NFL Picks Week 10: Bleacher Report's Expert Consensus Picks

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystNovember 5, 2014

NFL Picks Week 10: Bleacher Report's Expert Consensus Picks

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    John Grieshop/Getty Images

    In the NFL, the only thing that's certain is nothing is certain.

    Had you said before the season that entering Week 10, the Arizona Cardinals would have the NFL's best record and the Cleveland Browns would be playing for first place, you'd either have been fitted for a straitjacket or taken to rehab.

    Quite possibly both.

    And yet, here we are, with the 7-1 Cardinals hosting the giant-killing St. Louis Rams and the Browns dueling the Cincinnati Bengals for first place in the AFC North (provided the Pittsburgh Steelers lose to the New York Jets).

    As they do every week here at Bleacher Report, the Division Lead and National Lead Writers gathered to offer their picks for Week 10's games.

    Here's what they had to say.

Roll Call/Standings

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    USA TODAY Sports

    All good things must come to an end. At least that's what they say.

    It certainly was the case for our picks leader entering Week 9. Chris Simms, who time and again ranked at or near the top of our panelists, had by far his worst week of the 2014 season, barely cracking the .500 mark.

    That opened the door for several writers to gain some ground on Simms. They included yours truly and NFL National Lead Writer Matt Miller, who shared Week 9's top spot by correctly predicting 10 of the 13 games.

    Simms maintains his overall lead as we enter Week 10, but his margin for error has narrowed.

    Matt Bowen: NFL National Lead Writer 8-5 (83-50)

    Gary Davenport: NFL Analyst 10-3 (85-48)

    Mike Freeman: NFL National Lead Writer 7-6 (81-52)

    Erik Frenz: AFC East Lead Writer 9-4 (77-56)

    Brad Gagnon: NFC East Lead Writer 7-6 (88-45)

    Andrea Hangst: AFC North Lead Writer 9-4 (77-56)

    Christopher Hansen: AFC West Lead Writer 8-5 (76-57)

    Zach Kruse: NFC North Lead Writer 8-5 (86-47)

    Rivers McCown: AFC South Lead Writer 9-4 (75-58)

    Matt Miller: NFL National Lead Writer 10-3 (87-46)

    Ty Schalter: NFL National Lead Writer 8-5 (75-58)

    Michael Schottey: NFL National Lead Writer 9-4 (86-47)

    Chris Simms: Former NFL Quarterback, Video Correspondent 7-6 (90-43)

    Brent Sobleski: NFC South Lead Writer 8-5 (82-51)

    Mike Tanier: NFL National Lead Writer 9-4 (80-53)

    Sean TomlinsonNFC West Lead Writer 7-6 (65-36)

    Aggregate: 9-4 (85-48)

Cleveland Browns (5-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (5-2-1)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Well, Week 10 didn't get off to the best of starts for most of our experts.

    Or the Cincinnati Bengals. Or most definitely quarterback Andy Dalton.

    Dalton once again withered under the lights in prime time. The fourth-year pro was absolutely horrible against the Browns Thursday night , completing only 10 of 33 passes with three interceptions.

    The Browns cruised to a 24-3 win, their first AFC North road win since 2008.

    Don't look now folks, but the Cleveland Browns appear to be for real.

    The Pick: Cincinnati Bengals (12-4) 

    There may not be a bigger surprise in the NFL this year than the Cleveland Browns.

    For the first time in nearly a decade, Cleveland is playing meaningful football into the month of November. At 5-3, the Browns are in the thick of an AFC North race where every team is over .500, and in a couple weeks Cleveland will get superstar wide receiver Josh Gordon back from his lengthy suspension.

    In fact, AFC North Lead Writer Andrea Hangst believes that the Browns will keep their improbable run going Thursday night, predicting something of an upset in "The Battle of Ohio":

    While the Bengals get home-field advantage on a short week and clearly possess the talent to win, especially with A.J. Green expected back, the Browns pull off the road win here. Why? For one, the Bengals will probably be without the services of top corner Leon Hall, who suffered a concussion in Week 9. The other reason is Andy Dalton's susceptibility to pressure, which the Browns defense will be bringing every time he touches the ball. The Browns know how to win ugly, and they'll do it again on Thursday night, where ugly games are the norm.

