NFL Insider Week 10 Predictions
Week 9 left us with a clearer image of where teams are headed in the second half of the season. Monday night was a great example of teams heading in opposite directions. The Bears helped keep themselves alive in the playoff race, while the Eagles dropped to 3-5, and pretty much need to win out to have an outside shot of a playoff appearance. In the AFC, the Ravens completed a sweep of the Steelers to keep themselves in a tie for first place with the Bengals. The Steelers drop from first to third in the North with the loss. The Giants knocked off the Patriots on a last second drive to take a commanding lead in the NFC East, while New England dropped to a three way tie for first place in the AFC East.
This weekend has some huge match ups. There are a lot of divisional games Sunday that will determine the outlook of the playoff race. Let's take a look at the games this weekend and pick the winners.
Oakland Raiders (4-4) at San Diego Chargers (4-4)
This will be the first Thursday night game of the 2011 season, and it has huge implications on the AFC West title run. Both of these teams are 4-4 and the winner will move into first place in the division. Carson Palmer threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns Sunday, but he threw three more picks and they lost to the Broncos. In two games, Palmer has accumulated six interceptions in the two games he's played in for the Raiders, and they've lost both of those games. Hopefully he can get acclimated into the offense and get this Raider team back to winning games. I don't see it happening this weekend, as McFadden is still out due to injury, and they will be traveling to San Diego. Playing on the road without your star running back, not to mention the defense is playing awful, is a recipe for disaster this weekend. The Chargers are 8 point favorites and I see them winning this game. Chargers 30-27
New Orleans Saints (6-3) at Atlanta Falcons (5-3)
This divisional match up will have huge implications on the NFC South. The winner will have sole possession of first place, and an outside shot at the second seed. This is going to be a great game. Both teams can score points in bunches, so I look for this to be a high scoring affair. Julio Jones came back from injury last weekend and had a breakout game with two touchdown receptions (50,80 yards respectively). Darren Sproles has been a huge addition to the Saints offense, and the Chargers are feeling the absence of him. He's having a great season for New Orleans and he may be the piece that makes this team a contender for another Super Bowl run. Both teams are accustomed to playing indoors, so conditions won't matter in this game. I think the Falcons are clicking though as of late and I like them in this one. Atlanta 28-24
Tennessee Titans (4-4) at Carolina Panthers (2-6)
The Titans lost a tough game to the Bengals last weekend, dropping them further behind the Texans for the division race. The Panthers are coming off a bye so I look for them to be fully prepared for the Titans. Tennessee is pondering the thought of releasing Chris Johnson at the end of the season. He's been a huge disappointment for the money they gave him before the season began. Injuries have also hurt this team, but they are still sitting at .500. The Panthers are out of the playoff hunt, but they are getting better every week. Cam Newton is a shoe in for the Rookie of the Year if he keeps up his record setting pace. Carolina is actually a field goal favorite in this game despite having the lesser record. I agree, and I think they will win this game. Carolina 21-13
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (6-2)
The Steelers definitely lost ground last weekend in the North, and desperately need a win at the Bengals Sunday to keep alive in the title race. The Bengals are tied for the division lead with the Ravens and have a half game lead over the Steelers. If Pittsburgh loses, they'll drop to 6-4 and be in a huge hole for the playoff race. Many analysts, including myself, didn't have the Bengals winning six games this year, but they already have accomplished that through mid season. Rookies Andy Dalton and A.J. Green are having phenomenal seasons and the defense is playing great. This will be a huge test for the rookie QB against a defense like the Steelers. This game will give us a good idea of whether or not the Bengals are for real. I don't see Pittsburgh losing two games in a row, so I'm going with the Steelers in this one. Steelers 24-14
St Louis Rams (1-7) at Cleveland Browns (3-4)
In my opinion, A.J Feely moved the ball better than Bradford has all year. I don't know if he's still ailing from the foot injury, but he did not look great against the Cardinals last weekend. Lucky for the Rams, they are playing the Browns this weekend. With no running game to speak of, no legitimate threat at wideout, and an offensive line that is suspect, the Browns have maybe the worst offense I've ever seen in the National Football League. Hillis and Hardesty are both out again, and Massoquai is still suffering from concussion like syndromes. Yes, the game is in Cleveland, and yes, the Rams only have one victory, but I see them winning this game. Rams 17-10
