By Ryan of The Sportmeisters
Some upsets, a questionable call, and two undefeated teams remaining sum up Week 10 of the NFL. Let’s go deeper at some of the bigger stories.
A Championship Comeback
It was billed as the Matchup of the Decade, and the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts lived up to the hype all the way to the very end. With the Patriots looking to end the Colts undefeated season, they came out firing, holding leads of 24-7 and 31-14 as late as the fourth quarter. However, on fourth-and-two from the New England 28, Bill Belichick chose to go for the first down, and missed.
This gave Indianapolis a short field and allowed QB Peyton Manning to find WR Reggie Wayne with 13 seconds left to finish the comeback, and allow the Colts to escape with a 35-34 victory.
This was the first time Bill Belichick lost when leading by 13 or more, and marked the biggest comeback victory this season for Indianapolis. New England still sits atop the AFC East, and have the struggling Jets next on the schedule. Indianapolis keeps their quest for perfection alive against Baltimore next week.
No Bungles Here
Not too many pundits expected the Cincinnati Bengals to be challenging for the AFC North title this year, not after last season’s failure, and with defending Super Bowl Champions Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens in the division.
Well, make room for another team in the crowded AFC North.
A year removed from 4-11-1, the Bengals sit atop the AFC North at 7-2, with a commanding 5-0 division record, including season sweeps of both Pittsburgh and Baltimore, effectively widening their lead when taking tiebreakers into effect. This time, defense helped keep Ben Roethlisberger and company in check, using four Shayne Graham field goals to win 18-12.
Neither team scored an offensive touchdown, the difference being a Bernard Scott kickoff return. Both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati have winnable games against Kansas City and Oakland, respectively, so look for the offense to come right back out.
Reversal of Fortune
Three weeks ago, after starting the season 6-0, the Denver Broncos looked well on their way to the AFC West title. The San Diego Chargers, meanwhile, had just lost to the Broncos 34-23, and had more questions than answers.
Now, both teams sit 6-3, with Denver losing their third straight, 27-17 to Washington, and the Chargers defeating Philadelphia 31-23.
The two teams are now set for a huge momentum shifting matchup this Sunday in Denver. The Broncos may be without QB Kyle Orton and San Diego’s RB LaDanian Tomlinson is getting his groove back.
Last year, San Diego used the end of the season to storm back and take the AFC West. At the rate this is going now, San Diego could be making their move a few weeks early.
Contenders and Pretenders
The playoffs are knocking, who is going to answer the door?
The Saints are still sitting pretty at 9-0, but almost coughed it in up in a 28-23 squeaker over St. Louis Rams. They travel to Tampa Bay before a huge home game against New England.
The Tennessee Titans aren’t turning too many heads yet, but since inserting QB Vince Young back in the lineup, they have won three in-a-row and are 3-6. The latest came behind RB Chris Johnson’s 200+ all-purpose yards in a 41-17 victory over Buffalo.
While some teams are perfect, others are perfectly inept:
Five interceptions by newly acquired glory boy Jay Cutler allowed San Francisco to escape with a 10-6 victory. The Bears have now lost two in-a-row.
Since starting off at 3-0, the Jets have cooled off quickly, losing to Jacksonville to watch their record slip to 4-5. At the rate they are going, they can forget the playoffs and the division.