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The Hudsucker Presents NFL Weekly: Week 11 – Division Rivalries at Their Finest

This year our writers are teaming up to bring you weekly football coverage! Each week, a few of our writers will be sharing their thoughts and highlights from games they’ve watched. Who were the winners this week? Who remains undefeated? Which team will come out victorious at the end of the 2013-2014 season? 

While the playoff picture is becoming clearer each week, it is continuously loaded with surprises throughout any given Sunday! Week 11 have proven division rivalries are fierce, and garner the attention of football fans alike, with the Eagles and Redskins in the NFC East sharing a division lead of 5-5 but showing that Philly is still the clear front-runners of their division; or Buffalo taking on the Jets in a tough rundown in the AFC East; the Browns taking on the Bengals in a defeat they are still reeling from in the AFC North; the Buccaneers finally getting to their feet and beating the Falcons in the NFC South; or the AFC West seeing the Broncos bring the Chiefs down to their knees in a loss no one saw coming for the once 9-0 team. The two teams manned by QB Peyton Manning and Alex Smith, respectively, are deadlocked atop the AFC West with their mirrored 9-1 record, fighting hard for the number one spot. The Broncos are still Super Bowl favorites, along with the Seahawks who have been on a stunning six win streak. The Seahawks are well ahead in the NFC West, almost clinching the division title.

So how were the games this week? Our writers, Tania Hussain, Andrew Rogers and Chris Hill team up and share some highlights from their favorite games, what they thought of the plays and what’s ahead for Week 11.

Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans

Image Credit: NFL/AP Photo

Colts, 30-27

Tania:

The Colts do this weird thing where they dig themselves into holes early into the game, but then come back full throttle and show their opponents what they’re made of. It’s interesting and maybe a true quality to the dark horse trait but whatever it is, it works. Indy was able to pull themselves together just in the nick of time and pour all that misguided emotion and thought into positive plays. They are a team with a lot at stake. In their game against the Titans, they showed frustration by their own incapability in the second quarter as they fell behind 17-3, later regrouping in the first few minutes of the third quarter and turning 17-6 halftime deficit into a 20-17 lead. RB Donald Brown may be small in height but don’t confuse that with his athletic stature–he ran for two TDs, with QB Luck adding another and the Colts rallied yet again to beat the Titans last Thursday. Indy is back in charge of the AFC South, too as they’ve now beaten all three divisional opponents on the road. They play the Cardinals this weekend and my money’s on Indianapolis. They may pull a few close ones but ultimately, it’s in the bag.

The Titans have lost their second straight win and need to try their hardest to get back that winning formula if they want to show their competition who’s boss. They play the Raiders this weekend and I’m betting Tennessee will break their losing streak. Oakland is just clinging to a thread of hope as to making a run for the playoffs. Though they stand at 4-6 this season–coming off a close win to the Houston Texans–they should worry, because the Titans have taken them down in the last two meetings.

Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles

Image Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images

Eagles, 24-16

Chris:

I said it before and I’ll say it again: Philly will win the division. They make too many big plays in an NFC East that is otherwise devoid. Plus, Demeco Ryans has really stepped up this year. This Eagles defense is starting to look like it did back in late-McNabb era. Oh, and by the way–does anyone else think that RGIII isn’t 100%? He can blame the play calling if he wants (because Kyle Shanahan does need to go), but eventually he’ll have to man up and lead this Skins team out of irrelevance

Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Image Credit: Getty Images/NFL

Buccaneers, 41-28

Chris:

This game was over a few weeks ago, that’s how poorly the Falcons played in this one. Letting Vincent Jackson drop over 100 yards on you is one thing, but letting a 3rd string running back run wild over you is a solid sign that the team has given up (though thank you Bobby Rainey for helping one of my fantasy teams claim a “W”). The Bucs played with more physicality and controlled the line of scrimmage all game – the M.O. for beating this Falcons team in 2013.

Green Bay Packers at New York Giants

Image Credit: Getty Images/NFL

Giants, 27-13

Tania:

I’m loving this magical revival from the G-Men! They suffered six straight losses, then four straight wins. The Giants intercepted the Packers QB Scott Tolzien three times, QB Eli Manning threw for 279 yards with one TD and an interception, and Giants WR Victor Cruz scored 110 yards on 8 interceptions. That being said, this is another game of theirs where they are playing another team without a starting quarterback.

