NFL Wrap-Up: Week 11 North Divisions

Offense was the name of the game for the northern divisions in week 11, even for Browns and Vikings fans!! (kind of)

Nash Herringtonby Nash Herrington

Quarterbacks show why they get the big money, the northern divisions continue to dominate the playoff picture, Bengals and Ravens fight a crucial inner division battle, the Pack remains undefeated…….it's a good week to be a fan of the north!!


AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3) were among the last teams to have their bye week.  The Steelers will go on the road in week 12 to face the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

Jacksonville Jaguars  10
Cleveland Browns  14

The Browns tallied their first touchdown since late in almost six quarters when Chris Ogbannaya (115 yards, 1 TD) punched in a one yard score late in the second quarter to tie this game going into the half.  Colt McCoy (17/24 199 yards, 1TD) connected with Josh Cribbs on a three yard strike in the 4th quarter and that would prove to be the winning score as the Browns defense made a vital goal line stand as time expired to pull out the victory.

Cincinnati Bengals  24
Baltimore Ravens  31

The Ravens defense had a decent day (2 sacks, 3 interceptions, 1 forced fumble), but still needed to make a late stand at their own seven yard line after the Bengals marched from their own 14 only to have quarterback Andy Dalton (24/45 373 yards, 1 TD) sacked on 4th down to seal the game.  The Ravens Offense had a very balanced attack (27 pass attempts/28 rush attempts) led by quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice who each accounted for two touchdowns.  This win moved the Ravens up to 7-3 and a tie with the Steelers atop the AFC North, but the Ravens have the tie-breakers over Pittsburgh after winning both of their match-ups this season.  With the loss the Bengals fall to 6-4, but still are in position to get the 6th seed in the playoffs.

NFC North

Oakland Raiders  27
Minnesota Vikings  21

Minnesota committed five turnovers (3INT, 2 fumbles lost) as a 24-7 deficit at halftime proved to be too much to overcome as the Vikings fell to 2-8 for the first time since 1962.  Running back Adrian Peterson left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury which left rookie quarterback Christian Ponder the task of carrying his team.  Ponder did account for 258 total yards from scrimmage, but his three interceptions proved too much for his team to overcome.  Two of Ponder's INTs were especially crippling as his first came at the Oakland 5 yard line and his third was taken away by cornerback Stanford Routt in the end zone.

San Diego Chargers  20
Chicago Bears  31

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (18/31 286 yards, 3 total TDs) was clutch when it counted in this huge win for Chicago.  Cutler had a 4 yard strike to go up 17-10 with 20 seconds left in the first half, dove for a one yard touchdown to take a 24-17 lead in the third and threw a perfect 24 yard pass to receiver Johnny Knox in the back of the end-zone to take a 31-17 advantage.  The Bears defense had trouble getting to San Diego quarterback Phillip Rivers, but were still able to get enough pressure on him to force two costly interceptions in the 4th quarter.  One of those interceptions – by safety Major Wright – came on a pass in the end zone that would have brought the Chargers within 4 points.  The Bears are now 7-3 and are tied with the Detroit Lions for the two wildcard spots.

BREAKING NEWS!! – Jay Cutler sustained a broken right thumb in this game and is expected to miss the final six games of the season, it is not known if he would be available for the playoffs.  At this point, Caleb Hanie will be taking over the starting duties.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers  26
Green Bay Packers  35

The Buccaneers gave the Packers a decent contest in this battle of the bays (where's the bay in Green Bay??) but for every blow landed by the Bucs, the Packers had a counter strike.  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers looked just a little less god-like than usual, going 23/34 for 299 yards, 3 touchdowns and one interception, but led the packers to three scoring drives directly after Buccaneer scores.  Receiver Jordy Nelson continued his momentum that seemingly began with his dominant Superbowl performance last year, Nelson had six catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns leading all Packers receivers.  Green bay is now a perfect 10-0 and is the first team to start a season 10-0 after winning the Superbowl since the 1998 Denver Broncos started 13-0 with Hall-of-Famer John Elway.

Game of the Week
Carolina Panthers  35
Detroit Lions  49

Yes I know…how can the largest margin of victory be the game of the week??  Two words people…come – back.

After an abysmal performance against the Bears last week, the Lions finally looked like they knew what they were doing (after the first quarter anyway).   Quarterback Matthew Stafford's two interceptions on back-to-back possessions in the opening quarter had most onlookers thinking "oh no, not this again", but he would settle in and go 25/28 315 yards and 5 touchdowns from that point on connecting on passes with nine different receivers.  Running back Kevin Smith had a breakout day on the ground rushing 16 times for 140 yards and two touchdowns, the Lions have been struggling to find a consistent running game since Jahvid Best sustained a concussion in week 6 against the 49ers.  Even though All-Pro Receiver Calvin Johnson led the team with 89 yards on five catches, he was not one of the five different players to catch a touchdown for the Lions, Johnson had caught at least one touchdown in each of Detroit's first six wins including two in each of the first four games.  Detroit's defense had some trouble containing Carolina quarterback Cam Newton allowing him to score three times, but were able to intercept four passes off the rookie phenom.  This win snaps a 1-3 stretch for the Lions after starting the season 5-0, their current 7-3 record puts them in line for one of the two NFC wildcard slots along with the Chicago Bears.

Offensive Player of the Week
Matthew Stafford (Detroit QB) – 28/36, 335 yards, 5 touchdowns
What a difference a week makes.  Last week I made Stafford the offensive POTW for the points he allowed the Chicago Bears secondary to score (2 interceptions returned for touchdowns) and early in this week's game against the Panthers it looked like more ofg the same before Stafford decided to dominate the air, throwing for 5 touchdowns leading his team to a huge victory.
-honorable mention- Kevin Smith (Det, RB) – 140 yards 2 TD, Jordy Nelson (GB WR) – 123 yards 2 TD

Defensive Player of the Week
Tramon Williams (Green Bay CB) – 7 solo tackles (9 total), 2 interceptions
Both of Williams' interceptions stopped crucial drives.  His first was late in the first half in GB territory and his second came directly after the Packers took a 35-26 lead and prevented the Bucs from gaining any form of momentum for a late game come back.

Division Standings
AFC North
Baltimore Ravens 7-3
Pittsburgh Steelers 7-3 (first in wildcard)
Cincinnati Bengals 6-4 (second in wildcard)
Cleveland Browns 4-6

NFC North
Green Bay Packers 10-0
Detroit Lions 7-3 (first in wildcard)
Chicago Bears 7-3 (second in wildcard)
Minnesota Vikings 2-8