by ANDREW HORN
With another win in Week 11, I have officially clinched a playoff spot. I am currently sitting as the second-place team to a girl who has no real clue what she is doing. Unfortunately for her, she lost Ahmad Bradshaw. On the field, some bad player performances turned into their last. Here are the Week 11 winners and losers.
Winner: Aaron Rodgers (GB) 44.3 points:
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the MVP for the 2014 season: Aaron Rodgers. He is simply the best player in the league this year and it’s not really that close. After throwing for 341 yards and three touchdowns against the Eagles, Rodgers now has 28 touchdowns on the season, to only three interceptions. Rodgers has made Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb both deserving of new contracts. Obviously start Rodgers next week against the Minnesota Vikings, but be advised that Minnesota has given up the 10th fewest points to opposing quarterbacks this season.
Loser: Matthew Stafford (DET) 7.2 points:
Wow. Stafford has thrown up some clunkers before, but against the Cardinals, Stafford brought his “A-game”…A standing for amateur. 183 yards and an interception against the Cardinals defense is all Stafford could manage on Sunday. Yes, the Cardinals are a top-10 defense, but Stafford has three capable options to throw to. The Lions are trying to rebuild the 1999 St. Louis Rams, but lack the consistency needed in order to be taken seriously as NFC contenders. Next week, Stafford and the Lions pull a matchup with the Patriots, which have scored at least 40 points in each of the last three games. The Patriots also haven’t lost since Week 4. Start Stafford and pray that a miracle happens.
Jonas Gray (NE) 49.9 points:
In the past, New England has maximized the use of running backs like Brandon Bolden, LeGarrette Blount and now Gray. New England has a weird talent of taking running backs that were drafted late or undrafted and transforming them into something more deadly that the Death Star. Gray rushed the ball 37 times for 201 yards and FOUR touchdowns against the Colts. Gray singlehandedly outscored the Colts. With Stevan Ridley out for the season and approaching free agency, Gray may find himself taking the lead in New England. He must be cautious with this power, as backs like Brandon Bolden and Shane Vereen did the same as Gray before becoming expendable parts.
Le’Veon Bell (PIT) 33.2 points
Gray had a high total because of the four touchdowns he scored. Bell only had one touch, but accumulated 222 yards on 35 touches against the Titans. Bell is having a fantastic season for the Steelers, though he only has two rushing touchdowns. Bell is averaging about 130.5 yards from scrimmage per game. Bell has become one of the top backs in the league by using his length to long stride for huge chunks of yards. Bell is very reminiscent of another lengthy-legged back named Gale Sayers. He went on to have a pretty good Hall of Fame career.
Loser: Ben Tate (CLE) 0 points:
Tate lost for two reasons this week. First, he had two rushes for minus nine yards. That’s an average of -4.5 yards a carry. The second reason Tate is on this list this week is because he probably won’t appear on it again this season. After the game, Tate was released by the Browns. This marks the end of a horrible experiment. The blame for a lackluster run game cannot be placed solely on Tate’s shoulders, as the loss of Alex Mack certainly contributed to his eventual downfall. Up next for Tate is looking for a job. (UPDATE: Tate has signed with the Vikings) The former Auburn back has a ton of talent, but can he translate that talent into CONSISTENT on the field performances? That is the million dollar question.
Winner: Mike Evans (TB) 37.9 points:
This is what the Bucs were expecting when they drafted Evans with a first round pick. Evans has compiled at least seven catches and 120 yards in each of the last three games. Sunday against the Redskins, he went for 209 yards with two touchdowns. The rookie started slow, but has really become the top receiving option in Tampa Bay. That is good and bad news for fans. The bad news is that now Vincent Jackson is a horrendously overpaid second receiver. At least one decided to step up. Ride the hot streak and play Evans against the Bears.
Loser: Pierre Garcon (WAS) 0.6 points:
Garcon has failed to catch more than five passes since Week 3 according to FoxSports.com. This is a guy who is capable of 100 receptions in a season without really batting an eye. The Redskins, yet again, have fallen way short of expectations. The quarterback situation is a huge problem. The running backs are productive, but only in their respective roles, making it easy to tell going forward whether they are running or passing. The receivers and tight ends are suffering due to the quarterback situation. It also doesn’t help that a couple injuries and personnel have contributed to the Redskins sporting one of the league’s worst defenses. A Week 12 matchup in San Francisco does not look good on paper, but Garcon has stepped up against top opponents before. Start him and hope RGIII makes good decisions.
Winner: Jermaine Gresham (CIN) 15.3 points:
Well the stat line of two catches for 13 yards normally gets you on the other side of this list, but Gresham turned his limited targets into two touchdowns against the Saints. Gresham’s first touchdown was a catch and fumble that the Saints were unable to pick up. The ball squirted into the end zone where Gresham could fall on it. The ineptitude sums up the season for the Saints. Moving forward, I don’t believe will keep up his 1:1 catch to touchdown ratio he established, but it is still nice to see every once in a while.
Loser: Jimmy Graham (NO) 2.9 points:
After three stellar weeks in a row, Graham was stopped by the Bengals. The former Miami Hurricanes power forward (remember those basketball playing days?) caught only three passes for 29 yards. Brees and the Saints did not play well at home for the second straight game. Next up is Baltimore on Monday night in the Dome. A loss here would almost seal their fate, even in a division as terrible as the NFC South.