The Packers on the other hand, wow. They’ve been a little hot and cold this season. It’s no surprise with the list of continuous injuries and the fact that QB Aaron Rodgers is out with a serious collarbone injury. The Packers made some serious defensive mistakes against New York and as a result have lost three straight games.

New Orleans Saints at San Francisco 49ers

Image Credit: AP Photo/NFL

Saints, 49-17

Andrew:

No doubt that this was a challenge for my Saints, even at home. The key play of the game was that hit by Ahmad Brooks on Drew Brees. People called that call controversial, especially since it resulted in a $16k fine for Brooks and a penalty that made have led to the Saints win, but I don’t think it was controversial at all. Maybe Brooks didn’t mean to hit Brees that high but the fact is that he did and that Brees got up and had blood in his mouth and down his chin. That is not the type of conduct we want to encourage, accidental or not especially in a player with a few years under his belt like Brooks. That said, it was a great game otherwise between two teams with strong offences and defenses. Hopefully the Saints can do the same against the Falcons tonight. The Falcons may suck this season, but they’ve always been a tough opponent for us and I wouldn’t underestimate them on their home turf if I was Payton, Brees & Co.

Chris:

It was nice seeing these two teams play a close contest, but it’s getting ridiculous to see these line backs and DBs getting flagged for hitting quarterbacks. Ahmad Brooks made a play. The Saints are the best when it comes to orchestrating late 4th quarter drives. You can’t man up on everyone, and players like Colston will keep making clutch catches. This Niners team doesn’t look like a Superbowl contender. They have now lost to the Seahawks, Saints and Panthers…all boasting better defenses.

Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos

Image Credit: Denver Post/Getty Images

Broncos, 27-17

Tania:

Denver’s impressive and unexpected win over the Chiefs this past Sunday night had me over the moon! Wow! With the way the Chiefs were going this season, I kind of thought they’d be able to keep consistency in their plays and overthrow Manning and his Great White Horses. QB Peyton Manning completed 24 of the 40 passes, only two were considered to be deep field throws but he wasn’t sacked once throughout the night even though the Chiefs have a ferocious defense. The Broncos are a favorite this season and a top contender for the Super Bowl, with a 9-1 record but can they clinch their division? They play the 7-3 New England Patriots this Sunday and I predict another Broncos win, but a very tight one as Manning and QB Tom Brady–though very good friends–will most definitely fight to the finish.

The Chiefs showed us that they still have a tough defense but the Broncos offense took them down. Perhaps this game was their own fluke–like the Broncos at Colts just a few weeks ago–but the Chiefs play the Chargers this weekend and I’m sure QB Alex Smith will deliver. The Chiefs are set to play the Broncos again on December 1 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

Andrew:

I’ve seen some talk that this game was “boring” compared to what was expected out of two divisional rivals with near flawless records. I disagree. There was a ton of push and pull in this game that kept it interesting and kept both teams, especially Manning and Smith on their toes. I think both teams will walk away from this having learned a lot about their weaknesses and strengths and bring their revised game to the table when they play again in a few weeks in the Chiefs territory.

New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers

Image Credit: NFL/Getty Images

Panthers, 24-20

Andrew:

Here’s another game that ended in a controversial call. I, for once, wanted the Pats to win to put a stop to Carolina’s streak (as their a threat to my Saints) but, alas, it wasn’t meant to be. The Panthers defense was roaring as usual, but the Pats kept up until Cam’s last drive, which allowed him to score a quick TD and put them ahead, forcing Brady to do the same and he just couldn’t. Sure, the fact that a flag was thrown and picked up was a bit questionable, but I do agree that there was no way Gronk could have gotten to that ball, holding or not. Still, after they threw the flag, maybe the best thing to do would have been to just replay the down and see what happens. That may, however, led to a very different outcome and an equal amount of controversy. The Refs just can’t win. I’m looking forward to the Brady/Manning match up this weekend though.

Who are you rooting for? What games did you watch? Let us know what you thought of this eleventh week of NFL by sounding off in the comments below.

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