

Author: Joel Barnhart

A big-time baseball nerd, Joel is currently teaching English as a Second Language in San Antonio, Texas. In addition to his MLB passion, he enjoys good whiskey, good music, good movies, and good friends. He is currently engaged in an ongoing 12-year online debate over the merits of bubble wrap.