NFL Week 10 Preview

Atlanta vs. Carolina

The Atlanta youth movement is actually making waves after the team’s 1-6 start. Last week was just a four point victory over San Francisco but things could be far worse for the Vickless Falcons, just look at Miami and St.Louis. Unfortunately for Falcon QB Joey Harrington, he’ll be under constant pressure from the best athlete in the league, Julius Peppers. Peppers hasn’t recorded a sack in seven games and will need a Usi Umenyiora-like performance to get back on pro-bowl pace.

Carolina is somehow still in the running in the under-achieving NFC south at 4-4. This week, however, they’ll be without a capable quarterback as Carr and Testaverde are on the shelf and Delhomme was lost for the season. Testaverde may be ready by Sunday but if not they’ll be handing the offense over to undrafted rookie Matt Moore. How bad is the quarterback situation? Third-stringer Brett Basanez had a wrist injury end his year during the pre-sesason.

In week three the Panthers beat the Falcons by a score of 27-20 in Atlanta and I expect much of the same. Carolina will move into a tie for first place in the south with Tampa Bay and New Orleans.

Philadelphia vs. Washington

If the Redskins want to be a playoff team, it starts here with beating your divisional rivals. Last week Clinton Portis ran for 196 yards in a victory over the Jets, a pedestrian though improving team. QB Jason Campbell cannot be the focal point of this offense yet. He is still developing as a young quarterback and needs Portis to continue to take over games, especially while WR Santana Moss isn’t fully healthy.

The cloud surrounding Andy Reid right now because of his personal problems won’t be a major factor in this game but they can’t help. QB Donovan McNabb’s time has run out as leader of this team. He was one of the greats and he’ll be remembered for taking the team to four consecutive NFC championship games but Philadelphia needs to move in a different direction. The offense won’t be very productive against a stout Washington team (at least stout in terms of the NFC). RB Brian Westbrook will have to break Adrian Peterson’s record to win this one.

Washington will prove how great the gap has become in the east for the Eagles and drop them to 3-6 on the season. The following two weeks will be crucial for the Skins as they face Dallas and Tampa both on the road.

Minnesota vs. Green Bay

What more can be said about Adrian Peterson. One thing is for certain, he won’t rush for 200 against Green Bay. The Packers have a youthful linebacking corps and they tackle well. Once the Vikings realize they can’t get a win out of Peterson this week they’ll turn to the passing game and in turn, realize they don’t have one.Minnesota is irritatingly close to being a contender. If only they had a passing game… They’d better start tanking games now so they get their choice of quarterback in the draft. You don’t want to end up with your fall back choice of Colt Brennan or Matt Ryan when the bluegrass state has a couple of blue chippers in Andre Woodson and Brian Brohm.

Minnesota’s pass defense isn’t quite up to par either and Brett Favre should be able to pick it apart and lead the Packers to a victory and an 8-1 start. Their November 29th date with Dallas is looming large in terms of home field advantage.

Cleveland vs. Pittsburgh

Cleveland has to scare the hell out of Pittsburgh. If Pittsburgh doesn’t take them seriously, or is too high off their big win against Baltimore, they’ll get lynched. Cleveland has proved that with Derek Anderson at the helm they can beat you through the air and Pittsburgh hasn’t exactly been air tight against the pass. Troy Polamalu might be able to take away Kellen Winslow but Braylon Edwards has really become one of the top receivers in the NFL this season and could have a big game against the Steeler secondary.

Pittsburgh is playing about as well as anyone else in the NFL right now. The first half against Baltimore is the only evidence you need to see. Yes the Ravens had injuries and are offensively inept, but the sheer dominance the Steelers displayed was impressive. Willie Parker should play more of a role against Cleveland and moving the chains with Parker will keep the Browns offense from getting into a rhythm. That ball control should keep the type of shootout so many Cleveland games have been this year.

In a close, low scoring battle the Steelers should ultimately come away with the win but Cleveland has improved so much since the week one battle between these two that the score will be much closer.

Denver vs. Kansas City

Jay Cutler is hurt but he’s been there before. At Vanderbilt he willed his team to victory over schools that were far more talented. In this case he isn’t dealing with the sizable talent gap he was in college. Denver has the players to beat Kansas City but the team hasn’t given any reason for people to believe in them yet. Denver’s three victories all came on game winning field goals. Without Jason Elam, they might be winless right now.

Kansas City is a remarkably tough place to play. Green Bay didn’t blow the doors off the Chiefs last week. But now playing without Larry Johnson, the Chiefs must find new ways to win. So Priest Holmes and Kolby Smith will take over running the ball and they might just form a capable pair against Denver’s porous run defense.

