NFL Week 10 takeaways: Lessons, big questions for every game

ByNFL Nation ESPN logo
Tuesday, November 15, 2022
ESPN

Monday night's matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Commanders endedWeek 10of the 2022 NFL season-- and the Eagles' pursuit of an undefeated season.

Behind a methodical offense that held the ball for over 40 minutes and an opportunistic defense that forced four turnovers, the Commanders gave their division rivals their first loss.

Meanwhile, NFL history was made Sunday morning as theTampa Bay Buccaneersbeat theSeattle Seahawks21-16 at Munich's Allianz Arena in the league's first regular-season game in Germany.

Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson and key defensive plays led the Minnesota Vikings to another come-from-behind win -- this time over the Buffalo Bills in overtime. The Vikings are now 8-1 on the season.

Tua Tagovailoa threw three touchdown passes to lead the Miami Dolphins over the Cleveland Browns, the Kansas City Chiefs' offense dominated the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the New York Giants' defense was solid in a win vs. the Houston Texans.

T.J. Watt returned to action for the first time since Week 2 to help thePittsburgh Steelerspick up a win over the New Orleans Saints, the Detroit Lions scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to beatthe Chicago Bears,and the Denver Broncos gave up 17 unanswered points to the Tennessee Titans as their offense was mostly silent in the second half of the loss.

In the late afternoon window, the Jeff Saturday era for the Indianapolis Colts began Sunday with Matt Ryanback at QB, a 66-yard run for Jonathan Taylor and a win at the Las Vegas Raiders. The Green Bay Packers took down theDallas Cowboysin overtime with help from rookie WR Christian Watson,who had three touchdown catches, and the Arizona Cardinals dominated the Los Angeles Rams in the battle of backup quarterbacks.

Closing out the Sunday lineup, the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Los Angeles Chargers.

On Thursday, theCarolina Panthers'ground game continued to chug along withoutChristian McCaffreyas they ran over theAtlanta Falcons25-15 in Carolina.

Our NFL Nation reporters react with the biggest takeaways and lingering questions off this week's matchups and look ahead to what's next. Games are Sunday unless noted. Let's get to it.

Jump to a matchup:

ATL-CAR | SEA-TB|CLE-MIA

MIN-BUF | NO-PIT | DET-CHI

DEN-TEN | JAX-KC | HOU-NYG

IND-LV | DAL-GB | ARI-LAR

LAC-SF | WSH-PHI

Monday

Washington 32, Philadelphia 21

Commanders

What to know: Washington finally discovered its identity: the run game. Actually, some in the building knew that's who the Commanders needed to be, but the trick was sticking with the run and not falling in love with getting the ball to their wideouts. But credit offensive coordinator Scott Turner with an excellent game plan. They won't be able to run the ball 49 times every week, but they can be more run heavy. It helped the protection being in so many third-and-shorts. It kept the defense off the field, and it keyed a win. It's the blueprint they need to follow moving forward.

Who will start at quarterback? Carson Wentz is eligible to be activated off injured reserve this week after spending the past four games nursing a broken right ring finger. But Taylor Heinicke led Washington to a 3-1 mark in his absence and guided a huge upset win over the Eagles. While the coaches believe Wentz has the higher upside in this offense, there's no denying what Heinicke means to his teammates. They have to ride with him as the starter until his magic runs out. -- John Keim

Next game: at Texans (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Eagles

What to know: The Eagles were on the wrong end of at least one critical call -- a clear facemask on tight endDallas Goedert factored into a game-changing fumble -- but they were too sloppy in their play and saw their undefeated streak come to an end. Philadelphia turned the ball over four times, marking the first time this season they didn't win the turnover battle.

