NFL Football 2013: 5 Things We Learned From Week 11 (and a Few More)
Before we get into the top 5 things that we learned over the weekend, let me add a couple of quickies that won’t surprise anybody: The Houston Texans are going from bad to worse (why would you pull Case Keenum and replace him with Matt Shaub?), Denver is the best team in football right now, and the Pittsburgh Steelers throwback uniforms are by far the ugliest ever seen. In fact, I think of them as throw up uniforms. Now, onto the other 5 things we learned over the weekend. The NFL has no more undefeated teams, and several past champions aren’t giving up on this season. Here are five things we learned in Week 11:
Bears Fans Are Resilient
NFL games normally continue in any weather, but Sunday’s Bears-Ravens game at Chicago was delayed due to a tornado warning. Fans were evacuated into the concourses of Soldier Field until the worst of the storm passed, but they returned after two hours — and many tense moments — to watch their team. Chicago won, 23-20, in overtime to pull back into a tie with Detroit on top of the NFC North. The Bears (6-4) got 216 yards passing from Josh McCown, including a 43-yard completion to Martellus Bennett which helped set up Robbie Gould’s 38-yard, game-winning field goal that beat Baltimore (4-6).
The Giants Are Back in the Playoff Hunt
Like Jason Voorhees in the ‘Friday The 13th’ films, the New York Giants (4-6) refused to be felled by a six-game losing streak to start the season. Sunday’s 27-13 win over Green Bay (5-5) gave the Giants a four-game win streak and allowed them to remain alive in the NFC playoff hunt. Eli Manning and Co. still have very little margin for error if they hope to get to the post-season, but if their two most recent Super Bowl runs have proven anything, it’s that the team is never truly “dead” until it has been eliminated.
The 49ers Don’t Have Good Luck in the Superdome
After losing the Super Bowl to the Ravens at the Superdome in February, San Francisco (6-4) probably didn’t have fond memories of New Orleans going into Sunday’s game against the Saints. Nothing has changed. A roughing-the-passer call on an Ahmad Brooks’ hit on Drew Brees allowed New Orleans (8-2) to avoid a costly turnover, and the Saints rallied to a 23-20 win on Garrett Hartley’s 31-yard field goal on the game’s final play. Both of these teams may meet again in the NFC playoffs. Unfortunately for head coach Jim Harbaugh and the Niners, that could mean another trip to the Big Easy, though they probably have other names they use for the city.
Big Ben Can Still Take a Toll on a Defense
Ben Roethlisberger passed for 367 yards and four touchdowns, including a pair of scores in the final five minutes of the game, as Pittsburgh beat Detroit, 37-27. The Lions (6-4) were only able to sack Roethlisberger once, which allowed the Steelers’ veteran to pick apart the defense for most of the contest. Pittsburgh (4-6) may have only the slightest of chances to sneak into an AFC playoff spot, but the team still has a franchise quarterback — with two Super Bowl rings — who is the envy of many NFL teams (unlike those unsightly, striped throwback uniforms the team wore on Sunday).
The Chiefs Will Not Go Undefeated
Peyton Manning threw for 323 yards and a touchdown —and he was not sacked by the vaunted Chiefs’ pass rush — as Denver handed Kansas City its first loss of the season, 27-17, on Sunday night. The Chiefs (9-1) lost their first game in the Andy Reid era, but other than chop blocking Manning himself, there was little the rotund KC head coach could do to stop the Broncos’ offense. Reid will have a chance to avenge the defeat in two weeks when Denver (9-1) comes to Arrowhead Stadium. More than one pundit would confess to believing the teams will meet a third time in late January.