By Kevin Garber
The West returned mostly to it’s winning ways last week. Let’s see what Week 11 holds:
Seattle Seahawks @ Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City and Seattle are both examples of playoff teams from last year who got off to a disappointing start but have since rebounded. The Seahawks are winners of three in a row after upending the Giants, and the Chiefs knocked off Buffalo for their fourth straight victory.
Rec YDS AVG YD/Game TD 39 491 12.6 61.4 0 14 156 11.1 39 0
Those are the top two receivers from an offense that has been critisized a bit this season for receiver play. As a matter of fact, that offense has no touchdown passes to a receiver this year, and that team is Kansas City. While the passing attack has been fairly healthy, it has also been working greatly through TEs and RBs. While part of this is the emergence of Travis Kelce and the quality play of Jamaal Charles coupled with Alex Smith’s QB style, there are some in KC that are worried and feel unless receiver play can step up the offense is very limited.
On the one hand, this offers a chance for a now healthy LOB to flex their superior talent, it also puts a talented set of pass catching RBs and TEs against a defense that has struggled at times this year to stop such a threat. A healthy Maxwell and Kam helps, and Kevin Pierre-Louis stepping up is big too. So far this year KPL has posted positive coverage numbers, giving a potential boost over players like Malcolm Smith and Brock Coyle who’ve struggled mightily in pass coverage. KPL also passes the eye test, showing up in the picture on seemingly every play and making a difference.
Denver Broncos @ St. Louis Rams
Denver is sitting at 7-2 after pasting Oakland last week, while the Rams had yet another second half collapse as they fell to 3-6 with a loss against Arizona.
Rec YDS AVG YD/Game TD 65 1002 15.4 111.3 6 62 852 13.7 94.7 6
Here we have two receiver stat lines that most of the league would be very happy to have for their top receiver. Denver boasts both, with Demaryius Thomas (top) and Emmanuel Sanders (bottom) lighting things up on a week by week basis. Both players are talented, top tier WRs. Throw in the fact that Peyton Manning is the one feeding these talented players the ball and it isn’t surprising all the success they are having.
The Rams will be looking for their suddenly reawakened pass rush to counter the receiver play of the Broncos. Robert Quinn has woken up to the tune of 6 sacks in the last four games, and combined with Aaron Donald getting snaps and getting comfortable in the league this front four is turning into the strength people thought they’d be for St. Louis. This is important, because the secondary has really been a soft spot in the Rams’ play so far.
San Francisco 49ers @ New York Giants
The 49ers won in OT last week against the Saints to move to 5-4 and keep their season alive, while the Giants were blown out by the Seahawks in the second half to all but sink their playoff chances at 3-6.
Rec Targets Yards Avg TD 8 11 156 19.5 0 7 9 105 15.4 0
Since the injury to Victor Cruz, Odell Beckham Jr has stepped in to become a real weapon in the New York offense. In his last two games he has gone over 100 yards and been the clear primary receiving option for Eli Manning. While this may not speak well for the Giants’ fortune this season, a young playmaking receiver does speak well for the future.
San Francisco counters with a defense that has recently learend Patrick Willis will not rejoin them this year, but still manages to put together a top level performance. Free Agent pickup Antoine Bethea, as well as Perrish Cox have been playing quite well in pass coverage this year, and the supporting cast has done enough to keep their pass defense in the top 10 so far.
Detroit Lions @ Arizona Cardinals
The 7-2 Lions are leading the NFC North division after beating Miami last week. They will head into Phoenix to take on the Arizon Cardinals this week who are leading the NFC West at 8-1 after their defense mopped up the Rams last week.
That line belongs to Drew Stanton, the man tasked with replacing Carson Palmer after he went down with a season ending knee injury last week. While Arizona has been successful in the games Stanton has started in Palmer’s place earlier in the season, it is hard to say that the wins did not come in spite of the QB. A sub-50% completion percentage is enough to make Cardinals fans groan, but on the bright side he has not turned the ball over at all so far on the year. It is safe to say that the spark in the Arizona offense will need to be provided elsewhere though.
If you offense is what you are worried about, the Detroit Lions defense is not what you want to see. The Lions are ranked in the top three in passing and rushing defense this season, and sport a defensive line that has been reported to cause others to wet themselves on occasion. The team with Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford is doing it with defense this year, and that spells bad news for Arizona.