Welcome to the Week 11 edition of the Sunday FreakOut, where we react and overreact to everything that happened in the Sunday afternoon games. For the full Sunday roundup podcast-style, be sure to subscribe to The MMQB Podcast, in your feed every Monday morning...
Things That Made Me Giddy
Chiefs Never Let Dallas Get Close: Folks will be upset that they didn’t score 40 points, but the Chiefs took a two-possession lead in the game’s first eight minutes and the defense never took the field with less than a two-possession advantage after that. They defended a one-possession lead for a total of three plays on Sunday. That is the definition of a comfortable win.
The Ravens Find a Way Forever: I’m not sure how good they truly are (and they’re certainly much, much worse without Lamar Jackson), but it doesn’t really seem to matter. Without Jackson they hung around on Sunday despite giving up two long touchdowns to fall behind a Bears team that isn't very good. Then they got a 71-yard, final-minute touchdown drive—their only touchdown of the game—from Tyler Huntley to win it.
Vikings Empower Their Receivers: It can be a frustrating offense to watch at times, but against the Packers they had a major edge with Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen working against the Green Bay’s shorthanded group of cornerbacks. Kirk Cousins targeted that tandem 20 times, resulting in 16 catches, 251 yards and three touchdowns in a shootout win.
Jonathan Taylor’s Nose for the End Zone: Indy’s biggest problem early in the season was an inability to put the ball into the end zone—they left an unfathomable number of points on the field despite profiling as a team that should dominate in the red zone. Taylor finished five drives in the end zone in Buffalo. Never let them tell you that scoring touchdowns isn't a skill.
Colt McCoy Is the Mayor of Seattle: That’s now three games and three wins against the Seahawks, starting for three different teams (Cleveland, N.Y. Giants and Arizona). And two of those wins came as a spot starter the past two seasons.
Vance Joseph Gives Russell Wilson Fits Again: Wilson had one of the worst stretches of his career in an overtime loss to the Cardinals last season, so overwhelmed by Joseph’s defense that in the rematch the Seahawks scrapped “Let Russ Cook” and retreated into a run-heavy shell. In the teams’ first matchup of this season, Wilson was uncomfortable throughout, making a couple of second reaction plays but repeatedly missing open reads and overthrowing open receivers.
The Bengals Bounce Back Their Way: It’s a team that, along with the flash of Burrow-to-Chase, was really out-physical-ing opponents early in the year, with a quietly dominant run game and a defense that rarely missed tackles. Sunday in Vegas, it looked a lot more like that team than the one that, say, was responsible for the thousand missed tackles that launched Mike White-mania.
Jalen Hurts Has Answers: And kudos to Nick Sirianni for putting together a gameplan that emphasizes not only his legs but his ability late in the down as a passer the past few weeks. (Similarly, credit Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon for getting aggressive with third-down blitzes and clearly catching Sean Payton by surprise on Sunday.) Philly has won three of four, are firmly in the NFC wild-card hunt, and probably had their franchise quarterback staring them in the face the whole time during a months-long flirtation with Deshaun Watson.
Taylor “The Taxpayer” Heinicke Makes Plays: All eyes were on Cam Newton, but it was the other ex- (and not current) Panthers QB who made the difference on Sunday. Washington’s offense is a bit uneven, but Heinicke was there to deliver a handful of second reaction plays that ended up fueling an upset win. There will be no IRS lien as long as The Taxpayer is working in Washington.
Also, Terry McLaurin: Who continues to be borderline unguardable.
49ers’ Opening Drives: On Monday night, their first possession against the Rams took up 11:03. Against the Jaguars on Sunday, the game’s opening drive took up an absurd 13:05. They settled for a Robbie Gould field goal but shortened a game that was thankfully done in two hours, 45 minutes.
Reasonably Sized Play Slay: The Eagles’ top corner took a turnover back for six for a second straight week, this one a telegraphed ball from Trevor Siemian at the end of the first half.
Andy Dalton In Relief: It wasn’t particularly good, at least not until his (at the time, seemingly) game-winning throw. He made an adjustment at the line, knowing he’d be getting blasted by a blitzer, but stood in to throw a moon ball that connected with Marquise Goodwin on the back of a double move.
Aaron Rodgers Foot Pop!: Read about it here.
