There are some terrific division matchups on tap for Week 10. Games between division rivals always carry a little extra intensity because, when teams are forced to face each other twice per season, it's only natural that some bad blood develops.
Add in the fact that this week's best divisional games all have some type of playoff implications and fans should be in for some terrific matchups on Sunday. Let's take a look at a trio of key divisional games and make predictions for which teams will pick up the wins.
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints
Atlanta enters the second half of the season undefeated, which means you can start hearing the whispers about a perfect regular season. It adds a little more pressure to the equation as the Falcons prepare to face the desperate Saints.
After a dreadful 0-4 start, the Saints have actually won three of the last four, but still have virtually no margin for error. They are going to have to beat some good teams along the way to get back in playoff contention, starting this week.
Despite their flawless record, the Falcons only rank 19th in total defense at just over 356 yards per game. Drew Brees and his myriad of weapons will be able to take advantage of that weakness to end Atlanta's run and get back to .500.
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
The Cowboys are an inconsistent team with a quarterback that takes an unfair amount of the blame and a defense that allows 23 points per game. The Eagles are an inconsistent team with a quarterback that takes an unfair amount of the blame and a defense that allows 23 points per game.
So it should be no surprise the teams share the same 3-5 record and are hanging on by a thread in the playoff race. The winner of Sunday's game will at least put itself on the right track by ending a losing streak with a critical division victory.
The edge goes to the Eagles because their star running back, LeSean McCoy, is healthy to take pressure off Michael Vick while DeMarco Murray continues to struggle with a foot injury for Tony Romo's Cowboys. Philadelphia wins with a late field goal.
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
The Lions were a popular playoff pick prior to the season, but a slow start caused them to fade into the background and that has seemingly helped. A refocused group returned from the bye and have won three of their last four games.
On the flip side, Minnesota has lost three of its last four and none of the defeats came against elite competition. Christian Ponder has struggled and, as great as he is, Adrian Peterson can't carry the entire offensive load himself.
Detroit's offense is back on track with 59 points over the last two weeks, and that's what allowed the Lions to surprise a lot of people last season. Expect another big game from Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Co. en route to a third straight win.