Although there were four teams on bye during week eleven (SEA, MIA, TB, and JAX) there was no shortage of drama or entertainment in the NFL. Some of the league's best continued to separate themselves with outstanding performances, while others were hit with rough injuries. There was also plenty of off-the-field drama surrounding one young QB and several Running Backs in the league. Before week twelve kicksoff with a full slate of Thanksgiving football, let's take one more look at week eleven in the National Football League.
Top Game of the week:
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Two of the NFL’s best young Quarterbacks met on Sunday Night Football in Los Angeles as the Chargers hosted their divisional rival, the Kansas City Chiefs. Every time Mahomes and Herbert face–off there’s no shortage of excitement and explosiveness from either side. This matchup was no different. The game was a back-and-forth battle from the opening kickoff, while the first half featured just three combined punts from both sides. Kansas City opened the scoring with an eleven-play drive that ended in three points, but the Chargers fired back quickly when Herbert found Josh Palmer for a fifty-yard score on just the third play of their opening drive. The teams then traded field goals before Kansas City retook the lead on their first touchdown of the night when Mahomes connected with Travis Kelce from four yards out. After finishing the half with back-to-back scoring drives and forcing two Kansas City punts, the Chargers went into the break leading 20-13. The second half of this thrilling primetime game started slowly with only three points being scored in the third quarter when Harrison Butker put in a thirty-yard field goal for Andy Reid’s team. The action picked back up in the fourth quarter as Mahomes and Kelce linked up for their second score of the evening just ten seconds into the final period. Los Angeles was prepared to respond; until Keenan Allen fumbled the ball just outside of the RedZone and Kansas City’s Nick Bolton recovered, giving the ball back to Mahomes and the offense. The Chargers' defense stepped up big-time, however, knocking the ball out of the hands of Jerrick McKinnon just as the Chiefs crossed over into Charger territory. Brandon Staley’s defense jumped on the ball and recovered the fumble at their thirty-six-yard line with just under seven to play. Trailing 23-20, Justin Herbert led his team down the field in ten plays and ate up around five minutes of the clock (5:01). Herbert’s heroic drive included a massive third down conversion on third and eighteen when he found Keenan Allen deep into Kansas City territory for a gain of forty-six yards. The offense then began to slow down before scoring, in hopes of leaving as little time as possible for the Chiefs. Herbert found Josh Palmer for his second touchdown of the evening from six yards out to regain the lead, leaving under two minutes (1:46) for Patrick Mahomes to score a game-winning touchdown. But as usual, the opposing team left too much time for the Super Bowl MVP and he made them pay. It took just six plays for Eric Bieniemy’s unit to score the go-ahead touchdown. Mahomes went back to his favorite target, Travis Kelce, as the star Tight End evaded defenders and ran into the endzone from seventeen yards out for his third score of the night. Kansas City was back on top 30-27 with thirty-one seconds remaining. The Chiefs’ defense put the final nail in the coffin after intercepting Justin Herbert on the second play of the drive, delivering them the victory and pushing them to 8-2 on the year. With the victory Sunday night, the Chiefs now hold a three-game lead in the AFC West.
Jimmy Garoppolo QB, San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers’ offense has been elite this season, especially since the addition of Christian McCaffery. The story was no different on Monday night as Jimmy G and his barrage of playmakers took advantage of one of the weaker defenses in the NFL. Garoppolo picked the Cardinals apart. He completed twenty of his twenty-nine pass attempts for two-hundred and twenty-eight yards and tossed a new season-high four touchdown passes. It was arguably Garoppolo’s best performance of the season. The former second-rounder and the 49ers are starting to click at the right time as they’ve won three straight and are now tied with the Seahawks for first place in the NFC West.
DaVante Adams WR, Las Vegas Raiders
It’s been a tough season for the Raiders, but star Wide Receiver DaVante Adams has shined. Adams torched one of the best secondaries in the league this Sunday in Vegas’ overtime win over Denver. The All-Pro receiver showed why he deserves to be in the conversation as the league’s best wideout, regardless of his team’s record. Adams hauled in seven receptions for one-hundred and forty-one yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner in OT. Adams has put together outstanding performances in his last three outings, finishing with seven or more catches and over one hundred and twenty yards while combining for five touchdowns in this stretch. He also further put himself amongst the best receivers in league history, moving into fifth all-time for total seasons with ten or more receiving touchdowns, making 2022 his sixth season with ten scores (NFL Network).
