It’s time to look back on an incredible Week 10, which again saw games played on either side of the Atlantic and six contests decided by walk-off field goals. An amazing weekend, and we will start with one of those walk-off winners in the Houston Texans…
1) Stroud lighting up the NFL
CJ Stroud is just so much fun to watch right now, he went toe to toe with Joe Burrow and won a fantastic duel against one of the best in the league. It was not just the numbers – 356 yards, one touchdown and an eight-yard rushing score – but the way he did it again. He delivered in a high-pressure situation for the second week in a row, taking the Texans 55 yards in 93 seconds to set up Matt Ammendola’s winning field goal.
2) Time up for Mac Jones?
It was fascinating to see Stroud shine with a game on the line just hours after Bill Belichick did not want Mac Jones anywhere near that kind of action. This is when you want your quarterback to deliver, with games on the line.
Jones threw a horrible interception to Julian Blackmon when Mike Gesicki was wide-open, and Belichick benched his passer. That’s a real concern for the future of Jones, he wasn’t good, he wasn’t well protected and to me that is a big story coming out of a 10-6 win for the Colts. It’s the 2-8 Patriots who have question marks over the future of Bill Belichick; I think he stays until the end of the year, but Mac Jones is heading to the bench.
3) 49ers are back
The 49ers sent a message with their 34-3 win over the Jaguars, snapping a three-game losing streak.
It reminded us that the 49ers, when healthy, when on top form, are a genuine Super Bowl contender and, in my opinion, probably the best team in the NFC.
It was a complete game. Brock Purdy was clean with with 296 yards and three touchdowns, San Francisco rushed for 144 yards and a touchdown and the defense had five sacks, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. I don’t really think they ever went away, but it’s fair to say the 49ers are back.
4) Dobbs’ Vikings strike again
The Minnesota Vikings have won five in a row now with their 27-19 win over the New Orleans Saints – incredible after their 0-3 start. Josh Dobbs and this entire team are turning into one of the more fascinating stories of this period of the season.
I love the way he has come in and hit the ground running, quite literally. He threw for a career-high 268 yards and a touchdown, and ran for a score.
Justin Jefferson will be back soon, rookie receiver Jordan Addison is exciting, TJ Hockenson was very good in Week 10 with over 100 yards. This is a Vikings team that could be dangerous going down the stretch.
5) Lions in Super Bowl contention?
I said earlier the 49ers are the best team in the NFC. Philadelphia would certainly have something to say about that, but also what about the Detroit Lions?
They are 7-2 now and are doing it with offense after a 41-38 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, another game that was settled with a game-winning field goal from Riley Patterson. The play-calling of Ben Johnson is outstanding, Jared Goff is a huge beneficiary of that and is playing so well. He threw for 333 yards and two touchdowns, but there was balance and they ran the ball 31 times for 200 yards and three scores.
I think we have to start putting the Lions in the Super Bowl conversation when it comes to representing the NFC. That would be such a fun story.
Player of the Week – CJ Stroud, QB, Houston Texans
For the second week in a row I’m going to go CJ Stroud. He’s at the very top of his game right now, he’s installing belief in everybody around him, he’s turning this team into a playoff contender. He’s doing it with his arms, his legs, he is overcoming mistakes and doing it at the end of games – he is the real deal.
Play of the Week – Herbert’s TD pass to Guyton
I’m going to go with Justin Herbert’s humdinger of a pass to Jalen Guyton for an 18-yard touchdown against the Lions. There was just no room between the two defenders, unless you have a cannon of an arm you are not getting into the smallest of gaps.
Sadly for Justin Herbert it counted for nothing. He threw for 323 yards, four touchdowns but was undone by a defense that allowed 533 yards at an average of 8.3 yards per play. He couldn’t get the ball back because that defense couldn’t make a stop, but that was a sensational play from Herbert.
Coach of the Week – Dan Campbell, Detroit Lions
Dan Campbell has this Lions team believing, their record is outstanding and one of the best in the NFL.
Justiin Herbert had tied things up for the Chargers with three-and-a-half minutes left on a 38-yard touchdown pass to Keenan Allen and then never saw the ball again.
That is because on fourth-and-two, facing a long field goal, Dan Campbell rolled the dice and threw a pass to Sam LaPorta for the first down which meant they could run out the clock. That is having total belief in your players, and it’s why these players would run through a wall for Dan Campbell.
On my radar… The unpredictable NFL!
We have now passed Week 10 so we turn our attention to that race to Super Bowl 58, and everything is so wide open.
The Chiefs don’t look perfect, the Ravens got knocked off by the Browns, the Jags lost, the Dolphins lost last time out, the Steelers are 6-3, the Texans are relevant, the Bengals are dangerous.
Then in the NFC you have three very good division leaders in the Eagles, Lions and 49ers, and the Vikings are coming hot at the right time, with Dallas in the mix as well. This is going to be a crazy run-in. Strap yourselves in, it’s going to be a wild ride.