Three of the NFL‘s elite teams — the Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs, and Miami Dolphins — were on bye in Week 10, but the league is full of storylines even when the cream of the crop isn’t playing.
Which clubs looked the best on Sunday, and who’s already looking ahead to next week? Here are all the winners and losers from Week 10.
Winners and Losers From NFL Week 10
Winner | Josh Dobbs and the Vikings Do It Again
One week after entering mid-game and leading the Minnesota Vikings to a win, Josh Dobbs started his first game in purple and achieved the same result. The Vikings managed a 27-19 win over the New Orleans Saints, but the game was hardly that close — Minnesota held a 24-point lead with six minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Dobbs was outstanding again. With Justin Jefferson and K.J. Osborn sidelined, Dobbs hit T.J. Hockenson 11 times and found Jordan Addison for 69 yards. Dobbs was a threat on the ground for the second straight week, managing 44 yards and a touchdown as a runner.
While the Vikings may not be able to catch the NFC North-leading Detroit Lions (who won again on Sunday), they’ve positioned themselves as the favorites for the NFC’s seventh seed — and the No. 5 and No. 6 spots aren’t out of range.
Loser | Ravens and Bengals Both Go Down
The Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals looked like the AFC North’s best teams heading into Week 10, but both clubs lost on Sunday.
Baltimore’s loss may end up being more consequential. Not only did the Ravens lose an in-division game to the Cleveland Browns, but they also missed a chance to put pressure on the Chiefs for the AFC’s top seed.
Plus, this was a game John Harbaugh’s club should have won. Baltimore scored to take a 14-point lead with 11:34 remaining in the fourth quarter. But the Browns scored 16 points in the final nine minutes, with a banged-up Deshaun Watson getting an assist from CB Greg Newsome, who returned a Lamar Jackson interception 34 yards for a score.
The Bengals also went down at the last second, but they were simply outplayed by the Houston Texans, who posted 544 yards of offense in a 30-27 win. Tyler Boyd’s 64-yard reception near the end of the game put Cincinnati in a position to win, but Boyd then dropped a 13-yard pass on 3rd-and-goal, giving the Texans the chance to drive for a game-winning field goal.
And don’t forget the Pittsburgh Steelers, who pulled out another close win in Week 10. The Steelers still have a -26 point differential, but they’re 6-3 and in second place in the AFC North.
Winner | Is C.J. Stroud an MVP Candidate?
C.J. Stroud set a single-game rookie passing record last week, then took down the Bengals this week. He’s probably already locked up the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award, but can Stoud emerge in the MVP conversation?
Stroud went 23 of 39 for 356 yards, one touchdown, and one interception against Cincinnati. That performance was enough to shift his MVP odds from +9000 to +4000, so he’s certainly in the mix. If Houston can run down the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC South, Stroud will be a legitimate MVP candidate.
Loser | Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars
And what about those Jaguars, who had won five straight games entering Week 10 and looked like one of the NFL’s elite clubs?
Sunday was a reality check for Trevor Lawrence and Co., who looked completely lifeless in a 34-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Jacksonville entered San Francisco four times today. They kicked a field goal on one drive — the other three ended on turnovers. Lawrence finished 17 of 29 for 185 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions, posting a 15.0 QBR, which ranked dead last in the league through this week’s early slate.
Week 12’s Texans-Jaguars game became even more important following Sunday’s results.
Winner | San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers had lost three straight games heading into their Week 9 bye, but that week off did them a lot of good.
San Francisco saw the return of wideout Deebo Samuel and left tackle Trent Willams on Sunday, while Brock Purdy rebounded after three relatively down games. Purdy carved up a Jaguars defense that had transformed into one of the NFL’s best, completing 19 of 26 throws for 296 yards and three touchdowns.
Christian McCaffreys’ 17-game TD streak was broken against Jacksonville, but that’s just about the only thing that went wrong for the 49ers today.
Loser | Mac Jones and the Patriots
Mac Jones was benched Sunday for the third time this season, but today was the first one-score game that backup Bailey Zappe entered in place of Jones, who threw one of the worst interceptions you’ll ever see near the end of the New England Patriots’ 10-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
Week 10 may have very well marked the end of the Jones/Patriots marriage. Asked why New England didn’t attempt a Hail Mary pass from their own 47-yard line with two seconds remaining in the first half, Jones said, “No clue. There’s two seconds left, and we needed 60 yards, so … I don’t know.”
We’re sorry you had to watch this game, Germany. At least you got Chiefs-Dolphins last week.
Winner | Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 10 really couldn’t have gone much better for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Sure, the Bucs took down the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, with Baker Mayfield hitting Mike Evans six times for 143 yards and a score.
But look around the rest of the NFC South. The Saints lost to the Vikings and could be without quarterback Derek Carr, who may have aggravated his existing shoulder injury and/or suffered a concussion.
The Atlanta Falcons also lost their quarterback (Taylor Heinicke), forcing them to turn back to a former starter (Desmond Ridder). Neither signal-caller was overly effective, while Atlanta’s defense couldn’t stop Kyler Murray from mounting a game-winning field goal drive.
Tampa Bay could drop a game next week when they travel to play the 49ers, but they won’t lose any ground to the Saints or Falcons, both of whom will be on a Week 11 bye. And New Orleans and Atlanta play each other in Week 12, so one club has to lose and help the Bucs.
Winner | Dan Campbell’s Coach of the Year Odds
Dan Campbell was already the betting favorite for Coach of the Year before Week 10, but the Detroit Lions’ close win over the Los Angeles Chargers should only solidify his standing in the race.
Campbell, arguably the NFL’s best game management head coach, let the Lions attempt four fourth-conversions on Sunday. Detroit was successful on three, none more significant than a Jared Goff-to-Sam-LaPorta pass on 4th-and-2 that forced the Chargers to use their final timeout and let the Lions kick a game-winning field goal as time expired.
Detroit is getting healthy, with RB David Montgomery and OL Jonah Jackson and Frank Ragnow among the Lions making their returns this week. That’s bad news for the rest of the NFC.