Week 10 and I’m off to a bad start this week. I foolishly picked the Chargers to win but Phillip Rivers decided to be well Phillip Rivers. I’m convinced Rivers was a baker in a previous life because he makes a lot of turnovers. (Bad joke I know.) Plus I went 5-9 last week in my picks. I’m glad I didn’t go to Las Vegas last weekend. But since I don’t know any better, I’ll try again. My picks for this week.
New Orleans at Atlanta.
A battle for first place in the NFC South. The Saints are currently a half game up but have been struggling to find some consistency in their game. Drew Brees is having an MVP type season already topping the 3,000 yard mark in passing after just 9 games. Jimmy Graham has emerged as a force at tight end with 55 catches for 791 yards. Graham should be Pro Bowl bound this year. The defence however has struggled giving up an average of 348.1 yards per game, 119.7 of those yards on the ground. The Saints struggles with the run defence could be a boost for Atlanta. The Falcons have a strong running game led by Michael Turner who has rushed for 692 yards so far this season. Turner’s bruising style of running could wear down the Saints defence and give Matt Ryan some time to throw the football. The Falcons defence is playing better every week and with a wild Georgia Dome crowd supporting them, I like Atlanta to win this one.
Tennessee at Carolina.
Tough one to call. These teams don’t play each other very much as this is their first meeting since 2007. The Titans are slumping right now losing 3 out of their last 4 games including a heartbreaking loss to Cincinnati last week. The running game has been non-existent as Chris Johnson has yet to find his game after holding out in training camp. Defences have adjusted accordingly and play the pass which has led to Matt Hasselbeck struggling as well. The Panthers are 2-6 but have been competitive in every game. The biggest problem for Carolina is defending leads as they have blown 5 second half leads. The Panthers are learning and are on the rise though and I feel they will get past a fading Tennessee team. Carolina wins in a mild upset.
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati.
Huge game in the AFC North. The Bengals have been one of, if not the biggest surprises of the NFL season, starting with a 6-2 record and a share of first place in the AFC North. The rookie combination of Andy Dalton and A.J Green have been lighting up scoreboards across the league and thrilling fans across the NFL. It also helps that running back Cedric Benson is on pace for a 1,000 yard season. The defence has been much better than most experts (myself included) had thought. The Steelers are coming off a crushing loss to Baltimore and I’m still not convinced this team is right. Yes the Steelers are 6-3 and only a half game out of first place but they have shown to be vulnerable in defence especially pass defence. I’m picking Cincinnati to win a close one.
St. Louis at Cleveland.
Ugh. Less said the better. Cleveland wins at home in an ugly one.
Buffalo at Dallas.
Hmm. Not sure here. The Bills are coming off a disappointing loss to the New York Jets and their resolve and character will be tested in a tough road game. The Bills got off to a fantastic start but have been slowed in recent weeks. It could very well be a must win for Buffalo if they want to stay in the hunt in the AFC East. I never know what to expect from the Cowboys. Some weeks they look like the best team in the NFL, other weeks they look like they couldn’t beat a Pop Warner team. Which Tony Romo will show up? The one advantage the Cowboys do have is running back DeMarco Murray who has rushed for 539 yards so far this season and is a force in the backfield. I don’t trust either team but Murray is the difference. Dallas wins.
Jacksonville at Indianapolis.
Ugh! Another ugly game. The Colts stink pure and simple. Peyton Manning may retire just so he doesn’t play with this crew anymore. Jacksonville wins.
Washington at Miami.
I did say at one time the Dolphins are going 0-16. Last week they proved me wrong in a big way. I have to admit the Dolphins are playing pretty good football and they might go on a run here to close out the season. The Redskins are fading fast and the quarterback situation is a mess. I like Miami to win this one.
Denver at Kansas City.
Don’t look now but the Broncos are in contention in the AFC West. Granted it is because the other teams in the division have been mediocre at best but give credit to the Broncos for hanging in. I’m still not sold on Tim Tebow but if Willis McGahee can get 163 yards rushing again, it will definitely relieve some of the pressure Tebow is feeling. The Broncos will need that running game going in a hostile environment like Arrowhead Stadium. Although last week it was the Chiefs who felt the hostility in their home stadium. The Chiefs were thrashed by Miami last week which has led to many fans jumping off the bandwagon. I, too has jumped off the bandwagon as well. Denver wins on the road.
Arizona at Philadelphia.
