Kyler Murray wins the vote
A survey of NFL fans this week found that, given a choice of 5 young quarterbacks who have been playing well this season, the largest percentage of fans believe that Kyler Murray is likely to have the best career.
The diminutive 23-year-old former Oklahoma Sooner quarterback was selected by Arizona with the first overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft. As is nearly always the case, that pick belonged to a very bad football team. Of course, the Cardinals paired the rookie signal caller with a rookie head coach recruited from the college ranks, Kliff Kinsgbury.
The results were not immediate for the Cardinals, who managed a 5-10-1 record en route to a last place finish in the NFC West last year. The 2020 season has been a different story, however. The Cardinals are currently 6-3 and sitting atop the NFCW division along with the Rams and Seahawks, who sport identical 6-3 records.
Only Joe Burrow, who was drafted first overall by the Bengals in 2020, and Justin Herbert, selected 6th overall by the Chargers in the same draft, are playing on losing teams this season. The Chargers are last in the AFC West, with a 2-7 record, while the Bengals — Washington’s opponent this Sunday — sit at the bottom of the AFC North with a 2-6-1 record.
NFL fans predict a Bengals victory
While Las Vegas betting lines had the Washington Football Team favored by a point in this Sunday’s game, the NFL readers of SB Nation went the other way, predicting a Cincinnati win.
There’s not a lot of evidence to point strongly one way or the other in predicting the winner of this game. Since the NFC East is playing the AFC North in 2020, the two teams have a fair number of common opponents.
- Both lost to the Browns.
- Washington had a comeback victory against the Eagles while the Bengals played to a tie.
- Both teams lost to the Ravens.
- Cincinnati lost to Pittsburgh last week by a score of 36-10; Washington hasn’t played the undefeated Steelers yet, but isn’t likely to fare any better when they do.
While the two teams have similar overall records, the Bengals have arguably played the more difficult schedule, having not yet played the Giants or Cowboys. Further, Washington’s two most recent losses to struggling teams — the Giant and Lions — make it hard to feel strongly about Ron Rivera’s squad’s ability to beat the Bengals.
Washington desperately needs the victory to stay relevant in the division.
The Giants are on a bye, so their record will not change this week. The Eagles are 3.5 point underdogs against the Browns in Cleveland. The Cowboys are traveling north where they are one-touchdown underdogs to Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings.
There’s a very real possibility that, with three non-divisional games, Washington could be the only NFC East team to emerge with a win this week, which would keep the playoff talk alive for a while longer.
Washington needs to get its wins while it can. This week’s game against the Bengals looks winnable, and, despite the challenges of playing in Dallas on Thanksgiving day, they have a chance to secure a win in Week 12.
After that, the Football Team has a tough stretch in which it faces the currently undefeated Steelers, the 49ers in a road game to the west coast, and the Seahawks at home. Going 1-2 seems to be the optimistic upside of that stretch.
Washington finishes its season with a home game against the Panthers and a road game against the Eagles. The ceiling for the Football Team seems to be a 7-9 season at this point, with 4 or 5 wins seeming more realistic. But even a 4-12 season probably relies on getting a win at home against the Bengals on Sunday, and the fact that the game appears too close to call isn’t promising.
Some other interesting Week 11 games
The game that the SB Nation fans expressed the most interest in this week is the Thursday night matchup between Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray - two of the most dynamic little quarterbacks in the league.
Even without the crowd there, I continue to believe in the magic of Russell Wilson on his home field. I expect a lot of dynamic playmaking from both quarterbacks, but I’m backing Seattle to revenge their Week 7 road loss to the Cardinals on their home field in this game.
Eagles at Browns
Obviously I’ll be watching the NFC East Philadelphia Eagles on their road trip to Cleveland. Eagles fans had seemed to be feeling better about the season a week ago as injured players returned to health and the team showed signs of life in back-to-back division wins against the Giants and Cowboys prior to their Week 9 bye.
That all came crashing back to earth with a ten-point loss on the road to the Giants on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Browns have gone 2-1 in their last three games, beating the Bengals and Texans while losing to the Raiders.
This looks like a pretty close game, but I’m taking the Browns by 4 points; SB Nation fans pick Cleveland for the win as well.
The Ravens were my preseason pick to win the AFC North, and I was expecting them to put together 13 or 14 wins. I think I’ve picked them to win every game this season, and, at 6-3, they’ve made me more right than wrong. This week, I’m sticking with them. Two of Baltimore’s three losses have come against the Steelers and Chiefs, who appear to be the two best teams in the NFL. The Titans are good, but I don’t think they prevail on the road in Baltimore. Ravens win by 9.
Cowboys at Vikings
Yes, I know. The Cowboys “almost beat” the Steeelers last week. Doesn’t matter that they played a close game. They lost.
The Vikings were horrible early in the season, but they’ve now won three in a row. Dallas won’t be more than a speed bump as the Vikings win this home game by 12 points.
I wanted to take the Packers to win the NFC North when I made my pre-season picks this year, but I wimped out and took them as a wild-card team instead. They look this season the way I thought they would look last season. I think the LaFleur-Rodgers marriage is finally working out. The Packers look to be to be headed for a super bowl loss to the Chiefs or Steelers. I’m taking Green Bay to win on the road by a field goal or less.
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