Week 11 of the NFL season is upon us and the playoff race is in full swing.
There are a few teams solidly in the driver’s seat and even more fighting to stay in playoff contention.
Here are three running backs that need to step up if their teams hope to gain a victory and stay in the hunt.
1. Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers
It’s been mostly a disappointing season thus far for Christian McCaffrey.
He has only played in 5 full games due to injuries and when he’s been playing he hasn’t always looked healthy.
His backup, Chubba Hubbard did ok at times filling in for McCaffrey, but having him back and healthy could be the boost that the Panthers need.
He showed up big in Carolina’s Week 10 win over the Arizona Cardinals with 13 carries for 95 yards and also led the team in receiving with 10 catches totaling 66 yards.
In all, McCaffrey had 161 yards and played a big role in Carolina’s 34-10 trouncing of the Cardinals.
The Panthers face the Washington Football Team in Week 11 coached by former Carolina head coach, Ron Rivera.
Washington is coming off a big win against Tampa Bay and have some momentum going for them as they try to salvage the rest of the 2021 season.
Carolina plans to start newly signed quarterback, Cam Newton, against Washington, which means that he’s going to need a lot of help from McCaffrey, both in the running game and in the passing game.
Christian McCaffrey Rushing TDs-
33 career games w/ Cam Newton: 11 TDs
23 career games w/o Cam Newton: 18 TDs
CMC is worse in nearly every statistical category with Cam on the field… pic.twitter.com/ftnWdXGr8C
— Ryan McDowell (@RyanMc23) November 17, 2021
2. David Montgomery – Chicago Bears
Much like Christian McCaffrey, David Montgomery of the Chicago Bears has missed a good chunk of the season with an injury.
He made his return in Week 9 against the Pittsburgh Steelers and nearly helped them to a victory.
The Bears are 3-6 and their playoff hopes are next to nil, but they do have something to play for.
Rookie quarterback, Justin Fields, has been slowly improving game after game and having a healthy Montgomery on the field is huge for his development.
If Fields hopes to be Chicago’s quarterback of the future, he’s going to have to get used to playing with Bears staples like Montgomery.
Because of Montgomery’s injury and the fact that Fields wasn’t the starter from day 1, they haven’t had many opportunities to play together.
Week 11 against the Baltimore Ravens will be a difficult matchup for the Bears and only the fourth time this year that Fields and Montgomery have started together in the same game.
If Chicago has any hope of upsetting Baltimore, Montgomery is going to have to have his best game of the season and help Fields out in the passing game as well.
3. Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings
It’s been a Jekyll and Hyde season thus far for Dalvin Cook.
At times, he’s been the unstoppable force that Vikings fans have come to know and love.
At other times, however, he’s seemingly disappeared from the offensive scheme and has been largely irrelevant.
He has three games this year where he’s gone over 100 yards.
He also only has 3 rushing touchdowns on the season, which is quite low for a running back of his caliber.
Minnesota is still in the playoff hunt and they face division rival Green Bay in Week 11.
If the Vikings lose they fall to 4-6, making their playoff hopes all but dashed.
For Minnesota to escape with the upset victory, Dalvin Cook will have to play a significant role and have one of his best performances of the season.
The last time Dalvin Cook played against the Packers: 32 touches, 226 yards, 4 touchdowns. pic.twitter.com/Jn3i6jeNn4
— Will Ragatz (@WillRagatz) November 17, 2021