NFL Week 10 takeaways - Lessons big questionfor every game

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2022-12-04 12:52

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NFL Week 10 takeaways: Lessons, big questions for every game

Monday nights matchup between thePhiladelphia EaglesandWashington CommandersendedWeek 10of the2022 NFL season-- and the Eagles pursuit of an undefeated season.

Behind a methodical offense that held the ball for over 40 minutes and an opportunistic defense that forced four turnovers, the Commanders gave their division rivals their first loss.

Meanwhile, NFL history was made Sunday morning as theTampa Bay Buccaneersbeat theSeattle Seahawks21-16 at Munichs Allianz Arena in the leagues first regular-season game in Germany.

Kirk CousinsJustin Jeffersonand key defensive plays led theMinnesota Vikingsto another come-from-behind win -- this time over theBuffalo Billsin overtime. The Vikings are now 8-1 on the season.

Tua Tagovailoathrew three touchdown passes to lead theMiami Dolphinsover theCleveland Browns, theKansas City Chiefsoffense dominated theJacksonville Jaguars, and theNew York Giantsdefense was solid in a win vs. theHouston Texans.

T.J. Wattreturned to action for the first time since Week 2 to help thePittsburgh Steelerspick up a win over theNew Orleans Saints, theDetroit Lionsscored 21 points in the fourth quarter to beat theChicago Bears, and theDenver Broncosgave up 17 unanswered points to theTennessee Titansas their offense was mostly silent in the second half of the loss.

In the late afternoon window, the Jeff Saturday era for theIndianapolis Coltsbegan Sunday withMatt Ryanback at QB, a 66-yard run forJonathan Taylorand a win at theLas Vegas Raiders. TheGreen Bay Packerstook down theDallas Cowboysin overtime with help from rookie WRChristian Watson, who had three touchdown catches, and theArizona Cardinalsdominated theLos Angeles Ramsin the battle of backup quarterbacks.

Closing out the Sunday lineup, theSan Francisco 49ersdefeated theLos Angeles Chargers.

On Thursday, theCarolina Panthersground game continued to chug along withoutChristian McCaffreyas they ran over theAtlanta Falcons25-15 in Carolina.

Our NFL Nation reporters react with the biggest takeaways and lingering questions off this weeks matchups and look ahead to whats next. Games are Sunday unless noted. Lets get to it.

What to know:Washington finally discovered its identity: the run game. Actually, some in the building knew thats who the Commanders needed to be, but the trick was sticking with the run and not falling in love with getting the ball to their wideouts. But credit offensive coordinator Scott Turner with an excellent game plan. They wont be able to run the ball 49 times every week, but they can be more run heavy. It helped the protection being in so many third-and-shorts. It kept the defense off the field, and it keyed a win. Its the blueprint they need to follow moving forward.

Who will start at quarterback?Carson Wentzis eligible to be activated off injured reserve this week after spending the past four games nursing a broken right ring finger. ButTaylor Heinickeled Washington to a 3-1 mark in his absence and guided a huge upset win over the Eagles. While the coaches believe Wentz has the higher upside in this offense, theres no denying what Heinicke means to his teammates. They have to ride with him as the starter until his magic runs out.-- John Keim

Next game:at Texans (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

What to know:The Eagles were on the wrong end of at least one critical call -- a clear facemask on tight endDallas Goedertfactored into a game-changing fumble -- but they were too sloppy in their play and saw their undefeated streak come to an end. Philadelphia turned the ball over four times, marking the first time this season they didnt win the turnover battle.

How big of an issue is the run defense?The Eagles rush defense continues to be a problem in the absence of rookie defensive tackleJordan Davis, who is on injured reserve with a high ankle sprain. The Commanders rushed 29 times for 100 yards in the first half alone, gobbling up 23:49 in time of possession in the process. Philadelphias 6:11 on possession was its shortest since Week 6 of 2001 against theNew York Giantsand the lowest by any team in the first half of a game in the last five seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. They need to get things corrected quick withJonathan Taylorand the Colts on deck.-- Tim McManus

Next game:at Colts (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

What to know:Everything seemed to line up perfectly for the 49ers to have a breakout performance heading into Sunday nights game against the Chargers. The Niners were fresh off their bye and had eight players returning from injury, and Los Angeles was missing many key players. And yet, the Niners barely pulled off the victory. After a rocky start defensively, the 49ers shutJustin Herbert& Co. down, but the Niners offense -- with its myriad threats -- still cant consistently put points on the board. San Francisco will undoubtedly take the victory, but if this team is going to become the contender so many expect it to be, the Niners need to figure out how to start stringing complete performances together.

