Alright, it is week 10 in the NFL; it is the last week of byes for the teams, which means we're approaching the final stretch of the season.
We start off with the first midseason Thursday night game, the Denver Broncos (4-4) at the Cleveland Browns (3-5). The Denver Broncos have been up and down the entire season and have not played well the past few weeks. While scoring an average of almost 38 points per game the first three weeks, the Broncos have not managed to score more than 19 points the past 5 games. Many of us thought that the week eight bye would help rejuvenate them, instead they threw up 17 against Miami and lost at home.
On the other sideline, the Cleveland Browns just have not been good at all this entire season. Plus, they are introducing sophomore quarterback Brady Quinn on a short week. They are now 1-3 in the conference, with their only win being the Bengals. This could go either way in my opinion, and I am hoping Quinn will do well and Braylon Edwards will actually catch a pass. When it comes down to it, the Broncos have to prove to me that they can still be a high-scoring offense. Browns win this offensive struggle, 23-17.
Next, we have the enticing match-up between the Seattle Seahawks (2-6) at the Miami Dolphins (4-4). The Seahawks, let's face it, have been a major disappointment. They have not played good offensively, defensively, hell, they have played good at any phase of the game. The Seahawks, amazingly, have a 2-1 record in their division, however, they have yet to face the Arizona Cardinals. They have no wide receiver, no quarterback, and what seems like a jelly-strong defense that is giving up 375 yards per game.
The Dolphins have been a pleasant surprise, however.The only thing I can say about this team is that they do a great job against good teams, but fail to play as good against average teams. They have monstrous wins against the Pats, Chargers and the Bills, but they lost to the Texans and the Ravens at home.Nevertheless, I have to go with the 'Phins at home, 26-21.
Now, an actual enticing game–the Green Bay Packers (4-4) on the road against the Minnesota Vikings (4-4). The Packers have consistently played well all season long with a few hiccups every now and then. Aaron Rodgers has proved to his critics (cough cough) that he can be a decent starting QB in the NFL. The Packers defense is going to be key to this game; they rank 27th against the run and, if you don't know, the Minnesota Vikings have some guy name Adrian Peterson.The Packers must contain AD and force Frerotte to pass the ball in order to win this game.
The Vikings, however, have a different situation in this game. The 24-19 loss back in Week 1 put the Vikings in an immediate hole and this week, the Vikes have a shot at getting back to level ground. The big question is: Does Frerotte make up for 5 points? This win would get the Vikings to 2-2 in the division, one game ahead of the Packers, who would be 2-1. This is a game in which the Vikings have to make a statement; if they lose, you pretty much mark them out of the playoffs with a tough NFC this year. I believe, though, that Gus Frerotte does make up 5 points and the Vikings win this battle, 27-20.
Another do-or-die match-up in the NFC, the New Orleans Saints (4-4) go to Atlanta to face the Falcons (5-3). This will be the Saints 3rd divisional game in which they are 1-1. The good thing about the Saints is that their offense is still very much potent, however, while ranking 1st in passing yardage, they rank 29th on the ground.The defense is still not very good giving up nearly 350 yards a game.
The five accumulative wins the Falcons have came against three NFC North opponents while the other two came from the AFC West not named the Chargers and Broncos. The Falcons are 0-2 against the NFC South and have only be able to score nine points in each contest. Now, I can't see the Saints holding the Falcons to less than double-digits, but can the Falcons win a shoot-out? Because of the circumstances this game might come down to, I am going with the veteran QB–Saints, 31-27.
The surprise of the season has to be the undefeated Tennessee Titans (8-0); they face the Bears (5-3) in Chicago this week, trying to advance to 9-0. How can the Titans be 8-0 on their way to 9-0? Simple. It's all about the Titans defense.The Titans are giving up the fewest points per game and are giving up less than 300 yards of total offense per game. By chewing up time and playing hard defense, the Titans have dominated teams on the field, even if the score wouldn't reflect it. As long as Kerry Collins stays away from turnovers, the Titans should win another one this Sunday.
The Bears will have some say in that, however. The Bears offense does not look as bad as they have been the past few years (in fact, they look better than they did when they went to the Superbowl). Nonetheless, Kyle Orton will probably not be out there on Sunday, even though he is staying optimistic. The Bears will have ol' Rexy out there and I cannot imagine how well that will play out. This is a pretty easy one for me, especially with the injury to Orton. Titans will force the boos in Soldier Field, 24-10.
An underestimated game this Sunday is the Baltimore Ravens (5-3) at the Houston Texans (3-5). Baltimore has been playing impressive football this season with rookie quarterback Joe Flacco. The Ravens are about to enter the gauntlet of their schedule, having to face all four NFC East teams, two more divisional games and one against Jacksonville. Their offense has been a refreshing part of this team, making it seem like the Ravens do have some hope before this defense deteriorates from age.
The Texans have been playing well at home and about came back on the Vikings in the Metrodome last week. Although Rosenfels is more mistake-prone, he is an able QB especially when a tall #80 is the receiver he's throwing it to. The fact of the matter is, the Texans are a collapse away from being 4-0 at Reliant Stadium. I am going with the upset in this one, Texans over the Ravens, 34-21.
To wrap up part one, I will depart with the St. Louis Rams (2-6) against the New York Jets (5-3) in the Meadowlands. I do have to hand it to Jim Haslett, the Rams have been playing better football with Haslett under the helm. Even last week was not as bad as it seemed; the Rams gave up 24 of Arizona's 34 points in the 2nd quarter, while turning over the ball twice in the quarter. Outside of that quarter, the Rams didn't really play that bad. Nonetheless, this is a 2-6 team whose offense is sometimes non-existent at times. They are giving up over 400 total yards per game while barely gaining over 250 yards per game.
It should be interesting to see how Brett Favre handles this dreadful Rams defense. Favre has always been susceptible to the interception, yet is always susceptible to the deep pass as well. We will probably see a lot of one and some of the other; that is to be determined, however, I would put my money on Favre having a good game. The Jets should be able to handle their business against the Rams, 30-17.