10 things to know from NFL Week 10

Kirk Cousins shined, Peyton Manning made history in two ways, and more of what you need to know about Week 10.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

10 things to know from NFL Week 10


Didn’t catch every moment of NFL Week 10? PFF has you covered with the top 10 things you need to know based on our grades and data.

1. Peyton Manning earned the worst PFF game grade for a QB—ever.

Knowing now that Manning was playing through a foot injury, it may be somewhat unfair to come down on the future Hall-of-Famer too hard. However, as Sam Monson explained in great detail on Monday, Manning’s performance was historically awful.

In fact, the Denver QB’s four-interception, no touchdown game earned the lowest QB game grade ever (keep in mind that the PFF era stretches back to 2007).

Against the Chiefs—a team Manning has not lost to since 2004—he was 5-for-20 for 35 yards (NFL QB rating of 0.0) before being yanked in favor of backup QB Brock Osweiler. Since the benching, news broke that Manning has a torn plantar fascia in his right foot.

Oddly enough, Manning broke the NFL’s career passing yards record early in the contest, something that has been largely overshadowed by the dismal overall performance. 

2. Carson Palmer reestablished himself as the best NFL QB this season.

Just when it seemed Tom Brady was ready to overtake the Cardinals’ quarterback for PFF’s No. 1 overall QB grade, Palmer put on a show against the Seahawks on Sunday Night Football.

Throwing for 363 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception, Palmer teamed up with Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald to pick apart the Seattle secondary (both receivers made Khaled Elsayed’s Team of the Week).

As has been the trend for Palmer this year, he continued to shine on deep passes (attempts targeted 20 yards or more downfield in the air). On eight of these bombs, he completed five, and was the victim of one dropped pass, for a league-high accuracy percentage of 75.0. (Second was Ben Roethlisberger some distance behind him at 57.1 percent.)

3. The Vikings might be the best team in the NFC North.

Yes, you read that correctly. With a dominant showing from Adrian Peterson (more on that later) and a solid performance by the defense against a rolling Raiders’ offense, the Vikings move into sole possession of the NFC North lead.

Green Bay, the division-favorite heading into the season, has now dropped three games in a row, most recently to the Lions. Aaron Rodgers graded at 0.0 on Sunday, a very average performance from a historically well-above average QB.

Minnesota, on the other hand, flexed its muscles on the road—especially DT Linval Joseph and CB Terence Newman. Joseph tied Miami’s Ndamukong Suh for the most solo stops on Sunday (five), also notching a sack on Derek Carr.

Newman earned the best grade of any cornerback in Week 10, allowing only three receptions on 10 throws into his coverage.

At 7-2, the Vikings have a critical game at home against the Packers in Week 11 that could separate the pack—or give Green Bay the division lead.

4. Adrian Peterson was the top RB in Week 10.

We can’t mention the Vikings’ big win without breaking down the incredible performance by Adrian Peterson. The 30-year-old running back racked up 203 yards on the ground against the Raiders—123 coming after contact. He had another 13 yards on two receptions.

This was Peterson’s highest-graded game since Week 13 of 2013 against the Bears (remember he missed all of the 2014 season).

This year, Peterson owns the league’s third-best breakaway percentage (41.2), and leads the NFL in total yardage (961 yards).

5. Kirk Cousins and Matt Jones gave Washington fans a cause for optimism.

In the NFC East, the Washington Redskins are now just one win behind the division-leading New York Giants, coming off a huge victory against the Saints.

For anyone watching the game, the stars of the show were quarterback Kirk Cousins and running back Matt Jones. Cousins tied his season-high game grade with four passing touchdowns and a league-high accuracy percentage of 90.9.

Cousins was a major benefactor of the performance of Matt Jones, who made some big receiving plays out of the backfield. Against the Saints, he recorded three catches on a trio of targets for 131 yards and a touchdown. He also forced three missed tackles on his receptions.

In addition, Jones earned 56 yards on the ground on 11 carries.

While it seems the Redskins’ offense is clicking, Cousins and company face the undefeated Panthers in Charlotte in Week 11. Carolina currently owns PFF’s second-ranked pass coverage defense, led by No. 1 CB Josh Norman.

