Week 10 in the NFL is just about over with, so with most of the action already in the rear-view mirror, we take a few minutes to digest what we just saw.
Teams suffering from major injuries, preseason favorites getting all but eliminated from the playoff race, and six first-half touchdowns headline the Week 10 observations. Here’s a look at the five takeaways from Week 10 in the NFL.
Rodgers’ tremendous effort all but ends Bears season
By halftime of the Sunday Night Football matchup pinning Green Bay against arch-rival Chicago, Aaron Rodgers had thrown six touchdowns as the Packers took a comfortable 42-0 lead into the locker room. That’s the second-greatest halftime margin since 1940. Rodgers finished the night 18-of-27 for 315 yards and the aforementioned six touchdowns as the Packers wiped the slate clean with the Bears for a second time this season and perhaps inserting the dagger on Chicago’s playoff hopes in 2014.
The Bears dropped to 3-6 with the loss, having been blown out by New England and Green Bay their last two games. Jay Cutler played absolutely atrocious, fumbling once and throwing a pair of interceptions, including one returned to the house by Casey Hayward early in the fourth quarter. Cutler was solely to blame for three Chicago turnovers, which combined led to 21 points for the Packers.
As of Monday morning, Green Bay remains on the outside looking in at the NFC playoff picture pending what happens between Philadelphia and Carolina on Monday night. At 6-3 with arguably the hottest offense in the conference, they remain strong bets to make it to the big dance.
For the Bears, there should be questions about Cutler and head coach Marc Trestman. Cutler has been the epitome of inconsistency, with 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions through nine games. Cutler has thrown five touchdowns and four picks over the past three games, all of which have resulted in Chicago losses. Trestman is the quarterback whisperer, but got better production from journeyman Josh McCown a year ago. If Cutler can’t right the ship down the stretch, either the Bears need to contemplate a new quarterback or search for a new coach.
Browns take over sole possession of first place in the North
The red-hot Pittsburgh Steelers were finally quelled, by none other than the New York Jets, who snapped an eight-game losing streak against the hottest team in the AFC Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium. Michael Vick tossed a pair of touchdowns while the Jets defense held Ben Roethlisberger — who had thrown 12 touchdowns in the past two games — to just one.
The loss means the Browns, who knocked off Cincinnati on Thursday night, take over sole possession of first place in the competitive AFC North. The last time Cleveland had sole possession of a division was back in September of 1995.
Need some context? That year, the DVD was just introduced. Steve Forbes announced he was running for president, and a month later O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of double murder.
Cardinals fear Palmer tore his ACL
Despite a major comeback victory against the Rams Sunday afternoon, the Cardinals suffered a tremendous loss. Multiple reports indicate the team fears that quarterback Carson Palmer tore his left ACL, a huge blow as Arizona prepares for its most difficult stretch of games of the season.
At 8-1, the Cardinals are two games ahead of second-place Seattle in the NFC West and three games ahead of San Francisco. However, the Cardinals host the NFC North-leading Lions in Week 11 before two meetings with the Seahawks and another game at the 49ers. Drew Stanton is expected to take over for Palmer, who most likely will be out for the remainder of the season if the verdict comes back as the team expects.
Without question this shakes things up in the competitive NFC West. Stanton was 2-1 filling in for Palmer Weeks 2, 3, and 5, but will have to play absolutely lights out to match the play of Palmer this season and hold off the Seahawks and Niners.
AFC Wild Card race heats up as Bills, Dolphins lose; Ravens, Chiefs win
The AFC Wild Card race will be fun to watch the rest of the year, and Week 10 brought us one step closer to finding out a verdict.
The Dolphins couldn’t stack up to the Lions, who won 20-16 thanks to Matthew Stafford leading a late rally. The Lions remain atop the NFC North, and their improved defense can be balanced out by the return of Calvin Johnson, who already sparked the team’s aerial attack.
The Chiefs handed Buffalo a rare home loss, defeating them 17-13 thanks to two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Kansas City remains the No. 5 seed in the AFC and keeps Buffalo on pace with Miami as the two AFC East squads prepare for a head-to-head matchup on Thursday night.
Baltimore overcame a first-quarter deficit by scoring 21 unanswered over the final three quarters to defeat Tennessee 21-7. The win was crucial to the Ravens’ chances of at least trying to keep pace with Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati in their own division race, but more importantly sit eighth behind the Steelers in the Wild Card picture.
49ers hand Saints a rare home loss
It was essentially a must-win for the 49ers, who dropped two in a row entering Sunday’s showdown in the Big Easy. The Niners raced out to a 14-3 lead but were outscored 14-3 by the Saints over the final two quarters. After Drew Brees found Jimmy Graham for a 2-yard touchdown with 5:23 to go in the game, a miraculous pass from Colin Kaepernick to Michael Crabtree kept the drive alive and allowed Phil Dawson to kick a 45-yard field goal to send it into overtime. From there, a Brees fumble set up Dawson with another chance to come up clutch for San Francisco, kicking the 49ers to a 27-24 overtime win.
The win lifts San Francisco to 5-4, a game back of Seattle and three back of first place Arizona. The loss hasn’t impacted the Saints … yet. They remain in first place in the NFC South, pending the outcome of the Eagles-Panthers showdown. A Carolina win would lift the Panthers over the Saints for first place.