NFL Week 10 Predictions: Steelers, Patriots Prepare For Crucial AFC Match Up

Ryan CookFeatured ColumnistNovember 13, 2010

NFL Week 10 Predictions: Steelers, Patriots Prepare For Crucial AFC Match Up

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    SAN DIEGO - OCTOBER 24:  Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England scrambles with the ball against pressure from the pass rush of Antwan Barnes #98 of the San Diego Chargers during their NFL game on October 24, 2010 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Ca
    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    The NFL regular season now hits double digits in Week 10, which is highlighted by a bundle of classic match ups and sure to be storylines, that will no doubt rock SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays of the Night.

    If you've been away for the past week, or have missed some of the action, the NFL has perhaps never been this wide open. 

    With much of the competition coming from the strong force known as the AFC, the NFC top dogs are lone wolf's amongst a weak division, even though Tom Coughlin and Mike Smith aren't complaining.

    Therefore, with another week on the horizon, let's open the door with some predictions, for some of Week 10's most prolific and exciting games.

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    Ryan Cook is an Australian Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also an NFL columnist for Real Sports Net and a Green Bay Packers writer for Fan Huddle and PackerChatters. Ryan is also a contributing writer for Detroit Lions Talk, Gack Sports and Generation Y Sports.

Teams Taking the Week Off

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    GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 07: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers looks for a receiver against the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field on November 7, 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Cowboys 45-7. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Im
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    -Green Bay Packers (6-3)

    -New Orleans Saints (6-3)

    -Oakland Raiders (5-4)

    -San Diego Chargers (4-5)

Detroit Lions at Buffalo Bills

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    TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 07: Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the Buffalo Bills reacts after Corey McIntyre #38 (not shown) scores a touchdown against the Chicago Bears at Rogers Centre on November 7, 2010 in Toronto, Canada. Chicago won 22-19.  (Photo by Rick Stewa
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Current Records:

    Detroit 2-6 - Buffalo 0-8

    What You Need To Know:

    Two tormenting teams are set to go head-to-head this weekend, when the 2-6 Detroit Lions fly to Canada, to take on the Buffalo Bills minus starting quarterback Matt Stafford. 

    If you're a Lions fan, losing Stafford to yet another shoulder injury is tough news to swallow.  However, fortunately for Detroit's faithful followers, backup quarterback Shaun Hill is ready to step under center yet again this season, and hopefully continue his impressive streak.

    As for the Bills, the times aren't all that jolly either.  For all of Chan Gailey's team efforts, the Bills have ultimately slumped to 0-8 this year, and with each loss, comes another opportunity to match Detroit's 0-16 record of 2008.

    The key to this game are simple: both teams need to rely on their quarterback play.  Ryan Fitzpatrick has been brilliant for Buffalo since stepping in; meanwhile, Shaun Hill has been mustering up some big plays of his own, even though Matt Stafford is dearly missed.

    Buffalo plays host, and we all know how much Bills fans love their football.  Whether a solid Lions following shows up is one thing, but this game should be reasonably close due to the circumstances.


    Detroit 14 - Buffalo 17

Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 31:  Josh Freeman #5 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers speaks to Head Coach Raheem Morris during a timeout against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on October 31, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Current Records:

    Carolina 1-7 - Tampa Bay 5-3

    What You Need To Know:

    A good ol' NFC South clash gets underway this Sunday, when the struggling Carolina Panthers take their annual visit to Tampa Bay, to take on the still promising and threatening Buccaneers.

    To some folks, this game is a potential upset waiting to happen.  Still, Tampa Bay's latest strives in the South this season have Raheem Morris' men in the drivers seat, along with being the firm favorites to take the win.

    If there was a game that was anymore significant for Tampa Bay, it would be tough to beat this one.  On Thursday night the Atlanta Falcons capped off an impressive 26-21 victory over the Baltimore Ravens, while the New Orleans Saints take the week off.

    Therefore, this is a prime opportunity for quarterback Josh Freeman to take advantage of, and his 1,722 yards and 10 touchdowns on the year should come into effect.

    Carolina can be surprising at times, and funnily enough, the Panthers defense is still strong even at 1-7.  Without any solid quarterback play though, and DeAngelo Williams still hurt, it should be easy pickings for Tampa Bay.


