Utes in the NFL Week 11 and Updated Super Bowl Hopefuls


University of Utah senior defensive back Julian Blackmon (23) celebrates after stopping Washington State on their fourth down during an NCAA Football game at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Eric Jensen, Sports Writer


Things currently look bleak for college athletics. The Utes’ football game this weekend is up in the air and both men’s and women’s basketball have had their opening weeks canceled by COVID-19 outbreaks– yet the NFL chugs forward.

Week 12 is here. The great Bill Parcells-ism is that “the season doesn’t start until Thanksgiving,” and well here we are at Thanksgiving. Time to see what this year is really about. Here’s a look at what we have learned about the NFL while examining how former Utes performed in Week 11.


Julian Blackmon | Indianapolis Colts | five tackles, one forced fumble 

Blackmon forced the fumble that gave the Colts a short field and a game-winner by Rodrigo Blankenship which gave the Colts a 34-31 win over the Green Bay Packers.

The Colts are now 7-3 and atop the division in the AFC south. Behind them are the Tennessee Titans fresh off a win against the Baltimore Ravens. The Titans have played inconsistent football this year but are just as good as the Colts at their peak. They face each other in week 12 in a game that will likely decide the division.

Blackmon has been a large part of the Colt’s success. He’s put together 26 tackles and three turnovers for Indy and has become a key part of a ferocious defense that is fourth in defensive DVOA this year and amongst the best in the league.


Alex Smith | Washington Football Team | 166 yards passing, one touchdown, one interception

The fact of the matter is that Smith has given the Football Team their best chance to win this season. He’s a marked upgrade on Kyle Allen and Dwayne Haskin. He also gives this team a chance to win the division. The NFC East is a total and complete dumpster fire with no team having over three wins.

It is a lock that all of these teams finish with losing records, and yet one still has to make the playoffs. On Thanksgiving, the Football Team heads to Dallas to take on the Cowboys. This is where Smith secures comeback player of the year.

Traditionally, this is the most-watched game of the year. Everybody watches the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. If Smith can lead Washington to a win, the Football Team has the division in their sights with the tie-breaking win over the current division-leading 3-6-1 Philadelphia Eagles. This is where Smith can take control of the division and secure the Football Team its first playoff berth since 2015.


Tim Patrick | Denver Broncos | five receptions, 119 yards

Patrick’s numbers were inflated by an end of game clock-killing 60-yard heave by quarterback Drew Lock that somehow ended up in Patrick’s hands.

That said, Patrick had a great day and very successfully helped move the Bronco’s offense. The deep stuff just doesn’t work for Drew Lock, who has an abysmal 55 percent completion rating on the year. The intermediate stuff does work for Lock though, and that is what Patrick has excelled at this year.

Route running in the middle of the field and gaining yards after the catch, Patrick has had a really great year with the Broncos and has cemented himself as a part of the offense going forward– even as star wideout Courtland Sutton should make his return next year. 36 receptions for 536 yards and three touchdowns thus far this year.

The Broncos are a team trapped in purgatory yet again this year, with a QB that just isn’t anything more than a high-end game manager with a turnover problem. That said, they won’t be bad enough to land a top draft pick to go after someone like BYU star Zach Wilson. Instead, it will be another 7-9 years for a middling team that deserves a middling pick and will remain stuck in QB purgatory. As a Broncos fan, oh how I yearn for Peyton Manning.


Kickers’ corner:

Matt Gay drilled the game-winning kick on Monday Night Football after being picked up off the street earlier this week. Such is the life of a young NFL kicker. After a shaky start to his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Gay now has a shot with the Rams. It’s a results-based business kicking. If he keeps hitting game-winners he should be around for a long time in the National Football League.


Quickie: Updated top 5 teams to win the Super Bowl

No. 5: Los Angeles Rams

A big win against Tampa has me high on this team. A rock-solid defense with a passing attack performing at its peak the sky is the limit for a Sean McVay coached team.

No. 4: Seattle Seahawks

They have let Russell Wilson cook in Seattle, as NFL Twitter likes to say. The defense cooked Thursday night against the Arizona Cardinals, though. If they round into form and the offense keeps humming, the Seahawks are the best team in the NFL, easily, purely because of Russell Wilson. This DK Metcalf character, I guess he is pretty good as well.

No. 3: Pittsburg Steelers

16-0 is on the table for the Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger is playing his best football of the season right now and the defense is still a turnover forcing machine. They also arguably have the best weapons in the entirety of the NFL. Chase Claypool is an absolute beast.

No. 2: New Orleans Saints

Sure, Taysom Hill, but man, Taysom Hill looked pretty good. He was Taysom Hill. He didn’t blow me away Sunday, but boy he was effective. Look at that defense though, this was the defense we were promised in the offseason. A defense that currently has no weaknesses. A defense that can shut anybody down. The Saints are not a team anyone wants to play right now.

No. 1: Kansas City Chiefs

Pretty simple logic here: best offense, best QB in Patrick Mahomes, a defense that is improving little by little. I still trust the Chiefs above all else. Patrick Mahomes has entered Tom Brady level logic for me; until I see him lose, I am just not going to pick against him.


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