What We Learned: 33 Expert Takeaways From Week 10

On an NFL Sunday that started in Germany, had a layover in Buffalo for one of the best games of the year, and ended in San Francisco, there were a number of surprising performances and interesting developments. The 33rd Team’s experts weighed in with 33 takeaways from the day’s games:

Buccaneers 21, Seahawks 16

1. “Seattle continues to play above their talent level. From Geno Smith to a rookie class who has played well above what most people think even an excellent rookie class could achieve in its first year, they have significantly overachieved. They have a way to go before they can compete with the better NFC teams, but what they have done so far and the path they are on is impressive.” — Joe Banner

2. “The Seattle Seahawks, unfortunately, were not able to get the running game going. Right now, this is a team that either has good balance and starts with running the football, or they don’t, and they don’t win. If Seattle wants to get back on track, they have to be able to figure out how to consistently run the football. Or, Geno Smith needs to develop more as a pocket passer — which you saw a little bit in the second half but just not consistently enough.” — Joe Thomas

3. “That commitment to the run game was huge. They had almost 40 carries by the running backs, and Tom Brady did an excellent job distributing the football. The commitment to the run game was the biggest part — 45-year-old Tom Brady, you don’t want him throwing the ball 50 times a game.” — Robert Smith

4. “Not sure what the Bucs were thinking by throwing a pass to 45-year-old Tom Brady. In Super Bowl LII, we saw what Brady looks like running a route and catching the football. It is one thing to surprise the defense, but with Brady’s speed and age, they only needed to ‘half’ cover him. Even with a good throw by Leonard Fournette, I don’t see Brady finishing that play. Especially not with a long, fast and athletic Tariq Woolen in coverage.” — T.J. McCreight

Vikings 33, Bills 30

5. “From week to week, the Bills continue to be a mystery. They have outstanding talent and one of the best coaching staffs in the league but have struggled to show that over the past 3-4 weeks. They had this game in control but made some shocking and unexpected mistakes in the fourth-quarter collapse. They were one kneel-down away from effectively ending the game. Still, in the final minute of regulation, they regained the offensive momentum that they showed early in the season and found a way to get to overtime before Allen made a crucial mistake on the final play of the game.” — Joe Banner

6. “Josh Allen, believe it or not, has thrown four red-zone interceptions the last two weeks — a loss to the Jets and a loss to the Vikings. We talk about the three things you can’t have in the red zone: penalties, sacks and turnovers. And Josh Allen has to do a better job taking care of the football.” — Rich Gannon

7. “The Minnesota Vikings are for real. Sure, they have a scary defense, but all eyes have to be on Justin Jefferson. He’s cemented himself as a top-5 player in this league.” — Mike Tannenbaum

8. “On defense [for Buffalo], this is the third team in a row that’s averaged almost 6 yards a carry. I mean, that’s pretty staggering from a team that had been the No. 1 rush defense in the league … The concern level is significant.” — Eric Mangini

Lions 31, Bears 30

9. “I’m not sure many people pictured the Bears scoring 30 points in a game and losing. Similar to what the Eagles’ coaching staff did mid-season last year, the Bears’ coaching staff has moved away from using Fields in a more traditional passing role (which did not fit his skill set) and has found a way to exploit his talents, thus putting defenses in very tough situations.” — Joe Banner

10. “Justin Fields is the next up-and-coming NFL superstar out of the young quarterbacks, especially from his draft class. Trevor Lawrence was taken first, Zach Wilson second, Trey Lance third and Justin Fields fourth. He’s going to make them regret that.” — Samari Rolle

Chiefs 27, Jaguars 17

11. “Many experts said Trevor Lawrence was the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck came out of Stanford in 2012. In Luck’s rookie year, he took the Colts to the playoffs through the adversity of losing his head coach for most of the season and with a team that only won two games the previous year. Franchise quarterbacks are expected to put the team on their backs regardless of the talent surrounding them. Through the first 27 games of their careers, Luck was 18-9 and Lawrence is 6-21.” — T.J. McCreight

