Key takeaways from Bengals, Saints and Broncos Week 11 victories

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UK NFL fans were treated to a pair of critical AFC divisional matchups this week, plus a heavyweight tussle between NFC contenders.

Here are the most intriguing takeaways from Sunday's screened games.

Cleveland Browns 20-38 Cincinnati Bengals: Cincy Shut Down Star Tight End Jordan Cameron

The Cincinnati Bengals were able to stifle Ohio State rivals the Cleveland Browns because of the way they shut down star tight end Jordan Cameron.

Two plays from the opening quarter revealed the plan defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer had for Cameron. When the Browns faced 3rd-and-6 on their own 18-yard line, Zimmer made sure Cameron wouldn't get free underneath.

Defensive end Michael Johnson hit Cameron at the line, disrupting his release. Johnson then released him deep, but stayed underneath in short zone coverage, in front of Cameron's vertical route.

As he made it deep, Cameron was bracketed by safeties George Iloka and Reggie Nelson.

Quarterback Jason Campbell was looking Cameron's way immediately, but the coverage forced him to hold onto the ball. The result was a sack by blitzing cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.

Later in the quarter, with the Browns at their own 25, the Bengals again took Cameron away. It started with rookie safety Shawn Williams down in the box lined up over the tight end.

At the snap, Williams trailed Cameron up the field in man coverage. Deep safety Nelson drifted over the top to give the Bengals the perfect double-team.

That forced Campbell to check the ball down and throw short to wide receiver Josh Gordon for five yards.

Cameron has been the danger man of the Cleveland offense this season. He has tallied 629 yards and six scores.

But the Bengals consistently eliminated his threat. They hit him at the line and doubled him downfield all game.

Cameron made six catches, but for only 29 yards. That meant a meagre 4.8 yards per catch for the Browns primary source of clutch plays.

Kansas City Chiefs 17-27 Denver Broncos: Julius Thomas Is A Matchup Nightmare vs. Any Defense

Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos were dangerous enough to begin with. But the emergence of dynamic "joker" tight end Julius Thomas has made this offense dominant.

Thomas is a matchup nightmare against any defense, even the NFL's toughest unit. On Sunday night, he became the first tight end this season to score against the Kansas City Chiefs, according to NBC Sports' commentator Cris Collinsworth.

The Broncos faced 2nd-and-goal at the Kansas City nine-yard line after an exchange of fumbles in the first quarter.

Thomas was split out as a wide receiver against the Chiefs 4-1-6 dime defense. He was matched up against premier safety Eric Berry.

The Chiefs also had defensive back Quintin Demps on the inside ready to blitz. As Demps showed blitz, Manning fired a quick slant to Thomas for the score.

Berry couldn't stay with Thomas' quick initial moves in one-on-one coverage. Nor could he counter how the ultra-athletic tight end used his big body to beat the press and gain room inside.

Thomas now has 10 touchdowns this season and is averaging 13.1 yards per catch. He is the roving weapon no defense has yet been able to account for.

San Francisco 49ers 20-23 New Orleans Saints: Versatile Linemen Key to Saints' Defensive Revival

The astonishing turnaround by the New Orleans Saints defense, ranked last in the NFL a year ago, but fourth currently, has been keyed by versatile linemen.

Two of the team's playmakers up front feasted on the San Francisco 49ers and quarterback Colin Kaepernick this week.

Akiem Hicks, a third-round pick in 2012 from Canadian regional college Regina, is a mammoth force coordinator Rob Ryan can move anywhere across a formation.

Normally a 3-4 team, the Saints shifted into a 4-3 front, by aligning Hicks as a pass-rushing interior tackle over 49ers guard Alex Boone in the second quarter.

Hicks immediately used his power to stand Boone up. He was still also able to hit running back Frank Gore, who had released through the line for a screen pass.

Hicks then nimbly slid his 6'4", 325-pound frame along the line and chased down Kaepernick, sacking him for a one-yard loss.

Later in the quarter, two-gap end Cameron Jordan was moved outside as a wide-angled edge-rusher in a two-defensive end, three linebacker pressure front.

Jordan, primarily a 3-4 run-stuffer, rushed from a four-point sprinter stance and sped around right tackle Anthony Davis. He used a swat-and-swim move to beat Davis off the corner, before closing on Kaepernick for the sack.

Jordan has seven sacks so far, while Hicks is leading all Saints' D-linemen in tackles with 33. Their versatility is allowing Ryan to constantly mix fronts and pressures to challenge offenses.

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