Last Week: 9-5
New Orleans @ Atlanta
The Saints bounced back from a surprising loss to the Rams, and came through with a badly needed victory over Tampa Bay to give themselves a little breathing room in the division. Drew Brees threw two touchdowns and the Saint running game picked up over 180 yards.
The Falcons took advantage of the soft Indianapolis Colts with a 31-7 rout. Matt Ryan played one of his better games of the season, throwing for over 250 yards and three touchdowns. Receiver Julio Jones caught only three passes, but managed to gain 131 yards and score two touchdowns. The Atlanta defense held Colts quarterback Curtis Painter to under 100 passing yards.
While I was a believer in the Falcons when the season began, I don’t like what I’ve seen from them in the first half of the season. I’m not convinced that Matt Ryan is over his early season struggles, and I don’t believe in their defense either. Even though the Saints have had a bit of an up-and-down season themselves, I’ve seen enough flashes of greatness to confidently pick them in this game.
Pick: New Orleans
Tennessee @ Carolina
The Titans held a 10-point lead over the Bengals at the half of last week’s game, but coughed it up for 24-17 loss at home. Tennessee just looks mediocre right now. They still aren’t getting much from Chris Johnson, and they badly miss Kenny Britt’s presence in the passing game.
Carolina last played two weeks ago, losing at home to the Minnesota Vikings. Cam Newton was stellar once again, putting up 290 yards and three touchdowns, however he didn’t receive any support from his running game or his defense.
It’s hard to argue a case for the Titans to win this game. A week ago, they let a young team led by a rookie quarterback rally against them in the second half to deal a serious blow to their remaining playoff hopes. I think Cam Newton has another big game, and the Panthers win their third game of the season.
Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati
The Steelers took a tough loss last week, falling to the Ravens in the final seconds on the fourth quarter on a last minute score. They’ve now been swept by the Ravens, and have fallen behind them in the division race.
At 6-2, the Bengals are players themselves in the AFC North picture. Last week Andy Dalton completed another fourth quarter comeback by leading his team on a 17-point rally to beat the Titans. The rookie quarterback threw three touchdowns, showing promising poise and a quick release.
We’ll get a better idea of how legitimate the Bengals are this week. This is their chance to prove to the league that their 6-2 record is something more than the product of an easy schedule. However, I can’t see the Steelers dropping two straight games within the division.
St. Louis @ Cleveland
Just when it looked like the Rams might be able to build up some momentum, they came out completely flat against a terrible Arizona Cardinal team. Sam Bradford’s return to the lineup didn’t do much to spark the offense, and the Rams slowly let an early lead disappear and turn into an overtime loss on a Patrick Peterson punt return.
Things just aren’t going well for the Browns this year. They currently sit at 3-5, have been without Peyton Hillis for most of the season, and have one of the league’s most anemic offenses. They’ve scored just one touchdown in their last three games. Last week they were blown out by the Texans 30-12.
This promises to be one of the uglier games of Week 10. I like the Browns at home though, simply because short of the miracle performance against the Saints, I haven’t seen anything from the Rams this year that makes me think they can beat anyone.
Buffalo @ Dallas
The Bills looked pretty bad last week in a 27-11 loss to the Jets. Ryan Fitzpatrick had his worst game of the season, throwing for just 191 yards and two interceptions. The Jet defense was really able to clamp down on the Bills and prevent them from getting into any consistent rhythm.
Dallas bounced back from an embarrassing game in Philadelphia, and managed to overcome the Seahawks 23-13. Tony Romo threw two touchdowns, DeMarco Murray ran for 139 yards, and the defense intercepted Seattle quarterback Tarvaris Jackson three times.
I think the wheels are beginning to fall off for the Bills, and we’re starting to see what their team really is: a much improved team, but a team that isn’t going to consistently hang around with the better squads in the league. It’s always hard to predict whether or not the Cowboys will come out with a solid effort, or suffer a letdown, but I like them at home this week.
Jacksonville @ Indianapolis
The Jaguars last played two weeks ago, falling 24-14 to the Houston Texans. Blaine Gabbert was held to under 100 yards passing again, and also threw two interceptions. Maurice Jones-Drew also ran for 63 yards and a touchdown in the loss. Jacksonville just doesn’t have any other big-play options in their offense other than Jones-Drew, making it easy for teams to defend them.