How big of an issue is the run defense? The Eagles' rush defense continues to be a problem in the absence of rookie defensive tackle Jordan Davis, who is on injured reserve with a high ankle sprain. The Commanders rushed 29 times for 100 yards in the first half alone, gobbling up 23:49 in time of possession in the process. Philadelphia's 6:11 on possession was its shortest since Week 6 of 2001 against the New York Giants and the lowest by any team in the first half of a game in the last five seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. They need to get things corrected quick with Jonathan Taylor and the Colts on deck. -- Tim McManus

Next game: at Colts (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

San Francisco 22, L.A. Chargers 16

49ers

What to know: Everything seemed to line up perfectly for the 49ers to have a breakout performance heading into Sunday night's game against the Chargers. The Niners were fresh off their bye and had eight players returning from injury, and Los Angeles was missing many key players. And yet, the Niners barely pulled off the victory. After a rocky start defensively, the 49ers shut Justin Herbert& Co. down, but the Niners offense -- with its myriad threats -- still can't consistently put points on the board. San Francisco will undoubtedly take the victory, but if this team is going to become the contender so many expect it to be, the Niners need to figure out how to start stringing complete performances together.

Whither George Kittle? After trading for Christian McCaffrey, the Niners have a lot of mouths to feed offensively. Kittle said this week he doesn't mind so long as his team wins. He was the one who didn't get to eat much on Sunday night, getting targeted just twice with one catch for 21 yards. Not every player can have a big game every week, but the 49ers would be wise to get Kittle more involved in the passing game. -- Nick Wagoner

Next game: vs. Cardinals (Monday, Nov. 21, 8:15 p.m. ET)

Chargers

What to know: Despite dealing with several significant injuries throughout the season, the Chargers continued to find a way to not only be competitive but remain among playoff contenders. However, it grew apparent Sunday night that they can only outrun their injury issues for so long, as their offense struggled to consistently move the football with their starting tackles and top two receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams sidelined. And they finished the game with only three healthy defensive linemen: Sebastian Joseph-Day, Morgan Fox and Breiden Fehoko.

When can the Chargers expect to see injured players return? The Bolts have been without Allen and Williams for two consecutive games, with Allen limited to only 1.5 games this season. When edge rusher Joey Bosa was placed on injured reserve after Week 3, coach Brandon Staley expressed optimism that he would return this season. Now staring down a Week 11 contest with the division-leading Chiefs (7-2), the urgency increases for players to return healthy. -- Lindsey Thiry

Next game: vs. Chiefs (Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET)

Green Bay 31, Dallas 28

Packers

What to know: The Green Bay Packers have a pulse, even if they needed overtime to stay alive. And they might have finally found a receiver they can count on -- assuming Christian Watson can stay healthy and stop dropping the ball. Their losing streak ended at five games thanks in part to three (!) touchdown catches by the rookie receiver. The second-round pick still has to prove he can quit dropping the ball; he had two more drops on Sunday. But he's the closest thing the Packers have to a big-play guy other than running back Aaron Jones (138 rushing yards). On the way to catching two deep-ball touchdowns -- a 58-yarder in the second quarter and a 39-yarder in the fourth quarter -- Watson became the first Packers receiver with multiple touchdowns in a game this season, and that was before he added the game-tying score with 2:29 left. It won't get any easier with the Titans and Eagles next up on the schedule, but at 4-6, the Packers are not dead yet.

Where have the Packers been hiding Rudy Ford? The backup safety had played only 20 snaps in the previous five games combined before he picked off Dak Prescott twice in the first half, which was double his career interception total coming in. His only previous interception came last season when he played for the Jaguars. Ford was promoted to a role in the Packers' secondary this week because defensive coordinator Joe Barry finally decided to move Darnell Savage to the slot in the nickel package. Barry had said earlier this month he would consider moving Savage if he had another safety to put in his spot. Ford was signed at the end of training camp but previously had played mostly on special teams. All this was triggered by the season-ending ankle and knee injuries that cornerback Eric Stokes sustained last week. -- Rob Demovsky

Next game: vs. Titans (Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET)

