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Winners and losers from NFL Week 11

Sportsnaut logo Sportsnaut 11/19/2018 Jesse Reed, Sportsnaut

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From thrilling last-second wins by teams that are fighting to stay in contention to a horrifying injury that could shape the NFC playoff race, NFL Week 11 had it all.

A six-game winning streak was snapped in agonizing fashion. A team many thought would contend for the title suffered a sixth-straight loss. A team many thought was out of contention is right back in it thanks to a second-straight road win.

Those are among the biggest winners and losers from NFL Week 11.

Winner: Captain Andrew Luck has Colts on a roll

© Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts lost five of their first six games this season. It looked like Andrew Luck’s redemption tour was going to be delayed by a year, at least, despite some solid play from him early. But since that awful start, both Luck and the Colts have started playing some outstanding ball.

With 297 yards and three passing touchdowns Sunday in a 38-10 blowout win over the Tennessee Titans, Luck extended his streak of at least three passing touchdowns to seven consecutive games.

His Colts have now rattled off four wins in a row and are in second place in the AFC South, knocking at the door to get into the playoffs. Should they complete the comeback and make the postseason, then Luck deserves to be included in the MVP conversation, along with Comeback Player of the Year.

Loser: Washington suffers déjà vu in worst possible way

a group of baseball players playing a football game: Nov 18, 2018; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith (11) reacts after breaking his leg in the second half against the Houston Texans during the second half at FedEx Field.  © Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2018; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith (11) reacts after breaking his leg in the second half against the Houston Texans during the second half at FedEx Field. 

Thirty-three years ago to the day, the Washington Redskins were issued a staggering gut punch. Joe Theismann suffered a horrifying broken leg that is still to this day considered among the most gruesome in professional sports.

On Sunday, Washington lost Alex Smith in the same exact manner. He broke his right tibia and fibula while being dragged to the ground on a sack. He was carted off, taken to the hospital in an ambulance and required immediate surgery. To nobody’s surprise, he will miss the rest of the season, head coach Jay Gruden announced after the game.

Washington also lost Sunday’s game in heartbreaking fashion — falling to 6-4 on the season. The team will be bringing in a bunch of veterans on Monday to see who might back up Colt McCoy.

Barring some crazy developments, it’s hard to see this team finishing off the season strong without Smith. Though it still leads the NFC East, Washington will be hard pressed to hold that lead. On the season, it is minus-one in point differential and closes out the campaign with four of its last six games on the road.

Winner: Cowboys rising 

a baseball player wearing a helmet: Nov 18, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) celebrates with teammates after a touchdown run against the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.  © Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) celebrates with teammates after a touchdown run against the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

Dallas couldn’t win on the road earlier this year and entered Week 9 with a 3-5 record. It looked like the 'Boys were headed for another disappointing season. But the past two weeks have seen this team come together for two straight road wins, and Sunday’s victory in Atlanta was very impressive.

Ezekiel Elliott and the big guys up front are getting back to dominating folks at the line of scrimmage. The dynamic dual-threat running back followed up Week 10’s 187-yard game with an incredible 201-yard showing against the Falcons.

Now just one game behind Washington in the NFC East, featuring an offense that’s starting to click and a defense that can really get after folks — and with four of their final six games at home — Dallas is in great shape to win the division.

Loser: Jags are toast

Nov 18, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Jon Bostic (51) brings down Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) during the second half at TIAA Bank Field. © Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Jon Bostic (51) brings down Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) during the second half at TIAA Bank Field.

The Jacksonville Jaguars gave it their all on Sunday. For a while it appeared they had Big Ben Roethlisberger and Co. in the palm of their hands, as the Pittsburgh Steelers could do next to nothing in the first half.

Despite a monster game from Leonard Fournette. Despite two Jalen Ramsey interceptions against Big Ben, and three interceptions overall. Despite the best showing Jacksonville has put up in weeks. The Jags lost. They lost their sixth game in a row. They’re now 3-7 on the season. Oh, by the way, Blake Bortles is still not the guy.

This team is done. A franchise many pegged to represent the AFC in Super Bowl LIII is unofficially out of the playoff chase, and it is officially the biggest disappointment of the 2018 season.

Winner: Lamar Jackson might have saved Baltimore’s season

a group of people running on a baseball field: Nov 18, 2018; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) pressured by Cincinnati Bengals tackle Geno Atkins (97) in the third quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. © Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2018; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) pressured by Cincinnati Bengals tackle Geno Atkins (97) in the third quarter at M&T Bank Stadium.

With Joe Flacco out of commission due to a hip injury, the Baltimore Ravens turned to first-round rookie Lamar Jackson, who made his first career start Sunday against Cincinnati.

These divisional games in the AFC North are always brutal, and this one was no different. Furthermore, there was a ton of pressure on the Ravens, as a loss would have been devastating to their postseason dreams.

But thanks to Jackson’s NFL record-breaking performance on the ground, the Ravens snapped a three-game losing streak and put themselves in position to make a playoff push in the final weeks of the season.

Loser: The Super Bowl hangover seems to be getting worse

a football player holding a bat on a field: Nov 18, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (98) sacks Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) during the second quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.  © Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (98) sacks Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) during the second quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. 

