It's Week 10 of the NFL season. The biggest game happens on Sunday night as the Chicago Bears host the Houston Texans in a matchup that has "game of the year" potential.
Season Record Straight Up
88-44, .667 (Last Week: 12-2)
I'm 24-4 in the last two weeks. Is it dumb luck, or am I figuring things out? I hope I'm figuring things out!
Byes: Cleveland, Green Bay, Arizona, Washington
All game times are Eastern.
NY Giants (6-3) at Cincinnati (3-5) 1 P.M.
The Giants had won four games in a row before last week's loss against the Steelers. The problem was they ran into a good defensive team that took away their biggest weapon on offense, WR Victor Cruz. He caught five balls for 67 yards, but it wasn't an impactful game for him.
With Hakeem Nicks banged up, he only got one ball for 10 yards. Nicks still isn't healthy, and even though he plans to play, I doubt he'll be effective. Will the Bengals be smart enough to key in on Cruz by double teaming him and make QB Eli Manning beat them in another way? I would hope so.
I'm going with the Bengals here. You can throw the ball against the Giants, and since the Bengals don't run it very well, I would expect them to throw the ball downfield quite a bit. It can be a very big game for star WR AJ Green, too. Plus, I like my home upsets. This one falls under that category.
Tennessee (3-6) at Miami (4-4) 1 P.M.
I'm anti-Titans this year. I'm not sure how they've even won three games because of how awful they are on defense. They're giving up 141.6 yards per game on the ground, which is 30th in the NFL. The Dolphins like to run the ball with RBs Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas, which opens up the passing game for rookie QB Ryan Tannehill, who has performed very well of late.
On the other side of the ball, the Titans like to run and the Dolphins have a top-three run defense, so I don't see the Titans being that successful in that area. I think the Dolphins will win in an easy fashion.
Detroit (4-4) at Minnesota (5-4) 1 P.M.
I know the Lions are getting a lot of hype as a potential playoff team after two straight wins put them at 4-4, but look at their schedule: After playing the 5-4 Vikings, they have the Packers twice, Texans, Colts, Falcons and Bears. The only team they play with a losing record is at the Cardinals.
The good thing for them is five of the last eight games are at home, which should help them. I don't see how they're going to finish with the likely 10 wins needed to make the playoffs, though. The stretch run is too difficult.
I'm sure the Vikings feel a bit disrespected as home underdogs in this matchup, but when you give up over 30 points in three of your last four that were all losses, that's going to happen. I think this is a game where they will establish the run with RB Adrian Peterson, which is something they're usually able to do.
The problem is their passing game is mediocre. With WR Percy Harvin likely out for this game, I don't think QB Christian Ponder is going to have a lot of success. It could be a situation where the Lions focus on Peterson, making it difficult for the Vikings to score very much.
I like the Lions in this game. I think QB Matthew Stafford has done an excellent job of spreading the ball around the past few weeks, which is what he should have done early. Now that they are finding the non-Calvin Johnson receivers that is opening everything else up, including the running game.
The Lions lead the league in passing offense with 307 yards per game. What do we always see in the NFL? Teams coming back late thanks to a strong passing attack. I think it will be a close game that the Lions win on a drive in the final minute.
Buffalo (3-5) at New England (5-3) 1 P.M.
The Bills defense is 31st against the run and 24th against the pass. The Patriots offense is fifth in passing and fourth running the ball. When they played earlier this year, the Bills blew a 21-7 lead and lost the game 52-28. Sometimes you don't need to go in-depth to pick these games. The numbers are there.
Could the Bills learn from that game and keep it close for four quarters? Sure they could. I just don't think they will. At least they'll keep the Pats under 50 this time.
Atlanta (8-0) at New Orleans (3-5) 1 P.M.
I don't think the Falcons will go undefeated. I think they'll lose two or three games. It won't be this one, though.
The kind of team that will beat the Falcons is one that can be physical on defense and can rush the passer. The Saints defense is awful. Everybody knows it. How are they going to slow down Matt Ryan and this explosive Falcons offense? They can't.
Ryan will have all day to throw the ball downfield. The Falcons are also a smart team that knows the Saints are atrocious against the run, where they rank last in the NFL by giving up 176.5 yards per game. I know RB Michael Turner is "old" in terms of running-back years, but he can still gain yards against a bad defense like this.