Cowboys

What to know: Leading 28-14 late in the third quarter, it looked like the Cowboys were ready to follow through on their promise to win one for their coach in Mike McCarthy's return to Green Bay. Then it all fell apart. And it must have looked familiar to McCarthy, the ex-Packers coach, with Aaron Rodgers throwing three touchdown passes and rookie Christian Watson doing his Davante Adams/Jordy Nelson/Greg Jennings/Donald Driver imitation. A defense that has been rock solid looked shaky when it mattered most, just like in the Oct. 16 loss to Philadelphia, and once again was beaten soundly on the ground. The offense could not come up with the big plays in the clutch in fourth quarter or overtime -- and there was a questionable decision to go for it on fourth-and-4 in OT. A 6-3 record just seems a lot different from 7-2.

How big is next week's game against the Minnesota Vikings? The Cowboys blew a chance at an opportunity to sweep the NFC North in four consecutive games with the loss to the Packers. And now if they want to be considered true NFC contenders -- even if they don't win the NFC East -- they have to beat the Vikings. A year ago, they went to Minnesota and won with Cooper Rush as their starter with Dak Prescott out because of a calf strain. The Vikings are coming off an improbable win against the Buffalo Bills in overtime andJustin Jefferson looks superhuman. The Cowboys will have to get over their disappointment in a hurry. -- Todd Archer

Next game: at Vikings (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

Arizona 27, L.A. Rams 17

Cardinals

What to know: It took Colt McCoy to stop the Arizona Cardinals' skid of losing four of their past five on Sunday. McCoy played in place of the injured Kyler Murray, who's dealing with a hamstring injury, and McCoy was able to settle the Arizona offense and run it efficiently enough to get the Cardinals a much-needed win.

Can the Cardinals kick-start the rest of their season? It all depends on how long Murray is out and, when he does come back, if Arizona can figure out how to prevent all of the self-inflicted mistakes it has been making. They weren't as much of an issue against the Rams, but the Rams also might not be the measuring stick they once were. -- Josh Weinfuss

Next game: vs. 49ers (Monday, Nov. 21, 8:16 p.m. ET)

Rams

What to know: If Cooper Kupp's ankle injury is serious, the Rams have bigger problems than a loss to the Cardinals. Kupp has been the most consistent player on this offense -- and maybe the team -- this season, and has led the Rams in receiving in all but two games this season: both against the Cardinals. Kupp entered the game with 72 receptions, for a pace of 153 over a 17-game season. The NFL single-season record is 149 by Michael Thomas for the Saints in 2019. The Rams have dealt with many injuries this season, including having to play this game without quarterback Matthew Stafford, who is in the concussion protocol. If Kupp misses significant time, it's hard to see this Rams offense improving.

Biggest question: At 3-6, is the Rams' season over? Even if Kupp doesn't miss time with his injury, it seems time is running out for the Rams. As the losses piled up this season, a common refrain from the Rams' locker room was that there was plenty of season left for the team to turn it around. Now after three losses in a row -- and five in six games -- it appears that isn't the case. Los Angeles might not be done yet, but even though the NFC is still wide open, it would take a near-perfect end to the season for the Rams to make the playoffs after this start. -- Sarah Barshop

Next game: at Saints (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Indianapolis 25, Las Vegas 20

Colts

What to know: We won't know what kind of coach Jeff Saturday is on the basis of one game. But the Colts' ability to win this game -- in the face of intense scrutiny from around the league and significant upheaval within their building -- will give Indy's interim head coach at least some credibility. Saturday took over six days ago after Frank Reich's firing and came into the job without any college or NFL coaching experience. But winning his first game gives him a needed boost at a pivotal time.

