NFL Picks Week 10: Who'll Win The 5 Biggest Shootouts of The Weekend?
The Week 10 NFL slate provides 14 games to entertain us. Most of these games will feature very even matchups. Right now there is only one double-digit point spread, and that features the Cowboys, who are playing the best team in football with no quarterback and having just fired their head coach.
Some of the big high-powered offenses are on their bye this week, but that doesn't mean that there will be any shortage of points. Most of these games are between very even teams, and this NFL season has been anything but predictable.
Just when you think you have a grip on what's going on, something crazy happens on Sunday.
This week will be no different—just when you think one game will be low-scoring, you are likely to be in for a surprise. Offense is picking up around this league and defenses are starting to struggle.
Here are five games that are going to be back-and-forth offensive shootouts and my pick on who will win.
5. New York Jets at Cleveland Browns
There are many different story lines for this AFC clash. Jets head coach Rex Ryan is facing his brother Rob, who is the defensive coordinator for the Browns. Browns head coach Eric Mangini is facing his former team.
On the field, the Browns are filled with ex-Jets who were cast off by Ryan and GM Mike Tannenbaum. These players will sure have something to prove against their former team.
Meanwhile, on the other sideline, former Browns Braylon Edwards and Brodney Pool have already been loud and clear that they will be looking to show Cleveland what they lost.
In a game that features both of Buddy Ryan's sons, you would expect defense to prevail. But in this topsy-turvy NFL season, that will likely not be the case.
The Ryan brothers sure know defense, but they also know each other's defenses. The two share a very similar defensive strategy and they are both aware of the flaws. Therefore, they both know how to best expose the other's defense.
You could be sure both Ryan brothers will be spending extra time in offensive meetings, helping out the offensive coordinators with game plans on how to best to beat their opposition's defense.
Meanwhile, both teams offenses are starting to come alive. The Jets offense has played two duds this season. After the first one in Week 1, they bounced back terrifically over the next several games. Last Sunday, after a very weak start to the game in Detroit, the offense came alive at the end to steal a win. Expect the Jets offense to come out ready to play right from the start this week.
In Cleveland, after starting the season with Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace, the Browns have finally figured out that their best chance to win is with Colt McCoy. While it took them a few injuries to figure this out, the offense is starting to come alive, having just put up 35 points on the Patriots.
5. Cleveland Browns OVER New York Jets
This game has all the signs of a trap game. A 6-2 team going on the road against a 3-5 team with a rookie quarterback. But this is not a trap game for the Jets, but rather for the Browns.
The Jets are coming off bad performances in their last three games, they are looking to get back on track. The Browns, however, are coming off of back-to-back wins against New Orleans and New England.
Nevertheless, the Browns are not going to get cocky, they know they have a tough task on their hands and they are up for it.
Coach Mangini is out for revenge against the Jets after they fired him after just three seasons on the job, two of which he had a winning record.
The Browns are a scrappy team that is not great in any one specific area. They do what needs to be done overall to win.
The Jets offense will be looking to show the league what they are capable of, and build off the end of last week's game. Jerrico Cotchery will rebound from the case of the dropsies he has suffered the last two weeks, and you could expect a big game from Braylon Edwards. The Jets offense will score points.
The Browns, however, match up great against the Jets. Revis Island returned last week, holding Calvin Johnson to just one 13-yard catch all game. The Jets top two corners continue to be great, but this week, for a change, they will not be facing their opposition's biggest weapons.
Cleveland has not gotten big production out of their outside wide receivers—in fact they don't throw to them all that often. Cleveland sticks with the middle of the field, using their tight end and running backs. Furthermore, the Jets have had problems all season with their nickel corner, allowing them to be exposed in three-receiver sets.
The Jets have struggled to get to the quarterback this season, and Colt McCoy has proven he could be an elusive fellow and make plays with his legs. This will allow him to buy time for his slot receiver and running backs to get open.
The Jets have one more issue to worry about. Cleveland possesses kick returner Josh Cribbs, the best in the league. On more then one occasion the Jets have given up long runbacks on kickoffs. A special teams touchdown is not out of the question in this one.
