NFL Week 10 Primer

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) passes over the middle against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half of their NFL football game in New Orleans, Louisiana September 26, 2010. REUTERS/Sean Gardner (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Saints @ Falcons, 1:00PM ET
What a game this should be. The Saints are averaging over 30 points per contest this season but they’re just 2-3 on the road and their defense has struggled all season. On the flip side, the Falcons stumbled out of the gates but they’ve now won three in a row, including back-to-back games on the road. While the Atlanta offense is starting to hit its stride, it’s been the play of the defense that has fans most excited. Second-year player Sean Weatherspoon is a stud in the making and the rest of the defense feeds off his energy. That said, if the Falcons can’t generate a rush using only their front four, Drew Brees will pick them apart. This will be a great test for both teams.

Raiders @ Chargers, 8:20PM ET Thursday
Thursday night football starts tonight with a matchup between two teams desperately trying to break free from each other in a mediocre AFC West. On paper, the Chargers are the best team in the division but as usual, they’re underachieving and find themselves in a three-way tie with the Raiders and Chiefs. Heck, even the 3-5 Broncos are only one game out of first place. This is a game San Diego has to win. Carson Palmer has thrown six interceptions in his first two games since arriving to Oakland and Darren McFadden once again won’t play because of a foot injury. It’s time for Philip Rivers to shake out of his season-long funk and lead the Bolts to a big divisional victory.

Patriots @ Jets, 8:20PM ET, Sunday
Does it get any better on Sunday night this week? The Patriots are coming off of back-to-back losses for the first time since legs were the major form of transportation while the Jets have won three in a row and are looking for revenge after losing earlier this season in New England. I would have to think that New England won’t lose three in a row but Rex Ryan’s defense is playing championship caliber football right now. Fans will be treated to a plethora of great matchups this weekend but this one might take the cake.

Steelers @ Bengals, 1:00PM ET
It’s time to find out what Cincinnati and Andy Dalton are all about. The last time a good defense came to town, Dalton and the Bengals managed just 8 points in a 13-8 loss to the 49ers in Week 3. Now they’ll have a ticked off Pittsburgh team marching into Cincinnati on Sunday, looking to take out their anger on the upstart Bengals. How relentless do you think James Harrison will be this weekend? It’ll be interesting to see if Dalton and Co. can defend their home turf and send Pittsburgh into a two-game tailspin.

Giants @ 49ers, 4:15PM ET
What a great matchup this should be. In all five of their last five victories, the Giants rallied in the fourth quarter to win, which includes their 24-20 upset of the Patriots last Sunday. And after beating New England, Tom Coughlin’s team can’t afford to sit back and not play well against a San Francisco team that is itching to prove it can beat the best teams in the NFC. Even though both teams can score, I think this game has the makings of a defensive struggle. The Niners have played well defensively all season and with Frank Gore hobbled, the Giants’ pass rush could give Alex Smith fits.

Lions @ Bears, 4:15PM ET
Revenge will be on the mind of the Bears when they host a Lions team this Sunday that crushed them on Monday Night Football earlier this season. Chicago is also at a small disadvantage though. While the Lions should be fresh coming off their bye week, the Bears had a short week of rest following their win in Philadelphia on Monday night. It’ll be interesting to see if this game proves to be a small letdown for Chicago, even though it’s a huge divisional game.

Bills @ Cowboys, 1:00PM ET
This is one of many games on the Week 10 schedule that should give us a glimpse into how good certain teams really are. People have been waiting for the Bills to come crashing back to earth and their brutal effort last week against the Jets may have been the beginning of Buffalo’s freefall. Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills offense could do nothing against a stingy New York defense, and they won’t have it any easier this Sunday with DeMarcus Ware breathing down their necks. If the Bills can notch a big road win, then they’ll prove that they’re at least planning to be competitive until the end. But if they lose, their road record will drop to 1-3 and the seed of doubt will continue to grow.

Texans @ Bucs, 1:00PM ET
The Texans have a great chance to keep rolling and continue to create space between them and the Titans in the AFC South if they can beat a reeling Bucs team this weekend. Shame on the Tampa Bay front office for thinking that it could rest on its laurels after winning 10 games last season. They figured they could win with the same exact team as they had a year ago and not spend any money this offseason (even though they had more cap space than any team in the league). The Bucs lack explosive plays offensively and if the receivers don’t stop underachieving, this team will continue to lose. That said, Houston has been known to take a dive in the second half seasons so if Tampa comes to play this weekend, there’s no reason the Bucs can’t get back on track with a win.

