NFL Playoffs 2016: Which Contender’s Week 10 Loss was Worst?

There’s little room at the top of the NFL this season and many playoff contenders lost in Week 10. Whose defeat was the worst among legitimate contenders?

Of the contenders for the NFL Playoffs in each conference, five teams with high hopes fell in Week 10. Most were very close contests, decided by only a few points on the final play. Yet all altered the playoff picture and one defeat was worst of all.

Did the New England Patriots suffer the worst defeat? How about the Pittsburgh Steelers or Atlanta Falcons? The Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings both continued to slide as well. Not all will be making the NFL Playoffs in 2016.

Two brothers from New York, Dan Salem and Todd Salem discuss the NFL Playoffs race in today’s NFL Sports Debate.

Todd Salem:

Among legitimate contenders, a distinction that is obviously up for debate, whose Week 10 loss is the biggest deal?

  • The New England Patriots fell at home to the Seattle Seahawks
  • The Atlanta Falcons lost on the road to the Philadelphia Eagles
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers lost at home to the Dallas Cowboys
  • The Green Bay Packers lost on the road to the Tennessee Titans
  • The Minnesota Vikings lost on the road to the Washington Redskins

This is a tricky NFL season because these teams are all definitive playoff contenders. But outside of New England, none of them have elite records. Atlanta is head and shoulders above the other NFC teams and they are only 6-4. It’s been a weird year.

The Atlanta Falcons loss is actually the one that worries me the most. This ruling depends on your opinion of the contenders in question. I am eliminating Green Bay and Minnesota because I no longer believe in their ability to contend for anything. The losses hurt, but they can’t be a big deal because they are hardly surprising at this point.

The final point goes for Pittsburgh as well. It was no surprise the Steelers lost to arguably the best team in the NFL, and they played them even, right to the final whistle. That leaves either New England or Atlanta as the answer.

The Patriots had some wiggle room, though. With a two-game lead in the AFC East, even after the loss, and a question of whether there is a single other good team in the AFC outside of the West, New England is fine. It also obviously had a good chance to win the game against Seattle. The Falcons, meanwhile, were pretty easily handled by the cratering Eagles. This is alarming.

Philadelphia ran all over Atlanta and also shut down Matt Ryan and company. Best offense in the league be damned. With Atlanta entering their bye and two tough games to follow, it’s not quite as easy to feel good about a one-game lead in the loss column over the rest of the NFC South.

Dan Salem:

This is an excellent question which nearly included several more potential playoff teams. The Denver Broncos almost made this list, as did the Kansas City Chiefs. Dallas would be here as well, if not for Pittsburgh stealing their spot. There is no room for error in terms of winning a Wild Card spot in either conference, meaning the worst loss of Week 10 belongs to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Pittsburgh lost its fourth straight game and finds itself looking way up at the surging Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North division. With five losses already in the books, this past weekend’s defeat to the Cowboys may have been the death blow to Pittsburgh’s Wild Card hopes. The team gets to play Cleveland twice, but every other game on their schedule is a tough one against potent offenses. The Steelers can still fight to win their division, but they’ve now dug themselves a hole that few teams ever climb out of.

This playoff hole is the reason Pittsburgh had the worst loss. Both Green Bay and Minnesota are one week away from leading the NFC North division. Their losing streaks are troubling, but the Lions do not scare me. Either team can still win that division, so their losses were not crippling. Whether they should be considered legitimate contenders is another story, but each has a solid chance at reaching the NFL Playoffs.

You nailed the New England loss perfectly. They are far and away better than the entire AFC. Seattle seems to play up or down to its competition, but now seem like a legitimately good football team. The Patriots will win the AFC East and are still in the lead for homefield advantage as well. Another loss would hurt a lot more than this one did.

As for the Atlanta Falcons, it was certainly troubling to see them lose to Philadelphia. Yet the Eagles have done this twice before this season, shutting down both the Steelers and Vikings offenses. Philadelphia only has one loss outside its division and is undefeated at home. I’m not saying that Atlanta deserves a pass, but they’re still the best team in the NFC South by a long shot. Their point differential tells the real story, a whopping +37 points through 10 weeks. The next two games may pose trouble for the Falcons, but their final four all look like victories.

This article originally appeared on