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NFL WEEK 10 : They're not exactly super : Broncos continue slide and the Cowboys lay an egg, so don't pencil them in yet for the title game.

November 16, 2009|SAM FARMER | ON THE NFL

Do not adjust your picture.

But you might want to adjust your Super Bowl picks.

The Dallas Cowboys, who had won four in a row, were nearly shut out Sunday . . . by a Green Bay team that lost to winless Tampa Bay a week earlier.

The Denver Broncos, who looked indestructible as they rolled to a 6-0 start . . . now seem to be imploding just like they did at the end of last season.

The Tennessee Titans lost their first six games and appeared to be playing for the No. 1 draft pick in 2010 . . . then reversed their field with three consecutive wins behind Vince Young, Version 2.0.

And the Cincinnati Bengals, fresh off a 4-12 season . . . have successfully swept the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers for the first time since 1998.

Ignore everything you learned in the first half of the season, because the second half is all about second chances.

The Steelers, for one, would have loved a third.

"They're the best team in the division," Pittsburgh's Ryan Clark said of the Bengals after the 18-12 loss. "I'd give my left arm to play them again."

That could happen in the postseason. But for now, the Bengals have moved comfortably into the division lead.

The San Diego Chargers hope things unfold the same way for them next weekend. They have won four games in a row -- counting Sunday's home victory over Philadelphia -- and head for Denver. The free-falling Broncos, who last season blew a three-game lead in the last three weeks, have lost three in a row.

Denver safety Brian Dawkins shook off the notion the Broncos are panicking in the wake of Sunday's loss at Washington, a game quarterback Kyle Orton couldn't finish because of an injured ankle.

"Crisis? No. Tough spot? Absolutely," Dawkins said. "There's not going to be too many teams that's going to have a straight shot and not go through some adversity."

Heady play

There's no quit in Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew, except when quitting is the smartest thing to do.

The former UCLA star made a Phi Beta Kappa decision at the end of a road game against the New York Jets, intentionally stopping a yard short of the end zone on a would-be, go-ahead touchdown within the final two minutes. He dragged his knee just before the goal line instead of scoring on a 10-yard run, allowing the Jaguars to further burn the clock -- and ultimately kick the winning field goal -- rather than giving the ball right back to the Jets.

Even his opponent -- and former USC cross-town rival -- couldn't help but praise a heads-up play like that.

"Smartest play of the game," Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez said. "That's an MVP play right there."

Injuries galore

In addition to Orton, several other pivotal players suffered injuries. Among those who couldn't finish games Sunday were three big-time running backs: Atlanta's Michael Turner (ankle), Cincinnati's Cedric Benson (hip) and Miami's Ronnie Brown (ankle).

Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu appeared to aggravate a knee injury that kept him out of four games this season. Carolina tackle Jordan Gross suffered a broken ankle and is expected to be out the rest of the season. The same could be true of Dallas tackle Marc Colombo, who suffered a broken leg.

Extra points

Although they're 9-0 for the first time, things aren't perfect for the New Orleans Saints. They've had 13 turnovers over the last four games, and their secondary is banged up. Both starting cornerbacks were sidelined because of injuries for the second half Sunday.

The Jaguars have four of their next five games at home. They're 5-4 and tied with Houston for second place in the AFC South.

Cincinnati has gone 18 games without giving up a touchdown on the opponent's opening drive.

--

sam.farmer@latimes.com

twitter.com/LATimesfarmer

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