Thursday, November 12, 2009
NFL Week 10 Picks
AP Photo/LM Otero
Week 10 features some very exciting matchups. There is a battle between the Steelers and Bengals for first place in the AFC North. Green Bay and Philadelphia will try to bounce back from tough losses against two teams, Dallas and San Diego respectively, who came away with big wins the previous week. The biggest matchup is the ever-classic Patriots-Colts game, Peyton vs. Brady in primetime.
Week 10 also features a Thursday night game between Chicago and San Francisco, so the picks are in a little early this week. After a 7-6 week last week, my worst yet, I’ll also look to bounce back.
Tell me who you like in the comments section.
Chicago (4-4) at San Francisco (3-5)
Two teams heading in the wrong direction fast. San Francisco has lost five of their last six games, and haven’t won since they finally signed first round draft pick Michael Crabtree (see: the Crabtree Curse). Chicago got pummeled last week by Arizona, and two weeks before that were annihilated by the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bears have not fared well against teams with explosive offenses this season, and although they haven’t been stellar this season, San Francisco’s offense has enough weapons to erupt at any moment. Vernon Davis has been having a monster past few weeks and Frank Gore has rushed very well in his return. Chicago also has only one victory on the road, and that was against a bad Seattle Seahawks team. I’ll take San Francisco to win.
Tampa Bay (1-7) at Miami (3-5)
Rookie quarterback Josh Freeman led Tampa Bay to their first victory in the ’09 campaign. Miami has played decent the past three weeks, holding their own against division leaders New England and New Orleans, but the only win they managed to get was against the Jets. The offense, both the passing game and running game, has sputtered as of late, and the Wildcat has not been effective enough to sustain Miami for the entire length of a game. Tampa Bay’s third worst rushing defense in the NFL could be exactly what the stagnant Dolphin offense needs. Miami wins at home.
Atlanta (5-3) at Carolina (3-5)
Two of the league’s best running backs will be on display in this matchup. Last week, Carolina’s DeAngelo Williams ran for 149 yards and two touchdowns while Atlanta’s Michael Turner rushed for 166 yards and two touchdowns (on three less carries as well). Neither team is particularly good against the run, Atlanta allowing 988 total yards on the ground and Carolina giving up 977. However the Falcons will have the advantage because their defense will know that the only chance Carolina has at winning is running the ball. All they have to do is stack the box with eight or nine guys and force Jake Delhomme to throw the ball and create turnovers. Matt Ryan is a much more effective quarterback and will keep the Panthers defense honest. Atlanta wins.
Denver (6-2) at Washington (2-6)
A game against Washington is exactly what Denver needed. After starting the season 6-0, Denver has lost two in a row to good competition (Baltimore and Pittsburgh). The Broncos own the second ranked overall defense and the eighth ranked rush defense. Washington, already 24th in the league in rushing, will be without Clinton Portis (concussion), and his backup, Ladell Betts is dealing with an ankle injury. The outlook seems bleak for the Redskins. Denver gets back on track with a win.
Buffalo (3-5) at Tennessee (2-6)
Chris Johnson is the leading rusher in the NFL. The Bills have the worst rushing defense. Add in the mobility and energy of new Titans starting quarterback Vince Young (who is 2-0 on the season) and this game should be a disaster for Buffalo. At home Tennessee will literally run wild and come away with the victory.
New Orleans (8-0) at St. Louis (1-7)
New Orleans didn’t play particularly well last week. The Saints were 1-5 in the red zone last week against Carolina and turned the ball over twice. Still, they managed to fight back, again, and come out on top. Drew Brees, the highest rated passer in the NFL, will take on a Rams defense that is 27th in the league in yards per passing attempt and 22nd in passing yards allowed per game. What makes New Orleans really scary is their ability to finish off games. Interesting fact about the undefeated Saints: they have outscored their opponents in the fourth quarter 91-18. Saints win big.
Cincinnati (6-2) at Pittsburgh (6-2)
This game will go a long way into determining the champion of the AFC North. Cincinnati has played extremely well and they compete every time they are on the field—their two losses have come at a combined 16 point differential. Again, they’ve already beaten Pittsburgh once this season, but that was at Cincinnati. Heinz Field has become one of the toughest places to play. The Steelers have not lost at home (although the Bengals are undefeated on the road). In the Bengal’s win in the first meeting between these two teams (a game decided by a single field goal) the Steelers were also without safety Troy Polamalu. In the three games since Polamalu has returned, the defense has not given up more than 17 points (they’ve allowed only 41 points total) and caused nine turnovers (in their previous four games without the long-haired safety Pittsburgh had only caused two turnovers). I predict Polamalu will help Pittsburgh avenge its earlier loss to the Bengals.
