The Bills started the week with an embarrassing loss in prime time and the subsequent firing of offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey. But Buffalo quickly brushed off the chaotic week and passed the bad vibes onto its AFC East rival, as the Jets finally benched Zach Wilson during their 32–6 loss Sunday.
Josh Allen and the Bills had a strong showing against Robert Saleh’s stout defense to get back on the winning track in Joe Brady’s first game as the offensive play-caller. The Bills remain in the postseason picture, as the Jets continue to fade away with their sluggish offense.
The Chargers’ playoff hopes are also fading, along with Brandon Staley’s job security in Los Angeles. The 49ers are heading in the opposite direction with two straight wins that make their three-game losing streak feel like a distant memory.
Here’s what we learned about the Bills, Chargers, 49ers, Jaguars and Browns during an intriguing Week 11 in the NFL.
Bills get back on track in Joe Brady’s first game as OC
Brady’s creativity as a play designer was on full display during his first game as the Bills’ interim offensive coordinator. Brady used plenty of motion and featured the running backs in the passing game (play design that got James Cook and Ty Johnson open for passing touchdowns), as Buffalo cruised to a victory against the Jets just five days after falling to the Broncos on Monday Night Football. The offensive numbers may not pop off the final box score, but the Bills (6–5) moved efficiently against a New York defense that has given them fits the past few seasons, including in this season’s Week 1 loss. Allen did his part on an impressive 81-yard catch-and-run touchdown pass to wide receiver Khalil Shakir to extend Buffalo’s lead in the third quarter.
Allen’s skill set has never been the issue, but he has struggled with protecting the football and running an efficient offense the past few seasons. It was only one game, but Brady’s play-calling helped the quarterback run a smooth offense while up against one of the best defenses in the league.
Brock Purdy delivers perfect performance in 49ers’ win vs. Bucs
Many will shrug at Purdy posting a perfect passer rating of 158.3 during the 49ers’ dominant 27–14 win against the Buccaneers. It’s understandable given Purdy struggled when the 49ers (7–3) were without Deebo Samuel and Trent Williams earlier this season. But Purdy is more than a game manager and offers better quarterback play than what the team had in Jimmy Garoppolo for the past few seasons. I might be in the minority with that line of thinking, but there are many signal-callers who have talented squads and yet rarely put up back-to-back performances of three touchdowns passes and no interceptions, which is exactly what Purdy did these past two weeks.
Purdy can quiet his critics by doing what he did against the Jaguars and Bucs in upcoming games vs. the Seahawks on Thanksgiving and against the Eagles in Week 13. It’s likely the quarterback will do just that, as long as the running game and defense continue to play at a high level, too.
Chargers’ Brandon Staley on the hot seat after ugly loss to Packers
The rumors of Bill Belichick possibly being the next Chargers’ head coach might get louder this week after another head-scratching loss by Staley’s team. The Chargers’ postseason aspirations took another hit Sunday as they fell to the Packers, 23–20, at Lambeau Field. With pressure mounting for Staley, his team needed to handle business against a struggling Green Bay squad to remain a postseason contender in a very crowded AFC. Now the Chargers (4–6) sit two games behind the Steelers, with remaining games vs. the Ravens, Bills and Chiefs. Los Angeles will then travel to New England in Week 13 for a meeting between two head coaches on the hot seat. (Belichick has been connected to both the Chargers and Commanders if the Patriots decide to fire the coaching legend.)
The Chargers are way too talented to miss the postseason for the third time in Justin Herbert’s four NFL seasons. Los Angeles also might have to play without edge rusher Joey Bosa, who was carted off the field early in the game against the Packers. Staley, who is in the midst of his third season in Los Angeles, has also coached a struggling defense throughout his tenure—and he did not seem happy to be asked about it either, appearing agitated when whether he’ll continue calling the defensive plays was brought up during Sunday’s postgame conference.
Trevor Lawrence, Calvin Ridley finally get going for Jaguars
Lawrence delivered his best performance of the season, and Ridley finally woke up as the Jaguars bounced-back to pummel the Titans, 34–14. The quarterback didn’t commit a turnover and had four total touchdowns (two rushing) one week after a dreadful three-turnover performance in the lopsided loss to the 49ers. But Lawrence getting Ridley involved was the biggest positive for the Jaguars (7–3), who are competing with the Texans (6–4) for the AFC South title. Ridley contributed seven catches for 103 yards and two touchdowns vs. the Titans, gaining over 100 receiving yards for the first time since Week 5. Plus, the 2018 first-round pick found the end zone for the first time since Week 4.
The Jaguars had high expectations for Ridley after they acquired him in a trade with the Falcons last year. But his poor first half to the season will likely be forgotten if the receiver is a consistent playmaker in Jacksonvile’s offense. He’ll be needed if the Jaguars want to make the playoffs and become a legit Super Bowl contender. Their defense can also help out by doing more of what they did in Sunday’s win to shut down running back Derrick Henry and rookie quarterback Will Levis.
Browns do enough vs. Steelers in battle of poor offenses
Football fans might be rooting for the Steelers and Browns to miss the postseason after the atrocious offensive performances both teams displayed during their AFC North meeting Sunday. The Browns, led by rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, did enough to defeat the Steelers, 13–10, at home. Pittsburgh (6–4) continued its season-long streak of being outgained by its opponents, as the team only managed 249 yards compared to Cleveland’s 259. It was the sixth time this season that Kenny Pickett’s offense was held under 300 yards in a game.
Thanks to the Steelers’ stellar defense, they will probably find a way into the postseason, but they might be a one-and-done team if Pickett doesn’t improve his play on the field. Coach Mike Tomlin might be considering a change at offensive coordinator as Matt Canada continues to deliver an ugly product on a weekly basis.
The Browns (7–3) may have won the game, but they too appear to be a one-and-done team with Deshaun Watson out for the season with a shoulder injury. Thompson-Robinson, however, had a decent showing and bounced-back from his first career start, which came earlier in the season during an ugly loss to the Ravens. The UCLA product has the luxury of leaning on a productive rushing attack and ferocious defense.