Buffalo Bills (5-3) at Dallas Cowboys (4-4)
The Bills are coming off an upsetting divisional loss against the Jets, so they desperately need a win this week. Their offense looked dismal and the defense wasn't able to create the turnovers it needed. The Cowboys are two games behind the Giants, and at 4-4, they are also in a must win situation. If they lose this game, they may as well kiss their playoff hopes goodbye, as they would need to win out to have an outside chance. The Bills can't afford to drop a game behind the Patriots or Jets, which ever team wins that match up this weekend. So with both of these teams in a must win situation, I expect this to be a great match up. I'm surprised that Dallas is 5.5 point favorites in this game. I look for Fred Jackson to have a big game and boost the Bills to a victory. Bills 27-17
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6) at Indianapolis Colts (0-9)
I was at the Colts game last Sunday, and it was very difficult to watch. The Colts offense is non-existent, and the defense cannot stop anyone. Curtis Painter threw for 98 yards before being replaced by Dan Orlovsky in the 4th quarter. My guess is if he has another first half like he did last week, he will get benched quicker in this game. The positive for the Colts is the Jags aren't much better at moving the ball. We'll see if the bye week helped them any in regards to their offense. This will be a game that will go unwatched by most, and it has no impact on really anything moving forward in regards to the playoffs. Nonetheless, we have to pick a winner. Because of Jones-Drew, I like the Jags in this one. Jaguars 20-6
Denver Broncos (3-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (4-4)
The Chiefs had to be one of the biggest disappointments of week 9. They could have taken sole possession of first place, but were blown out at home against the winless Miami Dolphins. The Broncos were able to upend the Raiders to make this division a little more interesting. If the Broncos can come into Kansas City and beat the Chiefs, this division is going to be very interesting. It may end up being a lot like the NFC West last season and have a team below .500 win and host a playoff game. As my fantasy starting QB this weekend, I'm banking on Tebow to have a big game, but I don't think they get it done against the Chiefs. Look for Kansas City to turn things around and win this game in a close, low scoring game. Chiefs 17-13
Washington Redskins (3-5) at Miami Dolphins (1-7)
Another game that most people will not be tuning in to watch. The Redskins are riding a five game losing streak into Miami, who is coming off their first victory of the season last weekend in Kansas City. I knew it was a matter of time before the Redskins faltered, and that happened a month ago when Beck became the starter, and then Santana Moss was injured, and Tim Hightower went down for the year with an ACL. This team is not good. The defense is OK, but I don't see them winning too many more games this year. The Dolphins are coming into this game a little more confident. Matt Moore earned AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors, and Reggie Bush is quietly having his best season at running back. If they can keep the fighting in the locker room to a minimum, they can string some victories together. I like them in this one. Dolphins 20-17
Arizona Cardinals (2-6) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-5)
The Eagles play their third straight home game this weekend, but they are coming off a short week and a devastating loss to the Bears on Monday Night Football. The Cardinals won in OT on a 99 yard punt return by Patrick Peterson last weekend against the Rams. Kevin Kolb is expected to miss his second straight game with a turf toe injury, so I don't really see this game being too competitive. The Eagles have too much fire power for the Cards to keep up with. The Eagles will put up big points in this one, and take their frustrations out on a banged up Arizona team. They are now a long shot to make the playoffs, being three games back of the Giants, and already having lost to them earlier in the year doesn't help matters any. They will continue to play hard, but I think it may be too late for them, and may be the end of Andy Reid's tenure in Philly. This weekend will not be a problem for them though. Eagles 37-13
Houston Texans (6-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-4)