Whither George Kittle?After trading forChristian McCaffrey, the Niners have a lot of mouths to feed offensively. Kittle said this week he doesnt mind so long as his team wins. He was the one who didnt get to eat much on Sunday night, getting targeted just twice with one catch for 21 yards. Not every player can have a big game every week, but the 49ers would be wise to get Kittle more involved in the passing game.-- Nick Wagoner

Next game:vs. Cardinals (Monday, Nov. 21, 8:15 p.m. ET)

What to know:Despite dealing with several significant injuries throughout the season, the Chargers continued to find a way to not only be competitive but remain among playoff contenders. However, it grew apparent Sunday night that they can only outrun their injury issues for so long, as their offense struggled to consistently move the football with their starting tackles and top two receiversKeenan AllenandMike Williamssidelined. And they finished the game with only three healthy defensive linemen:Sebastian Joseph-DayMorgan FoxandBreiden Fehoko.

When can the Chargers expect to see injured players return?The Bolts have been without Allen and Williams for two consecutive games, with Allen limited to only 1.5 games this season. When edge rusherJoey Bosawas placed on injured reserve after Week 3, coach Brandon Staley expressed optimism that he would return this season. Now staring down a Week 11 contest with the division-leading Chiefs (7-2), the urgency increases for players to return healthy.-- Lindsey Thiry

Next game:vs. Chiefs (Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET)

What to know:TheGreen Bay Packershave a pulse, even if they needed overtime to stay alive. And they might have finally found a receiver they can count on -- assumingChristian Watsoncan stay healthy and stop dropping the ball. Their losing streak ended at five games thanks in part to three (!) touchdown catches by the rookie receiver. The second-round pick still has to prove he can quit dropping the ball; he had two more drops on Sunday. But hes the closest thing the Packers have to a big-play guy other than running backAaron Jones(138 rushing yards). On the way to catching two deep-ball touchdowns -- a 58-yarder in the second quarter and a 39-yarder in the fourth quarter -- Watson became the first Packers receiver with multiple touchdowns in a game this season, and that was before he added the game-tying score with 2:29 left. It wont get any easier with the Titans and Eagles next up on the schedule, but at 4-6, the Packers are not dead yet.

Where have the Packers been hidingRudy Ford?The backup safety had played only 20 snaps in the previous five games combined before he picked offDak Prescotttwice in the first half, which was double his career interception total coming in. His only previous interception came last season when he played for the Jaguars. Ford was promoted to a role in the Packers secondary this week because defensive coordinator Joe Barry finally decided to moveDarnell Savageto the slot in the nickel package. Barry had said earlier this month he would consider moving Savage if he had another safety to put in his spot. Ford was signed at the end of training camp but previously had played mostly on special teams. All this was triggered by the season-ending ankle and knee injuries that cornerbackEric Stokessustained last week.-- Rob Demovsky

Next game:vs. Titans (Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET)

What to know:Leading 28-14 late in the third quarter, it looked like the Cowboys were ready to follow through on their promise to win one for their coach in Mike McCarthys return to Green Bay. Then it all fell apart. And it must have looked familiar to McCarthy, the ex-Packers coach, withAaron Rodgersthrowing three touchdown passes and rookieChristian Watsondoing hisDavante Adams/Jordy Nelson/Greg Jennings/Donald Driver imitation. A defense that has been rock solid looked shaky when it mattered most, just like in the Oct. 16 loss to Philadelphia, and once again was beaten soundly on the ground. The offense could not come up with the big plays in the clutch in fourth quarter or overtime -- and there was a questionable decision to go for it on fourth-and-4 in OT. A 6-3 record just seems a lot different from 7-2.

