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Jennifer Stewart/Associated Press
The only constant in today’s NFL is that nothing is constant—a fact that was plainly evident in Week 10.
In Miami, a Dolphins team that started the 2020 season ranked 24th in the Bleacher Report NFL power rankings peeled off a fifth straight win to remain in the top 10.
In Los Angeles, a Seattle Seahawks team that has spent most of this season ranked toward the top of the league dropped a second straight contest—and fell outside the top 10.
The New York Giants won for the second week in a row, thrusting themselves back into the NFC East race. The New England Patriots kept their playoff hopes alive with a stunning win over the Baltimore Ravens. And in Arizona, Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray ensured that he’ll be on highlight reels for years to come thanks to his game-winning Hail Mary against the Buffalo Bills.
Not everything was a surprise. The undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers kept rolling against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Jacksonville Jaguars gave the Green Bay Packers a run for their money, but in the end, the Jags did the same thing they have done since Week 1—lose.
Bleacher Report NFL analysts Gary Davenport, Brad Gagnon and Brent Sobleski have gathered yet again to sort through the week and rank the NFL’s 32 teams from bottom to top.
The bread in this power rankings sandwich hasn’t changed. But quite a bit of the meaty goodness in between has been moved around.
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Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press
Last Week: 32
Week 10 Result: Bye Week
Heading into last week’s tilt with the New England Patriots, Jets head coach Adam Gase told ESPN’s Rich Cimini that he wasn’t concerned with rampant speculation that his days in charge of Gang Green are numbered.
“I can’t focus on that. It’s wasted energy. It’s not going to help me at all,” he said. “All I can do is make sure I get our guys into the right headspace to go out there and play well. … If I waste my energy on anything else, it’s counterproductive to what we’re doing.”
The good news is that the Jets proceeded to play their best game of 2020, carrying their first lead of the season into the fourth quarter. The bad news is that they then squandered that lead and fell to 0-9 on the season.
Right now, the Jets are on pace to secure the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft. But given just how terrible this team is, it’s fair to wonder whether quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence of Clemson or Ohio State’s Justin Fields would want any part of this franchise.
And at any rate, the odds that Gase will be molding that new quarterback next season appear to be about the same as our odds of winning 17 straight Powerball drawings.
OK. Our chances are better.
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Mike Roemer/Associated Press
Last Week: 31
Week 10 Result: Lost 24-20 at Green Bay
So, um, about “Luton Lunacy.”
Given that the Jacksonville Jaguars gave the Green Bay Packers a game Sunday (and even led in the second half), one might think that rookie quarterback Jake Luton had a second straight good game.
He did not.
Against the Packers, Luton came crashing back to Earth—18 completions on 35 attempts, 169 passing yards, a touchdown, an interception and a passer rating of just 62.7.
All the lackluster showing really did was confirm what we already knew—or at least expected. Jacksonville’s quarterback of the future all but certainly isn’t presently on the roster. Gardner Minshew II had a moment or two, but he has a limited arm. Luton is what he is—a sixth-round rookie.
Fortunately, at 1-8, the Jaguars are currently in line for the second pick in the 2021 draft. That might not get them Trevor Lawrence, but as consolation prizes go, Justin Fields isn’t a bad one.
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Ron Jenkins/Associated Press
Last Week: 30
Week 10 Result: Bye Week
At 2-7, it has become painfully clear that the 2020 Dallas Cowboys aren’t going anywhere this season. The Cowboys are on pace to win just four games in a season where the team entered the year with Super Bowl aspirations.
Per ESPN’s Todd Archer, former Dallas safety Barry Church said this season feels eerily like 2015, when Dallas came in with playoff hopes but lost Tony Romo to a season-ending injury:
“It’s almost the exact same thing as 2015. They had all these expectations coming into the year. It’s, ‘We’re so hyped. We brought in this talent from the draft. Got some good free agents. This is the year.’ Then they lost their main guy and even before that they weren’t playing as well, but they still had hope because Dak Prescott was out there. They still had confidence they could turn this thing around. But then he’s gone and that had to be [deflating].”
Dallas has only one game remaining against a team with a winning record, but the reality is the Cowboys are simply playing out the string on an awful, injury-ravaged season. And as we move deeper into November and December, there won’t be any lack of speculation regarding how the Cowboys will handle the offseason that follows.
