For a football nerd like me, it is easy to open with a generic statement like “Wow what an eventful week!”. Well, week 10 was truly deserving of the cliche. It featured 13 games (thus far), seven of which resulted in a one-possession game. Road teams experienced mild success this week, going 6-7 collectively. We saw an OT thriller, a game-winning field goal and a winless team notch its first W. Other headlines include the persistent dominance by the Saints and Rams while the Vikings and Titans keep finding ways to win and the Browns and Giants still suck.
We are a little over half way through the regular season and playoff races are starting to heat up. It feels as though we are beginning to grasp which teams are contenders and which teams are pretenders. Alright, let’s get to it. Presented below are the week 10 teams that shined bright and the teams feeling up tight.
WEEK 10 WINNERS
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS, 47-10 WIN AT BUFFALO
The sun keeps on rising and the Saints keep on winning. Their dominant week 10 win against a good Buffalo team further supports the notion that this team is legit. Make it seven straight for Sean Payton and company. There is something different about this team than we have seen in recent years. They actually look like a complete football team. It is no longer Drew Brees miraculously willing his team to victory by throwing for 400 yards and 4 TD’s over and over again. It is a much more balanced attack as the Saints backfield has established itself as one of the league’s best.
Mark Ingram has been phenomenal and rookie Alvin Kamara is playing so well that he should be in the conversation with Kareem Hunt and Leonard Fournette for offensive rookie of the year. This duo is an absolute two-headed monster. It reminds me of the 2016 version of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. On Sunday the Saints backs ran all over Buffalo. Ingram logged 21 carries for 131 yards and three TD’s while Kamara added none carries for 106 yards and a TD. Even Trey Edmunds had nne rushes for 48 yards and a score. Who? Exactly.
Also, something has to be said about the defense. The Saints defense has been atrocious recently but they have really turned it around this season. Since starting the season 0-2 and allowing 29 and then 36 points, they have held six of their last seven opponents to 17 points or less. They rank fifth in the league in points allowed per game this year at 18.3. Week 10 in Buffalo was a tough task and they made light work of it. They will face a real tough test in two weeks when they travel to Los Angeles to face the 7-2 Rams.
ATLANTA FALCONS, 27-7 WIN VS DALLAS
Statement made in week 10 by Atlanta. They proved that they can still play like the team they were last year. Atlanta dominated on both sides of the ball and in the trenches. The offensive line held up nicely as Ryan was only sacked once. The defense looked hungry and angry just like they did last year. Dan Quinn’s defense recorded eight sacks, including six from Adrian Clayborn. Prior to Sunday, only three other players in NFL history had recorded six sacks in a single game.
The only bummer about Sunday’s game was that star running back Devonta Freeman left the game with a concussion and is unlikely to play next week at Seattle. Luckily, they still have Tevin Coleman in the backfield, who has proven in the past he can handle a significant workload. Atlanta looks to build off of their impressive week 10 win when they fly out west to take on the 6-3 Seahawks.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS, 38-30 WIN AT WASHINGTON
Minnesota never really does anything flashy but they just know how to win football games. They are very quietly riding a five-game win streak and stand at 7-2 on the season. I think many worried about Dalvin Cook going down with a torn ACL. However, Minnesota has done just fine without him. The defense has dominated all year as they are fifth in the league in points allowed per game.
It seems as though a different offensive player comes to the rescue each week, whether it be Case Keenum, Jerrick McKinnon or Stefon Diggs. This week it was Adam Thielen who had eight catches for 166 yards and a TD. It sure seems like the Vikings have a stranglehold on the NFC North title this year as they lead both Detroit and Green Bay by two games. Next up a tough match up against another 7-2 division leader: vs the Los Angeles Rams.
WEEK 10 LOSERS
BUFFALO BILLS, 47-10 LOSS VS NEW ORLEANS
Buffalo looked great through its first seven games, but they are beginning to fall off. In week eight, the Bills welcomed Oakland to Buffalo in the rudest way possible by embarrassing them 34-14. At that point in the season, Buffalo looked real solid. Some were saying that they would be battling the Patriots for the division title all year long. It felt as though they had finally put it all together and were ready to play like the great team they had shown flashes of in the recent past.
However, back-to-back ugly losses have ensued since they walloped Oakland in week eight. In week nine they lost to the Jets 34-21, but that game was not as close as the score indicates. Buffalo scored two touchdowns in garbage time after trailing 34-7 with a little over four minutes to play. Then this week they got trounced by the Saints. Sure, the Saints are playing as well as anyone right now, but still. If Buffalo considers themselves a playoff team then they can not lose by 37 points at home. It is not panic time yet, but it certainly seems like they are in a rapid downward spiral. Next up for Buffalo is the one of the best 3-6 teams you will ever see: At Los Angeles Chargers.
DALLAS COWBOYS, 27-7 LOSS AT ATLANTA
Ugly loss for the Cowboys but I do not want to take anything away from Atlanta. They played exceptionally welll. Dallas had a few odds stacked against them in this one. They were on the road and without their best offensive weapon in Ezekiel Elliott. However, they simply have to be better than they were on Sunday. The offensive line, which typically dominates, looked awful. Prescott had no time to throw and was sacked eight times. The main reason why Dallas made the losers list this week is the incompetence of the offense without Zeke. Zeke faces a six-game suspension. If the Cowboys can not move the ball without him then they will quickly fall out of the playoff race.
The run game looked awful without Zeke. Alfred Morris had two quality runs on the day, one for 20 yards and another for 14 yards. However, the game was pretty much out of reach at the time of those two carries. Aside from those two plays he had nine carries for 19 yards — not good enough. Up next, Dallas hosts the 8-1 Eagles. They will need more out of Morris, Smith and McFadden against the league’s best rushing defense (66.4 yards allowed per game) if they want a shot to win this one. Good luck.
*Follow me on twitter @MLBfromNH (Kevin Civiello)*