How big is next weeks game against theMinnesota Vikings?The Cowboys blew a chance at an opportunity to sweep the NFC North in four consecutive games with the loss to the Packers. And now if they want to be considered true NFC contenders -- even if they dont win the NFC East -- they have to beat the Vikings. A year ago, they went to Minnesota and won withCooper Rushas their starter withDak Prescottout because of a calf strain. The Vikings are coming off an improbable win against theBuffalo Billsin overtime andJustin Jeffersonlooks superhuman. The Cowboys will have to get over their disappointment in a hurry.-- Todd Archer

Next game:at Vikings (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

What to know:It tookColt McCoyto stop theArizona Cardinalsskid of losing four of their past five on Sunday. McCoy played in place of the injuredKyler Murray, whos dealing with a hamstring injury, and McCoy was able to settle the Arizona offense and run it efficiently enough to get the Cardinals a much-needed win.

Can the Cardinals kick-start the rest of their season?It all depends on how long Murray is out and, when he does come back, if Arizona can figure out how to prevent all of the self-inflicted mistakes it has been making. They werent as much of an issue against the Rams, but the Rams also might not be the measuring stick they once were.-- Josh Weinfuss

Next game:vs. 49ers (Monday, Nov. 21, 8:16 p.m. ET)

What to know:If Cooper Kupps ankle injury is serious, the Rams have bigger problems than a loss to the Cardinals. Kupp has been the most consistent player on this offense -- and maybe the team -- this season, and has led the Rams in receiving in all but two games this season: both against the Cardinals. Kupp entered the game with 72 receptions, for a pace of 153 over a 17-game season. The NFL single-season record is 149 byMichael Thomasfor the Saints in 2019. The Rams have dealt with many injuries this season, including having to play this game without quarterbackMatthew Stafford, who is in the concussion protocol. If Kupp misses significant time, its hard to see this Rams offense improving.

Biggest question: At 3-6, is the Rams season over?Even if Kupp doesnt miss time with his injury, it seems time is running out for the Rams. As the losses piled up this season, a common refrain from the Rams locker room was that there was plenty of season left for the team to turn it around. Now after three losses in a row -- and five in six games -- it appears that isnt the case. Los Angeles might not be done yet, but even though the NFC is still wide open, it would take a near-perfect end to the season for the Rams to make the playoffs after this start.-- Sarah Barshop

Next game:at Saints (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

What to know:We wont know what kind of coach Jeff Saturday is on the basis of one game. But the Colts ability to win this game -- in the face of intense scrutiny from around the league and significant upheaval within their building -- will give Indys interim head coach at least some credibility. Saturday took over six days ago after Frank Reichs firing and came into the job without any college or NFL coaching experience. But winning his first game gives him a needed boost at a pivotal time.

IsMatt Ryanthe quarterback for the foreseeable future?He should be. The Colts decision last month to say Ryan would be benched for the rest of the season never made much sense. And the obvious struggles ofSam Ehlinger, who started the previous two games, made it hard to defend. Ryan controlled the offense with ease on Sunday, completing 21 of 28 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown. He committed no turnovers, something that had plagued him during his first seven appearances. Ryans return, more than anything, gave the Colts a reason for optimism.-- Stephen Holder

Next game:vs. Eagles (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

What to know:The Raiders are a dysfunctional mess ... this week. Its clear something is way off with this talented roster and its first-year coach. The Raiders should not have lost to an interim coach in Jeff Saturday who had never coached above high school, an offensive coordinator who had never called plays before and a QB who had been benched. The Raiders are now 0-6 in one-score games this season. Their six straight losses in games decided by a single score is the longest active streak in the league.