    With that said, Hangst is in the minority, with three-quarters of our voters siding with the home team.

    They include this writer, a longtime and diehard Browns fan. I love the progress that Cleveland has made this year, but with Green back and rookie Jeremy Hill coming off a 154-yard effort against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Browns' 28th-ranked defense is going to have its hands full.

    Browns: Freeman, Hangst, McCown, Schalter

    Bengals: Bowen, Davenport, Frenz, Gagnon, Hansen, Kruse, Miller, Schottey, Simms, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson

Kansas City Chiefs (5-3) at Buffalo Bills (5-3)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Pick: Kansas City Chiefs (9-7)

    Speaking of surprise teams in 2014, break up the Buffalo Bills!

    Just like fans in Cleveland, those in Western New York have suffered through years of mediocrity and worse. It's been a long, dark 14 years since the Bills' last playoff appearance.

    The 5-3 Bills have the team's best chance in years of ending that dry spell, but as rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins told Chris Brown of the team's website, the Bills know there's no margin for error in an AFC East where three of the four teams are 5-3 or better.

    “We’ve got to finish this quarter 4-0 or 3-1,” Watkins stated. “So we’ve got to keep being consistent and stay in tune and keep on pushing through.”

    This week the Bills host the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs, winners of three straight. In many ways the teams are similar, with formidable pass rushes and underappreciated quarterbacks.

    AFC West Lead Writer Christopher Hansen feels those similarities will make for a closely fought contest:

    This will be the sixth consecutive year the Chiefs play the Bills, but the first time they've both been above .500. Almost no one is talking about these 5-3 teams despite the fact that they are both currently among the best in the AFC. Both teams have lost only one game to an opponent with a sub-.500 record.

    The Chiefs and the Bills are also surprisingly similar. Both rely on veteran quarterbacks, the running game and a good defense. Kansas City's defense is more stingy in the red zone, but Buffalo's is better at limiting red-zone opportunities. Buffalo has struggled to get its running game going due to injuries, which has the potential to be the difference in the matchup.

    The chatter will naturally increase about whichever team wins this game even if both are deserving of some love. The Bills get the good fortune of playing at home after a bye week, so a win may actually mean a lot more to the Chiefs.

    It was a close vote, but Hansen and a slight majority went with the Chiefs to win their fourth straight, keeping the pressure on the division-leading Broncos in the AFC West.

    Chiefs: Bowen, Davenport, Gagnon, Hansen, Schalter, Schottey, Simms, Sobleski, Tomlinson

    Bills: Freeman, Frenz, Hangst, Kruse, McCown, Miller, Tanier

Miami Dolphins (5-3) at Detroit Lions (6-2)

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    J Pat Carter/Associated Press

    The Pick: Detroit Lions (11-5) 

    Told you that the NFL was just full of surprises.

    When the 2014 schedule was announced, it's doubtful that many people circled the Week 10 meeting between the Dolphins and Lions in Detroit as a game with big postseason implications.

    And yet (once again) here we are. The Lions have ridden the NFL's top-ranked defense to first place in the NFC North coming out of their bye week. The 5-3 Dolphins had the most impressive victory in a Week 9 filled with impressive wins, demolishing the San Diego Chargers 37-0 in Miami.

    AFC East Lead Writer Erik Frenz looks for the Dolphins to keep that momentum going on the road in Motown:

    The Lions and Dolphins are both on a roll headed into this game, and the Lions have the benefit of a bye week, but the Dolphins have really turned a corner over the past three weeks. The Lions' lack of commitment and ineffectiveness in the running game could be their bane against a talented Dolphins secondary and athletic pass rush that would love nothing more than for Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford to drop back 50 to 60 times on Sunday.