The defending champs hit rock bottom on Sunday in the Bayou against the hottest team in the NFL.

Carson Wentz was atrocious. He managed just 156 yards on 33 passing attempts, failed to throw a touchdown and was picked off three times. Outside of a few big runs, the Eagles' offense was entirely broken on Sunday. And, of course, so was their defense, which was mercilessly brutalized by New Orleans.

Wentz was seen throwing his helmet on the sideline. Malcolm Jenkins, too. The level of frustration is percolated to a boiling point now, and the Eagles are further away to fixing what’s wrong than ever before in 2018.

Winner: Monsters of the Midway have Bears rolling

a man jumping in the air: Nov 18, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) is sacked by Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack (52) in the third quarter at Soldier Field. © Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) is sacked by Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack (52) in the third quarter at Soldier Field.

It’s pretty stunning how good Chicago is this year. The Matt Nagy hire looks smarter every week, and it was a huge boon that general manager Ryan Pace convinced defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to stay on with the new coaching staff.

Sunday’s big win over the Minnesota Vikings on national television was so impressive. The Chicago defense, led by the incomparable Khalil Mack, was a brick wall until late in the game when the Vikings were down big.

Kirk Cousins had a brutal night that saw him throw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Minnesota’s run game managed a paltry 22 yards on 14 carries as Chicago’s defensive line was relentless against both the run and the pass.

This defense has allowed the Bears to extend their lead in the NFC North, despite a second-year quarterback in Mitch Trubisky who is still quite raw. He’s being managed perfectly by Nagy, but all that is made possible because Chicago’s defense is just destroying folks.

Loser: Road woes continue for Carolina

Cam Newton wearing a uniform: Nov 18, 2018; Detroit, MI, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) runs off the field after the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.  © Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2018; Detroit, MI, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) runs off the field after the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. 

The Carolina Panthers went into Ford Field Sunday to take on a Detroit Lions team that had lost three straight and appeared to be sinking to the bottom of the NFC.

Early on, it appeared Cam Newton and Co. were going to cruise after they scored a touchdown on the opening drive of the game. Then Detroit answered right back, and it took more than a half of play for the Panthers to recover any momentum at all.

Graham Gano of all people failed miserably. He missed a 34-yard field goal and an extra point, both of which loom large as Carolina ended up being defeated by one point. Despite a big day passing for Newton, the offense was extremely stagnant for long stretches of time, and he failed to convert the game-winning two-point conversion on an ill-conceived play. Now, the Panthers have lost two in a row and are 1-4 on the road.

Given that it seems unlikely Carolina will catch up to New Orleans in the NFC South, the road to the Super Bowl isn’t going through Charlotte. That’s not good news for a team that’s been awful away from Bank of America Stadium this year.

Winner: Nobody can stop the Saints right now

a group of baseball players standing on top of a field: Nov 18, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) celebrates his fourth quarter touchdown catch with teammates including wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) and running back Mark Ingram (22) against the Philadelphia Eagles at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints won, 48-7. © Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) celebrates his fourth quarter touchdown catch with teammates including wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) and running back Mark Ingram (22) against the Philadelphia Eagles at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints won, 48-7.

Sure, the Eagles are struggling right now. That doesn’t diminish in any way the level of domination we saw from the Saints on Sunday.

They put 48 points on the board — marking the third game in a row with at least 45 points. They also racked up 546 yards of offense, which means they’ve racked up 1,055 yards the past two games.

The scary part here is that New Orleans has combined the most potent offense in the NFL with a defense that continues to improve. The past two wins have seen the Saints allow just 21 points total, and let’s not forget this is the same team that humbled the mighty Los Angeles Rams a few weekends ago.

This team is a juggernaut, and at this point the Saints have to be considered the favorite to represent the NFC in Super Bowl LIII.

Loser: Chargers choke away their winning streak

a group of people in front of a crowd: Nov 18, 2018; Carson, CA, USA; Los Angeles Chargers free safety Derwin James (33) walks off the field as Denver Broncos players celebrate kicker Brandon McManus (not pictured) 34-yard field goal with three seconds remaining to defeat the Chargers 23-22. StubHub Center.  © Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2018; Carson, CA, USA; Los Angeles Chargers free safety Derwin James (33) walks off the field as Denver Broncos players celebrate kicker Brandon McManus (not pictured) 34-yard field goal with three seconds remaining to defeat the Chargers 23-22. StubHub Center. 

On the one hand, it’s gratifying to have one’s prediction come true. On the other hand, it was pretty depressing to see how the Los Angeles Chargers choked away their six-game winning streak with an awful showing down the stretch Sunday — at home against a divisional rival, no less.

The Chargers had a 19-7 lead late in the third quarter. Then Philip Rivers threw his second interception of the game — his first multi-interception game since last year against Kansas City — and the Broncos made him pay three plays later.

The final 19 minutes of the game belonged to Denver, which outscored Los Angeles 16-3 in that stretch to win by one point. The Chargers couldn’t stop the Broncos on their final drive, which ended in a game-winning field goal with time expiring.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen this version of the Chargers. If they’re going to make a postseason run, it better be the last time this year.

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