An NFL Sunday is always a good diversion for Americans looking for an escape from the harsh realities of the world. And there are no shortage of interesting storylines in Week 10 of the NFL season to grab your attention.
Will Dez Bryant take his hatred of the media (he has a lot of company) out on Tampa Bay, or will he be distracted after an ugly locker room incident? Can the New York Giants’ 32nd-ranked defense that gave up seven touchdowns to Drew Brees two weeks ago possibly contain Tom Brady? Does Seattle have its mojo back? Will Ndamukong Suh finally give the Dolphins the border wall against the run?
Lots of questions get their answers today.
Miami Dolphins (3-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-4)
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has to been livid. Aside from his team struggling at 3-5, he gave former Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh $60 million guaranteed this offseason, and the Dolphins can’t stop the run, ranked 31st in this department.
And they are going to have a hard time running the ball themselves this week, without right tackle Ju’wuan James and with right guard Billy Turner nursing a knee injury as a game-time decision
All signs point to an Eagles win in this game.
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6) at Baltimore Ravens (2-6)
This game looks like air war with two rifle-armed quarterbacks and a pair of lousy pass defenses.
The Ravens return off a bye-week, and the Jaguars come in banged up after a physical battle with the Jets last week. Jacksonville could be without starting defensive end Michael Bennett and linebacker Dan Skuta. Also, their best receiver, Allen Hurns, might not play.
This game favors the well-rested home team.
Detroit Lions (1-7) at Green Bay Packers (6-2)
Things have calmed down at Lions camp – nobody was fired this week.
The Lions are a mess. They can’t the run the ball or stop the run, and their franchise quarterback has taken a step back. The Packers are finally healthy on defense, and will have all their starters on the field.
It would be shocking to see the Aaron Rodgers-led Packers lose three games in a row, especially with this game at Lambeau Field and Detroit without starting cornerback Rashean Mathis.
Cleveland Browns (2-7) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4)
Likely starting a backup QB (Landry Jones) and with the Browns sporting the NFL’s worst run defense, Steelers likely administer a heavy dose of tailback D’Angelo Williams on Sunday.
The Browns are pretty beat-up going to Pittsburgh. Their safety position is a mess, with starter Donte Whitner out and three other safeties questionable for the game. Struggling second-year quarterback Johnny Manziel likely starts with Josh McCown hurt.
Tough seeing Cleveland winning this game.
Chicago Bears (3-5) at St. Louis Rams (4-4)
One of the surprise teams of the 2015 season are the Bears. In a rebuilding year, new coach John Fox has them competitive.
The Rams’ #32 passing offense is going to have a hard time throwing against the Bears’ #5 ranked pass defense, so expect a lot of carries for rookie sensation Todd Gurley. Good news for Bears QB Jay Cutler – both of the Rams’ talented pass rushing ends are hurt, Chris Long and Robert Quinn.
The Rams are so unpredictable, so we are done trying to pick their games.
Dallas Cowboys (2-6) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5)
A couple of weeks ago Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant tried to calm down an apoplectic Greg Hardy on the sideline. That would be like the late Timothy Leary working as a drug counselor.
This week Bryant exploded on ESPN reporter Jean-Jacques Taylor, whom he accused of using a racial slur toward wide receiver Devin Street, a claim confirmed by Street but denied by the reporter. Taylor is black. Bizarre.
So, they go to Tampa Bay as a somewhat distracted team, which is the theme of their season, as Jerry Jones continues to run his team like Father Flanagan, with too many talented but problematic players on his roster. But Tampa Bay nurses a lot of injuries and starts a rookie quarterback.
This game is a toss-up.
Carolina Panthers (7-0) at Tennessee Titans (2-6)
The most unlikely undefeated team, the Carolina Panthers, featuring the NFL’s 27th-ranked offense, make the short trip from Charlotte to Nashville for a game they should win if they truly are championship caliber.
Panthers are also one of the healthiest teams in the NFL, and the Titans will be without starting cornerback Jason McCourty, and two other corners are questionable. Look for a lot of Panther fans to make the relatively short trip to their border state, so it should be a mixed crowd in Nashville.
The Panthers should win his game.
New Orleans Saints (4-5) at Washington Redskins (3-5)
Just when you thought the Saints got their act together, they lost at home to Tennessee featuring a rookie quarterback and interim head coach. Inexcusable.
A big problem for the Saints is their 31st-ranked defense led by Rex Ryan’s twin brother, Rob. Maybe Rex, who is off this Sunday after his big win over the Jets on Thursday, can help his struggling sibling.
For the first time since Week Three, the Redskins’ top three cornerbacks–Bashaud Breeland, Chris Culliver and DeAngelo Hall–are all expected to play.
This game could go either way.
Minnesota Vikings (6-2) at Oakland Raiders (4-4)
The Minnesota Vikings hope to have quarterback Teddy Bridgewater ready to roll on Sunday. He was concussed last Sunday, thanks to a cheap shot by Ram defender LaMarcus Joyner, fined $23,152 by the NFL.
The Raiders aren’t a great team to play coming off a concussion. They have one of the best pass rushes in the league led by Khalil Mack.
The Raiders are much-improved this year, and are actually favored by three points in this game, and should figure out a way to come out on top.
Kansas City Chiefs (3-5) at Denver Broncos (7-1)
Andy Reid, one of the NFL’s brightest coaches, comes off a bye-week. You give the erudite Chiefs coach two weeks to prepare, and he will have the mother-of-all game plans.
And this is far from an ideal match-up for Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. The Chiefs possess a great pass rush, and the Broncos field a patchwork offensive line protecting the immobile Manning, who nurses a rib injury. Also the Broncos will be without two key defensive starters – outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware and cornerback Aqib Talib.
Don’t be shocked at an upset.
New England Patriots (8-0) at New York Giants (5-4)
On paper, this contest looks like a disaster for the Football Giants – Tom Brady vs. the NFL’s 32nd-ranked defense. Hide the women and children.
And while there is so much focus on the Brady-led offense, don’t sleep on the Patriots defense, one of the NFL’s better units, led by the NFL’s #3 run defense and a very good pass rush.
The Patriots top three offensive tackles are all out, so Giants pass rush could be in Brady’s face quite a bit. But the Giants pass defense is so bad, as Drew Brees showed two weeks ago with seven touchdown passes against them, New England should win this game.
Arizona Cardinals (6-2) at Seattle Seahawks (4-4)
One of the reasons the Cardinals have one of the NFL’s best teams is their balance – they have the NFL #3 offense and defense. And their quarterback, Carson Palmer, currently plays on a very high level.
“I’ve never seen him better,” said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.
“Anytime we’re playing with him on the field, we feel like we can beat anybody anywhere,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said.
This game is a tough one to call, so the tie-breakers could be Seattle’s amazing home-field advantage. With their deafening crowd, they rarely lose at home.
Houston Texans (3-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (8-0)
The Texans can’t run the ball, which puts their journeyman quarterback, Brian Hoyer, in a position where he must carry the offense, which is a bad formula.
Expect a heavy dose of the Bengals’ talented tailback combo of Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill against the Texans’ 27th-ranked rush defense. Texans starting outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney is unlikely to play due to a back injury.
The Bengals should win this home-game against a wildly inconsistent opponent.