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NFL’s biggest movers: Bengals choke in prime time; Steelers and Chiefs have new life

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has a 73.6 passer rating in prime time games. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
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What a crazy week.

Backup quarterbacks and underdogs ruled the day, which led to the sportsbooks having one of the biggest hauls in recent memory.

The Patriots and Panthers were the only teams to remain undefeated, and we may have seen the last of Peyton Manning as a starting NFL quarterback, after he got benched in favor of Brock Osweiler. It was later revealed Manning is suffering from a torn plantar fascia and will miss Sunday’s game as well.

And Kirk Cousins was so good against the Saints, it prompted the team to fire their defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan.

[Kirk Cousins is playing his way to a big raise this offseason]

Here are the rest of this week’s biggest movers:

On the rise

Pittsburgh Steelers

Starting quarterback Landry Jones was carted off the field with an ankle injury, requiring the Steelers to turn to their backup quarterback,  Ben Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger showed no signs of ailing, completing 22 of 33 passes for 379 yards, three touchdowns and just one interception. He targeted seven receivers plus had more than 100 yards to Martavius Bryant (178 yards and a score) and Antonio Brown (139 with two touchdowns), who continues to destroy opposing secondaries.

Brown and Roethlisberger have combined for a 113.4 passer rating this season, higher than when Jones is under center (88.5) and more than double the efficiency with Michael Vick (60.2).

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs improved their record to 4-5 after their upset of the Denver Broncos.

Cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Sean Smith limited Broncos’ receivers to three catches on six targets for 36 yards and an interception, with just three yards allowed after the catch. The Chiefs’ pass rush also dominated, getting to the opposing quarterback 26 times for five sacks, five hits and 16 hurries.

Before Week 10, Kansas City was ranked eighth in Football Outsiders’ adjusted sack rate (7.4 percent), which gives sacks (plus intentional grounding penalties) per pass attempt adjusted for down, distance, and opponent. That could be good enough to keep them rising in the AFC West.

Denver will turn to Osweiler for the forseeable future, and, according to football Ousiders, have the fourth toughest schedule going forward. The Raiders have been inconsistent and have almost as easy a remaining slate (24th toughest) as the Chiefs (19th).

Buffalo Bills

I guess you can go home again.

Rex Ryan returned to MetLife Stadium, where he was the coach of the New York Jets, and saw his new team beat the hometown squad, 22-17.

The stat of the game was the Bills’ rushing for 148 yards, the most the Jets have given up all season, but the play of the game was Sammy Watkins brutalizing Darrell Revis in coverage.

Watkins was on Revis island all game, catching just 3 of 7 targets for 14 yards, but this reception on third down was essentially what solidified the win for Buffalo.

On the decline

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals lost their bid for an undefeated season when the Houston Texans beat them on Monday Night Football by a score of 10-6. In other words, in a huge game in front of a national audience, Andy Dalton and company couldn’t score a single touchdown, adding to the narrative he can’t produce in prime time.

Nor could the Bengals take advantage of backup quarterback T.J. Yates, who went in after Brian Hoyer exited the game with a concussion. Yates was pressured six times in the game and managed a higher passer rating (105.8) than when there was no pressure (66.0).

Denver Broncos

This is probably the first time in NFL history a quarterback set a major record and got benched in the same game, but this was a long time coming.

[Peyton Manning deserved to be benched — and has for some time]

Manning’s accuracy on deep passes is in decline, his production is sinking when he gets more time in the pocket and he has his lowest adjusted net yards per pass — which gives a bonus for touchdowns while penalizing for interceptions and sacks — since his rookie season.

Perhaps Osweiler gives this team a spark on offense, but with two losses in a row, this team is far from scaring anyone on the field.

Green Bay Packers

The Packers have two problems: lack of a productive running game, and too many drives that go three and out.

[Time to P-A-N-I-C about Packers offense, but R-E-L-A-X about their playoff chances]

In 2014, the Packers ranked second in the league for lowest percentage of drives that were three and out at 14.1 percent, per Football Outsiders. This year they ranked 29th (27.9 percent) heading into Week 10 against Detroit. Against the Lions, they went three and out on 5 of their 13 drives (38.4 percent).

And while their playoff chances appear to be secure, this team is no longer a rock-solid Super Bowl contender.

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