Week 10 of the NFL season has some truly excellent matchups. Two of the hottest teams are set to do battle. A pair of games between four of the best offenses in the NFL. An epic showdown between the New York Giants and Oakland Raiders.
Okay, so maybe not that last part.
Here I'll provide my full list of Week 10 picks and take a closer look at some of the top matchups this week.
|Green Bay Packers||Philadelphia Eagles||Philadelphia Eagles|
|Atlanta Falcons||Seattle Seahawks||Seattle Seahawks|
|Chicago Bears||Detroit Lions||Chicago Bears|
|Tennessee Titans||Jacksonville Jaguars||Tennessee Titans|
|Indianapolis Colts||St. Louis Rams||Indianapolis Colts|
|New York Giants||Oakland Raiders||New York Giants|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Buffalo Bills||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Baltimore Ravens||Cincinnati Bengals||Baltimore Ravens|
|San Francisco 49ers||Carolina Panthers||San Francisco 49ers|
|Arizona Cardinals||Houston Texans||Houston Texans|
|San Diego Chargers||Denver Broncos||Denver Broncos|
|New Orleans Saints||Dallas Cowboys||New Orleans Saints|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Miami Dolphins||Miami Dolphins|
Carolina Panthers at San Francisco 49ers
Outside of Kansas City, there aren't any teams hotter than these two. The Panthers have won four in a row, while the Niners are riding a five-game winning streak coming into this key NFC battle.
San Francisco might have Mario Manningham back for this game, according to Bill Williamson of ESPN:
#49ers OC Greg Roman said Manningham is “day-to-day” as far as the plan to play him Sunday.— Bill Williamson (@BWilliamsonESPN) November 7, 2013
Meanwhile, Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee reports that Aldon Smith will also return to action:
Vic Fangio on Aldon Smith playing vs. Panthers: "I'm sure he'll play some."— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) November 7, 2013
Both teams thrive on controlling the line of scrimmage. The Niners are first in run offense and 12th in run defense, while the Panthers are eighth in run offense and second in run defense.
The winner of this game likely will be the team that passes the ball with more success and whose quarterback—Colin Kaepernick or Cam Newton—can limit his mistakes while moving the ball through the air.
Kaepernick has Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin to lean on, so he gets the edge in that regard. This game will be tight, but the Niners will squeak by with a close victory.
Prediction: San Francisco wins, 20-17
Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers
Really, there is just one question that needs to be asked in regard to this game—can Philip Rivers and Co. keep pace with Peyton Manning, Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Julius Thomas and Knowshon Moreno?
Even if you think the answer is yes—and the Chargers have nice weapons in Danny Woodhead, Antonio Gates and Keenan Allen—the Broncos could still beat them in the end. And if the answer is no, well, the San Diego secondary isn't going to slow Manning down. That's for sure.
They key factor in this game? The Broncos are very good against the run, ranking third in the NFL. It's unlikely that San Diego will be able to play keep-away, in other words. Unless Rivers can out-duel Manning, the Broncos will win.
Prediction: Denver wins, 41-31
Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints
If the Cowboys decide to replicate their game plan from last week against the Minnesota Vikings—they rushed just nine times for 36 yards in a too-close-for-comfort win—they'll probably lose this game, plain and simple.
The biggest turnaround for the Saints this year is the pass defense, currently fifth in passing yards allowed per game. And frankly, given how awesome Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham have been the season, establishing a running game early and keeping the ball away from the Saints is vital.
Quite often, all of the pressure in Dallas falls on Tony Romo's shoulders because the defense can't get a stop, and the offense becomes completely reliant on the passing game. Romo is capable of gunslinging the Cowboys past the Saints, but it's a tall task.
Expect Brees to torch the Cowboys' 31st-ranked pass defense and escape with a close, exciting win.
Prediction: New Orleans wins, 35-27