Is Matt Ryan the quarterback for the foreseeable future? He should be. The Colts' decision last month to say Ryan would be benched for the rest of the season never made much sense. And the obvious struggles of Sam Ehlinger, who started the previous two games, made it hard to defend. Ryan controlled the offense with ease on Sunday, completing 21 of 28 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown. He committed no turnovers, something that had plagued him during his first seven appearances. Ryan's return, more than anything, gave the Colts a reason for optimism. -- Stephen Holder

Next game: vs. Eagles (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Raiders

What to know: The Raiders are a dysfunctional mess ... this week. It's clear something is way off with this talented roster and its first-year coach. The Raiders should not have lost to an interim coach in Jeff Saturday who had never coached above high school, an offensive coordinator who had never called plays before and a QB who had been benched. The Raiders are now 0-6 in one-score games this season. Their six straight losses in games decided by a single score is the longest active streak in the league.

How hot is the seat under coach Josh McDaniels? Not as hot as fans would like it to be. If the season is over, which member of the coaching staff will serve as the sacrificial lamb? Raiders owner Mark Davis is more invested in the new regime of GM Dave Ziegler and coach Josh McDaniels than in certain players on the roster, as it was Davis' call to move on from the staff that led Las Vegas on its unlikely run last winter. -- Paul Gutierrez

Next game: at Broncos (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)

Minnesota 33, Buffalo 30

Vikings

What to know: The Vikings must be considered one of the NFL's very best teams after going to Buffalo, coming back from a 17-point second-half deficit and winning a wild game. They're also quite fortunate -- one of their touchdowns came when Bills quarterback Josh Allen fumbled a snap at his own goal line -- but that's part of having a great season. They're only the second team since 2000 (the 2003 Ravens were the other) to win a game after trailing in the final minute of regulation when the opponent had possession of the ball.

Was this the high point of the Vikings' season? It doesn't have to be! It's true that the Vikings expended a ton of energy to win Sunday in Buffalo. They have three tough games coming up against the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots and New York Jets. And they finished Sunday's game with their starting left tackle and two of their top three cornerbacks sidelined. But all three of those upcoming games are at home, where the Vikings are 4-0 this season. They're going to be just fine. -- Kevin Seifert

Next game: vs. Cowboys (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

Bills

What to know: Josh Allen started the game after uncertainty surrounding his right elbow injury, but it was his miscues in the fourth quarter and overtime that cost the Bills the game, including the game-ending interception. While Allen didn't appear to be hampered by the injury, the quarterback threw two interceptions in the red zone at crucial moments. He and center Mitch Morse later fumbled a snap, which gave Minnesota a touchdown when NFL's Next Gen Stats gave the Bills a 99.1% chance to win at the time. Allen did complete 67.4% of his passes (his second highest of the season), but his mistakes at the end were costly.

Why hasn't the Bills' offense been able to put games away? Coach Sean McDermott came into the game saying that the Bills needed to not be one-dimensional no matter who is playing quarterback. Establishing the run was crucial. Instead, Allen was the team's leading rusher yet again (84 yards). The offense stopped the clock far too many times instead of running the ball with a 17-point lead. The playcalling needs to rely less on Allen's arm behind an offensive line that is back to full health. -- Alaina Getzenberg

Next game: vs. Browns (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Tennessee 17, Denver 10

Titans

What to know: The Titans' receivers finally found a way to make an impact on offense this week. Wide receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine came up big for Tennessee with five receptions for 119 yards and two touchdowns, one of which was a 63-yard catch-and-run on a flea-flicker. Entering this week, Titans wideouts collectively had one touchdown reception, and none had posted a 100-yard receiving performance through eight games.