This game is crucial if either team wants to stay alive in the playoff race. Nobody is exactly running away with the AFC west and the Chiefs are actually undefeated in division play. I think they’ll run that undefeated streak one more game despite Johnson’s absence because the Broncos aren’t playing up to their talent level yet.

Buffalo vs. Miami

Coming all the way across the country from California, many Buffalo fans didn’t know what to expect from Marshawn Lynch. He’s a complete back who has led this team to three consecutive victories while the quarterback situation has been sorted out. JP Losman is back in the fold and with Lynch keeping defenses geared towards the run he has had plenty of time to throw the deep ball to Lee Evans. The combination is devastating when you factor in the improving offensive line. Try to contain Evans from breaking a deep ball and Lynch will get into the second level where he’s a difficult runner to bring down. Put an extra defender in the box to stop him and Evans is going deep.

Miami never had a chance. This youth movement may as well have stayed in London. Their top runningback is out for the season, they traded their top wideout, and they can’t find a decent quarterback to lead the offense.

Buffalo might not be the best team in the division, but they’ll be 5-4 after dismantling Miami this week and searching for a playoff spot with a very tough schedule.

Jacksonville vs. Tennessee

Jacksonville backup quarterback Quinn Gray actually put up good numbers last week but that was against a New Orleans defense that won’t be mistaken for the ’85 bears anytime soon. This week Tennessee should get in the backfield enough to disrupt the running game and Quinn Gray’s timing. If starter David Garrard attempts to play on a bad ankle there’s a good chance he won’t finish the game against the outstanding pass rush Tennessee boasts. Jacksonville’s only chance is to hit big plays against the Tennessee secondary and hope their defense can keep the game in range.

Luckily for the Jags, Tennessee’s offense hasn’t been putting up big numbers this year. Vince Young has proven he can win games but the statistics aren’t pretty. Jacksonville’s defense is loaded with talent and is strong enough up the middle to keep LenDale White from breaking through the point of attack.

This game may very well determine one of the wildcard teams out of the AFC and with Garrard’s health issues, the Titans seem to have the upper hand. If Tennessee wins this game they’ll have swept the season series with the Jags and in essence, hold a three game lead over them in the standings. That alone gives the Jaguars plenty of motivation but I’m cautiously picking the Titans because of the Jags uncertainty at quarterback.

St. Louis vs. New Orleans

Has there been a bigger disappointment this year than the Rams? Their injury-riddled season has led to a number of close losses, but no victories. The Rams have been horrible. This game is rather cut and dry.

The Saints have been surging of late. Drew Brees has found his rhythm and Reggie Bush has adjusted to life without Deuce McCalister.

This could be the ultimate in letdown games for New Orleans coming off four consecutive victories and St. Louis getting the bye last week to recover and prepare. But no one in their right mind would pick the Rams to outscore New Orleans right now. The Saints should move to 5-4 in a three-way tie for first in the division while the Rams move a step closer to the first overall pick in the draft.

Cincinnati vs. Baltimore

The Ravens are saying the right things after being blown out by Pittsburgh but the offense has been less efficient than your average college student. It’s time for Kyle Boller to take over the offense whether or not he’s going to be the future because Steve McNair isn’t. McNair, like McNabb (funny how that worked), is one of the greats and will be remembered blah blah blah. Give the ball to Boller and see if he can move the offense. Brian Billick is supposed to be known for his offensive intellect but what little he has done with one of the most talented young running backs in the league (Willis McGahee) leads me to believe otherwise. The playcalling is too predictable at all the wrong times.

Cincinnati hasn’t fared very well this season. In fact by comparison, the Ravens are dominating. Cincinnati can’t stop anyone and the offense hasn’t been able to keep up. WR Chad Johnson may not suit up this week putting the pressure on TJ Houshmandzadeh to stretch the defense. Johnson’s absence is somewhat evened out by the injury to Ravens corner Samari Rolle.

The Ravens defense, despite getting torched last week, is still a great collection of talent and should be able to win this game at home and get back in the playoff hunt.

Dallas vs. NY Giants

Both teams have vastly improved their defenses since the week one matchup that saw 80 points put up. The Giants will still be able to move the ball against Dallas but won’t be nearly as effective as the Cowboys. The difference in this game should be how the two quarterbacks handle the pass rush.

I give Tony Romo the edge in this category because of his mobility and the Cowboys ability to run the football. The threat of Marion Barber and Julius Jones won’t allow Usi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck to tee off. Eli Manning will be a sitting duck most of the night if Brandon Jacobs can’t duplicate his performance against the Dolphins. Demarcus Ware should be a regular in the backfield and become very familiar with putting Eli Manning on the ground. The Cowboys secondary is difficult to attack with one of the best cover corners in the league on one side and the opportunistic Anthony Henry on the other, who has five interceptions this year. It could be a long night for Eli. I don’t have much confidence in Dallas CB Jacques Reeves and Eli may have some success going after him when he’s in the game.

