Can you believe it’s already Week 11 of the NFL season? Thanksgiving is right around the corner, fantasy football is in the home stretch of the regular season, and the NFL playoff picture is beginning to take shape as we progress towards the final leg of the 2021 NFL regular season. The Bears will host Lamar Jackson and the Ravens this Sunday, but there are plenty of other storylines around the league to pay attention to. So let’s take a spin around the NFL before Week 11 kicks off tonight with the Patriots and Falcons meeting on Thursday Night Football.
• Ron Rivera returns to Charlotte for the first time since he was fired by the Carolina Panthers in December 2019, now the head coach of the Washington Football Team. The Athletic’s Rhiannon Walker spent months interviewing people to understand the impact that Rivera and his wife Stephanie meant to the community there.
For the first time since his firing, Ron Rivera and his family return to Carolina for a game.
In anticipation of this, I spent the three months interviewing people to understand what the Riveras meant to the community.
“He was the face of Charlotte.” https://t.co/cFVjKziWnN
— Rhiannon Walker (@InstantRHIplay) November 17, 2021
• Rivera and his wife Stephanie meant much more to the Charlotte community than the 76 wins and four playoff appearances that Rivera amassed as the head coach of the Panthers. Here’s an excerpt from Walker’s story on the Rivera’s:
“The Riveras didn’t just leave a mark on Charlotte. The city and its people left an imprint on them, too. The Riveras built friendships with their neighbors after their house caught on fire in January 2015. They worked with the Ronald McDonald House and walked in the PurpleStride 5K to raise money for research on pancreatic cancer after the death of Rivera’s brother Mickey in 2015. They held fundraisers for the USO and the Second Harvest Food Bank, among other charities.”
• I strongly recommend you give this one a read before Rivera and his Washington Football Team take on the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte this Sunday.
• The Mike White experience in New York was short-lived after White threw four interceptions in a 45-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills last Sunday. Thankfully for Jets fans, Zach Wilson’s rehab appears to be going well, but the rookie quarterback is still not 100 percent. With Wilson still sidelined for Week 11, Robert Saleh will go with veteran Joe Flacco over White when the Jets take on the Miami Dolphins this week.
BREAKING: In a surprise, the Jets are planning to start Joe Flacco vs Miami, source tells ESPN. Zach Wilson still not 100%. Flacco’s experience likely a big factor in the decision, facing blitz-heavy D. #Jets
— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) November 17, 2021
• Flacco replaced White in the blowout loss to the Bills last Sunday, completing all three of his passes for 47 yards and a touchdown in garbage time against the Bills. Rich Cimini believes that Saleh is going with Flacco over White due to Flacco’s experience against a heavy-blitzing Miami Dolphins’ defense. The Dolphins are coming off of an upset over Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football in Week 10.
• Speaking of the Ravens, they’ll be in town this weekend to take on the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field Sunday afternoon. The Bears haven’t played since their Monday Night Football loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers to close out Week 9. This will be a pretty good matchup between two dynamic quarterbacks in Lamar Jackson and Justin Fields. Fields and Jackson are among the top five in yards per rush with a minimum of 30 attempts since Week 6, and they’re the only quarterbacks in that category. Fields leads the league with 7.2 yards per rush since Week 6 while Jackson checks in at No. 4 at 6.0 behind Jonathan Taylor and Nick Chubb.
• When it comes to Fields’ success on the ground, he attributes some of it to his study of how Lamar Jackson himself operates as a runner.
Justin Fields said he studied Lamar Jackson last year and specifically watched how he operated as a runner.
Said Fields: "There's not many guys who are like Lamar Jackson. Call it what it is."
— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) November 17, 2021
• After losing to the Washington Football Team last Sunday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have placed cornerback Richard Sherman on injured reserve. Sherman signed with Tampa Bay in Week 4 and played in three games before injuring his hamstring in Week 6 against the Eagles. According to Buccaneers’ head coach Bruce Arians, Sherman, who was expected to play last week against Washington, strained his calf before the game.
Buccaneers placed cornerback Richard Sherman on the Reserve/Injured list.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 17, 2021
• After playing in limited red zone action in his return to the Carolina Panthers last week, Cam Newton is expected to be the starter this Sunday against his old head coach Ron Rivera and the Washington Football Team.
In his press conference, Panthers head coach Matt Rhule says “we’re trending that way” in terms of Cam Newton starting on Sunday.
He said they’ll continue to have P.J. Walker ready as well, but plenty of signs pointing towards Cam starting against Washington.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) November 17, 2021
• Newton scored a pair of touchdowns in his Panthers return against the Arizona Cardinals, one on the ground and one through the air to old pal Robby Anderson. The Panthers topped the Cardinals 34-10 and moved to 5-5 on the season. Newton said after the game that the now 5-5 Panthers have their sights set on the playoffs and said that his return to Carolina isn’t about selling tickets but about winning.
• Remember Dante Hall’s dominance in the return game back in the early 2000s?
• Here’s a pretty fun read on Hall from Nate Taylor of The Athletic:
"The crowd lets you know if you’ve made the right decision or not."
"That (consecutive game) record will never be broken."
An oral history of Dante Hall's historic run of kick returns back in '03 ⤵️https://t.co/hJbyixdrE6
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) November 18, 2021
• It was just a few years ago that Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson, and the Seattle Seahawks were on top of the football world. Now, Wilson’s future in Seattle is in question, and another season without the Seahawks in the playoffs might mean the same for Pete Carroll.
The Seahawks are last place in the NFC West.
Pete Carroll is safe, for now, writes @MikeDugar.
"Pete Carroll isn’t going anywhere right now … This discussion will be worth revisiting if the Seahawks finish well below .500 and miss the playoffs."https://t.co/oxTaufjx1P
— The Athletic NFL (@TheAthleticNFL) November 17, 2021
Enjoy Week 11!