The unexpected happened…
If Sunday’s Week 10 NFL action is any indication, we’re going to be in for a fun final two months of the season. The unexpected happened in Cleveland with the Browns coming out on top in blowout fashion over a previously red-hot Falcons team.
In Nashville, Mike Vrabel’s Titans laid it on thick against his former New England Patriots squad. Meanwhile, the New Orleans Saints continued their dominating recent play in a blowout win over the Bengals.
Once the late-afternoon slate started, the Rams made a major statement at home against the Seahawks, pretty much clinching the NFC West in the process. And in Philadelphia, the Dallas Cowboys might have just saved their season in a win over the defending champs.
These are among the top takeaways from Sunday’s Week 10 NFL action.
Andrew Luck enters the MVP conversation
Luck had thrown 18 touchdowns in his past five games leading into last week’s bye. He was right back up to his old tricks Sunday against a reeling Jaguars team, tossing three first half touchdowns en route to leading Indianapolis to 29 points before the third quarter even started.
The former No. 1 pick would ultimately finish the day having completely 21-of-29 passes for 281 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. By virtue of putting up 29 points in the win, the Colts are now averaging 28.9 points on the season. Luck is the primary reason for this. He’s also now firmly in the NFL MVP conversation with 26 touchdowns through nine games.
Raiders go meekly into the night
Jon Gruden’s first season as Oakland’s head coach has been full of one monstrosity after another. If it weren’t for an overtime win against Cleveland back in Week 4, this squad would be flirting with the third 0-16 season in NFL history. After playing the Chargers close for nearly three quarters on Sunday, the Raiders failed to show any fight en route to a 20-6 loss.
How bad was it? With his team trailing by multiple scores late in the final stanza, Derek Carr actually threw the ball away on fourth down. Sandwiched in between this, Oakland’s final eight drives resulted in a fumble, three punts, one turnover on downs and two that coincided with the end of a half. Now at 1-8 on the season, these Raiders are unquestionably the worst team in the NFL.
Prescott, Elliott save the Cowboys’ season
Jason Garrett’s squad needed its star players to step up in Philadelphia Sunday night. Following last week’s brutal loss to the Titans, another defeat would have sent Dallas to 3-6 and into irrelevance moving forward on the season. That’s when both Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott stepped up big time.
Prescott completed 26-of-36 passes for 270 yards without an interception. Sure he continued to struggle with holding on to the ball too long, but the much-maligned quarterback avoided the turnovers that had plagued him. Meanwhile, Elliott torched the Eagles to the tune of 187 total yards and two touchdowns in the 27-20 win. Dallas now heads into Week 11 in second place in the NFC East. Whew.
The Detroit Lions are a complete embarrassment
Any good feelings in the Motor City following a two-game winning streak earlier this season can now be thrown out the window. First-year head coach Matt Patricia and Co. entered Week 10 against the Bears in the midst of a two-game losing streak that saw them outscored by a combined 29 points.
In no way did it get better against the first-place Bears. Detroit found itself down 26-7 at halftime with Mitch Trubisky having thrown for north of 200 yards before intermission. While the Bears were slowed down a tad in the second half, it was not enough for Detroit to make this a game. Now at 3-6 on the season, the Lions have turned into an embarrassment.
Titans make a major statement in Nashville
Tennessee didn’t just come out on top at home against the two-time defending conference champion Patriots, it absolutely dominated in every which way. Marcus Mariota and Co. put up nearly 400 total yards in a 34-10 blowout win. Meanwhile, Tennessee’s league-best defense held the Patriots to just 284 total yards.
Up 17-3 after the first quarter, this was a wire-to-wire win for Mike Vrabel against his former team. Mariota vastly outplayed Tom Brady. Meanwhile, Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis accounted for 126 total yards and two touchdowns. Not to be outdone, second-year receiver Corey Davis had a coming-out party — going for 125 yards on seven catches. Now at over .500 on the season, it appears these Titans have arrived.
Packers will take the win
It was not a great overall performance by any stretch of the imagination. Green Bay’s special teams failed the team in a big way against a lesser Dolphins squad on Sunday. This included a fumbled punt return, a block punt and yielding a first down on a fake punt by Miami. Even then, Aaron Rodgers and Co. were able to come out on top by the score of 31-12.
