A little late to start off week 10 in the National Football League, but really, who had the Cleveland Browns beating the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday Night Football? I’ll wait… exactly, nobody. Let’s take a look at the matchups that week 10 offers us. Can Kansas City and the Denver Broncos make ground on the highly competitive AFC West, with the division leading Oakland Raiders off on a bye week? Can the rookie duo sensation in D town continue to be dank? Or is it time for Tony Romo to come in and prove his worth/blow a 3-1 lead in the dominance of Dallas owning the best record in the NFC?
Editor’s Notes: Buffalo, Detroit, Indianapolis, and Oakland all have a BYE this week. Also, all of the statistics employed here were extracted from ESPN’s stats page:
Kansas City Chiefs @ Carolina Panthers
Daniel: The Chiefs are looking to earn their fifth straight win, with the return of Alex Smith and Justin Houston, who was just activated to the roster. Carolina is letting Cam Newton take hits left and right with a shaky offensive line that is on pace to allow more than double the hits he did last season. However, the Carolina defense has improved especially upfront, with the D-line being able to get some rest and help the team. You can run the ball on Kansas City, but can the Carolina O-line hold up against the pass rush of the Kansas City D? Carolina needs this win to survive, we’ll see.
Winner: Kansas City Chiefs
Eddie: One of the units that play the biggest role here is Carolina’s secondary plagued with rookies. They have allowed for 2288 passing yards (254.22 per game) and 17 touchdowns throughout the course of the season, and while Kansas City isn’t the most efficient of aerial attacks, I fully expect one of their WRs to step up this week. Despite the absence of Jeremy Maclin as their No. 1 weapon on the perimeter, QB Alex Smith could look to Chris Conley, rookie Tyreek Hill, or Albert Wilson as a potential recipient of this Chiefs offense.
Despite all of this, Carolina is in dire need of wins, so I fully expect 2015 MVP Cam Newton to find a way and overcome the surge of Dee Ford, and the return of Justin Houston; while exploiting through the air the side of the field opposite of Marcus Peters, and the Greg Olsen mismatch.
Winner: Carolina Panthers
Los Angeles Rams @ New York Jets
Daniel: The Rams should start Jared Goff to see what the kid has to offer. Given how well rookie QBs have done this season, we should see if the number one pick is up to par. The Rams’ defense should be able to get to Fitz with the heart and soul of the offensive line out at center. Game will be sloppy, but the Rams D will cause turnovers and sacks.
Winner: Los Angeles Rams
Eddie: A Rams team that has only found the endzone 13 times on offense this season, is ranked 26th in passing attack, and 29th in rushing, will travel to the Meadowlands to face a fear-inducing Jets D-line. For Los Angeles, the Case Keenum/ Jared Goff saga continues, as coach Jeff Fisher refuses to start Goff, the first overall pick in this year’s draft. Fisher denied the rumors that pointed to the Cal product starting this week, saying the team wouldn’t make a change at QB until they were out of playoff contention.
The key in this game is the Jets offense, with Ryan Fitzpatrick being a game-time decision due to a sprained MCL. The absence of C Nick Mangold will be especially noticeable with defensive superstar, DT Aaron Donald rushing through the middle of the line and applying extra pressure to an erratic Fitzpatrick, or an inexperienced Bryce Petty. However, if WRs Quincy Enunwa and Brandon Marshall can take advantage of a weak LA secondary, this game could be a nightmare for the Rams.
Winner: New York Jets
Denver Broncos @ New Orleans Saints
Daniel: The loss of Derrick Wolfe, and absence of Aqib Talib for another consecutive week is sure to diminish the Denver D, who can’t stop the run for the life of them. Will Drew Brees attack the “No-Fly-Zone” corners in Chris Harris Jr. and Bradley Roby? Or will Sean Payton use the one weakness of the Denver D against them, and let Mark Ingram run wild in the superdome? Can Denver’s struggling offense find a way to start the first quarter better? Without having to lament and come from behind like they’ve had in every single so far this season?
Winner: Denver Broncos
Eddie: This game can be simplified to one narrative: Is Trevor Siemian the QB of the future in Denver? While the New Orleans defense has seen the most minute of improvements in the past couple of weeks, the absence of Kenny Vaccaro, and the inherent terribleness of this group should make for a nice “get well” game for Siemian. If he cannot move the ball on this defense, then it should be considered a legitimate red flag for the former Northwestern wildcat.
Another matchup to look for is Willie Snead against this Denver secondary. Chris Harris will surely shadow Michael Thomas, while Bradley Roby will try to match Brandin Cooks’ speed, leaving Snead with more freedom to make plays in the slot.