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Duane Burleson/Associated Press
Last Week: 29
Week 10 Result: Lost 30-27 at Detroit
It’s been a miserable season in the nation’s capital yet again. After dropping a heartbreaker in the Motor City on Sunday, Washington is 2-7 and is tied for last place in the NFL’s worst division.
However, there was at least one glimmer of light in an otherwise dark afternoon for Washington.
In his first start since suffering a gruesome leg injury back in 2018, veteran quarterback Alex Smith threw for 390 yards and brought the WFT all the way back from a 24-3 deficit to tie the game late.
Smith isn’t the player he was pre-injury. The 36-year-old has lost some mobility, and he averaged only 7.1 yards per attempt against Detroit while finishing without a touchdown pass.
But considering the complications Smith faced after his surgically repaired leg became infected, it’s remarkable that he’s playing football at all.
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Jeff Bottari/Associated Press
Last Week: 25
Week 10 Result: Lost 37-12 at Las Vegas
If there was any question as to whether the 2020 Denver Broncos were bad, it was answered Sunday in Las Vegas.
Every facet of the team stunk against the Raiders. But the most depressing of all had to be second-year quarterback Drew Lock, who threw four interceptions and finished with a passer rating of 37.3.
It’s becoming clearer by the week that Lock is not the long-term answer under center for the Broncos, unless the question is “who will lead the Broncos to six 5-11 seasons in a row?”
For his part, Lock told reporters he isn’t about to give up.
“This organization doesn’t pay me, this fanbase doesn’t cheer us on for me to quit on anything. They’ll have to carry me off the field for me to come off. That just is what it is when you play quarterback—you have bad days, you have good days—you just have to limit the bad ones.”
But Gagnon thinks that it’s time for the Broncos to come to grips with the fact they need a new quarterback.
“I know injuries are a factor here, but the Broncos are very bad, and it would look a lot worse if not for some strong late-game performances over the last few weeks,” he said. “Lock hasn’t done enough to prove he can be the guy, leaving John Elway in a brutal spot.”
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Don Wright/Associated Press
Last Week: 22
Week 10 Result: Lost 36-10 at Pittsburgh
The wins haven’t so much been there, but there has been optimism surrounding the Cincinnati Bengals in 2020—largely because of the play of rookie quarterback Joe Burrow.
Sunday, we were reminded how far the Bengals still have to go.
Facing arguably the league’s best defense in Pittsburgh, Burrow had one of his shakier outings as a pro—21 completions on 40 attempts for 213 yards and a score. The No. 1 overall pick in 2020 was sacked four times and hit nine more times.
The Bengals faced 13 third downs in the game. The team converted none of them. The Cincinnati defense allowed 377 total yards and gave up a four-touchdown effort to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
The Bengals may be better than they were. But that doesn’t make them good. Not yet.
“Sunday was an important reminder that it’s all about 2021 and beyond for these rebuilding Bengals,” Gagnon said. “There’s a lot to be excited about, but this isn’t a playoff-caliber team. They’re now 0-4 with a minus-58 scoring margin in divisional games this season.”
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Ron Schwane/Associated Press
Last Week: 24
Week 10 Result: Lost 10-7 at Cleveland
The Houston Texans are a mess.
The swirling winds in Cleveland didn’t do the Texans any favors Sunday, but the weather isn’t the reason Houston has only two wins on the season, both of which came against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The weather wasn’t the sole reason the Texans managed only seven points against one of the worst scoring defenses in the league. The Texans entered Week 10 with the worst run game in the AFC, averaging just 87.6 yards per game. Houston was able to better that average against the Browns…by about 2.5 yards.
The weather also wasn’t the reason that Houston’s papier-mache run defense got gashed again. The Browns peeled off 231 yards on the ground Sunday, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt topped 100 rushing yards in the game.
“The 2020 season has been a disaster for the Texans, and the only light at the end of the tunnel is a freight train headed their way,” Davenport said. “The final reminder of just how terrible an idea it was to make Bill O’Brien the general manager will be watching their high draft pick in 2021 get used by the Miami Dolphins.”
“At this point, everyone should feel bad for Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson,” Sobleski added. “The following may be the most telling stat of this past weekend’s play: No Texans pass-catcher managed more than 41 receiving yards, albeit in inclement weather, against Cleveland. DeAndre Hopkins’ miraculous game-winning touchdown reception against the Buffalo Bills went for 43 yards.”
