Five nuggets of knowledge about the Week 10 games:
King of the NFC South: The Atlanta Falcons are running away with the division. But the title doesn’t officially belong to them yet. The Saints won last season’s division title and they’ve won a lot against the Falcons in recent years. The Saints have won three straight against Atlanta and six of their past seven meetings. Over the past 12 contests, the Saints have won 10 times.
Doubting the Falcons? If you fall into that category, you might like this offering from ESPN Stats & Information. Based on the current record of opponents, the 8-0 Falcons have faced the easiest schedule in the NFL. Their opponents are a combined 24-41 (a .369 winning percentage). But you should also consider that number might be skewed a bit because everyone who has played the Falcons has one built-in loss. By the way, the Buccaneers have the second-easiest schedule, with opponents combining for a .388 winning percentage.
Positive Carolina stat: These are a rarity these days, so I try to share anything positive about the Panthers that I spot. The Panthers are 2-1 against Denver quarterback Peyton Manning in his lengthy career. That’s a .667 winning percentage, which ties Carolina with Chicago and Green Bay for the best winning percentage against Manning. So the Panthers have that going for them, which is nice.
With or without VJ. San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers has struggled on deep throws after losing Vincent Jackson to the Buccaneers in free agency. On throws of 20 yards or more, Rivers has completed 30 percent of his passes this year, almost a 10 percent drop from last year. He also had 19 touchdown passes on such throws last year, but only one this season. But Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman is benefiting from Jackson’s arrival. Freeman already has a league-high 17 completions on throws over 20 yards. He had only 12 completions on such throws all last season.
Chasing Sweetness. Tampa Bay rookie running back Doug Martin has 486 yards from scrimmage over the past two games. That’s the most in a two-game span since Walter Payton in 1977. Martin is within striking distance of the NFL record for a three-game span (593 yards), set by Payton in 1977.