Friday Five, Week 11

Chiefs at Cowboys could be lone 2020 preseason game for Kansas City

The last two weeks of the NFL season have shown one important thing—the NFL is as tight and unpredictable as ever. We’ve seen some surprising upsets, good teams crumble and some great individual performances. I suspect we’re in for more of that in the last eight weeks of the NFL Season. Week 11 sees the Rams and Broncos on a bye, but affords us with 15 games, many of which present some intriguing matchups. The red-hot Patriots played last night and the Buccaneers will look to get right Monday, but there are plenty of intriguing options among the 13 games on the Sunday slate. Below are the five I’m most excited to see.

Sunday Early Games:

Indianapolis Colts (5-5) at Buffalo Bills (6-3)
The Colts had one of the toughest early schedules in the league and it showed, at times. But of late the Colts have gotten it together, clawing their way back to .500 to climb into the playoff race. The Bills, meanwhile, entered the season as heavy favorites not only for the AFC East but the conference in general. At times they’ve looked like Super Bowl contenders. At other times they’ve struggled, as in a 9-6 loss to the Jaguars in Week 9. With the New England Patriots breathing down their necks in the East and plenty of competition in the AFC for playoff spots, the Bills need to keep winning. Both these teams have aspirations beyond Week 18 and this matchup comes at a crucial time for both.

Washington Football Team (3-6) at Carolina Panthers (5-5)
Washington was a pleasant surprise in 2020, winning the NFC East and making a strong run at the Buccaneers in the first round of the playoffs. Many, myself included, expected them to be contenders again in 2021. It hasn’t panned out that way. But Washington is coming off its best win of the season, beating the Buccaneers 29-19, and at 3-6 they are in a hole but not out of it. The Panthers, meanwhile, have ridden a season-long roller coaster. Sam Darnold started 3-0 and faded a bit. He’s on IR with a broken shoulder but Cam Newton is back, announcing himself with touchdowns on his first two plays in limited duty in Week 10. He’s in line to start Week 11, giving the Panthers a boost and pitting him against his former coach, Ron Rivera, in his first start back with the Panthers. Needless to say, I’m intrigued.

Sunday Late Games:

Cincinnati Bengals (5-4) at Las Vegas Raiders (5-4)
This is a battle of two teams that started hot and faded a bit. The Bengals had the best record in the AFC at 5-2, then lost two straight. Coming off a bye week the Bengals need a win to get back on track with every team in the AFC North at .500 or better through 10 weeks. The Raiders are in a similar boat. They started hot, took the lead in the AFC West and have lost two straight games while battling a variety of off-field issues. Every team in the AFC West is .500 or better after 10 weeks, too, meaning both these teams have plenty of competition in their own division and in the AFC in general. Which team can snap their losing streak and make it to six wins? We’ll find out Sunday.

Dallas Cowboys (7-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)
The Cowboys have been one of the NFL’s hottest teams, winning six straight before a stumble in Week 9 against the Broncos. The Cowboys rebounded by pounding the Falcons in Week 10 and are in line to win the NFC East and gain a high seed in the NFC Playoffs. The Chiefs, meanwhile, have had to claw their way back. Once at the bottom of the AFC West standings they’re now back in first place. The AFC West features four teams at .500 or better, so it’s a precarious half game lead at this point. The Chiefs offense and defense looked like the 2020 version in a huge Week 10 win in Las Vegas but the question is if they can keep it up against the high-flying Cowboys. This could be the best game on the Week 11 slate.

Sunday Night Game:

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3-1) at Los Angeles Chargers (5-4)
Week 10 didn’t go as expected for either of these teams courtesy of NFC North opponents. The Steelers lost Ben Roethlisberger to COVID and mustered just 16 points in a sloppy game against the winless Lions. They came away with a 16-16 tie that denied them a chance to match the Ravens at 6-3 for the lead in the AFC North. The Chargers, meanwhile, entered Sunday tied for the lead in the AFC West. They left with a 27-20 loss to the Vikings, now sitting a half game back of the Chiefs. Both teams have plenty to play for in tight-packed divisions, clashing on Sunday Night Football. This figures to be a pretty epic battle.

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.

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