Here are Arthur Arkush's five takeaways from a wild early Week 10 slate:
1. The weekend's only game between two opponents with a winning record turned into the weekend's biggest laugher thanks to the most dynamic backfield in the NFL.
The Saints won their seventh consecutive game, 47-10, by running over, around and through a Bills rush 'D' that entered Sunday ranked eighth in the NFL.
New Orleans tallied more than 300 rushing yards and all six of its touchdowns on the ground — three by Mark Ingram, one each by Alvin Kamara and Drew Brees and, for good measure, a 47-yard exclamation point by rookie Trey Edmunds in the fourth-quarter blowout.
That's not a typo: New Orleans scored 47 points, and Brees, who threw for just 184 yards, accounted for none of the scoring with his right arm.
Ingram and Kamara both went over 100 yards, as did Michael Thomas as a receiver for the first time this season, as the Saints went into Buffalo, where the Bills had three extra days rest, and made a compelling argument the NFC may go through New Orleans this season.
Indeed, the Saints became just the second team in NFL history to rattle off seven consecutive wins following an 0-2 start. The other? The 1993 Cowboys, who, of course, went on to win their second consecutive Super Bowl title.
Although Ingram and Kamara will garner many of the headlines — and deservedly so — it's worth noting the Saints' offensive line, together and healthy for the first time this season, mauled Buffalo from whistle to whistle. From a pancake block-in-space by Terron Armstead on Brees' touchdown to Larry Warford returning from a two-game absence to dominate inside, New Orleans was wholly impressive up front.
The Eagles, at 9-1, are still technically the cream of the NFC crop. But they have a MVP candidate at QB, while the Saints have a Hall of Famer and Super Bowl MVP. Brees hasn't needed to put up big numbers this season but the Saints are nothing if not dangerous in every phase right now. If these two teams are on an NFC title game collision course, well, we'd love to see it.
2. Buffalo, meantime, looked like Rex Ryan returned to the sideline to coach the run 'D' in a game that channeled last year's pair of 200-yard demolitions courtesy of Jay Ajayi... only worse.
It started ugly for Buffalo, which, after 10 days off following the loss in the Meadowlands, squandered two opportunities to get off the field by committing bad penalties and allowed a 25-yard Ingram burst on fourth-and-1 at the 30-yard line in a 7-3 game.
And Kelvin Benjamin or not — he was pretty much invisible following the first series of his Bills debut — this team obviously isn't equipped to overcome the kind of 17-3 deficits they carried into the tunnel.
But that we already knew.
What we found out Sunday in a continuation of the Bills 'D' providing little resistance in their visit to the Jets is Sean McDermott's club clearly isn't ready for primetime — offensively or defensively. Thomas got pretty much wherever he wanted to amid Buffalo's various defensive zones in the first half. The Saints did absolutely whatever they felt like on the ground.
Credit the Bills for their tremendous start to the season but the 'D' has showed its warts — namely a reliance on takeaways — in recent weeks and just doesn't yet have the horses to sustain its early-season success.
3. With Teddy Bridgewater active for the first time since 2015 and showing his emotion after the long road back during a teary-eyed pregame, perhaps the pressure on Case Keenum was ratcheted up a notch.
Keenum proceeded to play his best half of NFL football — 14-of-17 for three touchdowns to give Minnesota a commanding lead — before the wheels began to fall off with two fourth-quarter interceptions in Minnesota's 38-30 road victory.
Although Keenum couldn't play four complete quarters, the way he responded following the second pick said a lot about his mental toughness and likelihood he won't be handing his job over to Bridgewater easily.
Keenum was able to pick up a couple first downs, showing the kind of pocket awareness and movement that's led to just five sacks taken on his first 262 Vikings pass attempts on the series immediately following his second pick. It set up Kai Forbath for a 53-yard field goal that would provide the needed cushion.
Keenum was locked in with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs — the pair combining for 12-224-2 receiving — and Minnesota overcame the absence of sack leader Everson Griffen with Brian Robison and Danielle Hunter providing timely pressure late.
Thielen, plus Diggs, who looked healthy and explosive after just starting to find his footing in his first game back from the groin injury before the bye, create so much conflict for opposing pass defenses. Thielen may have been the best player on the field Sunday, giving Josh Norman the business, and the pair are doing at all three levels of the field.
That was the offseason goal for Minnesota, in addition to rebuilding its run game and O-line: become a more explosive, dangerous offense. Well, the Vikings rolled up 406 yards (6.8 per play) on Sunday against a 'D' that held Seattle to 14 points at home last week. 4. The Jaguars hung on for one of the crazier wins of the NFL season, a 20-17 overtime survival act over the visiting Chargers. They did it despite Blake Bortles throwing two fourth-quarter interceptions following three excellent quarters of football.
Jacksonville prevailed despite a pair of inexcusable taunting penalties — one by Marquise Lee on Jacksonville's final drive in regulation; the other by Aaron Colvin after A.J. Bouye's game-sealing pick in the extra period.
That the Jaguars showed more faith in Bortles, who executed a second-half touchdown drive that featured 12 passes and just one rush, illustrated how much better he's been playing of late. That Leonard Fournette was on the bench for much of the second half was curious, though he was the preferred overtime clock killer following Bouye's interception.
But neither Bouye's interception in overtime, returned to the one-yard line but backed up by Colvin's penalty, nor Malik Jackson forcing a fumble late in regulation when it looked like the Chargers were about to clinch a road upset, will be Doug Marrone's and Tom Coughlin's focus from this win.
It'll be about a young and ascending team needing to prove that it's capable of becoming a more mature and big-game tested club if it's going to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Lee and Colvin nearly cost the Jaguars a win on Sunday but their opponent happened to be the Chargers, whose late-game gaffes know no bounds. Sunday they included a Joey Bosa roughing penalty in the final minute of regulation and a delay of game in overtime to make ex-Charger Josh Lambo's game-tying and game-winning kicks more manageable.
5. The Steelers again played down to their competition coming out of the bye in a 20-17 road win over the Colts. It'd be a bigger concern if there wasn't enough reserved for a secondary that lost Joe Haden (broken fibula) and Mike Mitchell (Achilles). And if we weren't so accustomed to seeing Mike Tomlin's club let inferior opponents hang around (see: Week 3, Bears).
Instead, we're left to wonder how one of the NFL's top pass defenses — ranked No. 2 entering Sunday— will overcome the possible absences of its two most veteran members in the secondary.
The good news for the Steelers, beyond being 7-2, is that Stephon Tuitt was dominant in his return from injury (1 sack, 3 TFLs and 4 QB hits) and RT Marcus Gilbert helped with the protection that yielded just one sack of Ben Roethlisberger.
Plus, there was room for Martavis Bryant to return and make a key fourth quarter conversion on Pittsburgh's game-winning drive and JuJu Smith-Schuster to lead the Steelers in receiving.
The Steelers are in good shape in the AFC North, where the Bengals fell again and the Ravens, on bye, remain one-dimensional and already lost once to Pittsburgh. There are signs of the offense showing more diversity, which was missing last January. But we're stil waiting on signs of a talented team refusing to let its weaker foes hang around, and we'll now need to see evidence the Steelers' secondary depth can weather the type of losses it endured Sunday.