NFL news and notes, Week 11

Power rankings

1. Patriots

2. Falcons

3. Jets

4. Eagles

5. Giants

6. Colts

Upset alert

Rams (4-5) over Falcons (7-2)

Rams rookie QB Sam Bradford picks up his first signature win, beating Atlanta in St. Louis.

Biggest disappointment?

The Cowboys (2-7) and Vikings (3-6) are most people's favorites for the most disappointing team this season, especially considering they were preseason Super Bowl contenders. But NFL.com writer Steve Wyche points out that the Bengals (2-7) should be part of that discussion.

"The Bengals are as much of a disappointment as Minnesota and Dallas, except Cincinnati's gotten a pass of sorts based on its past and overall lack of relevance compared to the other two soap operas," Wyche wrote. "You can look at all the close games the Bengals have played and say they're a better team than their record shows, but all that argument might get you is a Tweet from (WRs) Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. They've earned their victories and losses."

Biggest surprise?

There are many this season, from the Bucs to the Raiders to the Chiefs. But how about those Bears (7-3)? Who would have expected it'd be Chicago leading the NFC North by half a game over the Packers and way ahead of the Vikings and QB Brett Favre? Mike Mulligan of the Chicago Sun-Times said it's time for the naysayers to take notice.

"Maybe the Bears remain a puzzle, but winning, like losing, can become a habit. The Bears seem to have seen their darkest days and made it through to a better place. They are a confident team, and confidence is a magical potion in the NFL. Believing you can do it is the first step to doing anything, and there are no doubters on the team."

Eagles QB Michael Vick, who a few years ago was serving a 20-month prison sentence for his role in a dogfighting ring, doubted whether he'd be a starter in the NFL again. Now Vick is an MVP candidate, with his comeback arguably one of the biggest stories in sports.

There might be those who will never forgive Vick, 30, for the crimes he committed, no matter how contrite he is and how much work he does for the Humane Society. And that's understandable.

But on the field, Vick is being effusively praised. He leads the NFL with a 115.1 passer rating and has the Eagles (6-3) tied atop the NFC East heading into today's showdown with the Giants (6-3). And he's coming off one of the best performances by a quarterback in recent NFL history, passing for more than 300 yards and four touchdowns (and running for two more) against the Redskins.

Vick was electrifying in his years with the Falcons, dazzling crowds with his ability to beat teams with his feet. But now he's turning into a complete quarterback — and a complete nightmare for defenses.

"The way he played the other night makes him almost impossible to stop," Giants DE Justin Tuck told SI.com's Peter King. "I dare say, he's playing better than all the great pocket quarterbacks of today. There is no defense for what he did — throwing the beautiful deep ball he throws, running as explosively as he ran. If he plays that way every game, they may not lose the rest of the year."

Said Bucs LB Barrett Ruud: "He's finally maximizing all the gifts he's been given. He was always a really talented guy, but now you're seeing what he's capable of as a quarterback."

High praise

There's no question Patriots coach Bill Belichick is one of the best in the NFL. And he has a resume to prove it. But SI.com columnist Dan Shaughnessy argued that getting this New England team to 7-2 has been his best coaching job to date.

"Bill Belichick has won three Super Bowls. He coached a team that went 18-0 and came within a couple of minutes of winning a fourth Super Bowl. He has a place in Canton, Ohio, when his coaching days are over.

"And his work with the 2010 Patriots may represent the finest coaching job of his career."

Heavy heart

Packers WR Donald Driver missed Monday's practice for "personal reasons." Turns out, it was a very sad one. Driver revealed in an interview on WTMJ radio that he was attending the funeral of one of his best friends. The friend, who had apparently introduced Driver to his wife, died of cancer during Green Bay's bye week. "It's hard," Driver told the radio station. "The crazy part is he died in my arms. It's something that I'm going to have to deal with for a while, but I'll be able to overcome it. It's been hard the past five or six days."

Information from Times wires, the NFL, SI.com and the Camden Courier-Post was used in this report.

Memorabilia of the day

The Jaguars will finally get some apparel on display in the NFL Hall of Fame — and it's all thanks to one wild play. WR Mike Thomas, who caught the 50-yard hail mary pass from QB David Garrard on the final play last week to beat the Texans, will have his jersey and gloves sent to the hall. Thomas' apparel and the ball he caught will be on display in Canton, Ohio. Jacksonville, a 16-year-old franchise, had only a couple of footballs — one from its inaugural game — at the Hall of Fame.

Number of the week

13 Individual 300-yard passing games in Week 10, the most in a single week in NFL history. The previous record was 10, set in Week 8, 1984 and Week 15, 2009.

Number of the week 2

700 Victories for the Bears, the most of any NFL franchise.

NFL news and notes, Week 11 11/20/10 [Last modified: Saturday, November 20, 2010 4:38pm]

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