Cleveland will continue their hot streak, and make the Jets the third big team in a row they have taken down.
4. Detroit Lions at Buffalo Bills
A couple of bad teams that have the potential to be way better then their record shows. Detroit has played frisky lately, and should have beaten the Jets this past week.
Meanwhile, Buffalo has been putting up points this season and has been playing really well, but somehow don't have a win yet. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been making plays with his arm and his legs, and wide receiver Steve Johnson is having a breakout year.
The Lions still don't know who their quarterback will be this Sunday, as there have been conflicting reports whether Matthew Stafford's shoulder injury, which he suffered against the Jets, is serious or not. Shaun Hill was active as the emergency QB on Sunday, but it is unclear if he will be able to play if Stafford can't go.
Nevertheless, unlike the Jets, the Bills do not possess a shutdown corner like Darrelle Revis. Therefore, the "throw the ball up in the air and let Calvin Johnson make a play" offense could be used once again. Even with a bad quarterback, Johnson is a risk to go off for a three-touchdown day. The Bills are terrible at stopping the run, which will allow the Lions to give Jahvid Best the ball and open up play-action.
4. Buffalo Bills OVER Detroit Lions
While the Bills have a bad defense that will allow the Lions to stay in the game, Buffalo will finally grab their first win of the year Sunday.
Ryan Fitzpatrick will be going up against the league's 24th-ranked defense. The Bills offense has been getting friskier by the week, and Fitzpatrick is capable of throwing the ball down the field or running for the first down himself.
To make it worse, the Lions are awful on the road—not just bad, but almost historically bad. The Lions have lost over 20 consecutive road games. Furthermore, the Lions come from inside a dome at Ford Field and will be traveling to Buffalo in November, where the weather conditions could be anything.
While the Lions will be able to throw the ball up to Calvin Johnson, the Bills will be able to move the ball right back on the Lions.
There is still a good chance the Lions will be starting Drew Stanton, who started the year as the third-string quarterback. While he may be able to throw it to Johnson and dump it off to Best, inexperience can certainly lead to mistakes that could cost the Lions the game, the same way his incomplete third-down pass after the two-minute warning helped the Jets come back last Sunday.
An inexperienced QB meets an offense that is getting better. Both teams are weak on defense and will allow points. But this one will be too much for the Lions. If the Bills can't win this game...
3. Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts
The Bengals season is all but dead. They have started slow in almost every game they've played, digging themselves into much too big a hole to get out of. But that doesn't change that their offense has been absolutely great in the second half of games.
Carson Palmer continues to make the league believe he is still a good quarterback with his second-half performances. The addition of Terrell Owens has been great for the Bengals, who came oh-so-close to coming from behind to beat the Steelers Monday night.
On Monday night against the Steelers, we had our first "Can T.O. and Ochocinco co-exist on the same team moment" when Ochocinco started having a hissy fit with Carson Palmer during the game. This week Palmer will be looking to get Ocho involved, especially as teams will start to focus on Owens.
Early involvement for Ochocinco will mean more open space for Owens later, and Palmer will fling it around to both of them to get the ball down the field.
On the other side, not much needs to be said. The Bengals will be going up against the Colts, whose quarterback you may have heard of, Peyton Manning.
The Colts offense is the Colts offense. It doesn't matter who is playing receiver, if you are open, Manning will find you and you will score points.
3. Indianapolis Colts OVER Cincinnati Bengals
One thing is certain, the Colts are not the same team this year that they have been in previous years. They have been much more beatable this season as evidenced by their three losses. But one thing the Colts still do have is their ability to bounce back.
The worst time to play the Colts is the week right after the Colts have just lost. Peyton Manning will be in full revenge mode as he looks to get the Colts back on top.
Despite losing Dallas Clark, and missing Austin Collie, the Colts continue to turn out productive receiver after productive receiver. Even if you are a no-name un-dfrafted rookie, if you get open on the field, Peyton Manning will throw it to you. If you tell Manning of a certain route you excel at, Manning will call it for you and get you the ball.
Peyton Manning will stop at nothing to win this game. If the Colts defense surrenders 40 points, Manning will make sure the offense scores 41.
