What we know after Week 10
NOV 10, 2013 11:42p ET
What another riveting Sunday it was. Comeback wins, gritty road victories and wild finishes capped a thrilling Week 10. The Saints made a mockery of the Cowboys and the Panthers look like one of the leagueâs best teams. Have this whole NFL thing figured out? Neither do we. But weâll try our best in the latest edition of what we know:
Panthers 10, 49ers 9 -- It's time to buy the hype on Carolina
If you didn't want to believe that the Panthers were for real, you were stunned with the outcome in San Francisco.
By way of a relentless defense, which only allowed 151 total yards, and a nearly mistake-free offense, the Panthers were able to win their fifth straight game of the season. Carolina's defensive line deserves credit for rattling quarterback Colin Kaepernick often and even sacking him a career-high six times. Head coach Ron Rivera, who is a defensive-minded guy, mixed up his blitzes and coverages to confuse the Niners offense. It worked.
The 49ers were able to march into Carolinaâs red zone once, but had to settle for a field goal. The worst part of that drive? Tight end Vernon Davis was knocked out of the game with concussion-like symptoms. San Franciscoâs offense was left exposed and missing Kaepernickâs second-favorite target.
Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams showed off his ability to finish runs, scoring on a 27-yard run before halftime.
Itâs time. Carolina is for real. Cam Newton had a pedestrian performance on paper, completing 50 percent of his passes with an interception. He did, however, come up clutch on third down, connecting on crucial plays.
Another tough test awaits them as they host the Patriots in Week 11.
Saints 49, Cowboys 17 -- Drew Brees has another night to remember
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan had a successful reunion with his former team.
One week after going up against his brother Rex in New York, Ryan had a chance to avenge the team that fired him a season ago. The Saints were rolling on offense and Drew Brees surpassed Tom Brady with the fourth most all-time passing touchdowns in the second quarter. Brees would finish the night completing 34 of 41 passes for 392 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Brees connected with nine different receivers and was helped out with an effective running game by the three-headed monster of Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles. Ingram had a respectable evening, averaging 9.7 yards a carry with a score.
The Cowboys suffered a bruising loss, but an injury to linebacker Sean Lee, who left the game in the first quarter, could be just as devastating. Lee is the heart and soul of Monte Kiffinâs defense, but a left hamstring injury could cause the Cowboys to be ultra-cautious with their star linebacker.
Broncos 28, Chargers 20 -- This one's for John
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Strange, right? But with the way the NFC East is, you canât count anyone out. And guess what? The Giants are now riding a three-game winning streak after outlasting the hapless Raiders.
This game was memorable not only for the Giantsâ defense holding Oakland to 213 total yards, but also for the return of running back Andre Brown. That latter had missed the first eight games of the season while mending from a broken leg and his first taste of game action was solid.
Brown rushed 30 times for 115 yards, including the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter. Itâs good to see him back where he belongs.
And who knows, the Giants could end up playing for the division title by Week 17. Hey, stranger things have happened.
Remember back in January, when Atlanta outlasted Seattle at home for a berth in the NFC Championship Game? Wow, is that a distant memory.
Fast forward to November and the Falcons are a complete dumpster fire, having been ravaged by injuries and several close losses. So, it should come as no surprise than Sunday turned into an old-school beating, as Marshawn Lynch pounded out 145 yards, every one of which probably left bruises on Atlantaâs D.
There was also this grab by Golden Tate, which is a catch-of-the-year candidate:
The Seahawks, an upstart last season, are now 9-1 and will get even better as key pieces on their offensive line could return next week. You know who else could return next week? Percy Harvin. We could be looking at the top seed in the NFC.
The defending champs weren't going to go down without a fight. While the Ravens entered this game with a 3-5 record, they had other plans for their division foe. Baltimore got off to a 17-0 start and was able to hang on in overtime.
The Ravens defense stiffened when it mattered most and the offense was able to get kicker Justin Tucker in field-goal range for the game-winner.
Who will win the AFC North? The Ravens -- even with an ugly offense -- are just one game behind Cincinnati in the loss column. Who knows what will happen?
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has taken a lot of hits over the years, and can't afford to keep standing in the pocket. Thatâs where running back LeâVeon Bell comes in.
The rookie did some nice things on Sunday, despite not having eye-popping stats. He gained just 57 yards on 22 carries against the Bills, but also gained another 39 yards on three catches out of the backfield. He also scored a touchdown that gave Pittsburgh a comfortable 14-point cushion.
Bell missed the first three games of the season, all of which the Steelers lost. Since his return, the team has gone 4-3. Not bad.
Where?! Right in the thick of the NFC playoff hunt. Admit it, youâre surprised.
The Cardinals (5-4) have quietly won two of their last three games are now just a game out of a wild-card spot. Will they find a way into the playoffs? Well, that's going to be tough, as the two teams ahead of them are the 49ers and Panthers.
But for now, the red birds can feel good. Props to them.
Jaguars 29, Titans 27 -- How serious is Locker's injury?
Jake Lockerâs season is likely done as multiple reports indicate the third-year quarterback left Sundayâs action with a possible season-ending injury.
Locker, who returned to the sideline on crutches, is believed to have suffered the dreaded Lisfranc injury, which typically requires surgery to repair. While the Titans were a quiet playoff contender, their hopes might have taken a devastating blow. To make matters worse, they lost to the previously winless Jaguars.
Though, one must be inspired by Jaguars head coach Gus Bradleyâs enthusiasm:
"What I'm excited about is that we improved." - Jaguars HC Bradley. Watch his postgame press conference: http://t.co/3x9DTONx2D â Jacksonville Jaguars (@jaguars) November 11, 2013
Congrats to the Jaguars.
Tavon Austin chose a great day to have a breakout game. After nine weeks of underwhelming play, the Ramsâ first round rookie racked up 310 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns in a thrashing of the AFC Southâs best team.
By the time the third quarter rolled around, the Colts were facing a 35-point deficit.
The Colts' offensive line continues to struggle and coordinator Pep Hamilton continues to struggle to find the best way to feature running back Trent Richardson. Andrew Luck looked out of whack and threw three interceptions, targeting T.Y. Hilton and Coby Fleener a combined 18 times.
Fortunately for the Colts, they have a favorable schedule, playing a Jack Locker-less Titans team twice in the next three weeks.