A tale of two Ryans: the best of times, the worst of times.
Ryan, Rex: Just led his new team to a victory over the team that fired him last season, in their own house. That's a big deal for anyone, but probably more so for the bluster-blowing brother. Ryan, Rob: led his own tail right out the New Orleans door, getting fired after week 10 when his defense melted down in a way that evokes memories of Chernobyl and Three-Mile Island. Two years removed from a top-five defense, Brother Rob's 2015 defense is only going to be ranked in the top five in the number of quality offensive games ruined by the defense.
The Ravens got shafted by the officials -- and they will laugh all the way to the 2016 NFL Draft.
Monday, the NFL admitted they should have called a false start on the last timed down of the Jaguars-Ravens contest, which would have necessitated a 10-second runoff and would have prevented the game-altering facemask from ever happening. While that may sting, it puts the Ravens -- who are as close to "done" as any team can be in week 10 -- in position for a top-ten draft pick next season. Coach John Harbaugh isn't typically the type to roll over and play dead, so we will see if they continue to play hard and be a spoiler, or if they wave the white flag and barely do more than show up for the next seven weeks.
The AFC South and NFC East may be awful, but the NFC North is just plain weird.
Don't look now, but the Minnesota Vikings are 7-2 -- and they lead the NFC North. The Packers have found new ways to lose over the last three weeks, while superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers has looked less than mortal. Losing to the Broncos hurts. Losing at home to the previously 1-7 Lions -- who hadn't won in Wisconsin since the last time Bryan Adams, Paula Abdul and Amy Grant all had top-10 songs in the same year -- is a whole, new kind of hurt. Then there's the Bears, of course, who are about as predictable from one week to the next as a starving, schizophrenic hyena.
The Dallas-Tampa Bay game was 59 minutes of cover-your-eyes bad followed by one frantic minute of could-pass-for-quality-high-school-football.
What was a 6-3 snoozefest for most of the day finally became something-almost-approaching-sort-of-wants-to-resemble-the-vague-likeness-of-quality-football. Dallas minus quarterback Tony Romo is a surprisingly bad team -- Matt Cassel isn't the worst backup in the world, but even the best second-string passer couldn't have saved a team that dysfunctional. Romo, fortunately, has a thick skin, and has been through the grain thresher that is the Dallas fan collective for a decade now; he knows what to expect, and how to tame a beast that constantly is trying to hurt itself. Fortunately for the Cowboys, he's due back in week 11. Also playing in their favor: they play in the second-worst division in pro football.
We knew the moment would come when Eli was the better of the two Mannings.
We just kind-of figured it would be after Peyton Manning had retired and his arm had finally completely transformed itself into Linguine al dente. We didn't expect that it would happen so rapidly that it appeared sometime between the coin toss and the fourth play from scrimmage in week 10 of the 2015 season. Manning played nine series on Sunday. Five ended with three-and-outs. The other four were interceptions. If every single pass a quarterback throws falls incomplete, his rating is 39.6. Manning's week-10 rating (prior to getting benched, that is) was 0.0. Do you know why it was 0.0? Because the NFL Passer Efficiency Rating metric doesn't allow for negative numbers, that's why. He was so bad on Sunday that even covering your eyes wouldn't have blocked out the nightmares we all had Sunday night as a result of his "performance". There is not enough hyperbole in the English language to overstate how bad Manning was against the Chiefs.
College Football Bonus! The Pitt Panthers' streak of awful is over!
No, not the one where they can't get into a quality bowl. That one may be over, too, but we have to wait a little while longer to know for sure. No, I'm referring to one that has gone on all season: until Saturday, the Panthers were the only FBS team to have allowed points to be scored on every single one of their opponents' red-zone trips. Duke's Blue Devils faced a 4th and Goal from the Pitt 1 on the opening play of the second quarter, but the pass was broken up in the back of the end zone. Pitt had gone nine full games plus a whole quarter before they finally prevented points in the red zone in 2015. What makes that more amazing is that they are 7-3.
And finally...Ben Roethlisberger is the best backup in NFL history.
That's not just hyperbole. Roethlisberger's off-the-bench performance in relief for Landry Jones, who was actually playing in relief of Roethlisberger -- it's all very existential and requires a physics degree to even begin to comprehend -- was, literally, the best statistical performance by a backup in the NFL. Ever. If I was him, I might be a little embarrassed at that record. I would not, however, be embarrassed by the performance itself, which could have Ben in contention for Offensive Player of the Week. Or maybe they give it to Antonio Brown, to make up for overlooking him last week when he had 17 catches for 284 yards. This week, it was 10 catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Or it might go to Martavis Bryant, who had 178 yards and a touchdown. The scariest part is that the game could have easily been 37-9 instead, but the Steelers opted to kneel the ball on their final drive while threatening in the red zone. Regardless, it's a nice way to kick off the bye week.