The favorites disappointed again in Week 11, but there is still reason for hope for the Packers, Cowboys, and Chiefs

The favorites disappointed again in Week 11, but there is still reason for hope for the Packers, Cowboys, and Chiefs

A handful of disappointing losses is no reason to lose faith in some of the NFL’s best teams

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Image for article titled The favorites disappointed again in Week 11, but there is still reason for hope for the Packers, Cowboys, and Chiefs
Image: Getty Images

Another Sunday, another case of the upsets in the NFL. The AFC and NFC leaders both fell to division rivals yesterday, and they weren’t the only teams expected to bring home a victory that disappointed.

It has been a topsy turvy 2021 NFL season in which there have been no 1992 Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers, 1998 Minnesota Vikings and Denver Broncos, or 2009 New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts. Put your money in now for a Super Bowl favorite and you would be taking quite a risk.

However, for those who do want a Super Bowl favorite before the Thanksgiving turkey is carved, that person would be wise not to count out these three teams after subpar Week 11 performances.

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Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings

Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings

Image for article titled The favorites disappointed again in Week 11, but there is still reason for hope for the Packers, Cowboys, and Chiefs
Image: Getty Images

The Vikings have had some hard luck this season. They lost their first two games of the season, one of which was the result of a missed 37-yard field goal at the end of a 34-33 loss to the NFC best Arizona Cardinals. They also lost in overtime in Week 1 to the Cincinnati Bengals and Week 9 to the Baltimore Ravens.

Good fortune finally embraced the Vikings in their Week 11 victory against their NFC North rival Green Bay Packers. The Packers, one of the least-penalized teams in the league, committed eight penalties for 92 yards. The Vikings also caught a break on two interceptions from quarterback Kirk Cousins. One was called back in the second quarter due to a roughing-the-passer penalty and another was dropped on them late in the fourth quarter that would’ve sealed the Vikings’ defeat.

With all of the mistakes the Packers made, and the injuries they entered the game with (left tackle, running back, cornerback, pass rusher), they still rallied in the second half and had an opportunity to win this game. Instead, they lost on the road to a division rival. There is no need for panic no matter how much Aaron Rodgers goes into detail about the pain in his toe.

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Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans

Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans

Image for article titled The favorites disappointed again in Week 11, but there is still reason for hope for the Packers, Cowboys, and Chiefs
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I know that the Tennessee Titans’ offense has been gasping for breath since Derrick Henry’s season-ending injury. Henry’s capability to run through a defense for a positive gain or past a defense’s fastest players while towering over them like a giant from a children’s tall tale on his way to the end zone was a great luxury for the Titans. Still, even without him they have maintained their place as one of the teams with the best record in the AFC.

In the game in which Henry injured his foot against the Indianapolis, the Titans were able to pull out an overtime victory, as well as the season sweep vs. the Colts. The following week they traveled to Los Angeles and knocked off the Rams on Sunday Night Football — one of the best teams in the NFC. They then went back home and edged out a victory against the Trevor Siemian led New Orleans Saints, giving them an 8-2 record on the season.

Then the Titans returned to Nashville on Sunday to play a rain-soaked game against the Houston Texans. The game went as poorly as possible for the home team. They turned the ball over five times, threw four interceptions, in a 22-13 loss to the Texans. It was the Texans’ second victory of the 2021 season. Tannehill hasn’t thrown more than two picks in a game since his 2019 arrival in Nashville.

Even with that dud of a Week 11 performance, no Henry, and the offense struggling in his absence, expect the Titans to host at least one playoff game this season. They’re 8-3, and have already defeated the only other good team in their division twice, the surging Colts. In their final six games they host the Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, and conclude the season with a game against the Texans — with no weather issues due to the retractable roof in Houston. This season is far from over for the Titans.

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4 / 5

Dallas Cowboys vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Dallas Cowboys vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Image for article titled The favorites disappointed again in Week 11, but there is still reason for hope for the Packers, Cowboys, and Chiefs
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This was not the shootout at the OK Corral that was expected after dynamite offensive performances from the Chiefs and Cowboys in Week 10 victories. Both Patrick Mahomes and Dak Prescott were bothered by the opposing pass rush all game long and the final score was Chiefs 19, Cowboys 9.

However, the major difference in the game was Mahomes had all of his offensive weapons, including the return of running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Prescott was down left tackle Tyron Smith and wide receiver Amari Cooper at kickoff. As the game progressed, running back Ezekiel Elliott came up lame in the 2nd quarter, but would return to finish the game, and wide receiver CeeDee Lamb went into concussion protocol after the back of his head smashed against the ground while trying to prevent an interception on a pass that Prescott didn’t get enough air under.

This resulted in players such as wide receiver Cedrick Wilson being depended upon and not rising to the challenge for the Cowboys. Even though the Chiefs didn’t record a single passing touchdown, their playmakers made the necessary plays to secure their fourth consecutive win and maintain first place in the AFC West.

The Cowboys don’t have a true competitor in the NFC East, and are still within two games of the best record in the NFC. They even have a game at home against the NFC best Arizona Cardinals as the penultimate game to their 2021 season. Cooper missed the Chiefs game while in COVID protocol and Smith is dealing with a bone spur in his ankle, but these are not season-ending issues. Once those two, and Lamb, return to the lineup, the Cowboys will have the advantage that can get them to their first Super Bowl since Troy Aikman and Daryl “Moose” Johnston wore pads on Sundays instead of headsets. On paper, there’s not a team in the NFL better than the Cowboys when healthy.

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