NFL Week 11: Five things we learnt

A look back at the action in week 11 of the NFL

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The Independent Online

The season is flying by and now the teams are starting to look at the play-offs. Zander Swinburne evaluates the best talking points from Week 11 of the NFL.

Lambeau Field is now a fortress for the Packers

Going into the season, Green Bay were always going to be in the mix when discussing possible teams to make a Super Bowl run, but if the road to Arizona leads through Lambeau Field then few will be picking against them to lift the Lombardi Trophy.

The Packers once again produced a masterpiece on offence, recording their second straight 50 point win when they beat the Philadelphia Eagles 53-20. In their five home games, Green Bay have scored a whopping 219 points, averaging over 40 points a game. These are numbers that other teams simply can’t ignore. Rodgers is once again showing exactly why he’s one of the games top QBs with nearly 30 touchdowns to his name this season and just three interceptions.

Now tied for first place in the NFC North with a record of 7-3, Rodgers and the Packers are on the march and represent the cream of the crop in the conference. Only Arizona have a better record than Green Bay, but with Carson Palmer out of the picture, a small slip could send the NFC through Wisconsin.

The champs are in trouble

Before the season started, it seemed as though Seattle’s biggest worry was whether they would keep home field advantage when they reach the play-offs, but now they’ll be lucky to even get there.

After a disappointing 24-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend, Seattle will need to return to their 2013 form if they are to be playing in January. With Arizona in charge of the NFC West, as well as San Francisco sitting on the same 6-4 record as Seattle, as things stand now the Seahawks are currently on the outside looking in.

Their passing game has been one of the poorest in the league, with Russell Wilson averaging less than 200 yards per game through the air, and if it wasn't for Marshawn Lynch on the ground their offence would be a mess.

The Legion of Boom is in no way the same menacing unit it was in 2013, to the extent where quarterbacks have no qualms in targeting Richard Sherman. All is not lost for the Washington-based franchise but rapid improvements are needed if they are to keep the trophy they won so convincingly last season.

Somehow, Atlanta are sitting in a play-off spot

Barely two games on from what seemed like a season-ending loss to the Detroit Lions in London, Atlanta are currently top of the NFC South and will return to the play-offs should they hold onto their position.

With a 19-17 win over the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta all of a sudden find themselves on top of a division that has no team with a winning record. Where they sit, however,is not necessarily a testament to the quality of their play but more so the lack of quality in whom they are competing with.

This division once again showed Sunday just how poor and inconsistent its teams are, when New Orleans lost convincingly to Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals - the same Andy Dalton that recorded a 2.0 passer rating barely a week earlier. Somehow, the NFC South is still wide open; it just comes down to who will lose the least.

Robert Griffin III is losing his job in Washington DC

As Washington have slowly dwindled from play-off contention, the narrative surrounding their quarterback has picked up. With the 2014 season all but over for the Redskins, this team will start looking to the future and Robert Griffin III is making a good case to not be a part of those plans.

Plagued with injuries over the past two seasons, Griffin is just 1-7 in his last eight starts, a statistic that is difficult to ignore. In the four games he’s played this year, Griffin has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns (3-2) and has failed on numerous occasions to get his team in contention to see out games; Sunday’s 27-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was another example.

Griffin is a talented player who remains electric on his feet when healthy and his completion percentage is consistently around 70. He is by no means all of Washington’s problems, but wins are what matters most in the NFL and Griffin has seemed incapable of producing them for his team in recent times.

Browns need more consistency to make the post-season

One week, this team is riding high topping the AFC North, the next they are at the bottom of their division and struggling to stay in the play-off hunt. Sadly for Cleveland, Sunday’s 23-7 loss at home to the Houston Texans was another example of the inconsistencies that may keep the Browns out of the post-season.

With the AFC play-off picture incredibly congested, the Browns will need to put in better performances than what they showed Sunday. Quarterback Brian Hoyer showed little of the promise he displayed earlier in the season, completing well fewer than 50 per cent of his throws and recording just one touchdown.

A dominating win over Cincinnati last week has been essentially scrapped following Sunday’s loss and Cleveland now face an uphill battle in a conference where every game can make the difference. 

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