Week 10 of the 2021 NFL season is officially in the books. The Lions didn’t lose (or win). Russell Wilson got shut out. Tom Brady didn’t fare much better. The Patriots steamrolled the Browns. The Chiefs sure look like they might be back to normal … and that was just a fraction of the action from this week.
But what did we learn about each of the 32 teams in the process? We’re so glad you asked. As Week 11 draws near, we take a look below at one thing we took away from each team:
They need Kyler Murray back. Colt McCoy was never gonna be a sustainable figurehead for their offensive attack, and he couldn’t even survive a full game against the Panthers’ defense. Arizona needs a spark for its march toward the playoffs.
They’re not contenders. Just in case anyone bought too much stock in the Matt Ryan-led resurgence. Like everyone else on the team, Ryan was bad Sunday, but this club’s young and barren defense was really exposed in Dallas.
The AFC North is theirs if they want it. They haven’t been dominant themselves, but with the Browns sinking and the Steelers struggling to tie the Lions, they’ve got a very feasible path to a division title, if they can win where they should.
Their defense is still legit. Lost in the Week 9 talk of their stunning loss to the Jags was recognition for their “D,” which showed out with turnover after turnover against New York. When everything is clicking, they’re still maybe the AFC’s team to beat.
It’s Cam Newton’s show now. Say what you will about P.J. Walker getting the win as the official starter, but Cam couldn’t have had a more electric debut in Arizona. Now, Matt Rhule would be foolish not to ride the energy radiating from the new (old) face.
They’re still in the wild card race. To be clear, we don’t really buy the idea they’ll make a run, at least until Justin Fields gets more help, but beyond the division leaders, the NFC is full of fringe contenders right now.
They’re not out of it yet. They’ve really taken a hit their last two times out, but thanks to blunders by the Browns and Steelers, they’ve still got a path back into the division race.
Baker Mayfield’s future in Cleveland is unclear. It might’ve been before, but it’s even more so now. Kevin Stefanski’s offense hasn’t helped, but Mayfield was once again uneven and banged up Sunday. Suddenly, the Browns are in last place.
The offense is just fine. A week after stumbling over themselves against Denver, the Cowboys were back to their explosive selves against the Falcons, absolutely torching Atlanta.
Teddy Bridgewater isn’t it. Already obvious in some circles, but he was neither good enough nor motivated enough against the Eagles, refusing to even attempt a tackle on Darius Slay’s game-changing fumble return.
Jared Goff must go. Detroit was fortunate to escape with a tie against Pittsburgh, because Goff did almost nothing to help them win. He was banged up, yes, but he’s now been mediocre at best for most of the 0-8-1 season.
Their defense is truly rounding into form. It was great to have Aaron Rodgers back, but you know who really beat the Seahawks? Rashan Gary and De’Vondre Campbell and Kevin King and Eric Stokes and all the pieces of their “D.”
They’re probably the worst team in the NFL. The record already indicated that, but the Lions at least took the Steelers to overtime, so they’re a notch ahead, no? Ah, who cares, they’re both in dire need of help.
Their offense runs through Jonathan Taylor. If not for him, they might’ve lost to Jacksonville. Carson Wentz was uneven through the air on an ugly day, but JT’s hot start helped propel Indy to .500.
Their defense is a little better than expected. They’re not elite, but they gave themselves a chance against Indy and now rank 20th overall, ahead of teams like the Ravens, Vikings and Titans.
They’re back. Or so it seems. Patrick Mahomes finally rediscovered his touch to the tune of five touchdown passes against the Raiders, and Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce both stayed busy. Tyrann Mathieu also made a huge impact on “D.”
They’re fizzling out. That makes two straight games of pretty lifeless offense from Derek Carr and Co., who got all of one catch and a costly fumble from newcomer DeSean Jackson. Are we in for another late-season collapse?
Their secondary is a problem. And not in a good way. The defense as a whole, to be frank, deserves admonishing for the way it’s faltered under Brandon Staley. The dink-and-dunk approach with Justin Herbert doesn’t help.
Matthew Stafford is slumping. After beating up on the Seahawks (Russell Wilson injured-finger game), Giants, Lions and Texans over their four-game winning streak, the Rams are slumping hard and are losers in two straight. Stafford’s struggles in the passing game have been the main reason why as he’s thrown four interceptions over that stretch.
They still need QB help. Tua Tagovailoa may have led them to an upset over Baltimore in place of Jacoby Brissett, but neither guy has come close to proving they should be unchallenged moving forward.
Justin Jefferson deserves more love. And he gets plenty already, but man, does he change the Vikings’ offense every time he touches the ball. Kirk Cousins trusted him to make plays in a close win over L.A., and he did just that.
Bill Belichick is finding his groove. They’ve now won five of their last six, and three of their four losses this year have been one-score defeats. Mac Jones is ultra-efficient, and they just might be sneaky contenders!
They’re fighters. Without Jameis Winston and Alvin Kamara, they still resembled a scrappy contender. A big test will be how they handle the quietly improving Eagles in Week 11.
It’s now or never in the NFC East. The Cowboys already have the division all but wrapped up, but with the Eagles now at 4-6 with an easy schedule on tap, the G-Men need to step up now for any shot at saving their season.
Mike White is no legend. After all that hype, some of it generated by White himself, throwing four picks in an ugly loss to Buffalo sealed the deal: Zach Wilson will be back under center when he’s ready.
The Jalen Hurts-Nick Sirianni pairing is making progress. Sirianni has finally made the ground game his focal point, and Hurts looked his best since Week 1 against the Broncos. Do we smell a potential wild card run?
Their next QB is not on the roster. Mason Rudolph was just so-so in a tie (!) with the winless Lions, and apparently Dwayne Haskins wasn’t very enticing as an emergency fill-in. Ben Roethlisberger may not be elite anymore, but he’s their most reliable QB.
Deebo Samuel hasn’t reached his ceiling. Even as the 49ers receiver dominates this year, we saw him used in a bit of a different way in Week 10. Samuel logged a career-high five carries (36 yards and a touchdown) and also had 17 snaps where he shifted or was in motion, which was tied for the second-most of his career. If he starts adding that to his pass-catching skills, there’s another level Samuel can leap to.
It’s do or die time. Russell Wilson was not himself in a bad loss to the Packers. And now, with the NFC West already all but out of reach, they need to kick it into high gear to stay in the wild card mix before inevitable big-picture conversations in the offseason.
The penalties have to go. Bruce Arians said as much after their sloppy loss to Washington: “We’re a very dumb football team.” Fix the pre-snap stuff, get a few guys healthy, and they’ll be fine.
Their defensive front is a true X factor. Getting after Trevor Siemian in a close win over New Orleans was another reminder they’ve got an underrated and feisty bunch on “D.”
Washington Football Team
Ron Rivera’s defense isn’t quite dead. Even with Chase Young exiting with a season-ending injury, they got after Tom Brady and disrupted the Buccaneers’ passing game early and often, helping Taylor Heinicke and Co. claim the upset.
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