How hot is the seat under coach Josh McDaniels?Not as hot as fans would like it to be. If the season is over, which member of the coaching staff will serve as the sacrificial lamb? Raiders owner Mark Davis is more invested in the new regime of GM Dave Ziegler and coach Josh McDaniels than in certain players on the roster, as it was Davis call to move on from the staff that led Las Vegas on its unlikely run last winter.-- Paul Gutierrez

Next game:at Broncos (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)

What to know:The Vikings must be considered one of the NFLs very best teams after going to Buffalo, coming back from a 17-point second-half deficit and winning a wild game. Theyre also quite fortunate -- one of their touchdowns came when Bills quarterbackJosh Allenfumbled a snap at his own goal line -- but thats part of having a great season. Theyre only the second team since 2000 (the 2003 Ravens were the other) to win a game after trailing in the final minute of regulation when the opponent had possession of the ball.

Was this the high point of the Vikings season?It doesnt have to be! Its true that the Vikings expended a ton of energy to win Sunday in Buffalo. They have three tough games coming up against theDallas CowboysNew England PatriotsandNew York Jets. And they finished Sundays game with their starting left tackle and two of their top three cornerbacks sidelined. But all three of those upcoming games are at home, where the Vikings are 4-0 this season. Theyre going to be just fine.-- Kevin Seifert

Next game:vs. Cowboys (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

What to know:Josh Allenstarted the game after uncertainty surrounding his right elbow injury, but it was his miscues in the fourth quarter and overtime that cost the Bills the game, including the game-ending interception. While Allen didnt appear to be hampered by the injury, the quarterback threw two interceptions in the red zone at crucial moments. He and centerMitch Morselater fumbled a snap, which gave Minnesota a touchdown when NFLs Next Gen Stats gave the Bills a 99.1% chance to win at the time. Allen did complete 67.4% of his passes (his second highest of the season), but his mistakes at the end were costly.

Why hasnt the Bills offense been able to put games away?Coach Sean McDermott came into the game saying that the Bills needed to not be one-dimensional no matter who is playing quarterback. Establishing the run was crucial. Instead, Allen was the teams leading rusher yet again (84 yards). The offense stopped the clock far too many times instead of running the ball with a 17-point lead. The playcalling needs to rely less on Allens arm behind an offensive line that is back to full health.-- Alaina Getzenberg

Next game:vs. Browns (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

What to know:The Titans receivers finally found a way to make an impact on offense this week. Wide receiverNick Westbrook-Ikhinecame up big for Tennessee with five receptions for 119 yards and two touchdowns, one of which was a 63-yard catch-and-run on a flea-flicker. Entering this week, Titans wideouts collectively had one touchdown reception, and none had posted a 100-yard receiving performance through eight games.

Can Titans continue to compete despite so many injuries?The Titans physical style of football continues to use players as collateral damage. This week,Elijah Molden(groin), Lonnie Johnson Jr. (hamstring), andCaleb Farley(back) were ruled out due to injury. The Titans have rostered a total of 68 players through eight games this season and are just nine short of their total from last year. A total of 18 players are currently on injured reserve. Molden, who was injured against the Broncos, was just activated from injured reserve along with rookie receiverTreylon Burks.-- Turron Davenport

Next game:at Packers (Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET)

What to know:As if the Broncos offense didnt already have enough problems -- they now have scored just 12 touchdowns in nine games -- they left Nashville much more battered than when they arrived. Wide receiverJerry Jeudysuffered a left ankle injury on the first play from scrimmage, while centerGraham Glasgow(shoulder) and tackleBilly Turner(knee) left in the second half. QuarterbackRussell Wilsonfaced constant pressure (although he did hold the ball too long at times). The Broncos couldnt run the ball and never really threatened to win the game, despite another strong showing by their defense.

How can the Broncos piece together an offensive line now?After another day of trotting out one three-wide-receiver set after another -- they didnt run another personnel grouping until there was under six minutes to go in the first quarter -- necessity might force the Broncos to bulk up. They are now playing backups to backups up front, including a player third on the depth chart at right tackle (Quinn Bailey) and a player third on the depth chart at center (rookieLuke Wattenberg). It will impact how they plan in the weeks ahead and how defenses attack them. Wilson can expect the same kind of pressure he got from the Titans on Sunday, and coach Nathaniel Hackett has an enormous strategic riddle to deal with it.-- Jeff Legwold

Next game:vs. Raiders (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)

What to know:It wasnt pretty, but the Giants did what they needed to. They leaned on their best players -- running backSaquon Barkleyand quarterbackDaniel Jones-- to take care of business. Barkley had 152 rushing yards on 35 carries against the leagues worst run defense, helping the Giants grab their seventh win of the season. It was his fourth 100-yard game of the season. Jones also played well, going 13-of-17 for 192 yards with two touchdowns.

