NFL Week 11

The question for Week 11 is clear. Can this Sunday’s slate measure up with Week 10’s terrific schedule of thrilling finishes and battles between the league’s top teams. Based solely on the matchups, achieving that goal appears optimistic.

Just four of the remaining 13 games feature point spreads of less than a touchdown, with the New England Patriots — fresh from their last-second loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 10 — expected to punish the 1-8 San Francisco 49ers.

But a dubious record has been surpassed with 11 missed extra-point attempts Sunday. Wind played a factor in the Meadowlands where kickers for the Giants and the visiting Chicago Bears both missed their first attempts, then Giants kicker Robbie Gould missed another in the third quarter. Bengals kicker Mike Nugent has missed twice in Cincinnati against the Buffalo Bills. Kickers for the Browns, Lions, Vikings, Jaguars, Patriots and Seahawks have also failed to connect on extra-point kick attempts.

In the first week of December 2015, NFL kickers also combined to miss nine extra point kicks in a single Sunday. Per ESPN, the record, according to Elias Sports Bureau, was 10, set in 1985.

There has clearly been a huge impact on the kicking game after the league moved back the extra-point kick distance from 20 yards to 33 at the start of the 2015 season. With four games left to play, there’s a decent chance today could become the most infamous day in the history of NFL placekicking. That, however, is not the kind of tension that will help the league recover from a season-long ratings slump that seemed to rebound last week.

In Seattle, quarterback Russell Wilson has long since proven that he can both run and throw for Seahawks touchdowns. On Sunday, he showed the world that he’s equipped to catch them too. In the Seahawks matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, Wilson tossed the ball to a motioning Doug Baldwin and the players then switched roles, with Baldwin finding a streaking Wilson down the sideline and into the end zone for a 15-yard score and a 23-7 Seattle edge. Razzle dazzle.

https://twitter.com/NFL/status/800482305089228800

More intrigue may be found in some individual story lines, including the long awaited (and to some, long overdue) debut of Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff. Goff, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft has watched from the sidelines as Case Keenum has led the struggling offense to just a 4-5 record. The rookie got off to a solid start, orchestrating a Rams touchdown on his first drive when Todd Gurley ran one in. But late defensive breakdowns cost the Rams, Goff struggled and the Dolphins scored two fourth quarter touchdowns to win 14-10. The loss was No. 162 for Rams coach Jeff Fisher, tying him with Cowboys legend Tom Landry for the second most in NFL history.

In early action, the Pittsburgh Steelers halted their four-game losing streak with the help of the woebegone 0-10 Cleveland Browns.

The Steelers dominated possession in the first half, recording over 20 minutes with the ball, but their final seconds of the half proved most interesting. With five seconds left on the clock and leading 6-0, the Steelers opted to chase the touchdown from the 3-yard line rather than simply make it a two-possession game with a field goal. Twice the Steelers failed, with the clock hitting zero . . . and twice the Browns committed a penalty, extending the half. Perhaps there is a reason the Browns are winless.

On a third attempt, Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell finally reached the end zone. A two-point conversion put the Steelers up 14-0. The Browns drew within one possession in the second half, but a fumble recovered for a touchdown by the Pittsburgh defense iced the game, giving Ben Roethlisberger as many wins at the Browns’ home stadium as any Browns quarterback. Did we mention Roethlisberger doesn’t pay for the Browns?

The Minnesota Vikings had likewise lost four in a row — after a 5-0 start to the season — and likewise ended that slide on Sunday, beating the Arizona Cardinals 30-24. The Vikings tormented Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer throughout the day, sacking him four times and hitting him a total of 15 times.

The Cincinnati Bengals have under-delivered on their preseason expectations, stumbling to a 3-5-1 start and stubbed their toes again Sunday at home against the Bills. The loss means Cincinnati can’t exceed nine wins, at even that would require them to win out to close the season. Particularly daunting for the Bengals: wide receiver A.J. Green was carted off the field with what is believed to be an injury to his right hamstring. There has been no update on a longer term prognosis.

Week 11 marked Dak Prescott’s first week at quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys since the team clearly stated he would be the team’s starter ahead of a now-healthy Tony Romo, and the rookie continued to show the poise and sharp play that won him the job. A pair of touchdown passes to Dez Bryant helped give the Cowboys the win over the Baltimore Ravens, their ninth-consecutive victory after losing in Week 1 to the New York Giants. The nine straight wins are a single-season best for the Cowboys.

And even though the Ravens lost in Big D, wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. became the 14th player in NFL history to catch 1,000 passes. And not only that, per ESPN Stats and Info, the 5-9 Smith is the first player to ever reach that feat while also being under 6-feel tall. Tall heights reached for Smith, indeed.

The week’s best game likely falls Sunday night as the Green Bay Packers visit Washington to face the Redskins. The Packers have unexpectedly fallen on hard times, coming off a lopsided loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 10. Meanwhile the Redskins find themselves in a heated battle with the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC’s wild-card spots.


Top Story Lines

Can the No. 1 overall pick actually develop properly in the Rams’ current system?

You can’t disappoint on expectations if you never had them. Lewis brought the Bengals into respectability and one losing season should not undo that. (Read More)

The subtext of Ben Roethlisberger’s comments seem to have him at odds with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ coach. (Read More)

The linebacker will not rejoin Dallas on Monday. (Read More)

The Panthers’ LB will seek a second opinion after suffering the second concussion of his career. (Read More)

The Cowboys QB could be a fit in Denver next season, should he wish to pursue another starting role. (Read More)

The Rams have whiffed on plenty of draft picks since 2012, but if they hit on finding a franchise QB, it could change everything. (Read More)

The odds are in their favor if they just keep going for it. (Read More)

How long would Jason Garrett let his team fall before he made a move away from the impressive rookie? (Read More)

The Raiders and Cowboys are packed with young talent. (Read More)

They have a creative license to thrill. (Read More)

The QB’s relationship with his family may be worse than we thought. (Read More)

There’s no hiding behind the concussion protocol here. (Read More)


Injury News

Latest updates: 1:07 p.m.

The early games got off to a rough start with Bengals WR A.J. Green carted to the locker room with an apparent hamstring injury.

Another notable injury from the same game saw LeSean McCoy forced out of the game with a dislocated thumb.

The Browns’ catastrophic quarterback rotation took another turn Sunday with Cody Kessler knocked out of the game against the Steelers after suffering a concussion. Josh McCown has come up to replace him for Cleveland.

Fantasy Football

Check back later for a full rundown of the day’s top fantasy developments from John Romero, but here are the Post’s top tips to help you set your lineup this week.

Which players are best suited for success? (Read More)

Hop aboard the Kirk Cousins train. (Read More)

We’ve seen a lot of ups and downs from some big names. Who should you trust? (Read More)

Ezekiel Elliott may finally hit the wall this week. (Read More)

Just what should we make of the Packers’ backfield? (Read More)

ATS Betting Tips/Picks

There’s not a lot of value to be found with road dogs this week. (Read More)

How the numbers say Week 11 should play out. (Read More)