Chiefs Eagles Week 11 Josh Dobbs rise, Raiders Antonio Pierce: Our NFL writers discuss

Chiefs Eagles Week 11 Josh Dobbs rise, Raiders Antonio Pierce: Our NFL writers discuss

In Week 11, there’s a rematch in Super Bowl LVII and a potential preview of Super Bowl LVIII, AFC North quarterback injuries abound and the Minnesota Vikings are hoping the Josh Dobbs experience keeps their season trending upward.

The athleteNFL writers Kalen Kahler, Mike Sandow and Jeff Howe try to make sense of it all in our roundtable review of the weekend’s events.

Everyone has Monday’s Eagles-Chiefs game circled on the schedule. Who do you admire in this and what makes a difference?

shirt: I’ll even take the Chiefs to give 2.5 points. They’re at home, they have a better defense, they have a better quarterback, and I’ll take Andy Reid almost every time. The Eagles are 5-0 in one-score games. A little decline seems likely.

Haw: Even though the Eagles have been the better team this season, it’s hard to pick against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in a game of this magnitude. More than anything else, I’m interested in seeing how the Chiefs’ improved defense handles the Eagles’ offense. The Dolphins were stymied in Germany, but the Eagles present a different challenge.

Color: I love eagles. They have been a more consistent team and had better offensive production than the Chiefs this season. It feels like it’s been a long time since either of these teams played a game, and Mahomes strongly vowed to make things right on offense after the defense won the game in Germany, but I’ll go with which team played better. All year round.

shirt: Cleveland is 6-3 with a fifth-ranked offense, so we know the defense and run style can keep them competitive. What the Browns lose is the potential to become a true contender if Watson can maximize his game. Watson’s efficient second half against Baltimore was a potential positive sign, but 11 of his 14 passes went no further than 5 yards from the line of scrimmage. It has clearly diminished.

Haw: The Browns should be there for almost every game because their defense is so good. But if they have plans for a playoff berth or two, their best chances will clearly be with Watson improving down the stretch and playing his best ball in January. Taking that out of the equation, it gives Brown a somewhat stress-free audition for Dorian Thompson Robinson. There’s no pressure on them now, and perhaps this will free up the talented rookie for free. It’s hard to call that a silver lining when they have Watson on a fully guaranteed contract for three more years, but an extended evaluation of Thompson-Robinson could be valuable in the future.

Color: It helps that the division rival Bengals also have the starting quarterback position. Losing Joe Burrow for the year should allow the Browns to remain competitive within the division. Dorian Thompson-Robinson wasn’t really ready for his first start in Week 4, and it was as bad as it could be. He finished with a 52.7 percent completion rate, no touchdowns and three interceptions. The good news is that DTR can only get better from there, and he has the potential to become a big-time playmaker for Cleveland. In the long run, this makes the Browns’ deal for Watson look worse than it already was and doesn’t help answer any questions we have about whether Watson is worth such a high price.

Go deeper

Five points from the Cleveland Browns after Deshaun Watson’s injury, including a Super Bowl dream

Josh Dobbs keeps the Vikings’ season alive. Denver’s defense does the same for the Broncos’ playoff hopes. Something has to give Sunday night. What did you do?

shirt: Minnesota’s defense is the overlooked factor. It ranks third behind the Browns and Jets in EPA per play since Week 6. It ranks 11th for the season. For that reason, I give the Vikings a good chance to win as long as they play a relatively clean game offensively, and protect the ball better than Buffalo did on Monday night.

Haw: Dobbs and the Vikings seem like a more sustainable formula for success. I need to see more from the Broncos, who certainly deserve credit for winning three straight titles considering what the organization has been through in recent years. But they beat a reeling Packers team, Mahomes in a flu game, and they beat the Bills when Josh Allen and this offense couldn’t have been more reckless with the ball. The Broncos are about to face the Vikings, Browns, Texans and Chargers — four teams in the same playoffs. If they’re legit, they’ll hold their own in this stretch.

Color: I’m not sold on the Bronco yet. Had the Bills not made the highly questionable decision to replace their defense with a field goal block unit on Monday night, Sean Payton would have faced a lot of questions about his game management that final sequence, when he chose to put in his kicking unit. A “mayday” scenario with the clock running, when he could have Russell Wilson throw out of bounds on third down to kill five seconds and stop the clock so the field goal team had its normal setup and comfortable pace. Payton said he did it because he didn’t want his kicking team to think too much because he kicked his “mayday” field goal at the end of the first half but botched two extra point attempts. Anyway, Minnesota has been a more consistent team this season on both sides of the ball, and I expect Dobbs to continue his run.

Go deeper

It’s hard to believe Josh Dobbs’ rise to NFL fame – unless you know him

The Bills will try to stop their free fall against the Jets. Joe Brady got another chance to be offensive coordinator, this time in Buffalo. What should we expect from his stage call?

shirt: Brady will be in charge for a shortened week, so he will have less time to put his stamp on the offense. I think we’ll see a concerted effort to feature Stefon Diggs. We’ll see an effort to get an easy completion for Allen. We will see an increase in the use of percussion. We may see more effort to run the ball. We will likely see fewer turnovers. We’ve probably seen some of these things anyway. I’m very interested to see what kind of emotional energy the Bills bring to this game and to the rest of their games. Looks fragile.

Haw: Brady was the next big thing when he took Burrow and LSU to the national championship, but it’s hard to feel his trajectory after a few lost seasons under Matt Rhule in Carolina. I don’t want to downplay the importance of the play, but the success of the Bills offense depends almost entirely on Allen’s decision-making. He has the tools and talent around him to methodically move down the court and take deep shots when available if he wants to go that route, but he hasn’t shown the discipline this season to do so.

Color: I think we’ll see fewer tight end sets and more pre-snap movement, which is a cure for almost any offense in the NFL.

Could Las Vegas Raiders interim coach Antonio Pierce be seriously considered for this permanent role? (Kyle Terada/USA Today)

The Raiders are on a two-game winning streak to Miami. Should they start thinking about removing the interim tag from Antonio Pierce with a win on Sunday? Or is the prospect of hiring a new employee too interesting to ignore?

shirt: Beating the Dolphins would give Pierce a lot of momentum, but there’s no advantage to the team in rushing into any decision. The Raiders must wait until the end of the season before deciding how to move forward. They have to research candidates in the meantime while honing in their minds what they want in a head coach. Flashy shouldn’t be part of the equation.

Haw: Too early and not entirely necessary. This is a big jump in the ranks for Pierce, so give him a chance to show what he can do, especially in the face of adversity after a major loss, injury, or whatever else comes a head coach’s way. There will be quite a few notable head coaching candidates this offseason. It would be strange if Mark Davis didn’t give himself the opportunity to go through the process.

Color: It’s certainly too early to do so, and Davis’ past behavior makes me think he won’t. He did not name interim Rich Bisaccia after the 2021 NFL season, and Bisaccia has had the same impact Pierce had on Vegas. Davis must begin the process of discovering what he is looking for and who will help him find it.

(Best photos of Patrick Mahomes, Joshua Dobbs and Jalen Hurts: Nathan Ray Sibick, Brad Rempel and Bill Streicher/USA Today)

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