Week 11 NFL takeaways – Big stories from important Ravens, Colts and Vikings wins

The Ravens made a massive statement in the AFC with a blowout win over the Texans. The Saints and Cowboys got back on track, the Colts got a big victory in the AFC South and the Vikings came back from a 20-point deficit to beat the Broncos. The Niners pulled off a comeback in the afternoon, and the Patriots held off the Eagles.

All that and more in Week 11’s biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.

Jump to a matchup:
CHI-LAR | HOU-BAL | NO-TB | DAL-DET
DEN-MIN | JAX-IND | ATL-CAR
NYJ-WSH | BUF-MIA | ARI-SF
NE-PHI | CIN-OAK | PIT-CLE

The Rams kept their playoff hopes alive Sunday night. With an inexperienced offensive line, and without starting receivers Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods, the game plan revolved around Todd Gurley II, who had his most productive game of the season with 133 all purpose yards. The Rams will face a greater challenge in Week 12, when they play host to the surging Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football. — Lindsey Thiry

Next game: vs. Baltimore Ravens (8:15 p.m. ET, Nov. 25)

The Bears might have to turn to backup Chase Daniel next week versus the Giants. Starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky suffered a right hip injury near the end of the second quarter of Sunday night’s 17-7 loss to the Rams. The injury got progressively worse as the game wore on until head coach Matt Nagy had to pull Trubisky with just a couple minutes left in the fourth quarter. Trubisky, who was already playing with a shoulder injury, was downtrodden after the game when asked about his availability in the coming weeks. “It’s definitely tough,” Trubisky said. “You just want to be out there with your team. But if you’re not a hundred percent, you can’t help the team. I’m not doing the team any favors if I’m not able to run around or throw the ball with accuracy, because I’m throwing all-arm.”— Jeff Dickerson

Next game: vs. New York Giants (1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday)


The Ravens look like the NFL’s scariest team after Lamar Jackson delivered another MVP-type performance with four touchdown passes. What really should catch the league’s attention is the statement delivered by the Baltimore defense. The Ravens recorded a season-high six sacks and forced two turnovers in holding the Texans scoreless for 3½ quarters. In a span of four weeks, Baltimore has beaten Seattle, New England and Houston by an average of 21.6 points. — Jamison Hensley

Next game: at L.A. Rams (8:15 p.m. ET, Nov. 25)

The Texans have a long way to go before they can be considered one of the top teams in the AFC. Quarterback Deshaun Watson did not play like an MVP candidate, and the defense showed how much it misses defensive end J.J. Watt. Houston has a short week to respond, as they host the Colts on Thursday night. The winner of that game will be in first place in the AFC South. — Sarah Barshop

Next game: vs. Indianapolis (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday)


So much for the idea that New Orleans would be in trouble without No. 1 cornerback Marshon Lattimore. The Saints (8-2) reestablished their dominance in the NFC South by snagging four interceptions from Jameis Winston in Sunday’s victory. It was the kind of emphatic win they needed after last week’s inexplicable flop at home against Atlanta. And now they have the chance to widen their division lead even more over second-place Carolina (5-5) next week at home. — Mike Triplett

Next game: vs. Carolina (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

A week after the Buccaneers finally learned how to close out a game, they forgot how to start one, falling behind 20-0 in the second quarter before losing 34-17. The Saints smothered Winston, resulting in four interceptions and a fumble (which the Bucs recovered). The Saints doubled up on Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. They dominated the line of scrimmage in the run game, resulting in negative yardage for Ronald Jones II. And they capitalized on the Bucs’ double coverage of Michael Thomas, allowing Alvin Kamara to run free. The Bucs now face the upstart Falcons, who won their second consecutive game and share last place in the division with Tampa Bay at 3-7. — Jenna Laine

Next game: at Atlanta (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


It wasn’t pretty, but the Cowboys left Detroit with a win, which is all that matters. The defense knows it has a lot to clean up after allowing too many big plays. The offensive line knows it has to find way to get the running game going. But at 6-4, the Cowboys also know they are still in first place in the NFC East as they continue to monitor what Philadelphia does. “Needed a win, needed a win on the road, needed a win outside the division,” right guard Zack Martin said. “It’s big for us. Got a tough one going to New England next week, and this was, as much as you don’t want to say, it was kind of a must-win for us.” — Todd Archer

Next game: at New England (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

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Cowboys QB Dak Prescott has an impressive game, with three touchdown passes and 444 passing yards in the Cowboys’ 35-27 win over the Lions.

