Another unbelievably insane week has passed. Week 10 has officially concluded, and TRO is here to break down key takeaways and award its weekly superlatives:
via Rob Schumacher / Arizona Republic
Another Week gone, another wild slate of games. TRO is launching its rapid reactions following the conclusion of the games from the Week prior. With Week 10 in the books, it's time to fire off TRO's immediate reactions following all of the action. We're here, again, to elaborate on the biggest headlines that stuck with us and to hand out weekly superlatives. Look for TRO to award the Game of the Week to the most exciting matchup, and the Surprise Performance of the Week to the most deserving team that exceeded our expectations, in addition to individual player superlatives. Players whose team won their game will be eligible to be selected in the following categories: Passer of the Week, Pass Catcher of the Week, Tailback of the Week, Defensive Lineman of the Week, Linebacker of the Week, Defensive Back of the Week, and Special Teamer of the Week.
1) RAPID FIRE - WEEK TEN HEADLINES:
via Daniel Mears / Detroit News
Trouble in Tampa?
After losing to the Saints two weeks ago, the Buccaneers failed to bounce back against the 2 win Washington Football team despite having a Bye Week to prepare. Tampa is still one of the best teams in the NFL, but they have some glaring issues that will be their demise if they fail to improve in these areas.
For starters, they are so thin at the cornerback position, that they are having a terrible time defending the outside of the field, routinely giving up big plays to good receivers. On the other side of the ball, they have been hampered by the absence of Antonio Brown. He is clearly the best receiver on the team, and his presence is part of what makes this offense nearly unstoppable when it is firing on all cylinders. Since his extended absence, they've scored significantly less points, and have had a harder time extending drives.
This week's loss to the Football Team has left the Bucs with a record of 6-3, leaving the back door open for the New Orleans Saints (6-4 with a win over Tampa under their belt and another matchup pending), the Carolina Panthers (5-5 following a huge win over the Cardinals, the return of Cam Newton, and Carolina is already 2-0 in division play with both matchups with Tampa yet to come), and Atlanta, who is not even out of the picture yet, (despite their recent performances indicating otherwise) as they are 4-5. Tampa will likely be fine when it is all said and done, but they have allowed the Saints and Panthers to control their own destiny for the NFC South crown.
He's baaaaaaack, He's baaaaaaaack. Cam Newton has returned home. He rejoined Carolina Thursday afternoon, and took the field in a select number of plays the Sunday immediately after, as the Panthers went on the road to take on the 8-1 Cardinals. While the Panthers seemed to be downward spiraling into a pit of fire with Sam Darnold at quarterback, Cam's mere presence on the sidelines in Arizona lifted the team up into the clouds, and helped this team absolutely manhandle the opposition. Cam scored the team's first 2 touchdowns on his first 2 touches of the football, and the Panthers throttled their way to a huge victory after that.
Going forward, Cam is going to be the starter (duh), and he won't have to score every time he touches the football for Carolina to stay productive. The Panthers have a top notch defense, Christian McCaffrey is healthy, and Cam's energy alone has this locker room, the coaching staff, the ownership, and the city of Charlotte injected with hope and swagger. The Panthers finally feel like the Panthers again. They're sitting at .500, undefeated in the NFC South, and currently hold the last Wild Card spot in the NFC. They are in full control of their own destiny, and have proved that they are a darn good team with remotely competent quarterback play. Look for Cam to be the steady hand that makes this team a problem for the rest of the League, making for a tremendous homecoming story unlike one we've ever seen before.
Lions Won't go 0-17, but They Still Have Yet to Win a Game
Every great season has one tie sprinkled in there, and we got treated to one Sunday. In all seriousness, this game was far from great. The Steelers were without Big Ben this Sunday. The Mason Rudolph-led Pittsburgh offense went down the field on its opening drive with ease, as it appeared that the Steelers would still cruise past the Lions. That feeling quickly evaporated as the Lions and the weather helped ugly up the game enough to keep Detroit's hopes of obtaining their first win alive. Unfortunately, for both teams, the game quickly spiraled into a contest where it seemed like both teams were fighting to lose. As a result, it ended in the dreaded tie, which seems to be a fair punishment as neither team deserved to win.
Tying in the NFL is so brutal. It leaves both teams wondering all week what on Earth they are feeling. Many players have described ties as surreal, comparing the week after to the Twilight Zone. Rightfully so, as all of that time and energy ends in a result that leaves no closure. It's hard to calculate its impact on your season, hard to figure out what to build on/what to leave behind. Both teams should trash the film from this game and just go into next week with a fresh approach. You hope for the Lions' sake that they get another opportunity to steal a win, as 0-16-1 seems a bit more ridiculous than 0-17.
Russell Wilson returned to the field following his intense finger surgery in Week 5. It was reported that he was rehabbing 16 hours a day just to be back in time for this game, in a huge matchup against the Packers to try to save the Seahawks' season. Props to Wilson for the grit he showed, but he was terrible in this Week 10 showdown. Finger injuries are tough for quarterbacks to come back from, and it showed in Russ's ball placement Sunday. He was just off. The cold weather in Lambeau likely did not help with his finger mobility either. As a result, the Seahawks were shut out for the first time in Wilson's career, and they fell to an abysmal 3-6 record. Many people speculate that Russell might be done in Seattle after this year, and if this poor performance by Russell and the Seahawks continues to snowball, this would be an awful way for his storied time there to end.