Broncos @ Chiefs, 1:00PM ET
Week after week more and more pundits are coming out saying that Tim Tebow won’t develop into a NFL passer. Who ever said that he would? Dating back to the 2010 combine, I didn’t hear one person say that Tebow would develop into a passer on this level. But yet here people are, boasting about how they don’t think he’ll ever be good. It’s nauseating. As I said a few weeks ago, I’m rooting for Tebow now. I know he won’t develop into a good passer but I hope he wins, and wins, and wins. I hope he keeps throwing all of these so-called know-it-alls for a loop. Thanks to his 2-1 record as a starter, the Broncos are only one game out of first place in the miserable AFC West. Let’s see if Tebow can’t beat back-to-back divisional opponents on the road this Sunday after winning last weekend in Oakland.

Vikings @ Packers, 8:30PM ET, Monday
NFL fans might be reluctant to tune into this one but don’t forget that Christian Ponder made things awfully close versus Green Bay in the Metrodome not four weeks ago. The Vikings have generally given the Packers trouble and while I don’t expect Aaron Rodgers and Co. to lose, this game might be closer than people think.

Ravens @ Seahawks, 1:00PM ET
Huge, huge, HUGE win for the Ravens last Sunday. But if they lose this Sunday in Seattle (which is certainly possible – don’t think it isn’t), then they’ll erase all of the good Joe Flacco did by leading the team back last weekend against Pittsburgh. The Ravens have to stay focused; this can’t be a letdown game for them because the Seahawks have already proven they can pull off an upset (just ask the Giants).

Cardinals @ Eagles, 1:00PM ET
The Eagles should, and probably will, beat the banged up Cardinals this Sunday in Philadelphia. But what’s the difference? Outside of the Cowboys the Eagles haven’t proven that they can beat a good team so there’s no sense in keep talking about the now dead “Dream Team.” Whether he’ll admit it or not, Andy Reid’s decision to hire his former offensive line coach (Juan Castillo) as his new defensive coordinator was a mistake. The holes opposing running backs have to run through should embarrass Castillo.

Titans @ Panthers, 1:00PM ET
If Tennessee has any chance of catching Houston in the AFC South, it must win this weekend in Carolina. The Panthers are the best 2-6 team in the league but they’re obviously beatable. There has to be enough film on Cam Newton for defensive coordinators to start giving him trouble in the passing game. It’ll be interesting to see how well Tennessee defends Newton and whether or not Chris Johnson can give them a full four quarters of production for the first time all season.

Redskins @ Dolphins, 1:00PM ET
Miami has a great chance to notch its second consecutive victory against a hapless Washington team that is completely lost offensively. Mike Shanahan screwed himself and his team by filling in Rex Grossman and John Beck’s names at the top of his quarterback depth chart in preseason. He thought he could win with either player and now that his vaunted rushing attack can’t carry the load, the Skins are being buried by brutal quarterback play. No, it’s not Shanahan’s fault that Tim Hightower and Santana Moss are hurt. But he made little attempt to add playmakers on the offensive side of the ball, even though that was the Skins’ most pressing issue heading into the offseason.

Rams @ Browns, 1:00PM ET
It has become clear that people were wrong about the Rams coming into the season. While everyone could certainly blame their brutal schedule on their 0-6 start, there’s absolutely no reason to lose to a John Skelton-led Cardinals team one week after beating the heavily favored Saints at home. Simply put, St. Louis is just a bad football team and while Cleveland is currently in the midst of a two-game losing streak, this is a game the Browns should win.

Jaguars @ Colts, 1:00PM ET
Just like Miami has done the past two weeks, it’s time for Indianapolis to show a little fight. I know things are bad without Peyton Manning but they look completely inept week after week. Jacksonville’s defense has played very well this season and will put pressure on Curtis Painter to beat them through the air. But the Jaguar offense has struggled to score points all season with rookie Blaine Gabbert under center so here is a perfect time for the Colts to notch their first victory. I don’t buy in teams “Suck(ing) for Luck.” In fact, it’s a rather ridiculous notion when you think about how little current NFL players probably care about Andrew Luck and what he’s doing at Stanford. But the Colts need to show that they still have a pulse and even though Jacksonville is favored, this is about the closest Indy is going to get to victory this season. Let’s see if they man up.

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