NFL Week 10: Any Given Sunday

Travis Basciotta

Week 10 in the NFL season was a day of firsts across the league; the previously undefeated Atlanta Falcons suffered their first loss, the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams played to the first tie in years and fans enthusiastically cheered for a Philadelphia Eagles quarterback.

If I’m being honest, I hope last Sun-day really got the ball rolling and we will get to enjoy more firsts next week. Per-haps Rex Ryan will wear something other than a black sweater vest or Andy Reid will manage the clock well. Alright, fine, that is asking a bit much. Getting back to this past Sunday, here are a few things I learned and a few I still don’t know after week 10.

I learned that the AFC East is legiti-mately bad. The Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets each have mediocre records, but both were completely overmatched by mediocre teams on Sunday. Ryan Tannehill finally looked like a rookie, throwing three interceptions, while Chris Johnson finally came alive for the hapless Titans, rushing for 126 yards and a score in their 37-3 crushing win.

Meanwhile, Gang Green appeared as if they were literally a man down against the Seahawks and the notorious “12th Man” as they were held to only 185 yards of to-tal offense. No matter the question, cur-rent starting quarterback Mark Sanchez is not the answer.

The Buffalo Bills and New England Pa-triots also battled in Foxboro Sunday, with Brady and Co. narrowly edging the Bills 37-31. Watching this game, I couldn’t help but think that the Bills should be better than they are. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is above average, C.J. Spiller is explosive and the defense has playmakers. The problem is those playmak-ers don’t make enough plays, and I wouldn’t be shocked if head coach Chan Gailey winds up looking for work at the end of the season.

I also learned that it is finally time to rebuild in San Diego and Philadelphia. Call Tupac Shakur because these two teams got to start making some changes. The Chargers used to be the darlings of the regular season before their eventual postseason collapse. Now, with their loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Diego sits at 4-5 and will be lucky if they can even make the playoffs. Time has seeming-ly taken its toll on the entire staff, as Norv Turner’s face has degenerated at the same pace as Philip Rivers’ accuracy. Adding in the growing gap between the organization and its fan base, the future couldn’t appear much darker in San Diego.

Things are a bit better in Philadelphia, but only because I believe the rebuild will be much shorter. Vick is clearly a better option football-wise over backup Nick Foles, but he has fallen out of favor with the impatient Philadelphia fan base. Let’s face it; the fans have good reason.

Head coach Andy Reid will likely be gone at the end of the season, and his replacement will have plenty of playmak-ers at his disposal. LeSean McCoy, De-sean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin will help Foles’ development, so I fully expect the Eagles to be competitive next season.

I still don’t know how the NFC North will shake out. Prince, Jesse Ventura and Adrian Peterson? Is this the new Minne-sota hierarchy? It seems like it was only a few months ago when the Vikings’ star running back tore his ACL, but with the way the All-Pro back has performed this season you wouldn’t have a clue. His play has been the main reason the Minnesota Vikings are 6-4 and keeping pace with the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears in the NFC North.

The Bears have the best defense in the league right now, but Aaron Rodgers leads one of the best offenses. I fully expect this race to go down to the wire and the NFC North should have at least two teams qualify for the postseason.

I still cannot tell if the Dallas Cowboys pose a serious threat to the New York Gi-ants in the NFC East. But how ’bout them Cowboys? Dallas earned a crucial 38-23 win over the Eagles Sunday, and Sergeant Brody (AKA head coach Jason Garrett) can stop worrying about suspended New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton for at least another week.

Quarterback Tony Romo threw for an efficient 209 yards and two scores, Dwayne Harris returned a punt for anoth-er score and Brandon Carr finally started earning his $50 million contract with his first interception and touchdown.

Meanwhile, the G-Men were domi-nated on both sides of the ball in a 31- 13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. As bad as the demolition looked, things are still going according to plan in New York. The Giants love to play the underdog card, and are best when they start rolling right before the playoffs. For some inexplicable reason, the Giants are fully into their annual November swoon, right on schedule.

The Cowboys, however, have the talent and schedule to make a strong push for the division title going forward. I think we’ll know in two weeks whether Dallas is a legitimate threat, and whether the Gi-ants have legitimate reason to worry. That said, I wouldn’t bet against the defending Super Bowl champions.

Contact Travis Basciotta at [email protected].