NFL Week 10 Thoughts and Predictions
Los Angeles Chargers (-1) at Oakland Raiders
I really want to be optimistic and pick the Raiders, but my head telling me to go with the Chargers.
It all comes down to the defense. I trust the Chargers to stop the Raiders offense more than I trust Oakland's defense to step up. The Bolts' offense has sputtered so far this year, but the Raiders defense has proven to be quite porous.
Score: Chargers 24, Raiders 21
Kansas City Chiefs (Spread TBD) at Tennessee Titans
This is a tricky one to pick, largely due to the uncertainty of if Patrick Mahomes will return from injury vs. Tennessee.
As of writing, Mahomes has fully returned to practice, but is officially day-to-day, with Andy Reid saying they will only play Mahomes if it is 100 percent to do so.
Right now, Matt Moore is still the starter, so I'll base my predictions off that.
If Mahomes was playing, I would say the Chiefs would win by a fairly comfortable margin. Moore has performed well as the fill-in, but he is far less dynamic than Mahomes, which could prove to be problematic going against a solid Titans defense.
The Chiefs do have several weapons on offense though, and if a player, mainly Tyreek Hill, gets into space, it could be over.
The Titans will hang in this game though. Ryan Tannehill has over all been an upgrade on Marcus Mariota so far, and I think he can perform well against a Chiefs back end that hasn't proven it can lock receivers down.
I'll go with Kanas City in a close one it Matt Moore starts, and by a wider margin if Mahomes plays and can quickly get up to speed.
Score: Chiefs 21, Titans 19
Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns (-2.5)
Initially, I saw this spread and had some issues with it, but then I thought about it some more, and it started to make a little sense.
We saw a few weeks ago that the Eagles pounded the ball on the Bills and had lots of success. Nick Chubb is better than any of the backs on the Eagles roster.
We've also seen that if you take away Josh Allen's running ability and force him to beat you with his arm, the offense struggles to produce. Cleveland defense, which often gets overshadowed by the noisy offense, is one of the more underrated units in the league, and can stop Allen.
Speaking of the offense, it goes against the third best defense in the league, however I do think it has the talented pieces that can put together a solid showing.
If the Browns can reel in the amount of penalties it gets the Browns have a definite chance.
Ah, screw it. I'll go with the Browns. What do I have to lose?
Score: Browns 17, Bills 16
Arizona Cardinals at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-4.5)
This will be a fun game. Not necessarily the cleanest game, but a fun one where the ball will move a lot.
Neither team's defense is anything to write home about, and both sides have passing attacks that can put up stats like no tomorrow.
I think the Bucs will win in a shootout.
Score: Bucs 34, Cardinals 28
New York Giants (-2.5) at New York Jets
The Jets are spiraling out of control and the Giants are not much better.
These two teams are actually pretty similar. Both led by young, turnover-prone quarterbacks, with star running backs and decent-ish receivers, that also have sub-par defenses.
This one could come down to turnovers, and Daniel Jones is the biggest culprit, being near the top of the league in turnovers despite only playing half season.
Score: Jets 16, Giants 15
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints (-13)
The Falcons have given up 30 or more points to opposing teams in three of their last five games.
The Saints offense won't do much to you over the top, but against the Falcons, I don't think they need to.
Matt Ryan could come back this week from injury, but I don't think it will matter too much since the Falcons won't be on the field enough to make a dent.
Score: Saints 28, Falcons 17
Baltimore Ravens (-10) at Cincinnati Bengals
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears (-2.5)
You would think that since the Lions' defense is in the bottom ten of the league, that this could be a week where Mitch Trubisky can finally get something going.
The flaw in that is that even when playing bad defenses this season, Trubisky still can't perform.
He's not the answer. The Bears need to move off of him in the offseason.
This one will be close since the Bears defense keeps them in games, but it doesn't matter much if the offense does nothing at all for three and a half quarters.
Score: Lions 23, Bears 19
Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts (-10)
I have to give it to the Dolphins, that was a good win last week.
Yes, they only have one win and it was against the Jets, but it's so easy to phone in the season and the Dolphins have been fighting hard to stay in games.
I'm going assume that the Colts will rest Jacoby Brissett, who suffered and MCL sprain against the Steelers, meaning Brian Hoyer would get the start.
If Colts coach Frank reich has shown anything, it's that he knows how to put his quarterback, whoever it may be, in a position to win. Brian Hoyer is also one of the league's better and more reliable backups.
I'll pick the Colts to win by a touchdown, but the Dolphins will make it interesting.
Score: Colts 24, Dolphins 17
Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers
I'm expecting the Rams to come back down to Earth a little after having an easy past couple of games (vs. the Falcons and Bengals).
The Rams have turned a corner and seem to have it figured out after a rough start to the season, but now they face a Steelers team that has refused to go away.
Pittsburgh has won three straight against decent opposition (and the Dolphins).
Here's the thing, with injuries ravaging the Steelers this season, and James Conner a toss-up on if he will return, they need more from JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Much has been made of JuJu being the premier player on this team-- the next big thing. He's only topped 100 yards once this season, with him being held to under 20 receiving yards in two the of the past three weeks.
Yes, there has been a dip in targets from last year to this year (from around 10 to just over six per game), and Mason Rudolph is a downgrade from Big Ben.
He is also seeing more coverage now that Antonio Brown is gone. But that comes with the territory of being a number one wide receiver. You have to expect that. Elite player overcome that.
Now he will likely be blanketed all game by Jalen Ramsey, and I don't see Smith-Schuster winning that one.
Score: Rams 27, Steelers 23
Carolina Panthers at Green Bay Packers (-5)
I'm actually going to go with the Panthers here. Here's why.
First, the Packers defense, although an upgrade over previous years, is not fearsome by any means. You can move the ball on them. Enter Christian McCaffery.
Second, and more importantly, is quarterback pressure.
Last week, the Chargers harrassed Aaron Rodgers all game, sacking him three times despite not sending many players on the blitz.
The Panthers lead the NFL in sacks so far (34), but they also have the sixth lowest blitz percentage, meaning they are affective at getting to the quarterback without throwing men forward.
Carolina will follow the same formula the Chargers used to force Aaron Rodgers into a rare poor game.
Score: Panthers 26, Green Bay 20
Minnesota Vikings at Dallas Cowboys (-3)
Simply put, I don't trust the Vikings in big games.
They'll do fine at 1 p.m. against a marginal team, but prime time against a contender? That is not where Kirk Cousins thrives.
It's a shame too, because the Vikings have an insanely talented roster, but they just don't put it together in big games.
Now you're asking them to go into prime time, into Jerry World, and beat a Cowboys teams that has eyes on the Super Bowl? I would need to see it happen before I believe.
Score: Cowboys 31, Vikings 21
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers (-6)
The big question mark on the 49ers all year has been if Jimmy Garropolo can carry a team to a victory. He proved that last week on Thursday Night Football vs. the Cardinals.
The running attack had a rare poor game, but Handsome Jimmy led the charge with 317 passing yards and four scores. Now the team will face a Seahawks defense that is miles away from the Legion of Boom days.
On the other side, I think that Russell Wilson will do a decent job against a stingy 49ers defense, but the other players around him will have a hard time breaking through.
This will be a good game, but I'll go with the 49ers in a close game.
Score: 49ers 25, Seahawks 23