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Week 10 NFL takeaways – What to make of the Saints’ and Chiefs’ upset losses

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The Saints lost by 17 points to the Falcons. And even with Patrick Mahomes back under center, the Chiefs couldn’t outlast the Titans. The Jets got by the Giants in a Battle of New York, Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson piled on offense against an overmatched Cincinnati team and the Browns held off the Bills for their third win.

In the afternoon, Miami upset Indianapolis, and Green Bay made a late stand to beat Carolina in the snow.

All that and more in Week 10’s biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.

Jump to a matchup:
KC-TEN | ATL-NO | DET-CHI
ARI-TB | BAL-CIN | BUF-CLE
NYG-NYJ | MIA-IND | LAR-PIT
CAR-GB | LAC-OAK


The Titans rediscovered the importance of using Derrick Henry as the focal point of the offense. Offensive coordinator Arthur Smith’s decision to stick to the run despite being down by nine points to Kansas City in the fourth quarter paid off. Henry finished with 23 carries for 188 yards and two touchdowns. Tennessee’s win keeps it in the playoff mix and allows the team to get healthy during the bye week. — Turron Davenport

Next game: vs. Jacksonville (4:05 p.m. ET, Nov. 24)

Even with Patrick Mahomes back in the lineup and on top of his game, the Chiefs won’t be able to outscore every opponents. If they don’t clean up their sloppiness on special teams and improve on defending the run, they won’t win the AFC West title for the fourth consecutive season. The Chiefs can be get caught by the 5-4 Raiders, who are a half-game behind and come to Arrowhead Stadium in Week 13. — Adam Teicher

Next game: at L.A. Chargers (8:15 p.m. ET, Nov. 18)


The Falcons, who had a league-low seven sacks coming into Sunday, generated consistent pressure against Drew Brees with six sacks and 11 quarterback hits. Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett led the way with 2.5 sacks and five QB hits. The coverage and communication from the defensive backs was solid, and the rushers up front took care of the rest. If the Falcons can rush with such consistency next week at Carolina and the rest of the season, they could be in every game, especially if the offense continues with long scoring drives. — Vaughn McClure

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

New Orleans needs to figure out how to start faster. The Saints’ stunning loss at home to the Falcons feels like a bit of a one-off, since they won the six previous games. But Brees agreed afterward the Saints do need to be concerned about their uncharacteristic trend of slow starts on offense this season. They have scored a total of 25 first-quarter points in nine games. They need to start setting the tone more in a critical month with three more division games coming up, starting next week at Tampa Bay. — Mike Triplett

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


Bears coach Matt Nagy refuses to change. He opened the doors to Club Dub, the Bears postgame locker room dance party, after Sunday’s victory over Detroit, even though the team had lost four straight coming in and is 4-5 on the year. “I never considered not doing it,” Nagy said. “It’s who we are.” He recalled one year in Kansas City when the Chiefs were 1-5 and found a way to make the playoffs. “I keep reminding myself of that,” Nagy said. The Bears face long odds, but there is no quit in the second-year head coach. — Jeff Dickerson

Next game: at L.A. Rams (8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Life without Matthew Stafford, as expected, was not kind to the Lions. While the stats might appear better than one would think in Jeff Driskel‘s first start with Detroit, the reality is it was a much different offense without Stafford playing for the first time since the start of the 2011 season. It will be a long season for Detroit, who is now close to needing to win out to reach the postseason, if Stafford can’t return soon. — Michael Rothstein

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


The Bucs finally found a way to finish. After the Buccaneers surrendered an eight-point lead to the Seahawks last week — their fifth blown lead of the season — and having their secondary called out by coach Bruce Arians for a “disappointing” year, cornerback Jamel Dean made a touchdown-saving interception late in the fourth quarter. “I’m just really elated that we finished,” said quarterback Jameis Winston, who threw two interceptions but delivered three touchdown drives. “That was a really, really ugly win. That was an ugly win. But we found a way to do it.” Arians added, “I can’t be happier for anybody than Jamel Dean. He [won] the game. Last week he [was] the goat. He’s gonna be a hell of a player.” — Jenna Laine

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

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Ronald Jones II, O.J. Howard and Peyton Barber all fine the end zone for the Buccaneers in a 30-27 win over the Cardinals.