Patrick Mahomes II (QB) and Travis Kelce (TE) Kansas City Chiefs
Mahomes and Kelce exhibited why they’re one of the best duos in the history of the NFL in an electric victory over the Chargers Sunday night. Mahomes starred while being heavily short-handed at receiver. With all the injuries he went to his go-to guy early and often Travis Kelce. The NFL’s best Tight End brought in six of Mahomes’ twenty completions totaling one hundred and fifteen yards. Mahomes finished with three hundred and twenty-nine yards on his twenty pass completions. Kelce also caught all three of Mahomes’ touchdown passes including the go-ahead score that helped deliver another win. Another dominant performance from Kansas City’s Tight End has many NFL fans debating on social media if he has surpassed Rob Gronkowski in the conversation for all-time players at the position.
Amari Cooper WR, Cleveland Browns
The odd conditions of the Bills vs. Browns matchup didn’t affect Amari Cooper. Cleveland’s top offseason acquisition had his way versus the Bills’ secondary, posting his first game of the season with multiple touchdowns. It was also Cooper’s first game on the road where he found the endzone. Despite the loss, Cooper finished with one hundred and thirteen yards and two touchdowns on eight receptions. Cooper currently has seven receiving touchdowns and is on pace to set a new career-high in a season as he needs just two more to hit the mark.
Najee Harris RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers’ 2021 first-round pick has had a rough season thus far, similar to the rest of Pittsburgh’s offense. However, Harris had his best performance of the season in a tough defeat this week versus the Bengals. Harris entered Sunday with just one rushing touchdown this year but was able to add two more to his total after finding the endzone twice against his AFC North rival. The Alabama product also turned in his second-highest yardage output, finishing with ninety yards on the ground. Harris may be starting to turn his season around down the stretch, going back-to-back games with twenty carries and ninety yards or more.
Josh Palmer WR, Los Angeles Chargers
Palmer has stepped up for the Chargers’ offense during the absence of Mike Williams and Kennan Allen. Although both of his teammates returned to the lineup Sunday night, Williams left early on with an injury and was unable to return. This opened the door for Palmer and he took full advantage of his opportunities. The 2021 third-round pick matched his career and season high with one hundred and six yards and was able to add two touchdowns to his line as well. This was Palmer’s first career game with multiple touchdowns, accounting for both of Justin Herbert’s touchdown passes.
Dallas Cowboys Defense
The Cowboys have had one of the better defenses this season and during last season. Yet, nobody saw the dominance they asserted on Sunday coming as they throttled the Vikings. Before week eleven, Minnesota was averaging around twenty-five points per game and three-hundred and fifty-five total yards. Dallas held them to a meager one-hundred and eighty-three total yards and gave up just three points in their 40-3 victory over their in-conference foes. Most notable though, was the performance of the Cowboys’ defensive front and pass rush. Kirk Cousins was uncomfortable all day and was sacked a new season-high seven times throughout the game. It was a great bounce-back performance for Dan Quinn’s unit after a rough outing against Green Bay in week ten.
Injuries and News:
New York Jets bench Zach Wilson
After an abysmal performance against the New England Patriots on Sunday, Jets Head Coach Robert Saleh announced on Wednesday that the team would be starting QB Mike White for their week twelve matchup. Wilson and the offense were unable to get anything going against New England in week eleven and finished the second half with negative passing yards. Wilson finished the game with nine completions on twenty-two attempts for just seventy-seven yards. Although Wilson is 5-2 on the year as a starter, his play has been inconsistent, creating this QB controversy in New York.
Denver Broncos waive RB Melvin Gordon III
After their overtime loss on Sunday to the Raiders, the Broncos decided to move on from their veteran running back and release him. The widespread belief is that Gordon was released because of ball security issues after he fumbled for the fifth time this season during week eleven. Before his release Gordon was Denver’s leading rusher, meaning they’ll likely turn to mid-season acquisition Latavius Murray for their running back duties. It feels likely that another team will pick up Gordon based on his track record during his NFL career.