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Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press
Last Week: 26
Week 10 Result: Lost 29-21 at Miami
From the moment that Justin Herbert took the reins for the Los Angeles Chargers offense, the rookie from Oregon has played well.
Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins was no exception. Even in one of his shakier outings of the year, Herbert still threw for 187 yards and two scores.
But as has been the case far too often this season, the Chargers just can’t get wins. In Week 10, Herbert came up on the short end of a duel with Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who was taken one pick before him in the 2020 draft.
Despite the setback, Herbert told reporters after the game that he remains confident the Bolts can turn things around.
“It’s a long season and a lot of football left to be played,” Herbert said. “I know going forward, we’re going to be better, and we’re going to continue do things in practice and get better.”
That sentiment would be easier to buy into if the Chargers weren’t 1-7 with Herbert as their starting quarterback.
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Tony Ding/Associated Press
Last Week: 28
Week 10 Result: Won 30-27 vs. Washington
The Detroit Lions can’t decide whether they want to be good or bad. Sunday’s win over Washington was a microcosm of the Jekyll-and-Hyde act that has defined them in 2020.
In the early going, it looked like the Lions were going to cruise at home. They led 17-3 at halftime, and they extended their lead to 21 with a touchdown on the first drive of the second half.
But rather than keep their collective foot on the gas and blow Washington out, the Lions let them back into the game. By the time Matt Prater hit a 59-yard field goal to seal a three-point win, Detroit had surrendered a staggering 464 yards to one of the league’s most anemic offenses.
It may be jaded to point this out, but Sunday’s win didn’t do much other than cost the Lions position in next year’s draft. This isn’t a playoff team. Not with that defense.
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Brian Westerholt/Associated Press
Last Week: 23
Week 10 Result: Bye Week
Someone really needs to tell the Atlanta Falcons that the NFL season begins in September.
In 2019, the Falcons started the season 1-7 before peeling off six wins over their last eight games to temporarily save head coach Dan Quinn’s job.
This year, they got off to an 0-5 start, including two games in which they blew 15-point fourth-quarter leads. That wound up costing Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff their respective gigs.
But just as they did last year, the Falcons have turned things around, winning three of four since Quinn’s firing. While speaking with Terez Paylor of Yahoo Sports, running back Todd Gurley credited interim head coach Raheem Morris for the Falcons’ improved play:
“Man, he just keeps it real. Not that most coaches don’t, but he kind of just speaks what’s on his mind and just says it. There’s no B.S. If we’ve got something to say, if he needs to take care of us on the field, he will. Off days, he will. He’s getting it done. I’ll give him that.”
The Falcons don’t have much left to play for at 3-6. But if the team continues to rally, Morris will have a compelling case for removing “interim” from his job title.
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Adam Hunger/Associated Press
Last Week: 18
Week 10 Result: Lost 27-17 at New York Giants
Week 10 was supposed to be when the Philadelphia Eagles got things going. They were finally starting to get healthy, and all it would take is a victory over the lowly Giants to get back to .500 and establish a firm grip on first place in the NFC East.
There was only one problem with that plan: The Eagles aren’t good.
If there was any doubt about that, it was settled in Philly’s 10-point loss to the Giants on Sunday. Carson Wentz managed to avoid throwing an interception, but he barely cracked 200 passing yards and was outplayed by Daniel Jones. The Philly defense allowed 382 total yards and 151 rushing yards to a Giants offense that entered Week 10 dead last in the NFC in total offense.
As horrid as the Eagles looked Sunday, they remain in first place in a division that is redefining awful on a weekly basis. But at this point, it appears that all winning the NFC East will get you in 2020 is the honor of getting smacked at home by a better team in the Wild Card Round.
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Adam Hunger/Associated Press
Last Week: 27
Week 10 Result: Won 27-17 vs. Philadelphia
The New York Giants are back in the hunt in the NFC East.
No, really. They are. Stop laughing.
Granted, the fact that a 3-7 team is anywhere near first place in its division says more about how bad the NFC East is than how good the Giants are. But after taking care of the Eagles on Sunday, the G-Men are within striking distance of first place.
Not only that, but the Giants are playing the best football in the division. They’ve won two straight after a 1-7 start, and they gave the Tampa Bay Buccaneers all they could handle in a Week 8 loss.
Quarterback Daniel Jones has upped his accuracy and cut down on the turnovers that plagued him earlier in the season. A Giants defense that has been quietly solid over the past month gave up less than 200 passing yards and didn’t allow the Eagles to convert a third-down attempt.