    However, that struggling Lions ground game will get a boost this week. Not only does the return of Reggie Bush mean that the Lions will have all their horses for the first time in weeks, but star wide receiver Calvin Johnson is back at practice as well.

    There's nothing like the fear of Megatron beating teams deep to open things up underneath.

    Of course, head coach Jim Caldwell wouldn't state definitively that either player will be back this week while speaking with Rod Beard of The Detroit News:

    I'm not really certain. We'll have to put them through their paces and some guys are still being treated. Toward the end of the week, we'll have a little bit better idea. We'll direct you toward the injury report.

    Still, all indications are that both Bush and Johnson will play in Week 10, and that was enough to push the Lions over the top in the eyes of most of our writers.

    Dolphins: Bowen, Frenz, Hansen, Kruse, Simms

    Lions: Davenport, Freeman, Gagnon, Hangst, McCown, Miller, Schalter, Schottey, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson

Dallas Cowboys (6-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8), in London

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    LM Otero/Associated Press

    The Pick: Dallas Cowboys (13-3)

    Things were going so well for the Dallas Cowboys.

    A couple of weeks ago, the Cowboys were 6-1 and the toast of the league. More than one pundit labeled them the team to beat in the NFC.

    Then quarterback Tony Romo hurt his back, and the Cowboys lost to Washington. Brandon Weeden started for Dallas last week against the Cardinals, and the result was another defeat.

    The slide has Cowboys fans more than a little nervous heading into a Week 10 matchup with the Jaguars in London, especially given the Cowboys' rather distressing tendency to "turtle" late in the season in recent years.

    If NFL National Lead Writer Ty Schalter is correct, those fans will be headed from nervous to apoplectic after Sunday:

    I’m taking the Jacksonville Jaguars over the Dallas Cowboys, and it isn’t entirely because of the Cowboys’ quarterback situation. The Jaguars have been getting stronger nearly every week—and Weeden or no, the Cowboys only scored three meaningful offensive points in Week 9. The Jaguars have enough players on defense to make it interesting, and if there’s anything we’ve learned about London games, it’s to be ready for anything.

    For his part, Romo told's Todd Archer upon his arrival in the U.K. that he's optimistic he'll be ready to go Sunday:

    It's progressing. Each day it gets a little bit of improvement, and I think that you just keep trying to figure out what you're able to do each day and then you go on to the next day. We'll figure out if we're able to improve enough to be ready to go.

    In the opinion of NFC East Lead Writer Brad Gagnon, Dallas should be able to survive the one-win Jags, Romo or no Romo.

    "Tony Romo should be back," Gagnon wrote, "and he really is the difference-maker. But I think this Dallas D is good enough to survive the Jaguars anyway."

    Apparently, the overwhelming majority of our voters agree.

    Cowboys: Bowen, Davenport, Freeman, Frenz, Gagnon, Hansen, Kruse, Miller, Schottey, Simms, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson

    Jaguars: Hangst, McCown, Schalter

San Francisco 49ers (4-4) at New Orleans Saints (4-4)

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    Dave Martin/Associated Press

    The Pick: New Orleans Saints (15-1)

    The San Francisco 49ers are in trouble.

    After losing in stunning, controversial fashion to the St. Louis Rams in Week 9, the 49ers sit at 4-4. A team that many pegged as the NFC's Super Bowl representative in 2014 before the season is now in very real danger of not making the playoffs at all.

    While speaking with Sports Illustrated, 49ers legend Jerry Rice theorized that the constant rumors swirling around the team regarding head coach Jim Harbaugh's future may be taking a toll on the players:

    The team, they try to say, ‘Well, we’re not affected by it.’ But you are, because (the coach and GM) have to make very crucial decisions that are really going to benefit the team. There’s a lot going on with that organization right now and I think it’s starting to hurt the players down there in the locker room. ...

    I think [after the 2014 season] he’s gone.