David Culley Clinches Coach of the Year Honors: By winning multiple games with this Texans roster.
That Red-Hot Packers D: Truthfully, Sunday was probably a little more in line with what we should expect from a unit missing Jaire Alexander, Za’Darius Smith and Rashan Gary. The pass rush made some noise (and in one tough break, a hit to Kirk Cousins’s helmet after the release erased an interception and the Vikings scored soon after). But Green Bay’s corners could absolutely not match up with Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen.
This Browns Passing Offense: Granted, no Donovan Peoples-Jones in this one so the receiving corps was especially short-handed, but they were 0-for-5 on third-and-4+ in the second half and failed to put a point on the board. That is how Tim Boyle and the Funky Bunch hung around in Cleveland.
Russell Wilson Looks Lost: It’s a two-game sample size, but Wilson isn’t seeing the field and is leaving plays out there. The Seahawks have scored one touchdown in two games since he returned. Losing Wilson for a few weeks was obviously a blow, but the Seahawks are 2–5 with him this season.
Buffalo Against Power Backs: They let one slip away against Derrick Henry and the Titans earlier this season, and against Jonathan Taylor and the Colts their defense never stood a chance. Despite the wind and rain, the Colts punted just once on Sunday and dominated the trenches.
Tennessee’s Offense Sans Derrick Henry: You might not have noticed the past two weeks because, between their defense and some sloppy opponents, Tennessee got wins. But the performance matched the result against Houston on Sunday, as the Titans once again looked like a bottom-of-the-league offense without Henry (and without Julio Jones and, for the second half, A.J. Brown). They accumulated some garbage stats while playing from behind but turned it over five times in the loss.
Ravens’ D Gives Up More Big Plays: These were not necessarily coverage busts like we’ve seen from this secondary, but they failed to get Darnell Mooney on the ground in what turned into a 60-yard catch-and-run, and the blitz didn’t get home on Marquise Goodwin’s fourth-down, 49-yard, go-ahead TD toward the end of the game, leaving Chris Westry susceptible to the double move.
Jamal Adams Singled Up on Anyone on the Biggest Play of the Game: The Seahawks needed to hold the Cardinals to a field goal and were almost there on third-and-goal from the 4. However, Adams ended up exposed against Zach Ertz, a hopeless matchup that was an automatic conversion for Arizona. It was just a matter of whether it would be a touchdown catch or pass interference (it was the latter, and James Conner scored one play later).
Raiders Offense Stuck in the Mud Again: It’s a three-game losing streak for the Raiders, and as the season slips away the offensive performances are getting increasingly ugly.
Dolphins Beat Jets in Homage to the XFL: Joe Flacco on one side, Miami’s three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust passing game on the other, missed field goals… this game had it all. Or, specifically, it had those three things.
The Bears Find a Way for a Second Straight Game: Sure, no Khalil Mack, but for the second straight game the Chicago defense had to get off the field against a limping opponent in order to clinch a win. On Sunday, it was Tyler Huntley carving up Soldier Field, going 72 yards on five plays over 71 seconds for the Ravens’ only touchdown of the game, the winner.
What We’ll Be Talking About This Week
What of the Cowboys?: I promise, there really isn’t much to take away from their performance in Kansas City on Sunday, not that it will stop anyone from doing so. The defense held on, and the offense moved the ball at times despite missing Amari Cooper for the entire game and CeeDee Lamb for the second half. They needed to make a play and it never came.
Patriots Lead the AFC East: And the Bills and Patriots will go head-to-head twice in December.
This Feels Like the End in Seattle: Lots of season left and nine wins could get you a wild-card spot in the NFC. Also, Vance Joseph’s defense has given Russell Wilson fits even when things were going well for the quarterback. But the Seahawks are 2–5 with Wilson under center, 3–7 overall on the season, and now 1–5 against NFC opponents. Considering the state of the defense, it feels like they’re closer to having to raze the roster than making a Super Bowl run.
The Colts Will Regret Everything That Happened in September and October: Because this is one of the five best teams in the AFC, they just gave away too many plays (which in turn led to giving away too many games) early in the season.
Nothing Lasts Forever, Even Cold November Rain: Hopefully Mike Vrabel remembers those wise words from the poet Axe L. Rowes.
• Question or comment? Email us.