    Carolina 7 - Tampa Bay 23

Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears

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    CHICAGO - OCTOBER 24: Charles Tillman #33 and Julius Peppers #90 celebrate a take-away by Tillman against the Chicago Bears of the Washington Redskins at Soldier Field on October 24, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Redskins defeated the Bears 17-14. (Photo
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Current Records:

    Minnesota 3-5 - Chicago 5-3

    What You Need To Know:

    If you thought Tampa Bay faced a big game this weekend, think again, because this pivotal match up between two NFC North heavyweights in-stores more than just bragging rights in Chicago this Sunday. 

    Making news ahead of this fixture is the Vikings' recent offensive surge.  Yes, a 3-5 record may state differently, but Brett Favre's heroics last weekend against Arizona was duly noted, especially in the overtime period.

    Opposite the Vikings on Sunday though, is a determined Chicago Bears team, who is fresh off a close win over the Bills last week, and still looking to rid themselves of pretender status.

    The main players to watch in this game will be Sidney Rice for the Vikings, and Julius Peppers for the Bears.  Peppers has only recorded 2 sacks and a fumble in 10 weeks, meanwhile Sidney Rice looks likely to make his ill-awaited return to Minnesota, after a lengthy layoff.

    If Chicago wins, the Bears move into a first place tie with division leaders Green Bay.  On the flip side, if the Vikings take it, they are still a definite chance for at least a Wild Card berth.


    Minnesota 34 - Chicago 20

Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars

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    JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 18:  Quarterback David Garrard #9 of the Jacksonville Jaguars hands the ball off to running back Maurice Jones-Drew #32 against the Tennessee Titans during the game at EverBank Field on October 18, 2010 in Jacksonville, Florida.
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Current Records:

    Houston 4-4 - Jacksonville 4-4

    What You Need To Know:

    A battle between to 4-4 teams gets underway in Jacksonville Sunday afternoon, even though both teams couldn't be further apart mentally and physically 10 weeks into the year.

    What do I mean by that exactly?

    If you've been living under a rock, the Houston Texans have hit quite a rough patch in the past month.  At one stage this season Gary Kubiak's team were atop the AFC South, but now sit as bottom dwellers, beneath their very opponent this weekend.

    As for Jacksonville, their 4-4 record doesn't do them justice.  A bye week in Week 9 was luxurious for the Jaguars, and seeing as though quarterback David Garrard was near-perfect a week prior against Dallas, this weekend sure does look promising.

    Both sides are looking to advance to that official third spot in the division, and even though it may look all said and done, the Jaguars and Texans are still firmly in the hunt for the top spot if all things go to plan.


    Houston 31 - Jacksonville 10

Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins

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    ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 02:  Quarterback Chad  Pennington #10 of the Miami Dolphins walks off the field against the Dallas Cowboys during a preseason game at Cowboys Stadium on September 2, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Imag
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Current Records:

    Tennessee 5-3 - Miami 4-4

    What You Need To Know:

    Chad Henne out, Chad Pennington in has been the storyline of the past few days, as the Miami Dolphins look to amp up their struggling offense this weekend, with what Tunatown hopes to be a victory over the hot Tennessee Titans.

    Fortunately for the Dolphins, they do have home-field advantage in this game, even though it may not mean much considering that Miami has struggled at home. 

    Aside from this factor, the Dolphins will also need to rely on Chad Pennington to deliver in his first game back under center, a task which is easier said than done.

    For Tennessee, a milestone week lays ahead.  Randy Moss will be playing his first game under Jeff Fisher, while at the same time Vince Young and Chris Johnson look to close out the season in fashionable form, and maintain their lead in the AFC South.

    There's no doubt that some big storylines will unfold from this game, and perhaps at the end of the day, either Chad Pennington or Randy Moss will come out second-best.  A tight game?  Most likely, simply due to how skillful these two offenses can be.


    Tennessee 28 - Miami 20

Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts

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    PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 07:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts looks on against the Philadelphia Eagles on November 7, 2010 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Current Records:

    Cincinnati 2-6 - Indianapolis 5-3

    What You Need To Know:

    I never thought I'd see the day when Peyton Manning would be short of offensive targets, but here we are 10 weeks in, and the Colts starting roster is a ghost town, minus many talented receivers.

    In Week 9 against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Colts lost their one in-form wide receiver, Austin Collie.  A brutal hit looked likely to wipe Collie out of Week 10, and now that we have learned a concussion was the end result, at least No. 17 looks likely to return next week.

    Back to the Bengals, Cincinnati continue to struggle.  Unlike the Colts, Marvin Lewis' roster is imploding from the very core, with Chad Ochocinco's complaints, and funnily enough, enjoyable Terrell Owens performances.

    Therefore, seeing as though both teams rosters are struggling a little, don't expect too many points. 