How many games can this Giants team actually win?With a home game against the Lions next, the playoffs seem to be almost a lock with a win -- barring an absolute late-season meltdown. First-year coach Brian Dabolls team has consistently played winning football, so double-digit wins seems realistic at this point. Even 12-5 might not be out of the realm of possibility.-- Jordan Raanan

Next game:vs. Lions (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

What to know:Rookie running backDameon Piercecontinues to cement himself as a strong candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Against theNew York Giants, he finished with 122 scrimmage yards and now has 898 scrimmage yards on the season. In the second quarter, Pierce had a 44-yard run, which led to a field goal -- the only points of the first half for the Texans. Pierce was the only pulse the offense had in the first half -- he had more rushing yards (66) than quarterbackDavis Millshad passing (6-for-13 for 35 yards).

Can the Texans get their receivers more involved?The Texans receivers werent involved much against the Giants. Their leading receiver was tight endJordan Akinswith 72 yards. Its hard for an offense to be functional if it struggles to get production from its receiver group. This has been a trend throughout the year. Its a combination of multiple things, involving offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, the wide receivers and Mills. It starts with the quarterback, though, with Mills completing only 57% of his passes when targeting wide receivers, which is bottom five among all quarterbacks.-- DJ Bien-Aime

Next game:vs. Commanders (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

What to know:Whats a defense supposed to do when the Dolphins run the ball this effectively? In just his second game with the team, running back Jeff Wilson ran for 119 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. AddingRaheem Mosterts 65 yards and a score on just eight carries, Miami set a new season high with 195 rushing yards against a vulnerable Browns defense. QuarterbackTua Tagovailoawas as sharp as ever, completing 25 of 32 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns -- his third straight game with three touchdown passes. There might not be a defense in the NFL that can contain this offense when it clicks as it did Sunday.

Was this the defensive revival the Dolphins have been waiting for?The Dolphins defense made a living in Clevelands backfield Sunday, pressuring quarterbackJacoby Brissett15 times with three sacks. Its exactly the performance Miami hoped to see after trading forBradley Chubblast week, and he delivered with five pressures and a sack. But the highlight of the Dolphins defensive performance came against the run; outside of his 33-yard touchdown run,Nick Chubbwas held to just 30 yards on 10 carries. The Dolphins enter their bye week with plenty of momentum on both sides of the ball -- if it carries over into the final month of the season, they are a legitimate Super Bowl contender.-- Marcel Louis-Jacques

Next game:vs. Texans (Sunday, Nov. 27, 1 p.m. ET)

What to know:After showing signs of life in the past two games, Clevelands defense was absolutely annihilated in Miami. The Browns didnt force the Dolphins to punt all game and got only one stop, turning Miami over on downs deep in Cleveland territory. During training camp, several Browns defenders crowed about having the talent to boast a top-five defense. Instead, Clevelands defense, while talented, remains a disappointment -- and one of the worst units in the league.

At 3-6, is Clevelands season already over?Not quite. But its teetering. The Browns probably have to win in Buffalo, then defeatTom Bradythese next two weeks just to stay in realistic contention in the AFC playoff race. Good luck with that. Otherwise, Clevelands season will be over -- before QBDeshaun Watsoneven takes his first snap in Week 13 after serving his 11-game suspension.-- Jake Trotter

Next game:at Bills (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

What to know:Detroit Lionsreceiver Amon-Ra St. Brown continued to etch his name in the history books and seemingly got his mojo back to help the Lions snap their 13-game road losing streak under head coach Dan Campbell. With his parents in the stands as he faced his older brother, the Bears Equanimeous, St. Brown made 10 catches for 119 yards, becoming the 11th player since 1950 to record 135 or more receptions in his first 25 career games. Entering Sunday, he went five straight games with fewer than eight receptions.

