NFL Week 10 Winners and Losers
As we prepare to wrap up week 10 of the 2011 NFL season, let's take a look at this week's biggest winners and losers.
As always, there were some surprise upsets, some nailbiters and some big-time blowouts this week, including a few pivotal games that shook up the playoff outlook.
Which teams really set themselves apart this week, and which teams took two steps back?
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Winner: Oakland Raiders
Just one week after getting humbled by Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos at home, the Oakland Raiders hit the road and knocked off the division favorites, thanks in part to running back Michael Bush's 157-yard outing in Darren McFadden's absence and Carson Palmer's solid showing in his third start at quarterback.
The Raiders now sit atop the division at 5-4, and with Carson Palmer improving, this team could continue to win. Imagine what they might be able to do when their star running back returns.
Loser: San Diego Chargers
When will the San Diego Chargers get their heads in the game? Week after week, sports gurus predict the Chargers to win the AFC West, and week after week they continue to lose.
Now a team in disarray, they must play from behind after giving the division lead up to the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night.
Philip Rivers is in a disturbing funk, but he's not getting much help from his teammates either. Chargers players aren't on the same page, and they continue to make mistakes that will lose football games despite easily being the most talented overall team in the division.
Winner: Chicago Bears
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The Chicago Bears didn't start the 2011 season particularly well, accumulating a 2-3 record.
But on the heels of their 37-13 blowout of the Detroit Lions, they are 6-3 and in a very good position to secure a wild card playoff bid.
The Green Bay Packers are the clear frontrunners in the NFC North, but the Bears evened their record with the Lions today and are looking very good on both sides of the ball.
Matt Forte continues to be a difference maker at running back, gaining 64 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries against a stout Lions defense, while quarterback Jay Cutler is being kept upright much better by his offensive line.
The defense is what should get fans really excited, though. Rod Marinelli has this squad playing at a sky-high level. They forced six turnovers, scored two defensive touchdowns and forced two sacks against Detroit.
Loser: Detroit Lions
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The Detroit Lions started the season 5-0, but with three losses in their last four games, they are beginning to let their playoff hopes slip away.
The division rival Chicago Bears blasted the Lions 37-13 and are now in better position to grab a wild card bid.
Matthew Stafford had thrown 19 touchdowns and just four interceptions before Sunday's game, in which he tossed four total interceptions, including two pick-sixes, and just one touchdown pass in garbage time.
The running game continues to be all but nonexistent without Jahvid Best, the offensive line didn't do a very good job of protecting Stafford or opening running lanes, and even Calvin Johnson had an off day despite catching seven passes for 81 yards.
The defense held Chicago to 216 total yards and continues to be dominant, but if the turnovers and ineptness of the ground game continues, Detroit won't last down the stretch.
Winner: Dallas Cowboys
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In the win, the Cowboys showed what they are truly capable of when they put everything together—and it's scary.
Quarterback Tony Romo completed an incredible 23 of 26 passes for 270 yards and three touchdowns, with no turnovers. Rookie running back DeMarco Murray cemented himself as the starter with 135 yards and a touchdown on just 20 carries while catching six passes for 36 yards.
Receivers Dez Bryant and Laurent Robinson had big days, combining for nine catches, 147 yards and all three of Romo's touchdowns.
The defense held Buffalo to 271 total yards, DeMarcus Ware collected a sack, Terence Newman picked off two passes and Gerald Sensabaugh forced a fumble.
If this team can continue to play at this high a level, the sky is the limit.
Loser: Baltimore Ravens
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Wait, isn't this the same team that swept the Pittsburgh Steelers this year?
The Baltimore Ravens are one of the most frustrating teams in the NFL, because a week after they knock of a big opponent, they lay an egg against a vastly inferior foe.
This week it was the Seattle Seahawks who took down the Ravens, 22-17. The loss puts the Ravens at 6-3 on the year, and just a week after taking the lead from Pittsburgh in the division, they give it right back.
Joe Flacco was just 29 of a whopping 52 attempts for 255 yards, a touchdown and a pick. Ray Rice was given just five carries all day, though he did catch eight passes for 54 yards.
The biggest surprise was the defense, who gave up 327 total yards to an offense that is one of the worst in the NFL, and was able to generate just one sack and one turnover.
If the Ravens are going to wrest the division from the Steelers this year, they have to start winning the easy ones.
Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers
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The Pittsburgh Steelers dropped both games to the Baltimore Ravens this year, yet somehow they are still in the lead for the division after knocking off the upstart Cincinnati Bengals 24-17.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played pretty well, completing 21 of 33 passes for 245 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while receivers Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace provided consistent targets.
Running back Rashard Mendenhall gained just 44 yards on 16 carries but scored two touchdowns against a stout Bengals defense.
If they can keep from collapsing down the stretch, they could be division winners yet again.
Loser: Philadelphia Eagles
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I guess it's not always sunny in Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia Eagles skidded to a 1-4 record to begin the season, but after winning two straight following a bye week, things were looking brighter in Philly and fans were thinking playoffs in a fairly wide open division.
However, after two straight losses have put the Eagles at 3-6, things suddenly don't look so sunny.
A week after losing to the Chicago Bears 30-24 on Monday Night Football, the Eagles regressed again, losing to back-up quarterback John Skelton and the Arizona Cardinals 21-17.
The Eagles secondary (remember, the one with three of the best cornerbacks in the league?) allowed Skelton to throw for 315 yards and three touchdowns, two to Larry Fitzgerald, who totaled 146 yards on seven receptions.
What's worse, the Eagles couldn't move the ball on a defense that has been steamrolled by most opponents this year.
LeSean McCoy had 81 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, but Michael Vick completed just 16 of 34 passes for 128 yards and two interceptions.
Maybe next year, Eagles fans.