Each Tuesday morning, we will preview every NFL game of the upcoming week. All of our NFL content, including our most recent power rankings and links to the pre-season preview are located here .
The inputs to the 10,001 simulations of each upcoming game are based on a rigorous analysis of each team that considers strength-of-schedule-adjusted team and player ratings and then makes modifications for injuries and depth at each position. To see other picks like our Upset and Locks of the Week, as well as our season-to-date performance, click here.
Game of the Week: No. 4 Patriots 25 @ No. 2 Colts 27
The Brady-Manning Bowl is back.
And it's much more intriguing now that it has both of its namesakes.
The New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts have squared off eight times in the regular season and three times in the playoffs since Tom Brady took over as starting quarterback for the Patriots in 2001. Tom Brady is 5-2 during the season and 2-1 in the postseason, though Peyton Manning and the Colts topped New England when Brady was out for the duration of last season.
The Patriots and Colts have squared off six times since they were separated in divisional play and the teams have split evenly at 3-3 with five of those games being decided by one touchdown or less.
In 2009, with both teams atop their respective divisions and ranked in the top four in our most recent power rankings , it would be anything but surprising to see another close battle added to the burgeoning rivalry.
New England is 6-2 overall, but both of those losses have come on the road and they'll be away from home again on Sunday. But the Patriots bring one of the league's top aerial assaults with them to Indy. Brady and the Pats average 7.5 yards per pass attempt with wide receivers Randy Moss and Wes Welker each already more than halfway to the 10,000-yard mark.
With an underachieving ground game, they've had to rely on that passing game. New England averages just 4.1 yards per carry and doesn't have a running back with more than 350 yards through eight games.
The defense has followed the offense's suit, stopping the pass with solid success but struggling more against the run. The Pats are allowing just 6.2 yards per pass attempt, but running backs are rushing for 4.5 yards per carry.
A +8 turnover ratio, however, has helped New England dominate time of possession as the Patriots offense is on the field for more than 34 minutes per game and runs about 10 more plays per game than opposing offenses.
Indianapolis remains of just two undefeated teams in the NFL as they escaped a scare from Houston, using a last-second missed field goal to move to 8-0. Somehow, despite their success up to this point, the Colts are even more unbalanced offensively than the Patriots.
Manning leads a passing attack that's even more prolific than Brady's, throwing for more than eight yards per attempt with both Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark topping the 700-yard mark. But their ground game ranks amongst the league's worst with starting running back Joseph Addai running for just 3.4 yards per carry and the Colts, as a team, averaging just 3.7.
Indy's defense is a little more balanced, but has been decimated by injuries, losing star safety Bob Sanders again and cornerback Kelvin Hayden out as well. Still, the Colts found a way past the Texans and now will try to shut down one of the league's most prolific offenses.
They are giving up just 5.8 yards per passing attempt and the key will probably be whether or not Indy's depleted secondary can keep that number low while using its backups against Brady and the Pats. The Colts also give up just 4.3 yards per carry and like the Patriots, hold a solid turnover margin (+7), though their quick-scoring offense actually has them losing the time of possession battle.
In the much-anticipated quarterback tussle, Manning edges Brady by as close a margin as the simulated score would indicate. In the predicted boxscore Colts' signal-caller averages about 16 more yards per game, though both players have about the same chance of throwing two touchdown passes and one interception.
Surprisingly, despite the struggles in the run game, it's the backs that have the best chance of finding the end zone. New England’s Laurence Maroney scores a touchdown just slightly more than Joseph Addai, but each of them average more touchdowns than anyone else on their team.
It all adds up to what should turn out to be the latest close matchup between Brady's Patriots and Manning's Colts. In 10,000 simulations , Indianapolis remains unbeaten 52 percent of the time by an average score of 27-25. Giving three points, Indianapolis beats the spread at less than a 48 percent clip and with the total at 49.5, the teams go over the total just less than 55 percent of the time.
Our Against the Spread "Lock of the Week" is 7-2 on the year and 23-5 all-time. To see other picks like our Upset and Locks of the Week, as well as our season-to-date accuracy, click here.
Click on the Boxscore below to the average results from 10,001 simulations of that game. Or click on Simulate Game to play the game once and view stats and play-by-play from that simulation.
NFL Week 10
|@ Minnesota Vikings||90.1||31|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||19.7||17||Boxscore|
|@ Miami Dolphins||80.3||28|
|@ San Francisco 49ers||68.2||25|
|@ Pittsburgh Steelers||67.9||23|
|@ Tennessee Titans||67.3||24|
|@ Arizona Cardinals||65.5||27|
|@ New York Jets||59.8||27|
|New England Patriots||48.0||25||Boxscore|
|@ Indianapolis Colts||52.0||27|
|Kansas City Chiefs||49.6||21||Boxscore|
|@ Oakland Raiders||50.4||22|
|@ San Diego Chargers||44.1||22|
|@ Carolina Panthers||34.4||20|
|@ Green Bay Packers||30.3||22|
|@ Washington Redskins||24.1||15|
|@ Cleveland Browns||13.7||13|
|New Orleans Saints||92.2||33||Boxscore|
|@ St. Louis Rams||7.8||17|
Other Notable Games in Week 10
San Diego and Philadelphia find themselves in the same position heading into the second halves of their season. Win this weekend and they could be atop their division heading into next week. Lose and they could fall behind by two games.
In a battle of teams still with a shot at winning their divisions, visiting Philadelphia ends the Chargers' three-game winning streak 59.9 percent of the time and by just a single point on average.
And the NFC West race could essentially come to an end this weekend when Seattle travels to Arizona. The Cardinals finally got their first home win last week against Chicago and now have a two-game lead over the Seahawks and the plummeting San Francisco 49ers, who have lost four straight games.
If the Cardinals win and the 49ers can't get back on track against Chicago, Arizona will hold a three-game lead in the division. If the Cards lose and San Francisco does end its skid, three teams will be within one game of each other. The Cardinals win 65.5 percent of the time and the 49ers win at a 68.2 percent clip.
Other Notable Names in Week 10
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger put together another stellar game against the Denver Broncos on Monday. Now he'll square off with Carson Palmer in a duel to see which team takes the outright lead in the AFC North. Roethlisberger and the Steelers win the team and individual battles. He throws for about 75 more yards than Palmer and almost twice as many touchdowns in a Pittsburgh win.
Atlanta running back Michael Turner had a huge game against Washington this past week and will now try to feast on the Carolina Panthers, who rank just 23rd in the league in rushing yards allowed per game. Turner backs up last week's performance with another 100-yard game, finding the end zone more than once per game over 10,000 simulations.
Eric Schmoldt is a writer and Paul Bessire is the Product Manager of Content and Quantitative Analysis for WhatIfSports.com, a division of FOX Sports Interactive specializing in fantasy football simulation analysis and football sim games . With any comments, questions or topic suggestions, Paul and Eric can be reached at BtB@whatifsports.com . Thanks!