There won’t be as much scoring as there was in week one, but the game will have a similar result. The Giants keep it close but can’t quite pull out the victory.

Chicago vs. Oakland

Oakland head coach Lane Kiffin has come out and said he’s going to kick the ball to Bears return man Devin Hester to, “see if we can cover.” Too bad, I was about ready to say the Raiders had a chance to win this game.

Bears win. Devin Hester is the only way Chicago can outscore its opponent and if Kiffin does indeed kick to him it won’t be pretty. Otherwise this game looks even. Chicago couldn’t move the ball if their opponents were blindfolded and had their hands tied behind their backs. Oakland has managed to eek out two victories this season and they could have made it a third here but a coaching decision has already thrown the game away.

I don’t necessarily disagree with the decision, after all he’s not playing for this year he’s playing for 2009 or 2010, if even that soon.

Detroit vs. Arizona

This should be a fun game to watch. It might be horribly played and marred with undisciplined penalties but the two offenses should put on quite the show. Detroit is a major player in the NFC and Arizona has been an utter failure. Matt Leinart’s season ending injury didn’t help matters but the Edgerrin James experiment isn’t working either.

On paper the Lions should poach the Cardinals but the only paper that means anything is money. The Cardinals will give the Lions all they can handle and eventually come up short. Kevin Jones’ return to the lineup for Detroit has paid dividends and given them the balance their offense was missing. Jones is a very underrated runner who, when healthy, can control games and break them open with his speed.

Detroit takes the road victory here and moves on to play two potential playoff teams in a row in New York and Green Bay.

Indianapolis vs. San Diego

Joseph Addai had his coming out party last week. The loss, be it what it may, came even as Addai shredded the vaunted Pats front seven. Didn’t San Diego give up a couple hundred rushing yards last week? I thought I heard something about that…

Addai won’t have any problems taking San Diego to town if the Chargers tackle as poorly as they did against Adrian Peterson last week. Head coach Norv Turner lost this team and it isn’t playing for him. Philip Rivers, whom I think very highly of, hasn’t progressed this season and some think he’s actually regressed. I’m not buying that. Rivers has talent and just needs the proper guidance and weapons around him to make plays. LaDanian Tomlinson needs to be the all-pro we know him to be. This whole Charger team needs to step up if they want a victory on Sunday. There are no gimmes on this schedule and unfortunately they’re going to be a sub-500 team come Sunday evening.

The Colts are simply too powerful and if anyone wonders about a letdown from the Patriots game they need to check themselves into a mental institution. This team has never been unprepared for a game under Tony Dungy and that won’t change because they lost an emotional game. If the Chargers win it will be because they regain the form of last season but that hasn’t happened just yet and the Colts should roll to 8-1.

San Francisco vs. Seattle

Seattle is not a great place to be looking for a victory. It’s loud, wet and not very conducive to bad teams. The San Francisco 49er’s aren’t a bad team, in fact they have plenty of talent including former Seahawk wideout Darrell Jackson. Getting the ball from young quarterback Alex Smith to playmakers has been a problem. Star running back Frank Gore may not even play in this game. He’s their only chance. Gore has the ability to create big plays and the offense sputters without him.

Seattle hasn’t been playing well this year and the run game has been non existent. If this weren’t a Monday night game it would be a letdown type game after the emotional loss to Cleveland. But with the ESPN crew rolling in the Seahawks should find enough motivation defensively to get up for a 2-6 team.

It won’t be a pretty game, especially if it’s raining. If Gore plays the 49er’s will make a game of it but it’s just too tough to win in Seattle.

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4 Responses

  1. i was reading on Raiders Online.org that Jamarcus will be starting this weekend, anyone else hear this? Does anyone even still have him in thier fantasy team?

  2. Russell has slowly been worked into the lineup the past two games. As far as I know McCown will make the start this week but Russell will play a few series again.

  3. Will the Raiders get Mcfadden in the draft

    Did you see about the Raiders chances to get Mcfadden in the draft?

  4. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports the Cowboys have a strong interest in Arkansas RB Darren McFadden.
    Dallas has the No. 22 and No. 28 picks in the first round, so moving up in the draft won’t be a problem. Moving up high enough to have a shot at McFadden will be difficult. The Cowboys would likely have to move ahead of the Falcons, who draft third. Miami is known to be interested in trading down.

    Dont know about the raiders, Mcfadden might have a star on his helmet.

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