The Patriots dig themselves a hole in the AFC, while the Saints stay hot and the Cowboys rise from the ashes. Breakout Live breaks down the top storylines from week 10 in the NFL.
Belichick/Patriots Stumble in Tennessee; Home Field Unlikely
The Titans dominated the Patriots as former Belichick player, Mike Vrabel, became the 2nd coach with ties to the organization to embarrass the Patriots this season. Back in Week 3, former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and his Lions stomped the Pats 26-10 in Detroit. Coincidentally, against Vrabel’s Titans, the Patriots could only muster the same 10-point offensive output in losing 34-10.
This loss was incredibly costly to the Patriots, as it put them 2 games back in the chase for home field advantage throughout the playoffs, with the Chiefs taking care of Arizona at home.
Nobody associated with the Patriots wants to make that trip to Arrowhead in late January. A 2-3 road record at this point doesn’t bode well for the Pats in January in Kansas City.
New England has Minnesota at home and Pittsburgh on the road left on their schedule, while the Chiefs see the Rams in Mexico City and face the Chargers at home with one tough roadie in Seattle left.
A win by the Chiefs in the newest version of the NFLs game of the year next Monday in Mexico City would all but lock the Chiefs into the overall number one seed in the AFC, while the Patriots have to now be concerned about the red hot Steelers jumping up and stealing the 2nd seed, as they presently have one fewer loss than the Patriots. The Chiefs hold the tie-breaker over the Steelers, while the Pats hold it over the Chiefs.
The highlight of the game for New England was Tom Brady finally getting another chance to execute the “Philly Special” he dropped in the Super Bowl. Tom’s yards after the catch and accompanying stumble would be emblematic of how the day went for the Patriots.
Saints Continue to Tear up the League
Fresh off dropping 45 on the Rams last Sunday, there was no let-down in Cincinnati, as the Saints put 51 on the Bengals and Who Dat proved vastly superior to Who Dey in the who’s who of the NFL. Had the Saints not called off the dogs, they may have hit 70.
New Orleans has put up 40 or more points in 4 of their 9 outings. The NFL record is 6 games with 40 or more points. The Saints will see Tampa and Atlanta, whom they already hit 40 on, before the end of the season. They’ll also see a Panthers team that just surrendered 52 last Thursday twice in the the last 3 weeks of the season, so that record is likely to fall.
Punter Thomas Morstead didn’t punt the entire game and was so tired from holding for field goals and extra points, he fell asleep in his locker after the game.
The Saints also honored their word on social media, as several offensive skill players stated they would “throw up the X” in honor of Dez Bryant, who tore his achilles during his 2nd practice with the team.
Todd Bowles’ Days in New York are Numbered
The league’s lowest scoring and downright most putrid offense shocked the league again, as it did back in Week 4 in Minnesota, with a shellacking of the Jets in Buffalo. Matt Barkley, who hadn’t taken a snap in an NFL game since 2016 (that’s Colin Kaepernick territory) with the Bears, threw for a modest 232 yards on 15 for 25 and 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. The good news is, Barkley’s touchdown passes, unlike Nathan Peterman’s, counted for the Bills and not the opposition.
You know it’s your day when you throw a touchdown to go up 24-0 in the 1st half to a 6’5 320 lb tackle. It was also a huge play for those who had Matt Barkley and Dion Dawkins in fantasy.
Losing 41-10 at Buffalo has ramped up speculation that head coach Todd Bowles may have coached his last game for the Jets. It’s hard to argue this isn’t the most embarrassing loss of the NFL season, or that Bowles deserves to keep his job.
Indy Suddenly in Contention; Jaguars Fading Fast
The Jaguars/Colts game was a tale of two teams headed in the opposite direction. Coming off the bye with Fournette back, one felt the Jags might be able to get the ship righted and make a run in the second half after dropping four straight. Fournette had 109 total yards and two touchdowns but only averaged 2.2 ypc. It just didn’t happen for Jacksonville, and now they’re playing out the string and wondering who takes over for Bortles next season, as they finally learned he’s not the long-term answer. Doug Marrone’s beloved Bologna sandwiches probably taste a lot like something else about now.
The Colts got 3 first half touchdowns from Eric Ebron and held on for a 29-26 win, as a fumble recovery at the Colts 25 late in the 4th sealed the win for Indy.
Indianapolis moved to 4-5, two games behind the Texans in the AFC South, with only Tennessee and Houston with winning records remaining on their schedule. The Colts get both of them at home and have the best shot of being a team that came out of nowhere to snag a playoff berth.
