This was a devastating week for home teams. Only three squads playing in front of their fans actually ended up winning, though a few more teams' fates flipped in the final moments of their games. In case you missed any of the action, we've got you covered. Here are the highlights from Week 10.
Most Entertaining Game Of The Week
You could certainly argue for the Sunday night game that saw a whopping 71 points scored between the Cardinals and Seahawks, but the first quarter was quite uneventful. Meanwhile, the Patriots and Giants not only played a game that was fairly entertaining throughout, and its final few minutes featured a red zone interception, two separate touchdowns get overturned (by penalty and absurd catch rule, respectively), questionable clock management from the Giants, a 4th-and-10 conversion, a dropped interception, and like six other exciting plays. In the end, Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 54-yard field goal, and New England remained unbeaten. Oh yeah, and Tom Brady lost a number of offensive pieces, including another along his offensive line and his top receiver. Just amazing.
Who Earned His Paycheck?
An odd thing happened in Pittsburgh Sunday. Ben Roethlisberger, who left last week's game with yet another injury, was dressed and active for a game against the Browns. But he wasn't the starter. Though he entered the game quickly when Landry Jones hurt his ankle early in the first quarter. And Big Ben promptly set an NFL record, throwing for 379 yards in a relief appearance. Of course, that's kind of cheating, but hey, it still counts. Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant combined for 317 of those yards. It was a gutty effort for Roethlisberger, who barely took any reps in practice all week, and who claimed his foot was "black and blue" just days earlier. With him under center, the Steelers are a sneaky good team.
The Bears have come back from a double-digit deficit in all of their victories this season. Sunday was no exception, as they got down 10-0 early against the Rams. But the final outcome wasn't in doubt for long, as the Bears absolutely shredded an otherwise solid St. Louis defense to the tune of a 37-13 win. The Bears were aided by two separate touchdowns of more than 80 yards. Zach Miller took a short pass 87 yards to the house, and Jeremy Langford, who also ran for a score, caught a screen pass and zipped around a handful of hapless defenders for an 83-yard touchdown. The much-maligned Jay Cutler also only threw five incompletions, as he continues having his best statistical season yet in Chicago. All of a sudden, the Bears are right back in the thick of the playoff hunt. Considering their three wins prior to this came by a combined six points, it was nice to see a blowout in their favor.
Does your team have an inconsistent option at quarterback? Never fear, just have them play the New Orleans Saints! Washington's Kirk Cousins posted a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating, completing 20 of 25 passes for 324 yards and four touchdowns Sunday. He absolutely shredded the Saints defense, connecting with nine different receivers in a convincing 47-14 win. As every other team in the NFC East lost, this was a huge day for the Redskins. The burst of scoring was enough to get Saints' defensive coordinator Rob Ryan fired. While this was a great performance, New Orleans is one thing. Washington takes on Carolina next. If they win THAT game, then we might take them a bit more seriously.
Speaking of the Panthers, Cam Newton is simply an absolute joy to watch. Though his Superman dance is one of his signature celebrations, he's basically a cartoon villain to the rest of the NFL. He scored late in Sunday's 27-10 victory over the Titans, and started doing one dance before moving onto another one known as the "hit dem folks"–a dance his little brother requested he do. Tennessee linebacker Wesley Woodyard, who earlier mocked Newton's Superman celebration after a sack, didn't take too kindly to Newton's dance in the end zone, and went to confront the quarterback. As the pair was being separated, Newton continued to dance. When asked about it after the game, Newton told reporters he's a firm believer of the mantra "if you don't like it, keep me out [of the endzone]." Perfect. Just like Carolina's record.
All the talk will be about Peyton Manning's dreadful game, and indeed, it was truly difficult to watch. But credit the Chiefs for putting pressure on the ailing QB, forcing him into a 5-for-20 day for 35 yards and four interceptions. Five different Chiefs picked off a pass, and Charcandrick West paced the offense with 161 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. The Chiefs still have a ways to go to catch up to the Broncos–they moved to three games behind them with this win–but they've looked a lot more inspired in the past few weeks, running off a three-game win streak. With a very favorable schedule coming up, it's not inconceivable that they could make a late-season run.
Whose Performance Deserves A "Needs Improvement?"
The Jets may very well look back at their Thursday night loss against the Bills and think that was the moment their playoff chances took a tumble. Questionable play calling was certainly at the top of the list–New York had six instances where they threw the ball on third or fourth and short, and completed four of those passes. Yet they converted just one first down. Too many short screens when they needed a couple yards at most. Perhaps the most egregious play came on what ended up being the Jets final realistic chance to score. Eric Decker ran a beautiful pick play for Kellen Davis, only for the tight end to…not even turn around and look for the ball. Ryan Fitzpatrick's pass sailed right over his head, and after replays from every conceivable angle, it's not at all hard to imagine Davis makes the catch if he simply turned his head. Fitzpatrick looked exasperated after the play, and it's hard to blame him. In a key divisional game, the Jets really shot themselves in the foot. On top of all of that, they gave their former coach a win. You never want to see anybody celebrating on your field, let alone someone you gave the heave ho to a few months earlier.