Are the Giants good? Heavens no. But they might just be the best team in the NFC (L)East.
“The G-Men are quietly 3-3 in their last six games, with the three losses coming by six total points,” Gagnon wrote. “They play hard for rookie head coach Joe Judge, and Daniel Jones looks as though he’s coming around. It probably doesn’t mean much even if they win the NFC East, but this is a good sign for what’s to come in 2021 and beyond.”
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Brian Blanco/Associated Press
Last Week: 17
Week 10 Result: Lost 46-23 vs. Tampa Bay
It’s bad enough that the Carolina Panthers got drilled Sunday by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 23-point thumping was Carolina’s fifth straight loss, making the 3-2 start to the season seem like a distant memory.
But what happened to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater late in the game was the worst news of all for the Panthers.
Bridgewater was forced from the game in the fourth quarter after getting his knee twisted on a sack. It wasn’t the same knee that he shredded with the Vikings in 2016, but head coach Matt Rhule indicated after the game that he isn’t sure about Bridgewater’s status for Week 11.
“He got up and walked off,” Rhule told reporters. “When it comes to knees and stuff like that, I don’t know. I haven’t had a chance to see him. I have no idea [how he is].”
It’s been that kind of season in Charlotte.
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Brett Duke/Associated Press
Last Week: 20
Week 10 Result: Lost 27-13 at New Orleans
The Super Bowl hangover has claimed another victim.
The San Francisco 49ers’ fading postseason hopes are just about finished after their loss to New Orleans Saints on Sunday. The defending NFC champions are two games under .500 and are three games back of every other NFC West team in the loss column.
No team in the league has been hit harder by injuries than the Niners. But as the playoffs become more of a pipe dream than a legitimate goal, San Francisco is running low on reasons to rush back the likes of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, running back Raheem Mostert and tight end George Kittle.
This backslide is going to leave the franchise with some big questions to answer in the offseason, including whether Garoppolo is the long-term answer under center.
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Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press
Last Week: 19
Week 10 Result: Won at Chicago 19-13
Break up the Vikings.
To be fair, the Vikings did not exactly light up Soldier Field in their Monday night victory over the Bears. Dalvin Cook had 96 yards on the ground, but those 96 yards came on 30 carries.
But with Cook bottled up, Kirk Cousins took to the air, exorcising some of the ghosts of his previous 0-9 career record on Monday Night Football in the process. Rookie Justin Jefferson continued to impress, catching eight passes for 135 yards. Veteran wide receiver Adam Thielen was on the receiving end of both of Cousins’ scoring throws.
A few weeks ago, the Vikings were 1-5 and given up on by most. It’s still going to be an uphill climb to get back to the postseason, but they are now 4-5 heading into a stretch of winnable games against the Cowboys, Panthers and Jaguars.
This is a Minnesota team that could be 7-5 when it travels to Tampa in Week 14.
Not that long ago, that appeared laughable.
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Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press
Last Week: 16
Week 10 Result: Lost vs. Minnesota 19-13
Just when things couldn’t get any worse for the reeling Chicago Bears, they did.
It was bad enough that the Bears were about to lose their fourth straight game after starting 5-1. That Chicago managed just 149 yards of offense against a Minnesota defense no one is going to confuse with the Purple People Eaters is even worse. That Nick Foles missed Anthony Miller only minutes before on a long pass that could have won the game is worse still.
But then Foles was slammed to the ground while attempting to release a pass and had to be carted off the field.
The Bears head into their bye week as a .500 team that has been exposed in every way a team can be exposed. The defense is good, but it can’t do it all. The offense has been unbelievably bad, and it hasn’t really mattered who’s been under center.
At least when the Bears get back after it, they won’t have to go to Lambeau to get embarrassed by a clearly superior Green Bay Packers team.
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Elise Amendola/Associated Press
Last Week: 21
Week 10 Result: Won 23-17 vs. Baltimore
If the New England Patriots turn their season around and keep their string of consecutive playoff appearances intact (a streak that dates back to 2008), we may well look at Sunday night’s win over the Baltimore Ravens as the game that turned the tide.
In a driving rainstorm, the Pats leaned on their running backs and a bit of trickeration to get the W. Young running back Damien Harris continued his solid season, piling up 121 yards on 22 carries. Rex Burkhead added 66 total yards and two scores, including one on a trick-play throw from wideout Jakobi Meyers.