This is a big game for the Buccaneers. They cannot afford to fall any further behind the the Saints and Falcons in the South. They acquired Albert Haynesworth Wednesday off waivers after the Patriots cut him loose. They are hoping he can sure up the defensive line, but he's proven to be a lazy player that cannot contribute on a consistent basis. The Texans have been rolling without Andre Johnson in the lineup. They have a bye next week so I expect them to sit Johnson another week instead of risking losing him for the season. They are in good shape in their respective division, holding a two game lead over the Titans. Arian Foster and Ben Tate are both running great, and I don't see that changing this week. Texans 28-17
Baltimore Ravens (6-2) at Seattle Seahawks (2-6)
The Ravens may find themselves in sole possession of first place after this weekend. On paper, they have the easier match up, as the Bengals will be playing the Steelers in a tough AFC North battle. The Seahawks have been very lackluster on both sides of the ball all year, especially on offense. The Ravens offense has been up and down, but the Seahawks won't be able to put up points against the Ravens defense. I see this getting ugly very quickly. Baltimore will carry the momentum they gained last week into this game and beat the Seahawks very badly. Ravens 38-6
Detroit Lions (6-2) at Chicago Bears (5-3)
This will be a big game in the NFC North, and will have huge implications on the playoff picture. The Lions destroyed the Bears earlier in the season, but OC Mike Martz has made some changes to the offense and the Bears seem to be clicking on all cylinders. The Lions are coming off a bye, so they should have everyone back and healthy. Detroit's biggest downfall is they can't consistently run the football. Jahvid Best had a huge game earlier in the year against the Bears, but it was primarily off of two runs. If they are going to have a shot of winning this time, they are going to need a steady running game to keep their defense and Matt Forte on the sideline. Stafford hasn't played as well in recent weeks as he did the first five games of the season. Playing this game in Chicago, I think the Bears are going to win this game, which will make the NFC a whole lot more interesting. Bears 24-20
New York Giants (6-2) at San Francisco 49ers (7-1)
This is by far the biggest game of the week in the NFC. The Giants and 49ers square off in a battle for the second seed (at this point in the playoff race). The winner of this game will have a great advantage as the playoff picture unfolds. The Giants won on a last second drive against the New England Patriots last weekend, and they made need to do the same thing this week. The Niners have a stout defense and Alex Smith is one of the top rated passers in the NFL this season. Frank Gore is also running the ball very well this year for San Francisco. Eli Manning has been very good for the Giants all year with the running game struggling. Victor Cruz has stepped up and became a legitimate threat for Eli, and Manningham fills in great as a No 1 when Nicks is ailing. I think the Giants defense will be the difference in this game and they will be able to do enough to beat the 49ers. Giants 17-14
New England Patriots (5-3) at New York Jets (5-3)
I know it's still early, but I have a feeling that the loser of this game may be out of the playoff picture, especially if Buffalo gets a victory this week. The Jets are rolling and winners of four straight, while the Patriots have lost back to back games. The defense takes a lot of heat for this, but they actually played pretty well against the Giants last week. Tom Brady and the offense has struggled to put up points, and Brady has already turned the ball over twice as many times as he did all of last year. They have an inconsistent running game, and defenses have learned to take away the short slants that Brady likes to throw. Welker is still catching a lot of balls, but the run after the catch isn't there as often. The Ochocinco experience has failed miserably, and they already shipped Albert Haynesworth out of town. The Jets, on the other hand, are reaping the benefits of taking a chance on Plaxico Burress. The defense is starting to play much better as well, and Darelle Revis is still the greatest corner in the league today. I look for the Patriots woes to continue and the Jets to win this game. If this happens, the Patriots will be in a big hole in the AFC East, as well as the playoff race. Jets 23-21
Minnesota Vikings (2-6) at Green Bay Packers (8-0)
This is going to be a very interesting game. I see this as a trap game for the Packers. The Vikings are coming off a bye week, which means Christian Ponder has had two weeks of practice to get better acclimated into the offense. Adrian Peterson is still one of the best backs in the league. He tends to be forgotten about this year because his team is struggling. Leslie Frazier will have a good game plan in place and they will play the packers down to the wire. He will review the tape of the Chargers putting up 37 points on that defense, and should have similar success. Aaron Rodgers will ultimately be too much for them, as he has too many weapons to throw to. In a very close game that may even go to overtime, I like the Packers to prevail. Packers 31-28
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