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Revisiting the NFL's week 10

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Revisiting the NFL's week 10

Arghhhh!! Thanks to Bill Belichick I finished 1-3 on the weekend for my first losing week in a while. I guess it’s better than nothing because I almost went 0-4 on the weekend. I can’t really be mad because I knew it was going to be one of those wacky weekends and it was just that. Just in case you missed anything, here’s your recap:

 

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

What I predicted …

Steelers 27-17

What I said would happen …

“Pittsburgh had Cincinnati on the ropes in their first contest but couldn’t finish them off because of a lackluster running game. Mendenhall has beefed up that phase of the Steeler attack and expect Pittsburgh to be the more balanced of the two teams this weekend. Whichever team fails to establish the run will lose and all signs point to Cincy struggling in that category.”

What actually happened …

Cincinnati won 18-12. The Bengals came through Pittsburgh with a stifling defense and limited the Steelers to 226 total yards and repelled their red zone offense to four field goals in each of their four trips. Cincinnati didn’t do much on offense themselves but a 96-yard kick return from Bernard Scott equaled the only touchdown of the game. The Bengals sacked the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger four times and knocked down several of his passes while holding Pittsburgh’s running backs to just 57 yards. Cincy then used an 11-play, 52-yard drive to tack on another field goal to make it 18-12 to ensure that the Steelers would have to score a touchdown to win but Pittsburgh wasn’t up for the challenge.

 

My reactions …

The Bengals are headed for a first round bye and team continues to push forward despite dealing with a recent rash of injuries. Sweeps over the Steelers and Baltimore Ravens has the team believing every team head coach Marvin Lewis tells them. Cincinnati will play Oakland, Cleveland and Detroit in the next few weeks with a chance to push their record even further up the ranks. The Bengals have to love the position they’re in right now, at the top of the AFC North and currently second place in the AFC race. The Bengals (7-2) might be playing better football right now than the AFC-leading Indianapolis Colts and if they can capitalize on an easy schedule over the next few weeks, they’ll have a great chance to make some major noise.

Pittsburgh has to obviously be disappointed by failing to upend the Bengals but the season is nowhere near finished and the Steelers (6-3) are only a half game away from tying the Bengals. Although Cincinnati has the tie breaker, anything can happen and the Steelers just need to focus on their remaining schedule. The Steelers had won five straight before losing to Cincinnati so Pittsburgh shouldn’t fret too hard over the loss.

 

Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers

What I predicted …

Cowboys 34-16

What I said would happen …

“Green Bay desperately wants to prove it can win without Favre but until they can play consistent defense and protect Rodgers, that won’t happen. The ‘Boys excel at pressing the passer and their offense has been pretty hot for the past few weeks. If the ‘Boys aren’t too full over their big win against the Eagles, they’ll handle the Packers on Sunday”

What actually happened …

Green Bay won 17-7. The Packers jumped Dallas’ Tony Romo from start to finish. The Cowboys never established their run game; running the ball only 11 times with their group of backs. Green Bay’s pass protection was horrid once again, allowing Aaron Rodgers to get sacked five times in the game. But the Packers made up for it by sacking Romo four times and forcing three turnovers. Trailing 17-0, the Cowboys had a chance to get back into the game but Romo was picked off at the one-yard line before throwing a nine-yard touchdown pass to Roy Williams with 38 seconds left.

My reactions …

Green Bay (5-4) bounced back in a game they had to win and got a big victory over the once streaking Cowboys. Their pass protection continues to be a sour subject but if they can continue to get consistent play from their defense and keep Rodgers in the game, sooner or later the QB is going to make a play. At 5-4, the Packers are still in the mix for a wildcard birth but they need to be consistent down the stretch. Minnesota and New Orleans continue to pile up wins and the division winners of the NFC West and East will both get automatic playoff spots. A postseason slot isn’t out of the cards but better play is mandatory if the Pack wants to get in and Sunday’s win may have pointed them in the right direction.

With the Philadelphia Eagles losing, the ‘Boys are still in the comfortable chair of division leader. Dallas (6-3) will get the Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders at home in the next couple of weeks so it will be important for them to capitalize on those games. Dallas shouldn’t be too heartbroken over their loss to the Packers considering Green Bay was pretty desperate after losing two straight games. Running the ball only 11 times is the ultimate recipe for disaster and look for the Cowboys to come out with better balance over the next few weeks.

