What we learned in Week 10: Six reasons the number six mattered

From ESPN - November 14, 2017

This week's column is brought to you by the number six.

Six is a very important number in football. It's the number of points teams earn for a touchdown. It's the number of teams each conference sends to the playoffs each season. It's the number of Super Bowl titles won by the Pittsburgh Steelers -- more than any other team.

But it was an especially interesting number in Week 10 of this NFL season. Why? Well, I will give you six reasons!

Adrian Clayborn's six sacks against the Cowboys

It was an unreal day for Clayborn, a former first-round pick who has not had six sacks in a season since he had 7.5 in his rookie year of 2011 with Tampa Bay. It was a big win for the Falcons, who needed one to keep pace with the Panthers and the unconscious Saints in the NFC South. But Clayborn's monster afternoon also made a pretty important point about the Cowboys.

The fact that Dallas is without star running back Ezekiel Elliott is obviously the subject of blaring nationwide headlines. But the fact that the Cowboys had to play without injured left tackle Tyron Smith in this game got a little bit less attention. It might have mattered more.

Without Smith on the left side, Dak Prescott's protection fell apart almost completely and led to Clayborn's domination of overmatched Chaz Green. Having been pressured on 26.7 percent of his dropbacks in the Cowboys' first eight games, Prescott faced pressure on 40.5 percent of his dropbacks Sunday. Prescott had been sacked 10 times all season before Sunday. Then the Falcons got him eight times total.

The Cowboys might or might not be able to get by without Elliott, but Smith could be a more important piece of the offense than any other. It sure looked that way Sunday.

The Saints' six rushing touchdowns in Buffalo

What in the name of Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush is going on in New Orleans? The Saints are on pace for 2,275 rushing yards. The last time they hit 2,000 in a season was 2011, a season in which they went 13-3 and lost to the Alex Smith 49ers in a wild playoff game. The time before that was 2009, when the Saints won the Super Bowl. Yes, it's a fun little secret of the Drew Brees era that the Saints have been title contenders whenever they have had a running game and a decent defense, and hoo boy, do they have those things this season.

Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara have combined for 1,089 rushing yards in the first nine games. Ingram is seventh in the league with 864 total yards from scrimmage. Kamara is 13th with 790. Brees did not even have to throw a touchdown pass Sunday in a 47-10 victory over a Buffalo team that was 4-0 at home before the Saints showed up. (However, he did get in on the act and run for one of the six.)

I could make some New Orleans party crack here, but what the Saints are doing is no joke. They have already matched their win total (seven) from each of the previous three seasons, and they have seven games left to play. You and I might have thought Brees was crazy last summer when he signed that contract extension because he wanted to try to win one more with this team before it was all over, but a brilliant 2017 draft and a recommitment to the formula that has always worked best for Brees and Sean Payton have the Saints back in first place. An NFC South team has been to the Super Bowl each of the past two years, and these Saints think it could be their turn.

The Jaguars' sixth victory of the season

Oh, it did not come easy. No, sir. The Jaguars needed the Chargers to exert every last bit of their late-game Chargerness to pull this one off. But pull it off they did, and the Jags sit at 6-3 and tied for first place in the AFC South.

Why does this matter? Well, believe it or not, this is the first time since 2010 that the Jaguars have won six games in a season. No, that is not a typo. That is accurate. Six full seasons played without getting to six wins. That's a run of serious ineptitude, folks, which is why the fact that the Tom Coughlin/Doug Marrone Jaguars can push teams around with their defense and running game is such welcome news to the fine citizens of Duval County.

C.J. Beathard's six incomplete passes

The Rams' sixth game with at least 30 points

Case Keenum's sixth win for the Vikings


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