NFL Week 10 Preview - The Picture of Playoffs Is Emerging
Is your team in play?
American football is a cruel full-contact sport, which is why the regular NFL season only lasts for 17 weeks – and nine of them had already passed. Most of the teams will play eight more matches, but it is already visible who the playoff contenders are, and who will only battle for pride in the second part of the season.
After nine weeks, there are three unbeaten teams with 8-0 records: New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals, and Carolina Panthers. Each of the leading teams will play this weekend while Atlanta Falcons, Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers will have a bye week.
Week 10 began with the Thursday Night Football match in MetLife Stadium where New York Jets hosted AFC East divisional rivals Buffalo Bills. There were plenty of reasons for this to be a fierce battle. After the last season, the Jets had released the head coach Rex Ryan who was later signed by the Bills and last night he came to the Jets’ stadium willing to prove that his departure was a mistake by the team management.
And succeeded he did. The Buffalo’s team outplayed their opponents by many aspects, forced four turnovers and won with a result of 22-17. Both teams are now sharing the same 5-4 record and the 2nd/3rd place in the AFC East division. Due to this victory, the Bills surpassed the Jets but the teams will meet once again in the last match of the regular season (week 17).
Other Week 10 matches should not disappoint, either:
New England Patriots (8-0) @ New York Giants (5-4)
These two teams are not in the same division, and not even in the same conference but they make up one of the fiercest rivalries of the last decade. The Patriots haven’t won against the Giants since 2007, when they triumphed in the last week of the regular season.
Since then the Boston’s team have won against all the other 30 NFL teams at least once. But most importantly, the Giants have beaten the Patriots twice in Super Bowl matches (in 2007 and in 2011). New York’s quarterback Eli Manning is at 3-1 in his career starts against the Patriots.
This season, the New England’s team are still unbeaten and have won all of their matches with at the advantage of at least seven points. Their quarterback Tom Brady is 38, but many experts agree that he is playing the best football of his career.
Last week, the Patriots lost their change of pace running back Dion Lewis due to a season-ending injury, but their head coach Bill Belichick was always known for his ability to replace missing players. Last week’s backup running back Brandon Bolden stepped into Lewis' place and immediately scored a touchdown.
The Patriots are protecting the ball extremely well. They are leading the league with only five giveaways, while the team’s defense already caused 12 turnovers for their opponents. Their +7 Take-Away difference is the second best in the league, although the leading team is New York Giants who lost the ball nine times, but took it away from the opponents 20 times (and are tied with Philadelphia Eagles for the most takeaways).
The biggest Giants’ problem on the defensive side of the ball is the pass rush, as in this season’s eight games the team only sacked the opponent's quarterback nine times – the least in the NFL. Hopefully, that statistic will go up with the return of the defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
One of the Giants defense leaders lost his right index finger after the fireworks accident on July 4th. This injury took a long time to recover but last week, Pierre-Paul finally made his season debut. Many NFL experts are saying that we will see the real capacity of the Patriots this week. If they are able to beat Giants on the road, it may make for quite a statement.
Prediction and pick:
According to TonyBet NFL odds
Patriots’ should win by 7-8 points. We are not sure if the Pats will find such an easy victory in the Meadowlands, though. They certainly are the favorites, but we think that the Giants’ handicap is too big.
Arizona Cardinals (6-2) @ Seattle Seahawks (4-4)
Sunday Night Football marathon will be highlighted by the duel of two NFC West rivals. A few seasons ago, the battle of the Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers decided who was to take the title of the divisional champion, but the times have changed.
The 49ers now are among the league outsiders, while the Cardinals stepped up and are now clear leaders in the contention for the top spot with their 6-2 record. The Seahawks started season with a disappointing 2-4 record, but have won two matches in the row. Now they are coming into the Week 10 match after the bye hoping to extend the winning streak. If you take a look at the last eight divisional matches, the Seahawks hold a solid 7-1 record.
However, the Cardinals are a tough team to beat. This season they've lost only to the St. Louis Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Cardinals are led by the veteran quarterback Carson Palmer who already threw 20 TD passes this season (2nd in the league) and his passer rating averages at 110,2 (3rd in the league).
Five of the six victories that the Arizona’s team have achieved this season were won with a double digit advantage – it’s clear that they are a force to be reckoned with. The Cardinals are also on a two game winning streak and are coming out of a bye week.
The deciding factor in this match could be the home field advantage. The Seattle Century Link Field Stadium is one of the loudest places in the whole NFL, where the opponent's quarterbacks are often enforced to burn timeouts because of communication issues caused by the crazy loud Seahawks’ fan army. While Carolina Panthers in the Week 6 match have proven that it is possible to beat the Seahawks at home, it is still a big challenge for any team.
Prediction and pick:
TonyBet is expecting a Seahawks’ victory by three points. The handicap seems pretty accurate. Both teams are well rested after the bye week, so the home field advantage could be the deciding factor in this equal battle.
Minnesota Vikings (6-2) @ Oakland Raiders (4-4)
Minnesota Vikings are often named as the most underestimated NFL team of the season. No one mentioned them among the favorites and many had written them off after the Week 1 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. But since then the Vikings won six out of the seven matches and the second loss was an away match against then-unbeaten Denver Broncos with a field goal difference of 20-23.
