15 Things We Learned from NFL Week 10
Concussions, defensive touchdowns and the first tie in years headlined Week 10.
Peyton Manning did his thing against the Panthers, but his defense did most of the heavy lifting. Jason Campbell took over for Jay Cutler, perhaps saving Cutler from throwing another interception...or four.
Some things never change (see: the Buffalo Bills in Gillette Stadium), but we got our usual batch of surprises.
What did we learn this week? Click through to find out.
The Saints Must Release the Kraken
When Darren Sproles went down with a broken hand, we all assumed Pierre Thomas would reap the most benefit, even if New Orleans went with a running-back-by-committee approach.
Instead, we have Chris Ivory scoring touchdowns and mowing down defenders in the process.
It's a wonder the Saints didn't have Ivory active all season until Sproles' injury. It's not as though Mark Ingram has been at all effective. At the very least, New Orleans could have had a decent return for Ivory in a trade.
Alas, we may have to wait to see the Kraken released.
The Giants Are in Trouble
New York has hit a midseason swoon, culminating with a horrendous performance against the middling Cincinnati Bengals.
Eli Manning has failed to throw a touchdown in three consecutive weeks—an astonishing statistic considering the weapons he has on offense. The defense has gotten steadily worse. The alarms are going off.
The bye week cannot come any sooner for the Giants, who need to regroup to make a run at the playoffs.
Doug Martin Needs a Nickname
Martin says he hates the nickname "Muscle Hamster," bestowed upon him by college teammates after witnessing the running back outlift some of his offensive linemen in the weight room.
Doug Martin tells @cowhercbs he wants to go with "Douganator" instead of "Muscle Hamster." Hmmm.— Will Brinson (@willbrinson) November 11, 2012
This cannot stand.
What should we call the rookie running back? Aside from his given name, I submit to you the nickname "Dougie Howser."
Dougie Howser slicing up the San Diego defense early.— Alessandro Miglio (@AlexMiglio) November 11, 2012
I rest my case.
The Dolphins Are Who We Thought They Were
Before the season, many thought the Dolphins were one of the worst teams in the league. They got off to a surprising 4-3 start that had some talking playoffs in a wide-open AFC.
Two losses later, the mood is no longer optimistic in South Florida.
Perhaps they were still hungover from the close loss on the road to the Colts, but the Dolphins mustered just three points against a Titans defense that was ranked 30th in total defense and dead last in scoring defense.
Perhaps the Dolphins turned into pumpkins after Halloween.
Blaine Gabbert's Days Are Numbered
All right, this is cheating a bit, as we all knew Gabbert's clock was ticking well before this—but his utter ineptitude against a bad Colts secondary seemed to accelerate that timeline.
The fact that Chad Henne came in and marched his team down the field didn't help matters for Gabbert, who finds himself in a midseason quarterback controversy.
The Jaguars are on the fast track to firing general manager Gene Smith considering the state of the roster, particularly considering their other recent fellow first-rounder, Justin Blackmon. Gabbert might be packing his bags alongside Smith this offseason.
The Saints Have Life
Don't look now, but the Saints are charging.
The Falcons were undefeated going into New Orleans, but the Saints know a thing or two about beating their divisional rivals. When the dust settled, they had notched another victory against them, taking their record to 11-2 over their past 13 games against the Falcons.
It will be darn near impossible for New Orleans to overcome its 0-4 start and that sieve-like defense, but it proved last weekend that it is capable of beating anyone.
Kyle Rudolph Is Alive
After a good start to his season, the Vikings' Kyle Rudolph had two catches over his past three games. His fantasy owners were particularly frustrated with Christian Ponder's apparent disdain for him.
They finally got a reprieve against the Lions, as Rudolph caught seven of nine targets—also known as a Jeri Ryan—for 64 yards and a touchdown. He's alive!
The Vikings Can Contend in the North
Minnesota was tied for a playoff spot heading into a key matchup against a divisional foe this weekend and came out of it smelling like roses.
The Vikings had beaten the Lions on the road earlier this season, but they had sputtered in recent weeks. In losing Percy Harvin for the week as well, a victory looked like a tall order in Week 10.
No matter. Adrian Peterson roams the backfield, and he takes no prisoners. He is carrying his team on that bionic knee of his, averaging 157 yards per game and scoring five touchdowns over the past four games.
Philadelphia Is Done
Andy Reid's hot seat got turned up another few degrees this week after a bad loss against the Cowboys at home. Maybe he can turn it into a sauna and shed that extra weight.
Philadelphia fans finally got their wish when Nick Foles entered for an injured Michael Vick. He responded with a long touchdown pass to a wide-open Jeremy Maclin, but later threw a pick-six that put the game out of reach for the Eagles.
Sitting at 3-6 with so many teams ahead of them in the wild-card race, Philadelphia is finished. Andy Reid might be, too.
Antonio Cromartie Is Not a Psychic
Earlier this week, Antonio Cromartie predicted the Jets would make the playoffs.
Sure, New York is not mathematically out of a playoff spot, but it sure looks out of it at 3-6, particularly after getting annihilated 28-7 at Seattle. The Jets might have a mathematical chance, but they have to actually win some games if they are going to sneak into the playoffs.
Their remaining schedule is nice aside from the Patriots, but it might be too little and too late.
Jake Locker Is Fine
The drubbing the Dolphins took at the hands of the Titans was largely thanks to Locker, who made his triumphant return from a broken shoulder last weekend.
He completed just nine of 22 passes for 122 yards, but he threw for two touchdowns and had a couple of big-time runs. It looked like the Titans could have beaten the Dolphins with Warren Moon at quarterback on Sunday, but it was nice for the Titans to have their quarterback of the future back in action.
Progress on Concussions
We are seeing more and more instances of players being pulled from games due to concussion symptoms. Jay Cutler, Michael Vick and Alex Smith were pulled early and held out of their matchups because of concussions in Week 10. Do you think they would have stayed out of games just a few years ago?
The NFL is walking the walk when it comes to managing concussions. Detection is improving and teams are doing the right thing more often than not. There is still a long way to go, but it is nice to see player safety being held to a higher standard, bit by bit.
Ties Still Exist
What year is it? Why haven't we abolished the tie in professional football?
The 49ers and Rams played to a draw after San Francisco's David Akers booted a game-tying 33-yard field goal at the end of regulation, but neither team seemed to want to win it in overtime. It was the NFL's first tie since...wait, I blacked out trying to remember.
The NFL already modified overtime rules to make it a bit more fair for both teams—a field goal no longer automatically wins the game, in case you were unaware—but why stop there?
Why not extend overtime? Maybe they could have a punt, pass and kick competition if teams are still tied after overtime.
The Patriots Still Own the Bills
The Bills went into Gillette Stadium not intimidated by the fact they were winless there, going up against the mighty Patriots who had put up 52 points against them earlier this season.
Buffalo put up a good fight, hanging tough with New England to the bitter, interception-in-the-end-zone end. Had Ryan Fitzpatrick not done the most Ryan Fitzpatrick thing ever and thrown that game-sealing pick, the Bills might have pulled a late victory out against the Patriots.
The Buccaneers Will Be Trouble
Quietly (at least as quietly as possible while scoring a ton of points), the Buccaneers are creeping up in the AFC South. The likelihood they will catch the Falcons is low, but a wild-card spot is in the cards if they can keep playing well.
The Bucs have averaged 37 points per game while going 4-1 over their past five games, though the competition has not been top-notch for the most part.
Their schedule gets tougher going forward, so it won't be easy.