Jacksonville (4-4) at NY Jets (4-4)
Jacksonville is a paltry 1-3 on the road. Their record is also a little padded because of victories against weaker teams like St. Louis (who they needed overtime to win) and Kansas City; and in both of those wins, the Jaguars won by only a field goal. Maurice Jones-Drew has had a very good year, but the Jets defense is the best he will have faced to date. The Jets also believe they are a playoff team and need every win to keep those hopes alive. Coming off a loss to the Dolphins followed by a bye week, expect the Jets to be hungry (and no, that doesn’t mean I expect to see Mark Sanchez on the sidelines with more hot dogs). I’ll take the Jets at home to win.
Detroit (1-7) at Minnesota (7-1)
Minnesota has had two weeks to sit on their loss to Pittsburgh, their first of the season. It cannot be sitting well with them. Detroit lost a winnable game last week to Seattle and now take on the division leader on the road. This one has lopsided victory all over it. Minnesota wins big.
Kansas City (1-7) at Oakland (2-6)
Oakland won the first meeting between these two teams, they are at home, and they had an extra week with the bye in week nine to prepare for this game. It’s enough reason to beat a bad Chiefs team. Oakland wins.
Seattle (3-5) at Arizona (5-3)
The Cardinals have won four out of their last five games. Kurt Warner has put together some brilliant performances this season, like in week two when he completed 92.3% of his passes and just last week when he threw for five touchdowns and zero interceptions. This week he also gets Anquan Boldin back from injury, which gives him another weapon to exploit the Seattle secondary with. Arizona has the third best rushing defense and Seattle has the third worst rushing offense. I’ll take Arizona to continue its hot streak.
Dallas (6-2) at Green Bay (4-4)
Green Bay has lost two in a row, including last week’s stinker against the then-winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Cowboys have won four in a row and five out of their last six. In the past four games, Monmouth University product Miles Austin has caught 22 passes for 531 yards and six touchdowns. While it hasn’t been pretty, Dallas has been on a roll lately, while Green Bay is looking less and less like the legitimate contender they seemed to be in the beginning of the season. Dallas on the road: 3-1. Green Bay at home: 2-2. Dallas in conference: 5-1. Green Bay in conference: 3-3. I’ll take the streaking Cowboys in this one.
Philadelphia (5-3) at San Diego (5-3)
Philadelphia lost a big home game last week. San Diego won a big road game. These two teams have been inconsistent throughout the season. It’s still hard to get a good read on either of these teams. San Diego is only 2-2 at home this year. The Eagles are 3-1 on the road. In all of the Chargers losses, they have allowed over 30 points each time (31, 38,3 4). The Eagles have scored 30 points in four out of their five wins (38, 34, 33, 40)—the other win they scored 27 points. Who will show up: the Chargers defense or the Eagles offense? This game looks to have all the components to be an offensive shootout and in that type of game I like the Eagles to win.
New England (6-2) at Indianapolis (8-0)
Always a classic matchup. The Patriots have won three in a row (of course the Colts have won eight in a row). Both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have thrown 16 touchdown passes and only five interceptions. The Patriots have the third best passing defense, Indianapolis the ninth. However, the Patriots have more key players banged up. Missing from practice Thursday were DE Jarvis Green, LT Matt Light, C Dan Koppen, DL Ty Warren, RB Sammy Morris and S Brandon Merriweather. LB Tully Banta-Cain, New England’s leading pass rusher, was also added to the injury report and was limited in practice. Indianapolis was only missing WR Anthony Gonzalez and K Adam Vinatieri.
The big loss for the Patriots here is Light. Sebastian Vollmer has done a very good job in his place, but he is only a rookie, and this week he goes up against one of the elite pass rushers in the NFL Dwight Freeney, who returned to the practice field Thursday. If Vollmer cannot contain Freeney, then he will terrorize Brady’s blindside. This is a huge problem, as it looks like Brady has finally started to get comfortable in the pocket after missing all of last year with a leg injury. Expect the Colts to rush often. At home, I predict the Colts will stay undefeated.
Baltimore (4-4) at Cleveland (1-7)
Baltimore continues to have its ups and downs throughout the season. A week after knocking off the then-unbeaten Denver Broncos, they lose and get swept in the season series against Cincinnati (not that the Bengals are bad, but you think after a big win and wanting to avenge their loss earlier in the season that they would have been ready to play and manage to muster up more than a measly seven points). Ray Rice has had a huge season, and by scoring a touchdown from the two-yard line has rendered Willis McGahee completely irrelevant. Cleveland has the second worst rushing defense in the league and will be victimized by the former Rutgers star. Baltimore wins.
Byes: Houston, NY Giants
Last week: 7-6