Winner: New Orleans Saints
Green Bay Packers @ Tennessee Titans
Daniel: The Titans have been a rollercoaster ride since the start of the season, and this week they go against a must-win Packers team, who feature an Aaron Rodgers going against a Dick LeBeau defense. The use of LB Brian Orakpo has been key for the Titans D, if the Packers O-line holds on and stick to their big five package, Rodgers could be in for a huge game. The Titans run game is not one to be skeptical about, yes relatively young, but Marcus Mariota can finesse his way from a come from behind victory.
Winner: Green Bay Packers
Eddie: Marcus Mariota looks better every week, and his offensive weapons seem to have also bought into Coach Mullarkey’s offensive scheme. Kendall Wright makes splash plays seemingly every week, Rishard Matthews has proved a great red zone target in the recent weeks, and Delanie Walker continues to be the security blanket any young quarterback can only dream of having. Also, as fancy as Green Bay’s No.1 rushing defense is, Ezekiel Elliott ran for 157 yards on them! I fully expect DeMarco Murray to do a number on this defense, considering this Titans offensive is also one of the most dominant in the NFL. If you add to that the fact that the Packers have no running game, forcing Rodgers to throw the ball throughout the whole game, I don’t see why Tennessee couldn’t get a win at home.
Winner: Tennessee Titans
Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles
Daniel: Is the Atlanta D soft, or finally coming to be something other than one of the weakest? Is the rook going to get right at home? Matt Ryan, with one of the explosive offenses that has been exposing weaknesses from their opponents from week to week face the Eagles, whose weakest aspect to their defense is the cornerback position. Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu should be able to get their Philly cheesesteak and eat it too.
Winner: Atlanta Falcons
Eddie: With Adrian Clayborn, rookies Keanu Neal and Deion Jones, Desmond Trufant, and Vic Beasley Jr. all stepping up for Atlanta’s defense, they have finally left the cellar of defensive rankings. Now, they’re nowhere near the likes of the Broncos or Seahawks in terms of defense, but the surge of these players is part of what keeps them so competitive, even during shootouts. On offense, Matt Ryan continues his MVP crusade, spreading the ball around, feeding his No.1 target WR Julio Jones, and overall showing a total mastery of OC Darling, Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
Philly has an uphill climb here, with a rookie QB, a depleted receiving core, and an aging RB in Darren Sproles. Their best bet is to continue their incredible performances on Special Teams and Defense to survive a Falcons team that doesn’t mind beating teams up on the road.
Winner: Atlanta Falcons
Minnesota Vikings @ Washington Redskins
Daniel: For some reason I see Sam Bradford having a better game than his last outings. But I also like the chances of Captain Kirk Cousins at home, against the Vikings D, who have shown they can be beat by a solid run game. Washington has found that run game with Matt Jones out the backfield.
Winner: Washington Redskins
Eddie: A one dimensional Vikings offense faces a fierce Redskins defense that has found a pass rush in recent weeks, and sports an impressive secondary led by CB Josh Norman. The cast-offs playing offensive linemen and running back for Minnesota are the key to their survival for the rest of the season, even when the defense has been able to carry the team for the first weeks of the season.
On the other hand, Washington’s offense has featured a heavy mix of passing routes down the middle of the field, with Jamison Crowder and Jordan Reed as focal points of the passing game going against outstanding Minnesota cover linebackers. I give the edge here to the Redskins, simply based on momentum and I just really don’t see the Vikings getting it together on offense, at least this week.
Winner: Washington Redskins
Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Daniel: In a division battle that could go either way with the remaining weeks to follow, it is the Texans, coming off a bye to face Blake Bortles and company. Bortles should be held in check by the Houston D, but Blakey B has been putting the numbers in garbage time, at least fantasy wise.
Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars
Eddie: No matter who wins, we lose. Blake Bortles is unable to move the offense until the game is already way out of reach, and Brock Osweiler is one of the most unwatchable QBs in this league. Texans win because their defense is mildly relevant.
Winner: Not Football Fans… sorry, Houston Texans
Chicago Bears @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Daniel: Speedy linebackers of the Bucs against a physical run game of the Bears should be the match up. But this game has the potential to be high scoring if both quarterbacks decide to let it rip to their respective big play receivers. “Famous” Jameis Winston gets just cleared from concussion protocol, him and Mike Evans go up against a newly-found-swagger Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery. Should be intriguing because both teams are still trying to find their groove, which team finds it this week?
Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Eddie: A potential shootout in a game with two bad secondaries, making it all come down to A)Which team can run the ball? and B)Is Jameis Winston better than Jay Cutler at this point in his career? The answer for both of those questions lies within the Bucs, A)Tampa, as long as Doug Martin returns to action this week, and B)Jameis has seen regression this year, but he is a little better than Cutler, and the team as a whole is a mess.
Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Miami Dolphins @ San Diego Chargers
Daniel: The Dolphins are being lead by the new found rushing attack under Jay Ajayi, who is tearing up people’s fantasy leagues. This week they go against the rookie Joey Bosa and the San Diego defense. The Chargers are looking to build on their new found success of holding a lead in the fourth quarter and surviving to win a game while in the chase of the ultra competitive AFC West. Can Philip Rivers continue to feed Antonio Gates who is the best target in the red zone, or will the changing of the Dolphins offense from the pass heavy to run heavy affect the outcome?
