NFL Week 10: Road & kicking woes
What we learned
Road teams won just four of 13 games through the end of Sunday, and it was no coincidence that nearly all of the successful road teams are also in good position in the standings, including New England, Seattle and the New York Jets.
Probably the most painful road loss was suffered by St. Louis, who showed how difficult it can be to take that next step in the NFL.
The Rams were up by seven late in the fourth, and could have buried San Francisco, who were facing 3rd-and-32 and 4th-and-16 scenarios. The 49ers converted both times to keep their hopes alive, and eventually win in overtime.
Hot seat power rankings
There could be multiple teams going 0-8 on the road for the first time since 2005, when the New York Jets and Houston bottomed out.
Six teams have yet to win at home, with all but Buffalo residing in the NFC.
The Bills were able to deny Detroit on Sunday, with the Lions losing a record 25th consecutive game on the road.
Minnesota, like the Lions, also fell to 0-5 on the road, and the old saw that "Brett Favre gives the Vikings a better chance to win than Tarvaris Jackson" really has to be questioned at this point.
After a terrific first 20 minutes, words can't express how dreadful Favre was. Over the last 32 minutes of the game, he was 9-for-20 for 50 yards with three interceptions and a fumble.
The other winless road teams are San Francisco and Carolina.
Special note must be made of one team with one win on the road. Kansas City would have done themselves a world of good in their division with a win in Denver, but were non-competitive.
All four AFC West still have a shot at winning the division, and it will likely be the team that can eke out just three wins on the road. All of the West clubs have just one win on the road at this point.
Seattle was able to win on the road for the second time this season, a huge boost given how tough they usually are to play at Qwest.
The win also pushed them atop the NFC West, meaning at day's end, six of eight divisions have leaders different than who finished first at the end of the 2009 season.
The only 2009 division winner currently leading their group is Indianapolis, with New England tied for the AFC East lead.
Wide of the mark
It was not a good day for kickers, with a 76 per cent field goal conversion rate that would be the second lowest of any week so far this season if it holds up through the final game of the week (see sidebar).
It could have been a lot worse, as there were no fatal kicking mistakes. The Jets bailed out Nick Folk while the Jaguars did as well with Josh Scobee.
It barely gained a mention at the time, but during Week 7, NFL kickers made an astounding 95 per cent of their field goal tries (57-of-60).
Draft winds could change
Buffalo's win was not totally unexpected, but just days ago football observers were wondering which of college quarterbacks Andrew Luck or Jake Locker the Bills would take with the top spot in the next NFL draft.
It's a fun game to play, but there's still a ton of football left. As soon as the end of next week, the Bills (1-8) could technically be as low as fourth in the drafting order. It would require them beating Cincinnati (2-7) on the road, Detroit (1-8) keeping their ignominious road streak going in Dallas (2-7), and Carolina (1-8) being unable to win on home turf against Baltimore.
It would result in four teams having two wins or fewer. NFL draft order is determined by strength of schedule in the case of teams who finish with the same record, and the team with the weaker schedule gets the higher pick. With Buffalo in a division with winning teams New England, Miami and the Jets, plus games played this season against Baltimore and Pittsburgh, they'd likely lose most tiebreaker scenarios.
Here is a look at the some of the more intriguing matchups on the Week 11 schedule:
Indianapolis (6-3) at New England (7-2): These two AFC titans have played every regular season since 2003, as well as three playoff games. The ledger is 5-5 after a thrilling 35-34 Colts win last year, in which Bill Belichick made his infamous 4th-down gamble. The Colts are extremely banged up, however, and might well have lost Sunday if not for Carson Palmer's largesse.
Oakland (5-4) at Pittsburgh (6-3): Oakland hasn't led the West this late in a season since 2002. Their stay atop the division might not last long given that they play in Pittsburgh against a Steelers group who were just embarrassed by the Patriots.
Chicago (6-3) at Miami (5-4): Third-string Miami quarterback Tyler Thigpen likely gets to face Chicago's pass rush Thursday without left tackle Jake Long, one of several of injured Dolphins. Which unemployed quarterback will be holding the clipboard behind Thigpen for the decimated Dolphins? Patrick Ramsey? Chris Simms? JaMarcus Russell? The matchup occurs 25 years after Dan Marino dissected the Bears to end Chicago's hopes of an undefeated season.
N.Y. Giants (6-3) at Philadelphia (5-3): For the NFC East Division lead. The Giants should be smarting after their home loss to Dallas and the Eagles will be coming off a big game in Washington. The Giants play four of their final seven against the Eagles and Redskins.