It was a must-win game for the Packers after they had lost their past two outings. Aaron Jones put up 172 total yards and two touchdowns on 18 touches. Meanwhile, Packers defenders got to Brock Osweiler for six quarterback hits and three sacks. That was enough for Green Bay to win going away — salvaging its season in the process.
The Saints are an absolute monster
We’re running out of superlatives to describe just how dominant Sean Payton’s Saints have been. Winners of seven consecutive heading into Sunday’s road game against a good Bengals squad, New Orleans controlled this game in a way we haven’t seen from an NFL team at any point this season.
Whether it was Michael Thomas putting up a ridiculous touchdown or Mark Ingram gaining 162 total yards and channeling his inner Dez Bryant, everything was clicking in a 51-14 drubbing of the Bengals. Drew Brees completed 22-of-25 passes for 265 yards with three scores. The above-mentioned Ingram combined with Alvin Kamara for 264 total yards. Oh, and Thomas has now caught north of 90 percent of the passes thrown in his direction this season. Yeah, these Saints are just absurd.
Franchise-altering performance from Baker Mayfield
After firing head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley late last month, it became apparent that the Browns were playing more for their future than this season. Even then, Cleveland had been competitive through the first half of the campaign. It just couldn’t get over the hump en route to a 2-6-1 start to the year.
That changed dramatically at home against what was a red-hot Falcons team. Showing themselves to be more prepared than their counterparts, the Browns came to play big time. Mayfield missed on just three of 20 passes — throwing three scores in the process. Fellow rookie Nick Chubb went for north of 200 total yards. For the first time in a while, Cleveland won a game going away. The final score of 28-16 coupled with Mayfield’s performance could represent a franchise-altering moment for the long-downtrodden Browns.
Redskins’ defense shows up again
After last week’s humiliating effort in a loss to Atlanta, a very good Redskins defense was up to its old tricks against a hapless Tampa Bay Buccaneers squad on Sunday. Struggling cornerback Josh Norman put up an early interception of Ryan Fitzpatrick in the first quarter — starting what would be a trend throughout the afternoon. All said, Tampa Bay scored three points on four trips into the red zone while putting up nearly 500 total yards. Talk about bending, but not breaking.
Meanwhile, the Skins’ defense forced three turnovers in a tremendous overall performance. Given how much Washington’s offense continues to struggle, this was a much-needed effort from the defense. And it has Jay Gruden’s squad at 6-3 on the season.
Seahawks are no slouch
For the most part on Sunday in Los Angeles, Pete Carroll’s squad hung with the Super Bowl contending Rams. In fact, Seattle held leads in the first, third and fourth quarters before the Rams pulled away. Players don’t want to focus on moral victories. For a team in the Pacific Northwest that’s used to contending, that’s magnified further.
Even then, the performance we saw on the ground should go a long way in helping Seattle improve as the season progresses. The combination of Mike Davis and rookie Rashaad Penny went for 224 total yards in keeping this close until the end. That’s progress for a team that had been so reliant on the pass in recent seasons.
Eagles could be toast
We know the Eagles were dealing with numerous injuries on defense Sunday night against the division-rival Cowboys. It’s hard to stop any offense when pretty much your entire secondary is injured. Even then, what we saw in Philadelphia in front of a nationally televised audience might have been the death knell to the Eagels’ repeat aspirations.
Dallas put up north of 400 total yards and took a double-digit halftime lead. It led to the boo birds coming out big time in Philadelphia. And while the Eagles pulled close in the end, they just couldn’t overcome struggles on defense. Now at 4-5 on the season, Doug Pederson’s squad is in real trouble.
Todd Bowles’ seat becoming increasingly hot
At one point in the first half against the lowly Bills, these Jets were outgained 314-42 in a game that was never really close. Prior to hitting a meaningless field goal at the end of the second quarter, the Jets found themselves down 31-0. How bad was it? Recently signed quarterback Matt Barkley hit offensive tackle Dion Dawkins for a touchdown to pretty much put this one away.
From that point on, the Jets failed to show any real fight. They were dominated by a Bills team that saw its quarterbacks throw three touchdowns compared to 16 interceptions in nine games heading into Sunday’s game. When all was said and done, New York’s 41-10 loss likely made Bowles’ seat flaming hot. What an embarrassing display from this team.
What happened to the Bengals’ defense?
