NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 11: PFF Team of the Week, key takeaways, player awards and more

Week 11 produced some exciting moments, with the biggest being the Tennessee Titans pregame skirmish with the Baltimore Ravens that ultimately ended in an overtime finish. But there was also some bad, headlined by an unfortunate season-ending injury to Joe Burrow, who was in the midst of an incredible rookie campaign.

PFF is here to break down NFL Week 11 in greater detail using advanced data and our unique play-by-play grading. Here, we present to you the PFF Team of the Week, a couple of big takeaways and player awards from Week 11 of the 2020 NFL season.

PFF TEAM OF THE WEEK

Offense

QB: Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
RB: Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts
WR: Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings
WR: Damiere Byrd, New England Patriots
TE: Jordan Akins, Houston Texans
FLEX: Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders
LT: Isaiah Wynn, New England Patriots
LG: Wes Schweitzer, Washington Football Team
C: Jason Kelce, Philadelphia Eagles
RG: Austin Corbett, Los Angeles Rams
RT: Taylor Moton, Carolina Panthers

Defense

DI: Tim Settle, Washington Football Team
DI: Raekwon Davis, Miami Dolphins
EDGE: Olivier Vernon, Cleveland Browns
EDGE: Bradley Chubb, Denver Broncos
LB: Reggie Ragland, Detroit Lions
LB: Eric Kendricks, Minnesota Vikings
CB: Amani Oruwariye, Detroit Lions
CB: Janoris Jenkins, New Orleans Saints
S: Justin Simmons, Denver Broncos
S: Terrell Edmunds, Pittsburgh Steelers
FLEX D: Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins

BIG TAKEAWAYS

What Joe Burrow accomplished in his rookie season was nothing short of incredible

The 2020 No. 1 overall pick's rookie campaign sadly came to an end in Week 11. After putting together a quality first half that ranked sixth-best of the week in terms of passing grade, Joe Burrow suffered a torn ACL early in the third quarter. 

While Burrow won't suit up again in 2020 and is now out of the Rookie of the Year conversation, we shouldn’t forget about how great of a season he was putting together. His deep ball wasn’t fully polished, but he routinely hit throws to the short and intermediate levels. Burrow ranked sixth in passing grade on throws of 19 yards or fewer downfield. He was also one of six signal-callers to produce an elite 90.0-plus grade on those attempts, joining Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady

It’s widely known at this point that Burrow was playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. But when the rookie worked from a clean pocket, he hit those short and intermediate level throws better than anyone in the NFL. When free from pressure and not attempting a deep pass, Burrow led the league in passing grade and completion percentage.

He may not have been an MVP out of the gate for the Cincinnati Bengals, but there’s no doubt in our minds that the former LSU Tiger will hit that level at some point in his career. Now, we turn our attention to the Bengals’ brass that’ll need to make some offseason moves to put him in a favorable situation in 2021.

Taysom Hill wasn’t terrible, but he still needs to show more before being touted as Drew Brees‘ heir

Expectations were low for Hill in his first career start in a regular-season outing, but the once-special teamer/tight end/receiver didn’t perform as poorly as some expected. He recorded the fifth-best passing grade of Week 11 (81.1) and led the New Orleans Saints to the eighth-best successful pass rate of the week. 

Head coach Sean Payton threw Hill into the starting role over Jameis Winston while Brees sat out with fractured ribs because he simply wanted to know whether Hill could be the next man up. He may have surpassed expectations, but we still need to see a lot more from Hill before we are confident in his ability to replace Brees when the veteran eventually calls it quits.

Hill did hit five of his six throws over 10 yards downfield, but all of those attempts were to a receiver with separation. And the few deep shots he took looked more like punts than actual throws. He fired in a big-time throw to Michael Thomas against zone coverage, but he also had a turnover-worthy throw inside the 5-yard line. Not to mention, he fumbled on a quarterback power run in the fourth quarter. 

Overall, Hill finished 16th in negatively graded throw rate and tied for fifth in positively graded throw rate. The latter is something that can be influenced by the supporting cast and the system.

Again, Hill was by no means bad in Week 11. In fact, it is quite impressive he executed the offense as well as he did in his first start. But is my view on him as a possible starting quarterback down the road any different than it was before the game? Not much.

The Houston Texans may be a disappointment this season, but Deshaun Watson and the passing offense are producing at an elite level

Houston wasn’t necessarily viewed as a contender heading into the 2020 season, especially with star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins no longer on the team. But a 3-7 record through their first 10 games was certainly not on many radars, either. 

The start of the season was quite disastrous for the team as a whole. Houston opened with four straight losses while fielding a passing offense that ranked 26th in per-play efficiency and a coverage unit that ranked 26th in per-play efficiency allowed. This lowly start prompted the firing of then-coach Bill O’Brien.

Since then, the defense still has been extremely poor, but the passing offense has made significant strides. Deshaun Watson boasts the best passing grade in the NFL since Week 5, and the passing offense improved its per-play efficiency rank to first. The Texans saw their record in that span improve to 3-3, with two of those three losses being in one-score games.

In Week 11 against the Patriots, the passing offense notched its best performance of the season. The Texans had the fourth-most efficient passing offense of the week, and Watson’s 93.5 passing grade was a career-high and the third-best single-game grade we have seen in 2020. He completed more passes over 10 yards downfield than any other quarterback during the week (12) while recording five big-time throws to just one turnover-worthy play. 

