Week 10 NFL Capsules
Indianapolis Colts (4-5) vs. New England Patriots (2-7) in Germany: The Patriots have won seven of the past eight meetings, but this is a far cry from the Manning vs. Brady glory days of a rivalry that includes five games in the postseason. This season, the Patriots have losses in five of their past six games and scored 17 or fewer points in each defeat. The Colts are scoring consistently (25.8 points per game) with at least 20 points in all nine games in 2023. New England’s meager offense averages 15 points per game. RB Zack Moss ranks second in the NFL with 615 rushing yards this season and the Colts are co-featuring Jonathan Taylor, who understands the importance of the pre-bye week game for both sides. “We know this stretch, this back-half stretch, is where teams have to bolster up,” Taylor said. “You’re either gonna go up or you’re gonna go down, so (the game will) do a lot in order to make sure that we can continue to trend upwards.”
Cleveland Browns (5-3) and Baltimore Ravens (7-2): Chatter focused on the puffy-chested defenses driving the AFC North rivals’ division title chase this week. Cleveland has the No. 1 overall defense in the NFL. Baltimore, No. 1 in scoring defense at 13.8 points allowed per game, has trailed only 28 minutes of game clock time in nine games. The Ravens lost two of the past three meetings, but Baltimore drilled the Browns (28-3) on Oct. 1. However, that came against Dorian Thompson-Robinson with QB1 Deshaun Watson hurt. Watson returned last week to steer the Browns’ win over the Cardinals. The Ravens keep the ball on the ground, including QB Lamar Jackson, who is 60 rushing yards away from becoming the first QB in league history to top 500 yards in each of his first six seasons. Baltimore leads the NFL in rushing (160.3-yard average), but Cleveland allows only 89.8 rushing yards per game. Injuries up front could impact the game plan for the Browns.
Houston Texans (4-4) at Cincinnati Bengals (5-3): Houston began the week with 23 players listed on the injury report, perhaps the peripheral damage from a shootout win (39-37) over the Buccaneers last week. Cincinnati is 1-3 in the last four matchups with the Texans and has a few injury worries of its own, including WRs Ja’Marr Chase (back) and Tee Higgins (hamstring). Texans rookie QB C.J. Stroud makes his return to Ohio, where he starred for the Buckeyes, and has already assembled an impressive resume including his five-TD, 470-yard game last week. Stroud is making plays, but head coach DeMeco Ryans’ believes his greatest trait to date is avoiding mistakes. Stroud has just one interception and seven starts without a turnover. Bengals QB Joe Burrow turned it up a notch of late and is looking for a fifth straight win after beating the visiting Buffalo Bills 24-18 last week. Cincinnati is 13-2 in its past 15 home games.
San Francisco 49ers (5-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars (6-2): As if the 49ers’ defensive front wasn’t frightening enough, San Francisco acquired DE Chase Young to pair with former Ohio State Buckeyes sidekick Nick Bosa at the trade deadline. Jumpstarting the offense was a focus during the bye week. The 49ers started the season 5-0 by scoring 30-plus points in every game. They’ve put up 17 in each of their three consecutive losses while dealing with injuries to LT Trent Williams and WR Deebo Samuel. QB Brock Purdy is the highest-rated passer in the NFC (105.4) and had a career-high 365 yards passing in Week 8. The Jaguars have the NFL’s longest active winning streak at five games. Pushing it to six would give Jacksonville its longest win streak since 1999. Each offense relies heavily on versatile running backs. Christian McCaffrey leads all RBs this season with 944 yards from scrimmage and has a touchdown in 17 consecutive games. Jaguars RB Travis Etienne is second with 849 yards and has eight total touchdowns this season.
New Orleans Saints (5-4) at Minnesota Vikings (5-4): The Vikings introduce a new quarterback to the home fans following an improbable comeback to victory last week. Joshua Dobbs makes his first start for the Vikings against the Saints in a game that could have wild-card ramifications two months from now. Dobbs was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week after passing for 158 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 66 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown, to lead a 31-28 victory at Atlanta. “If you don’t show up and play well this week,” Dobbs said, “no one cares about last week.” The Vikings’ about-face comes after they started the season 1-4 and lost starting quarterback Kirk Cousins for the season because of an Achilles injury suffered two weeks ago. After losing four of five to drop to 3-4, consecutive victories — over Indianapolis on the road and against the Bears at home — changed the energy in New Orleans. The Saints lead the NFC South over the Falcons (4-5) and Buccaneers (3-5). QB Derek Carr has the ultimate blitz-buster weapon in RB Alvin Kamara while facing a Minnesota defense that leads the NFL in sending five or more defenders at the quarterback.
Green Bay Packers (3-5) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3): Outgained in total yards by every opponent this season, the Steelers insist style points don’t matter in the standings. They’ve won three of four games to remain in the thick of the AFC North. Head coach Mike Tomlin brushed off “frustration” voiced by WR George Pickens as Diontae Johnson led the team with seven receptions for 90 yards last week. Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt has 7.5 sacks in five home games this season and Pittsburgh is plus-8 in turnover margin. The Packers’ run defense rates as particularly impressive of late, holding opponents to only 2.3 yards per carry (57 rushes for 130 yards) in their last two games. Green Bay won for the first time since Oct. 1 last week as RB Aaron Jones turned in his most productive game of 2023, gaining 99 yards from scrimmage. QB Jordan Love has multiple touchdown passes in three of four road starts to date.