6. Cam Newton earned the top QB grade in Week 10.

While the performances of Palmer and Cousins were good, they didn’t match the caliber of the Cam Newton show in Week 10.

Newton earned his highest overall grade of the season, posting his most accurate performance by a long shot. (In Weeks 1–9, Newton had an overall accuracy percentage 69.4, 28th out of 34 QBs. In Week 10, his accuracy percentage was 88.0, third-highest in the NFL.)

The question remains, however, of whether or not Newton has earned a spot atop the MVP race. He’s certainly a unique weapon and is definitely carrying the Carolina offense—but Sam Monson explained on Monday how his season, as a whole, still doesn’t match those of Carson Palmer’s and Tom Brady’s.

7. The injury bug continued to bite New England.

In what has been an unfortunate streak of injuries for New England, the Patriots’ top receiver went down on Sunday with a broken foot. Julian Edelman may miss the remainder of the regular season, adding to a list of key players hurt on the team’s roster, including LT Nate Solder and RG Ryan Wendell.

Edelman’s injury also comes only a week after running back Dion Lewis suffered a season-ending ACL tear.

This season, Edelman is PFF’s 12th-ranked receiver, tied for the second-most touchdowns at the position (seven). He also has seven dropped passes this season, however, tied for third-most in the league.

8. Big Ben excelled in his “backup role.”

Speaking of injuries, wasn’t Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger supposed to be sidelined this week?

That was the initial plan heading into Sunday’s home game against the Browns, but an early injury to starter Landry Jones forced the former Miami RedHawk back into action.

Bad news for the Steelers, right?

Wrong. Roethlisberger, who has played through injuries before, threw for a league-high 379 yards, as well as three touchdowns. His mobility was certainly hampered with his ankle heavily taped, but he made the most of his surprise appearance, finishing with our fifth-highest QB grade of the week.

He made sure to take care of himself, however, posting the shortest average time to throw of any QB in Week 10 (2.19 seconds).

9. Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins soared to the No. 1 spot in our safety rankings.

Despite a losing effort to the Dolphins, one bright spot on the Eagles’ roster came from the play of safety Malcolm Jenkins. Jenkins earned the second-highest overall grade of the week at the position (behind only Green Bay’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix), posting nine tackles and a pass defense.

While Jenkins did surrender a touchdown, he only allowed 19 total yards on five receptions in his coverage, containing receivers immediately.

Jenkins now owns the top spot in our safety rankings this season, with an incredible 99.1 grade (scale of 1–100). Fellow Eagles safety Walter Thurmond isn’t far behind at No. 5, tied with the Ravens’ Will Hill with a grade of 90.6.

10. DeAndre Hopkins leads the league in targets.

There’s an over-used phrase that claims, “Big players show up in big games.” For the low-scoring affair in Cincinnati on Monday, that was true for Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins, who made a huge catch to pull in the game’s only touchdown—one that would ultimately seal the win for Houston, and deliver the Bengals their first defeat.

Hopkins has been the focal point of the Texans’ offense this season, evident by the frequency by which Houston’s quarterback (whether it Brian Hoyer or T.J. Yates, at this point in the year) turn to him to make a play. Hopkins has been targeted 122 times this season, more than any other player in the league. (Antonio Brown and Julio Jones are the closest to Hopkins, with 113 targets each.)

The Texans now sit at 4-5 in the AFC South, tied with the Indianapolis Colts for the division lead (Indianapolis defeated Houston earlier this season, however).

| General Editor

Chase is a General Editor at PFF, focusing on the site’s NFL content strategy. His work has been featured in ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Insider, and The Cincinnati Enquirer.

  • crosseyedlemon

    11. The Devil has officially replaced God as a Packers fan.

  • enai D

    There is no “might” about it- the Vikings are definitely the best team in the North right now.