Well, There it is.
Just like that, the Kansas City Chiefs are 6-4, in first place in the AFC West, and Patrick Mahomes and this offense are coming off of a 41-14 routing of their division rival in the Las Vegas Raiders. Just when everyone had written them off, questioned what was "wrong" with Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs looked exactly like the Super Bowl caliber team we've been used to seeing.
This might be the beginning of the turn around for the Chiefs, and here they come. Everyone was wondering when it would be, what game would it all come back together, and we all got our answer on Sunday night. With everyone in the AFC struggling to pull away the from the pack, this is the perfect opportunity for them to regain their throne.
2) GAME OF THE WEEK: Carolina Panthers @ Arizona Cardinals
via Khadejeh Nikouyeh / Charlotte Observer
For the first time of the Season, the Game of the Week was not the closest, most competitive game. In fact, this was one of the larger blow-outs of Week 10. However, the Cam Newton return story, and the electrifying energy the Panthers played with was the story of the week. This game was incredibly entertaining from start to finish. Carolina looked dead in the water a week ago, and their games were increasingly becoming more boring than the last. Everyone on that sideline played at a high level, they were smiling, dancing, hugging, and just flat out captivating this past Sunday afternoon. They kept the energy from the second that they took the field in warm-ups all the way through the post game press conferences, which were must-watch TV in their own right.
3) SURPRISE PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: Miami Dolphins
via NFL on Twitter
Just when the Dolphins were struggling to stay out of the bottom of the pits of the NFL's rankings, Miami stuck it to the Ravens in primetime fashion. Brian Flores reminded everyone why he held in such a high regard, as he did his best Bill Belichick impersonation. He put together a masterful game plan, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Miami's defensive schemes frustrated Lamar Jackson and this Ravens offense. They could not get anything going, as Miami impressed their home fans, pulling out a commanding 22-10 victory despite shaky quarterback play of their own. Let's not forget about the greatest illegal touchdown in the history of the League. Shoutout to Robert Hunt for unnecessarily calling his own number, reminding us that even the big fellas are athletes.
4) PLAYER SUPERLATIVES:
PASSER OF THE WEEK: Patrick Mahomes - Kansas City Chiefs
via Yahoo Finance
Patrick Mahomes is back on this list for the second time, and we're willing to bet the farm that this won't be his last time. He torched the Raiders to help his team get back on track, completing 35 of his 50 pass attempts for 406 yards and 5 touchdowns.
PASS CATCHER OF THE WEEK: Stefon Diggs - Buffalo Bills
via Bill Kostroun / AP
Stefon Diggs makes this list for the first time, following all of the times his brother has earned Defensive Back of the Week. Stefon tormented the Jets' secondary, nabbing 8 receptions for 162 yards and 1 touchdown.
TAILBACK OF THE WEEK: Rhamondre Stevenson - New England Patriots
via Jim Davis / The Boston Globe / Getty Images
Filling in for the injured Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson has appeared to get better and better each week. His performance in Week 10 was the feather in the cap as the Patriots blew out the Cleveland Browns. Stevenson carried the ball 20 times for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns, having a career day in his first NFL Season.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN OF THE WEEK: Jefferey Simmons - Tennessee Titans
via TitansWire / USA Today
Jefferey Simmons has been quietly playing tremendous football. Against the Saints, he made tons of noise, rattling their offensive line for 4 tackles, 2 sacks, and 2 tackles for loss. He's been putting together complete games, living in opposing teams backfields, and this type of performance was crucial to Tennessee's close win against New Orleans as the Titans extended their streak to 6.
LINEBACKER OF THE WEEK: Eric Kendricks - Minnesota Vikings
via Jayne Kamin Oncea / USA Today Sports
Eric Kendricks is back on this list for the second time (Week 5). The best coverage linebacker in football pushed the Vikings over the edge in Week 10, as they finally pulled out a close victory. Kendricks had 8 tackles, 1, sack, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 clutch interception as Minnesota topped the Chargers.
DEFENSIVE BACK OF THE WEEK: Xavien Howard - Miami Dolphins
via Michael Reaves / AFP
Xavien Howard asserted his dominance helping the Dolphins upset the Ravens. The star cornerback picked up 5 tackles, and he also forced and recovered a fumble that he scooped up and returned roughly 50 yards for a clutch touchdown, thwarting any comeback effort by Baltimore.
SPECIAL TEAMER OF THE WEEK: Zane Gonzalez - Carolina Panthers
via Chanelle Smith-Walker / Carolina Panthers
The Panthers started the season in what looked like kicker purgatory. They've struck gold in signing Zane Gonzalez. He's back for the second time in three weeks (Week 8), as he hit all 4 of his field goals, including 1 long from 49 yards. He also struck home both of his extra points. Gonzalez showed out against his former team, preventing Arizona from gaining any momentum on several occasions throughout the game.