The New England defense also kept Lamar Jackson and the Ravens run game under wraps, allowing only 115 yards on the ground.
The Pats still have a ways to go before the playoffs will be in sight. They’re still two games out of the seventh seed in the AFC, and more than half of their remaining games are against teams that presently sport a winning record.
But next week’s trip to Houston appears to be a winnable game that would get the Pats back to .500.
One step at a time.
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Ron Schwane/Associated Press
Last Week: 15
Week 10 Result: Won 10-7 vs. Houston
The Cleveland Browns have already won as many games in 2020 under new head coach Kevin Stefanski as they did all of last year.
There’s no question that the Browns are better this season. The question is whether they’re actually good.
With running back Nick Chubb returning from an MCL sprain, the Browns got back to doing what they do best: running the football. Cleveland tore through the Houston defense for 231 rushing yards, with both Chubb and Kareem Hunt eclipsing 100 yards in the win.
However, quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for only 132 yards. While at least part of that can be attributed to a second straight game in miserable weather conditions, the fact remains that Cleveland’s passing attack has been underwhelming for much of the season.
That might not matter next week against a bad Eagles team. Or the week after that against an even worse Jacksonville Jaguars team. But after that, the Browns face a pair of contenders in the Titans and Ravens.
It’s going to take a better offensive effort to win those games and earn some credibility as a contender in their own right. But one analyst here at B/R is onboard the Cleveland Express.
“At 6-3, the Browns appear to have found a quality head coach in Kevin Stefanski,” Sobleski said. “He’s struck the right formula with a heavy reliance on Chubb and Hunt, who have combined for 1,094 combined rushing yards. As long as Mayfield doesn’t make critical mistakes and the defense doesn’t allow too many chunk plays, the Browns can compete with anyone given their approach.”
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Wade Payne/Associated Press
Last Week: 9
Week 10 Result: Lost vs. Indianapolis 34-17
The Tennessee Titans have been exposed.
After losing to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 9, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel insisted that the team’s lack of a defensive coordinator wasn’t why they had struggled so much on that end of the field..
“That’s not a factor. I’m positive that’s not a factor,” Vrabel told reporters. “We have to continue to play better and coach better. But I’m certain that’s not what’s leading to us giving up points and not getting off the field on third downs.”
Whatever the reason, Tennessee’s defense was poor again in Thursday’s loss to Indianapolis. The Colts amassed 430 yards of offense, converted three of their five fourth-down attempts and didn’t punt the football until the fourth quarter.
The loss shifted the balance of power in the AFC South and leaves the Titans scrambling for answers after losing three of their last four games. It also left one of our analysts with serious concerns about Tennessee’s legitimacy as a contender.
“The Titans can’t pressure the quarterback with any consistency, and the secondary isn’t especially good,” Davenport said. “Those are fatal flaws in the same conference as Patrick Mahomes and Ben Roethlisberger. The Titans may make the playoffs, but this is a second-tier Super Bowl wannabe.”
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Kyusung Gong/Associated Press
Last Week: 7
Week 10 Result: Lost 23-16 at Los Angeles Rams
It might be time to start freaking out a bit in Seattle, and not just about the defense.
For the second time in as many weeks, Russell Wilson looked like anything but an MVP candidate against the Los Angeles Rams. One week after being pummeled by the Buffalo Bills pass rush in a four-turnover effort, Wilson was sacked six times, committed three turnovers and didn’t throw a touchdown pass.
After the game, Wilson didn’t pull any punches about his performance.
“I just got to get better,” Wilson told reporters. “I’m not going to make it overly complicated. It’s not on anybody but me. I put it on my shoulders, and we’ll get it fixed.”
Gagnon is now officially concerned about Seattle’s viability as a Super Bowl contender.
“It might be time to panic if you’re a Seahawks fan,” he said. “That was Russell Wilson’s third poor performance in a four-game span, and he’s now been sacked 11 times in two weeks. That poor pass defense gives Seattle very little margin for error, and the offense is making far too many errors. If not for that extra wild-card spot, I’d be wondering if the Seahawks might miss the playoffs.”
It’s quite the fall for a team that was viewed as one of the Super Bowl favorites in the NFC a few weeks ago.
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David Becker/Associated Press
Last Week: 13
Week 10 Result: Won 37-12 vs. Denver
Don’t look now, but the Las Vegas Raiders might actually be good.