The Cardinals blew an opportunity to inch closer to .500. Arizona’s offense looked impressive at times, with Kyler Murray setting a new mark for consecutive passes by rookie without an interception (211), per the Elias Sports Bureau. However, too many mistakes — including a pick by Murray late in fourth quarter — cost Arizona a win. After the demoralizing loss, the Cardinals now have to gear up to travel to San Francisco for their fourth road game in five weeks. — Josh Weinfuss

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


Lamar Jackson made his most complete statement that he’s the MVP in the NFL. He became the third player in the past 30 years to record at least three touchdown passes, one touchdown run and a perfect passer rating in a single game. But what everyone will talk about is his highlight-reel 47-yard touchdown run in which he faked out one defender and spun around another. Coach John Harbaugh said: “I said to offensive coaches on the headphones: ‘They’ll be watching that run for decades and decades. That’s one that everyone in the country is going to see by tomorrow afternoon.'” Thanks to Jackson, the Ravens (7-2) won for the fifth consecutive time, closing to within one game of the Patriots (8-1) and the top seed in the AFC. — Jamison Hensley

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

Almost everything that happened during the Bengals’ blowout loss against the Ravens was part of the bottoming out that comes with the rebuilding process. Rookie quarterback Ryan Finley had some positive moments but also had a couple of costly turnovers that were returned for touchdowns (one fumble lost, one interception). The Bengals went with rookies like Drew Sample and Germaine Pratt in an effort to make progress in their development. And while all of that is necessary to build for the future, it comes at a cost. Cincinnati needed a late field goal to avoid the biggest loss in franchise history. But it was Cincinnati’s 11th straight defeat dating back to last season, which ties the longest in franchise history. The ninth consecutive loss in 2019 makes this the franchise’s worst start since 1993. — Ben Baby

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


After getting stuffed on goal-to-go on two previous possessions, Cleveland finally broke through in the final two minutes. Cleveland has owned one of the worst red-zone and goal-to-go offenses in the NFL, and those struggles continued Sunday. But with one final opportunity, the Browns kept their season — and faint playoff hopes — alive with a gutsy, 82-yard touchdown drive, concluding with a 7-yard pass from Baker Mayfield to Rashard Higgins. Too often this year, the Browns have found ways to lose. Sunday, they found a way to win. Now, in the span of five days, they have an opportunity to double their season win total, with Pittsburgh coming to town Thursday night. Beat the Steelers, and suddenly Cleveland’s season outlook quickly could begin to change. — Jake Trotter

Next game: vs. Pittsburgh (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday)

This loss may go down as a pivotal moment in Buffalo’s season. The Bills made things interesting for the AFC’s potential wild-card teams after Sunday’s loss to the Browns, adding fuel to the critique that this team’s record is more a result of a weak schedule than anything else. Unfortunately for Buffalo, that “weak schedule” has come to a screeching halt; its next two games against Miami and Denver can no longer be overlooked before a four-game stretch against Dallas, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and New England. Now 10 weeks into the season, the Bills are 1-3 against their four toughest opponents and haven’t created any sort of confidence they can beat good teams. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

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


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Cowboys hoping to reach deal with Dak Prescott, avoid franchise tag

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INDIANAPOLIS — Time might be running out, but Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones remains confident a long-term deal can be worked out with quarterback Dak Prescott before the organization will need to use the franchise tag.

Jones said there are no talks scheduled with Prescott’s agent, Todd France, but the team intends to meet with him at some point this week during the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.

Jones said there is no scenario in which the Cowboys would move on from Prescott in 2020.

“I mean, Dak’s our quarterback. He’s our quarterback for the future and we have nothing but the greatest respect for him,” Jones said. “He’s a competitor. He’s won a lot of football games for us. Obviously, he, like us, we all want to take that next step and get into a championship game and get to the big game and ultimately win a championship. So there’s no thoughts like that.”