    This week, the 49ers draw a New Orleans Saints team that's undefeated at home this season (3-0), and NFC West Lead Writer Sean Tomlinson wrote that the 49ers' suddenly porous offensive front may be the team's undoing in the Superdome:

    Colin Kaepernick has been sacked 14 times over the 49ers' last two games. For some perspective on just how painful that's been, five quarterbacks (Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Joe Flacco, Brian Hoyer and Andrew Luck) have been sacked 14 times or less over the entire season. Good luck with Cameron Jordan.

    With 15 of 16 writers taking the Saints this week, our experts (especially Tomlinson) may be pretty busy in Week 11 covering the growing collapse of a supposed Super Bowl contender in San Fran.

    49ers: Freeman

    Saints: Bowen, Davenport, Frenz, Gagnon, Hangst, Hansen, Kruse, McCown, Miller, Schalter, Schottey, Simms, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson

Tennessee Titans (2-6) at Baltimore Ravens (5-4)

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    Wade Payne/Associated Press

    The Pick: Baltimore Ravens (16-0)

    As Paul Kuharsky of reports, head coach Ken Whisenhunt will be the first to say that the initial half of the 2014 season did not go well for the Tennessee Titans:

    None of us were happy with how the first eight games went. It’s different to have a break in the middle or almost halfway (in the 17-week season), you get caught up in the weekly preparation and you lose sight of what you really need to focus on to get better.

    Because you’re trying so hard to assess what you did the week before and then prepare for the next opponent. So we got a chance to look at what we’ve done, areas we need to improve. I think really the message for us is we’ve got to get better. We need to show improvement in the areas where we haven’t been close to being good enough.

    Unfortunately for the Titans, the scheduling gods didn't do the team any favors coming out of its Week 9 bye. Despite the fact that the Baltimore Ravens are 5-4, last week's blowout loss to the hated Pittsburgh Steelers dropped the Ravens into the AFC North cellar.

    AFC North Lead Writer Andrea Hangst expects a Baltimore squad with its back against the wall to come out swinging Sunday at home:

    The Ravens were embarrassed on national television by the Steelers, but revenge isn't the only reason the Ravens will defeat the Titans. The main reason is that the Ravens are in every way the superior team; the Titans don't have an Antonio Brown to bully Baltimore. Tennessee might have a few successful moments by bringing pressure to Joe Flacco, but otherwise the Ravens, who are still very much in the postseason race, should have a commanding victory on Sunday.

    Our writers are unanimous in their agreement with her. 

    Titans: They should just tank. All wins are going to do is cost the Titans a shot at one of the big-name signal-callers in next year's draft. I'm not even kidding.

    Ravens: Bowen, Davenport, Freeman, Frenz, Gagnon, Hangst, Hansen, Kruse, McCown, Miller, Schalter, Schottey, Simms, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3) at New York Jets (1-8)

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    The Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers (14-2) 

    On the surface, this would appear one of the easier calls of Week 10. After all, the Jets have lost eight in a row, allowing the most touchdown passes in the league this season (24) by a sizable margin.

    That is not a stat that bodes well heading into a matchup with a quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, who's thrown 12 scoring strikes over the past two games alone.

    However, NFC East Lead Writer Brad Gagnon thinks that the obviousness of the pick is exactly the problem:

    The Steelers are red-hot and the Jets are as cold as it gets, but this is a crazy league and New York still has a very strong defensive front. Pittsburgh hasn't been very good on the road, and I have a feeling it'll overlook Gang Green.

    NFL National Lead Writer Ty Schalter is also on board the upset express:

    What goes up must come down, and physics dictates Ben Roethlisberger stops throwing six touchdowns a game very, very soon. The Mike Vick Experience ended prematurely against Kansas City, and he’s set to start against the less-intimidating Steelers defense. If Rex Ryan’s got any magic left up his sleeve, he’ll pull it out for this home stand.

    With that said, AFC East Lead Writer Erik Frenz isn't buying a ticket:

    In Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's past two games against the New York Jets, he has completed 77 percent of his passes for 539 yards and three touchdowns. In his past two games this season, he has completed 75.6 percent of his passes for 862 yards and 12 touchdowns. He could be poised to put up big numbers yet again against the Jets' kiddie-pool-deep secondary.