12. “Jacksonville continues to struggle. Even in the few games they’ve won, they haven’t been able to get their running or passing game going consistently. The Jags have a long way to go before they can come from behind against good teams like the Chiefs. Considering the amount of resources spent in free agency this offseason, and with the draft capital used in recent years, it can’t be looked at as anything other than a huge disappointment to have the record that they have and be playing as poorly as they are.” — Joe Banner

13. “It often will go unnoticed, but the subtle way quarterback Patrick Mahomes can move in the pocket is outstanding. It combines athleticism, balance and instincts to avoid rushers and the ability to keep your eyes down the field and deliver the football accurately. He can slide laterally or move up in the pocket to stay clean, and it helps the offensive line because they understand and have a feel for how and where he adjusts in the pocket. All quarterbacks do it differently, and offensive linemen like to know where the quarterback will be when he avoids rushers.”— T.J. McCreight

14. “Trevor Lawrence, when he’s under two minutes, his whole psyche changes. He just moves faster mentally. He gets the ball out faster. He’s more sure of himself, and you know, he’s really growing. This is going to be a really good team. I think they are where the Bills were three years ago.” — Mike Martz

Titans 17, Broncos 10

15. “Many wrote the Titans off in the offseason. Henry was aging, they lost some key players, led by AJ Brown, and it was getting harder and harder to win as a low-scoring, run-oriented team. Yet, they are in control of the AFC South once again.” — Joe Banner

16. “Rookie punter Ryan Stonehouse is having an outstanding season and is a vital piece to the puzzle for Tennessee. When you have a team that is more run than pass and relies on defense, it makes field position even more important. In the first quarter alone, he forced the Broncos to start inside their 10-yard line three times. The way he can flip the field is a significant advantage for Tennessee.” — T.J. McCreight

17. “When Denver traded for Russell Wilson, I applauded the move as the only thing that gave them a realistic chance to compete in the AFC West. Despite the offseason additions they made — Wilson included — they are still likely to come in last place in the division.” — Joe Banner

Dolphins 39, Browns 17

18. “The Dolphins look like, schematically, they’ll be tough to deal with. The way Mike McDaniel has brought the Kyle Shanahan running game in and the way they move people around and use motion — they’re just a very tough matchup right now. Everyone thinks it’s just Buffalo and Kansas City that are the AFC favorites, but you’ve got to put the Dolphins in there now and take them seriously.” — Samari Rolle

19. “Playing in his first game in over a month due to an ankle injury, Browns rookie Jerome Ford took the opening kickoff 48 yards to set up a Cleveland touchdown on the game’s first drive. Ford’s injury is probably why the Browns did not trade running back Kareem Hunt before the trade deadline. The Browns are deep at running back with Nick Chubb, D’Ernest Johnson, Hunt and now a healthy Ford.” — T.J. McCreight

20. “If anybody is still doubting that the Dolphins are a much-improved team or that this coaching staff cannot find effective ways to use their talent, they need to watch the game against the Browns. The Dolphins effectively dominated this game in every phase. The Dolphins looked quick, determined, and well-organized from the opening kickoff.” — Joe Banner

21. “The Browns needed a win to have any hope of staying in the AFC North race, but everything seemed to go wrong for them. They could not run the ball as Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt were held in check and basically had one big play. They could not stop the run as Jeff Wilson, and Raheem Mostert combined for 184 yards rushing. Tua Tagovailoa was outstanding, the Dolphins controlled the football on offense, and Christian Wilkins was all over the field. Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney combined for only three total tackles, and neither sacked the quarterback. Overall, the Browns were pushed around by Miami in the South Florida heat.” — T.J. McCreight

Giants 24, Texans 16

22. “The Giants still deserve to be called the surprise of the NFL. They are playing smart, being patient, and taking advantage of the limited talent on a roster that still has many holes. Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen will have decisions to make about Barkley and Jones at the end of the season that will be as tough as any two decisions that we’ve seen in a long time. However, the key to this team’s success has been outstanding coaching. Wink has a long history of being aggressive and having his units succeed above their talent level. He is continuing that record again this season.” — Joe Banner

23. “That was an incredibly efficient win for coach Brian Daboll and the New York Giants. It’s becoming more and more clear that Saquon Barkley is a player the Giants absolutely need to keep.” — Mike Tannenbaum

