Welcome to NFL Week 10

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:58 PM ET

Ryan Wolstat, Dan Bilicki and Randall the Handle on the week ahead, and the week that was:

WEEK 10 STORY LINES

KOLB RETURNS?

The Eagles made the easy call of choosing Michael Vick over Kevin Kolb this off-season. Vick took Kolb’s job in 2010 and re-established himself as a star quarterback. Kolb was peddled to the Cardinals for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and was expected to fit in nicely, throwing to Larry Fitzgerald. However, Kolb has not played well (eight touchdowns, eight interceptions, career-low 55.8 completion percentage), has taken a beating (24 sacks) and has missed time due to turf toe. He could not play in Sunday’s 19-13 win over St. Louis but apparently is making a lot of progress and you can bet the Cardinals will want to give him a chance to go up against his former team.

BEASTS OF THE EAST

With apologies to the Bills who started the season on a tear, the two teams to beat in the AFC East are the New York Jets and the New England Patriots. Though all three teams are now 5-3, Sunday’s matchup is expected to decide who takes the division. The Patriots, losers of two straight including a rare home loss, will visit the Jets, who have turned things around with three victories in a row. This is a statement game for both sides, most of all for an oddly erratic Tom Brady (what’s with all the interceptions?) who will try to avoid turning the ball over against Darrelle Revis and Co.

LUCK-Y LOSERS?

The stinker of the week will take place in Indy where a Colts loss might be received better than a win by the faithful. After all, the 0-9 Colts are the prime contenders for Stanford superstar Andrew Luck. Jacksonville, 2-6, isn’t far behind, but probably falls out of the Suck for Luck race with a win because six other teams have two wins or less. Sure both teams have a quarterback they have invested in, but Peyton Manning’s long-term future is in question due to his slow recovery from neck surgeries and Blaine Gabbert can’t seem to complete half of his passes on any given Sunday.

PLAYOFF IMPLICATIONS

Pittsburgh and Baltimore have ruled the AFC North for years, but the Cincinnati (don’t call us Bungles) can make a major statement on Sunday. The Bengals, a surprising 6-2 despite a road-heavy schedule, host the Steelers, 6-3. Pittsburgh is reeling after dropping a heart-breaker in the dying seconds to Baltimore and surely will come in charged up. This has game-of-the-week potential with young Andy Dalton aiming to enhance his ever-improving reputation with a strong performance against a very good group of defenders. A Bengals win would put Pittsburgh in bad shape playoff-wise.

WHO RULES THE SOUTH?

The NFC has so many dogs that both the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons could make the playoffs, but Atlanta could really use a home win here. The teams were expected to be comparable, but New Orleans has been far more explosive than the disappointing Falcons. The Saints have scored 97 more points and 11 more touchdowns than Atlanta, which has played one fewer game but has won three straight. A few weeks ago this would seem like an easy Saints road win, but with Atlanta finally rolling, it now shapes up as a thriller.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“We gave up too many big plays. We made the plays to win the game, but it’s hard to keep coming in here week after week, and guys are putting up yards on you ... we’ve got to go soul searching and get it together. Whether it’s players or coaches, we’ve got to get together and do this. We’re 8-0, but we’re fortunate to be that.”

That was Green Bay cornerback Tramon Williams after the Packers escaped with a win over San Diego on Sunday and he has a point.

The Super Bowl champs are cruising in spite of a defence that gave up fewer yards than just four other teams prior to Sunday’s game. They are winning because Aaron Rodgers and the offence have been video-game-calibre ridiculous and because the defence — as bad as it has been overall — has had a knack for coming up with big takeaways at opportune moments.

STOCK RISING: Patrick Peterson, CB, Cardinals. Peterson was highly touted for a reason and the Arizona rookie is living up to the hype. His 99-yard punt return for a touchdown won Sunday’s game in overtime for the Cardinals and the cornerback has proven to be so dynamic that head coach Ken Whisenhunt has said he will consider putting Peterson out with the offence sometime soon. It almost happened on Sunday, but Arizona had to call a timeout and left him on the sidelines.

STOCK FALLING: Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers. He has the talent to be one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. He’s been very good in the past, but something is up this season. The 29-year old has thrown seven picks in his past three games — three alone on Sunday against Green Bay — and has thrown a league-worst 14. Though Rivers is sixth in the NFL in completion percentage, it feels like half the time he misfires on a throw, a player in the wrong jersey is hauling it in.