    The rest of the panel is with Frenz.

    Maybe Rex Ryan can get a job coordinating Jim Harbaugh's defense at Michigan in 2015.

    What? Too soon? 

    Steelers: Bowen, Davenport, Freeman, Frenz, Hangst, Hansen, Kruse, McCown, Miller, Schottey, Simms, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson

    Jets: Gagnon, Schalter

Atlanta Falcons (2-6) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-7)

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    The Pick: Atlanta Falcons (10-6)

    If a football game happens in Tampa but no one cares, does that game make a sound?

    We're going to find out Sunday when the Atlanta Falcons travel to face the Buccaneers in a battle of awful defenses and massive disappointments.

    The Falcons destroyed the Buccaneers 56-14 in Atlanta back in September, a game that Atlanta led 56-0 at one point.

    As lopsided as that contest was, Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant told Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he expects the Buccaneers to be a much tougher out the second time around:

    We know it’s not going to be the same game. They are going to come at us with (their) best shot. Any time you have a game like that with an opponent, they are going to come back with something to prove. We’ve just got to prepare and be ready.

    AFC North Lead Writer Andrea Hangst took things one step further, picking the Buccaneers to win the game outright:

    Even though the Buccaneers have one win, they're still the worst team in football. So why do they defeat the Falcons this week? Because the Falcons are on the road. It is hard enough to trust the Falcons in their home dome, but it's impossible to trust them on the road, regardless of the opponent. The divisional component here also makes the Buccaneers a harder team to beat than usual. The talent scales do seem to tip to Atlanta's favor, but there's no way to believe that will make a significant difference for a team that does not travel well.

    The majority of our experts went with the Falcons, however, although in a way you could say that the winner of this game will actually lose...

    Lose valuable jockeying position in the 2015 draft, that is.

    Falcons: Davenport, Frenz, Hansen, Kruse, McCown, Miller, Schalter, Simms, Sobleski, Tomlinson

    Buccaneers: Bowen, Freeman, Gagnon, Hangst, Schottey, Tanier

Denver Broncos (6-2) at Oakland Raiders (0-8)

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    The Pick: Denver Broncos (16-0) 

    According to Odds Shark, the Denver Broncos opened as 10.5-point favorites over the Oakland Raiders.

    I wouldn't bet money on Oakland in this game if you doubled that.

    Simply put, last week's beatdown of the Broncos in New England was the worst possible thing that could happen for the Raiders. Now, rather than a possible "trap game," the Raiders get an angry Peyton Manning and a Denver team trying to remain a game up on Kansas City in the AFC West.

    However, NFL National Lead Writer Mike Tanier believes that the Raiders will keep this one closer than many (including me) expect:

    Don't expect a blowout and the over (around 49) is no guarantee. Young defenders D.J. Hayden and massive Justin Ellis began exerting themselves in the last few games. Hayden looked very good against the Seahawks, though he still must cut down on sloppy penalties. The Raiders will provide just enough run defense, pass rush and coverage to force Peyton Manning into a sloppy game. That said, the Raiders offensive line can get beaten in the trenches all day by the Broncos defense. I see a 23-10-type game, though the game won't be quite as close as the score.

    AFC West Lead Writer Christopher Hansen, on the other hand, agrees with us both—to an extent:

    One of the best teams against one of the worst teams. A blowout special, right?

    The Raiders had a horrible half of football against the Seahawks last week in the Pacific Northwest, but they came back in the second half and made a game of it. The Raiders have put together a solid offense or solid defense, but never both for an entire game. If they put it together for the first time Sunday, they could at least keep the score close.

    Over the last four games, the Raiders' margin of defeat is down to just (?!) 7.5 points per game from 13 points per game over their first four. Interim head coach Tony Sparano has the Raiders playing better despite their 0-8 record. The Raiders have some young talent on the defensive side of the ball that could slow down Manning if he plays like he did last week.