Winner: San Diego Chargers
Eddie: What happened the last time anyone trusted Ryan Tannehill as a franchise QB? The Dolphins had one of their worst starts in recent years. San Diego is a sneaky great defense against the run, and this Jay Ajayi bandwagon has to stop at some point.
WR Tyrell Williams and TEs Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry should have a field day attacking a porous Dolphins secondary… Or they could just funnel their entire offense through RB Melvin Gordon as they have done for a couple of weeks now.
Winner: San Diego Chargers
San Francisco @ Arizona Cardinals
Daniel: The Cardinals are coming off a bye week, and they look to continue the success of David Johnson, who is the number two runner in the NFL. San Fran. is struggling, and Colin Kaepernick should and hopefully will ball out against everybody who voted for Trump. Use that built-in rage and make the Niners great again Collin. At least for this week, it’ll make your protest a lot stronger. Just saying.
Winner: Arizona Cardinals
Eddie: Another one of those games that as a fan of football, you can totally flex out this week and be totally fine. David Johnson is going to carve up this naive 49ers defense, and the Cardinals D could also look at this as an opportunity to pad the stats a little bit.
Winner: Arizona Cardinals
Dallas Cowboys @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Daniel: In a rivalry of teams that have the most Lombardi trophies, we look at the red hot Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys take on a Big Ben Roethlisberger who is looking to get his groove back after a dismal game last week. Can the Steelers offense return to dominance and display this Dallas team has flaws? Or is the rookie backfield and under center duo going to continue tearing up the league like they have done behind the NFL’s best offensive line? Will this team finally crack and let Romo come in and play reliever since this will be the first week he could be cleared to play?
Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers
Eddie: Here are a couple of stats that might define this game:
A) The Pittsburgh Steelers average 171 yards per game allowed on the ground.
B) Ezekiel Elliott averages 111.375 yards per game, and 5 yards per carry.
As much as the Steelers are a different team at home, the Cowboys have the momentum here, and they have an identity of controlling the clock and the pace of the game. This could force Roethlisberger to play catch up constantly and that is never favorable for any QB.
Winner: Dallas Cowboys
Super Bowl 49 rematch, Seattle Seahawks @ New England Patriots
Daniel: After last Monday’s controversial win over the Buffalo Bills, legion of boom member Richard Sherman and company face a red-hot, man-on-a-mission, destined to screw Roger Goodell, over inflated balls in Tommy Uggs, aka Tom Brady. Brady who has been red hot since coming off his vacation for four weeks has set the league and the Patriots offense in full highlight reel mode. The emergence of Rob Gronkowski again coming off leg injury, the versatility of Martellus Bennett, and the slyness of Julian Edelman will give the Seattle defense its toughest opponent yet. Will Brady go fourth quarter Brady in the Super Bowl against this team? Or will Russell Wilson and the back-in-Seahawk blue Jimmy Graham continue to build on the chemistry they have encountered in the past few weeks?
Winner: Tom Brady
Eddie: In a rematch of what many call the best Super Bowl, Seattle comes from a narrow victory over a foe familiar to the Patriots in the Bills. The absence of Jamie Collins will be tested most this week, with the emergence of CJ Prosise as a threat out of Seattle’s backfield, and obviously the resurfacing of Jimmy Graham as an elite TE in the NFL. This is all fine and dandy, but the Patriots only need two assets on their team to make them a Super Bowl contender year in/year out, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. As long as these two bad hombres are associated with this organization on any level, I will not pick against them.
Winner: New England Patriots
Monday Night Football, Cincinnati Bengals @ New York Giants
Daniel: Primetime Monday night is home of possibly the two best wide receivers in the NFL right now. A.J. “money” Green, and Odell “what is he going to do next” Beckham. It seems like Beckham thrives under creating unorthodox on-field antics and Eli Manning has been keen to give him the ball when it is needed. But can Andy Dalton be the red headed assassin? Or is Cincy going to lean on the running game balance of Giovanni Bernard and Jeremy Hill?
Winner: Cincinnati Bengals
Eddie: Coming off their bye week, the Bengals assumed a completely different identity in London. Pass-happy offense that gets a redzone mismatch the size of Tyler Eifert is bound to thrive. The Giants middling defense allows an average of 194 yards per game, and AJ Green has proved over and over he can Moss any CB in this league. However on the ground, the Giants are stingy, neutralizing RBs both on the ground and through the air (Hill and Bernard respectively.)
On the other side of the field, the Giants have no running game whatsoever and Eli Manning is having one of the most mediocre-to-bad seasons among QBs of his caliber. This game will lie on the ability of Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard to get open, something they haven’t managed to do consistently this year.
Winner: Cincinnati Bengals