An Uneducated Take: Week 10

Midway thru the madness

by Three Point Stance Contributor Zack Couch | @ZackCouch

We’ve reached the halfway point and after all the madness of this past weekend, I still finished above .500 at 5-3.  That brings the yearly to 22-14.  Not that greatest record but certainly not the worst.  There’s a lot to unpack.  Updated Top Ten, midyear awards, and the top teams take damage.

Best of the Best?!?!
This week saw what we consider to be the NFL’s best teams take big hits. New England took its first loss and Lamar Jackson put the rest of the league on notice.  If not for the fumbled punt return in the second quarter, New England may not have scored in the first half. In a little over 15 minutes of play, Baltimore hung more points on the Patriots than any other team this season then went on to score 37 points.  Now that may not seem like a crazy feat, but that 37 points is more than what the last 4 Pats opponents put up combined.

The Minnesota Vikings took a shot as well. They lost to the Chiefs who still have reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes on the sideline.  In a game that saw 5 lead changes, Minnesota’s offense was kept in check for most of the day.  For the Chiefs, this was the shot in the arm that was needed to keep themselves going when the rest of the division is starting to catch up.

The Green Bay Packers turned in one of the worst performances in Aaron Rodgers’ career as the Packers were scoreless through most of the first 3 quarters.  The Los Angeles Chargers defense put on a masterful performance holding the Packers under 200 yards; however, there’s no need to worry for the Packers considering the Minnesota loss.  They remain first in the division.

If that wasn’t enough, the Indianapolis Colts lost a close one to the Steelers as Vinatieri’s kick went wide left.  Was it a shank? Was it laces in?  Who’s to blame?  It honestly doesn’t matter at this point.  Indy is now a half game back of Houston and the Steelers are in the wild card hunt after a 1-4 start.

That leaves us with the 49ers.  Yes, we all know they won, but their defense finally started to show some wear and tear.  Trailing 21-7 at the half, the Cardinals would go on to put up 18 points to the Niners’ 7, and nothing about this seemed like garbage time scoring. The Cardinals switched to a hurry-up offense in the second half and the 49ers’ D had few answers.  With just under 5 minutes left to play, Arizona cut the lead to 3 after an 88 yard Murray to Isabella touchdown.  The momentum fully swung to the Cardinals, but the 49ers were saved by an 11 play drive in which they converted three 3rd downs to run out the clock.

Now, does this mean much?  Probably not.  The top teams in the league were bound to have some tough games and take some losses.  Let’s see how they rebound.

Quick Takes
New York Jets: I want to be able to express shock and dismay over how Adam Gase still has a job, but it’s the Jets.

AFC West: Undefeated this week with the Raiders and Chargers within striking distance of the Chiefs.

Emmanuel Sanders: What a difference two weeks and a new uniform makes. 

Kevin Harlan: The man’s a pro and a national treasure. Pure and simple.  Fantastic call on the black cat.

Seahawks-Bucs:  Game of the week.  Poor Bruce Arians.  How good is Russell Wilson? 

Cleveland Browns: Done. It’s over. Pack it in. 

Giants-Cowboys: I strongly recommend you watch Brandon Rush sweat out a backdoor cover once in your life.  It’s quite a sight.

Midseason Awards
MVP: Lamar Jackson
Offensive Player of the Year: Christian McCaffrey
Defensive Player of the Year: Nick Bosa
Coach of the Year: Kyle Shanahan
Comeback Player of the Year: Teddy Bridgewater

Midseason Top Ten Power Rankings

  1. San Francisco 49ers: It’s hard to put anyone else at the top.  The addition of Emmanuel Sanders has given the team an aerial threat and has made them more well rounded.  We’ll see how the loss of Kwon Alexander effects the team moving forward.
  2. New Orleans Saints: With Drew Brees back and the defense playing lights out, this is going to be a scary team down the stretch.
  3. Baltimore Ravens: They are now the team to beat in the AFC after the thorough dismantling of the Patriots.
  4. Seattle Seahawks: Russell Wilson has been incredible this season and picking up Josh Gordon will make the team much tougher.
  5. New England Patriots: When looking back through their schedule for this season, they only have one win against a team above .500, hence the huge drop.
  6. Green Bay Packers: The loss this week may just be an anomoly.  I expect them to rebound.
  7. Kansas City Chiefs: With Mahomes returning in the near future, this team is poised to make a run and challenge the Pats and Ravens for home field advantage.
  8. Minnesota Vikings: This team had a great October and are fully in the hunt for the division crown.
  9. Houston Texans: Deshaun Watson has this team playing well, but tough games against the Ravens and Patriots are on the horizon.
  10. Buffalo Bills: They have winnable upcoming games and should make the playoffs without a problem. 

Look Ahead
The Carolina Panthers make a trip to Green Bay in what should be an exciting game.  Both teams need the win as the Packers are trying to remain in first in the NFC North and Carolina is looking to stay competitive for the Wild Card.  Green Bay’s favored at -5 and I think the Panthers cover.

Rams and Steelers is another good game with playoff implications. Rams need the win to make sure they can stay in the hunt for the divisional crown and Pittsburgh is trying to keep up with the other Wild Card teams.  LA sits at -3.5 and they should cover.

Vikings-Cowboys on Sunday night should be another great game. Dallas needs the win to stay atop the NFC East and the Vikings need to stay relevant against the Packers.  Dallas sits at -3 — I say bet the money line on the Vikings to win a close game.

Last, but not least, the big game Monday night.  San Francisco hosts the Seattle Seahawks.  The 49ers could afford to lose this one, but a win would give them a solid three game lead with 7 to go.  Line sits at 49ers -6.0 and Seattle should cover.  I’m not saying bet the money line, but do not be surprised if Seattle wins a close one.

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