(Photo credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3) at Cleveland Browns (6-3): In pursuit of AFC North-leading Baltimore, already a Week 11 winner, the Browns and Steelers are leading with defense. That's especially true with Cleveland turning to rookie QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Deshaun Watson (shoulder) is out for the season after being injured last week. DTR is an electric athlete who makes his second start under better circumstances than the first, a 28-3 loss at Baltimore. He learned less than three hours before kickoff against the Ravens that he'd be the first-team QB, and threw three INTs while being sacked four times. Cleveland's defense is built to be a great asset to any quarterback. The Browns are getting their second look at Kenny Pickett and the Steelers, who won the Week 2 matchup 26-22. T.J. Watt's 16-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter was the difference. Each team has won four of its past five games.
Chicago Bears (3-7) at Detroit Lions (7-2): The Lions play five of their final eight games against their three NFC North rivals, beginning with a home matchup against the last-place Bears on Sunday. The Lions are seeking their first division title since 1993, back when it was known as the Central division and included the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "If you aspire to win a division, you have to win your division games," Detroit coach Dan Campbell said. "That's the bottom line here." The Lions hold a 1 1/2-game advantage over Minnesota, which has won five straight games. They'll play the Vikings twice in the last three games of the season. Detroit's task against Chicago might be a little more difficult with the return of QB Justin Fields. He has recovered from a right thumb injury that cost him four games. Detroit's offensive playmakers piled up big numbers in the 41-38 thriller over the Chargers last week. QB Jared Goff threw for 333 yards and two touchdowns. Amor-Ra St. Brown caught eight of those passes for 156 yards and a score. The 1-2 backfield punch of former Bears starter David Montgomery and rookie Jahmyr Gibbs combined for 193 yards and three touchdowns.
Los Angeles Chargers (4-5) at Green Bay Packers (3-6): Los Angeles is optimistic the playoffs are possible despite losing three of its past five games. The Chargers are coming off a 41-38 setback on a last-second field goal to the Lions. Chargers QB Justin Herbert said he and his teammates remain confident. The team scored a season high in points last week, however it also surrendered a season high in points. To catch Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City, the Chargers must slow down Packers quarterback Jordan Love. He passed for 289 yards and two touchdowns, and rookie wide receiver Jayden Reed hauled in five catches for 84 yards and a score for his best performance of the season. The Packers have a 10-2 advantage in the all-time series. Winning close games isn't Green Bay's forte this season and the Packers gave up a second-half lead and lost 23-19 to the Steelers last week. Of six defeats this season, four were one-score games they fumbled on the road: at Atlanta (25-24), at Las Vegas (17-13), at Denver (19-17) and last week.
Las Vegas Raiders (5-5) at Miami Dolphins (6-3): The Raiders are 2-0 since firing Josh McDaniels and handing the keys to Antonio Pierce, who has quickly energized the squad. The visit to Miami is the only road contest during a six-game stretch for the Raiders. "We were fortunate that my first two games were at home," Pierce said of the shift since he replaced McDaniels. "Now we are on the road. It's good to go through adversity. (Miami) is a good football team." Miami leads the AFC East by 1 1/2 games over the Buffalo Bills and has outscored opponents by averaging 31.7 points per game. The Raiders average 17.2 points this season. Rookie speedster RB De'Von Achane had seven touchdowns before missing the past four games and could be ready to return from a knee injury. Miami dropped two of its past three games, but the setbacks were to last season's Super Bowl teams (Chiefs and Eagles). Raiders RB Josh Jacobs is rejuvenated under new leadership. He rushed for a then-season-best 98 yards and two touchdowns in a 30-6 win over the Giants in Pierce's coaching debut and another season high with 116 yards in last Sunday's 16-12 win over the Jets.
New York Giants (2-8) at Washington Commanders (4-6): Rookie Tommy DeVito gets the call again for the Giants and he draws the Commanders' defense, which allowed Seattle to score on its final three possessions in a 29-26 loss last week after blowing a late lead against the Eagles prior to that. The Commanders went from No. 3 in yards allowed in 2022 to the fourth-worst entering Week 11. New York has lost seven of its last eight with the lone win coming at home over Washington, 14-7, on Oct. 22. Despite that defeat, the Commanders are a double-digit favorite for the first time since 2017. Health woes continue to haunt the Giants, who are depending on RB Saquon Barkley to move the chains and keep the offense in the game. Playing behind a patchwork offensive line, DeVito has been sacked 11 times the last two weeks. Washington's offense is a bright spot and the Commanders are closer than ever to being convinced QB Sam Howell is the franchise passer they've coveted for years.
