Week 11 of the NFL season was instructive as we try to handicap the Super Bowl race as several teams revealed themselves to be fraudulent Sunday.
We’ll start with the Minnesota Vikings, who were embarrassed by the Dallas Cowboys 40-3 at home. The Vikings are the first team to start 8-2 or better and have a negative point differential. They are who we thought they were.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Boston sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
As for the Bears, their losing streak reached four games with Sunday’s 27-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. In the cruelest twist of fate, quarterback Justin Fields suffered a left shoulder injury on the final drive of the game and is unsure if he will have to miss some time.
The season has quickly slipped away from the Bears, and losing Fields for any amount of time would be a massive setback in his second-year development.
New England Patriots
Here’s where every team stands after the Week 11 action.
32. Houston Texans (1-8-1): The Texans’ staff can start making plans for a week in Mobile, Alabama, at the Senior Bowl.
31. Carolina Panthers (3-8): If the Panthers get even a competent offensive showing Sunday, they probably knock off the Ravens. But Baker Mayfield isn’t even capable of that.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7): Had the Jets not beaten the Browns and Rams in 2020, the Jaguars might have ended up with Zach Wilson instead of Trevor Lawrence. Bullet dodged.
29. Denver Broncos (3-7): Look at the bright side Broncos, at least you have your first-ro…er… Russ gave you a cool slogan?
28. Chicago Bears (3-8): The Justin Fields running offense was fun, but the Bears put the young quarterback at risk with reckless play calling during their 27-24 loss to the Falcons. An injury that forces Fields to miss time would put a damper on what has been an impressive Year 2 rise.
27. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-7): In what I’ve dubbed “Fraud Reveal Sunday,” the Steelers' allegedly great $100 million defense got eviscerated by the Bengals to the tune of 37 points and 408 yards. Fraudulent.
26. Cleveland Browns (3-7): Kevin Stefanski is coaching like he has a mulligan for this season, and he might not be wrong.
25. Indianapolis Colts (4-6-1): Jeff Saturday is the ultimate vibes guy, but vibes can’t fix what ails a bad Colts team.
24. Los Angeles Rams (3-7): The Rams’ season from hell continued Sunday when Matthew Stafford was evaluated for another concussion in a loss to the Saints. It’s a wrap. The champs are done.
23. Arizona Cardinals (4-7): Kliff's Cards are done. See you in 2023.
22. Las Vegas Raiders (3-7): Josh McDaniels doesn’t do much right, but he can beat the Broncos. That’s something. I guess.
21. Detroit Lions (4-7): Don’t look now, but the Dan Campbell express has found its gear over the past month. Oh, and here come the Bills.
20. Green Bay Packers (4-7): Aaron Rodgers is back on #WashedWatch.
19. New York Jets (6-4): Don’t worry, the Steelers’ defense will get plenty of company in the fraud zone. The Jets’ offense gained 2 yards in the second half against the Patriots, and reports from the locker room indicate second-year quarterback Zach Wilson is rubbing some people the wrong way. Jets=Frauds.
18. New Orleans Saints (4-7): With their backs against the wall, the Saints threw every punch they had and knocked out the Rams. The NFC South is just bad enough to keep New Orleans in the playoff picture.
17. Atlanta Falcons (5-6): Cordarrelle Patterson continues to torment the Bears. After his 103-yard kickoff return touchdown Sunday, three of Patterson’s nine career return touchdowns have come against the Bears.
16. Washington Commanders (6-5): The Commanders are cruising with Taylor Heinicke behind center, and Ron Rivera doesn’t need to see anything else for him to banish Carson Wentz to clipboard duty. Commanders identified their fraud and glued him to the pine.
14. New York Giants (7-3): The Giants will always have their impressive start to the Brian Daboll era, but a 31-18 loss to the Lions might be where they start to turn back into the pumpkin they’ve always been. F.R.A.U.D.S.
13. Los Angeles Chargers (5-5): Someone explain to me what Brandon Staley does for the Chargers. It’s not much. Minus EV in the coaching department has hurt the Bolts.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5): Bucs will win the NFC South, but their playoff road won’t go much farther than that.
11. Cincinnati Bengals (6-4): Tee Higgins is a damn good No. 2 wide receiver to have as a Ja’Marr Chase insurance policy.
10. Minnesota Vikings (8-2): Your biggest fraud of Week 11 got pantsed at home in a potential playoff preview. Kevin O’Connell, Kirk Cousins, and the Vikings’ offensive line weren’t up to the task against the Cowboys. They didn’t even belong on the same field.
9. Tennessee Titans (7-3): The more I doubt the Titans, the more they win. I relent.
8. Seattle Seahawks (6-4): Is anyone having a better season than Pete Carroll?
7. Baltimore Ravens (7-3): Baltimore has a championship-level defense and a star quarterback, but I’m still skeptical they are a legit contender.
6. San Francisco 49ers (6-4): When the 49ers' offense is clicking, it's impossible to stop. The 49ers will remain my NFC Super Bowl pick until Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy Garoppolo give me a reason to change it.
5. Miami Dolphins (7-3): The Dolphins were given immunity from “Fraud Reveal Sunday” by virtue of a bye. I like Miami, but I’m not sold that what the Dolphins do will work come January.
4. Dallas Cowboys (7-3): Two supposed NFC Super Bowl contenders met Sunday in Minnesota, but only one looked the part. The Cowboys have championship stuff, but they need to get out of their own way.
3. Buffalo Bills (7-3): It’s Squirrel Winters’ world, and we’re just living in it. All of Buffalo is going nuts for the man who helped plow Josh Allen’s driveway so he could make it to the airport and play Sunday vs. the Browns.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (8-2): Patrick Mahomes is like the NFL’s Michael Meyers. He’s impossible to kill.