The Bengals have been slow starters this season, but Manning will have the Colts ready to go right from the get go.
Don't think that Manning isn't aware that the Bengals have made games close late this season too. Manning will score early, and won't be letting the Colts let up at any point, scoring often.
2. Seattle at Arizona
The Seahawks were embarrassed at home last week by the New York Giants. They will be looking to get back on track when they face divisional opponent Arizona this week.
While Seattle has been awful on the road this season they will get the chance to face the NFL's 30th ranked defense. This will allow Seattle to get back on track and put up points against the Cardinals.
This game will be high scoring, not so much because of two high powered offenses going at it, but because of defensive ineptitude.
Two weeks ago the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went to Arizona, where I predicted Tampa would barely come out on top in a sloppy low scoring affair between two weak teams. Tampa Bay did come out on top, but in a high scoring shootout.
This game will be no different. Even when you include the numbers from that game, and last weeks games, Tampa Bay and Arizona are both in the bottom 10 in total offense. Yet both scored a lot of points when they faced each other.
Even with Arizona and Seattle being at the bottom of the league in offense, this sloppy game between bad teams, will feature more defensive breakdowns then offensive breakdowns leading to a lot of points.
2. Arizona Cardinals OVER Seattle Seahawks
Arizona has come to life recently, beating the New Orleans Saints, losing a high scoring affair to the Buccaneers, and going on the road and nearly beating the Minnesota Vikings, a great home team, before letting it slip away.
The Cardinals had a very chippy performance in Minnesota and they are a much better team at home.
On the other side, Seattle has been a chippy team at home and awful on the road, and it has only gotten worse. In their last road game they scored a total of three points in Oakland, before returning home, where they have played better and getting destroyed by the Giants.
The "hot" start to the Pete Carroll era is quickly coming to an end as the Seahawks will still not be able to win on the road, and will start dropping more home games.
Arizona plays much better at home, and proved against Tampa Bay that they will be able to go point for point with you. Arizona's offense rose to the occasion against Tampa Bay, and will be facing an even weaker defense this week.
The biggest news for the Cardinals came on Monday when former quarterback Kurt Warner was voted off of ABC's Dancing With the Stars, freeing up his schedule and allowing the Cardinals to make a push for the quarterback to come out of retirement.
Ok so that scenario is far from likely but stranger things HAVE happened...
1. Houston at Jacksonville
The Jaguars offense has begun to spring to life with the return of quarterback David Garrard. They'll be given a gift this weekend when they face the Houston Texans, who own the leagues worst defense.
When you are looking to predict who will have a breakout offensive week this season, it has been very easy and successful to just look at who is facing the Houston Texans that week. Picking the quarterback against the Texans has been a consistent fantasy winner this season.
Not much needs to be said about the Houston Texans. They are 4-4 this year with the leagues worst defense. That could only mean that their offense is up near the top of the league.
Arian Foster is having a monster breakout year and Andre Johnson is being dominant as ever. Though the Texans offensive numbers are down, they are still a very potent offense.
The way the Texans have been winning this season has required them to go point for point with opponents, this Sunday will be more of the same.
1. Houston Texans OVER Jacksonville Jaguars
The Texans may have a bad defense but there is only so much the Jaguars offense is capable of. Jacksonville still ranks just 23rd in the league in total offense. They will see a spike in their numbers this week, but it won't be that big.
Meanwhile the Texans have a great offense and will go against Jacksonville's defense. Jacksonville is ranked 28th in total defense, not much higher then the Texans.
Arian Foster will continue to run wild on the ground. Meanwhile Andre Johnson who has been bothered by injuries this season looks like he is finally getting healthy. The Jaguars will have no answer to him and no way of covering him.
Matt Schaub led the league in passing last season and will be looking to get the Texans back on track this week as they try to earn their first playoff spot in franchise history.
The game will be in Jacksonville, where the weather will be nice, and the Jaguars do not posses a major homefield advantage as they often struggle to sell out their stadium.
Both teams are 4-4 and this game will be won by the better team, which is the Houston Texans.