NFL Picks Week 10: Which Teams Will Finish with a Victory?

Louis MustoContributor IIINovember 10, 2011

NFL Picks Week 10: Which Teams Will Finish with a Victory?

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    After Week 9’s schedule of game presented a lot of uninteresting, meaningless games, Week 10 brings forth an assortment of games one could only dream of.

    Divisional showdowns between the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders, Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints, Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears, and New England Patriots and New York Jets brighten Sunday’s lineup along with a battle for the second seed in the NFC between the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers.

    Week 10 culminates with a potential upset matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and the undefeated Green Bay Packers.

    With an exciting week of football ahead and a lot on the line for many NFL teams this Sunday, here are some predictions for the Week 10 games.  

Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers

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    Prediction: Chargers 24, Raiders 13

    The San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders are two disappointing stories in the NFL. Each expected to have big years, but underachievement, injuries and poor offensive play have both teams sitting at 4-4 atop the AFC West.

    This is the game the Chargers needed—a divisional matchup with a team also struggling.

    If Philip Rivers cannot bounce back against the Raiders and their 20th-ranked pass defense, he won’t be bouncing back this season. It appears running back Ryan Mathews may miss this game, so much of the Chargers’ offensive success rests in Rivers’ hands.

    With the Raiders missing their biggest offensive weapon, Darren McFadden, and Carson Palmer still struggling to adjust with his new team, keeping pace with an offensively high-powered team like the Chargers is going to be hard to do.

    The Raiders are going to have a tough time going touchdown-for-touchdown with the Chargers and without McFadden on the field, it’s near impossible for the Raiders to keep the ball out of the Chargers’ hands.

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons

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    Prediction: Falcons 24, Saints 21

    Another classic NFC South battle. The division lead currently sits in the New Orleans Saints’ hands, but the Falcons are honing in on the NFC South with a three-game winning streak coming into this game.

    Drew Brees should have an easy day against the 19th-ranked pass defense in the NFL. The Saints are second in passing yards, averaging 319.1 pass yards per game.

    The Falcons are on a three-game winning streak as they welcome the Saints to the Georgia Dome, and it’s fair to assume they don’t intend that winning streak to stop this week.  Matt Ryan has improved in recent weeks for the Falcons at quarterback and Michael Turner continues to turn out fantastic game after fantastic game.

    If the Falcons can keep to their own game plan and not get suckered into playing the Saints’ pass-first, pass-often game plan, the Falcons should walk away with this game.

Tennessee Titans at Carolina Panthers

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    Prediction: Panthers 23, Titans 14

    Neither the Tennessee Titans nor the Carolina Panthers play spectacular defense. That’s why this game is going to land in favor of the most dominant offense.

    The Titans, led by Matt Hasselbeck, have done a good job earning a 4-4 record through the first half of the season. Unfortunately, Chris Johnson’s season has been mildly disappointing and unless things change, his failure will also be the Titans' failure.

    Meanwhile, the Carolina Panthers boast a tremendous offensive attack led by rookie Cam Newton. Carolina has done little as far as winning is concerned, but the Panthers rack up points. Against a team like the Titans, who average just 19.5 per game, that may be all the Panthers need for their third victory of the season.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals

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    Prediction: Steelers 30, Bengals 3

    The Cincinnati Bengals are good.

    They are not that good, though.

    The road is still long for the Bengals, starting with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    It will be a long afternoon for Andy Dalton when he meets his first true defensive test of the season.

    The Steelers will struggle mildly on offense against the Bengals' fourth-ranked defense as well. Roethlisberger, Ward and crew have the talent and experience to overcome that slight challenge. This will be a blowout.

St. Louis Rams at Cleveland Browns

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    Prediction: Rams 27, Browns 10

    Two of the NFL’s worst teams squared up against one another. It has the making of an exciting, down-to-the-wire game.

    Unfortunately, that won’t be happening.

    The Rams are too good—much better than the Browns—to let this victory slip away. Steven Jackson should have a field day against the NFL’s 30th-ranked run defense. This is going to be the Rams’ easy win of the season; they must take advantage of it.

    The Browns could pull of a shocker, but right now, it seems unlikely. Colt McCoy has been terribly inconsistent, his receivers have been non-existent, and Peyton Hillis has been your typical, yearly Madden-cursed disappointment.

    Let’s not even talk about the Browns defense.

