NFL KICKS OFF SECOND HALF;
MVPs IN PRIMETIME HIGHLIGHT WEEK 10 DOCKET
It’s Week 10 in the NFL and there’s standing room only in the top half of the standings.
That’s because several teams have rebounded recently and are making strong cases to return to the playoffs.
- The ATLANTA FALCONS (4-4) started 1-3. Now, they’re jockeying for position in the NFC South.
- Out west, the DENVER BRONCOS (5-4) were 3-4 on Oct. 21. Today, they’re riding a two-game winning streak, including an impressive road victory last week at Dallas, and can move closer to a perch atop the AFC West with a win on Sunday.
- Also in that crowded division, the LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (5-3) have won four of their last six and maintain their division lead, bidding for their first playoff berth since 2018.
- And the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (5-4), who were 2-4 four weeks ago, have won three straight and enter Week 10 just a half game out of first in the AFC East.
It’s also because four teams last week – DENVER, JACKSONVILLE, KANSAS CITY and the NEW YORK GIANTS – earned wins over first-place opponents. The last time in Week 9 or later that four teams with .500-or-below records each defeated division leaders on the same day was Dec. 18, 2011.
In the AFC, 11 teams have a winning record, tied with the AFC in 2014 for the most in a conference entering Week 10 since the league merger in 1970. Five NFL divisions are led by a team that did not win its division last season. Three divisions have a team in first place or tied for first that missed the playoffs in 2020.
Game 136 is history. Games 137-272 lay ahead. Which teams will separate themselves from the crowd?
TWO-MINUTE DRILL: Years from now, when observers recall the 2021 season, they’re likely to remember it as the season of late-game drama. Through nine weeks, 35 games have featured a game-winning score in the final two minutes of regulation or in overtime, the most such games through Week 9 all-time.
Two teams familiar with late-game dramatics, the ATLANTA FALCONS (4-4) and DALLAS COWBOYS (6-2), will clash at AT&T Stadium on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX). Last week at New Orleans, Falcons quarterback MATT RYAN orchestrated a five-play, 64-yard drive to set up a game-winning field goal by YOUNGHOE KOO with no time remaining. Atlanta is 3-1 this season in games decided by a game-winning score in the final two minutes or in overtime. The Cowboys are also 3-1 in those games, with all three wins on the road.
The teams with the most games decided by a game-winning score in the final two minutes or in overtime this season:
Last week, Ryan passed for 343 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions for a 135.8 rating in the Falcons’ win. He now has 73 career games with at least 300 passing yards, tied with PHILIP RIVERS (73) for the fourth-most such games all-time. Only DREW BREES (123), TOM BRADY (103) and Pro Football Hall of Famer PEYTON MANNING (93) have more.
When the Falcons have the ball, two first-round selections in the 2021 NFL Draft will be on the field. Atlanta’s KYLE PITTS, selected No. 4 overall, has 36 catches for 546 yards. He’s the first rookie tight end with at least 35 receptions and 500 receiving yards over his first eight games in NFL history. Dallas linebacker MICAH PARSONS, the No. 12 selection, leads NFL rookies with 10 tackles for loss and ranks second in both tackles (52) and sacks (five).
MVPs in PRIMETIME: Week 10 features two of the three most recent Most Valuable Players in primetime, as LAMAR JACKSON (2019 MVP) and the BALTIMORE RAVENS (6-2) head to Hard Rock Stadium to face the MIAMI DOLPHINS (2-7) on Thursday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, FOX/NFLN/Amazon). Then, on Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, NBC), PATRICK MAHOMES (2018 MVP) and the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (5-4) visit the LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (5-3).
- Last week, Jackson guided Baltimore to three second-half touchdowns to overcome a 14-point deficit and defeat Minnesota, 34-31, in overtime. Jackson recorded his 10th career game with at least 100 rushing yards, tied with MICHAEL VICK (10) for the most such games by a quarterback all-time, and became the first quarterback in league annals with multiple career games with at least three touchdown passes and 100 rushing yards.
- With exactly 600 rushing yards entering Week 10, he is the first quarterback in NFL history with at least 600 in each of his first four seasons, and joins CAM NEWTON (four seasons) and Vick (four) as the only quarterbacks all-time with four career seasons of at least 600 rushing yards.
- In 11 career starts in primetime, Jackson has an 8-3 record with 3,172 combined passing and rushing yards (288.4 per game) and 31 touchdowns (24 passing, seven rushing) against four interceptions for a 115.5 rating. He has totaled at least three touchdowns in four of his past five primetime games. In his only career start on a Thursday, Jackson recorded five touchdown passes and a 134.4 rating (Week 15 of the 2019 season).
Mahomes enters Week 10 ranking fourth in passing yards (2,534) and tied for third in touchdown passes (20) this season. Since the beginning of his 2018 MVP campaign, he leads the NFL in passing yards (16,402) and touchdown passes (134) and ranks third in passer rating (106.3) among qualified passers.
- In 18 career primetime starts, Mahomes has 5,226 passing yards (290.3 per game) and 46 total touchdowns (43 passing, three rushing). He has at least two touchdown passes in seven of his nine career starts on Sunday night and has thrown for at least 300 yards in three of his past four starts on Sunday Night Football.
SEAHAWKS, PACKERS RENEW 21ST-CENTURY RIVALRY: Since the beginning of the 2003 season, the SEATTLE SEAHAWKS and GREEN BAY PACKERS have set standards for winning in the NFC. Over that time, Green Bay ranks No. 1 in the conference with 184 regular-season wins while Seattle is second with 175. In the postseason over that span, Seattle’s 14 wins are first in the conference and Green Bay’s 13 are second. Each franchise has won a Super Bowl in that window, the Packers in 2010 and the Seahawks in 2013.
- Shifting to 2021, Seattle (3-5) travels to Green Bay (7-2) for another clash on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, FOX). The Packers are looking to stay among the best in the NFC while the Seahawks are trying to jump back into the playoff conversation.
- Since 2012, Seattle’s first season with RUSSELL WILSON as the starting quarterback, Seattle is 3-3 in the regular season and 1-1 in the playoffs against Green Bay. Both Wilson and AARON RODGERS rank in the top five in passing touchdowns and passer rating over that period. Furthermore, among starting quarterbacks, only TOM BRADY (112) has won more games in that span than Wilson (100) and Rodgers (92).