Can Titans continue to compete despite so many injuries? The Titans' physical style of football continues to use players as collateral damage. This week, Elijah Molden (groin), Lonnie Johnson Jr. (hamstring), and Caleb Farley (back) were ruled out due to injury. The Titans have rostered a total of 68 players through eight games this season and are just nine short of their total from last year. A total of 18 players are currently on injured reserve. Molden, who was injured against the Broncos, was just activated from injured reserve along with rookie receiver Treylon Burks. -- Turron Davenport

Next game: at Packers (Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET)

Broncos

What to know: As if the Broncos' offense didn't already have enough problems -- they now have scored just 12 touchdowns in nine games -- they left Nashville much more battered than when they arrived. Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy suffered a left ankle injury on the first play from scrimmage, while center Graham Glasgow (shoulder) and tackle Billy Turner (knee) left in the second half. Quarterback Russell Wilson faced constant pressure (although he did hold the ball too long at times). The Broncos couldn't run the ball and never really threatened to win the game, despite another strong showing by their defense.

How can the Broncos piece together an offensive line now? After another day of trotting out one three-wide-receiver set after another -- they didn't run another personnel grouping until there was under six minutes to go in the first quarter -- necessity might force the Broncos to bulk up. They are now playing backups to backups up front, including a player third on the depth chart at right tackle (Quinn Bailey) and a player third on the depth chart at center (rookie Luke Wattenberg). It will impact how they plan in the weeks ahead and how defenses attack them. Wilson can expect the same kind of pressure he got from the Titans on Sunday, and coach Nathaniel Hackett has an enormous strategic riddle to deal with it. -- Jeff Legwold

Next game: vs. Raiders (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)

N.Y. Giants 24, Houston 16

Giants

What to know: It wasn't pretty, but the Giants did what they needed to. They leaned on their best players -- running back Saquon Barkley and quarterback Daniel Jones -- to take care of business. Barkley had 152 rushing yards on 35 carries against the league's worst run defense, helping the Giants grab their seventh win of the season. It was his fourth 100-yard game of the season. Jones also played well, going 13-of-17 for 192 yards with two touchdowns.

How many games can this Giants team actually win? With a home game against the Lions next, the playoffs seem to be almost a lock with a win -- barring an absolute late-season meltdown. First-year coach Brian Daboll's team has consistently played winning football, so double-digit wins seems realistic at this point. Even 12-5 might not be out of the realm of possibility. -- Jordan Raanan

Next game: vs. Lions (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Texans

What to know: Rookie running back Dameon Pierce continues to cement himself as a strong candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Against the New York Giants, he finished with 122 scrimmage yards and now has 898 scrimmage yards on the season. In the second quarter, Pierce had a 44-yard run, which led to a field goal -- the only points of the first half for the Texans. Pierce was the only pulse the offense had in the first half -- he had more rushing yards (66) than quarterback Davis Mills had passing (6-for-13 for 35 yards).

Can the Texans get their receivers more involved? The Texans' receivers weren't involved much against the Giants. Their leading receiver was tight end Jordan Akins with 72 yards. It's hard for an offense to be functional if it struggles to get production from its receiver group. This has been a trend throughout the year. It's a combination of multiple things, involving offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, the wide receivers and Mills. It starts with the quarterback, though, with Mills completing only 57% of his passes when targeting wide receivers, which is bottom five among all quarterbacks. -- DJ Bien-Aime

Next game: vs. Commanders (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Miami 39, Cleveland 17

Dolphins

What to know: What's a defense supposed to do when the Dolphins run the ball this effectively? In just his second game with the team, running back Jeff Wilson ran for 119 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Adding Raheem Mostert's 65 yards and a score on just eight carries, Miami set a new season high with 195 rushing yards against a vulnerable Browns defense. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was as sharp as ever, completing 25 of 32 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns -- his third straight game with three touchdown passes. There might not be a defense in the NFL that can contain this offense when it clicks as it did Sunday.

