It was a fun-filled and memorable week ten. There was a game in Germany, coaches and players shed tears, a roller coaster matchup in Buffalo and a fun Sunday night game. Then there’s playoff implications for a lot of teams struggling to stay above .500. In an eventful weekend, here are the winners and losers.
Winners: Dan Campbell
During Halloween week there were stories and predictions from a number of pundits stating Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell could be on the hot seat before December. Detroit entered this month with losses in all but one game despite having one of the league’s best offenses.
The Lions are undefeated in November.
Sunday’s win in Chicago gives the Lions a two game winning streak and a tie for second place in the NFC North. After Sunday’s comeback win in Chicago, Sportscenter’s Scott Van Pelt confirmed it was the first time the franchise won a game down 14 or more points entering the fourth quarter since 1993. It’s not pretty but Detroit has two, hard-fought wins against division rivals (they’ve won two of three divisional games so far) and the defense has played better in fourth quarters compared to the first month of the season.
Campbell’s Lions still have a hard schedule (four of the next six teams are over .500) but it’s not the mess many believed three weeks ago. No team should underestimate Detroit when they still believe in their coach’s system.
Minnesota won what might be the NFL regular season game of the year. It’s been decades since the last time a visiting team was down double digits in Buffalo and came back to win.
The game featured an action packed, up-and-down fourth quarter. Right after a dramatic goalline stand by the Bills defense, Viking linebacker Eric Kendricks recovered a Josh Allen fumble for a touchdown. Not only did it give Minnesota their first lead, it was the first go-ahead defensive touchdown a team scored when trailing in the final minute of a game since the 1978 Miracle at the Meadowlands debacle (via Sportscenter with Scott Van Pelt).
The Vikings will probably win the NFC North but they look like one of the few complete teams in the NFL. They pass and run the ball well. The offensive line is better than last year and the defense steps up and plays best when under pressure. Injuries and the Philadelphia Eagles might be the only things stopping Minnesota from clinching the number one seed.
While the topic this week in Green Bay is a win in Dallas saving the season, many will wonder if quarterback Aaron Rodgers found a new number one receiver in Christian Watson.
Watson is now one of two rookie receivers to score three touchdowns against the Dallas Cowboys in a first meeting (the other being Randy Moss on a memorable 1998 Thanksgiving Day game) and the first rookie receiver to score three times in any game since 1978 (via NFL Network). His touchdowns combined with 107 yards on four catches is a rare and fun stat-line.
Christian Watson’s rookie year isn’t stellar compared to other rookies, but at 6’5 there’s a lot of potential for the second rounder. He’ll be an interesting watch the rest of 2022.
Tua Tagovailoa’s touchdown throw to Alec Ingold
We haven’t seen a talented, left-handed quarterback pump-fake an incoming pass rusher and then throw a touchdown since the Michael Vick days. There aren’t many acrobatic third or fourth option receivers who contort their bodies in mid-air to hit the orange pylons either. That’s what makes this game-tying play in the first quarter a fun watch.
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Losers: The Josh Allen MVP discussion
Last week’s Winners discussed the AFC east division race being the closest and funnest to watch. It’s more interesting with the Bills going from the number one seed in the conference to third place in their division. The Bills have stumbled due to the aggressive play of quarterback Josh Allen.
Minnesota trailed by double digits multiple times in week ten’s most thrilling matchup. The Bills had leads of ten, 14 and 17. The game turned when quarterback Josh Allen threw his first redzone interception of the afternoon to veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson. Buffalo’s possession after C.J. Ham’s touchdown were three incomplete passes (because why run the ball when you’re leading late in the game). Allen couldn’t seal the win.
The next possession was his fumble at the goalline where Eric Kendricks made history and Minnesota got their first lead of the game. Josh Allen did lead the Bills to a game-tying field goal and a chance to win in overtime but the Vikings won after he threw the second of two redzone interceptions. Allen’s winless in all four overtime games played since 2018.
Color commentator Darryl Johnston let loose after the game ending play stating, “This was Allen’s fourth redzone interception in the last two weeks. Before November it was two in the last 67 games.” If the quarterback was Lamar Jackson, Tua Tagovailoa or Jalen Hurts, there would be uproar over their ability to lead a perenial losing franchise (despite their cases for MVP this and previous seasons). This is where former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is missed. Aggressive plays and decision making comes back to bite quarterbacks and the team takes the loss.
Jacksonville Jaguars (minus Travis Etienne Jr.)
Many expected Kansas City to pancake Jacksonville Sunday. The Chiefs will be the number one seed in the AFC unless there’s a December stumble. What’s more concerning is the sloppiness of Jacksonville after starting well in September.
The offensive line was bad against a Chiefs defense struggling against the run and gave up five sacks. Former number one overall pick Trevor Lawrence had another middling performance and the running game wasn’t used despite Travis Etienne Jr. averaging four yards a carry. Both touchdowns from Christian Kirk were easy to score when Kansas City led by 20 and 17.
The defense is worse. Since the tide-turning loss in Philadelphia the Jaguar defense has given up 20 points in all but one game, and the one win since was against a tumultuous Raiders team that can’t hold a lead.
It doesn’t get easier after the bye week. Four of their next five games are against teams with winning records and the one that isn’t is a Detroit Lions team that’s mentally stronger and physically tougher. Jacksonville fans won’t enjoy where this season ends.
Last year was one of the few times I said there was a bust at any position with receiver Jalen Reagor. Sometimes receivers need better quarterbacks but occasionally you get a few who are sloppy and shouldn’t be on a 53 man roster. Kenny Golladay inches closer to the Jalen Reagor side every week.
Golladay looked competent in Detroit but since the New York Giants signed him in 2021 he’s played 19 games due to injuries and personal reasons. He gets paid $5 million a year to catch 39 passes for 543 yards and no touchdowns. The Giants are depleted at wide receiver but head coach Brian Daboll would rather have a leper be the second or third best option over Golladay.
It’s humorous yet mortifying when NBC Sportsedge Football has a headline like this after a solid home win against the Houston Texans.
In his defense, John Wolford’s not a bad backup quarterback. There was debate on Matthew Stafford starting Sunday against Arizona but that changed when he didn’t pass concussion protocol. It gave the experienced backup a chance to win another game.
The Rams know how to beat their desert rivals well even if both teams are at full health. Wolford’s also beaten the Cardinals before. Plus, Arizona was starting their backup journeyman Colt McCoy.
Everything that could go wrong for Los Angeles did. 65 of John Wolford’s 212 yards came on a meaningless final touchdown drive. Colt McCoy was the better quarterback despite suffering a leg injury. While a good number of issues for the Rams stem from lack of depth at receiver and a terrible offensive line, wide receiver Cooper Kupp shouldn’t have minus-one yards at half-time because of a backup quarterback.
Important note: Due to World Cup action starting November 21st there will be no Winners and Losers for at least one month. A publishing regarding the return of the weekly NFL posts will take place once all dates are finalized. Expect posts about group results and predictions to be the main focus for Jdsportscorner.