We can now officially say the Packers have a problem. Once again, they started incredibly sluggishly, even with the Lions doing all they could to give the game away. Matt Prater missed two extra points, the normally sure-handed Calvin Johnson fumbled an onside kick with 31 seconds left and the Lions only had 10 men out on the field for Mason Crosby's field goal attempt. Because why make a win easy, right? James Starks finished with a meager 42 yards on 15 carries, and the running game again could not support Aaron Rodgers, who had to throw 61 passes, completing 35 of them. He was off his game, and it didn't help that his receivers dropped several catchable balls, too. Detroit won for the first time in Green Bay in 24 tries–you'd have to go back to a time when the first George Bush was president to see a Lions road win in Lambeau. This was supposed to be the week the Pack righted the ship, against the league's worst team, and it didn't happen.
If you watched the Cowboys/Buccaneers game, I feel quite sorry for you. Particularly if you're a Cowboys fan, as the team grasped YET ANOTHER defeat from the jaws of victory. This time, they managed to hold Tampa Bay to three points all game, and forced a fumble with under a minute left and Tampa Bay just about to score. But a defensive holding penalty gave the Bucs the ball back, and Jameis Winston ran a nifty bootleg from one yard out to notch the winning touchdown. On the Cowboys' final desperation drive, Matt Cassel lobbed a deep pass to Dez Bryant, who, thinking a pass interference penalty would be called, made little to no effort to catch the ball. No flag thrown, game over. This is seven in a row dropped by Dallas, and while Tony Romo is set to return next week, it may be too little, too late.
Tom Brady threw an interception in the red zone and his team still won. Mark Sanchez threw an interception in the red zone and it cost his team the game. Coming in for relief once Sam Bradford suffered a shoulder injury on a brutal hit, Sanchez came in and gave Eagles fans a bit of brief hope before reminding us why he's never been a solid starter throughout his career. With the Eagles driving for the winning score and knocking on the door of the end zone, Sanchez made a really bad pass into triple coverage, trying to target Miles Austin. That pass was easily intercepted by Reshad Jones, and the Eagles lost 20-19. It's the same old refrain for Sanchez: perform well for a few plays or drives, then make a critical interception. The Eagles also had a ton of stupid penalties and dropped passes, as has been the case throughout their frustratingly inconsistent season.
Hey, look who made an appearance this year: Primetime Andy Dalton! Of course, his receivers and running game didn't help him out very much; Tyler Eifert dropped three passes, and AJ Green lost a fumble after a big fourth-down conversion in the final minutes, and Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill combined for only 51 yards on 15 carries. But Dalton still missed open receivers throughout the game, and finished 22-for-38 for 197 yards and an interception–frankly, he should have had a second pick, too, but it just barely touched the ground. The Texans did a great job containing this explosive offense, so we'll see if this is just a case of the Bengals facing a Houston team they just can't seem to figure out, or if this is a harbinger of more bad news to come.
Five Fun Facts From Week 10
The Texans haven't allowed a touchdown in 10 quarters. The last time they did, they were down 41-0 to Miami.
Karlos Williams is just the second player in NFL history to score a touchdown in each of his first six games to start his career.
The Dolphins have surrendered a safety in three straight weeks.
Tom Coughlin squaring off against Bill Belichick was the first time since 1992 two head coaches in the same game have each had 20+ years of experience.
Ameer Abdullah tied an NFL record by returning a kickoff 104 yards without scoring.
Five Predictions For Week 11
Last Week: 2-3
The Cowboys were so close to covering and making this a winning week. Naturally, they blew it. Oh, well. 2-3 is still solid compared to most of the past weeks. Let's check out Week 11.
ARIZONA -3 over Cincinnati
The Texans showed some vulnerabilities in Cincinnati's offense, and I think the Cardinals can exploit those same issues. Add home-field advantage and Arizona should win this one in a low-scoring affair.
Kansas City -3 over SAN DIEGO
Even coming off a bye, the Chargers are still banged up, and they're catching a Chiefs team at the wrong time. Nothing is certain in the NFL, of course, though the Chargers making dumb plays to hurt themselves in crucial situations is about as close to certainty as we'll get.
CHICAGO +2 over Denver
Denver still finds itself a road favorite despite a pair of lackluster efforts, and now they're starting their backup QB. The Bears have looked good in the last two weeks (albeit against weaker overall teams), and while they've only won once at home, I think it takes the Broncos a week to gel with Brock Osweiler under center.
MINNESOTA PK over Green Bay
Until Green Bay can get itself sorted out, I can't trust them anymore. Even when they were winning, it wasn't impressive, and this Vikings team has made a believer out of me. They should keep the momentum rolling at home.
Tampa Bay +6 over PHILADELPHIA
We do realize Mark Sanchez is probably starting this game, right? And the Eagles are still giving nearly a touchdown?! I cannot hop on Tampa Bay fast enough.