NFL Week 10 Preview

Week 10 features a number of intriguing games between contenders as well as a number of games that will greatly affect the draft order come April.  The Broncos, Ravens, Texans, and Vikings are all on a bye, so we’ve got a 14 game slate for this week.  I’ll be ranking the games starting with the worst and finishing up with the game of the week.  Let’s get into it, shall we?

14. Buffalo Bills (2-7) @ New York Jets (3-6) — 1 PM Sunday on CBS

Vegas Odds: Jets -7, O/U 36.5

This game gets the honor of being the worst game of the week.  The Bills are coming off a 41-9 drubbing by the Chicago Bears, while the Jets are coming off a sloppy 13-6 loss in Miami. With Josh Allen looking likely to miss 4th consecutive game and Derek Anderson still being in concussion protocol, Nathan Peterman will likely be under center for Buffalo this week.  The Jets are also dealing with an injury to their starting quarterback, as Sam Darnold was seen in a walking boot earlier in the week and not practicing.  If Darnold doesn’t play– and it’s likely he will be held out of the game for precautionary reasons– Josh McCown will make his return to the starting lineup.  It should come as no surprise that the over/under for the game is 36.5 as both offenses are completely inept.  The Jets may start opening up the playbook with McCown under center and with Peterman likely to start, you can bank on at least 2 turnovers by the Bills.  If Josh Allen gets cleared, however, this will be a much closer game.  Either way, the Bills defense is good enough to keep the game close and although the Jets will win, they will not cover the spread.

Jets 17 – Bills 13

13.  New York Giants (1-7) @ San Francisco 49ers (2-7) — 8:15 PM Monday on ESPN

Vegas Odds: 49ers -3, O/U 44

The 49ers finally showed some life last week with Nick Mullens under center, destroying the Raiders on Thursday night 34-3.  The Giants are coming off their much needed bye week having lost 5 in a row.  Both of these teams are looking towards the 2019 draft and this game will go a long way in determining who gets closer to the #1 pick.  While the Giants have been atrocious all year, they have two of the most talented players in the league in Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr.  The 49ers entered the season with expectations to challenge for the NFC West title but those dreams were crushed when Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL in Week 3.  This game will be decided by the play of both quarterbacks.  Will Nick Mullens come crashing back down to Earth after feasting on the Raiders on his debut?  I think Mullens benefitted from having zero expectations last week and facing the worst team in the NFL.  With higher expectations, I don’t see a repeat performance.  The Giants have too much skill to lose a game like this and Eli Manning buys himself another week as the starter as the Giants take this one.

Giants 27 – 49ers 17

12.  Jacksonville Jaguars (3-5) @ Indianapolis Colts (3-5) — 1 PM Sunday on CBS

Vegas Odds: Colts -3, O/U 46.5

What a fall from the top the Jaguars have seen: they’ve lost 4 games in a row and haven’t been particularly competitive in any of those games.  The Colts, on the other hand, have won 2 games in a row and have put themselves right back in the hunt for the AFC South. This is an elimination game for these teams, which is something most people did not expect to say about the Jaguars this early in the season.  The Colts have to be pleased with the way Andrew Luck has rebounded from his shoulder injury and they have to be thrilled with the emergence of Marlon Mack.  The Jaguars have dealt with poor play on offense all season, with Blake Bortles being a liability and Leonard Fournette missing much of the season.  The Jaguars defense just can’t seem to live up to the hype that they placed on themselves, which resulted in the need to trade Dante Fowler Jr. to the Rams at last week’s trade deadline.  The Jaguars, who had sky high expectations entering the season, will finally wake up and play like the team they were expected to be this week.  The return of Leonard Fournette will bring a much needed boost to the Jaguars offense, leading them to a needed road win.

Jaguars 24 – Colts 21

11.  Los Angeles Chargers (6-2) @ Oakland Raiders (1-7) — 4:05 PM Sunday on Fox

Vegas Odds: Chargers -9.5, O/U 50

If the Chiefs had not exploded this season, everyone would be talking about the Chargers being the top contenders to the Patriots throne this year.  The Chargers have won their last 5 games and are clicking on both sides of the ball.  The Raiders have been…bad.  Jon Gruden has absolutely destroyed this team and they just aren’t competitive.  It’s amazing to think that just 2 years ago the Raiders were on the rise and were being talked up as a perennial contender for the next decade.  Now, they need to completely overhaul the team.  There’s no doubt the Chargers will win this one, it’s just a matter of whether the Raiders can keep it somewhat close.  Playing at home, the Raiders will keep this close by their standards, only losing by 20 points.