Dallas Cowboys (6-3) at Carolina Panthers (1-8): If an ideal time for 2021 first-round CB Jaycee Horn's return from injury existed, this might be that spot. The Cowboys are the lone team in the NFL this season that has reached the 40-point level in three different games. "This past month, we're hitting on all cylinders," Dallas coach Mike McCarthy said. While Horn (hamstring) coming back from IR isn't certain, the Panthers do expect pass rusher Brian Burns in the lineup on Sunday. But Dak Prescott could be hitting another level. He threw for 404 yards last weekend against the New York Giants, giving him three consecutive games above the 300-yard mark. WRs CeeDee Lamb and Brandin Cooks both eclipsed the 150-yard receiving mark last week, and the Cowboys ran for 168 yards. Lamb is the first player in NFL history with three straight games of double-figure catches and 150-plus receiving yards. The Panthers called a reverse at play-caller this week. Head coach Frank Reich will return to calling plays after handing those duties to Thomas Brown last month.
Tennessee Titans (3-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars (6-3): Jacksonville's five-game winning streak come to a halt with a 34-3 dismantling by the San Francisco 49ers last week. Jacksonville surrendered three passing touchdowns to Brock Purdy, while Jaguars' QB Trevor Lawrence tossed a pair of interceptions and was sacked five times. While head coach Doug Pederson said he's sure the team will "bounce back," he also admitted Lawrence (knee) isn't healthy. The loss to the 49ers marked the first multi-interception game of the season for Lawrence, who has been picked off six times while throwing nine touchdowns through nine games. He's completed 67.3 percent of his passes this season 2,120 yards. The Titans lost back-to-back road games to the Steelers and Buccaneers, spinning their tires in the running game. Derrick Henry and Tyjae Spears combined for just 42 rushing yards last week. Rookie Will Levis, in his third start, completed just 19 of 39 passes for 199 yards and an interception. The Titans seem to be getting a bit healthier ahead of their first meeting of the season with the Jaguars, who won the winner-take-all regular-season finale in 2022.
Arizona Cardinals (2-8) at Houston Texans (5-4): Above-.500 in November for the first time since 2019, there's an unrecognizable element in the air in Houston: playoff talk. QB C.J. Stroud has the Texans squarely in the postseason conversation with eight games to play, but head coach DeMeco Ryans said the challenge is to focus on the game in front of them. Up next is a critical fight with the division-leading Jacksonville Jaguars (6-3) on Nov. 26 on the Texans' home turf. Stroud leads the NFL with 291.8 passing yards per game and is sixth with a 101.0 rating. He is the linchpin of an offense scoring 24.1 points per game -- 10th in the league -- and averaging 372.5 yards per game, good enough for sixth. Arizona is better equipped to put up points in Kyler Murray's second game back from his 2022 ACL injury. The Cardinals rank 31st in opponent quarterback rating (101.0) and 29th with an opponent completion percentage of 69.1. The statistics point to Stroud rolling again, especially if his offensive line continues to sweep a pristine pocket clear of obstacles. Houston allowed one sack over 41 dropbacks in a 30-27 road victory over the Cincinnati Bengals last week. Of importance in that mission, left tackle Laremy Tunsil (knee) has been fighting to practice.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5) at San Francisco 49ers (6-3): A rematch of the 49ers' 35-7 win in the same stadium last December pits a pair of teams that snapped losing streaks last week. The Bucs halted a four-game losing skid with a 20-6 triumph over the visiting Tennessee Titans last Sunday. The Buccaneers now find themselves a half-game behind the New Orleans Saints for first place in the mediocre-at-best NFC South. San Francisco, which also played last week's game in the state of Florida, ended a three-game slide with a 34-3 rout of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The 49ers remain tied with the Seattle Seahawks atop the NFC West. The Buccaneers have a tall order ahead in San Francisco, which ranks tied for third in the NFL in points scored per game (28.0) and tied for second in points allowed (15.9). The trade deadline addition of DE Chase Young produced some scary flashes of dominance last week. Christian McCaffrey, who has made himself at home in the end zone of late, saw his streak of consecutive games with a touchdown come to an end at 17 games (including playoffs). But he scored three TDs in the win over Tampa Bay last season.