The Vikings are a young and talented team led by the sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. His stats may seem pretty modest (only 1670 passing yards with six touchdowns) but it should be admitted that the Vikings are a team who relies heavily on the rushing attack.
After missing the bigger part of the last season due to the suspension, the running back Adrian Petersen came back in an impressive manner - he is leading the league with 758 rushing yards. Also, the Vikings may rely on their tough defense that has only surrendered 17,5 points per match (tied for the 2nd position by the least points allowed in the league).
On the Week 10, the Vikings are visiting Oakland Raiders - a team who has a lot in common with them. The Raiders are the NFL team who has had the longest losing streak in the league. The last time they had a positive record was in the 2002 season, but it seems that this unfortunate streak may be over this year.
The Raiders drafted the quarterback Derek Carr four picks later than the Vikings called Bridgewater in the 2014 NFL draft. Carr's star is shining brightly this year. He has already thrown for 2094 yards and 19 passing TDs (tied for the 3rd best result in the league).
They are a solid offensive team. The Raiders have an impressive wide receiver duo consisting of the rookie Amari Cooper (4th overall pick) and the veteran Michael Crabtree who have an impressive 92 catch record together. The third year running back Latavius Murray also became a viable weapon with the 630 rushing yards. Two weeks ago, the Raiders at home managed to beat the solid New York Jets’ defense and now they will try to repeat this success against the Vikings.
Prediction and pick:
TonyBet is expecting the Raiders’ victory by 3 points. Once again, it is hard to disagree that this could turn out to be a close match. Still, we believe that if they manage to win, then the point difference may be bigger.
Other Week 10 matches:
Cleveland Browns (2-7) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4) –
It’s a AFC North divisional rivalry, but for the several past seasons, the Browns stood no chance against the Steelers - especially in Steel City. The Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger suffered an injury again last week and it is yet unclear if he will be on the field this Sunday, but even with the 3rd string QB Landry Jones, the Pittsburgh’s team should have no problems beating the struggling Browns.
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6) @ Baltimore Ravens (2-6) -
In the battle of the two AFC conference outsiders, the Ravens should find their way to the victory at home. The Baltimore’s team lost all their games this season by eight points or less, and the Jaguars are just horrible on the road. The team has lost the last 13 road matches including all four away matches of this season.
New Orleans Saints (4-5) @ Washington Redskins (3-5) -
After the rough start (3-0), the Saints won four out of the six matches afterwards. Still, they are the home team who has only won one road game yet this season. If they want to win, the Saints must avoid turnovers as they have won 32 of 33 last matches with no giveaways. The Redskins are a mediocre team this season at best, but they have a solid offensive line which has only allowed nine sacks this season. The chances of a victory seem to be pretty equal in this match.
Detroit Lions (1-7) @ Green Bay Packers (6-2) -
This is another classic rivalry between two NFC North opponents, but this season, the Lions are so bad that they stand no chance against the Packers. The Lions are the only NFL team who has only won one game, and while the Packers lost both matches after the Week 7 bye (against Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers) they will definitely rebound this week.
Miami Dolphins (3-5) @ Philadelphia Eagles (4-4) -
The fairytale of the Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell has faded away. His head coach career started with two victories which was followed by two losses in a row against divisional opponents and that has brought Dolphins back where they belong this season - to the very bottom of AFC East. The Eagles are still in the run for the NFC East championship, so they can't give up any points at home to mediocre teams.
Chicago Bears (3-5) @ St. Louis Rams (4-4) -
This is another match with a clear favorite. The Rams have one of the best defenses in the NFL and their offense improved a lot with the rookie running back Todd Gurley. The Bears look better than they did at the start of the season, but their chances at a victory on the road against the Rams are slim.
Dallas Cowboys (2-6) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5) -
After the Week 2 injury suffered by the quarterback Tony Romo, the Cowboys have lost all six matches. It was mostly close games, but the result is disappointing and it’s the most likely that their playoff hopes have faded away.
The Buccaneers had the worst record in the league last year. This season, their main objective is to find their game led by the rookie QB Jameis Winston. Still, at home and against the struggling Cowboys, they are clear favorites.
Carolina Panthers (8-0) @ Tennessee Titans (2-6) -
Some experts say that Carolina Panthers are the only team who has a real shot at finishing this season with the 16-0 record. The 2-6 Titans stand no chance against the Panthers - even at home.
Kansas City Chiefs (2-7) @ Denver Broncos (7-1) –
This is an AFC West rivalry with exactly zero intrigue. The Broncos have the best defense in the NFL, while the Chiefs are struggling on the both sides of the ball.
Houston Texans (3-5) @ Cincinnati Bengals (8-0) –
The unbeaten Bengals, who are playing at home, must improve to 9-0 after the Monday Night Football match as this is a guaranteed victory against the blank Texans. The latter team has only one reason to cheer, and it is their star wideout DeAndre Hopkins, who is having an impressive year - but he can't win matches on his own.