With the 2013 NFL season passing the halfway point, the playoff race is starting to heat up, and teams are positioning themselves for late-season pushes that will begin in Week 10.
Many teams are stuck at, or near, the .500 mark, with very few getting out to blazing starts while a handful of other clubs are already squandering playoff positioning. With that said, plenty is on the line for more than half of the league heading down the stretch.
Let's take a look at who will win each of the following Week 10 matchups and break down the most enticing games on the slate.
|Away Team||Home Team||Prediction|
|Washington Redskins||Minnesota Vikings||Redskins|
|Seattle Seahawks||Atlanta Falcons||Seahawks|
|Detroit Lions||Chicago Bears||Bears|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Green Bay Packers||Packers|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Tennessee Titans||Titans|
|St. Louis Rams||Indianapolis Colts||Colts|
|Oakland Raiders||New York Giants||Giants|
|Buffalo Bills||Pittsburgh Steelers||Bills|
|Cincinnati Bengals||Baltimore Ravens||Bengals|
|Carolina Panthers||San Francisco 49ers||49ers|
|Houston Texans||Arizona Cardinals||Texans|
|Denver Broncos||San Diego Chargers||Broncos|
|Dallas Cowboys||New Orleans Saints||Saints|
|Miami Dolphins||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Dolphins|
Steven Cook's predictions
Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers
The Chargers have enjoyed a resurgent season from Philip Rivers, who led San Diego to within one yard of a victory on Sunday at Washington before losing in overtime. Despite the loss, the Chargers sit at a respectable 4-4.
Rivers and Co. are 2-1 at home this season, but must still face both Denver and Kansas City twice down the stretch.
I like them to win at least one of those games, but it won't be against a well-rested Broncos team that is motivated by the fact that it is still trailing the Chiefs in the AFC West race.
Prediction: Broncos 38, Chargers 30
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears
Detroit is also coming off a bye entering a tough Week 10 matchup. The Lions are tied atop the NFC North with Chicago and Green Bay after the Bears' win on Monday Night Football.
Without Jay Cutler, backup quarterback Josh McCown has thrived, having not thrown a touchdown in his two appearances. He was asked to throw 41 passes on Monday night, and turned those into 272 yards and two touchdowns.
Matt Forte was a beast against the Packers as well, rushing 24 times for 125 yards and a touchdown.
As long as big wideouts Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery keep making things easy for McCown, and the Bears give him help on the ground, even the surging Lions won't be a match for Chicago at Soldier Field
Prediction: Bears 31, Lions 28
Carolina Panthers at San Francisco 49ers
Led by Cam Newton, the Carolina Panthers are suddenly a force in the NFC, sitting at 5-3 heading into an all-important road contest with San Francisco.
Will the Panthers (5-3) make the playoffs?
The Panthers have done a good job on the road in that aspect, not allowing a 100-yard rusher in a road game since the Bills' C.J. Spiller ran over Carolina in Week 2. That span for the Panthers included holding Adrian Peterson to just 62 yards rushing in a Week 6 win.
The Niners, however, haven't needed 100-yard rushing games from running back Frank Gore to win games. He has only reached the century mark in two of San Francisco's six wins.
The impact of mobile quarterback Colin Kaepernick is an additional element that the Panthers haven't had to deal with this season. I expect Kaepernick and Gore to have success early and set up some big plays off the passing game.
Prediction: 49ers 30, Panthers 20