HYPE WE’RE BUYING: Joe Flacco gets overshadowed by Ray Rice, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and the vaunted Ravens defence, but Flacco simply gets it done. The Ravens were the picks of many to win the Super Bowl prior to the season and if the quarterback keeps up his recent play, that will be a possibility. Flacco beat Pittsburgh on Sunday by finding Torrey Smith with eight seconds left to complete an impressive two-minute drill and has passed for 300 yards or more in three of his past four appearances. He may not throw for a lot of touchdowns because Rice is so devastating on the ground, but Flacco is solid.

HYPE WE’RE NOT: We’re happy that Miami’s Reggie Bush is no longer looking like an overrated stiff, but he is still not an every down running back. Bush has rushed for 195 yards on the ground his past two games and has also been a receiving threat, but durability could be an issue going forward. He’s being used more often than he is used to (on pace to set a number of career highs) so there’s a good chance he breaks down at some point. The Fish don’t have much else to work with, so Bush will have a chance to prove us wrong.

ON THE HOT SEAT

Mike Shanahan probably is quite safe in Washington, but he has to be feeling some heat based on the horrid play of his team. The Redskins have dropped four straight — erasing all of the goodwill earned from a 3-1 start to the season — and followed an embarrassing shutout loss to the Bills in Toronto with a home loss to San Francisco. The team has managed to score 11 points in two games and is only scoring 14 points a game for the season. Luckily Miami is on tap for Shanahan and the Redskins, but the Dolphins will come in confident following their first victory of the season. A Miami win would ramp up the pressure on Shanahan ten-fold.

DAN BILICKI’S FANTASY GAMES

DREAM MATCHUP

Dallas vs. Buffalo

Two explosive offences with two mediocre defences will meet on Sunday.

The Cowboys finally have a running game to be feared with rookie DeMarco Murray stepping into the spotlight. His three-game total of 466 yards set a Cowboys record.

Given that the Bills allow 120.8 yards per game on the ground, Murray is a must-start.

Even with Miles Austin out another 2-4 weeks after re-aggravating his hamstring injury, Laurent Robinson has filled in surprisingly well when the Cowboys’ somewhat frail receivers have been hurt this season. He would be a solid start as a second or third WR this week.

NIGHTMARE TIME

Washington vs. Miami

Somehow, the winless Dolphins were able to dominate the Chiefs on Sunday. They even held the host to 5.8 yards per pass attempt and 3.4 yards per carry. Not too shabby.

What’s more concerning is how poor the Redskins are playing. For an example of how poor their passing game was against the 49ers, look no further than the receiving stats.

Running back Roy Helu amassed an amazing 14 receptions on 17 targets, but only managed 7.5 yards per reception and a longest gain of 17 yards. That sounds like ton of dump offs to me.

Also concerning: That 17-yard gain was the longest play that the Skins had all day Sunday.

RANDALL THE HANDLE’S WEEK 9 RANTS

1. After Sunday’s overtime loss, most Rams backers wanted to take poison. Blame St. Louis coach Steve Spagnuolo for much of it. The Rams dominated the feeble Cardinals for most of the afternoon but by allowing them to hang around, Arizona’s Patrick Petersen eventually returned a punt 99 yards for the game winner.

Amid various opportunities, Spagnuolo’s squad had several key short yardage situations that would have likely changed the outcome of this one. On a 3rd and 1, he gave the ball to fullback Brit Miller, a guy who has the mobility of a fire hydrant and who has had one carry in two years for a grand total of 1-yd rushing. Of course, he was stopped dead in his tracks.

On two other key one-yard requirements, he elected for sweeps. No gain on either attempt. Steve, here’s a novel concept. RB Steven Jackson makes $7.2 million per year for a reason. He’s big, he’s smart and he’s talented. Perhaps you may want to try running him up the middle when you need a measly yard or less, you doorknob!

2. Why was Patrick Petersen fielding the punt at the 1-yd line anyway?

3. Can someone please explain why there are no byes this week but the last set continues in Week 11?

4. Dallas fans were happy. Dallas wagerers were not. Spotting 11½ points, the Cowboys had ample opportunity to bury the woeful Seahawks early. However, Dallas’ red zone play remains incompetent as the ‘Boys had first-and-goals twice in the first half before ending up with two field goals, in addition to Dez Bryant’s unforced fumble on a pass reception at the Seattle 1-yd line. The Seahawks weren’t close all afternoon but a 4th quarter cheapie touchdown allowed them to pull within 10 and get the dreaded backdoor cover.


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