The Colts suffered another terrible loss, getting blown out by the Falcons at home 31-7. Indianapolis has now scored just 24 points in their last three games, and really look like they’ve packed it up and given up on the season.
That being said, I think this is the week the Colts get their win. Jacksonville is an incredibly mediocre bunch right now. With Blaine Gabbert struggling to throw for over 90 yards on a week-to-week basis, and a weak defense, the Jaguars may represent the best chance for the Colts to avoid an 0-16 season.
Denver @ Kansas City
The Broncos put on an impressive rally in the second half of last week’s game against the Raiders, and came away with a 38-24 win. Willis McGahee had his strongest game in several years, rushing for 163 yards and two touchdowns. Tim Tebow also ran for over 100 yards himself, and threw two touchdowns, quieting the talk that he could soon find his way back on the bench.
The Chiefs came out with a miserable effort last week, falling at home 31-3 to the lowly Miami Dolphins. Kansas City made Matt Moore like a little like Dan Marino last week, allowing him to throw for 244 yards and three touchdowns. It was truly a disheartening loss after the Chiefs had won four in a row to get themselves back in the division race.
Even while they were winning, the Chiefs weren’t playing particularly well. The hangover of losing to the Dolphins, along with the fact that they face a brutal schedule in the second half of the season could really impact this team’s play. I like Denver this week.
Washington @ Miami
The Redskins took another loss last week, this time falling at home to the San Francisco 49ers. While the Washington defense is still performing well, their offense simply has no punch to offer right now. John Beck isn’t even playing poorly, his supporting cast top to bottom is just wretched.
Miami won their first game of the season in dominating fashion last week, taking the down the Chiefs in Kansas City 31-3. It was the first time since Week 1 that the Dolphins managed to put up more than 20 points in a game. They’ve been playing much better football over the last three weeks, their previous two losses have been by less than a touchdown.
I think the Redskins snap their losing streak this week. Their defense won’t let Matt Moore have a game like he did against the Chiefs last week, and shouldn’t have trouble shutting down Reggie Bush. While it may still be a struggle for Beck and the Washington offense to put up more than 17 points, I still like them on the road this week.
Arizona @ Philadelphia
The Cardinals won their first game since Week 1 with a 19-13 overtime win over the Rams. John Skelton made the start for the injured Kevin Kolb, and threw for 222 yards and a touchdown. The hero of the game was rookie Patrick Peterson, who ran back a punt return for a touchdown.
Surprise, surprise. In my pick column last week, I stated that I wasn’t at all convinced that Eagles were over the issues that had plagued them during their four game losing streak, and sure enough the same problems came back to haunt them in their loss to Chicago. Juan Castillo is still going to struggle as the defensive coordinator, Michael Vick isn’t playing like a top five quarterback anymore, and some of the top playmakers in the receiving corp (DeSean Jackon, Jeremy Maclin) have really let the team down with a number of inexcusable errors and turnovers.
The Eagles will give their fans a reason to get hopeful one more time this year on Sunday. They’ll have no trouble pushing aside one of the worst teams in the league, and their remaining hopes will come down to next Sunday’s game in New York.
Houston @ Tampa Bay
The Texans picked up an easy victory over the Browns last week, winning 30-12 at home. They did this despite a terrible performance from quarterback Matt Schaub. The veteran threw for just 119 yards and an interception. However, the Houston running game was there to pick up the slack. Arian Foster and Ben Tate each ran for over 100 yards and a touchdown.
Tampa Bay wasn’t able to sneak up on the Saints again. After defeating them several weeks ago, the Bucs the lost last week’s rematch 27-16. This time the amount of weapons that Drew Brees had at his disposal proved to be too much for Tampa to handle. In addition to allowing Brees to pass for over 250 yards and two touchdowns, the Bucs gave up over 180 yards combined in the running game.
After the Saints had a lot of success running on the Bucs, expect the Texans to try and do the same with their one-two punch of Foster and Tate. Matt Schaub is going to have to raise his level of play significantly in order for Houston to get a road win this week, and I believe he’ll do so.
Baltimore @ Seattle
The Ravens are coming off of a great win against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Baltimore has now swept Pittsburgh for the season, and is in the driver’s seat of the AFC North. Joe Flacco struggled at times against the Steelers, but was magnificent on the team’s final drive to take the lead in the final moments of the fourth quarter.
