Every NFL team has significant weaknesses that are reason enough not to bet on a victory in Week 10. Despite the coaching staff's best effort to minimize poor play, no team is without glaring holes. These shouldn't be overlooked when scouting the matchups for this upcoming week in football.
The New England Patriots are 5-3 despite a poor pass defense that was finally exposed to the world against the New York Giants. The Pittsburgh Steelers are 5-3 even though the defense has forced a league-low four turnovers. The 6-2 Detroit Lions are in prime position for an NFC wild card spot, but their run defense is second-worst in rushing yards allowed per attempt.
The following 16 slides dictate one reason not to bet on each team.
Oakland Raiders: How can you trust a team quarterbacked by Carson Palmer? He’s proving week after week he isn’t worth the draft picks the Raiders traded for him. Palmer threw three interceptions in his season debut and followed that up with another three-pick performance in the loss to the Denver Broncos.
San Diego Chargers: You can’t trust Philip Rivers either. Rivers has been remarkably consistent throughout his six-year career as a starting quarterback, but he has swayed from the norm in 2011. Rivers’ 14 interceptions through eight games are one more than he threw all of last year.
Arizona Cardinals: Kevin Kolb certainly hasn’t impressed too many people but it’s tough for him to survive behind the Arizona Cardinals’ dreadful offensive line. According to Pro Football Focus, the Cardinals rank last in the NFL in pass blocking, and the two offensive tackles—Levi Brown and Brandon Keith—will be no match for Trent Cole and Jason Babin.
Philadelphia Eagles: Two straight wins doesn’t mean the Eagles are back. This is still the same team that lost four in a row earlier in the year. The high-powered offense is explosive and capable of putting up a lot of points, but also of turning the ball over frequently. Quarterback Michael Vick can make plays with his arm and his legs, but he also ranks near the top of the NFL in most turnovers.
Tennessee Titans: Before the season, Chris Johnson said he wanted to be paid as one of the NFL’s top playmakers. He got his share of the money—four years, $53 million—but the Titans haven’t gotten the production in return. Johnson is averaging just 3.02 yards per carry, the lowest in the league among running backs with at least 100 carries. He has been a major hindrance to an offense that has otherwise performed well.
Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton and Steve Smith have carried the offense, but the defense has been one of the league’s worst. The Panthers are 29th in the NFL in total defense and rank dead last in passing yards per attempt allowed.
Houston Texans: Josh Freeman hasn’t been great in 2011, but he is still a multitalented threat who can make plays with his arm and his legs. For the Houston Texans to lose this game, Freeman will have to put together a huge day.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Gerald McCoy, the Buccaneers’ top defensive tackle, is now out for the season, and Tampa Bay will struggle to contain star running backs Arian Foster and Ben Tate.
Washington Redskins: Would you trust John Beck as your quarterback? He has never won an NFL start (0-7) and he hasn’t looked good while running the Washington Redskins’ offense. Beck has one touchdown pass in three games to go with a 69.9 passer rating.
Miami Dolphins: Then again, what’s there to like about the Miami Dolphins? They aren’t nearly as bad as their record, but this is a team that has won one of its last 11 games. The defense has allowed 14 touchdowns to just two interceptions for a 103.1 passer rating that rates as third-worst in the league.
Jacksonville Jaguars: It’s a wonder the Jaguars have won even two games. Blaine Gabbert seems to be regressing on a weekly basis. He’s thrown for under 100 passing yards in consecutive weeks, totaling 97 last week on 30 passes. Even if he is playing the Indianapolis Colts, I don’t have too much faith in Gabbert playing well.
Indianapolis Colts: Since 1998, the Colts are 141-67 with Peyton Manning under center and 0-9 without Peyton Manning under center. Coincidence? I think not. Curtis Painter no longer gets my vote for worst quarterback who ever lived, but he’s certainly not enough of a reason to think the Colts can win.
Denver Broncos: He may be 2-1 as a starter, but Tim Tebow has completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes in all three of his starts. He will be facing a Kansas City Chiefs defense that ranks sixth in passer rating and is tied for second in interceptions.
Kansas City Chiefs: Matt Cassel is nowhere near the Pro Bowl quarterback he was last season, when he threw 27 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. He already has nine interceptions in 2011 and both his 6.77 yards per attempt and 79.0 passer rating are just mediocre.
Buffalo Bills: The Dallas Cowboys have a very solid group of pass-blocking offensive tackles in Doug Free and Tyron Smith. Buffalo doesn’t have a strong enough pass rush to counter (just 25th in the league in sacks).
Dallas Cowboys: These are two evenly-matched teams playing one another, and the game could very likely come down to the final drive. I wouldn’t want Tony Romo leading my offense. Romo has a penchant for choking in key situations, and his passer rating in the second half this year is nearly 20 points lower than the first half.