Chargers 37 – Raiders 17

10.  Arizona Cardinals (2-6) @ Kansas City Chiefs (8-1) — 1 PM Sunday on Fox

Vegas Odds: Chiefs -16.5, O/U 49.5

CBS Sports

Another game that is not in any doubt.  The Chiefs have been unstoppable all season, with their most recent game resulting in a comfortable 37-21 win over the Browns.  The Cardinals offense finally showed signs of life under new offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, finally getting Larry Fitzgerald involved and giving David Johnson more of an opportunity to succeed.  The Cardinals defense is led by Patrick Peterson and Chandler Jones, who give the defense a chance at making a big play.  These two just aren’t enough to slow down the Chiefs, however.  Even without Sammy Watkins this week, Patrick Mahomes should have no issue picking apart the Cardinals defense and rookie Josh Rosen is bound to make a number of mistakes in a game where he will be in catch-up mode all day.  The Chiefs continue their dominance and don’t let the Cardinals keep it close.

Chiefs 41 – Cardinals 20

9.  Washington Redskins (5-3) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5) — 1 PM Sunday on Fox

Vegas Odds: Bucs -3, O/U 51

Fitzmagic is back and boy is it exciting.  Under Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Bucs follow the same script almost weekly: fall way behind only to come storming back.  Last week, Fitzpatrick brought his team back from an early 35-7 deficit, only to fall just short of completing an improbable comeback against the Panthers.  The Redskins, on the other hand, are a team that has been tough to predict all season.  Between dominating the Packers to getting destroyed by the Falcons at home just last week, the Redskins never make anything easy.  Adrian Peterson has found the fountain of youth and has helped carry the offense while Alex Smith has done enough as a game manager to lead Washington to first place in the NFC East.  Washington has done a solid job on defense this year, with their only two stinkers coming against the Saints and Falcons, two of the top offenses in the league.  Unfortunately for them, Tampa Bay also has one of the best scoring offenses in the league.  Expect a close game between these two, as Tampa Bay’s defense couldn’t stop a nose bleed.  You just can’t go against Fitzmagic at home.

Bucs 31 – Redskins 28

8.  Atlanta Falcons (4-4) @ Cleveland Browns (2-6-1) — 1 PM Sunday on Fox

Vegas Odds: Falcons -5.5, O/U 50.5

Cleveland Browns v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mike Ehrmann – Getty Images

The Falcons are waking up and the NFL should be afraid.  The Falcons, even without Devonta Freeman, have so many weapons that it is difficult to focus on just one playmaker.  Calvin Ridley is the #2 wide receiver that Matt Ryan has been searching for years to pair with Julio Jones.  The Browns aren’t the inept team that they had been for the past 2 years and already have more wins in 2018 than they have in those 2 years combined.  There is just so much turmoil surrounding the team after firing Hue Jackson and Todd Haley, and the team struggled last week under the new regime of Gregg Williams and Freddie Kitchens.  Granted it was against the Chiefs, but the Browns are just not a good team.  Baker Mayfield hasn’t shown signs of being the clear cut top quarterback in the draft and I don’t think he can keep up with this Falcons offense.

Falcons 34 – Browns 20

7.  Detroit Lions (3-5) @ Chicago Bears (5-3) — 1 PM Sunday on Fox

Vegas Odds: Bears -6.5, O/U 44

Poor Matt Stafford.  After getting thrown around by the Vikings for 10 sacks last week, he gets to go against the Bears on the road with Khalil Mack likely returning.  The Lions offense looked sluggish all game in Minnesota in their first outing since trading Golden Tate.  It appears that the Lions may be conceding the season as Stafford no longer has his safety blanket.  The Bears have been one of the NFL’s surprises this season, thanks to being gifted Khalil Mack from Jon Gruden.  Mitchell Trubisky has taken huge strides since his rookie season and the Bears look like an all around solid team.  Look for the Bears to feast on the Lions and their offensive line all game, and feature a steady rushing attack led by Jordan Howard.  The Bears win a lower scoring game and the Lions can start taking a closer look at the top 2019 Draft prospects.

Bears 20 – Lions 13

6.  Miami Dolphins (5-4) @ Green Bay Packers (3-4-1) — 4:25 PM Sunday on CBS

Vegas Odds: Packers -9.5, O/U 47.5

Aaron Rodgers has been robbed of working his magic the past two weeks because of fumbles by his running backs.  Lucky for Aaron Jones, the trade deadline passed by the time his fumble came so he could not be ostracized like Ty Montgomery was after his performance against the Rams.  The Dolphins are coming off a gritty win over the Jets and are surprisingly right in the middle of the AFC playoff race.  Unfortunately for Miami, the Packers offense is leaps and bounds better than the Jets so don’t expect another 4 interception game.  Rodgers will not be able to lead a late game comeback this week at home, but that will be because his team is actually winning.  Don’t be surprised if the Dolphins keep this relatively close, but the Packers just have too much fire power.