    With that in mind however, Colts running back Mike Hart has been phenomenal since filling in for the injured Joseph Addai, and seeing as though Terrell Owens has 770 yards and 7 touchdowns on the year, who knows how the Bengals will perform.

    Earlier in the year this game would have been marked as a must watch, now it is nothing but a garden variety match up.  Don't take it the wrong way, this game could be exciting, but without the star factor, it loses a lot of credential.


    Cinicinnati 20 - Indianapolis 23

New York Jets at Cleveland Browns

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    CLEVELAND - NOVEMBER 07:  Quarterback Colt McCoy #12 of the Cleveland Browns throws to a receiver against the New England Patriots at Cleveland Browns Stadium on November 7, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    Current Records:

    New York 6-2 - Cleveland 3-5

    What You Need To Know:

    Cleveland Browns head coach Eric Mangini made the smart move to start Colt McCoy this weekend against the New York Jets, following No. 12's inspired win over the New England Patriots over a week ago.

    If you're a new fan and not all that familiar with the 2010 Cleveland Browns, here's a brief insight.  Already this season Cleveland have managed to notch wins over the New Orleans Saints and of course the Patriots, and now that a match up against the Jets appears, this kind of game has "upset" written all over it.

    So will the Browns give the Dawg Pound some more delight?

    With Braylon Edwards returning to Cleveland, chances are it will be a hostile affair.  Still, Browns fans realize how important this game is, especially if Eric Mangini wants to hold onto third place in the AFC North.

    As for the Jets, they struggled last week against the Detroit Lions.  Overtime was needed to topple Jim Schwartz's men, and now that another underdog team comes a knockin', who knows what will go down.


    New York Jets 13 - Cleveland 17

Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 31:  Kyle Orton #8 of Denver Broncos gives instructions during the NFL International Series match between Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers at Wembley Stadium on October 31, 2010 in London, England. This is the fourth occasi
    Ian Walton/Getty Images

    Current Records:

    Kansas City 5-3 - Denver 2-6

    What You Need To Know:

    Records and struggles aside, this AFC West match up is still exciting, even though both teams couldn't be further apart in the division standings right now.

    With a week off in hand, the Denver Broncos now look to turn their season around in a respectable manner, and at least go out with some confidence heading into the 2011 season.  Unfortunately, this may be hard to do.

    Firstly, the Broncos offense is atrocious.  Sparing Kyle Orton and Brandon Lloyd from this lecture, the Broncos running game has been as flat as a tack all season, and now that Josh McDaniels' offensive line is collapsing, salt continues to be rubbed into a very sore wound.

    Secondly, the Chiefs come to visit.  With a 5-3 record on the year, Kansas City have endured a few hiccups, but Matt Cassel's 1,412 yards and 12 touchdowns on the season have certainly put any negative thoughts behind head coach Todd Haley.

    Kansas City need a win to maintain a lead over the Raiders in the West, while the Broncos just want the criticism to end.  One may be more vital than the other, but don't write the Broncos off entirely after a bye week.


    Kansas City 24 - Denver 27 OT

St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 24:  Vernon Davis #85 of the San Francisco 49ers against the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on October 24, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Current Records:

    St. Louis 4-4 - San Francisco 2-6

    What You Need To Know:

    From one struggling 2-6 team to another, we take a quick look at the San Francisco 49ers, who remain home to take on the resurgent St. Louis Rams fresh off a bye week.

    If one thought the Denver Broncos had issues, the San Francisco 49ers easily match that.  Alex Smith is no longer the starting quarterback, after head coach Mike Singletary announced earlier in the week that replacement Troy Smith, has been awarded his second start of the year.

    Opposite San Francisco though, will be the Rams.  As mentioned St. Louis is well rested, but it appears that nothing can stop Sam Bradford from leading his team to the playoffs in 2010. 

    With 1,674 yards and 11 touchdowns on the year, Sam Bradford has turned the Rams around this year, and led them to the top spot.

    Perhaps this game will be closer than expected, nobody knows.  What is for sure though, is that if the 49ers do fall to 2-7, expect even more backlash from the media and the fans, especially considering that the 49ers are back home at Candlestick Park.


    St. Louis 20 - San Francisco 7

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals

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    GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 10:  Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals runs with the football after a reception against the New Orleans Saints during the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Glendale, Arizo
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Current Records:

    Seattle 4-4 - Arizona 3-5

    What You Need To Know:

    A 4-4 record for the Seattle Seahawks certainly doesn't do Pete Carroll's team any favors.  In the past two weeks, the Seahawks have been blown out by their opponents, one of whom was the New York Giants in Week 10.

