By Week 10 of the NFL season, division races begin to come into focus as teams start to separate into contenders and also-rans. Who were the winners and losers in this crucial week?
The Steelers emerged as the clear-cut AFC North frontrunner with a 24-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. With only one game left against a team over .500, the Steelers have put themselves in a strong position to win AFC North—for the fourth time in five years—over the inconsistent Baltimore Ravens.
San Francisco 49ers
In one of the most entertaining games of the week, the 49ers solidified their reputation as an elite NFC team with a 27-20 win over the New York Giants. The 49ers won the game using the same formula they have all season: shrewd coaching decisions by first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh and a stingy defense, which has forced more turnovers than any other team in the NFL.
A team that has overcome a slow start, the Bears defeated the Detroit Lions decisively, 37-13, to pull even with the Lions for second place in the NFC North and first place in the NFC wild card race. With yet another special teams touchdown and a defense that forced four interceptions, the Bears seem poised for a strong run at the playoffs.
The Eagles all but took themselves out of the playoff hunt with a 17-21 loss to the struggling Arizona Cardinals and their backup quarterback, John Skelton. Philadelphia’s “Dream Team” has four games left against teams with winning records. Pro Bowl wideout DeSean Jackson was benched after reportedly missing a Saturday morning team meeting.
New York Jets
With the New England Patriots faltering in recent weeks, Sunday provided the New York Jets with a great chance to take over the AFC East. Instead, the Jets were routed by the Patriots 37-16. Now, with New England facing the league’s easiest schedule the rest of the year, the Jets find themselves locked in a battle for one of the AFC’s wild card spots.
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers gave away their lead in the AFC West on Thursday night, suffering their fourth straight loss, their longest losing streak since 2005. San Diego faces an uphill battle to regain their division lead, as quarterback Philip Rivers leads the league in interceptions and is in the middle of his worst season as a pro.
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