Buffalo Bills at Dallas Cowboys

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    Prediction: Cowboys 34, Bills 31

    The Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys each have something to prove. With the Bills coming off a bad loss to the New York Jets and the Cowboys continue to underachieve, this is an important game for both franchises.

    Both teams light up the scoreboard and boast exciting, home run-threat offenses. Ryan Fitzpatrick has managed to avoid costly mistakes through most of the season, being carried by the success of Fred Jackson in the running game for the most part. However, Jackson failed to get anything going against the Jets and the story could be the same as the Cowboys have the NFL’s 10th-ranked run defense.

    This game will be Tony Romo’s opportunity to redeem himself. A matchup sure to come down to the wire, the Cowboys—and Romo himself—are going to need Romo to step up and play in a big spot and aid the Cowboys toward a second-half playoff push.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Indianapolis Colts

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    Prediction: Jaguars 17, Colts 7

    This game is not going to be pretty. The lowly 2-6 Jaguars vs. the atrocious 0-8 Colts? Change the channel.

    There will be little as far as defense—and yet still little as far as offense.

    Maurice Jones-Drew is the only exciting moment this game will have. Expect him to have a big day while getting into the end zone twice for the Jaguars.

    The Suck for Luck campaign continues for Indianapolis.

Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs

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    Prediction: Broncos 21, Chiefs 10

    Tim Tebow strikes again.

    After the Chiefs' pathetic loss at the hands of the formerly winless Miami Dolphins, there are a lot of questions surround the Chiefs on both sides of the football. There will be even more when Tebow, McGahee and the Broncos are through with them.

    McGahee should have another outstanding game against the Chiefs—who surrendered 92 rushing yards on 13 carries to Reggie Bush—punishing the Chiefs' run defense for the second week in a row.

    Tim Tebow will continue with his inaccuracy and inconsistency, but should be able to guide the Broncos to victory and keep them on pace for a late playoff push.

Washington Redskins at Miami Dolphins

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    Prediction: Dolphins 23, Redskins 17

    Another ugly game. Both the Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins need this game badly.

    The Redskins have fallen apart since starting the season 3-1, dropping their last four since the bye week. The Skins currently boast very little on the offensive side of the ball, though quarterback John Beck did have a good game this past week vs. the 49ers. Roy Helu emerged as a big target for Beck out of the backfield and did not have a terrible game on the ground either. Washington will need more of what it showed against the Niners if it wishes to keep up with the suddenly rejuvenated Dolphins.

    Since their game two weeks ago with the New York Giants, the Dolphins have looked like a brand new team. Quarterback Matt Moore has a great job filling in and appears to have sparked some life in the young franchise. Reggie Bush is rushing like the Reggie Bush of old—USC old—and should continue his success at home against the Redskins.

    Ultimately, Brandon Marshall’s day will be the key to the Dolphins’ success. With no solid matchup on the Redskins, he should have a field day.

Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles

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    Prediction: Eagles 30, Cardinals 14

    The Philadelphia Eagles are groggy. Their knees are ready to give way. Failure has them sized up.

    But they’re not ready to quit just yet.

    The Arizona Cardinals—and especially former Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb—have had a very disappointing season. The offense has not been what Cardinals fans hoped and the defense has been terrible. The Cardinals points differential is minus-34 coming into a game against an Eagles team that has no trouble putting points on the board.

    Michael Vick should have a huge day for the Eagles, barring another baffling week of Dream Team football. The Cardinals are the fourth-worst pass defense in the NFL and have yet to face a receiving corps like the one the Eagles bring with them.

    It’s going to be a long day for Ken Whisenhunt and his Cardinals defense.

Houston Texans at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Prediction: Texans 27, Bucs 17

    This has the making of the game of the week with the Houston Texans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers being massive contenders in their respective conferences.

    Josh Freeman hasn’t had as stellar a season as last, but has been pretty efficient for the 4-4 Bucs. The Bucs should keep this game close, but victory will rest on the young quarterback’s shoulders. That will not be an easy accomplish for the former Kansas State quarterback—the Texans have the NFL’s second-ranked pass defense.

    The Houston Texans’ two-headed rushing attack is too much for the Bucs to handle—too much for any team in the NFL to handle, for that matter. The Buccaneers have the 26th-ranked run defense in the league, and it doesn’t look likely that they will be able to stop the NFL’s second-best ground team.