Is it time for more rushing attempts for DAndre Swift?Swift is the most exciting offensive player on the Lions roster -- when healthy. However, can he stay healthy? Despite limited touches since returning from his three-game absence, Swift reached the end zone off a 9-yard rush in Chicago for a crucial fourth-quarter score. He ended with just six carries for 6 yards.Jamaal Williamsled the Lions with 16 carries for 59 yards and a touchdown.-- Eric Woodyard

Next game:at Giants (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

What to know:The Bears continue to ride the threat of the run, recording their fifth straight game with 200 rushing yards. And afterJustin Fieldsthrew a pick-six, he churned out an exciting 67-yard rushing touchdown, the longest ever by a Bears quarterback, to regain the lead.Cairo Santos, however, missed the extra point, and that proved decisive. Designed runs were the weapon of choice for Chicago -- Fields gained 132 rushing yards off designed runs, the most by a quarterback in a game over the past 15 seasons, including the playoffs. The Bears previously relied on Fields scramble ability last week, when he broke the regular-season single-game rushing record by a quarterback with 178 yards. Fields gained 110 yards off scrambles last week.

What will it take for the Bears to win close games?Fields was terrific, as was tight endCole Kmet, who recorded two receiving touchdowns, becoming only the second Bears player to do so in back-to-back weeks since Johnny Morris in 1964. The Bears were heavily penalized (nine) against Detroit, and a slew of errors put them in chase mode late, including a missed extra point after Fields 67-yard touchdown. The Bears are a dominant rushing team, but at some point, theyre going to have to win through the air during the games most critical moments. They failed to do so in a three-point defeat to Miami. Against Detroit, Fields completed just one pass for 6 yards in the fourth quarter.-- Courtney Cronin

Next game:at Falcons (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

What to know:TheKadarius Toneytrade is more valuable to the Chiefs afterJuJu Smith-Schusterleft Sundays win over the Jaguars in the second quarter and entered the concussion protocol. Toney, who scored his first NFL touchdown, looked like the Chiefs WR1 after Smith-Schusters exit. He led Chiefs wide receivers in catches (four) and yards (57).

Would a victory over the Chargers next Sunday night effectively clinch another AFC West championship?Its difficult to picture the Chiefs allowing the Chargers, Broncos or Raiders to catch them if they win next weeks game. The Chiefs would lead their closest pursuers, the Chargers, by at least two games and they would also hold the tiebreaker against L.A. after sweeping the season series. The Chiefs, with a win in L.A., would need to fall apart over their last seven games to lose their division and that doesnt look realistic.-- Adam Teicher

Next game:at Chargers (Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET)

What to know:The Jaguars have made strides in coach Doug Pedersons first season, but theyre not close to consistently competing with the leagues elite teams. They dont have a big enough margin for error to overcome the litany of mistakes and missed opportunities they had against the Chiefs, which includes failing to get any points off an onside kick and two of the three turnovers they forced and having a TD wiped out by a penalty. The toughest part of their schedule is ahead -- Baltimore, Dallas, Tennessee (twice) and the New York Jets -- and theyre staring at the potential for double-digit losses for the 11th time in the past 12 seasons.

What are the Jaguars going to do behindTravis Etienne?JaMycal Hastyhas been the No. 2 back since the Jaguars tradedJames Robinsonon Oct. 25. However, he has 24 yards on 13 touches. Pederson said the Jaguars dont want to overwork Etienne, but they might not have a choice because Hasty isnt giving them much and the only other backs on the roster are rookieSnoop Connerand second-year playerMekhi Sargent, who have a combined five career carries.-- Mike DiRocco

Next game:vs. Ravens (Sunday, Nov. 27, 1 p.m. ET)

What to know:T.J. Watts return made all the difference for the Steelers defense in their 20-10 win over theNew Orleans Saintsfor the teams third win of the season. Although Watt, who routinely drew extra attention by Saints blockers, didnt record a sac.