Was this the defensive revival the Dolphins have been waiting for? The Dolphins' defense made a living in Cleveland's backfield Sunday, pressuring quarterback Jacoby Brissett 15 times with three sacks. It's exactly the performance Miami hoped to see after trading for Bradley Chubb last week, and he delivered with five pressures and a sack. But the highlight of the Dolphins' defensive performance came against the run; outside of his 33-yard touchdown run, Nick Chubb was held to just 30 yards on 10 carries. The Dolphins enter their bye week with plenty of momentum on both sides of the ball -- if it carries over into the final month of the season, they are a legitimate Super Bowl contender. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques

Next game: vs. Texans (Sunday, Nov. 27, 1 p.m. ET)

Browns

What to know: After showing signs of life in the past two games, Cleveland's defense was absolutely annihilated in Miami. The Browns didn't force the Dolphins to punt all game and got only one stop, turning Miami over on downs deep in Cleveland territory. During training camp, several Browns defenders crowed about having the talent to boast a top-five defense. Instead, Cleveland's defense, while talented, remains a disappointment -- and one of the worst units in the league.

At 3-6, is Cleveland's season already over? Not quite. But it's teetering. The Browns probably have to win in Buffalo, then defeat Tom Brady these next two weeks just to stay in realistic contention in the AFC playoff race. Good luck with that. Otherwise, Cleveland's season will be over -- before QB Deshaun Watsoneven takes his first snap in Week 13 after serving his 11-game suspension. -- Jake Trotter

Next game: at Bills (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Detroit 31, Chicago 30

Lions

What to know: Detroit Lions receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown continued to etch his name in the history books and seemingly got his mojo back to help the Lions snap their 13-game road losing streak under head coach Dan Campbell. With his parents in the stands as he faced his older brother, the Bears' Equanimeous, St. Brown made 10 catches for 119 yards, becoming the 11th player since 1950 to record 135 or more receptions in his first 25 career games. Entering Sunday, he went five straight games with fewer than eight receptions.

Is it time for more rushing attempts for D'Andre Swift? Swift is the most exciting offensive player on the Lions' roster -- when healthy. However, can he stay healthy? Despite limited touches since returning from his three-game absence, Swift reached the end zone off a 9-yard rush in Chicago for a crucial fourth-quarter score. He ended with just six carries for 6 yards. Jamaal Williams led the Lions with 16 carries for 59 yards and a touchdown. -- Eric Woodyard

Next game: at Giants (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Bears

What to know: The Bears continue to ride the threat of the run, recording their fifth straight game with 200 rushing yards. And after Justin Fields threw a pick-six, he churned out an exciting 67-yard rushing touchdown, the longest ever by a Bears quarterback, to regain the lead. Cairo Santos, however, missed the extra point, and that proved decisive. Designed runs were the weapon of choice for Chicago -- Fields gained 132 rushing yards off designed runs, the most by a quarterback in a game over the past 15 seasons, including the playoffs. The Bears previously relied on Fields' scramble ability last week, when he broke the regular-season single-game rushing record by a quarterback with 178 yards. Fields gained 110 yards off scrambles last week.

What will it take for the Bears to win close games? Fields was terrific, as was tight end Cole Kmet, who recorded two receiving touchdowns, becoming only the second Bears player to do so in back-to-back weeks since Johnny Morris in 1964. The Bears were heavily penalized (nine) against Detroit, and a slew of errors put them in chase mode late, including a missed extra point after Fields' 67-yard touchdown. The Bears are a dominant rushing team, but at some point, they're going to have to win through the air during the game's most critical moments. They failed to do so in a three-point defeat to Miami. Against Detroit, Fields completed just one pass for 6 yards in the fourth quarter. -- Courtney Cronin

Next game: at Falcons (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Kansas City 27, Jacksonville 17

Chiefs

What to know: The Kadarius Toney trade is more valuable to the Chiefs after JuJu Smith-Schuster left Sunday's win over the Jaguars in the second quarter and entered the concussion protocol. Toney, who scored his first NFL touchdown, looked like the Chiefs' WR1 after Smith-Schuster's exit. He led Chiefs wide receivers in catches (four) and yards (57).

