American Football Expert & Columnist
Pick Six: Tom Brady searches for sixth Super Bowl while the Buffalo Bills mess up
Last Updated: 21/11/17 2:18pm
Week 11 in the NFL saw some true powerhouses in the NFC continue to stake a serious claim for the Super Bowl.
The AFC, however, is currently struggling to fill the six playoff spots with teams who could make genuine noise in the postseason.
That's not to suggest the AFC is devoid of talent - that can never be the case when the New England Patriots are on top form. And it is the defending Super Bowl champions who kick off my look at six compelling storylines from Sunday evening...
Brady chasing number six
Would anyone bet against Tom Brady winning a sixth Super Bowl with the Patriots this season? Brady was sublime in Sunday's 33-8 thrashing of the Oakland Raiders in Mexico City on Sunday night.
'Tom Terrific' completed his first 12 passes in Azteca Stadium and the contest was over before it ever really got started as the Patriots won their sixth straight after a shaky 2-2 start. At the age of 40, Brady looks as good as ever and hit on 30 of 37 passes for 339 yards, three touchdowns and no picks.
Since the start of last season when he turned 39, Brady has thrown 50 touchdown passes and just four interceptions. That is remarkable production for a man who is showing no signs of physical decline. As for the mental side of his game, Brady has hit that annual re-set button and remains as hungry as ever to succeed in New England this term.
Vikings produce defensive masterclass
The early signs looked ominous for the Minnesota Vikings as they allowed the Los Angeles Rams to march 75 yards in 10 plays for a Todd Gurley touchdown on Sunday.
The free-scoring Rams came into the contest with the Vikings averaging 32.9 points per game and scored on their opening possession. But then Mike Zimmer's defense took over, holding the Rams without a point on their final nine drives.
The Vikings are now 8-2 on the year and their defense is going to grab a lot of the headlines. But this is far from a lopsided team. The offense is also holding up its end of the bargain with Case Keenum enjoying a career year at quarterback, Latavius Murray getting it done on the ground and Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs teaming at receiver.
Saints dig deep
Good teams find ways to win games and the New Orleans Saints did just that on Sunday night as they dug deep to see off the Washington Redskins in overtime.
The Saints were down by 15 at home late in the fourth quarter but found enough Drew Brees/Mark Ingram/Alvin Kamara magic to eke out a 34-31 victory that saw them become the first team in NFL history to win eight straight after an 0-2 start to the year.
Brees will get a lot of the headlines from Sunday, but the driving force of the Saints this year remains the running back pairing of Ingram - 11 runs for 134 yards and one touchdown - and Kamara, who had over 100 scrimmage yards for a third straight game.
McDermott messes up
There was no doubt the Buffalo Bills were on the ropes heading into Week 11 after back-to-back losses to the New York Jets and New Orleans Saints. But I'm not sure that should have prompted the benching of quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
Taylor was replaced by rookie Nathan Peterman on Sunday and the youngster tossed up five interceptions in an embarrassing 54-24 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. Peterman didn't appear to be ready and this move and subsequent re-inserting of Taylor into the line-up made it look like coach Sean McDermott was making things up as he was going along.
I think the coach is in danger of losing his team at the worst possible time of the year and Buffalo's chances of making the playoffs for the first time since the 1999 campaign appear to be going up in smoke.
Chiefs in trouble
Let's start with the good news as it relates to the Kansas City Chiefs - they currently have a two-game lead in the AFC West with six games to play. The bad news? The Chiefs have gone from being the last undefeated team in the league to one that has lost four of its last five.
To play the struggling New York Giants and not score a touchdown in a 12-9 overtime defeat is a stunning indictment of Andy Reid and his quarterback, Alex Smith. The veteran passer shot out of the gates in 2017 but has been pegged back and endured his worst game of the year on Sunday.
Smith threw two interceptions and, most importantly, could not stretch the field in the same way as he did at the start of the year. That has led to whispers of Smith eventually being replaced by rookie first-rounder Pat Mahomes. It would be a bold move from Reid, but desperate times can call for desperate measures and the Chiefs are getting pretty close to desperate right now.
Eagles wrap up the East
It's not over until the fat lady sings, but it should be noted that she is warming up her vocal chords when it comes to the NFC East, as the Philadelphia Eagles inflicted a 37-9 beating on the Dallas Cowboys to take a four-game lead in the division.
Carson Wentz was very efficient in throwing two touchdown passes and no interceptions, while Jay Ajayi continues to prove his worth as a mid-season pick-up with seven runs for 91 yards. And, Philadelphia's defense was dominant in recording four takeaways. The Eagles look to be a complete team and worthy of their status as top dogs in terms of NFL records at 9-1.
Dak Prescott was harried and harassed on Sunday night and has now been sacked 12 times in the past two weeks without Tyron Smith as his main protector. That is obviously affecting his game, as he was poor against the Eagles, producing the worst performance of his young career with three interceptions and a quarterback rating of 30.4.