New York Jets (4-5) at Buffalo Bills (5-5): Too early to be dubbed an elimination game, but peering ahead at the remaining schedule for both teams might make one wonder. Status quo wasn't working for the Bills, who fired offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey following a 24-22 loss at home to the Broncos that featured four turnovers and a pair of last-minute penalties that set up Denver's game-winning field goal. The Bills can't afford to stall out, already 1 1/2 games behind Miami in the division and currently behind the wild-card teams in the AFC. The next five weeks bring games at Philadelphia (8-1), the bye week, at Kansas City (7-2), versus Dallas (6-3) and at the Los Angeles Chargers (4-5). Curbing turnovers -- Josh Allen has 15 this season -- becomes the task of new coordinator Joe Brady. Jets head coach Robert Saleh's defense has clamped down on Allen the way few teams have in recent years. It forced four turnovers in Week 1 (three interceptions, one fumble), but New York's offense has gone 36 possessions without a TD.
Seattle Seahawks (6-3) at Los Angeles Rams (3-6): The Rams are coming off a bye and QB Matthew Stafford is expected to return to the starting lineup after missing one game with a sprained ligament in the thumb on his throwing hand. The Rams won the first meeting between NFC West rivals, outscoring Seattle 23-0 in the second half in Week 1 to win 30-13. The Seahawks are tied atop the division with the 49ers and hoping for more consistent play from QB Geno Smith. Smith was 9 of 11 on the final two drives against Washington last week but could be without WR Tyler Lockett (hamstring) this week. The Rams have lost three consecutive games. Stafford returns for the Rams after missing a 20-3 loss at Green Bay on Nov. 5, but rookie WR Puka Nacua (knee) might miss his chance for an encore against Seattle. Nacua had 10 catches for 119 yards in the September matchup.
Minnesota Vikings (6-4) at Denver Broncos (4-5): In the primetime spotlight for the second consecutive week, the Broncos might warrant a little attention thanks to a three-game winning streak including a win over the Chiefs and a pair of two-point wins (Bills, Packers). Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell might be thinking "hold my beer, Sean Payton" as he heads to the Rockies with a five-game winning streak while overcoming the loss of key players including quarterback Kirk Cousins and wide receiver Justin Jefferson (hamstring). The Vikings beat the New Orleans Saints (27-19) last Sunday and could get a big boost with Jefferson back from injured reserve. QB Joshua Dobbs, acquired from the Cardinals to replace Cousins, won his first start with the Vikings last week after leading a late rally the week prior at Atlanta. The anticipated Sean Payton Effect might be showing through in Russell Wilson's performance. His 104 passer rating is significantly higher than the 84.4 clip a season ago. Wilson has completed 67.9 percent of his passes for 1,806 yards, 18 touchdowns and four interceptions. The Broncos' running game, another Payton staple, is picking up the pace in the second half of the season. Javonte Williams has led the way with 436 rushing yards to go along with 109 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Philadelphia Eagles (8-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (7-2): Whether dubbed Super Bowl 57.5 or the Kelce Clan Reunion, there's been nothing swift about the success of the teams that battled for the Lombardi Trophy in February. The Eagles have the NFL's best record. The Chiefs lead the AFC and swept the last four meetings with the Eagles, including 38-35 in Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12. Chiefs coach Andy Reid is the winningest head coach in the history of both franchises, logging 140 victories (including playoffs) for the Eagles from 1999-2012 and 136 since taking over the Chiefs in 2013. Nine months ago in Glendale, Ariz., it was all about QBs. Patrick Mahomes, playing on an injured ankle, threw two of his three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter and set up the winning field goal with a gutsy 26-yard scramble. He won his second Super Bowl MVP award. Jalen Hurts was just as effective. He completed 27 of 38 passes for 304 yards and a touchdown and rushed 70 yards for three touchdowns. He used his legs to pick up the game-tying score -- and the two-point conversion -- with 5:15 remaining. Both are in the MVP conversation again in 2023. Hurts has completed a career-high 68.9 percent of his passes for 2,347 yards with 15 touchdowns but also eight interceptions. He has seven rushing TDs.
--Field Level Media