Public opinion on NFL teams varies week to week. The 2012 Miami Dolphins serve as a perfect example of the league’s ever-changing opinions.
The Dolphins and their rookie quarterback were talking playoffs only a few weeks ago, grinding out games with a west-coast attack and swarming defense.
Then they had three losses to middling teams, including a 34-point ravaging to Tennessee. The Dolphins were rendered out of the AFC playoff hunt, and NFL fans will not favor them in most games for the rest of the year.
Like the Dolphins in November, Week 10 will confuse many NFL fans after the final whistle blows. Week by week, opinions keep changing as parity keeps rolling.
Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. Baltimore)
Call it a gut feeling, but I see the Pittsburgh Steelers taking the “next man up” approach and defending their home turf against Baltimore.
Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and Co. have been known to play down to opponents, and beating the Steelers always seems to be a tough obstacle no matter the talent discrepancy.
With Ben Roethlisberger out with a serious shoulder injury, the Steelers’ defense will have to protect home field in order to claim victory in this Sunday night battle. I say it gets done in a game they must win to contend in the AFC North.
Kansas City Chiefs (vs. Cincinnati)
This looks like a classic letdown game for the Bengals, who will go from a win over the defending champions to a road game in Kansas City.
Cincinnati hasn’t been a mentally tough team up front until last week’s epiphany against the Giants.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs have one of the most talented rosters at the top of their depth chart, yet they have only transferred it into one loss. Behind the home crowd, they put in a similar effort the Bengals had last week.
You heard it here first.
Carolina Panthers (vs. Tampa Bay)
The Panthers have been vastly undervalued, and rightfully so. They don’t have much of a running game even though they’ve shoveled out millions to two backs. The offensive line can’t protect Cam Newton and when he does have time, he hasn’t been accurate.
Which team has the best chance to pull off the upset?
The NFL, though, is very much a week-to-week league and the Panthers will avenge their Week 1 loss with a home win. The Panthers pass rush, led by Charles Johnson, can wreak some havoc on Josh Freeman and an offensive line that hasn’t been challenged since Carl Nicks’ injury.
Plus, don’t discount Steve Smith making big plays against a depleted Bucs secondary. They will need the Ronde Barber from 2008 if they want a chance to shut Smith down.
Mike Shiekman is a Breaking News Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @TheRealShiek