    Of course, the Broncos could take out their frustration for Sunday's debacle in New England on the lowly Raiders. The Broncos played poorly on offense, defense and special teams, but they are too talented a team to put up back-to-back stinkers. The likely outcome is a rout, but the old AFC West rivalry games can be wild—especially when the underdog is playing at home.

    One thing everyone can agree on is that the Raiders will leave Week 10 just as they entered it.


    Broncos: Bowen, Davenport, Freeman, Frenz, Gagnon, Hangst, Hansen, Kruse, McCown, Miller, Schalter, Schottey, Simms, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson

    Raiders: Nov. 30 at St. Louis. It's likely Oakland's best shot at avoiding NFL infamy. This week? Not a chance.

St. Louis Rams (3-5) at Arizona Cardinals (7-1)

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    The Pick: Arizona Cardinals (16-0)

    The St. Louis Rams aren't an especially good football team. But if nothing else, they're getting pretty good at making forecasters like us look silly.

    After squandering a 21-0 lead against the Dallas Cowboys back in Week 3, the Rams have gotten much better at playing the role of David. In Week 7, the Rams stunned the Seattle Seahawks. Last Sunday the San Francisco 49ers became the latest Goliath to wind up with a lumpy melon and a loss.

    Now the Rams get their biggest underdog challenge of the year, a trip to University of Phoenix Stadium to face the team with the NFL's best record at the halfway mark.

    The Arizona Cardinals may be 7-1, but Josh Weinfuss of ESPN reports that the Redbirds' 23rd-ranked offense still has plenty of room to improve:

    When the Cardinals are on offense, yards are at a premium. Despite their 7-1 record, the Cards haven’t been flawless on offense, like when Michael Floyd tries to break a big play instead of taking the yards the Dallas Cowboys offered Sunday. But with a week for Arizona's coaches to review the film before the St. Louis Rams come to University of Phoenix Stadium, Floyd won’t likely be backtracking again. ...

    Big plays are nice, but moving upfield and getting those easy yards is, in these cases, easier.

    NFC West Lead Writer Sean Tomlinson thinks that the Cardinals' best chances at generating those easy yards Sunday lie on the ground:

    This will become the Andre Ellington show fast. Ellington is averaging 109 yards from scrimmage per game and he'll be able to tee off on the league's 29th-ranked run defense.

    As you can see by the vote, no one's lining up to argue with him.

    Rams: Maybe next year the Rams can get their vaunted pass rush to show up at the beginning of the season rather than waiting six weeks. Just a thought.

    Cardinals: Bowen, Davenport, Freeman, Frenz, Gagnon, Hangst, Hansen, Kruse, McCown, Miller, Schalter, Schottey, Simms, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson

New York Giants (3-5) at Seattle Seahawks (5-3)

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    Ron Antonelli/Getty Images

    The Pick: Seattle Seahawks (16-0)

    The vultures have begun to circle in the Big Apple. It's understandable, because the 2014 New York Giants are just about dead.

    As Eric Edholm of Yahoo Sports pointed out, one play from the first half of Monday night's blowout loss to the Indianapolis Colts personifies the mess that is Big Blue this year:

    Head coach Tom Coughlin thought that Colts tight end Coby Fleener bobbled a pass that was ruled a 21-yard catch on Monday. Coughlin sought to challenge it, as is his coaching right.

    Only problem? Coughlin couldn't get his challenge flag out of his sock. Seriously.

    Meanwhile, the Colts went hurry-up, as teams tend to do when there is a close call that has a chance to be overturned.

    Coughlin couldn't rip the red hanky out quickly enough. So quarterback Andrew Luck hit Fleener again for a 36-yard touchdown before Coughlin could get the darned thing out.

    With the futility reaching near-Jets-ian levels (I said near—hard to beat the Jets at futility of late), the grumblings have begun anew regarding head coach Tom Coughlin's future in New York.

    Unfortunately, NFC East Lead Writer Brad Gagnon doesn't see Sunday's game in Seattle as a chance for the Giants to rally the troops:

    The Giants are just too banged up. They were smoked by the Seahawks at home last year, and this time they have to go on the road. I know Seattle hasn't been the same this season, but this might be a statement game.