My question is this. Why are the Eagles favoured by 14 points? I know the Cardinals aren’t a good team but the Eagles have not shown me anything that deserves such a 14 point line. The “Dream Team” have been anything but a dream this season. A 3-5 record and near the bottom of the NFC East has been alarming in the City of Brotherly Love. The one bright spot has been running LeSean McCoy who has amassed 825 yards on the ground this season. The Cardinals defence is atrocious and I don’t think they can stop McCoy. However if the Eagles remain inconsistent on offence and are forced to punt, they better beware of rookie Patrick Peterson who is becoming a force in the return game. The bad news for Arizona is Peterson is all they have. Philly wins but it will be closer than the line suggests.
Houston at Tampa Bay.
The Texans are in fine form right now, sitting atop in the AFC South Division led by a potent rushing attack, and a stifling defence. The backfield tandem of Arian Foster and Ben Tate have been shredding defences and grinding out yards all season. They need to continue that trend as receiver Andre Johnson will not play for a sixth consecutive game with a nagging hamstring injury. The Texans defence has been brilliant this season ranking first in yards allowed and third in points allowed. That’s a recipe for success in any league. The Bucs have lost 3 out of their last 4 games and are in danger of falling out of contention in the NFC South. Tampa made a desperate move this week, picking up Albert Haynesworth on waivers from New England. This should be Haynesworth’s last chance in the NFL but his presence in the locker room will be a concern. I like Houston to win this one.
Baltimore at Seattle.
The Ravens are coming off a stirring comeback victory over arch-rival Pittsburgh and are looking to keep the momentum going. Joe Flacco showed the poise and leadership every winning quarterback needs in leading the Ravens on their game-winning drive last week. Flacco may have finally turned the corner and perhaps this will propel him to greatness. Ray Rice should be able to run the ball against a shaky Seahawks defence. The defence led by Terrell Suggs should get pressure against Tavaris Jackson who has struggled in Seattle. Even though the game is in Seattle, I think Baltimore manhandles Seattle. Ravens win.
Detroit at Chicago.
Huge game in the NFC North. The Lions are 6-2 and coming off bye week. From all reports Matthew Stafford is healthy and ready to go despite an ankle problem. The Lions offensive line will have to be better at protecting Stafford if the Lions want to remain successful. If Stafford gets time, he may find Calvin Johnson many times. The Bears secondary has been an issue in the Windy City and Megatron could take advantage of that issue. However the Bears front seven can apply pressure on Stafford and disrupt the passing game. The Bears will need another huge game from Matt Forte who has been the Bears MVP this season. Forte has rushed for 805 yards this season and the Lions defence has not fared well against the run. The Bears are on the rise and could be a major force in the NFC. It pains me to say it since I’m a Lions fan, but I’m picking the Bears to win at home.
New York Giants at San Francisco.
Possible playoff preview. The 49ers are running away with the NFC West with a 7-1 record, thanks to a stifling defence. Linebacker Patrick Willis is my pick for defensive player of the year and has greatness written all over him. He is simply put a stud. The offence is not quite there yet but Frank Gore and the running game could be a factor. Gore has rushed for 782 yards and his punishing style could wear down the Giants defence. The G-Men have Eli Manning to thank for their 6-2 record which is tops in the NFC East. Manning led the Giants to an exhilarating comeback victory over New England which reminded many fans of the Super Bowl 4 years ago. Manning has thrown for 15 touchdowns while only being picked off 6 times. He has been much better at taking care of the football. The running game has to improve though as the Giants have averaged just 88.8 yards on the ground. The defence is solid despite numerous injuries and credit has to be given to coach Tom Coughlin for motivating this team to forget about the injuries. With that said, the lack of running game will hurt the Giants and the Niners defence is too good. San Francisco wins.
New England at New York Jets.
For first in the AFC East. The Patriots are coming off an agonizing loss to the New York Giants in which they blew a late fourth quarter lead. The defence has been a concern all season long and last week’s game exposed that weakness even further . The Patriots released Albert Haynesworth this week to see if this is a wakeup call New England needs. The Jets are coming off their best game of the season, a dominating win at Buffalo in which the defence stymied the Bills offence. The Jets offence is a concern but if Mark Sanchez limits the mistakes, I see the Jets winning this one at home.
Minnesota at Green Bay.
The Packers are undefeated and at home. The Vikings are 2-6 and starting a rookie at quarterback. Yes the first meeting was close but that game was at the Metrodome. Should be no contest. Green Bay wins big.
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