By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y)
Week 11 is here, plenty of juicy matchups on this weeks slate including a Super Bowl rematch and an AFC West classic in Mexico.
San Francisco Fallen-9ers
The 49ers have now been defeated, ensuring that everyone that had betting tickets ona perfect season ended up in the bin. To make matters worse, they are starting to get pretty banged up on both sides of the ball. Ronald Blair now adds to the injury list that includes Kwon Alexander, George Kittle and Matt Breida. Injury is the biggest way to negate execution; you can have the fancied schemes and the most cleverest of play designs, but if you don’t have the right personnel to execute it, it may as well be a run up the gut.
Can the 49ers now successfully start to negotiate their toughest part of their schedule with players that aren’t their starters and a squad that has just had their confidence slightly knocked after tasting defeat.
We’ll find out when they face familiar foes, the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
Tank? What tank?
Don’t look now, but the Dolphins have the longest active win streak in the AFC East. Sounds impressive doesn’t it? It’s only 2 games though but even a win streak of that magnitude was seen as nothing more than a pipedream by the Miami Dolphins’ fans as we entered the season.
This week presents another winnable game as they welcome in division rivals, the Buffalo Bills.
Currently sitting with the #4 pick in the 2020 draft, a win for the Miami dolphins and other results panning out a certain way could see the dolphins pick nearer number 10 than number 1 which wasn’t the narrative coming in to the season.
SUBTRACTION BY DIVISION
A few divisional matchups this week sees potential playoff wildcard eliminators.
Thursday Night Football pits AFC North foes the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers togethr whilst the Colts and Jags do battle in the AFC South in Jacksonville.
The losers of these matches are likely not going to see January football due to what these matches mean for the head to head tiebreakers. For the neutrals and the viewers, it certainly does make for more interesting games with the stakes getting higher and higher as the weeks progress.
Fight for the AFC #2 seed
The game between Houston and Baltimore on Sunday could go a long way in deciding the potential number 2 seed in the AFC, with the potential of trying to catch the Patriots who face a tough game in Philadelphia in a Super Bowl rematch.
Houston are fresh off a bye after their win in London whilst the Baltimore Ravens are fresh off resting players in the 4th quarter against the Bengals. With 2 talented Quarterbacks, 2 questionable defences, this game has all the makings of a classic and a win for the Ravens coupled with a loss for the Patriots and the Ravens could see homefield advantage as a real possibility.
Talking of the Patriots, as previously mentioned, the Patriots travel to Philadelphia for a rematch of Super Bowl. Fresh still in the memory is the titanic 41-33 classic in 2018 that I am sure the broadcasters will have enough filler to pad out the stoppages in play.
That being said, this is a critical game for both teams.
New England need a win to help secure yet another first round bye in January whilst Philadelphia need to try and overtake the Cowboys in the NFC East where it’s looking likely that only the division winner plays football in the postseason.
And on top of all that, maybe we’ll also answer the age-old question…Would Wentz have beaten the Patriots in the Super Bowl?
yeARS FROM TEARS
What a difference a year makes.
This time last year the Rams were about to improve to 10-1 when beating the Chiefs in the 54-51 classic in LA and the Bears gained a win over the Vikings to get to 7-3.
Fast forward to this year and there is a real chance that perhaps both of these teams miss the playoffs. They are both shadows of their former self and it’s amazing the contrast in confidence and execution from these two teams. I’m not saying that these 2 head coaches are in danger of being booted out on Black Monday, but Sir Alex Ferguson certainly has a phrase for how at least one of them may be feeling.
You may call it a Super Bowl hangover for the Rams, but what’s the excuse for the Bears?
Nick Foles makes his return to the NFL field on Sunday for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Whether or not you feel that is the right decision based on your perception of Gardner Minshew’s efforts, Doug Marrone and the front office will certainly see the view that their $88m investment should have the right to first crack.
Foles returns from a broken collarbone suffered in against the Chiefs after leading them to a touchdown drive in the first quarter. It remains to be seen whether he can come back and pick up where he left off.
The Jaguars will hope so as it’s not out of the question that they can grab that #6 seed.
Stadio Asteca take 2
Rounding us off on Monday Night, Mexico gets another shot to host an NFL game.
Last year was the farce of the LA Rams and the Kansas City Chiefs where the Stadio Asteca was deemed not fit for purpose.
It was the Mexican natives that missed out on the game of the season with the Rams taking it 54-51.
No such worries this time (thus far) and hopefully this time around, the Chiefs and Chargers can put on a show for the international fans.
It’s just a shame that the billing may not live up to the hype…could be worse though, we got the Rams vs the Bengals.