Welcome to NFL Week 11

Despite another loss on the weekend the Tampa Buccaneers, and more specifically their cheerleaders,...

Despite another loss on the weekend the Tampa Buccaneers, and more specifically their cheerleaders, welcome readers to Week 11 in the NFL. (GETTY IMAGES)

Bill Lankhof, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:48 PM ET

Welcome to NFL Week 11:

STORY LINES

1. How low can the Eagles go? They have gone from being unable to beat the good teams to being unable to beat any team. Next up are the Giants and New England. Michael Vick now has broken ribs, receiver Jeremy Maclin has a bum shoulder. Meantime DeSean Jackson is so excited about the season he can’t even be bothered to wake up in time for team meetings. They’re 12th in the NFC, so, yeah, this is going to work. Jackson was benched Sunday. On Monday he told his teammates he was sorry for missing the game. This would be in contrast to Eagles fans who were sorry they didn’t miss the game.

2. Tim Tebow and the Broncos continue to confound the experts. No NFL player has ever been more villified, and at the same time venerated, before he’s even had a chance to prove whether he is worthy of either, than Tebow. With an offence that looks like something John Fox drew up with a stick in the sand in his backyard, the Broncos have a better record than the so-called Dream Team. Under Tebow, relying on a read offence, that takes advantage of his run ability, Denver has won three of four. Philly, eat your heart out.

3. So which Ravens’ team shows up this Sunday against Cincinnati? The one which has twice beaten the Steelers or the one which lost to Jacksonville and Seattle. When Marshawn Lynch two-stepped around Ray Lewis for a first down Sunday it was typical of the erratic results John Harbaugh’s team has managed. “He made like he was out there in the backyard playing against some of his cousins or something,” Seattle quarterback Tarvaris Jackson said, after Lynch left Lewis grasping at air to guarantee the Ravens were messing up someone’s lottery picks. Again. Not that we would know someone like that. Personally. But, we’ve heard ...

4. Less money. More plays. That’s the Albert Haynesworth story, at least for one week. Who knew this could happen? But Haynesworth, famous for his $100 million deal with Washington, and whom the Bucs are paying barely $1 million after plucking him off waivers, made an impact with five tackles and a blocked extra point. On one play, he slammed running back Arian Foster to the turf for a one-yard gain. Not everyone’s convinced of Haynesworth’s redemptive qualities: “Hello! He doesn’t like football,” ESPN analyst Herm Edwards said. “That’s the problem. You have to be available. He’s never available, and when he is available, his motor runs on idle.”

5. Detroit lost big-time to the Bears. “How we bounce back, in the long run, will be more important than what happened (Sunday),” said head coach Jim Schwartz. The Lions still control their destiny with a win over Carolina this week. It’s the one gimme on a schedule that includes a double date with Green Bay, and one-night stands with the Saints, Raiders and Chargers. “If you play long enough, you’re going to be on the opposite end of some big games,” receiver Nate Burleson said. “We’re 6-3. It’s not like we’re fighting to get to .500.” Patience, Nate, patience. Because with a schedule like this, it’s not like that couldn’t still happen.

SAY WHAT?

“I feel like I’m the best, and now I just have to prove it. I’m better than everybody. Everybody. Period. Point blank. I just haven’t had the recognition, man. I’m more versatile than everybody. Period. Point blank. I’m more versatile than everybody. Hands down. I can do it all.”

— Dolphins’ linebacker Karlos Dansby, bragging that he’s the best linebacker in the NFL, ahead of Ray Lewis and Brian Uhrlacher, after he intercepted a pass, knocked down two more, recorded one sack and 10 tackles Sunday,

STOCK RISING

Texans’ Arian Foster doesn’t get a lot of attention playing outside a major market but he had another big game in Houston’s 37-9 win over Tampa. Foster had 186 total yards and scored a pair of TDs. He had a 78-yard receiving TD and scored on a five-yard run in the third quarter. Combine that with the league’s top-ranked defence and the Texans could be laying in the weeds in the battle for the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

STOCK FALLING

Good thing the ink is dry on that new contract. Two weeks ago Ryan Fitzpatrick completed fewer than half his passes and had two picks against the Jets. This week was worse, with three picks and a passer rating of 46.6. Suddenly that 3-0 start seems such a long time ago. Fitzpatrick said: “It’s hard to even think ahead right now because of how embarrassing that loss was.” Guess $59 million doesn’t buy as much as it used to.