After stomping the rival Broncos at Allegiant Stadium, the Raiders have now peeled off three wins in a row to move to 6-3 on the season. If the 2020 season ended today, they would be in the postseason.
Sunday’s blowout was a very Raiders win. Josh Jacobs had a big game, carrying the ball 21 times for 112 yards and two scores. Quarterback Derek Carr was relatively efficient throwing the ball and didn’t commit any turnovers. And the Raiders defense was highly opportunistic, forcing five Denver turnovers.
Now comes the biggest litmus test of the year, a game that would go a long way toward establishing the Raiders as more than a fringe contender in the AFC.
Back in Week 5, the Raiders stunned the first-place Chiefs in Kansas City. If they can pull off a second win over the Chiefs and move within a game of first place in the AFC West, it’s going to be difficult not to take them seriously.
“Las Vegas deserves credit for playing as well as it has in recent weeks,” Sobleski said. “The Raiders won three straight contests in entirely different manners. Against the Cleveland Browns, the Raiders overcame inclement weather and simply outphysicaled their opponent. Two weeks ago, Las Vegas beat the rival Los Angeles Chargers and put the game away when it needed to late in the contest. This past weekend, the Raiders simply dominated the Denver Broncos. Oh, quarterback Derek Carr is having a career year, too.”
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Jae C. Hong/Associated Press
Last Week: 14
Week 10 Result: Won 23-16 vs. Seattle
The Los Angeles Rams entered their big Week 10 showdown with the Seattle Seahawks at 5-3. However, their only victory over a team with a winning record came in Week 7 against the Chicago Bears.
The Rams now have their signature victory: a seven-point win over the rival Seahawks that threw the NFC West into chaos.
However, even in victory, there were some trouble spots. The Rams piled up 389 total yards and 283 passing yards, but Jared Goff didn’t throw a touchdown. The Rans averaged only 3.7 yards per carry and 5.6 yards per play against the NFL’s worst defense.
The stars of the game were Aaron Donald and the Rams defense. The Rams allowed only 333 total yards to Seattle’s high-octane offense, sacked Russell Wilson six times and forced three turnovers.
The Rams won’t have much time to celebrate the big win, though. Next week’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is the first of four games over the last seven weeks against teams with winning records, including a rematch in Seattle and two meetings with the surging Arizona Cardinals.
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Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press
Last Week: 10
Week 10 Result: Won 29-21 vs. Los Angeles Chargers
The Miami Dolphins must be butter, because they’re on a roll.
After downing the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, the Dolphins have now peeled off five straight wins and sit a half-game behind the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East. Three of those wins came with rookie Tua Tagovailoa under center, and after winning his third straight start, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 draft quipped that the NFL has been easier than he expected.
“I expected it to be a lot harder,” Tagovailoa told reporters, “not that it’s not hard.”
Miami is quickly becoming the surprise success story of the 2020 season. Gagnon is gobsmacked that the Dolphins have worked their way even further into the top 10 of his rankings.
“I really can’t believe I’ve got the Dolphins in the No. 7 slot,” Gagnon said. “Brian Flores is special, Andrew Van Ginkel is the spirit of a shockingly good defense and Tua is only going to get better. The Dolphins are a top-10 team, which is incredible considering how horrendous they were just 13-14 months ago. They could steal the AFC East from the Buffalo Bills.”
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Ben Margot/Associated Press
Last Week: 12
Week 10 Result: Won at Tennessee 34-17
The Indianapolis Colts entered Week 10 at 5-3 and in contention in the AFC South. But their only victory over a team with a winning record was a 19-11 victory over a flawed Chicago Bears team in Week 4.
They rectified that with an emphatic 34-17 victory over the rival Titans on Thursday Night Football. Indy’s defense allowed fewer than 300 total yards, and the offense dominated using an uptempo, no-huddle attack.
Head coach Frank Reich told reporters that the fast-paced offensive strategy was a result of the short week.
“The guys handled it really, really well. Part of that decision was that it was a short week. It was something that Philip [Rivers] and I talked about—that what do you do when you have a short week? Well, one of the answers is—because when you go no-huddle, you tend to be a little bit more base core in your play call because you don’t have as much shifting and motion and stuff like that. So let’s just run our core plays and let’s just run them with speed.”
The win thrust the Colts into first place in the division, but there’s no time to rest. The next two weeks brings a home matchup against the Green Bay Packers and a rematch with these same Titans.
