Russell Wilson was shut out for the first time in his career. Taylor Heinicke outplayed Tom Brady. Aaron Rodgers had fewer touchdowns than Cam Newton.
Another Sunday was filled with upsets and unpredictability.
For the second straight week, four teams with losing records beat clubs that entered in first place or tied for first. It started with Miami knocking off Baltimore on Thursday night. Washington defeated Tampa. Carolina routed Arizona. Minnesota edged the Chargers.
Even the Detroit Lions joined in on the surprises by avoiding a loss for the first time.
Wilson made a remarkable return from a severe finger injury only to throw a pair of picks in the end zone in Seattle’s 17-0 loss to Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Wilson wouldn’t make excuses but he was rusty after missing three games.
“This could have been a big, big step for us here to get this win on the road,” Wilson said. “Unfortunately, because of my mishaps here and there, it didn’t happen that way. I look forward to watching the tape and seeing where I can get better, where we can get better.”
The Seahawks (3-6) are reeling but still have a shot to chase the third wild-card spot if they can go on a run.
Rodgers also wasn’t sharp in his return from COVID-19. He didn’t practice all week and just joined the Packers on Saturday. The NFL’s reigning MVP managed the offense well enough to lead Green Bay (8-2) to victory.
The Packers moved to first place in the NFC. They blew home-field advantage last year, losing to Brady and the Buccaneers in the conference title game. The snow is already falling in Green Bay and no team wants to play at Lambeau Field in January.
The Buccaneers (6-3) made their road to a repeat even more difficult with a stunning 29-19 loss to lowly Washington (3-6). Brady threw two interceptions in his first six passes and the team had too many costly mistakes.
The biggest concern has to be Tampa’s vaunted defense that hasn’t looked anything like the group that dominated Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. They couldn’t stop Heinicke after giving up 29 points to Jameis Winston, Trevor Siemian and the Saints before their bye last week.
Brady’s magic won’t be able to overcome a defense that shaky.
“We’re not showing up on Sundays,” Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said.
Perhaps the most unlikely scenario in Week 10 was Newton returning to Superman status just three days after he returned to Carolina and three months since he last played in an NFL game.
The Panthers signed Newton, the former face of the franchise, on Thursday and wasted no time using him. He backed up backup P.J. Walker and threw a TD pass and ran for a score in Carolina’s 34-10 rout over Arizona.
Newton’s return makes the Panthers (5-5) exciting and they’re right in the mix for the playoffs, holding the seventh spot.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals (8-2) fell out of the NFC’s top spot – they lost to Green Bay last month – and they’ll need Kyler Murray back to hold off the Rams (7-2) in the West.
There were some signs of consistency and normalcy on Sunday.
The Tennessee Titans (8-2) remained hot, beating New Orleans for their sixth straight win.
Kansas City (6-4) is back in first place in the AFC West thanks to Mahomes, who threw for 406 yards and five TDs in a 41-14 win at Las Vegas.
The Buffalo Bills (6-3) got back on track with a 45-17 win over the Jets following a 9-6 loss to the Jaguars last week.
The Dallas Cowboys (7-2) destroyed Atlanta 43-3, rebounding from a lopsided loss to Denver.
And, the Lions (0-8-1) remained winless. Ryan Santoso missed a 48-yard field goal in overtime as Detroit played the Steelers to a 16-16 tie.
The Lions still have a chance to finish the season with zero wins. That would be one of the least surprising developments in an NFL season that’s one of the hardest to figure in recent years.
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