Consistency was the biggest thing we needed to see from Watson in 2020, and he has been delivering — especially since the big change in Week 5. Houston may be a lost cause this season, but Watson is firmly establishing himself as one of the handful of quarterbacks in that elite tier.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK

QB Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans

Not much more needs to be said here on Watson. Derek Carr almost took the Offensive Player of the Week honors away from him on Sunday Night Football, but this one belongs to Watson, who is now tied for third in PFF grade at his position this season.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK

S Justin Simmons, Denver Broncos

“What regression?” — Justin Simmons (probably)

After having a fourth-year breakout season in 2019 that saw him end the year as the league’s highest-graded safety, Simmons has sustained this top-tier play in 2020. He earned an impressive 92.0 PFF grade against Miami on Sunday and came up clutch for the Broncos in the end. Simmons came up with the game-sealing interception in the end zone after racking up three passing stops and a forced incompletion throughout the game. Simmons also had another interception within the first five minutes of the game in the red zone that unfortunately for him ended up being negated by a penalty. The Broncos still came away with the W despite that, and Simmons now stands as the second-highest-graded safety in the NFL.

ROOKIE OF THE WEEK

DI Raekwon Davis, Miami Dolphins

Davis has been on a tear the last couple of weeks. He went from ranking 95th at his position in PFF grade through Week 9 at 55.6, to back-to-back PFF Rookie of the Week honors in Weeks 10 and 11 with a PFF grade of 89.6 in each. Davis’ strong Week 11 was more about his disruption in the run game as opposed to his pass-rushing, but this week it was a little bit of both. The 2020 56th overall pick came away with a 15% pass-rush win rate and the 12th-best pass-rush grade of the week among interior defensive linemen at 74.0. Then against the run, he was a dominant force like in Week 10 with two run stops and the highest run-defense grade of the week at 82.9. It is worth noting that these two strong performances by Davis came against the 32nd and 31st ranked interior offensive lines in the NFL this year, but it’s still quite impressive nonetheless.

OFFENSIVE LINE OF THE WEEK

Washington Football Team

This one wasn’t a particularly close race this week. The Washington Football Team fielded the best offensive line of the week by combining for a unit PFF grade of 91.1, nearly 15 grading points higher than anyone else. Every starter on the line finished sixth or better at their position in PFF grade this week, but the two guards, Wes Schweitzer and Brandon Scherff, were the two standout performers. Those two finished first at their position in PFF grade this week and mauled as run-blockers in particular. They each again finished first in positively graded run blocks at their position and were big reasons for Washington’s rushing success. The Football Team had more runs of 10 or more yards than any team of the week with seven and on average had the third-most yards before contact per attempt at 2.2.

SECRET SUPERSTAR OF THE WEEK

CB Amani Oruwariye, Detroit Lions

Oruwariye filled in for Desmond Trufant when he was sidelined throughout the majority of the first half of the season. Trufant made his return to the lineup in Week 9, and since then Oruwariye has taken snaps from rookie Jeff Okudah who has struggled all throughout 2020. And on Sunday, Oruwariye made the most of his reps as he earned the highest coverage grade at outside corner of Week 11 by quite a bit. The second-year corner saw 22 coverage snaps on the outside and allowed just one catch for three yards with an interception and a couple of passing stops. That paved the way for a career-high 92.6 coverage grade for the game.

PLAY OF THE WEEK

We got not one, but two unbelievable touchdown snags in the Cowboys-Vikings game with one belonging to CeeDee Lamb and the other to Adam Thielen. Though only one could win play of the week, and it was ultimately the veteran with the one-handed toe-tapper in the corner of the end zone to take home the honor.

This play was among many reasons why Thielen was WR1 on our Team of the Week for Week 11. He averaged the second-most yards per route run at 4.10. Dallas tried to lock him up in single coverage, but that clearly didn’t work considering Thielen was the only wide receiver of the week with multiple touchdowns on such plays. Thielen has now brought back his season receiving grade to elite status above 90.0 and joins his teammate Justin Jefferson in the top three in grade among all wide receivers.

AN EARLY LOOK AHEAD TO WEEK 12…

It’s Thanksgiving week so you know what that means… extra midweek football! 

The Lions and Cowboys have their home contests per usual, with Detroit taking on Houston and Dallas taking on Washington. Yes, all four of those teams may have a losing record, but Thanksgiving football is great regardless. The nightcap on NBC though is not only the best game of the day but one of the best games of the week. That one contains the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers against their division rival Baltimore Ravens

The Steelers find themselves at 10-0 despite not necessarily having the elite Ben Roethlisberger from years past. Big Ben ranks just 21st in the NFL in passing grade on throws over 10 yards downfield and fifth-to-last in completion rate on those same passes. This has helped the Steelers rank 19th in the NFL in successful play rate through Week 11. Most of Pittsburgh’s passing success this year has stemmed from short, quick throws. And Roethlisberger’s 7.6 average depth of target (23rd) and 2.18-second average time-to-throw (quickest) can attest to that. Meanwhile, the Ravens’ offense has yet to be as dangerous in 2020 as it was back in 2019. They have gone from first in EPA per play generated in 2019 to 22nd in 2020. And now each of these offenses will try and get rolling on Thursday night against defenses that rank top five in the NFL in EPA per play allowed.

Week 12’s Sunday slate isn’t short of any great games either. There are numerous marquee divisional matchups from the Titans versus the Colts, to the 49ers versus the Rams, to the Packers versus the Bears. But the best game of the day is an out-of-conference affair between two quarterbacks fighting for the honor to be PFF’s highest-graded quarterback of 2020: Patrick Mahomes versus Tom Brady. Those two sit in third and fourth among quarterbacks in passing grade this season and headline arguably the best matchups of the season.

It’s going to be another great week of football.

Know tomorrow, today. Western Southern Financial Group.
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