NFL Week 10 featured 13 games. So what did we learn this past week and what’s worth keeping an eye on down the road? Here’s a little insight, review and preview.
It was quite the Week 10 in the National Football League. Four first-place teams, the Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers, came up short on the scoreboard – the latter three all at home. There are no more unbeaten teams in the league after the Seattle Seahawks’ 27-24 overtime win over the Niners. Meanwhile, the 0-9 Cincinnati Bengals remain the lone club without a victory.
Here are some more observations and a few numbers as well when it comes to Week 10 (and beyond) in regards to the NFL’s 100th season.
5. Quarterbacks, quarterbacks
In Week 10, Brian Hoyer (Indianapolis Colts), Jeff Driskel (Detroit Lions) and rookie Ryan Finley (Cincinnati Bengals) all made their first starts of the season. That means after 10 weeks of play, exactly half of the 32 teams in the league have utilized at least two starting quarterbacks. It’s worth noting that the Colts, Lions and Bengals all came up short on the scoreboard on Sunday.
So after 10 weeks and 148 regular-season contests, there have been a total of 51 different starting signal-callers. That’s only three less than the 32 franchises utilized all of last season. In 2018, a total of 16 clubs started at least two different quarterbacks. And this year, we have seen the likes of Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton and 2018 NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes miss games due to injury. Veterans such as Eli Manning and Andy Dalton have been benched. And 2018 NFL Comeback Player of the Year Andrew Luck stunningly retired this summer.
So far, 2019 has been the year of the quarterbacks. With seven weeks to go, just how many quarterbacks get at least one start remains to be seen.
4. The gift of grab
There’s been a lot made about the defense of the New England Patriots this season and rightfully so. Bill Belichick’s team has forged an 8-1 record and in the process, the club has forced an impressive 27 turnovers – tops in the league. But the opportunistic Pats suddenly have some company when it comes to the takeaway department.
Led by rookie inside linebacker Devin Bush and the September acquisition of safety Minkah Fitzpatrick via trade with the Miami Dolphins, the Pittsburgh Steelers have now forced 26 turnovers in their first nine games. That kind of play has spurred the team’s current four-game winning streak and has Mike Tomlin’s team one game above .500 after a 1-4 start.
How significant is that takeaway total? The Black and Gold forced just 15 turnovers a year ago, 22 in 2017 and came up with only 23 takeaways in ’16.
3. What ‘bout them Cowboys?
From wins in their first three games to four losses in their last six contests. Some would chalk up the Dallas Cowboys’ fast start to some less-than-scintillating competition. But more specifically, Jason Garrett’s club has thrived because it has learned how to handle the teams within the NFC East. The Cowboys’ 5-4 record includes a 4-0 slate within the division – wins over the Redskins and Eagles and a sweep of the New York Giants. In each of those contests, Dak Prescott and company scored at least 31 points.
Of course, there’s also a road loss to the New York Jets. And while the Cowboys own a 4-3 record within the conference, all of those wins vs. their divisional foes. The three setbacks are to the Saints, Packers and Vikings – the latter two setbacks at home. And it’s safe to say the Dallas’ heralded defense looked ordinary at best in the losses to Green Bay and Minnesota. So what to make of this perplexing team?
2. Defense is Chief concern
A season ago, Andy Reid’s team was the top seed in the AFC. The Kansas City Chiefs finished 12-4 and their 565 points were the third-highest single-season total in NFL history. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw 50 touchdown passes and was the league’s Most Valuable Player. And still, the team was unable to reach the Super Bowl.
This offseason, the team made massive changes to a defensive unit that allowed the second-most total yards and passing yards in the league in 2018. Reid’s team finished 27th in the NFL against the run last season and that really came back to bite the club in the playoffs, most notably in the overtime home loss in the AFC title game.
So enter Steve Spagnuolo and the change from the 3-4 to the 4-3. A year ago, Kansas City tied for the league lead with 52 sacks but still couldn’t top the opposition in nearly every facet. On Sunday, Tennessee Titans’ running back Derrick Henry ran for 188 of his team’s 225 yards in a 35-32 win over the Chiefs. Kansas City is allowing the second-most rushing yards per game in the NFL after 10 weeks.
Perhaps a move to the 10-1 may be in order?
1. Stunner in the Big Easy
The Atlanta Falcons were 1-7 and riding a six-game losing streak. The New Orleans Saints were 7-1 and had won six consecutive games. The teams would meet in the Superdome and both clubs were about to embark on long stretches of games vs. their division rivals. For Dan Quinn’s team, Sunday’s trip to the Big Easy marked their first contest vs. an NFC South rival in 2019.
Atlanta Falcons 26, New Orleans Saints 9.
The Saints totaled 52 yards on the ground on 11 plays. And this was with running back Alvin Kamara back in the lineup. Sean Payton’s team failed to score a touchdown against a club that had allowed 250 points and 28 offensive TDs in their first eight outings of the season. And veteran quarterback Drew Brees was sacked six times by a club that came into the contest with only seven quarterback traps.