With the Patriots (9-1) and the 49ers (9-1) looking slightly vulnerable, and the Ravens (8-2) getting better each week, it appears the title for “N.F.L.’s best team” might be a lot more open than it seemed two weeks ago. Week 11 had an ugly start on Thursday night, and had the added drama of Colin Kaepernick’s workout on Saturday, but on Sunday it was all about football. Baltimore rolled to a huge win and San Francisco and New England overcame early deficits to win as well. But the most exciting result came in Minnesota, where the Vikings engineered one of the least likely comebacks in recent N.F.L. history.
Here’s what we learned:
No lead is safe against Kirk Cousins. The Vikings trailed the Broncos, 20-0, at halftime on Sunday and were down by 23-7 at the start of the fourth quarter. They proceeded to win, 27-23. Denver became the first team since 2014 to blow a lead of 20 or more points at halftime, breaking a streak of 99 straight games where teams in that situation went on to win. Amusingly enough, it was not the biggest comeback of Cousins’ career. He led the Redskins to a comeback from a 24-point second quarter deficit in 2015, a game he famously punctuated by screaming “You like that?” as he ran to the locker room. The Vikings have won six of their last seven games.
The Ravens have the best offense in the N.F.L. Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs is one of the most exciting quarterbacks in recent memory, and the Vikings, Patriots and Cowboys can score in several different ways, but there is no team that racks up yards and points quite like Baltimore. After bullying their way to 41 points in a blowout win over Houston — the Ravens’ sixth straight win — Baltimore is averaging 34.1 points a game, while no other team is averaging even 30. When you consider how much the Ravens’ defense dominated Deshaun Watson and the Texans, it is time to wonder if this team is a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
Lamar Jackson is an M.V.P. candidate. Jackson threw four touchdown passes on Sunday — his second game this season with four or more — and is up to 19 for the season. While he trails Russell Wilson, who has 23 (and is a strong Most Valuable Player Award candidate, as well) among others, no one can match Jackson’s combination of 2,258 passing yards and 788 rushing yards. In Sunday’s win he lit up the highlight reel once again with a 39-yard run, above, in which he barreled his way through Houston’s defense like something out of a video game.
The 49ers and the Patriots aren’t invincible, but they’re awfully good. Both teams were coming off their first losses of the season, and both made things interesting by getting into early trouble this week. San Francisco was down by 16-0 before beating the Cardinals, 36-26, and New England was down by 10-0 before beating the Eagles, 17-10. It was enough to give both teams a decent scare, but order at the top of the N.F.L. was largely restored by the time both games wrapped up.
It was a good week to be a New York quarterback. Josh Allen of the Bills has been known to occasionally joke about being the only N.F.L. quarterback who actually plays in New York, but regardless of those semantics, he and his counterparts in New Jersey can be plenty satisfied with how things went in Week 11. Allen threw for three touchdowns and ran for another in a blowout over Miami; Sam Darnold of the Jets threw four touchdowns in a blowout over Washington; and Daniel Jones of the Giants was on a bye week, so he did not extend his six-game losing streak.
There is no quit in the Falcons. Atlanta fell to 1-7 ahead of their bye in Week 9, Matt Ryan was injured and it was hard to separate them from the league’s bottom-feeders in Miami, Cincinnati and Washington. The bye week came at exactly the right time. Ryan got himself back on the field, the team’s defense found some confidence, and Atlanta has reeled off consecutive road upsets against division rivals, first in New Orleans and this week in Carolina. In those two games combined, the once-hapless Falcons outscored the Saints and Panthers by 55-12. With 311 passing yards in Sunday’s win, Ryan passed Warren Moon on the career list and is now 10th in N.F.L. history at 49,383 yards. He was supported by a defense that intercepted four passes thrown by Carolina’s Kyle Allen.