Los Angeles Rams waive RB Darrell Henderson Jr.
The Rams announced on Tuesday that they waived their 2019 third-round back. Henderson was dealing with a knee injury that he suffered in pregame warmups according to Sean McVay, resulting in just four total reps for Henderson against the Saints. The Rams will look to their young backs, Cam Akers and Kyren Williams, to replace Henderson’s production. For Henderson, he’ll head to Jacksonville as the Jaguars claimed him from the waivers on Wednesday.
Kyle Pitts TE, Atlanta Falcons
Pitts suffered a knee injury during Sunday’s win against the Bears and was later diagnosed with a sprained MCL. The Falcons placed Pitts on injured reserve earlier this week, sidelining him for at least four games. There’s speculation that the 2021 number four overall pick may be done for the remainder of the season as the injury will require surgery. This is a big blow for the Falcons who will lose their biggest receiving threat while still competing for an NFC South title.
Joe Mixon RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Mixon was ruled out during the third quarter of Cincinnati’s game against the Steelers this week with a concussion. Before he can return to the field, Mixon will have to work through the NFL’s concussion protocols. Mixon is currently listed as questionable for week twelve’s game against the Titans, but it was reported that he did not practice Wednesday. It’ll be worth watching how much Mixon can practice–if at all–leading up to Sunday, but it feels unlikely he’ll be active for week twelve.
Rondale Moore WR, Arizona Cardinals
Moore exited Monday night’s game against the 49ers during the opening drive with a groin injury. After being further evaluated, Moore was ruled out and did not return to the game. The Cardinals have dealt with their fair share of injuries this season and Moore adds to what has been a long list of injuries on offense. Arizona’s Head Coach, Kliff Kingsbury, has already stated that Moore will miss week twelve and will need to miss “at least a week” before a potential return.
Justin Fields QB, Chicago Bears
Fields sustained an injury to his left shoulder during Chicago’s loss versus the Falcons on Sunday. It was later announced that Fields suffered a partially separated shoulder in his non-throwing arm and has some ligaments that are “partially torn.” The second-year Quarterback is currently listed as day-to-day with the injury, but his availability on Sunday will be based on the pain the injury is causing him. Fields’ comfort with the injury and his practice availability throughout the week will be something to watch.
Mike Williams WR, Los Angeles Chargers
Williams returned Sunday night after missing four weeks with a high ankle sprain. Unfortunately for him and the Chargers, he reaggravated the injury just three plays into the game on his first catch. Williams returned to the game briefly before exiting again and being ruled out for the remainder of the evening. Williams and the Chargers are being cautious with his ankle as he is currently listed as questionable for week twelve against the Cardinals. Williams was a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice but appears to have a good chance of playing this week.
Kadarius Toney WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Expectations were high for Toney on Sunday night as Kansas City was without Juju Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman. But, Toney left the game early with a hamstring injury and was unable to return. With the Chiefs already slim at the receiver spot, Toney’s injury comes at an awful time for the team. The 2021 first-round pick is currently listed as questionable for this week against the Rams. Toney did not practice Wednesday, so his status for the next two days will help reveal some information about his week twelve availability.
Chase Edmonds RB, Denver Broncos
The Broncos placed Edmonds on the injured reserve on Tuesday afternoon, ruling him out for the next four games. Edmonds suffered a high ankle sprain during week eleven’s game vs the Raiders and as a result, will miss some time. With Melvin Gordon no longer with the team and Edmonds now on the IR, Latavius Murray will take over in the Denver backfield.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Edwards-Helaire injured his ankle during Sunday Night Football and it was later reported that it was a high ankle sprain. The former first-rounder from LSU was placed on Injured Reserve on Wednesday, keeping him out for the next four games. Edwards-Helaire saw some of his playing time diminish over the weeks in lieu of rookie Isiah Pacheco, but Helaire still had a key role in the Chiefs’ offense. With Helaire sidelined, Kansas City will rely more on Pacheco and Jerrick McKinnon in the backfield going forward.
*All stats were received from: ESPN Stats & Info. Department, TeamRankings.com, and StatMuse.com