Week 10 of the NFL season brings new rivalries, fresh starts and a quarterback showdown we can’t wait to watch. Here’s a look at the some of this weekend’s storylines.
Allen vs. Murray in a mid-season showdown? Yes please.
Josh Allen and Kyler Murray have both been playing must-watch football all season. Put them head-to-head, and we’ve got what could be the game of the week in Sunday’s 1 p.m. matchup, as the league’s hottest young quarterbacks continue to put up the best numbers of their respective careers. Both have emerged as low-key MVP candidates — a storyline that, at this rate, we’ll probably be hearing a lot more about in the coming weeks.
Allen is coming off a statement win over the Seattle Seahawks, in which he threw for 415 yards (tying his season-high) and three touchdowns. Add that to Week 3’s win over the L.A. Rams, and Allen is looking to continue what has been a successful run against strong NFC West opponents. A win this week will maintain the 7-2 Bills’ healthy division lead.
As noted in the tweet above, Murray isn’t just playing his best — he’s on pace to be the best when it comes to dual-threat performances from a quarterback. Sunday against the Dolphins saw him become the first player in NFL history to pass for more than 2,000 yards and rush for over 500 through just eight games of a season. Murray and the 5-3 Cardinals have no room for error in the NFC West. As exciting as this Sunday’s matchup is shaping up to be, it’s tough not to look ahead to Thursday’s rematch against the division-leading Seahawks, too.
This is going to be fun.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the NFC West…
Seahawks-Rams features best-on-best action
Since 2017, we’ve known three things to be true: Russell Wilson is the best touchdown-passer, Aaron Donald is the best pass-rusher, and whenever the two clash it makes for a memorable matchup.
Russell Wilson had a rough outing Sunday against the Bills in the most literal sense: he was sacked five times by Buffalo and was on the receiving end of 11 tackles. Things are not getting any easier this week, as Wilson is about to face the most dominant defender in the league.
As elusive as Wilson can be — few have mastered the art of backyard football like he has — there’s no escaping Donald’s grasp, and Wilson knows that all too well. In 12 career games lining up opposite one another, Donald has sacked Wilson 12 times and laid 33 hits on him.
Part of the problem against the Bills was Seattle’s limited run game, with injuries to Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde making the offence dangerously one-dimensional and essentially giving Buffalo free reign to blitz early and often. With Carson and Hyde still sidelined, things could get even worse against L.A. because of an injury to starting centre Ethan Pocic, who has been in concussion protocol this week and behind whom Wilson has been putting up MVP-worthy numbers.
Chargers at Dolphins: Battle of rookie QBs
This year’s rookie quarterback class knows how to make a strong first impression. Between Joe Burrow’s pass-happy performances, Justin Herbert’s historic first half and Tua Tagovailoa’s strong outings and 2-0 record with Miami, we’ve got some stars in the making.
We also have what might shape up to be a new favourite quarterback rivalry when Tagovailoa (selected fifth overall back in April) and Herbert (sixth) go head-to-head this Sunday.
Fresh off yet another rookie-of-the-week award — that’s six now! — Herbert and his ability to dodge the blitz has Dolphins head coach Brian Flores “thinking twice” about unleashing that aspect of his strong defence on the young QB and his stacked offence.
Tagovailoa, meanwhile, hasn’t necessary stolen games but he’s put together two responsible performances, with marked improvement between his first start (12 of 22, 93 yards, one touchdown) and his second (20 of 28, 248 yards, two TDs).
Can the Bucs bounce back from embarrassment?
Sunday night’s matchup against the New Orleans Saints was supposed to be an instant divisional classic and an opportunity for Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to even up the score against Drew Brees. It was neither of those things.
Instead, we saw Tom Brady lose by his widest margin since 2003, getting swept by an opponent in a single regular season for the first time … ever.
Against the Panthers, Brady & Co. have an excellent opportunity to right the ship. Brady won’t face the same kind of pressure against Carolina that he did versus the Saints, and Carolina’s offence — which won’t feature star running back Christian McCaffrey — also makes for a more favourable matchup.
Can the Eagles distance themselves in terrible NFC East?
In a normal division, a 3-4-1 would have you toiling in the basement with little hope of a playoff run. But the NFC East is far from a normal division.
With their second of two matchups against the New York Giants coming up on Sunday, the Eagles have an opportunity to separate themselves from the rest of the division. Completing the sweep over New York one week after dominating the Cowboys would give Philly a serious leg up on the (not-so-serious) competition, all of whom currently have just two wins apiece.
Things really are looking up for the Eagles, who have been held captive by injuries plaguing them at almost every position — particularly along the offensive line.
Thursday’s injury report brought a rare bright spot in the Eagles’ season.
WHOLE TEAM ALIVE pic.twitter.com/T6iDDh8SFA
— BBstuff (@b_bstuff) November 12, 2020
Likely returnees include running back Miles Sanders, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, left guard Isaac Seumalo, offensive lineman Jack Driscoll, and Lane Johnson. That’s a massive boost, and the timing doesn’t get much better than this.
Burrow’s fear factor
Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow doesn’t play scared — though, considering the porous state of Cincinnati’s offensive line, could you really blame him if he did? That fearlessness on the field, uh, may not come naturally.
Here’s a scary thought: Burrows is about to face his toughest opponent yet: the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers, and their undeniably elite defence.