  • D.K. Wilson

    Kirk Cousins actually did little but that’s as par for the course as are the gushing, overinflated reports of his successes. Against a lousy Saints defense Cousins appeared to throw for a lot of yards. However, upon closer inspection Cousins did what he always does, throw underneath passes. The difference last week was, against an awful scheme by Rob Ryan, the receivers’ YAC was ridiculously high. Why Ryan decided to constantly blitz a QB whose best option is almost always to throw ASAP rather than wait that extra tenth of a second for someone to actually come open, is beyond the pale.

    Teams with average defensive coordinators know that ensuring the short routes Jay Gruden has mandated for Cousins to throw – gotta make his decision to start this 4th round draft choice in a shallow QB draft pool look good – are blanketed. By now, I would hope everyone knows that forcing Cousins to throw intermediate passes constantly means the back seven will have at least four chances at INTs every outing.

    But since Ryan somehow thought blitzing a QB who gets the ball out to the first burgundy jersey beyond the line of scrimmage he sees, Cousins was able to complete those initial read passes to open receivers, rather than covered receivers.

    What’s so appallingly bad about Cousins is that when defenses do play him correctly, he will begin to panic if that first read is covered even when his second read is an equally shallow route-running option!

    Rather than pump up a mediocre quarterback whose real QB rating is far worse than the guy who should be playing and was worse versus the same competition that Colt McCoy faced his past preseason, how about taking the time to comprehensively look at what Cousins is doing – not doing, actually.

    Truly, there hasn’t been one game this season that Kirk Cousins has performed in a way that should give anyone other than Jay Gruden optimism.

    • edromeo

      You nailed it. What happened with Jay-Griffin is one of the strangest HC-QB relationship I’ve ever seen. It unseemly really and the local media was complicit. I bet Kirk will never have a season as good as Griffin’s rookie year. But now that Jay has all but run Griffin out of town everyone is forced to hope for the best with Kirk because if he doesn’t work its back to the QB-less wilderness.

      • D.K. Wilson

        Thanks. What’s even odder is that, while all the other young QBs in the league have had offenses tailored to what they do best while trying to get them more and more acclimated to playing from under center (yes, even Andrew Luck), Gruden came in the the attitude that he’s was going to make RG3 play from under center for the most part from day one.

        Of all the QBs, RG3 and Luck appear to be the most natively intelligent. So it’s not as if RG3 couldn’t learn to eventually be as comfortable under center as in the shotgun or pistol, and it’s not like he doesn’t work hard at his craft.

        But like his brother, John, Jay is hellbent on playing a QB who he can identify with; both Grudens being mediocre college QBs, they surrounded themselves with mediocre QBs or tried to force more talented QBs to play a style to which they are unaccustomed.

        For media people who don’t even like RG3 to point out that it was apparent that Gruden allowed RG3 to take the beating he took in the preseason game vs. the Lions highlighted just where his head was and is at relative to Griffin.

        But if that wasn’t enough he then stabbed Colt Mccoy in the back and started Cousins!. It’s funny that when McCoy came out of college and NFL scouts got a close look at him they all said he was much more athletic than they thought, had a much better arm than they thought, and understood defense much better than they thought. But McCoy fell prey to a head coach who didn’t want him and did everything to get rid of him. Now, every time his name is mentioned the reaction is, “We KNOW Colt McCoy isn’t the answer” – and that’s for any team, anywhere (btw, I heard from more than one person that inside locker rooms teammates love McCoy as a QB who doesn’t act like he’s above it all, which is something NFL head coaches loathe because they want a QB who has more allegiance to them than he does his teammates).

        McCoy is the quintessential coach’s son QB mind-wise but he can’t start over Kirk Cousins?!?! RG3 is one of the smartest people when he walks into most rooms but he “can’t read defenses” and “can’t learn to play from under center?!?!”

        All RG3 did was put Baylor on the map. All Colt McCoy did was succeed a national champ QB in Vince Young and take the team back to another de facto national championship game (I will always feel the hit that knocked McCoy out of the Alabama game was a targeted hit; it was a QB sneak deep in ‘Bama territory on Texas’ first drive and McCoy had been stopped when whoever that LB was came around and blew up his shoulder).