The call by Frank Reich that everybody loved on the Colts roster to go for it in overtime, instead of playing for the tie against the Texans back in Week 4, may not be thought of so fondly should the Colts fall just short for the division.
Mayfield, Browns Take a Big Step Forward
For the second straight week, Baker Mayfield played well under new offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens. 17-20 with 3 touchdowns and zero interceptions is more like what the Browns are looking for. Mayfield was incredibly efficient, especially in the first half when he went 12 for 12.
Browns running back Nick Chubb ripped off the season’s longest play from scrimmage with a 92-yard touchdown run. It’s hard to believe this offense once was led by Tyrod Taylor with Carlos Hyde at running back. What a shame Josh Gordon couldn’t fly right in Cleveland or the Browns would have one of the league’s most exciting group of triplets at QB, RB and WR.
Gregg Williams got his first win as interim head coach, which will surely lead to many more letters from NFL teams requesting he just take over as their head coach with no interview required.
The Falcons had a chance to get over .500 for the first time this season but failed to feast on a Browns team that looked ripe for the picking after the Chiefs dismantled them last Sunday. You don’t deserve to be in playoff contention when you lay an egg in Cleveland and lose by double-digits.
Zeke and the Cowboys Awaken from the Dead in Philly
Don’t bury America’s team just yet. Just when it looked like the Cowboys were like sheep to the slaughter, Ezekiel Elliott rose up and put 151 rushing yards on the stout Philly run defense. A loss by America’s team and it would have been over for them at 3-6. With the win, the Cowboys move to 4-5 with the Eagles, both two games behind the 6-3 Washington Redskins.
The Eagles made it interesting as Zach Ertz got it deep inside Cowboys territory, but his lateral with no time on the clock didn’t succeed, leaving the Eagles in disbelief of not only losing to Dallas on SNF, but in severe danger of not even making the playoffs after winning the Super Bowl last season.
Cooper Kupp’s season looks over
This time it appears Cooper Kupp didn’t avoid major injury. After surviving a horse-collar tackle that looked like it had ended his season in Denver, Kupp looks finished for good this time around. Rams head coach Sean McVay said it doesn’t look promising for Kupp. The Rams are going to really miss him, especially ahead of next week’s big game with the Chiefs in Mexico City on Monday night.
No Bell Prize for Steelers?
Le’Veon Bell’s week was punctuated by a social media awakening and explosion, raising speculation he’d return to the Steelers by Tuesday the 13th’s 4 pm deadline.
On Wednesday, there were reports Bell was in Pittsburgh shooting hoops with some local guys, but not any Steelers teammates. It’s surprising he would risk injury playing pick-up basketball, as evidenced by the Dez Bryant debacle in New Orleans.
The Steelers have heard from Bell as much as we have, which is to say not at all. We’re all left to decipher tweets and guess what Bell will do.
The Steelers reportedly want Bell back “very badly” and Steelers owner Art Rooney told the media on Thursday he expected Le’Veon to return before the deadline.
NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero put out a report that if the Steelers tag Bell next season, it would be at the quarterback tag number, which is upward of $25 million. It’s thought Pelissero’s report changed Bell’s plans, and he now desires to protect himself and sit out the entire season. The quarterback money for the tag is something the Steelers aren’t going to do. Pittsburgh could use the transition tag at just under $15 million, but aren’t expected to match any offer Bell would receive.
Bell shouldn’t return. Why risk it now when you protected yourself this long? Dez Bryant blew out his Achilles two days after returning to football. Take the $14 million dollar loss and see what you get next season. A new team and new money.
Is it a done deal Bell won’t report before the deadline? Not exactly. Although the Steelers now don’t expect Bell to report, Bell’s younger self had something to say on these kinds of matters back in 2013.
If youu could sit out a year of a sport youu play and your not injured or somethin else is preventing youu to play, then youu don't love it!
— Le'Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) February 13, 2013
So, does he not love it? Bell is erratic. Now that we all expect him not to show up, he’ll likely show up and surprise us all.
I liken Bell to a nervous bride before the wedding. He might get cold feet about the whole sit-it-out thing and report out of fear he’ll be exposed as a fraud with another team.
He has to be concerned after seeing what James Conner has been able to do, that maybe he isn’t special, or at least not as special as he once thought he was.
What if the Jets offer the most money? Will he take it knowing it’s unlikely he’ll have the career he had in Pittsburgh?
Bell has a lot to consider before Tuesday’s 4 pm deadline comes and goes. Nobody knows, probably not even Bell, whether he’s coming or going.