We know injuries have impacted Cincinnati’s defense this season. But it’s an excuse that can only go so far. At some point, both the players and the coaches must take some of the blame. After all, this defense headed into Sunday’s game against the Saints having yielded the most passing yards and total yards in the NFL.
It didn’t get any better for Marvin Lewis’ squad. New Orleans ran roughshod through this defense to the tune of 35 points and north of 300 total yards in the first half. From that point on, this game was nowhere near competitive. Even at 5-4 on the season, there’s no reason to believe these Bengals are true contenders. A 51-14 home loss to a good Saints team magnifies that even further.
These Bears are the class of the NFC North
What we’re seeing from Chicago in Matt Nagy’s first season as head coach is nothing short of amazing. The talent was there on offense for the Bears to improve off last season’s fourth-worst scoring unit. But in no way did we expect Chicago to enter Week 10 in first place and averaging nearly 30 points per game.
Proving themselves to be in a class of their own in the NFC North against Detroit on Sunday, the Bears put up 34 points and 402 total yards in a 12-point win. Mitchell Trubisky tossed for 355 yards with three touchdowns. Meanwhile, Anthony Miller and Allen Robinson went for a combined 255 receiving yards with three scores. At 6-3, these Bears have once again proven themselves to be no joke. It’s time to take them seriously.
The Falcons are now done
Dan Quinn’s squad had to feel good about Sunday’s road date with Cleveland. Having won three consecutive after a 1-4 start to the season, Atlanta was seemingly right back in the playoff race. Set to take on a Browns team with an interim head coach, rookie quarterback and first-year play caller, most figured this would be a route in the Falcons’ favor. It could not have turned out any more differently.
Baker Mayfield didn’t throw an incomplete pass until well into the third quarter, completing 17-of-20 passes for 216 yards with three scores and zero picks. Fellow rookie, running back Nick Chubb, pretty much put the game away with a franchise-record 92-yard score in the third quarter. He went for 209 total yards on 23 touches. For the Falcons, this pretty much put an end to their playoff aspiration. What a horrible overall performance.
Chargers might be NFL’s most underrated
Dating back to Week 5 of last season, Los Angeles boasts a 16-5 record. Its most-recent win came against a bad Raiders team that pretty much just gave up after a Keenan Allen touchdown late in the second quarter. People might want to question the Chargers’ status as a top-end contender given just how bad the Raiders are. That’s fine. But they can only play who is in front of them.
Following Sunday’s 20-6 win, Philip Rivers and Co. boast a 7-2 record. It’s the second-best mark in the AFC behind the division-rival Kansas City Chiefs. It was a ho-hum performance on offense and a dominant defensive outing that led to this most-recent win. But with victories in each of their past six games, these Chargers have proven to be the NFL’s most underrated.
Patriots exposed big time
It was just a matter of time before a lack of all-around talent came back to bite New England in the back end. Despite heading into Sunday’s game against Tennessee in the midst of a six-game winning streak, the 2018 version of these Patriots just didn’t look the same as they have the past two seasons.
The Titans took full advantage of this on Sunday. Tennessee’s defense bottled up the Patriots’ rushing attack to the tune of 40 yards on 19 attempts. It created an imbalance that New England couldn’t overcome against the NFL’s best statistical defense. And on defense, the Patriots were dominated at the line of scrimmage. They yielded 150 yards on the ground. It’s not yet panic time in New England. But it’s clear Bill Belichick’s squad was exposed on Sunday.
Rams bounce back in a big way
It was questionable there for a while. Seattle seemed to have a ton of success running the ball against the Rams’ defensive front. Pete Carroll’s squad actually held a fourth quarter lead in this one. But that’s when the Rams turned on the jets in a big way to come out on top following last week’s loss to New Orleans.
Each of the Rams’ first four drives in the second half resulted in points. Meanwhile, Dante Fowler Jr. made up for some dumb penalties earlier in the game to strip-sack Russell Wilson — leading directly to a Rams touchdown and a two-score advantage. On offense, Jared Goff completed 28-of-38 passes for 318 yards with two touchdowns in a flawless performance. Todd Gurley added 160 total yards while scoring his NFL high 17th touchdown. Now five games ahead of Seattle in the win column, Los Angeles has pretty much wrapped up the NFC West before Thanksgiving. Whew.