        In the end, Gruden got hired because Mike Shanahan put the word out that Dan Snyder forced him to start RG3 over his personal pick, Cousins (Shanahan wanted to trade up for Cousins!) and that RG3 was uncoachable, which scared off all the viable head coaching candidates. Now Snyder and Washington fans (we’ve has season tix in our family since the RFK days!) are stuck with this clown, Gruden, and a franchise close to being in ruins if they can’t get a good replacement for Gruden and find yet another QB who can actually carry a team when he has to do so.

        • edromeo

          It sucks. Poor management from Bruce led to the hiring of Jay. Jay who gave up on Griffin in 5 games. 5 games. Brand new HC gave up on grooming the potential franchise QB and made it ugly along the way public bashing and endless media back channel leaks and ‘off the record’ reports.

          I actually blame Snyder for not having the stones to tell Bruce and Jay that they better get right or else.

          Anyhow, all spilled milk now. Jay has got rid of Griffin for Cousins. And barring a total collapse it looks like they’re gonna stick around. All we can do is hope for the best of a bad situation.

          • WCYarb

            Do you watch Washington at all?

            Griffin has had much more than ‘just five games’ – he’s had entire offseasons as the starter – to grow and learn and show that he gets it.

            And he still turns in performances like this: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dc-sports-bog/wp/2014/11/19/chris-cooley-rgiii-was-so-bad-i-cant-assess-the-rest-of-the-redskins-offense/

            I like RG3 – I gave my father an RG3 shirt in joy that we had finally solved the QB issue in DC – last good QB we had was Rypien, mind you . . .

            But he doesn’t get the NFL game. Gruden was right to move on. The Patriots players said this after a scrimmage last year. His offensive linemen hated him. There are stories of him ‘staying late’ on the field and literally just punting the ball up in the air to himself . . . because no one else could/would work with him.

            This benching may actually wake him up. He has brains and natural ability you can’t coach. But he is done. Kirk is the best option on the roster. Maybe not long term – but certainly for now

          • edromeo

            I’m a Washington fan, so of course I watch. Point of fact is that Griffin only had 5 starts before Gruden benched him. 5. That is a fact.

            Griffin careers thus far has been 1 awesome year, 1 average year and 7 up and down games.

            The rest of your post is more unsubstantiated rumor mill speculation that I don’t engage in.

            But, I agree that any non-Griffin QB is the best QB for this team whether its Kirk or even Colt. We just have different reasons for believing it.

            And whether or not Jay is ‘right’ can only be proven over the course of the rest of the season. Either Kirk earns it, no questions asked or not and we start over.

          • WCYarb

            http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2293254-robert-griffin-iii-punting-footballs-for-40-minutes-is-a-sad-inexplicable-story . . . punting

            http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000376536/article/kirk-cousins-outplaying-redskins-qb-robert-griffin-iii . . . I live in Boston – it was an interesting quirk to that 2014 game – that the Patriots organization, known for being students of the game just a little – said the best QB on the Washington roster was Cousins.

            As for the O-linemen – That’s rumormongering, agreed – http://thebiglead.com/2013/11/26/robert-griffin-iii-why-are-his-linemen-not-helping-him-up-this-year/ . . .

            Yes. 5 starts, I didn’t dispute that. I did say, however, there were hundreds of practices. Hundreds of meetings. Including a full commitment to RG3 as this year’s starter, which meant picking up his option . . . and RG3 lost the opportunity.

            This team has shifted to a ‘next man up’ mentality of accountability. K, QB, LB, CB – we’ve sat down or cut many people who were underperforming.

            We don’t have the talent to compete – but it is the right direction.

          • WCYarb

            PS – Yes, I watched the video – couple of good passes, agreed. He has talent.

          • edromeo

            You seem to be very keen on the Washington media. If you believe Jay had full commitment to Griffin as this year’s starters I have bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

            We’re busy quibbling over a moot issue. We can agree to disagree.

            5 starts and hundreds ofi meeting/practices etc…..for me, and for many people is a curiously short amount of time for a new HC to give up on developing (at the time) a potential franchise QB.

            Now its all about Kirk, and we just have to hope that he plays well enough down the stretch.

          • WCYarb

            Agree to disagree it is.