Week 10 of the 2015 National Football League season was highly entertaining, to say the least. We saw a handful of shocking upsets, two teams improve their overall records to 9-0, several big-time individual performances, and multiple injuries to big-name players. With that being said, here is a look at the five biggest takeaways from Week 10 of the 2015 NFL season.
1. An injury bug could slow down the New England Patriots
By now, this much is clear: There is something special about the 2015 Patriots. Aside from their 27-26 win over the New York Giants — which they probably should have lost, in all honesty — the Patriots are winning games in a convincing fashion, and their quarterback, Tom Brady, is well on his way to running away with the 2015 NFL MVP award. That could all change, however, if the Patriots continue to lose key players to injuries.
Heading into their game against the Giants, New England already lost left tackle Nate Solder and running back Dion Lewis for the season. Then, as the first quarter came to a close in New York, they took yet another serious blow when their best wide receiver, Julian Edelman, suffered a broken bone in his left foot. Edelman is slated to miss six to eight weeks, which means that the Patriots are left without three of their top offensive players for the rest of the regular season at the very least. Of course, they still have Brady and All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski, but it’s hard to imagine the Patriots being able to absorb another long-term injury to one of their key players.
2. The Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson is still the best running back
After missing all but one game in 2014, Adrian Peterson has returned to the NFL with a vengeance. The former Oklahoma Sooner leads the league with an average of 106.8 yards per game, and has a 227-yard lead in the race for the NFL rushing title. On top of that, with 961 rushing yards through the first nine games of 2015, Peterson is on track to have one of the greatest seasons in NFL history by a running back who is 30-plus years old. With all due respect to Todd Gurley of the St. Louis Rams and Devonta Freeman of the Atlanta Falcons, Peterson is still hands down the best running back in the league.
3. The Arizona Cardinals are real Super Bowl contenders
Despite their 7-2 record and three-game lead in the NFC West, the Cardinals have yet to really receive the respect they deserve. Offensively, their quarterback, Carson Palmer, is currently the biggest threat to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the race for the 2015 NFL MVP award. Their starting running back, Chris Johnson, is second in the league in total rushing yards. And the trio of Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, and John Brown give the Cardinals arguably the top group of wide receivers in the NFL.
Defensively, Arizona ranks third in the league in total yards allowed per game and are fifth in the league in defensive takeaways with 18. At this point, we firmly believe that the Cardinals are right up there with the Patriots and Carolina Panthers as the top contenders to win Super Bowl 50 this coming February.
4. The Houston Texans’ playoff hopes are still alive
Just when it looked like the Texans’ postseason aspirations were dead in the water, they beat the previously undefeated Cincinnati Bengals by a score of 10-6 during Monday Night Football. The win improved their overall record to 4-5, which surprisingly puts them in a tie with the Indianapolis Colts — who will be without star quarterback, Andrew Luck, for at least the next four to six weeks — for first place in the AFC South.
Neither team has a particularly difficult schedule remaining, although the Texans are in much better shape to make a playoff run than the Colts. Without Luck, Indianapolis is average at best. Meanwhile, Houston still has a potentially dominant defense led by defensive end, J.J. Watt, and one of the game’s best offensive playmakers in wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. The Texans could ultimately win their division with a 7-9 or 8-8 record, and if they do, they will host a playoff game on Wild Card weekend.
5. There is cause for concern with the Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos
Less than a month ago many people thought that the Packers and Broncos would battle it out in Super Bowl 50 this coming February. That is hardly the case anymore, as the two storied franchises have combined to post a 1-5 record (0-3 for Green Bay, 1-2 for Denver) over the last three weeks. For the Packers, their struggles have come in all three phases of the game, but the most alarming aspect of their three-game skid has been the relatively lackluster performances by their once-dominant offense.
When it comes to the Broncos, the major issues reside on the offensive side of the ball. Quarterback Peyton Manning has struggled mightily while battling multiple injuries; their running game has been wildly inconsistent; and their offensive line play has been nothing short of horrendous for most of the season. The Broncos have now opted to replace Manning — until he is healthy enough to be effective — with backup quarterback Brock Osweiler. All said, at this point in time, it would be farfetched to consider either team a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
All statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.