HYPE WE’RE BUYING

Until this weekend the San Francisco 49ers were winning in a bubble. Then they beat the Giants 27-20 Sunday. Suddenly that 8-1 record becomes legitimate. Not only did they beat the Giants, they did it with oft-maligned quarterback Alex Smith going to the air. He’s not Tom Brady but he’s limiting his mistakes. Combine that with a normally-dependent run game, and a ball-hawking defence led by free agent Carlos Rogers, who took away two Eli Manning passes, and San Francisco is looking like the real deal.

HYPE WE’RE NOT BUYING

The Tennessee Titans are on a roll. And Chris Johnson is ready to rumble. Yeah, right. Only in owner Bud Adams’ dreams. True, Johnson got untracked when rushing for 130 yards in a 30-3 win over Carolina. But, almost everybody beats up on Carolina’s defence. This is a team that sits 28th in run defence. So, hold that Tennessee Hillbilly Wine! The Titans still have a big climb to make the playoffs and Johnson still has to prove he can regularly hit some holes that don’t involve a golf club.

ON THE HOT SEAT

It’s a two-seater this week in the ol’ snit-house. Crowded. Move over Andy Reid. Have a seat Mike Smith. In Philadelphia, headlines are calling for Reid’s head. In Atlanta, they’re just wondering what’s in Smith’s head after he gambled on fourth and one at his 29-yard-line. AdvancedNFLStats.com found if the Falcons punted, they had a 42% chance of winning. If they converted the fourth down, they would have had a 57% chance of winning. Nice math. But it still doesn’t figure, because if they didn’t convert they had a 100% chance of losing. Evidently this is supposed to show Smith had a point. We agree. But if he keeps keeps his cap on, maybe nobody will notice.

DAN BILICKI’S FANTASY FOOTBALL MATCHUPS

DREAM MATCHUP

Dallas at Washington

In case you haven’t noticed, the Redskins are kind of imploding right now. They’ve lost five games in a row and looked very unconvincing in the past three.

The Cowboys are riding a hot streak into this rivalry game, having scored 44 points against the Bills without the services of No.1 receiver Miles Austin.

Thanks to DeMarco Murray, the Cowboys running game has greatly improved as well. The rookie has rushed for 601 yards in his four games as a starter,

NIGHTMARE TIME

Arizona at San Francisco

Just because the Cardinals looked surprisingly competent in beating the Eagles in Philadelphia, don’t get your hopes up too high.

Traveling to San Francisco should knock that confidence level right back down again. The Niners are allowing a league-low 14.8 points per game and 70.8 rushing yards per game.

San Fran may only be middle-of-the-road in defending the pass, but can you really count on John Skelton to reproduce the numbers he did this week, or for Kevin Kolb to come in cold for this tough game?

 

RANDALL THE HANDLE’S WEEKLY RANTS

1. It is such an obvious target but really, what’s with Mike Smith? Aside from horrible clock management throughout Atlanta’s loss to New Orleans, was an absurd decision in overtime. While it isn’t smart to go on 4th down from your own 30-yard line in sudden death, Atlanta’s coach decided to chance it. Making the first down assures you of nothing while missing it basically hands the game over to the Saints. Okay, fine. He’s going for it. But when you need one inch — literally, one inch—– and you have a 6’4” quarterback, you don’t start the play four yards deep in your backfield! Truly, how dumb can you be? All you need is one inch. QB sneak anyone?

 

2. The Ravens need to get a grip. Beating the Steelers is great but after defeating them last week and pouring Gatorade over their coach like they just won a playoff game, perhaps the jubilation of winning a mid-season regular season game shouldn’t have them forgetting that there is another game upcoming in seven days. That’s twice now. C’mon boys, smarten up.

 

3. Is Detroit’s QB Matthew Stafford some sort of egomaniac? Playing with a broken finger and then wearing a glove on his throwing hand to protect it, seems like a selfish act to us. Four interceptions later, two of them for pick-sixes, only substantiate our thoughts. Maybe it’s just us Matthew, but an able-handed Shaun Hill would have likely been a better option.

 

4. Mark Sanchez is still a boy in a man’s game. With the Jets having a 1st and goal at the Patriots’ 2-yard and the chance to take the lead into halftime, Sanchez calls a time-out with 1:24 remaining instead of bleeding the clock for another 20 seconds. The Jets do score on the next play but those precious seconds were the difference as the Patriots took the ball the length of the field and scored the go-ahead touchdown with just nine ticks left. Pay attention, little boy.

 


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