The Seahawks are just trying to make it through the remainder of the season as quickly as possible. It’s surprising that this was a team that just a year ago that managed to win a playoff game against the New Orleans Saints. Tarvaris Jackson was brutal last week against the Cowboys, throwing three interceptions and killing any chance his team had of staying with Dallas in that game.
It’s always difficult for a team travel across the continent and win on the road, but I don’t think that rule will apply to this game. Seattle is just such a bad team, I can’t see Jackson and the Seattle offense doing anything against the Raven defense. Assuming that Flacco and the offense can avoid falling into a lull, Baltimore should win this game.
Detroit @ Chicago
The Lions last played in Week 8, snapping a two-game losing streak with a rout of the Denver Broncos. Matt Stafford threw for three touchdowns in the win, and Calvin Johnson had his first dominate effort in several weeks with six catches for 125 yards and a touchdown.
Chicago comes off of a nice victory over the Eagles. The Bears took advantage of a weak Eagles defense, and were able to move the ball at will throughout the night. Jay Cutler got great protection from his offensive line, and picked the Eagles apart in the second half. The Chicago defense also played well, giving up just 17 points to the Eagles offense and forcing several turnovers.
I think its going to be hard for the Lions to overcome the Bears without the services of Jahvid Best. The running back was instrumental in Detroit’s victory over the Bears early in the season, but won’t be available because of his concussion. I think the Bear defense holds Stafford and the Lion offense to a limited amount of damage, and Chicago earns a season split with the Lions at home.
New York Giants @ San Francisco
The Giants delivered their most surprising and impressive win of the season last week, upsetting the Patriots 24-20 in New England. While Eli Manning was fortunate that the Patriots dropped several interceptions (again!), give him credit for being able to finish the job and complete the comeback. He threw for over 250 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
The 49ers notched another ugly victory last week, defeating the Redskins in Washington 19-11. Once again, the 49ers leaned on their defense and their running game, asking the bare minimum of quarterback Alex Smith. Smith threw for only 200 yards and touchdown, but once again was able to avoid costly mistakes.
This is one of the most interesting games that Week 10 has to offer. While the 49ers have an incredible 7-1 record, it’s hard to be impressed with the lack of offensive firepower that this team displays week to week. However, they keep riding that underdog mentality, and rallying behind their coach Jim Harbaugh. I feel like the Giants have also been playing over their heads. While their record is impressive, they’ve only beaten two teams with a winning record. I think they’ve gotten a lot of favorable breaks that have gotten them to where they are right now. It’s always difficult for a team to go out west and win, and I think the Giants suffer a letdown this week after their big win over New England.
Pick: San Francisco
New England @ New York Jets
What’s going on with Patriots? Losing two games in a row is something that hasn’t happened that often over the last decade in Foxboro, but the Patriots have done just that, dropping games to the Steelers and Giants. The Patriot offense hasn’t been very explosive in the last two games, and while the defense has tried to pick up some of the slack, they just aren’t good enough to hold opponents down for 60 minutes.
The Jets have gone on a nice three-game winning streak to put themselves in a tie for the lead in the AFC East, with wins over the Bills, Chargers, and Dolphins. They’ll play their most important game of the season this week. They’ve already lost to New England once this year, getting swept would be devastating to their playoff chances.
I would be shocked if the Patriots lost three in a row. A team under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s leadership can’t possibly drop three games in a row to fall out of first place can they? If they lose this game, something’s going seriously wrong in New England.
Pick: New England
Minnesota @ Green Bay
The Vikings headed into their bye week on a positive note with a 24-21 win over the Panthers. Christian Ponder has played well since taking over for Donovan McNabb, and Adrian Peterson has finally begun to put together a couple of big games. When Minnesota met the Packers several weeks ago, they gave Green Bay a good run for their money, but ultimately ended up losing 33-27.
Green Bay’s powerful offensive was clicking on all cylinders once again in a 45-38 win over the Chargers. Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdowns, and the Green Bay defense also ran back a pair of Phillip Rivers interceptions for scores. No one in the league has been able to slow Rodgers and his weapons down in the least to this point in the year.
The Vikings have had two weeks to prepare, and have all the motivation they need to end Green Bay’s perfect season, but it won’t be enough. Until further notice, this Green Bay team is simply unstoppable.
Pick: Green Bay