The Bears would like to redo the 2017 draft. Chicago traded up that year to secure the No. 2 pick, fearing that Mitchell Trubisky would be off the board if they did not. While Trubisky has only shown flashes of ability, and was seemingly benched during Sunday’s loss to the Rams (the team said it was a hip injury), the next two quarterbacks drafted that year have done reasonably well: Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs (10th pick) and Deshaun Watson of the Texans (12th). Chicago can take some solace in the team having done quite well in the fourth round that year, nabbing safety Eddie Jackson and running back/returner Tarik Cohen, both of whom have made an All-Pro team.
In 2010, which was Michael Vick’s best season as a dual-threat quarterback, he had 21 passing touchdowns and nine rushing touchdowns in 12 games. Through 10 games, Jackson is up to 19 passing touchdowns and six rushing touchdowns — and he’s only 22. Jackson can’t quite keep up with Vick’s 2010 season in terms of passing yards a game, but he’s been a far more productive runner, with an average of 78.8 yards a game that crushes Vick’s mark of 56.3.
For the first time since 1985, the Indianapolis Colts had two players reach 100 rushing yards in the same game. Williams was slightly better, with 116 yards and an average of 8.9 a carry, while Mack had 109 and an average of 7.8 before leaving in the third quarter with a broken hand.
Brown’s speed seemed wasted on the Ravens at the end of last season, with Baltimore relying on its running game and short passes to grind out wins. It’s scary to think of what Lamar Jackson, who has developed so much as a passer, would be doing if he had this speedster to complement his other options.
*Except when it takes more.
Patriots 17, Eagles 10 Philadelphia had greatly limited Tom Brady throughout the game, and was leading by 10-9 in the third quarter when New England pulled out one of its favorite old tricks: Julian Edelman, a wide receiver (and former college quarterback) threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Phillip Dorsett that put the Patriots on top for good.
49ers 36, Cardinals 26 A week after he looked shaky in an overtime loss, Jimmy Garoppolo was asked to step up for San Francisco in a game in which his team’s running backs could find no traction. The young quarterback delivered, throwing for a career-best 424 yards and four touchdowns.
Ravens 41, Texans 7 How talented are the Ravens? Gus Edwards, the team’s second-string running back — and third best runner overall behind Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram — carried the ball eight times for a team-leading 112 yards in this laugher.
Cowboys 35, Lions 27 Ezekiel Elliott was almost an afterthought, as Dallas’ offensive line gave Dak Prescott a ton of time to work, and the young quarterback absolutely shredded Detroit’s defense.
Vikings 27, Broncos 23 “I like when adversity hits and you see what kind of guys you’ve got,” wide receiver Stefon Diggs said of Minnesota’s huge comeback, which included a 54-yard touchdown by Diggs.
Saints 34, Buccaneers 17 A week after getting embarrassed at home, New Orleans dominated on both sides of the ball in Tampa Bay, with the Saints’ defense generating four interceptions, including a pick-6.
Colts 33, Jaguars 13 The return of Nick Foles from injury was fairly quiet, but it’s hard to get much going on offense when your team’s defense allows 264 rushing yards.
Raiders 17, Bengals 10 Josh Jacobs broke 100 rushing yards for the fourth time in six games, and in one of the two games where he didn’t get there, he ran in the game-winning touchdown.
Falcons 29, Panthers 3 The wheels are starting to come off in Carolina. In the team’s third loss in four games, Kyle Allen was horrible, throwing four interceptions.
Bills 37, Dolphins 20 With another win against an awful team, Buffalo is likely headed for the playoffs, but it’s hard to imagine them doing any damage when they get there.
Rams 17, Bears 7 Los Angeles was far from impressive, but things certainly seemed cheerier for the Rams than they did for the Bears, who removed Mitchell Trubisky toward the end of the game. The team said Trubisky had a hip injury, but it looked an awful lot like a starting quarterback being benched.
Jets 34, Redskins 17 Getting blown out at home by the lowly Jets had to be demoralizing, but for one shining play — a 45-yard touchdown pass from Dwayne Haskins to Derrius Guice — they glimpsed a slightly brighter future.