By: Derek Havens
With the Patriots on their bye week, I turned my focus to the rest of the league in week 10.
Sunday was an interesting day for the NFL. The Indianapolis Colts lost at home 38-8 at the hands of the St. Louis Rams. The Jacksonville Jaguars got their first win of the year. The Carolina Panthers won their fifth-straight contest against the San Francisco 49ers. All-and-all, some ugly football and weird outcomes.
Here are 10 thoughts around the NFL, in this week’s Monday Hangover. —
1.) Patriots safety Devin McCourty was in attendance to watch his brother, Jason, and the Titans play against the Jaguars. Jacksonville came to play and in an upset, got their first victory of the season. Nevertheless, it must have been a pretty cool moment for Devin to watch his brother play live and in the stands as a spectator. Both brothers have had very solid seasons for their respective teams.
2.) There are no elite NFL teams this season. There are a few good teams — Denver, New England, Seattle, Kansas City, New Orleans — to name a few, but there are significant flaws in each squad. It will be interesting to see which teams get hot and stay healthy down the stretch.
3.) From a Patriots viewpoint, the team caught a break with the Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts losing Sunday. The Bengals, who beat the Pats in week four, lost in overtime to the Baltimore Ravens. The Colts were throttled by the St. Louis Rams in one of the more shocking turnouts in recent memory. The loss by the Colts is especially noteworthy as they could be vying for a top playoff seed in the AFC playoff picture down the line.
Just when you think you know the NFL, the league throws a curveball. Parity around the league hasn’t been so prevalent in a long time.
4.) Speaking of the Rams, it took nine weeks, but Tavon Austin finally had a breakout performance. The speedy rookie receiver racked up 310 total yards Sunday, averaging an astounding 52 yards-per-touch. The eighth overall selection also had three touchdowns.
On the other side of the ball, defensive end Robert Quinn has been unleashed. Those who have followed me for awhile know I thought the Patriots should target him coming out of North Carolina in 2011. He has 12 sacks and five forced fumbles so far this season. Along with Chris Long, St. Louis has an incredible pass rush. Fun duo to watch.
5.) It’s week 10, and the Giants are starting to get it together. Wait, stop me if you’ve heard this before. New York lost their first six games, but have rallied and won three in a row. Next week they face the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers and hope to keep their playoff hopes alive. After beating the Oakland Raiders Sunday, Oakland has now lost 12 straight games in the eastern time zone.
6.) Earlier in the week, myself and the Patriots Fourth And Two crew discussed our midseason grades for the Patriots. The offense received a grade of C +, defense B, special teams A – and coaching B +. Check out my reasoning on the grades here and be sure to download the podcast on iTunes each week.
7.) The New Orleans Saints dominated the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night. The Cowboys allowed the most yards (626) in franchise history. The SuperDome was rocking in the primetime contest. Drew Brees went 32-41 for 392 yards and four touchdowns. The Saints looked like a totally different team than the one who lost to the New York Jets 26-20 in week nine. Amazingly, the Cowboys still sit atop the NFC East with a 5-5 record.
8.) Will Peyton Manning break Tom Brady‘s record for most touchdown passes in a single season? Patriots fans are holding their breath. Manning tied Brady’s record of 33 TD passes in just nine games Sunday. With seven weeks to go, it’s going to come down to the wire.
9.) As the Patriots come back to the facility this week, it will be interesting to hear how the players and coaches spent their down-time. Some go to their hometown, or go on a lavish vacation, relax at home, but in the end it’s about resting physically and mentally. Health is the biggest key for New England right now and the bye week could not have come at a better time for a team that’s struggling with injuries on both sides of the ball.
10.) Looking ahead to week 11, the Panthers will be a very tough test for the Patriots. The way this season has gone, Cam Newton is the second best quarterback the Pats will have faced besides Drew Brees. Carolina’s front seven can get after the quarterback and the unit as a whole is playing like a top five defense. It won’t be an easy game.
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