The 10th week of the NFL season was one to forget for the Lone Star State. The Texans and Cowboys combined for just 14 points on Sunday and each picked up ugly road losses.
Slowly but surely, things went about as bad as expected for the Texans in Los Angeles. Tom Savage and Houston spent the first half trying to convince us it could be an interesting afternoon, but the Rams showed why they’re one of the most effective all-around teams in the second.
Jared Goff posted 355 yards and 3 touchdowns and arguably added his name to the list of MVP candidates with his second straight dominant performance. Receiver Robert Woods reaped most of those benefits and even scored the longest Rams touchdown in over 50 years. Running back Todd Gurley has joined Goff’s 2017 redemption tour and did his thing on the ground. LA didn’t quite post 50 like they did in New York, but they were spot on with their incredible season average.
Defensively, the Rams are continuing to show why this team is a contender. The unit forced four turnovers off of Tom Savage, who will not lead Houston to much success as the season goes on. The Texans are 3-6 with the Arizona Cardinals on deck.
The Cowboys felt the absence of Ezekiel Elliot on Sunday in Atlanta and played their worst game since week two’s debacle in Denver. The Cowboys were just not effective on the offensive side of the ball in the latter part of the game and the Falcons exploited their lackluster tendencies. Atlanta defensive end Adrian Clayborn sacked Dak Prescott a whopping six times, tied for the second-most sacks of all-time in a single game.
The good news for Dallas is that division rival Washington fell at home to Minnesota. The Cowboys won’t have Zeke available until week 16 and have a primetime matchup with the soaring Eagles coming up. Even if they can manage to give Philly their second loss of the year, it’s time to start thinking wildcard or bust in Dallas at 5-4.
The New Orleans Saints refuse to lose and are finding new and exciting ways to dominate their opponents week after week. Amazingly, Drew Brees threw for just 263 yards but his Saints posted 47 points in a tough Buffalo atmosphere. Running backs Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara were just two yards shy of 300 yards on the ground and the Bills had no answers in the blowout.
After an ugly and typical two weeks to start the year, the New Orleans defensive unit has stepped up and stifled opposing offenses ever since. The team is clicking all-around and have undoubtedly joined the Eagles as serious contenders in the NFC.
The biggest and most devastating news in the NFC came on Thursday night. The Seattle Seahawks picked up their sixth win but lost shutdown cornerback Richard Sherman for the remainder of the season with a torn Achilles. Sherman made it virtually impossible for most opposing quarterbacks to even consider using his half of the field and is a brutal loss for Seattle. The Seahawks should still be an effective team with Russell Wilson and an overall capable defense, but I can’t see this team winning the NFC without Sherman.
In the AFC, Tom Brady won his 86th career road game to pass Peyton Manning for most all-time. More importantly, the Patriots picked up their fifth straight win and posted 41 points against the Broncos.
New England has also seemed to figure it out defensively after a tough start. They’ve allowed no more than 17 points during their current win streak and are starting to gel as a unit. If the defense continues to hold opponents to modest performances, there’s not a group in the world more dangerous than Brady and the defending champs. New England will take their 7-2 record across the border to Estadio Azteca in Mexico City and battle the Oakland Raiders on Sunday afternoon.
The Denver Broncos have seen better days. Not only were they embarrassed at home by the hated Patriots, but Denver has also surrendered 92 total points in their last two games. Granted, they battled MVP candidates Brady and Carson Wentz, but we got in the habit of expecting the Broncos to be one of the best defenses in the league.
The offense hasn’t been doing Denver any favors. Brock Osweiler has actually been a step up from Trevor Siemian at quarterback, but he’s still settling back into an offense not exactly built to average 30 points a game. Denver’s defense is much better than they’ve played in November, but they’re not the same unit that was capable of carrying Peyton Manning and an ineffective offense across the finish line in Super Bowl 50.
With week ten in the rearview, the Patriots and Steelers hold the top two seeds in the AFC. Pittsburgh scraped out a close win in Indianapolis to improve to 7-2 on Sunday and currently hold the tiebreaker over New England for the top spot. However, the Steelers and Patriots will go head-to-head in Pittsburgh on Dec. 17.
The Chiefs held the three seed during their bye week and the Titans and Jaguars both picked up wins to improve to 6-3 in the South. Tennessee holds the division lead and the four spot thanks to a win in Jacksonville on Sept. 17. The teams will meet again in Tennessee on the last game of the season. The Jaguars are currently the first wildcard out of the AFC followed by the staggering Bills.
In the NFC, the Eagles hold the top slot through their bye as the only team with one loss in the NFL. The Vikings, Rams and Saints all lead their respective divisions with records of 7-2. As it stands now, Minnesota holds the two seed with the Saints three and Rams four. The Seahawks and Panthers are both very much alive in their divisions and currently hold the two NFC wildcard spots.
With plenty of time left in the season, there are a lot of teams still in the hunt for both conferences. Atlanta, Detroit, Dallas, Green Bay and Washington can all get to January with a little help. In the AFC, it gets a little hazy after the division winners. Buffalo is in jeopardy of losing their sixth and final spot to the Dolphins, Ravens or Raiders.