Baltimore Ravens at Seattle Seahawks

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    Prediction: Ravens 28, Seahawks 13

    The Baltimore Ravens looked like a legit Super Bowl contender when they defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football. The Seattle Seahawks are just another poor team in their way now.

    Joe Flacco has looked like a brand new quarterback in recent weeks, reviving an offense that has the capabilities to be one of the best in football.

    The Seahawks, meanwhile, are a mess. Nothing is consistent and nothing is worth gloating about outside of Marshawn Lynch in Seattle. Pete Carroll may not be on the hot seat yet, but this season is not helping his future by any means—and neither will this loss.

    The Ravens dropped a game in a similar situation to the Jacksonville Jaguars a couple of weeks ago. They have a tendency to play down to their opponents. John Harbaugh, Ray Lewis and the veterans on this team will not let that happen again so soon.

Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears

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    Prediction: Bears 30, Lions 28

    The NFC North race is heating up just in time for the divisional battles to begin. The Detroit Lions have looked like playoff contenders since day one, and now the Chicago Bears appear to be a legitimate playoff team as well.

    In what would usually be a lower scoring affair, both teams bring poor defensive units to this game with stunning offensive threats in Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson for the Lions, and Matt Forte for the Bears. These three men are going to light up the scoreboard.

    Both teams are headed in the right direction, but the Bears are more experienced and more prepared to continue on a quicker rise. The Lions are going to falter in this second half and that starts with the Bears. Credit Forte for that as he could have the biggest day of the season yet against the NFL’s 28th-ranked run defense.

New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers

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    Prediction: Giants 26, 49ers 21

    Last week, the New York Giants and Eli Manning showed just how elite they could be in their come-from-behind victory of the New England Patriots in awfully familiar fashion. Now, they face an even bigger test: the 7-1 San Francisco 49ers.

    The 49ers are 5-0 in games on the East Coast this season. They have dispensed, though not easily, of two of the Giants’ division-mates in the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins. The 49ers have the NFL’s best run defense and an offense led by Alex Smith that has done a phenomenal job avoiding mistakes and getting their job done.

    Luckily for the Giants, the run game has been non-existent for them. Eli Manning has carried the team since the beginning of this season, with the help of his receivers and tight end Jake Ballard. Their Week 10 matchup with the Niners will not be much different.

    The 49ers rank 22nd against the pass while the Giants boast the sixth-best passing offense in the NFL. Manning will need to be working with his receivers on all cylinders in order to pull one over on San Francisco and their stellar defense.

    The trip could take a toll on the Giants and the struggling Giants defense might have a tough time stopping the Niners’ Fred Gore, but in the end, experience and Manning’s clutch play in tight games should trump all.

New England Patriots at New York Jets

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    Prediction: Jets 27, Patriots 21

    Here we go again. Is there a game on the NFL schedule more exciting in its buildup than the New England Patriots and New York Jets’ two meetings each season?

    In the first meeting, the Patriots got the best of the Jets, beating the Jets in a close game, 30-21. The victory sparked a three-game winning streak that the Jets are riding back home for this game with the Pats. Meanwhile, the Patriots have lost two straight and their repulsive secondary is exposed week after week by opposing quarterbacks.

    This week’s game won’t be much different. Mark Sanchez will not have an amazing game, but a solid performance from the 24-year-old should put the Jets in good position if their outstanding defense can hold Tom Brady in check and pressure him much like the Giants did in their Week 9 victory over the Pats.

    Darrelle Revis’ impact on this game could be the key for the Jets, while the Patriots will need to give Sanchez trouble from the get-go in order to keep the Jets from riding this game out and leaving with the AFC East lead. Brady isn’t going to make easy though and Bill Belichick has played the Jets enough now that he should have his defense well-prepared for what the Jets bland offense comes into Week 10 with.

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers

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    Prediction: Packers 38, Vikings 14

    It’s Monday Night Football and it’s going to be a blowout.

    The Minnesota Vikings played surprisingly close in these two teams’ first meeting in Week 7, losing 33-27 at home. Christian Ponder, Adrian Peterson and company may be able to score some points on the Packers' forgiving defense, but there is no chance they will be outscoring Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense.

    On prime time, Rodgers is likely to have another huge day for the Packers. The Packers are not going to finish this season undefeated and they may not win the Super Bowl, but they won’t be losing just yet.