What we learned (and didn’t) in Week 10: Six reasons the number six mattered

Updated: November 14, 2017

7:22 AM ET

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’ll give you six reasons!

Adrian Clayborn‘s six sacks against the Cowboys

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  • Best and worst QBs of Week 10: Keenum, Beathard make their cases

    Quarterbacks at risk of being benched played their best games of the season for two of the top performances.

  • Barnwell: Making sense of wild, wide-open NFC playoff field

    Dak Prescott and the Cowboys are suddenly in big trouble, while the Falcons could make another run. Bill Barnwell sorts the nine teams competing for six playoff spots in the NFC.

  • It was an unreal day for Clayborn, a former first-round pick who hasn’t 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.