American Football Expert & Columnist
Pick Six: New York Giants hit rock bottom with San Francisco 49ers defeat
Last Updated: 13/11/17 4:44pm
Week 10 in the NFL reminded me that the playoff race in the NFC is going to be fierce this season.
While traditional heavyweights such as the Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys are not yet out of the mix, some new teams are staking a serious claim when it comes to making a run all the way to Super Bowl 52.
Three of those teams - the New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams and Minnesota Vikings - lead the way in this week's Pick Six...
Saints keep it rolling
The New Orleans Saints finally appear to be built to win outside, and in poor weather conditions, which could be vital as we head into the winter stretch of the NFL schedule.
A strong running attack and a growing defense were evident on Sunday night as the Saints rolled into Buffalo and rushed for 298 yards and a franchise record six touchdowns on their way to a 47-10 demolition of the Bills.
Drew Brees is still capable of making every kind of throw at quarterback and Michael Thomas is an impressive, big-bodied receiver worth monitoring the rest of the way, but the stars of the show in Week 10 were running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, both of whom went over 100 yards rushing. There is not a better one-two punch in the NFL at the moment.
Rams scoring for fun
It's amazing to think how far the Rams have come in the space of a single season. They were putrid on offense a year ago and are now the most prolific team in the league, averaging 33 points per game in 2017.
The Rams scored exactly that on Sunday in a 33-7 beat-down of the Houston Texans, with second-year quarterback Jared Goff continuing to distribute the ball brilliantly to his team of receivers. Goff became the first quarterback in Rams history to compile three straight games with over 300 yards passing, three touchdowns and no interceptions in each contest.
I'm not quite sure how to rank the Rams, Eagles, Vikings and Saints as there is very little between these teams. But it will be fun to watch them go at it in the NFC playoffs.
The case for Keenum
Much was made of the fact that beloved Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was active for the first time in 672 days on Sunday as his team took on the Washington Redskins. But it was stand-in quarterback Case Keenum who stole the show in a 38-30 win.
Keenum was far from perfect and tossed up two interceptions, but he remains such an able deputy that the Vikings don't need to rock the boat too much nor throw Bridgewater back in there before he is 100 per cent ready.
The former Texans and Rams passer hit on 21 of his 29 throws for 304 yards and four touchdowns on Sunday, reminding all those teams who have lost starters this season that it is great to have a Case Keenum waiting in the wings at QB.
Cowboys hurt by missing superstar
As we expected, the Cowboys were badly hurt by the absence of a superstar on Sunday night as they fell to a 27-7 defeat at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons.
But it was not being without star running back Ezekiel Elliott that truly damaged Jason Garrett's men. It was the absence of All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith, who was out through injury and replaced by the out-of-his-depth Chaz Green.
The young lineman was abused by Atlanta's Adrian Clayborn as he ended the night with a career-high six sacks. As a team, the Cowboys gave up eight sacks on the night having entered the game with just 10 conceded on the entire season. The loss of Elliott stings, but if Smith is gone for a significant period of time, America's Team is in serious trouble.
Giants hit rock bottom
First off, congratulations to the San Francisco 49ers for picking up their first win of the 2017 season. And it was little more than Kyle Shanahan deserved in the early stages of his rebuild in California.
But it has to be said that the Giants have officially hit rock bottom as they fell to a 31-21 defeat at the hands of the 49ers. The loss condemned New York to a 1-8 start and it feels like head coach Ben McAdoo has officially lost his team.
The Giants barely look like they are trying at times and their once-proud defense is a shadow of its former self, as is their two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Eli Manning. The un-named sources in the NY locker room are also now speaking out about a coach who has no connection with his players. It feels like the first firing of the 2017 season is not too far away.
Historic night in the hoodie
The man in the hood - New England's Bill Belichick - drew level with the man in the hat - Dallas' Tom Landry - with 270 career wins on Sunday night, good for third place in the all-time rankings.
New England's 41-16 win in Denver was a credit to Belichick, who appears to have stopped the bleeding on the defensive side of the ball. Over their last five games, the Patriots have allowed an average of just 13.4 points per contest and they also benefited from fantastic special teams play against the Broncos on Sunday evening.
It's rare that Tom Brady becomes the third paragraph in a recap of the Patriots, but it shows New England put together a complete performance in grabbing their fifth straight win. And that's a credit to the coaching of Belichick, who now begins the chase for George Halas (324 wins) and the less likely target of Don Shula (347 wins).