clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What the 5 biggest Week 10 upsets mean for the NFL playoff picture

This was an “Any Given Sunday” week in the NFL — and the results could end up having major consequences for playoff hopefuls.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

It took us 10 NFL weekends to finally get an “Any Given Sunday” week of football. An “Any Given Sunday” weekend is when we get several upsets. This time, we got to see two teams win as double-digit road dogs, a couple others win as home underdogs, and the Vikings, who have been awful in primetime under Kirk Cousins, reversed that trend with a win in Dallas Sunday night.

This time of the year is fantastic for us NFL fans. There’s so much moving up and down the standings, and our opinions can change week to week. As usual, there are major implications to these games. Let’s have some fun and take a look at five of the biggest upsets from “Any Given Sunday” and what they mean going forward.

Atlanta Falcons 26, New Orleans Saints 9

Umm, what the heck? Didn’t the Falcons — who were 13.5-point underdogs on the road — know they weren’t supposed to win this game?

They entered New Orleans with one of the worst defenses in the league, leading the Falcons to lose their last six games heading into a bye week. The bye did them wonders as they held a potent Saints offense to 4.9 yards a play and 25 percent on third-down conversions. It was something to behold.

What it means: The Falcons’ season is still over at 2-7 and Dan Quinn is most assuredly heading toward a firing, but this one had to feel good against a division rival.

However, this could be a costly loss for the Saints, who are vying with the 49ers and Packers for homefield advantage in the playoffs.

NFC standings

  1. 49ers (8-1)
  2. Packers (8-2)
  3. Saints (7-2)
  4. Cowboys (5-4)
  5. Seahawks (8-2)
  6. Vikings (7-3)

It’s always tough to get homefield advantage when you lose games you’re supposed to win at home. Drew Brees has been stellar at home in the playoffs, but he’s only 1-5 in his career on the road. The Saints need that dome for the playoff. They can’t afford to drop games like did they Sunday.

Tennessee Titans 35, Kansas City Chiefs 32

The Chiefs entered this game feeling awesome. Matt Moore went 1-1 in his two-game stint as the starting quarterback, and MVP Patrick Mahomes was back in the lineup. They were going on the road as a seven-point favorite and looked it early on with a 10-0 lead.

Although they fumbled away the lead by halftime, the Chiefs mostly controlled the second half and went ahead 29-20 after a ridiculous jump pass from Patrick Mahomes.

But the Titans kept fighting back. With under two minutes, Kansas City was up 32-27 and was about to attempt a routine field goal. But it’s never that easy. The Chiefs’ long snapper fired the ball back too soon. The holder picked up the ball and threw it away. Seriously.

The Chiefs were flagged for intentional grounding and the Titans got the ball at their own 39-yard line with 1:21 left in the game. It only took four plays before they found paydirt. They converted the two-point attempt and were leading 35-32 with under 30 seconds left.

The game seems finished, but no. Mahomes got the team into field goal range ... only to have a game-tying field goal blocked. Titans win.

What it means: That was a HUGE loss for the Chiefs.

The Chiefs want a bye in the first round. They now have four losses. The Patriots have just one, the Ravens have two, and the Texans have three:

AFC standings

  1. Patriots (8-1)
  2. Ravens (7-2)
  3. Texans (6-3)
  4. Chiefs (6-4)
  5. Bills (6-3)
  6. Steelers (5-4)

However, the Ravens and Texans both have a tough schedule down the stretch; the Chiefs do not. The Chiefs hold the tiebreaker over the Ravens, but not the Texans. Still, there aren’t many games left to make up this ground.

AND the Raiders, at 5-4, are close behind the Chiefs in the AFC West. What seemed like an easy division for Kansas City to wrap up is now more difficult. The Chiefs have already beaten the Raiders in Oakland and will be favored by near a touchdown at home when they meet in December. But, like I said about the Saints, you can’t lose these types of games and expect to get homefield advantage in the playoffs. Just a killer.

Cleveland Browns 19, Buffalo Bills 16

This wasn’t a technically an upset because the Browns were three-point favorites at home, but the Browns had lost four straight and had yet to win in Cleveland. The result is also a good reminder that the Bills are frauds. They have beaten six of the worst teams in the NFL. In fact, according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, they have beaten teams ranked 29, 30, 31 and 32. But when it’s time to play a good quality team — and that’s debatable when discussing the Browns — the Bills can’t move the ball.

What it means: The Bills handed the Patriots the division this weekend, and I think they will need to fight to make the playoffs. I expect them to finish with a whimper, with games still left against the Cowboys, Ravens, Steelers, and Patriots.

Miami Dolphins 16, Indianapolis Colts 12

The Dolphins aren’t doing this tanking thing very well, are they? I wrote a couple weeks back that tanking in the NFL is hard business, and it’s easy to see why. The players and coaches prepare to win all week and they give it their all on gamedays. Miami has now won two in a row, including as a 10-point underdog on the road Sunday.

What it means: The Dolphins have brought it lately and now are most likely are out of the top pick in the draft. I think winning now is fine, though. They have the picks to move up if needed, or they can sit in their position and draft away.

The real implication from this game is for the Colts. I tried to tell Colts fans I didn’t buy them after beating the Chiefs and Texans. The numbers showed they weren’t as good as their record. And I’m correct.

I can’t gloat too hard considering the Colts played Sunday with Brian Hoyer and not Jacoby Brissett. But we’ve seen teams fight to victories with backup QBs, while other parts of their team step up and make plays. The Colts haven’t done that the last two weeks. Now, after after losing to the Steelers and Dolphins in back-to-back weeks, they might be looking on from the outside when the season ends.

Pittsburgh Steelers 17, Los Angeles Rams 12

Let’s start first by giving the Steelers props for continuing to make it work with Mason Rudolph. They were four-point home underdogs, but the Steelers’ defense has been outstanding and helped them get the win over the Rams this week.

But, this game is another indictment of Sean McVay and Jared Goff. The Rams have been figured out and have not adjusted at all. And before you scream about their offensive line, which has been poor, there are plenty of examples this season of offenses functioning at a high level while missing pieces. The 49ers have been without both tackles. The Chiefs have been down at least two linemen, including their left tackle, for almost two months now. The Patriots have a backup center and left tackle.

So there are no excuses for McVay. He’s supposed to figure out how to make this work and he can’t. His offense looks exactly the same as it did three years ago, while the other top playcallers have mixed it up. And this game was after a BYE! Just awful.

What it means: Pittsburgh is now on a four-game winning streak and back in the wild card hunt.

The Rams are most likely out of the NFC West and looking for some help to get a wild card bid. I thought entering the season McVay would have looked at the Super Bowl and adapted his scheme. He didn’t. It’s disappointing.