GOOD, BAD AND UGLY

NFL Week 10 observations: Bridgewater's return highlights exciting slate of games

Teddy Bridgewater did not play, but he returned to the field. Minnesota Vikings courtesy photo

Week 10 of the NFL season saw some interesting season trends continue, and some come to an end. There were some blowouts, crazy finishes, and unexpected outcomes. Water is beginning to find its level as the true contenders are emerging.

The Good

-Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was back in uniform and active. Bridgewater suffered a torn ACL and knee dislocation on August 30, 2016. He missed all of last season and half of this season recovering. He may not have his starting job back, but at least he’s still able to play and try to live up to his potential.

-Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey is looking like he’s going to live up to the hype, barring injury. While his 8 touches only yielded 50 yards, he scored twice. With him on the field, he’s already become an X Factor for the Panthers and must be accounted for. As a rookie, he’s currently in top five of receptions. He’s looking like what Reggie Bush started off like. Here’s to hoping he can keep it up because he’s a joy to watch.

-There are 11 teams now with at least six wins. The league’s best record lies with the Philadelphia Eagles at 8-1. While some of the teams that were preseason favorites are still in contention, the league has the type of parity it has longed for. Slightly pass the midway point, there are still debates made as to who is the best team in the league.

The Bad

-New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo is a dead man walking. After losing to the winless San Francisco 49ers, most thought he was going to be fired. Instead, he got the dreaded “vote of confidence” from team owners. This is usually a pink-slip precursor. At 1-8, the Giants are a complete joke.

-In a battle of journeyman quarterbacks, Ryan Fitzpatrick “led” the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over Josh McCown and the New York Jets 15-10. The score was 9-3 deep into the 4th quarter before each team traded touchdowns beginning with about six minutes left in the game. The quarterbacks combined to go 40/73 for 400 yards and an interception each.

-The Pittsburgh Steelers only managed 316 yards and 20 points against the Indianapolis Colts. Why is this significant? The Colts normally give up nearly 400 yards and 28 points a game. To add to it, the Steelers needed a game winning field goal with 35 seconds left to pull out the win. From a team with arguably the best running back, best wide receiver, and a top tier quarterback, this performance was abysmal.

The Ugly

-Chicago Bears running back Benny Cunningham appeared to score a game tying touchdown in the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers, but was called out and the Bears had a first and goal. Head coach John Fox decided to challenge the play. The ref ruled that Cunningham did in fact stay in bounds, but lost control of the ball diving for the pylon and ruled it a touchback.   

-The Jacksonville Jaguars and San Diego Chargers both tried to give each other the game. A series of interceptions, taunting penalties, a roughing the passer penalty, and general boneheadedness, the game was eventually won by the Jags on a tipped field goal attempt that found its way through the uprights by Josh Lambo, who was cut by the Chargers.

-Seattle Seahawks all-pro cornerback Richard Sherman tore his Achilles Thursday night and will miss the rest of the season. Sherman, amongst others, are already an outspoken opponent to Thursday night games due to the high risk of injury;this will only add fuel to the fire. However, with the amount of money, and length, in the television contracts for it, it’s not going anywhere any time soon.

-With starting left tackle Tyron Smith out, the Dallas Cowboys gave up eight sacks to the Atlanta Falcons, including 6 to Adrian Clayborn. The vaunted Cowboys offensive line looked more like a directional FCS school offensive line going against the Falcons. They are single-handedly responsible for triggering a bonus clause for Clayborn.

-There were some truly great performances in week 10. But the one that has caught the attention of many was by Marquise Goodwin of the 49ers. He played and scored on an 83 yard touchdown hours after he and his wife lost their baby boy after a premature birth around 4 a.m.  that same morning. He immediately dropped to his knees after scoring. His teammates surrounded him on the field in a show of love and support. The show of raw human emotion and his ability to play after such a tragedy was unbelievable. His teammates rallying around him, along with him and his wife’s willingness to be so open and vulnerable was humbling. My allergies tend to act up at times like this because I had to watch my mom bury my brother. It’s not an easy thing to go through. Those moments of humanity, support for a fellow teammate, and genuine love in the moment of competition are some of the many reasons why I love sports.

Drew Brees and the Saints escaped with an ugly win. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Saints have effectively wrapped up the NFC South with their 25-14 win over the Tampa Bay Bucs. Here's how I saw things:

The Good

-Michael Thomas got himself going this week after a subpar performance against the Cowboys last week. He finished with 11 catches for 98 yards. More of note was his record of most catches in first three seasons. He surpassed Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry on his second catch, his 289th of his career. I hope people take notice and realize how great of a player he is.

-Taysom Hill once again proved his worth as just a football player. He blocked a punt the Saints recovered at the Tampa 30 yard line. It helped set up their first touchdown. Hill is listed as the third string quarterback, but plays running back, wide receiver, and special teams. He also drew a double team penalty on a kickoff.

-Drew Brees is known for his pinpoint accuracy throwing the ball. However, his athleticism is underrated. He notched his fourth rushing touchdown on a 4th and goal play in which he leapt over the line and extended the ball across the plane. The Saints took the lead early in the fourth quarter on that play.

The Bad

-Right before the half, Brees threw an interception that set up Tampa's second touchdown. When this team is rolling, they are the ones scoring before the half when they're getting the ball back after the half.

-They totaled just three rushing yards in the first half on nine attempts. The longest run was from fullback Zach Line at four yards. Another component of this team's success is predicated on the run game.

-Alvin Kamara was held in check. He was limited to 87 yards on 17 touches. His 76 yards on three kick returns were a help, but this team needs him to get going running and catching passes in order to operate at full capacity.

The Ugly

-This was the second game in a row that the Saints failed to score a touchdown in the first half. It could be a sign of teams catching up to them, or it could be a sign of a team that's feeling complacent. Either way, they need to get their offense going again to start games. 24 plays and 104 yards of offense that produced only three points in the first half.

-On their opening possession of the second half, Brees was stripped in the pocket and the Bucs recovered. The pressure came from the left. Missing starting left tackle Terron Armstead is becoming more and more of a glaring issue.

-Brees was limited to less than 270 yards passing, while they also totaled less than 130 yards rushing. Being held below their season averages on offense and still winning is the definition of winning ugly.

The Saints are now 11-2 and firmly in second place in the NFC. Now, they sit back and hope the Rams drop another game down the stretch. They own the tiebreaker over the Rams and need to finish with the same record to get homefield throughout the NFC playoffs. Saints fans will be Bears fans tonight, as well as Eagles, Cardinals, and 49er fans the rest of the season. This is what happens when you drop games you should've won.

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