The Chicago Bears (5-3) have gotten through the first half of the NFL regular season in first place in the NFC North and have a chance to write a dramatic story in the final eight games.
Rookie head coach Matt Nagy has seen his team develop one of the strongest defenses in the league and do enough on offense to become dangerous with Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback, speedy Taylor Gabriel at wide receiver and explosive Tarik Cohen making plays from the running back spot.
While Nagy appears to have made a seamless transition as the Bears' frontman after his short but successful run as Andy Reid's offensive coordinator in Kansas City, it has been anything but smooth for Detroit Lions rookie head coach Matt Patricia.
Well-known in his previous role as defensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, Patricia was supposed to come in and help the Lions play consistent defense and challenge the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North.
Despite Patricia's background and his "rocket scientist" mentality, the Lions have failed to deliver on defense, and their offense has had more than their share of problems. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was sacked 10 times by the Vikings in Week 9, and the Lions traded star wideout Golden Tate to the Philadelphia Eagles at the deadline.
As a result, the Lions are 3-5 and a last-place team in the division. They rank 30th against the run and have been wildly inconsistent. While they suffered a one-sided loss to the New York Jets in the season opener, they beat the Patriots and the Green Bay Packers, but they have failed to capitalize on either of those victories.
Losses to the Seattle Seahawks and the Vikings the last two weeks makes Week 10's meeting with the Bears a must-win game for the Lions.
Stafford has a big arm, but if he gets no protection from his offensive line, he is a sitting duck in the pocket because he does not have much escapability. That's music to the ears of Bears pass rusher Khalil Mack (5.0 sacks, four forced fumbles), who can dominate every game and is likely to return this week from an ankle injury.
Trubisky is not a finished product, but he has thrown for 1,949 yards with a 16-7 TD-interception ratio. He has also been quite effective as a runner, gaining 302 yards (8.0 yards per carry) and scoring twice. If Trubisky can avoid turnovers, get an early lead and let the defense dictate the pace, the Bears should win this home game.
Chicago is a 6.5-point home favorite according to OddsShark, and they will cover the spread.
NFL Week 10
Carolina Panthers (+3.5, 52 O/U) at Pittsburgh Steelers: Steelers 27, Panthers 23
Detroit Lions (+6.5, 45 O/U) at Chicago Bears: Bears 28, Lions 17
Arizona Cardinals (+16.5, 49.5 O/U) at Kansas City Chiefs: Chiefs 38, Cardinals 10
New England Patriots (-6.5, 46.5 O/U) at Tennessee Titans: Patriots 28, Titans 21
New Orleans Saints (-5.5, 54 O/U) at Cincinnati Bengals: Saints 36, Bengals 32
Atlanta Falcons (-4, 50.5 O/U) at Cleveland Browns: Falcons 38, Browns 16
Jacksonville Jaguars (+3, 46.5 O/U) at Indianapolis Colts: Colts 28, Jaguars 27
Washington Redskins (+3, 51.5 O/U) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Redskins 31, Buccaneers 20
Buffalo Bills (+7, 37 O/U) at New York Jets: Jets 22, Bills 12
Los Angeles Chargers (-10, 50 O/U) at Oakland Raiders: Chargers 38, Raiders 14
Miami Dolphins (+10, 47.5 O/U) at Green Bay Packers: Packers 37, Dolphins 23
Seattle Seahawks (+10, 50 O/U) at Los Angeles Rams: Rams 31, Seahawks 30
Dallas Cowboys (+7, 43 O/U) at Philadelphia Eagles: Eagles 34, Cowboys 24
New York Giants (+3, 44 O/U) at San Francisco 49ers: 49ers 30, Giants 20
All point spread information courtesy of OddsShark.
New Orleans Saints at Cincinnati Bengals
The New Orleans Saints have served notice that they are one of the elite teams in the NFL this season.
After getting hammered in their season opener by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Saints have reeled off seven straight wins and have had back-to-back victories over the Vikings and the Los Angeles Rams.
Drew Brees may be 39 years old, but he is as accurate as ever, and he has a sensational receiver in Michael Thomas.
Thomas has 70 receptions for 880 yards and five touchdowns, and he catches nearly everything thrown his way. He has been targeted 79 times, and he does a sensational job of catching the contested pass and also runs excellent pass patterns.
Brees is completing 76.3 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns and just one interception. Alvin Kamara is a factor running the ball and receiving, and the well-rounded offense has caused problems for every opponent.
The Bengals are 5-3 and just one-half game behind the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North, but they have lost two of their last three games and rank 32nd in yards allowed.
That's not a good position to be in against the Saints, and if Andy Dalton turns the ball over—he has eight interceptions this season—this game could fall apart in a hurry for the home team.
New Orleans comes in as a 5.5-point favorite, and the Saints will find a way to win this road game before taking on the Philadelphia Eagles at home in Week 11.
Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders
The disastrous return of Jon Gruden to the NFL head-coaching ranks continues this week as the Raiders host one of the best teams in the AFC in the Chargers.
Los Angeles is coming off an impressive road win over the Seattle Seahawks, and while their 25-17 victory came down to the last possession, they would have won this game with relative ease if they had not missed two extra points and a field goal attempt.
As a result of another poor special-teams performance, the Chargers cut PK Caleb Sturgis and have brought in Michael Badgley.
The likelihood is that Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen should be able to dominate against a defense that has never recovered from the preseason trade of Mack to the Bears.
The Chargers have a chance to get even better when defensive end Joey Bosa returns to the lineup. Bosa has been out all season with a foot injury and he has started to participate in drills this week. It is unlikely Bosa plays, but he could be back shortly.
Look for Rivers to build on his 2,236 passing yards (279.5 yards per game) and his 19-3 TD-interception ratio as the Chargers roll to a big win over their long-time rivals.