Some teams came out of week 10 riding high on thrilling or dominant victories, while others felt crushing defeats, in one way or another. I'm going to recap some of those and provide outlooks on those teams' hopes going forward as we progress further into the last half of the regular season.
The Answered Prayer
The most exciting play and finish of the weekend, by far, was Kyler Murray's 43-yard game-winning pass to DeAndre Hopkins with two seconds remaining to knock off the Bills. Buffalo
had just marched down and scored on a 21-yard toss from Josh Allen to Stefon Diggs to pull ahead by four points with only 34 seconds left. As Diggs shouted, "that's why you pay me!" following his go ahead TD grab, it appeared that the game was over. But Murray completed three passes to get inside Buffalo territory before scrambling out of the pocket and launching a bomb to Hopkins in the end zone, who Mossed three defenders to make an incredible catch. There was a spectacular image showing each player's hands as they skied to make a play on the football, where Hopkins's Jumpman logo on his glove stood out perfectly over the Adidas and Nike logos of the defenders' gloves. So not only was it a win for the Cardinals, but the Nike brand (who owns Jordan) also won big from the heroics of Murray and Hopkins. Arizona is looking like a formidable force heading into a rematch with the Seahawks on Thursday night.
It's hard to argue that there is any team hotter than the Dolphins right now. Everyone, including me, questioned the decision to switch from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Tua Tagovailoa when the former was playing exceptionally to that point in the season, but Tua has picked up right where Fitzpatrick left off. After a 1-3 start, Miami has won five in a row to put themselves currently in the playoff picture if the season ended today. Brian Flores is slowly giving Tua a longer leash as each game goes by, and he has put up impressive numbers while protecting the football in his three starts. Furthermore, Miami's defense has been successful at forcing turnovers and have even scored some points along with their special teams. The Dolphins have three very winnable games upcoming against lower-tier teams, and could easily be 9-3 before their date with the Chiefs in week 14.
Back from the Dead
We all wrote off the Patriots when they lost their fourth straight game three weeks ago and sat at a lousy 2-5, but Bill Belichick and company have turned it around in recent weeks, most notably with their upset of the Ravens this past Sunday night. It wasn't a pretty performance, but New England relied on the run and defense to knock off one of the AFC's top teams. As long as Cam Newton protects the football and takes advantage of passing opportunities when they arise, the Patriots have now proven they can compete with anyone. It's still an uphill battle for a chance at the playoffs, but Patriot fans are now hopeful that, at two games behind fifth place in the conference, their squad can continue their momentum and string together several victories to close out the season and make the playoffs for a record twelfth consecutive season. There are some tough teams remaining on the schedule, but I now trust Belichick to be able to win games against anyone, with anyone.
A Giant Turnaround
Here's a team you probably didn't expect to be mentioned with the best teams of week 10, but the New York Giants have now won two games in row. Now, normally that wouldn't be a cause for celebration, but at 3-7, the Giants are just one game back of the 3-5-1 Eagles, who New York defeated by 10 this past week. Second-year quarterback Daniel Jones is now looking very impressive with both his arm and his legs despite a poor offensive line and a lack of great skill players around him. When Saquon Barkley returns next season, the Giants could actually be a solid team if they can make some improvements to their o-line and defense. A trip to the playoffs this season would be incredible for Giants fans given their abysmal 0-5 start, but it is entirely possible now. New York has played well even in their losses as of late. In their three losses prior to their last two wins, they lost each game by a combined six points. One of those was against the mighty Buccaneers, too. I only see two, maybe three possible wins remaining on their schedule, but that could honestly be enough given how bad the rest of the NFC East is.
If you type in "Tennessee Titans owner" on Google, the first result will be a picture of a blue horseshoe. That's because the Indianapolis Colts have dominated the Titans for years now. After collapsing in the second half on Thursday night to fall 34-17 at home to the Colts, Tennessee is now 4-19 in their last 23 meetings with Indy. That's an unbelievably bad record for a team you play twice every season. Andrew Luck, in his relatively short career, NEVER lost to the Titans. Despite looking pretty good in the first half of the last matchup and leading 17-13 at halftime, the Colts put up 21 straight points in the second half while shutting out Tennessee at the same time. After starting 5-0 and leading the entire AFC, the Titans are now 6-3 and sit at 9th in the conference. They will likely lose to the Ravens on Sunday and then lose again in Indianapolis the following week, which will put them at 6-5 heading into a date with the Browns. It's not looking good in Nashville right now, and a 5-0 start could potentially turn into a playoff-less season.
Slumping in Seattle
Up until two weeks ago, I had Russell Wilson as the MVP favorite, as his 6-1 Seahawks looked dominant and able to defeat anyone with a high-powered offensive attack. However, that offense has been stifled in the last two weeks against the Bills and the Rams, and Seattle lost both games. While Wilson threw for 390 yards and had three total touchdowns in a 34-point performance against Buffalo, he only had 248 scoreless yards in Los Angeles this past week. More notably, Wilson has thrown four picks and lost three fumbles in those affairs. Now, I don't think this poor trend will continue much longer, and the Seahawks still have the same record as the other two leaders in the division. However, the Seahawks need to win Thursday at home against the surging Cardinals. Right now, Seattle doesn't hold a tie-breaker between either team, and a tie is very feasible with how good all three teams are. Fortunately, Seattle has four easy games after the upcoming game before closing the season at home against the Rams.
Super Bowl Hopes Collapsing
The New Orleans Saints have won six straight games and sit a half-game above the second place Buccaneers in the NFC South. So why are they a part of the Worst? Well, Drew Brees took a hit late in their win against the 49ers that resulted in multiple fractured ribs and a collapsed lung. That sounds like a serious injury, so it's surprising that reports say he could only miss a couple of weeks. Fortunately for the Saints, their next four opponents aren't that tough, but will they still perform as well without Brees under center? And who is going to actually start at quarterback in his absence, Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill? If they are able to keep winning and Brees can return before their meeting with the Chiefs, no harm will be done, really. But one or two losses could be enough to zap their momentum and prevent them from reaching their full postseason potential. I may be overreacting, and New Orleans should still be able to make the playoffs at this point even if they do lose the next game or two, but the Saints are in the running for the top spot in the NFC. Even without fans, that home-field advantage could make a big difference in the postseason. We'll see if the Saints are able to recover from an unfortunate injury to their legendary QB.
The Winless City
Similar to the Titans, the Bears got off to a good start to the 2020 season. But after a 5-1 start, Chicago has now lost their last four games due primarily to a futile offense. On Monday night against the Vikings, the Bears scored 13 points, but their lone touchdown was scored by Cordarrelle Patterson on the opening kickoff of the second half. The offense played relatively well in the first half, but they settled for two field goals of 23 and 42 yards. In the second half, the Bears mustered only 32 total yards against a swarming Viking defense. To make matters worse, starting quarterback Nick Foles got injured on the last drive of the game and had to be carted off with a hip/glute injury. With Mitch Trubisky already out with a shoulder injury, third-stringer Tyler Bray entered the game and looked like he was throwing the ball to ghosts. Foles likely will miss some time in the coming weeks, but even if he didn't, no one should have any confidence in Chicago's offense for the time being. It's obvious that the Bears need a new quarterback, so it will be interesting to see what they do in the offseason to address that need. The Bears likely can't afford more than two or three losses for the rest of the season if they're going to make it into the playoffs, and I don't like their chances of doing that right now.
Written by Nick Swatson