Would a victory over the Chargers next Sunday night effectively clinch another AFC West championship? It's difficult to picture the Chiefs allowing the Chargers, Broncos or Raiders to catch them if they win next week's game. The Chiefs would lead their closest pursuers, the Chargers, by at least two games and they would also hold the tiebreaker against L.A. after sweeping the season series. The Chiefs, with a win in L.A., would need to fall apart over their last seven games to lose their division and that doesn't look realistic. -- Adam Teicher

Next game: at Chargers (Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET)

Jaguars

What to know: The Jaguars have made strides in coach Doug Pederson's first season, but they're not close to consistently competing with the league's elite teams. They don't have a big enough margin for error to overcome the litany of mistakes and missed opportunities they had against the Chiefs, which includes failing to get any points off an onside kick and two of the three turnovers they forced and having a TD wiped out by a penalty. The toughest part of their schedule is ahead -- Baltimore, Dallas, Tennessee (twice) and the New York Jets -- and they're staring at the potential for double-digit losses for the 11th time in the past 12 seasons.

What are the Jaguars going to do behind Travis Etienne? JaMycal Hasty has been the No. 2 back since the Jaguars traded James Robinson on Oct. 25. However, he has 24 yards on 13 touches. Pederson said the Jaguars don't want to overwork Etienne, but they might not have a choice because Hasty isn't giving them much and the only other backs on the roster are rookie Snoop Conner and second-year player Mekhi Sargent, who have a combined five career carries. -- Mike DiRocco

Next game: vs. Ravens (Sunday, Nov. 27, 1 p.m. ET)

Pittsburgh 20, New Orleans 10

Steelers

What to know: T.J. Watt's return made all the difference for the Steelers' defense in their 20-10 win over the New Orleans Saints for the team's third win of the season. Although Watt, who routinely drew extra attention by Saints blockers, didn't record a sack, he finished with four sacks and a quarterback hit. And even without safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (appendicitis), the defense put together one of its best performances of the season with two interceptions and two sacks -- plus they held the Saints to just 3-of-11 on third down and stopped a big fourth-down attempt in the fourth quarter. The Saints were playing with an injury-riddled offensive line, but the Steelers' defensive performance in the win gives them a boost heading into next Sunday's rematch against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Did the Steelers' run game turn a corner? The Steelers picked up a season-best 217 yards on the ground as second-year back Najee Harris looked like the 2021 version of himself Sunday afternoon. Harris ripped off a 36-yard run in the first half, fought for extra yards and ran more downhill than he has all season in the win to average a season-best 5.0 yards per carry. He finished the game with 99 yards on 20 carries, but he also fumbled for the first time in his career early in the fourth quarter. Harris and Jaylen Warren (nine carries, 37 yards) complemented each other, as Warren caught all three of his targets for 40 yards. He also picked up 21 yards on a scamper up the sideline after the two-minute warning to seal the game. -- Brooke Pryor

Next game: vs. Bengals (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

Saints

What to know: The Saints had no run game for the second straight week. That could be attributed partly to offensive line injuries (they were down three starters against the Steelers), which could spell a troubling trend. The Saints haven't done much with Alvin Kamara for two weeks, and their limited run attempts with quarterback Taysom Hill didn't go anywhere, either, as they were only in third-and-short a few times and got nothing. The Saints have a serious problem ahead if their run game continues to fail.

Is there any hope left for the Saints after another undisciplined, injury-plagued loss? The Saints initially had the hope of a bad NFC South to keep them motivated through their losses, but with a long injury list and a laundry list of defensive penalties, it sure doesn't feel like their problems are easily solved. The Saints could try to go back to quarterback Jameis Winston, who has been healing from multiple injuries earlier in the season, but the problems are bigger than any one position. From bad tackling to bad penalties, the Saints simply have not been good this year, and that's likely not changing in 2022. -- Katherine Terrell

Next game: vs. Rams (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Tampa Bay 21, Seattle 16

Buccaneers

What to know:Bucs wide receiver Chris Godwin told Mike Evans just before Brady's game-winning touchdown drive against the Los Angeles Rams last week, "This is the drive that's gonna get us back on track ... not for the game but for the season." His premonition might turn out to be true. With a win over Seattle (and the Seahawks made it close with two fourth-quarter touchdowns) the Bucs go into the bye week 5-5 and with two straight wins.