Packers 24 – Dolphins 16

5.  Dallas Cowboys (3-5) @ Philadelphia Eagles (4-4) — 8:20 PM Sunday on NBC

Vegas Odds: Eagles -7, O/U 43

Don’t let the record fool you: the Eagles are a good football team.  Carson Wentz missed the first two games of the season and then looked rusty when he returned.  Well, the rust has been knocked off and with the addition of Golden Tate, the offense has just gotten that much better.  The Cowboys continue to lie to themselves as they still believe in Dak Prescott.  The Cowboys need a quarterback, regardless of Jerry Jones’ desire to extend Dak.  Ezekiel Elliot is the Cowboys offense and if the Eagles shut him down, Dallas will be in for a long game.  Amari Cooper will help the passing game, but the Cowboys are a dumpster fire.  Look for Carson Wentz to spread the wealth against Dallas, who need to take a serious look in the mirror and evaluate their coach and quarterback.

Eagles 28 – Cowboys 17

4.  New England Patriots (7-2) @ Tennessee Titans (4-4) — 1 PM Sunday on CBS

Vegas Odds: Patriots -6.5, O/U 46.5

The Titans just refuse to give up.  Just when everyone wants to write them off, they somehow claw their way back into the middle of the AFC playoff race.  Coming off an upset in Dallas on Monday night, the Titans are riding high.  Dion Lewis has to be licking his chops as he goes against his former team.  The Patriots have shown that they haven’t missed Lewis, however, because they have been incredible this year thanks to their running backs.  James White is a pass catching machine while Cordarrelle Patterson is finally being used on offense and has shown he is a very capable running back.  Sony Michel is expected to be back this week as the rich get richer, though Patterson’s role will likely be scaled back now.  Have I mentioned that the Patriots have been firing on all cylinders without Rob Gronkowski, who has been invisible virtually this entire season?  That won’t change this week even if he plays because the Titans are great at covering the tight end.  Regardless, the Patriots take care of business once again as they keep winning and looking for a Chiefs loss to get back to the #1 seed in the AFC.

Patriots 28 – Titans 20

3.  Seattle Seahawks (4-4) @ Los Angeles Rams (8-1) — 4:25 PM Sunday on CBS

Vegas Odds: Rams -9.5, O/U 50

Los Angeles Rams v Arizona Cardinals
Christian Petersen – Getty Images

The Seahawks gave the Rams one of –if not THE– toughest challenge of the season in Week 5.  The Seahawks have over-performed thus far and they seem to have found a winning formula: run, run, run.  While most of the NFL has become a pass first league, the Seahawks have gone old school recently by focusing on running the ball.  Russell Wilson has made the throws when he’s needed to, but his attempts have been limited because of the recent success of the ground game.  The Seahawks are going to need to control the clock this game as the Rams have the best offense in football.  Jared Goff has a plethora of weapons and it is impossible to keep this offense quiet all game.  The best way to go after the Rams is to control the clock and keep the likes of Todd Gurley, Cooper Kupp, Brandin Cooks, and Robert Woods off the field as much as possible.  Unfortunately, the Seahawks are on the road this meeting and won’t have the 12th man on the field with them.  The Rams get back into the win column and all but clinch the NFC West.

Rams 34 – Seahawks 24

2.  New Orleans Saints (7-1) @ Cincinnati Bengals (5-3) — 1 PM Sunday on Fox

Vegas Odds: Saints -5.5, O/U 54

Just when everyone was ready to anoint the Rams as the greatest team in a decade, the Saints just dominate them.  The Saints can beat you however they want.  They’ve shown they can win games running the ball and they’ve shown they can win games with an air raid offense.  The one area to worry about is the defense, as they are ranked 27th in the league.  Andy Dalton has his share of weapons to spread the ball around, but he will miss AJ Green who is dealing with a toe injury.  The Bengals still have weapons that can exploit the Saints defense and that will keep this game close.  The Bengals keep this very tight, but Drew Brees delivers the knockout blow late in the highest scoring game of the week.

Saints 38 – Bengals 34

1.  Carolina Panthers (6-2) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2-1) — 8:20 Thursday on Fox/NFL

Vegas Odds: Steelers -3.5, O/U 51

The game of the week is a long shot– but not unrealistic– Super Bowl preview.  Both teams are clicking and are looking to keep on winning.  The Steelers have won 4 straight and are looking like the team everyone expected them to be in the Preseason.  Le’veon Bell is still missing, but his absence has given James Connor the opportunity to shine and he has filled the Bell role perfectly.  JuJu Smith-Schuster has stepped up to be the Antonio Brown compliment that Ben Roethlisberger has needed for years and the defense is playing like the top unit they once were during this winning streak.  The Panthers, on the other hand, have won 3 straight and Christian McCaffrey is showing that he can be an effective running back, not just a pass catcher out of the backfield.  Greg Olsen continues to be Cam Newton’s top target, but Cam has also had the benefit of having a number of other explosive weapons on the outside in D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel.  These are two of the best teams in football, but the spotlight is so far away from them thanks to the likes of the Chiefs, Patriots, Saints, and Rams running roughshod in the NFL.  The spotlight will finally be put on these teams as this nail biter will leave us all wanting more.  Big Ben at home is the difference here as he’ll protect the ball and allow his playmakers to win this tight one.

Steelers 27 – Panthers 24


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