24. “It’s hard to tell based on their weekly outcomes, but the Texans are actually playing hard and getting better. Unfortunately, they started with such a weak roster and uncertainty at some key positions. They still need to find a quarterback and have at least one or two more good off-seasons to be competitive with the better teams in the league.” — Joe Banner

25. “It’s interesting that now, with the Giants, we’re saying, ‘Oh, it’s just the Texans. You should beat the Texans.’ Because for years, they’ve been saying, ‘It’s the Giants. You should beat the Giants.’ So I think that’s been a total narrative shift. … Brian [Daboll] was my offensive coordinator in Cleveland. He’s done a great job with the running game. Not just in terms of establishing a tough mentality — sort of an old-school running mentality with their offensive line and running back — but their creative runs.” — Eric Mangini

Steelers 20, Saints, 10

26. “With the Steelers at 3-6 it does not look like they have much hope,  but coach Mike Tomlin will use this as an opportunity to build and to reach the team, which will pay off next season. Tomlin is one of the best coaches in the NFL, and even though 2022 is not what he had hoped for, this was a big win for Pittsburgh. Tomlin looks for small steps and long-term progress.” — T.J. McCreight

Colts 25, Raiders 20

27. “I was really impressed with what I saw from Jeff Saturday and the Colts. You say, ‘What impact can you have on a short week?’ How about having the offensive line play better? You make a quarterback change — Matt Ryan takes care of the football — and you find a way to rush for 207 yards against the Raiders. And most importantly, you find a way to get your best back, Jonathan Taylor, up on the horse again. … You know, Jeff Saturday brought some toughness, he brought some confidence to this football team that had lost its way. I think Jeff Saturday really did an amazing job in a very difficult situation.” — Rich Gannon

28. “The issue with the Colts right now is really from the inside out. It starts up front and it’s also been the offensive line — one of the highest-paid offensive lines in the league. I think [Saturday’s] knowledge on that obviously, being a center — you’re in a position there where you have to recognize the fronts and kind of direct, sometimes, the protection. So he’s a smart guy. But I think the biggest thing I’ve seen with Jeff is his leadership, how he leads players and can galvanize the group around him.” — Dwight Freeney


29. “When you look at the amount of money that [the Raiders] have committed to their big players offensively, $340 million in contracts for Derek Carr, Davante Adams, Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow. Now they just put Waller and Renfrow on an injured reserve. Both those players have missed significant time this season, particularly the Waller and that has had a huge impact on Carr’s ability to spread the field. And with ball distribution, it’s hurt them on third down. They’ve been a very inconsistent football team on third down and down in the red zone.” — Rich Gannon

Packers 31, Cowboys 28

30. “Dallas is going to have a hard time against a good running football team. Inside the tackles, they just don’t hold up. They had a lot of guys on the line of scrimmage, and Green Bay, not a stellar running team by any stretch of the imagination, gutted them pretty good at times in the running game. They’re going to have to shore that up somehow.” — Mike Martz

31. “We saw every reason why [Green Bay] drafted Christian Watson in the second round of this year’s draft. He was huge for them, taking the ball into his hands and into the end zone and ultimately providing his team with a huge boost from the receiver position. Kudos to him. This was a turning point not only in his season but in his potential career. What we thought Christian Watson could be for this Packers team, he was every bit of that.” — Greg Jennings

Cardinals 27, Rams 17

32. “When you sign a backup quarterback, you hope that if your starter gets injured and misses four games, your backup can come in and win two of them. Your choice is to have your No. 2 be a developmental player or a veteran that can mentor the starter as well as win a few games if he is called upon. I like what the Cardinals did. Colt McCoy is extremely smart, should help Kyler Murray and is just talented enough to win a few games if Murray gets injured. McCoy is solid for a few games, but if he has to play five or more, he will be exposed.” — T.J. McCreight

49ers 22, Chargers 16

33. “The 49ers shut out the Chargers in the second half. But more importantly, they held the chargers to just 52 yards of offense in the second half. This was a dominant performance by the 49ers’ defense more than anything else, but it speaks to some real issues for the Chargers. Their depth at defensive line is really, really, suspect with a couple of injuries — and the Chargers’ season is on the line next week when they take on the Chiefs in LA.” — Trey Wingo

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