To illustrate the thin line between winning and losing in the NFL, a record five teams won on field goals with no time remaining in regulation on Sunday. So far in Week 10, 10 games have been decided by one score. So far this season, 69.7% of all games have been within one score (eight points) in the fourth quarter.
On the other hand, the 49ers and Cowboys distinguished themselves with blowouts on Sunday, with San Francisco’s 34-3 win the more impressive outcome considering it came on the road against the Jaguars, who had been on a five-game winning streak. After a three-game skid, the 49ers got their swagger back.
All of this drama played out while my top two teams, the Eagles and Chiefs, had the weekend off. They got a chance to rest up for their epic Super Bowl rematch in Kansas City next week. That will be telling.
In the meantime, with Broncos-Bills still on the Week 10 docket, here is my NFL top 10.
1. Philadelphia Eagles
Record: 8-1; Last Week: 1
Jalen Hurts & Co. could take advantage of the bye week to reestablish their identity as a “trench” squad with exceptional playmakers on the perimeter. The Eagles’ offensive and defensive lines set the tone for a team that leaves opponents battered and bruised at the line of scrimmage. With a collection of swift pass-catchers and runners complementing the O-line and a group of turnover-obsessed defenders backing up the defensive front, the Eagles have posted the league’s best record without playing their best ball yet. If Nick Sirianni can get his team to turn on the switch, the Eagles could cruise into Super Bowl LVIII as the NFC’s representative.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
Record: 7-2; Last Week: 2
It has taken a while for the football world to adjust to the Chiefs’ transformation to a defensive-led squad, but Steve Spagnuolo’s unit carried the team in the first half of the season. Sparked by Chris Jones’ destructive ways and a secondary loaded with high IQs and nasty temperaments, the Chiefs are holding opponents to 15.9 points per game. If the defense continues to play to that standard, Kansas City will roll through the postseason tournament with or without the offense catching fire.
3. Detroit Lions
Record: 7-2; Last Week: 5
Dan Campbell’s team chalked up a win against the Los Angeles Chargers that showcased the team’s ability to win shootouts on the road. Jared Goff & Co. have the potential to light up scoreboards utilizing a balanced approach that keeps opponents guessing on critical downs. Whether it is David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs scooting between the tackles or Amon-Ra St. Brown and Sam LaPorta snagging balls down the field, the Lions’ explosive offense could make them a tough out down the stretch.
Why Dan Campbell stood out in Detroit’s win over the Chargers
4. San Francisco 49ers
Record: 6-3; Last Week: 7
Newcomers Chase Young and Randy Gregory have only added to a defensive front that already featured reigning Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa and playmakers Javon Hargrave and Arik Armstead. Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks gave the football world a sneak peek at the unit’s potential when he featured an assortment of pressures from various personnel packages to overwhelm the Jaguars in Week 10. Given more time to develop the 49ers’ defensive package to maximize the talent of his defensive front, the wily defensive architect could build a bully that sparks a run through the playoffs.
Dave Helman, Daryl Johnston and Chris Myers break down Niners’ win
5. Miami Dolphins
Record: 6-3; Last Week: 8
After resting and recharging during the bye week, the Dolphins should hit the ground running with an offense and defense that clicks on all cylinders. As the defense integrates Jalen Ramsey into the plan as a hybrid playmaker, Vic Fangio’s group has the talent and versatility to match up with any opponent or playing style. Moreover, the defense has the closeout capability to complement a high-octane offense that will force opponents to chase points in potential shootouts down the stretch.
6. Baltimore Ravens
Record: 7-3; Last Week: 3
After blowing leads in their three losses, the Ravens must figure out how to finish games on defense. Despite ranking as the No. 1 scoring defense (15.7 points per game), the Ravens have surrendered big plays in key moments due to their inconsistent pass rush and coverage. In addition, the new-look offense has failed to properly close out games with timely third-down conversions utilizing a “grind-it-out” approach. Although the hiccups will temporarily raise some concerns about their long-term prospects, the Ravens have the pieces to compete with the heavyweights in the league.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Record: 6-3; Last Week: 4
After falling flat against the 49ers, the Jaguars must prove their legitimacy over the next few weeks against a pair of division rivals (Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans) in high-stakes contests. The overhyped offense has disappointed, with Trevor Lawrence’s struggles stifling the big-play potential of Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk and Evan Engram. Until the franchise quarterback avoids the turnovers and red-zone mistakes that kill the unit’s momentum, the Jaguars will continue to rank as a lightweight in a conference full of heavyweights at the top of the charts.
8. Dallas Cowboys
Record: 6-3; Last Week: 9
Credit Mike McCarthy for having his team ready to play against the cupcakes on the schedule. The Cowboys pummeled the New York Giants into submission to continue a streak of blowout wins against overmatched competition (Giants, Jets, Patriots and Rams). With a few more “easy” wins on schedule in the coming weeks (Panthers and Commanders), the Cowboys should climb the charts as a playoff contender without a signature win.
Dave Helman, Greg Olsen and Kevin Burkhardt talk Cowboys
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9. Cleveland Browns
Record: 6-3; Last Week: 10
Perhaps Deshaun Watson can build off his impressive performance in the Browns’ come-from-behind win over the Ravens. The veteran quarterback finally displayed some of the magic that made the Browns hand out a hefty guaranteed contract that still has other league owners and executives fuming due to the implications. If Watson can continue to play at a high level in pressurized moments to complement a stingy defense that is playing lights out behind Myles Garrett, the Browns could creep into conversation as a dark-horse title contender.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers
Record: 6-3; Last Week: NR
Mike Tomlin’s crew does not win with style points, but the W’s continue to pile up for a team that struggles to put points on the board. Although time will tell if the complementary approach is sustainable, the Steelers deserve a mention on the list as a resilient squad that continues to find ways to win against the odds.
Bucky Brooks is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. He also breaks down the game for NFL Network and as a cohost of the “Moving the Sticks” podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.
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