 

Philadelphia Eagles vs. San Diego Chargers

What I predicted …

Chargers 30-23

What I said would happen …

“If Westbrook is unable to play, the Chargers could just run away with this game. Philadelphia is going to bring their exotic blitzes against the Chargers but Rivers is experienced enough to handle that with ease. Once the Eagles do sell out with their blitz schemes, Rivers will be allowed to take advantage of Philly’s smallish cornerbacks and launch the ball downfield to the biggest set of receivers in the league.”

What actually happened …

San Diego won 31-23. The Chargers got a retro performance from running back LaDainian Tomlinson – who rushed for 96 yards and two touchdowns – and San Diego extended winning streak to four games. The Chargers jumped to a 28-9 lead before holding off a late Eagles comeback. The Eagles Brian Westbrook returned but suffered another concussion that may have the rest of his season in jeopardy. With Westbrook on the shelf, Philadelphia only ran the ball seven times, forcing McNabb to a season high 55 pass attempts.

My reactions …

Philadelphia (5-4) is floating on dangerous waters. They frequently go away from the running game too often, leaving McNabb forced to compensate with big plays down the field. When those plays are taken away, Philadelphia struggles to put points up. With Westbrook expected to miss significant time, it’ll be up to rookie LeSean McCoy to revitalize the running game but it’s up to head coach Andy Reid to start emphasizing power football. Philadelphia seems to hover around expectations the early part of the season and then make a run late so they still have a chance to finish strong. Stay tuned…

San Diego (6-3) has bounced back nicely after a home loss to the once undefeated Denver Broncos. Four straight wins has the Chargers set up for a pivotal game next weekend in Denver with a chance to take over the division lead. San Diego has scored at least three touchdowns in six consecutive games and the defense has performed light years better than what it did in the early part of the season. If the Chargers can get pass the Broncos, games against Kansas City and Cleveland could give them the lift they need to challenge for a playoff bye. If Tomlinson can continue to build upon the success he had against the Eagles, San Diego could seriously make a Super Bowl run. They always seem to beat Indianapolis – who leads the AFC – and quarterback Philip Rivers can go toe-to-toe with any QB in the league. Stay tuned…

 

New England Patriots vs. Indianapolis Colts

What I predicted …

Patriots 31 -20

What I said would happen …

“Indy is too banged up to run with the Patriots’ band of receivers and unless Colts defensive coordinator Larry Coyer comes up with a fantastic scheme between Monday and Saturday, New England could put up a lot of points. With their fourth and fifth string corners playing, Indy may be in a world of trouble. This would be the ideal game for the Colts to kill the clock with a punishing run game but Indianapolis is only averaging 85 rushing yards per game as a team

What actually happened …

Indianapolis won 35-34. Patriots head coach Bill Belichik may have made the worse coaching call in his career on his decision to go for fourth-and-2 from his own 28 leading 34-28. The Patriots couldn’t pick it up and Peyton Manning drove his team down the field for the game winning touchdown. The Pats had dominated the game to that point, leading at one point 31-14.

My reactions …

The Colts continue their undefeated streak and will march on to play Baltimore and Houston on the road in the next couple of weeks. Indianapolis (9-0) is going to have their work cut out for them in the next couple of weeks against a couple of quarterbacks who will challenge their depleted secondary. The Colts’ Peyton Manning is threatening to take home his fourth MVP trophy and comeback wins like the one on Sunday is definitely a heavy feather in his cap. Indy seems to start fast every year however, and they only have one Super Bowl to their credit for all their 8-0, 9-0 and 10-0 starts. If the Colts can get some of their guys healthy again, the road to the Super Bowl would go through Indianapolis and Manning would love nothing better than that.

The Patriots will bounce back as they usually do. Going for it on fourth-and-2 is a heavy vote in confidence for the belief that Belichik has in Tom Brady but it’s also a shot in the head to the belief he has in his defense. The Colts may have still ran down the field to score a touchdown even if Belichik would’ve elected to punt but we’ll never know. The Patriots still sit comfortable as the division leader of the AFC East but find themselves in a four-way battle for the second spot. The weather gets crazy in New England around December so it will be important for the Pats to try to establish a run game over the next few weeks assuming the weather permits Brady from launching downfield. New England isn’t the same dominant force that they were a few weeks ago but they’re still pretty formidable. If the Pats can avoid Belichik making any more close calls, they should be fine. Stay tuned…

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