What did the Bucs' offense do differently against the Seahawks? The Bucs had improved interior run blocking, they ran the ball better and they incorporated a lot more play-action after rarely using it two weeks ago against the Ravens. And they were finally able to convert on third down and in the red zone. They went 10-of-15 on third down. They hadn't converted 50% of their third downs in a game since Week 5 against the Falcons and have only done it two other times all season. They also went 2-for-2 in the red zone. They hadn't scored more than two touchdowns there since Week 4. -- Jenna Laine

Next game: at Browns (Sunday, Nov. 27, 1 p.m. ET)

Seahawks

What to know:Seattle's 12-hour flight back from Munich is going to feel a lot longer after their worst performance since a Week 2 loss to San Francisco. As impressive as their late comeback bid was, they were awful on both sides of the ball for the first three and a half quarters. Geno Smith and the offense looked out of sorts and their defense couldn't get off the field or get anywhere near Tom Brady. Maybe they were jetlagged from the cross-Atlantic trip. Maybe their advantage in team speed was neutralized by the sloppy turf that had players slipping all day. Whatever it was, they looked nothing like the team that entered Sunday winning four straight games.

What happened to the Seahawks' resurgent defense? They were in the midst of another remarkable turnaround, going from one of the NFL's worst units in several categories over the first five games to one of the best since. But their early-season struggles showed up again. Only getting one official hit on Brady is somewhat understandable given how quickly he gets rid of the ball. But allowing Tampa Bay to convert 10 of 15 third-down tries was not. The Seahawks appeared to be unprepared for how much Tampa Bay ran the ball. -- Brady Henderson

Next game: vs. Raiders (Sunday, Nov. 27, 4:05 p.m. ET)

Thursday

Carolina 25, Atlanta 15

Panthers

What to know:The Panthers actually are a better running team since they traded star Christian McCaffrey to the San Francisco 49ers after Week 6. This doesn't mean the backs they have are better. It just means they are committed to it, as they were on Thursday night, with 47 rushes for a season-high 232 yards, including 31 carries for 130 yards by D'Onta Foreman. They are averaging 159.5 yards rushing since Week 7, sixth best in the league. They averaged 90.3 the first six games with McCaffrey to rank 26th. A good run game and defense gives you a chance to win.

Will PJ Walker remain the starting quarterback?Walker had only 108 yards passing, completing 10 of 16 pass attempts. He should have had an interception in the end zone and on the same play missed tight end Stephen Sullivan, who was wide open. He also took a sack that knocked the team out of field goal position and still seems hesitant to run. That and the Panthers' desire to get a look at Sam Darnold opens the possibility for a change, but it seems doubtful coming off a victory. It remains a week-to-week thing.-- David Newton

Next game: at Ravens (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Falcons

What to know: The Falcons were a complete mess Thursday night. They couldn't stop the run defensively. On offense, they couldn't run or throw with the efficiency they had before. Even special teams was woeful. Nothing was working for Atlanta.

What happens at quarterback?Falcons head coach Arthur Smith said he never thought about replacing Marcus Mariota with rookie Desmond Ridder during the game. And I'm not sure they should replace Mariota in the short-term, either, if the Falcons believe he gives them the best chance to win. Mariota is effective with his legs, and the pass protection has not been good, which would be more problematic for a rookie. At some point the Falcons might want to start to see what they have in him in games, but for now sticking to their development plan seems to be the prudent play.-- Michael Rothstein

Next game: vs. Bears (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

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