NFL Week 10: Five things we learnt

A look back at the action in week 10 of the NFL

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The Independent Online

Week 10 is in the books as well as the final International Series game. Zander Swinburne rounds up the week’s most important talking points from both the London game as well as the rest of the league.

Jaguars have no home comforts in London

As hard as it might have been for the Jaguars to endure their 31-17 loss to the Cowboys at Wembley, it was even worse for the fans. With the Jaguars desperately trying to establish a UK fan base, there appearances in London may soon be having the opposite effect to their intentions.

British fans love the underdog, and the Jags were clearly that going into the game, but with the result a foregone conclusion by half-time, Jacksonville may now struggle to pick up loyal UK supporters. In the last two years, the Jaguars have played both the 49ers and the Cowboys in London, two of the UK’s best supported teams.

With few star players on their roster as well as another humiliating record (1-9) this season, Jacksonville will need to return to London next year and give the British fans something to cheer about. They should be well supported compared to Buffalo but they owe it to all the fans who make it to Wembley to at least make a game of it. If London really is to become the Jaguars home away from home, they’ll need to give the crowd a reason to show up.

NFL making all the right moves for a franchise in London

With the last of three International Series games in the books, the NFL put the focus onto next year announcing which teams will be gracing London’s Wembley Stadium. The Jaguars return to host the Buffalo Bills whilst the Dolphins and the Chiefs will host the Jets and the Lions. Although there is no increase in the number of games, which some may find a disappointment, the NFL are experimenting in as many ways as they can to see whether a UK franchise could work.

The divisional game between the Dolphins and the Jets is a huge step forward for the league. Divisional match-ups matter greatly not just in terms of rivalry, but also play-off ambitions. To give up a home game hosting this match is not an easy decision to sell to the fans. The International Series will also host the two other games on back-to-back weekends. 2015 may be the NFL’s biggest test yet as a successful hosting of consecutive Wembley games will be needed if a franchise sets up shop in London. What these games show is that the NFL is covering all bases should they decide upon a franchise in the capital.

Arizona’s season starts now

Barely two days after signing quarterback Carson Palmer to a three-year, $50 million extension, it looks as though the 12-year veteran is now out for an extended period of time, possibly the season, with a suspected torn ACL.

This puts the Cardinals season in the balance. At 8-1 this team, barring a complete collapse, looks set for a post-season spot, but just how long they’ll last there is difficult to predict. Arizona will have to resort to backup Drew Stanton, who at least has seen game time this season with Palmer out injured several times, however not all his play has been positive.

His completion rating so far is under 50 per cent with 614 yards thrown, averaging at just over 6 yards per completion; these are not the numbers that spell deep post season run.  For Arizona, their season has only just begun as without a trusted quarterback under centre, this team could either continue on its trajectory or flop almost instantly.

The NFC South is a terrible division

For years we were blessed with mesmerising showdowns within the NFC South. The two powerhouses, New Orleans and Atlanta would dual to the end of the season for the divisional crown and even Carolina got in on the action last year. This year it's a completely different story.

Despite losing to the San Francisco 49ers 27-24, the New Orleans Saints remain top of the division with a losing record of 4-5. Atlanta laboured to a win over Tampa Bay last night to bring them to 3-6, whilst Carolina plays tonight in an attempt to catch up with New Orleans. The division as a whole has the worst record in the league with 24 losses and 11 wins between the four teams.

To put this in perspective, the current leader of the NFC South has a worse record than 18 other teams yet is still sitting in a playoff spot. We could be in for a repeat of the 2010 Seattle 7-9 fiasco.

The AFC play-off race has never been so congested

Despite being only just mid-way through the season, the NFC play-off picture looks as though it will remain relatively unchanged; the same cannot be said for the AFC. At this point it is near impossible to predict who’s going to be left standing in the AFC come January as there are now 11 of 16 teams above .500.

The usual championship chasers in the Broncos and Patriots look set to take the top two seeds but below them remain a long line of play-off hopefuls. The Colts, Bengals, Browns and Chiefs are all currently in a play-off spot, but just one game behind them lies play-off regulars the Steelers and Ravens on 6-4. The chaos is yet to let up as even the Bills, Dolphins and Chargers are just half a game behind the AFC North pair.

With this race wide open, it’s clear to see that come January there are going to be quite a few teams with a record that would often make the post-season but miss out this year.

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