Tennessee Titans (3-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5): Tennessee turned the offense over to rookie QB Will Levis after he threw four touchdown passes in his first start, a Week 8 win over Atlanta, and played well in a 20-16 loss at Pittsburgh in Week 9. He went 22 of 39 for 262 yards with an endgame interception after driving the team from its 15 to the Steelers’ 19 last week. His ability to push the ball down the field and play with poise behind a shaky offensive line stood out to the coaching staff. He’s brought new life to WR DeAndre Hopkins, who caught three of his Week 8 TD passes, and RB Derrick Henry, who cleared 100 yards from scrimmage at Pittsburgh. The Buccaneers exchanged haymakers with Houston before a 75-yard drive and game-ending TD pass sank their ship last week. Tampa Bay has lost four in a row but has four games left with division opponents after a trip to San Francisco next week.
Atlanta Falcons (4-5) at Arizona Cardinals (1-8): Kyler Murray is back at QB for the Cardinals, his first game since sustaining a torn ACL Dec. 12, 2022. He’s playing in a game for the first time under head coach Jonathan Gannon but said even after a roster remodel that sent WR DeAndre Hopkins out of town, he thinks Arizona is ready to contend. The Falcons fell out of first place in the NFC South last week. Atlanta kept QB Taylor Heinicke in the starting role this week before reassessing the position during the Week 11 bye. Heinicke threw one interception last week but has five touchdowns and a QB rating of 104 in his past three road games. In 11 games last season, Murray passed for 2,368 yards and 14 touchdowns, while he was intercepted seven times. He also ran for 418 yards and three scores.
Detroit Lions (6-2) at Los Angeles Chargers (4-4): The home team has won the past four meetings in this matchup last played in 2019. The Chargers flashed the level of defense many expected the past two seasons in an alley fight with the Jets on Monday to battle back to .500 from 0-2 and 2-4 starts to the 2023 season. Much of the progress is tied to the team’s belief that DE Joey Bosa rallied to his pre-injury form. He posted his 12th career game with 2.0 or more sacks last week, sparing the offense of the Chargers on an off night. Detroit is doubling down on a commitment to run the ball with David Montgomery returning from a month away to heal a rib injury. Rookie Jahmyr Gibbs had a combined 189 rushing and receiving yards in the Lions’ latest game, a 26-14 win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Oct. 30, prior to the bye week. Chargers WR Keenan Allen went over 10,000 career receiving yards last week and caught 23 passes in two previous games vs. Detroit.
New York Giants (2-7) at Dallas Cowboys (5-3): Rookie QB Tommy DeVito operated the first-team offense this week as the Giants turn to a third different starter in as many games. He’s tasked with taking down a Dallas defense that destroyed the Giants in Week 1, a 40-0 Cowboys victory sparked by three takeaways, 10 tackles for loss, eight pass breakups and 12 QB hits. CB Da’Ron Bland landed the fatal blow with a pick-six and has three scores this season. Cowboys QB Dak Prescott quieted early concerns from WR CeeDee Lamb about his involvement. Lamb is on pace to set the franchise record for receiving yards after back-to-back games with 10-plus catches and 150-plus yards. Offensive line health remains a constant concern for the Giants, who are likely to ask a lot of RB Saquon Barkley, one of five backs in the NFL averaging more than 100 yards from scrimmage in 2023.
Washington Commanders (4-5) at Seattle Seahawks (5-3): Commanders QB Sam Howell leads the NFC with 2,471 passing yards even as he is being sacked nearly five times per game (44 total). Seattle has 27 sacks, but the last outing wasn’t a stellar one for the Seahawks in a 37-3 loss at Baltimore. The Seahawks, who had won five of their previous six games, gave up 515 yards of total offense, including 298 rushing. While Geno Smith has 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in his past 13 home games, there are questions landing before head coach Pete Carroll about where the team should turn at quarterback. Seattle managed just six first downs, had 28 yards on the ground and Smith completed just 13 of 28 passes for 157 yards and was sacked four times. “I don’t think this is about Geno at all. Our football team did not answer the bell here. We couldn’t get it done. We came in here to slug it out and they did a better job than we did.”
New York Jets (4-4) at Las Vegas Raiders (4-5): The debut of Raiders interim head coach Antonio Pierce couldn’t have gone much better, beating the New York Giants 30-6. The Monday night showing by the Jets couldn’t have been much worse, losing 27-6 to the Chargers. Among the shifts for Las Vegas were rookie QB Aidan O’Connell starting and play-calling skewing toward the running game. Josh Jacobs rolled up a season-high 98 yards and two touchdowns. The Jets are 31st in total yards (272.9) and 30th in points per game (16.5) while operating an offense overly dependent on RB Breece Hall breaking a big play. But Hall has 40 carries for 106 yards in his past three games. That places QB Zach Wilson squarely in the crosshairs of the Raiders. Wilson was sacked eight times by the Chargers and encounters a defense that recorded eight sacks vs. the Giants — including a season-high three by Maxx Crosby.
Denver Broncos (3-5) at Buffalo Bills (5-4): Denver enjoyed a bye week that was preceded by consecutive wins. The Bills started the week with a player’s only meeting, primarily focused on the offense regaining its mojo after a primetime loss at Cincinnati last Sunday. And finding a solution to their turnover conundrum. Quarterback Josh Allen is tied for second in the NFL with 18 TD passes but has been intercepted nine times. Buffalo has a turnover margin of zero after setting improvement in this area as a 2023 goal. Buffalo hopes to find the win column before the schedule becomes thorny. The Bills face the New York Jets (Nov. 19) and Philadelphia Eagles (Nov. 26) before a bye week, but the Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Chargers await for the holidays. The Broncos kept the Chiefs out of the end zone prior to the bye week and are getting mistake-free play from their quarterback. Russell Wilson is fifth in the NFL with 16 TD passes and has four interceptions.
–Field Level Media