The Lions’ defense is broken, and there are no answers in sight. Dallas’ Dak Prescott took the defense apart for close to 400 yards. Lions linebacker Devon Kennard said he knows he “sounds like a broken record” when he is talking about what ails the defense. The reality is it’s combination of players and scheme, which has led to the consistent failings, a 3-6-1 record and last place in the NFC North. — Michael Rothstein

Next game: at Washington (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


The Vikings pulled out a come-from-behind victory and head into the bye week 8-3. The type of resiliency and scheme adjustments it took to overcome a 20-point halftime deficit should be applauded, but the fact Minnesota was down 20 points is concerning. The Vikings’ past two wins have come down to the final play. And had it not been for some questionable late-game coaching decisions by opponents, Minnesota might not have been given those windows in the first place. It took way too long for the offense to incorporate play-action on Sunday, and the Vikings made some baffling decisions in the first half (such as running on second-and-20 while down 17 points). And a slew of boneheaded penalties leave a sour taste from this victory. Still, the Vikings are in prime position headed into a critical NFC showdown in Seattle in two weeks and remain very much in the playoff picture. — Courtney Cronin

Next game: at Seattle (8:15 p.m. ET, Dec. 2)

The Broncos can’t stop blowing games late. Before Sunday’s defeat at Minnesota, the Broncos already had lost three games this season on field goals in the final 22 seconds — and two of those were made on the game’s last play. This time, they let a 20-0 halftime advantage get away, the third time in franchise history they did not win a game that they led at the half by at least 20 points. The Broncos have three road games in the next four weeks and still have games against playoff hopefuls — Buffalo, Kansas City, Houston and Oakland — on the docket. Some serious ugliness awaits if they cannot keep their edge despite all of the disappointments. — Jeff Legwold

Next game: at Bills (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


The Colts had their best rushing performance in nearly 15 years, running for 264 yards against Jacksonville. Running backs Marlon Mack, who left the game in third quarter with a hand injury, and Jonathan Williams were the dominant performers for Indianapolis. Mack rushed for 109 yards on 14 carries, and Williams had a career-high 116 yards on 13 rushes. The 264 yards rushing as a team were the most for the Colts since they ran for 275 yards against Chicago on Nov. 21, 2004. Mack and Williams are the first two Indianapolis players to rush for at least 100 yards in the same game since Randy McMillan and Albert Bentley did so in 1985. — Mike Wells

Next game: at Houston (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday)

The Jaguars’ playoff chances took a big hit Sunday. The Jaguars couldn’t stop Indianapolis’ ground game, as the Colts averaged 7.3 yards per carry. The Colts didn’t do anything fancy, either: They lined up and manhandled the Jaguars’ defensive front. Figuring out how to stop the run this week against Tennessee is critical and a must if the four-win Jaguars are to salvage any hope of getting a playoff spot. — Mike DiRocco

Next game: at Tennessee (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)


The Falcons’ defense looks like a totally different unit from the one that struggled through most of the season’s first half. And it has sparked a dramatic turnaround, resulting in a two-game win streak and 2-0 start in the NFC South. The defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown since the end of the second quarter against Seattle (Week 8), keeping both New Orleans and Carolina out of the end zone. In the past three games, the Falcons have recorded 13 sacks, 25 quarterback hits and four interceptions. “If we keep playing the way we are as a defense, offense and special teams put together, that’s the team we believe we can be,” free safety Ricardo Allen said. “I know we’ve got something we can do. I know who we have. We just have to put it out there and not talk about it.” — Vaughn McClure

Next game: vs. Tampa Bay (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

You can’t put all the blame on Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen for Sunday’s embarrassment. He had a lot of help from an offensive line that didn’t give him time to throw. But his four interceptions against the Falcons and eight in the past four games are alarming. Carolina (5-5) has no chance to make the playoffs if this trend continues. Sunday’s loss might have been the beginning of the end of Carolina’s playoff hopes. “I understand that I can’t make these same mistakes because it ends up with us losing the game,” Allen said. — David Newton

Next game: at New Orleans (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


The Jets beat a bad team for the second consecutive week, but they did it in convincing fashion. The big story was quarterback Sam Darnold and the offense, which has scored eight touchdowns in the past two games after registering eight in the first eight games. Darnold has regained his confidence, and that should be worth at least two or three more wins down the stretch. — Rich Cimini

Next game: vs. Oakland (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

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Sam Darnold throws four touchdown passes and picks up 293 passing yards in the Jets’ 34-17 win over the Redskins.

The Redskins have a long way to go to reach respectability. Losing by 17 to the Jets at home — after a bye — is inexcusable. They’re going to suffer growing pains with rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins, but don’t confuse that with blaming him for the loss. He isn’t good enough to carry an offense that needs carrying. And the defense continues to make the same mistakes that has plagued it for more than half a decade. It’s maddening to watch for a fan base that long ago had it so much better. But this is where the Redskins are: 1-9 with no hope for the immediate future. — John Keim

Next game: vs. Detroit (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


Josh Allen was at his absolute best against the Dolphins on Sunday. He accounted for four touchdowns and more than 300 yards of offense. It was a much-needed performance in a “get right” game before the Bills’ most difficult stretch of the season. With an AFC wild-card spot on the line, Buffalo will play Denver in Week 12, before facing Dallas, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and New England in consecutive weeks — although the team isn’t looking at any game as more important than the others. “I would say every game is a must-win, whether it’s a conference game or not,” left tackle Dion Dawkins said. “Every Sunday needs to be a W.” — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Next game: vs. Denver (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Riding a two-game win streak, the Dolphins took a step back defensively. It was a sign some of their issues won’t truly be solved until they add more talent and experience to that group. It doesn’t erase some of their recent progress, but it does put it in perspective heading into Cleveland next week. — Cameron Wolfe