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Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press
Last Week: 5
Week 10 Result: Lost 32-30 at Arizona
The Bills had it.
When Josh Allen hit Stefon Diggs for the go-ahead touchdown with 34 seconds left in the game against the Arizona Cardinals, the Bills had the game won. They were about to be 8-2 and one step closer to their first AFC EaSt title in over two decades.
One Kyler Murray-to-DeAndre Hopkins Hail Mary later, a stunned Bills team sat at 7-3. Combined with wins by the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots, the race in the division just got considerably tighter.
The Bills do have head-to-head wins over both Miami and New England, as well as a relatively favorable schedule. Only two of Buffalo’s six remaining games are against teams that presently sport a winning record, and both of those contests are at Bills Stadium.
“I’m leery of reading too much into this loss given how it happened,” Davenport said. “The Bills have played a tough schedule that included seven games against teams with winning records, and they’re 4-3 in those games even after Sunday’s stunner. But if the surging Dolphins can get by Denver next week while Buffalo is on bye, an AFC East that looked like a foregone conclusion not that long ago will be anything but.”
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Elise Amendola/Associated Press
Last Week: 6
Week 10 Result: Lost 23-17 at New England
It’s officially time to come to grips with the reality that the 2020 Ravens and the 2019 iteration that won 14 games and the AFC North are two different teams.
Last year’s Ravens were explosive offensively. This year’s team just doesn’t seem able to get untracked and stay there. Baltimore managed only 357 yards of offense and 115 rushing yards against the Patriots.
After the game, reigning MVP Lamar Jackson told reporters that the Ravens weren’t at all happy with how they performed Sunday night.
“We’re ticked off,” Jackson said. “Don’t nobody like losing … especially when we have a lot of talent on our team. We’ve just got to regroup.”
The Ravens have now lost more games in 2020 than they did all of last season. Baltimore occupies the No. 7 spot in the AFC playoff standings. And with the 6-3 Titans, 9-0 Steelers and 6-3 Browns all on the schedule over the next month, missing the postseason altogether is well within the realm of possibility if the Ravens don’t get going offensively.
27 of 32
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press
Last Week: 11
Week 10 Result: Won 32-30 vs. Buffalo
In the span of just a few seconds Sunday, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray shook up the race in the NFC West. And the AFC East. And the race to be named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player.
The Hail Mary that Murray threw to DeAndre Hopkins to stun the Buffalo Bills in Week 10 may well be the defining play of the 2020 season.
“I definitely thought it had a chance when I let it go,” Murray told reporters after the game. “Just the feeling of it. When I rolled out, the play was designed to roll out to the left, [I] had to make somebody miss then just give the best shooter in the league a chance. And he came down with the ball.”
After shocking the Bills, the Cardinals sit at the head of a three-way logjam of 6-3 teams atop the NFC West ahead of a Week 11 rematch with the Seattle Seahawks. But at least one analyst here at Bleacher Report thinks the Redbirds have the edge in that clash.
“The Cardinals are better offensively than the Rams, and better defensively than the Seahawks,” Davenport said. “Kyler Murray may be legitimately harder to defend than Russell Wilson. There isn’t a more fascinating race down the stretch than this one, and the Cardinals may well win it.”
“In Kyler Murray, the Cardinals trust,” Sobleski added. “As they should. Now the potential front-runner for MVP, Arizona’s quarterback is a truly dynamic presence behind center as a passer and runner. In fact, his current production is further ahead than where Lamar Jackson stood during the same point a year ago before winning the award. A jaw-dropping throw, now dubbed the ‘Hail Murray,’ certainly helps his case. The bigger picture shows a 6-3 Cardinals squad with only one loss by more than three points. The Cardinals are the quintessential team that nobody wants to face.”
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Gerry Broome/Associated Press
Last Week: 8
Week 10 Result: Won 46-23 at Carolina
Last week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were embarrassed by the New Orleans Saints at home.
In Week 10, an angry Bucs team took out its frustration on the Carolina Panthers, piling up over 500 yards of offense and 46 points in an emphatic win.
The same Tampa offense that struggled against the Saints was unstoppable against the Panthers. Tom Brady threw for 341 yards and three scores. Running back Ronald Jones II had the best game of his career, piling up 192 rushing yards and peeling off a franchise record 98-yard touchdown. Wide receivers Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown combined for 19 catches for 238 yards and a score.