New Orleans Saints: The New Orleans Saints have the 27th rated run defense and Michael Turner is a bruising runner capable of carrying the Atlanta Falcons to a win in a big divisional game.
Atlanta Falcons: Don’t trust the Falcons’ pass defense against Drew Brees. Dunta Robinson has been targeted 32 times this year for a 134.9 passer rating. This is certainly not the production the Falcons hoped for when they inked Robinson to a six-year, $57 million contract prior to the 2010 season.
St. Louis Rams: I don’t even have to find a reason not to bet on this team. It’s the St. Louis Rams. They’ll find a way to lose. The Rams managed to lose to the Arizona Cardinals a week after beating up on Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. They’re incredibly inconsistent I doubt they will march into Cleveland and come away with a victory.
Cleveland Browns: Then again, the Cleveland Browns are the NFL’s definition of a mediocre team. Peyton Hillis has struggled to stay healthy, and with Montario Hardesty out this past week, the Browns had to rely on Chris Ogbonnaya and Thomas Clayton to run the football. The pair combined to total 38 rushing yards on 18 carries.
Pittsburgh Steelers: The Pittsburgh Steelers will have to make the most of their opportunities against the Cincinnati Bengals, a smart efficient football team that doesn’t turn the ball over much. The Bengals have turned the ball over the fourth-fewest times in the league while the Steelers’ defense ranks last in the NFL in turnovers.
Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals have managed to start the season 6-2, despite preseason expectations that they would be in the running for Andrew Luck. The Bengals face a true test against the Steelers in Week 10, as the Bengals host an angry Steelers team that dropped a last-second decision to the Baltimore Ravens. Andy Dalton has played well as a rookie, but the Bengals are just 22nd in the league in total offense and set to face the third-ranked Steelers’ defense.
Baltimore Ravens: Is anyone aware the Seattle Seahawks are third in the NFL in fewest yards allowed per carry? Alan Branch, Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant are all having stellar seasons on the defensive line, and that could spell trouble for Ray Rice.
Seattle Seahawks: Whether it’s Tarvaris Jackson or Charlie Whitehurst at quarterback, the Seahawks are in big trouble against the tough Ravens defense. Jackson threw three interceptions against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 9, and now he faces a Baltimore team that ranks third in the league in defensive passer rating.
New York Giants: Eli Manning did a phenomenal job leading two late touchdown drives against the New England Patriots, but it was against the league’s 32nd ranked defense. That won’t happen against the San Francisco 49ers, who have given up an NFL-best 118 points.
San Francisco 49ers: Alex Smith has managed to control the ball well and minimize his turnovers so far under Jim Harbaugh, but he plays a tough New York Giants defense that feasts on opposing quarterbacks. The Giants led the NFL in sacks (28) and both offensive tackles for the 49ers—Joe Staley and Anthony Davis—have struggled in pass blocking.
Detroit Lions: Matt Forte is having an MVP-caliber season for the Chicago Bears, and the Detroit Lions have just the league’s 31st ranked run defense in terms of yards per carry. Earlier this season, Forte ran for 116 yards on 22 carries against the Lions and added 35 receiving yards out of the backfield.
Chicago Bears: Jay Cutler is already running for his life in preparation for this contest. The last time these two teams met, Cutler was sacked just three times, but that’s likely an aberration as arguably the best pass-rushing unit in the league goes up against the worst pass-blocking line.
New England Patriots: The game against the New York Giants exposed the New England Patriots’ pass defense to the world. The Patriots are on pace to give up over 5,000 yards of passing and they lack cornerbacks who can match up with Santonio Holmes or Plaxico Burress.
New York Jets: Mark Sanchez just isn’t that good of a quarterback. His 57.5 completion percentage, 6.85 yards per attempt, and 84.0 passer rating are all mediocre numbers that put him in the middle of the pack in terms of quarterback production. For all the talk about the Patriots’ subpar secondary, Sanchez might not be good enough to make the Patriots pay.
Minnesota Vikings: If the Minnesota Vikings are going to have a prayer to beat the Green Bay Packers, they’re going to have to get a good game from rookie quarterback Christian Ponder. The Packers can score points with the best of them and the Vikings will have to put up a bunch on offense to match the NFL’s lone undefeated team. Ponder’s numbers in 2011 (3 TD, 2 INT, 77.5 rating) are nothing special.
Green Bay Packers: The run defense for the Packers could cost them in this game, especially since they are going up against the game’s best running back in Adrian Peterson. The last time these two teams met, Peterson ran for 175 yards and a touchdown. Containing AP will be huge for the Packers.