    Our entire panel agrees, yet another unanimous vote in a late slate that has the potential to be replete with ugly matchups.

    Giants: Head coach wanted. Experience preferred but not required. Inquire within.

    Seahawks: Bowen, Davenport, Freeman, Frenz, Gagnon, Hangst, Hansen, Kruse, McCown, Miller, Schalter, Schottey, Simms, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson

Chicago Bears (3-5) at Green Bay Packers (5-3)

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Pick: Green Bay Packers (16-0) 

    Back in Week 4, the 2-1 Bears played host to the 1-2 Packers. It was supposed to be a statement by the Bears, their chance to demonstrate to everyone that they were a force to be reckoned with in the NFC North.

    Oh, they made a statement, all right. It just wasn't the one they wanted to.

    A 38-17 loss was the beginning of a free fall that has seen the Bears drop four of their last five games. The last was a humiliating 51-23 loss to New England, a game in which the Bears were dominated in every facet.

    Everything that could go wrong has of late for the Bears. Quarterback Jay Cutler has taken awful care of the football, and the defense somehow figured out a way to be even worse than last year, which is saying something.

    Still, defensive coordinator Mel Tucker insisted to Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times that the Bears have learned from their last meeting with the Packers, and that the team spent the bye preparing to get its season back on track.

    “Obviously you’re always going to go back and review and see what you can do better. We’ve done that,” said Tucker. “We’ll look to make some adjustments the next time we play those guys.”

    Adjustments aside, NFC North Lead Writer Zach Kruse thinks the biggest disparity between the two teams is one that can't be fixed with coachspeak:

    At 3-5, the Bears are a wounded animal backed into a corner. There's upset potential, but can you really trust the Chicago defense against Aaron Rodgers (four touchdowns, 151.2 passer rating in Week 4) or Jay Cutler (six multi-interception games vs. Green Bay) against Dom Capers? The gap at quarterback for these two teams remains too large.

    Given yet another unanimous vote, Week 10's late games are either going to make our experts look very good or very bad—no middle ground this go-around.

    Bears: How's that $54 million guaranteed for Cutler looking now, Bears fans?

    Packers: Bowen, Davenport, Freeman, Frenz, Gagnon, Hangst, Hansen, Kruse, McCown, Miller, Schalter, Schottey, Simms, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson

Carolina Panthers (3-5-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (6-2)

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    The Pick: Philadelphia Eagles (16-0) 

    All this agreement is getting unnerving.

    It's especially so when you consider that our entire panel just picked a team to win that's being quarterbacked by Mark Sanchez— and did it on purpose.

    Bagging on "The Sanchize" is easy given how badly his tenure ended with the New York Jets, but it is worth pointing out that of late that it's the only way tenures end with Gang Green.

    Sanchez actually played pretty well in relief of Nick Foles in the Eagles' Week 9 win over the Houston Texans, and with Foles out indefinitely with a broken collarbone head coach Chip Kelly told Phil Sheridan of he's confident Sanchez can carry that over into Monday night's game in Philadelphia.

    "I feel great about Mark," Kelly stated. "He was ready to go in the game. He's always ready, and always focused."

    NFC East Lead Writer Brad Gagnon wasn't ready to go that far, but he still predicted that Sanchez and the Eagles will take care of business against the floundering Panthers:

    The Panthers are a mess, while the Eagles are playing well everywhere except at quarterback. Mark Sanchez is a capable backup, though, so they should take care of business at home.

    It's a game the Eagles need to win. The schedule tightens up quite a bit in November, with matchups against Green Bay, Dallas and Seattle all coming up by Dec. 7.

    We'll see how Kelly feels about Sanchez after that gauntlet, which will go a long way toward determining whether the Eagles repeat as NFC East champions.

    Panthers: Are we sure this team went 12-4 last year?

    Eagles: Bowen, Davenport, Freeman, Frenz, Gagnon, Hangst, Hansen, Kruse, McCown, Miller, Schalter, Schottey, Simms, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson


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