Analysis: 10 favorites found different ways to win Sunday around the NFL

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Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) runs a play during the first half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

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Dallas dominated. Detroit and Denver rallied. Jacksonville and Buffalo rebounded. San Francisco cruised.

There were few surprise results Sunday as 10 of the 12 favorites won. They got there in different ways.

Add Miami, Cleveland, Houston and the Los Angeles Rams to the list of winners. Only Green Bay and the New York Giants pulled off upsets, slight ones considering their opponents.

The Cowboys clobbering the lowly Carolina Panthers 33-10 was the most predictable outcome. Dak Prescott got to spend another fourth quarter on the sideline as Dallas (7-3) won by more than 21 points for the sixth time in 10 games.

DaRon Bland returned an interception for a touchdown for his fourth pick-6 of the season and Micah Parsons had 2 1/2 sacks. The Cowboys still have a long way to go to catch Philadelphia (8-1) in the NFC East and have a tough schedule with five of their seven remaining games against teams with winning records.

“If you look on paper, a lesser opponent, but we knew we had to come in … get going fast and not take them lightly and keep the focus high,” Prescott said. “Got the job done. To say it was clean and to say that we did exactly what we wanted to do, I can’t say that. Got to go look at the film, but you’ll take the win any way we can get it. It was a good win.”

The Lions showed their resilience in a 31-26 comeback victory over Chicago. They trailed the Bears by 12 with three minutes remaining before Jared Goff shook off three interceptions and boos from the home crowd to help Detroit (8-2) head into Thanksgiving with its best record through 10 games since 1962.

The Broncos trailed Minnesota throughout the game after an early field goal but rallied for a 21-20 victory on Russell Wilson’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Courtland Sutton with 1:03 remaining.

Denver (5-5) has turned its season around under first-year coach Sean Payton with four straight wins to climb into the AFC playoff picture.

“We’ve got some momentum. I don’t know if I’m ready to groove yet,” Payton said.

The Jaguars bounced back from a humbling, embarrassing loss to the 49ers last week with a 34-14 rout over Tennessee. Trevor Lawrence had two TD passes and ran for two scores and the Jaguars (7-3) won for the sixth time in seven games.

The Bills also enjoyed a rout after a tough week that saw offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey lose his job. They dismantled the Jets 32-6, finally sending Zach Wilson to the bench.

With Joe Brady calling the plays, Josh Allen and the offense got back on track to help Buffalo (6-5) snap a two-game losing streak and get closer in the playoff race.

The 49ers rolled to a 27-14 win against overmatched Tampa Bay. Brock Purdy threw for 333 yards, three TDs and had a first perfect passer rating. San Francisco (7-3) is back to playing at a championship level following a three-game losing streak.

“We can’t achieve our goals or win the Super Bowl in October,” 49ers defensive lineman Arik Armstead said. “We want to be playing our best football in November, December, and in January.”

The Dolphins overcame three turnovers to hand the Raiders their first loss under interim coach Antonio Pierce. The Tua Tagovailoa-Tyreek Hill combination was sensational once again for Miami (7-3) in a game that was close only because the Dolphins were sloppy.

“It’s not necessarily a bad game, it’s a game that we came up a little short,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said about only scoring 20 points in a win.

The Browns relied on their suffocating defense to edge the Steelers 13-10 behind rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Myles Garrett had two sacks and Cleveland’s defense held Pittsburgh to 249 total yards. Despite losing Deshaun Watson for the season, the Browns (7-3) have a defense that can control games and be a factor in the playoffs.

C.J. Stroud threw more interceptions against Arizona than he had all season but still led the Texans to a 21-16 victory. Stroud finished with 336 yards passing, two TDs and three picks.

The upstart Texans (6-4) can move into first place in the AFC South with a victory next week over the Jaguars.

“It’s a credit to our guys for putting us in a position to be where we are, to be able to compete,” rookie coach DeMeco Ryans said. “That’s all I asked from our guys from Day 1 — just continue to improve, continue to focus on getting better. If we’re playing meaningful football late in the season, then that shows the growth. That shows that everybody is doing what they’re supposed to do — focused on getting better. It’s good for us to be in this spot playing meaningful football.”

Every team wants to play important games. There’s no telling what’ll happen when they get there.

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