Jump to content

NFL Week 11 storylines to watch: Can C.J. Stroud stay hot? How do Bills, Panthers fare?


Recommended Posts

The NFL stakes continue to rise as November nears its end.

Week 11 features a little bit of everything: must-win scenarios, hot-streak squads and rivalries renewed. It also includes seven divisional battles and a potentially epic Monday night showdown between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles.

Here’s a rundown of five compelling storylines around the league this week. (Find the NFL Week 11 schedule here.)

1. Tensions rising for BillsPanthers, others

The Buffalo Bills were supposed to be Super Bowl contenders, but instead, they’re 5-5 after dropping two straight and three of their last four — two of which (against the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos) they had no business losing. Pressure has reached a boiling point. Josh Allen has gone from elite young gun to turnover machine. Offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey got fired. And top receiver Stefon Diggs has to be miserable (no matter how much he tried to distance himself from brother Trevon Diggs’ comments directed at Allen on Twitter/X). The Bills wouldn’t even make the playoffs if they began this week.

That’s why they have to win Sunday’s rematch with the New York Jets (4-5), who stunned their division rivals in the season opener. If not, there’s no telling what might happen in Buffalo next. And the Bills aren’t alone in their desperation.

Add Carolina’s Frank Reich to the list of coaches on the hot seat. With the Panthers now 1-8 and showing no signs of improvement, David Tepper’s patience is apparently wearing thin already, and Reich isn’t a lock to see Year 2. In a desperation move, Reich took back play-calling duties from offensive coordinator Thomas Brown just three weeks after giving the role to Brown in hopes the change could spark improvement. But the Panthers are largely talent-deficient and play calling isn’t going to fix everything. Beating the 6-3 Dallas Cowboys at home on Sunday would be a huge accomplishment.

Elsewhere, the Los Angeles Chargers (4-5) visit the Green Bay Packers (3-6) at Lambeau Field, where both teams badly need victories. Ron Rivera and the Washington Commanders (4-6) must avenge a previous loss to the lowly New York Giants (2-8) to avoid disaster. And the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5) have a tall task trying to upset the San Francisco 49ers (6-3) — but badly need a victory to remain within reach of the idle New Orleans Saints (5-5), who top the NFC South.

2. Vikings, Broncos momentum shifts

The Minnesota Vikings and Denver Broncos opened the season in sorely disappointing fashion, but they both just might have turned the tide. The 6-4 Vikings have won a league-leading five straight, the last two with Josh Dobbs running the show in place of Kirk Cousins. The 4-5 Broncos have won three straight, including Monday night over the Bills. This week, the Vikings and Broncos face each other in Denver.

Can Dobbs continue to shine and help the Vikings take another step toward their postseason aspirations? Has Sean Payton managed to resurrect Russell Wilson? The quarterback has gone three straight games without an interception and has thrown six touchdown passes during showdowns with Jordan LovePatrick Mahomes and Allen. Which team remains hot in the Mile High City? (Vikings at Broncos, 8:20 p.m. ET Sunday.)

3. Browns’ response with Deshaun Watson out

Just days after dealing the Baltimore Ravens a stunning loss, the Cleveland Browns suffered their own gutting blow: Quarterback Deshaun Watson was ruled out for the remainder of the season with a fracture in his throwing shoulder that will require surgery. Watson had endured an up-and-down season, but he always gave the Browns hope. Now they have no choice but to turn to rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson (who will start Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers) and journeyman P.J. Walker, who have combined to throw one touchdown pass and eight interceptions.

Cleveland will rely even more heavily on its fierce defense and punishing offensive line in hopes that those formidable units can keep the squad in contention in a hotly contested AFC North. The Steelers edged the Browns 26-22 in Week 2. Can Cleveland defy the odds? (Steelers at Browns, 1 p.m. ET Sunday.)

4. Kyler MurrayC.J. Stroud shootout?

Last week was a triumphant return for Kyler Murray, who gave the Arizona Cardinals their second win of the season in his first game back from a torn ACL suffered almost a year ago. Meanwhile, rookie C.J. Stroud continued to dazzle, leading the Houston Texans to a last-second victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

The two passers, who represent the future of the league, now face off Sunday in Houston. Murray completed 19 of 32 passes for 249 yards and an interception while also rushing for 33 yards and a touchdown last week. Stroud, who ranks second in the league with 2,626 passing yards, is red-hot: He’s passed for 356 and 470 yards in his last two outings. With another 350-yard performance, he can become the first rookie in league history to record four such games after also passing for 384 yards in Week 2. (Cardinals at Texans, 1 p.m. ET Sunday.)

5. Eagles-Chiefs Super Bowl rematch

Nine months after they exchanged blows with the Lombardi Trophy on the line, Mahomes and Jalen Hurts meet again. This time, the stage is set for Monday night in Kansas City. The Eagles lead the NFC and NFL as a whole with an 8-1 record. Meanwhile, at 7-2, the defending Super Bowl-champion Chiefs lead the AFC. Both teams should be rested coming off byes. But will the tables turn this time?

The Eagles just might be the most potent and well-rounded team in the league. The Chiefs remain formidable, but their offense isn’t as explosive as in the past (averaging 23.1 points per game versus 29.2 last year). Andy Reid and Mahomes are still waiting for a consistent complementary receiving threat to Travis Kelce to emerge. Do they have enough to remain a step ahead of Philadelphia’s dynamic defense and keep pace with Hurts, A.J. Brown and company? (Eagles at Chiefs, 8:15 p.m. ET Monday.)

“There he goes. One of God's own prototypes.

A high-powered mutant of some kind, never even considered for mass production.

Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...