So we have finally crossed the midway point of the regular season in the NFL and so far, as expected, there have been some surprises and some disappointments. My ability to pick games probably falls in neither of those areas, but rather in more of an “as expected category.” After last week’s 5-8 disaster, the season record crept further downward to 65-61-1 (.516). Here’s another attempt at a turnaround in Week 10.
Bears (+3) at 49ers: After seeing both of these teams play last week, the NFL probably regrets putting them in the Thursday Night game this week. The 'Mike Singletary vs. the Team He Used to Play For' storyline loses its luster when you see these two teams matchup. I’ll take the Bears, solely because I know they’ll put up some points and they’ll win if they can just stop Frank Gore. Alex Smith will throw at least two picks to bail out Chicago.
Bills (+7) at Titans: I have no idea what has gotten into the Tennessee Titans the last couple of weeks but they have looked very good. However, I think part of that is because they haven’t been pressed into making Vince Young make a whole lot of big plays. I think that the Bills will load the box early and often for Chris Johnson to make this happen. Also, it sounds like Trent Edwards is going to be back from his injury, so the Bills might even have a halfway competent passing game this week.
Saints (-14) at Rams: This needs very little analysis. The Saints are 8-0 and rolling over opponents. The Rams are 1-7 and beat the Lions for their only win. New Orleans should crush them. This one will be over by halftime.
Buccaneers at Dolphins (-10): My first impression of this game was to pick Tampa Bay. Then I realized I would be taking the league’s 30th-ranked rush defense against Miami’s wildcat offense, which is prided on the run. That made my decision much easier. As long as Joey Porter shows up this week (he had an impressive ZERO tackles in New England) the Fish should be fine.
Lions at Vikings (-17): Earlier in the season, Minnesota got off to a slow start in Detroit and still managed to beat the Lions 27-13 at Ford Field. That being said, I think Minnesota has gotten stronger while Detroit is starting to pack it in again. Minnesota should be able to win by at least 17 in the Metrodome.
Jaguars (+7) at Jets: I really don’t understand how the Jets are favored by 7 points in this game. Other than the 38-0 win over Oakland, they haven’t blown anyone away, and since starting 3-0, just haven’t looked like the same team. Jacksonville is a lot tougher than people give them credit for, and a win would put them at 5-4 with the Texans and into the playoff hunt.
Bengals (+7) at Steelers: So yet again the Bengals are playing a team they beat once already and are the underdog? Did Vegas learn nothing from Cincy’s 17-7 win over Baltimore last weekend? Apparently not. I’m not sure who’s going to win this game, but you can be certain that the Bengals and Steelers will play a hard-fought and close game.
Broncos (-4) at Redskins: Denver’s been knocked back to Earth the last couple of weeks, but it was by two very tough opponents. Washington should provide the kind of bounce-back they are looking for. I expect to see Denver have much greater success running the ball against the Skins and win by at least a touchdown.
Falcons at Panthers (+2): I have really liked what I’ve seen from the Panthers the last couple of weeks. It seems like John Fox just opened his playbook to the section listed as “running plays” and it’s been looking pretty good ever since. So long as they don’t put the game in Jake Delhomme’s hands at any point, I like Carolina’s chances at home against a struggling Matt Ryan and the Falcons.
Chiefs (+2) at Raiders: I have no real explanation for picking the Chiefs to beat the Raiders other than the fact that they should have beaten them in Week 2 at home. The game will be low-scoring, unwatched, and forgotten about soon after, but Kansas City might have its last chance at winning a game this weekend.
Eagles at Chargers (-3): The Chargers seem to be getting hot again as they attempt to chase down the AFC West-leading Broncos and are coming off a big win over the Giants. The Eagles need this one just as badly after dropping their battle with the Cowboys last week to drop out of first place, but are without Brian Westbrook again it appears right now. They need him on the field to be successful against San Diego’s defense.
Seahawks at Cardinals (-9): The Seahawks and Cardinals are two teams going in very different directions right now. Since blowing out Jacksonville 41-0, Seattle has look just terrible, not even looking very convincing in its 32-20 win over Detroit last week. The Cardinals, on the other hand, scored an easy win over the Bears and Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald looked very much on the same page. That’s bad news for the Seahawks’ secondary.
Cowboys (-3) at Packers: Dallas showed up in a big way last week by beating the Eagles. Green Bay decided not to show up by losing to the Bucs. Who do you think I should pick?
Patriots (+3) at Colts: From a completely biased view, I would love to see the Colts win, even though I’m about as much a fan of Peyton Manning as I am of Tom Brady. However, I’ve seen this matchup before and Brady has gotten the better of Manning five out of seven times in the regular season. The Pats take another step towards being a Super Bowl contender by beating the Colts, 24-21.
Ravens (-11) at Browns: This could be -21 and I would probably still take the Ravens to shellac the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland is in complete disarray right now and just doesn’t show any signs of life. Baltimore desperately needs a win to try and catch the loser of the Pittsburgh-Cincy game if they expect to make the playoffs.