Jones acknowledged the sides have not spoken since September when the Cowboys thought they were closing in on an agreement that would have made Prescott among the top-five paid quarterbacks in the NFL.

“It just kind of stopped. We kind of left it where it was,” Jones said. “I wouldn’t say there was anything acrimonious. They felt they were done where they were. We felt like we were kind of where we were and we never really got going again.”

Despite the inactivity, Jones believes a deal can be consummated before March 12, the final date in which the club can use the franchise tag. That is two days later than the original deadline because of the ongoing discussions with the NFL and the NFL Players Association on a new collective bargaining agreement. Jones said there are “a lot of moving parts,” that go into negotiations when it is the final year of the CBA. With a new CBA, the Cowboys would lose the chance to use the franchise and transition tags but it would ease up some of the issues in getting a long-term deal completed.

Jones would not get into whether the Cowboys would use the nonexclusive franchise tag, which would cost $27 million but allow Prescott to shop the market, or exclusive tag, which would cost $33 million and prevent teams from signing him.

“I just don’t think we’ve had our hands around what the next steps are,” Jones said. “Obviously we didn’t end up getting it done because they were pretty entrenched with their thoughts and we were pretty entrenched with our thoughts. I think really that’s the facts of the world we work. Certainly we’ve done a lot of thinking about it and looking at it and we’ll see where it ends up.”

Prescott is not the only high-profile free agent the Cowboys want to re-sign. Wide receiver Amari Cooper, cornerback Byron Jones and defensive end Robert Quinn are also set to be free agents. Without a CBA extension, the Cowboys could theoretically use the franchise tag on Prescott and transition tag on Cooper. If there’s a new CBA, then they would only be able to use one tag, thus making it more likely Cooper, Jones or Quinn could hit the market.

“We haven’t gone into any details with players since the end of the season. We are really wanting to see where the CBA is,” Jones said. “The way I look at these contracts, the two we are talking about [Prescott and Cooper], when things get momentum they can happen in 24 hours. It’s just a matter of can you get some traction and [be] headed in the right direction.”

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Chattanooga State asst. Volonte Bell killed in accident

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Volonte Bell, an assistant men’s basketball coach at Chattanooga State and the older brother of New Orleans Saints safety Vonn Bell, was killed in a traffic accident Sunday night, the school confirmed.

Chattanooga State head coach Jay Price spoke glowingly to the Chattanooga Times Free Press about Volonte Bell, who was in his third year with the team.

“I spoke with his mother this morning and she was trying to be strong, but this is just a very sad day for all of us who knew him,” Price said. “Volonte was just a positive, energetic guy who was always upbeat. Anybody who met him will tell you the first thing you always noticed was his smile and that’s the thing a lot of us will remember him for.

“This was probably his last year to coach with us because he was too good at such a young age not to be moving up. His personality made him a perfect fit for the coaching world because he never met a stranger, he could talk to anybody and didn’t mind working hard. He had such a bright future ahead of him. It’s just hard to believe.”

The Chattanooga police department would not confirm the names of anyone involved in the accident. But according to police, the 29-year-old male later identified as Bell was pronounced dead on the scene shortly before 10 p.m.

According to police, he was driving a Honda Civic and failed to slow down before striking a trailer that was being towed by a Volvo truck in front of him in the middle lane of traffic.



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Ex-Browns DE Chris Smith eyes NFL comeback after girlfriend’s death

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Former Cleveland Browns defensive end Chris Smith, whose girlfriend was killed in a traffic accident last September, is making a comeback and is looking to sign with an NFL team, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Smith is feeling better and ready to resume his career, the source said.

Smith’s girlfriend, Petara Cordero, was struck and killed by a driver on Interstate 90 in Cleveland. She had been a passenger in Smith’s 2019 Lamborghini and exited the vehicle when it had a tire malfunction and hit the median.

The couple had just had a daughter together the month before.

Smith started two games for the Browns in 2018, but compiled only one tackle in eight games following Cordero’s death.

The Browns released Smith on Dec. 3.

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