Next game: at Cleveland (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


The 49ers have found myriad ways to win this season. But they have also found themselves in a rut recently in some areas that powered their 8-0 start. The run game has struggled without tight end George Kittle, the defense has been vulnerable to quick passing and mobile quarterbacks, and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has a habit of coughing up a costly turnover or two every week. With Green Bay, Baltimore and New Orleans next on the schedule, the 49ers (9-1) will need to clean that up if they want to come out on the other side still in charge of the NFC playoff picture. — Nick Wagoner

Next game: vs. Green Bay (8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday)

This was not the type of game the Cardinals wanted leading into their bye week. They blew a 16-point lead, and then lost with 31 seconds left after retaking the lead. And now they’ll have to stew in the frustration of losing their fourth straight game until Dec. 1. Quarterback Kyler Murray was visibly emotional after the game in a way he’s never shown before. The remaining schedule doesn’t get any easier with the Rams twice, Steelers, Browns and Seahawks. The Cardinals will either turn their frustration into wins or continue on to win as many games as they did last season. — Josh Weinfuss

Next game: vs. L.A. Rams (4:05 p.m. ET, Dec. 1)


Tom Brady didn’t look like himself, and neither did the Patriots’ offense. What will get Brady and the offense back on track? With the Cowboys coming to town on Sunday, that is arguably the biggest question facing the team. Coach Bill Belichick had made the point that with some players returning to action this week (receiver N’Keal Harry and tight end Matt LaCosse), more reinforcements expected next week (left tackle Isaiah Wynn) and the continued integration of recently added players (tight end Ben Watson and receiver Mohamed Sanu), it’s a developing picture. — Mike Reiss

Next game: vs. Dallas (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

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The Patriots get creative by having Julian Edelman throw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Phillip Dorsett.

Carson Wentz is going to have to play transcendent football if the Eagles are to overcome injuries on offense and make a playoff push. That was not the case in the Eagles’ loss to the Patriots Sunday, as Wentz finished 20-of-39 for 214 yards and a touchdown. It falls on Wentz to thrive amid the adversity and make everyone around him better, as other top-end quarterbacks — such as his counterpart Sunday (Brady) — have done over their careers. That might be a tall order, or even unfair, but these are the moments franchise quarterbacks have to find a way to get it done. — Tim McManus

Next game: vs. Seattle (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


It wasn’t pretty, and it was harder than it probably should have been against a winless team, but the Raiders kept their improbable playoff drive on schedule. “There’s an old saying around here: Just win, baby,” said coach Jon Gruden. The victory over the Bengals closed out a 3-0 homestand for Oakland, which improved to 6-4. And with a game at the Jets (3-7) next week, the Raiders remain on pace to face the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Dec. 1 with first place in the AFC West on the line. — Paul Gutierrez

Next game: at N.Y. Jets (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Finding Cincinnati’s next franchise quarterback sounds easy compared to the task facing the winless Bengals after Sunday’s loss to the Raiders. The successor to veteran Andy Dalton likely will be rookie Ryan Finley or whomever the Bengals take early in the first round of the 2020 draft. Finding solutions for the rest of the passing attack, however, may not be so simple. Oakland tallied five sacks against Cincinnati’s struggling offensive line, and the receivers averaged only 1.4 yards of space per target, one of the lowest registered by any group of wideouts this season, per NFL Next Gen Stats. On a day when the offense was all but swallowed whole in its last visit to Oakland’s “Black Hole,” the Bengals showed they need more than a young quarterback to fix an ailing passing attack. — Ben Baby

Next game: vs. Pittsburgh (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


The Browns won one of their biggest games in years, and nobody will be talking about it. Instead, all focus will be on defensive end Myles Garrett, who inexplicably ripped the helmet off Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph and slugged him in the head with it in the final seconds of Thursday’s win. Garrett is suspended indefinitely and will miss at least the remainder of the 2019 season. It was a black mark on the Browns organization, who come off dysfunctional even in a win. — Jake Trotter

Next game: vs. Miami (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Before the end-of-game melee, the story was the Steelers’ woeful offense. Pittsburgh’s top three offensive threats — James Conner, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson — went out because of injures over the course of the game. Pittsburgh averaged 3.7 yards per play, and Rudolph threw four picks to one touchdown. “At this point, we were just not good enough,” guard Ramon Foster said. “We had just not been supporting our defense. As a whole, we just have to be better. Everyone is going to say whatever they want about us, but we are sticking together and making it happen. … This is probably as humbling as it can be on a marquee-type game. Very humbling.” — Brooke Pryor

Next game: at Cincinnati (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

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Author: ESPN