Add in that the Buccaneers allowed fewer than 200 yards of offense, and you have a performance that reinforced what they could be capable of.
“Consistency is still an issue for a Buccaneers team trying to fit so many new pieces together,” Davenport said. “But on Sunday, Tampa looked very much like a legitimate contender for the Super Bowl. Now it will be a matter of maintaining that performance in big matchups with the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs over the next two weeks.”
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Brett Duke/Associated Press
Last Week: 4
Week 10 Result: Won 27-13 vs. San Francisco
Of the 14 teams that notched a win in Week 10, there’s little question that the New Orleans Saints are the least happy.
Yes, the Saints got their sixth consecutive win to stay atop the NFC South. But that win may have come at a high cost.
After completing only eight passes for 76 yards, quarterback Drew Brees was forced from the game with a rib injury. He’s since been diagnosed with multiple rib fractures and a collapsed lung, per ESPN’s Ed Werder, putting his availability moving forward into question.
The Saints don’t play a team with a winning record again until Week 15 against the Kansas City Chiefs. But the Buccaneers are lurking just behind them in the division, and Jameis Winston didn’t play especially well in relief of Brees on Sunday.
“The Saints are finding ways to win,” Sobleski wrote. “Over the last two weeks, New Orleans dismantled the rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers before coming back against a depleted San Francisco 49ers squad. An argument can be made in the Saints’ favor of being the NFC’s best. However, Brees missing extended time with his rib and lung injuries could radically change their current standing.”
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Matt Ludtke/Associated Press
Last Week: 3
Week 10 Result: Won 24-20 vs. Jacksonville
It’s become just about impossible to figure out who the best team in the NFC is. Every time it appears that a franchise has established itself as the squad to beat, said squad goes out and lays an egg.
The good news for the Green Bay Packers is that said egg didn’t come in a loss. Despite stunningly trailing the Jaguars in the second half, the Pack rallied to pull out a four-point win that moved them to 7-2 and gave them an ironclad grip on first place in the NFC North.
But the fact that this game was in doubt at any point is cause for at least a little concern. The Jaguars haven’t won a game since Week 1, and they entered Week 10 as nearly two-touchdown underdogs.
The Packers notched the win that keeps them in the hunt for the No. 1 seed in the NFC (and the first-round playoff bye that comes with it), but they’ll have to work the kinks out quickly to keep rolling. Next week brings a trip to Indianapolis to face a Colts team that looked impressive in a Week 10 thumping of the Titans.
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Keith Srakocic/Associated Press
Last Week: 2
Week 10 Result: Won 36-10 vs. Cincinnati
The Pittsburgh Steelers entered Week 10 as the lone remaining undefeated team in the NFL, but they hadn’t been piling up the style points. Pittsburgh’s last three wins had come by a combined 12 points, including a surprisingly tight Week 9 victory in Dallas.
That changed Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Steelers dropped the proverbial piano on the Bengals, dominating every facet of a blowout win. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 333 yards and four scores. The Pittsburgh defense harassed Joe Burrow all night, sacking the rookie four times, forcing two turnovers and holding the Bengals without a third-down conversion.
It was arguably the Steelers’ best all-around effort of the season, and it lifted them to 9-0 for the first time in franchise history.
“The Steelers aren’t going to go 16-0,” Davenport said. “They aren’t even my No. 1 team in these power rankings. But hanging on to the No. 1 seed in the AFC could be huge for this team. It isn’t just a matter of being able to take Wild Card Weekend off, although that’s nice. It’s also the idea of forcing the Chiefs or Bills to come to Pittsburgh in January. As we saw Sunday, the weather in that part of the country can get funky.”
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Orlin Wagner/Associated Press
Last Week: 1
Week 10 Result: Bye Week
The Kansas City Chiefs are rolling along again. After downing the Carolina Panthers in Week 9, the Chiefs enter their bye week with a stranglehold on first place in the AFC West. The undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers may sport the conference’s best record, but the Chiefs once again look the part of the best team in the NFL.
It’s almost as if Kansas City won the Super Bowl last year or something.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is stating a strong case for a second NFL MVP award. He has 25 touchdown passes against just one interception and is on pace to flirt with another 5,000-yard season. Rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is on pace to top 1,000 rushing yards. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce form the best one-two punch of pass-catchers in the league.
Add in an underrated defense, and the Chiefs are the team to beat in the AFC yet again.