FOX Sports Betting Analyst
Are the 49ers back as Super Bowl contenders? Are the Texans really going to be a playoff team? What happened to the “hot” MVP candidates? Is Mac Jones cooked as a starting NFL quarterback?
Taking stock of those questions and more in my trending report for Week 10.
San Francisco 49ers
When the 49ers play like they did on Sunday, it’s difficult to see any team in the NFL beating them. The 49ers entered their bye week with three straight losses and came into Jacksonville looking to play better ball. The Niners saw Trent Williams and Deebo Samuel return from injury, and with their offense back at full strength they torched the Jacksonville Jaguars defense, which was a top-five DVOA unit heading into this weekend. Brock Purdy was 19 of 26 for nearly 300 yards and three touchdowns. Christian McCaffrey added 95 yards on 16 carries. The offense checked the boxes.
The Niners pass rush looking like the unit from the last two seasons was the most positive development in this blow-out win. There were questions about the defensive production not being up to par this season, but on Sunday they harassed Trevor Lawrence the entire ball game. The Niners had five total sacks from four different pass rushers, including newcomer Chase Young. San Francisco’s stock is going up!
Brock Purdy throws for 296 yards and three TDs as 49ers rout Jaguars
If the season ended today, the Texans would be traveling to Baltimore for a wild card game. I do not think even the most die–hard Texans fan would have predicted them to be in the playoff picture after 10 weeks of football. The Texans have earned their 5-5 record by improving week over week, led by sensational rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud. The debate during the draft was whether Stroud’s play against Georgia was the anomaly of his college career or could be expected in the NFL. It’s clearly who Stroud is in the NFL as he’s a legit MVP candidate. Stroud was 23 of 39 for 356 yards with one touchdown and one bad interception. The best thing Stroud has done is give the Texans hope. Hope now and more importantly hope for the future. The Texans know right now he’s their guy for the future and they can start planning around him.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs did not play this weekend and were huge winners anyway. Kansas City entered Week 10 as the top team in the AFC after winning seven of nine games to start the campaign. The Chiefs have been winning despite their offense not yet reaching its full potential, which has been their bread and butter for years. The Chiefs are 7-2 because of their defense and there are lingering questions around the league about their offense matching its usual production at any point of the season. This could have been a weekend where the teams directly chasing the Chiefs could have made a statement that they were coming for the No. 1 seed. The opposite happened.
The teams directly below the Chiefs in the AFC standings all took losses and only one of the three teams held leads during the second half of their respective games. The Baltimore Ravens blew a 31-17 lead to the Cleveland Browns, which is just not ideal for a team everyone was starting to discuss as legit AFC contenders. Actual contenders close out wins in a game they’ve dominated for over three quarters while playing at home.
The Cincinnati Bengals were coming off victories over the 49ers and Buffalo Bills in back-to-back weeks. They appeared to be fully back after starting the season slowly after Joe Burrow injured his calf in the preseason. They had me convinced they were “officially back.” Not so fast. The Bengals lost to the Texans on Sunday, and while Burrow threw for a ton of yards, he had two terrible interceptions in the red zone that cost the Bengals points. The Bengals defense allowed 28 first downs and 544 yards to C.J. Stroud, and whatever defensive gains we’ve seen recently appeared to disappear on Sunday.
The Jaguars got steamrolled by the 49ers 34-3, which is embarrassing for many reasons. For starters, I wagered on the Jaguars so I’m a dummy, but all in seriousness, they want to be considered a legit playoff contender and those type of teams simply do not get their butts kicked like this. The Jaguars (as well as the Niners) were coming off a bye and did not match the physicality of San Francisco. They could not finish drives on either side of the ball. It was a full-on butt-kicking.
Dustin Hopkins drills game-winning FG to help Browns complete comeback vs. Ravens
“Hot” MVP candidates
Without a clear favorite for NFL MVP after nine weeks, the masses turned to two hot quarterbacks to throw their money behind. One is former MVP Lamar Jackson, leader of the previously 6-2 Ravens. However, after his performance on Sunday, coupled with the result of his team, I’m not sure he’s at the top of the “hot” MVP board anymore. Jackson only completed 13 passes for 223 yards with two interceptions. He did add 41 yards rushing, but that’s barely 260 combined yards for the game. His Ravens blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead at home to the Browns, and ultimately these losses get blamed on a QB who completed just 13 passes.
Joe Burrow was so back until Sunday when he threw two horrendous interceptions in the red zone. One saw a defensive lineman barreling close to him before throwing high over the middle and the second was just an unforced error by Burrow as he was scrambling to his right. Burrow did finish with nearly 350 yards passing, but those mistakes cost his team.
Outgaining your opponent
You don’t have to outgain your opponent to win football games, but it generally helps if you do. The more yards you gain the closer you are to scoring points. Scoring more points than your opponent will win you 100% of games. Seems vital to wins and losses, except if you’re playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are 6-3 after beating the Green Bay Packers 23-19 on Sunday and they have now played nine games without outgaining their opponent in a single game. Yes, that is correct. Not a single game this season has the Steelers offense earned more yards than their opponent. On Sunday, the Packers finished with 399 yards to the Steelers 324. The previous week, the Steelers won 20-16 with the Tennessee Titans gaining more first downs and 16 more yards.
I won’t bore you with the gory details but Mac Jones was awful Sunday and his career as an NFL starting quarterback is finished. Jones was benched for Bailey Zappe with two minutes left and the Patriots trailing by four to the Indianaplis COlts. The Patriots preferring a quarterback cold off the bench to attempt to win the game instead of Mac Jones, speaks volumes.
Jones is just not a good quarterback. He doesn’t possess any elite traits and I’d argue he doesn’t even show anything that would excite you for him to be a potential franchise quarterback. Sometimes it just doesn’t work in the NFL and there’s still a place for him as a priority backup in the league.
Geoff Schwartz is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. He played eight seasons in the NFL for five different teams. He started at right tackle for the University of Oregon for three seasons and was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection his senior year. Follow him on Twitter @GeoffSchwartz.
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