With all of that said, this game has shootout potential. The Falcons defense is much improved thanks to defensive coordinator Mike Nolan doing a fantastic job of implementing the sense of toughness that they lacked.
The thing is when the Saints are at home, they always find ways to score. That's just how they roll with QB Drew Brees under center. You might stop them a few times, but all game? That doesn’t happen. I like the Falcons to win and cover in a high-scoring game that should be a lot of fun to watch.
San Diego (4-4) at Tampa Bay (4-4) 1 P.M.
I know everybody in the football world loves Bucs rookie RB Doug Martin these days. I do too. He's fun to watch and is coming off two huge games in a row. I don't know if he'll have a third huge game in a row, though. He might score one or even two touchdowns, but I don't see it being all about him.
I think you'll see QB Josh Freeman hook up with WR Vincent Jackson, who is going up against his former team. Plus, the Chargers have a good run defense and I think they'll likely key on Martin too much, which should open up the deep passing game for the Bucs.
The Chargers don't impress me much. Their four wins are against bad opponents like the Raiders, Titans and Chiefs (twice). They've lost three of their last four.
They're generally not a good road team against teams in the eastern time zone, and I have a feeling the players have stopped listening to coach Norv Turner. I can't say I blame them. They shouldn't have brought him back for one more year. I don't see him lasting as head coach into next year, though.
The Bucs have serious playoff aspirations that I believe are attainable if everything goes right for them. You have to win games like this to make the playoffs. I think they'll win this one easily.
Denver (5-3) at Carolina (2-6) 1 P.M.
This has home underdog upset potential written all over it. I'm mad at myself for not picking the Panthers against the Redskins last week because I saw it coming. Their start to the year was bad record-wise, but if you look at their games closely, they generally play tight games.
Their defense isn't that bad, and while their offense isn't explosive, they do have a dynamic young QB in Cam Newton who is tough for defenses to deal with.
The reason I'm not picking the Panthers is because of Broncos QB Peyton Manning. The guy is too good. He's reached the point now where he has that chemistry with his WRs Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas to where you know the receiver is going to be in the right place while the ball floats in there in the perfect spot. They did it last week against the Bengals, too.
I think the Broncos are going to finish the year very strong and they're not going to lose their focus here. Plus, their defense is pretty good, too. I just think they're the better team in every way.
Oakland (3-5) at Baltimore (6-2) 1 P.M.
The Raiders have surprised me this year because their offense is better than I thought it would be. They can score against bad defenses. As weird as it is to say, the Ravens defense is closer to bad than it is good. The problem with the Raiders is their lack of a run game, which has been mediocre—even when Darren McFadden was healthy.
Carson Palmer can put up the yards, but he'll turn the ball over, too. A good team like the Ravens will capitalize on those mistakes and put points on the board.
The Ravens offense plays a lot better at home, especially QB Joe Flacco. I like the Ravens to hold on for the win, but it wouldn't surprise me if it comes down to the wire.
NY Jets (3-5) at Seattle (5-4) 4:05 P.M.
If I see Seattle at home, I pick them. They're 4-0 at home and 1-4 on the road. They're even 4-0 against the spread at home, too (sorry, Packers fans). I don't see the Jets having the kind of team that can go in there, be more physical than the Seahawks and put up enough points on the board to get the win.
I think the Seahawks will win with their ball-control offense built around RB Marshawn Lynch, and QB Russell Wilson will find a way to make enough plays to get his team the victory.
Meanwhile, people will continue to speculate when "Tebow Time" begins for the Jets because they have nothing better to do than to talk about the potential playing time of a backup QB. You have my sympathies, Jets fans.
Dallas (3-5) at Philadelphia (3-5) 4:25 P.M.
The two most overrated and over-hyped teams in the NFL meet in the prime late game on Fox. I'm so tired of hearing about these teams. I think both head coaches will be gone after the year. I don't think both QB's will be gone, but it wouldn't surprise me if either organization went in another direction.
During this game, you'll hear the announcers talk about how the winner of this is in playoff contention at 4-5. No, they're not. Neither team is consistent enough to be in the playoffs, and no matter who wins, they are both destined to be disappointing teams this year.
Their mistakes define these teams. The Eagles are -9 in turnover differential and the Cowboys are -11. If you turn the ball over, you're going to lose. Those numbers don't lie.