    These kind of blowout losses surely crushes the Seahawks' confidence.  Here was a team who was poised to possibly reach the playoffs this season after a highly successful draft, only to collapse, bring in a new quarterback, and continue to stack the odds against themselves.

    So who do the Seahawks face in Week 10?

    A very similar opponent.  Just like Seattle, the Arizona Cardinals are far from stable at the quarterback position, and at 3-5 on the year, the Cardinals are in serious danger of slipping to the fourth spot in the NFC West behind the San Francisco 49ers.

    To say that there are key players to watch in this game, would be like clasping at straws.  Larry Fitzgerald has had a considerably low year only posting 510 yards and 4 touchdowns, and with no quarterback angle to focus on, this game could be a complete disaster.

    Still, the victor will enjoy the benefits of a win, and in a weak division, these games mean the difference between first and fourth.


    Seattle 21 - Arizona 17

Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants

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    SEATTLE - NOVEMBER 07:  Quarterback Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants points at the line of scrimmage against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on November 7, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. The Giants defeated the Seahawks 41-7. (Photo by Otto Greule
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Current Records:

    Dallas 1-7 - New York 6-2

    What You Need To Know:

    Bottom dwellers vs. quite possibly one of the best teams in the NFL.  That's the match up you'll be witnessing on Sunday at New Meadowlands Stadium.

    Anyone with half a brain is predicting the Giants to win this affair.  The Dallas Cowboys have been plain awful all season, and with the entire nation fixed on Jason Garrett's head coaching debut, chances are that Big D won't be "all together" in The Big Apple.

    Therefore, the Giants have yet another classic opportunity to take advantage of the weak NFC.  Just like no one expect the Cowboys to collapse, New York's rise to the top this season has also been labeled as unexpected, so far this year.

    A meaningful game for Dallas, who will face even more criticism (if it were possible) after a potential loss, and for the Giants, a big time opportunity to guarantee the playoffs and further assert themselves in the "Best team in the NFL" talk.


    Dallas 10 - New York Giants 28

New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers

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    CINCINNATI - NOVEMBER 08:  Rashard Mendenhall #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is congratulated by Ben Roethlisberger #7  after scoring a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on November 8, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Current Records:

    New England 6-2 - Pittsburgh 6-2

    What You Need To Know:

    The game of the week.  The game of the year.  The game of the decade.  Whatever you'd like to call it, this match up made by Roger Goodell several months ago has lived up to potential, as the Patriots and the Steelers set to do battle on Sunday Night Football.

    Predictions for this game are simple: whichever defense plays harder football should take home the victory.

    In the past week both the Patriots and Steelers have suffered major scares.  Bill Belichick and his men endured an upset loss to Cleveland in Week 9, while the Steelers held on for a win, even though division rivals the Cincinnati Bengals heavily tested Mike Tomlin's defense on Monday Night.

    Currently the Patriots are ranked 29th in overall defense, a dull comparison when looking at Pittsburgh's fourth-ranked play.

    Still, whichever side can withstand the opposing offense on a more solid basis, should be able to get the job done. 

    Aside from this factor, keep in mind that if the Steelers or the Patriots run game is shut down from the beginning, the scenario of winning becomes that much tougher.


    New England 34 - Pittsburgh 31

Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins

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    CHICAGO - OCTOBER 24: Donovan McNabb #5 of the Washington Redskins turns to hand off against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on October 24, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Redskins defeated the Bears 17-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Current Records:

    Philadelphia 5-3 - Washington 4-4

    What You Need To Know:

    Monday Night Football is set to host a big-time affair this week, when Donovan McNabb and company hope to sweep the Philadelphia Eagles, for the second consecutive time this season.

    Looking back to when these two teams last met, a lot was different.  McNabb was solid, the Redskins offense was rolling, and the Eagles were still discovering their character under newly appointed quarterback Michael Vick.

    Boy how things have changed.

    Several weeks down the track, McNabb has been accused of not fully understanding the Redskins offense, while at the same time the Eagles sit behind the New York Giants, but in a capable position to move into first.

    In Week 9 the Eagles notched a big time win over the Indianapolis Colts, so expect Andy Reid and his team to be overconfident heading into Washington.  As for Mike Shanahan, a Week 9 bye has brought questioning beyond his wildest dreams, of course directed at No. 5.

    This game is always a good NFC East duel to keep an eye on, and even though the "Donovan McNabb Returns" storyline is seemingly dead, the question of McNabb's talent is still a must-watch in Week 10.


    Philadelphia 23 - Washington 27