It's always hard to predict NFL games that feature two mediocre opponents—or worse. There are a few tricky matchups on the schedule in Week 10 that fit this description, and trying to pick winners for these sneaky battles can boggle the mind.
Last weekend, Philadelphia and Oakland was tough to call. Most expected the Raiders to put up at least a decent fight, and nobody expected Nick Foles to tie an NFL record with seven touchdown passes in the Eagles' 49-20 blowout win
Another sneaky matchup last weekend featured Cleveland and Baltimore. The Browns stopped a three-game losing skid by beating the Ravens, who now have a three-game losing streak of their own.
Here's a look at the entire slate of games for Week 10, followed by an examination of this weekend's most mind-boggling contests.
|Washington Redskins||Minnesota Vikings||Redskins|
|Oakland Raiders||New York Giants||Giants|
|Seattle Seahawks||Atlanta Falcons||Seahawks|
|Detroit Lions||Chicago Bears||Lions|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Green Bay Packers||Packers|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Tennessee Titans||Titans|
|St. Louis Rams||Indianapolis Colts||Colts|
|Buffalo Bills||Pittsburgh Steelers||Steelers|
|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|
Washington at Minnesota
Flip a coin?
Nobody knows what to expect from either of these two teams from week to week.
Well, to be fair, we can be fairly certain the Minnesota Vikings can be counted on to allow a gargantuan amount of offense to the Redskins.
After all, that's what every other team has done this year.
However, Washington hasn't exactly been sharp on offense this year, and the short week will have a big impact on the level of physicality we'll see from the Redskins. Thursday night games typically turn into sloppy affairs, as both teams are too tired to play at full strength, having just played four days prior.
Which team will win?
Minnesota's offense could theoretically shred Washington's defense, which allows slightly more yardage per game than the Vikings. Both teams rank in the bottom four in yardage allowed.
But the Vikings, just like the Redskins, have featured an underwhelming offensive attack this year. Between Matt Cassel, Christian Ponder and Josh Freeman, Minnesota has thrown just six touchdowns this year.
In the end, this game will boil down to turnovers. Since Minnesota has given away one more ball this year than Washington, we'll give a slight edge to the Redskins.
Prediction: Redskins win 27-21.
Oakland at New York Giants
After getting absolutely whipped by the Eagles last weekend, the Oakland Raiders face an interesting challenge in Week 10. The New York Giants are playing host after taking a week off, and though they have a record of 2-6, the two wins are the team's most recent memories.
Terrelle Pryor and Darren McFadden were both banged up last weekend. Pryor is already back practicing with the Raiders, but McFadden remains out of commission, as noted by Pro Football Talk:
Terrelle Pryor back to practice, but Darren McFadden sits out practice http://t.co/w6p1wBnCOJ— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) November 6, 2013
The key to New York's recent winning streak has been a renewed effort by the team's defensive front, which has been underwhelming this year. In the two games, the Giants sacked the quarterback five times and added numerous pressures.
If this trend continues, then Pryor may be doomed. Only Russell Wilson has been under pressure more often this year than Pryor, as noted by Pro Football Focus, and the Raiders have given up 32 sacks this season, which is the second-most in the NFL:
QB under the most pressure this year? Russell Wilson on 48.3% of dropbacks, Terrelle Pryor at 45.8% & Brandon Weeden at 42.9%— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) November 5, 2013
Given the extra rest the Giants received prior to this game, and given the fact that it's being contested in New York, it's hard to imagine the Raiders finishing the game with a "W."
Prediction: Giants win 28-17.
Houston at Arizona
Though it's still early, it appears the Houston Texans may have found a competent quarterback in Case Keenum.
He's lost both games he's started, as the Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts won tight contests the past two weeks against Houston, but nobody can blame the undrafted quarterback out of Houston for those losses.
Passing for 621 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions, Keenum has been a breath of fresh air for the Texans.
Maybe this fresh air will finally lead to a win this Sunday against the up-and-down Arizona Cardinals.
Arizona has issues on offense, thanks to turnover-happy Carson Palmer, who has thrown 14 interceptions in his first eight games and at least one in every single contest.
He's nothing if not consistent.
Making matters worse for the Cardinals, Houston features the No. 1 passing defense in the NFL, allowing just 158 yards per game.
Andre Ellington will need to have a monster game in order to spur a victory for the Cardinals, but that's not likely to happen. J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus and Antonio Smith have been coming on strong of late, and they'll destroy Arizona's porous offensive line.
Prediction: Texans win 23-14.
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