I'm going with the Eagles. I think their defense will force QB Tony Romo into some mistakes and they will capitalize on them, though they may not get touchdowns out of them because their play-calling inside the red zone is awful. One of these games, the Eagles will realize how good RB LeSean McCoy is, and he's going to have a three-TD type of game. It should have been last week. Maybe it will happen this week.
St. Louis (3-5) at San Francisco (6-2) 4:25 P.M.
I'd love to forecast a victory for my Rams, but I don't think it's going to happen. Both teams are coming off the bye and the Rams have some key guys coming back from injury, namely their best WR, Danny Amendola. Even with Amendola coming back, it's going to be hard to move the ball against this stingy Niners defense that ranks second against the pass and fifth against the run. I don't think the Rams will be that effective in terms of moving the ball.
On the other side of the ball, I've been impressed with QB Alex Smith and the emergence of WR Michael Crabtree, who is playing like the top pick that he was three years ago. The Rams pass defense is pretty good, so I don't see Smith being as effective as he was against the Cardinals two weeks ago when he went 18-for-19.
It should be a physical football game. The Niners will likely be in control for the majority of it. Their defense is too good to lose this game and the Rams offense just isn't good enough to score the points needed to win this game.
Houston (7-1) at Chicago (7-1) 8:20 P.M.
Here's your game of the week. I'm glad it's happening on Sunday night because it deserves the biggest audience of the week. It will be a big test for both teams. Both of them suffered a loss at the hands of the Packers. Other than that, they've run the table. For the most part, their wins have been decisive.
I think defensively they're similar. The Bears are great at forcing turnovers while the Texans excel at rushing the passer. Both teams are excellent at running the ball, yet they are both good at stopping the run, too. So, will this turn into a passing game more than a running game, or will there be a balance? There are a lot of questions to think about.
I like the visitors to win this game. Why? That Bears offensive line is very questionable, and I don't think they'll do a good job of protecting QB Jay Cutler, who has struggled mightily this year when he faces an elite defense.
I think Texans DE JJ Watt and company will wreak havoc on the Bears inconsistent offense. If they can force Cutler into making mistakes and capitalizing on them with their play-action passing game, I think they'll win the game.
The key for the Texans offense will be to hold on to the ball. Don't fumble or throw picks and you can win this game.
It will have a playoff atmosphere to it. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens. Give me the road team in a tight game that goes down to the wire.
Kansas City (1-7) at Pittsburgh (5-3) 8:30 P.M. (MON)
This will be a blowout of epic proportions. Not only are the Chiefs the worst team in the league (them or the Jags at least), but the Steelers are getting hot. Last week's win over the Giants was huge for them, and with a 6-3 record coming after a win here, they're back to being the perennial playoff team we know them to be.
The Chiefs are one of the worst teams in the last 10 years, and I'm a Rams fan, so I'm a good authority on that! They barely run the ball with their best player Jamaal Charles and their QB options are so bad that they make any defense look great.
The Steelers have the best pass defense in the NFL (ask the Giants last week), so I'm wondering how will the Chiefs score in this game?
The other factor is offensive coordinator Todd Haley is the former head coach of the Chiefs, so you know he's going to want to run the score up on them. Look for a huge game from Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and WR Mike Wallace, who will likely hook up on a few big plays.
Thanks to their improved offensive-line play and depth at the running-back position, they're a team that's a threat once again. This is a good appetizer before next week's big home game against the Ravens.
The Degenerates Dungeon
This is where I give you some picks for my best bets of the week.
Record so far: 20-25 (3-2)
Kansas City @ Pittsburgh -11.5—Even at 14 I think I'd go with the Steelers. Or is it against the Chiefs?
San Diego @ Tampa Bay -3—Spread should be higher, I think. I like the Bucs a lot in this game.
Oakland @ Baltimore Over 46—Neither defense is that impressive, so there should be a lot of points by both sides.
Tennessee @ Miami -6—Clearly the better team. Should win by a touchdown or more.
Atlanta -1 @ New Orleans—This is the Falcons sending a message. Lots of points.
John Canton is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. You can read more of his work at his website TJRWrestling.com along with his talented staff of writers. He also writes a lot about the NFL at TJRSports.com, so check him out there as well! You can follow John on Twitter @johnreport, too.
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