Three Big Story Lines for Week 10 of the NFL

Week 10. Man, the season is flying by isn’t it? As everyone knows by now, Peyton Manning once again fell to Tom Brady and the scorching hot New England Patriots in the 16th edition of the Brady/Manning Rivalry. That means there are only two 7-win teams in the NFL. One is the aforementioned Patriots and the other is the 7-1 Arizona Cardinals.

I can’t quite figure it out, but with all the teams essentially at their halfway point, the Arizona Cardinals have the best record in football. They have a sick secondary, yet their defense is still only 19th overall. They have a steady offense, but they are ranked in the bottom third of the league. To be fair, Carson Palmer and Andre Ellington are finally looking healthy, and Larry Fitzgerald is finally looking like the Fitz of old. Whatever the case is, they are locked down at the top of the Wayniac Nation Power 5.

The Wayniac Nation Power 5: 1. Arizona Cardnials, 2. New England Patriots, 3. Denver Broncos, 4. Indianapolos Colts, 5. Detroit Lions

This week the Pats and the Colts will be missing from action as they are on bye with four other teams. The Houston Texans, San Diego Chargers, Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings also get a much needed week off as Arian Foster, RGIII and Philip Rivers (who am I kidding , the whole Chargers team) needs to refresh. Don’t you worry, though. There are still a bevy of not only great, but important games this weekend, including another matchup across the pond. I’m so glad that the Dallas Cowboys marketing department has realized it! As they said themselves on Twitter: #CowboysUK!

1. Can Big Ben get bigger?

No quarterback has had a hotter two weeks than Ben Roethlisberger. Ever. Big Ben has assaulted two pretty stout defenses for a grand total of twelve touchdowns and no interceptions over the past two weeks. This week he faces off against a Jets’ defense that isn’t just bad, they have let up the most passing touchdowns in the league. Wait a second? Rex Ryan is a defensive genius, right?

Anyway you cut it a red hot Steelers team is rolling into MetLife Stadium to take on a Jets team that has lost eight in a row. The only reason this game will be interesting is to see what Big Ben and his high-flying receivers can do against a defense that has already allowed 24 touchdowns through the air. Antonio Bryant, Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton may be the best Steelers’ receiving trio Big Ben has had to work with in awhile and Le’Veon Bell is a beast out of the backfield. Don’t be surprised to see another four touchdown day from Big Ben Sunday.

Chargers Dolphins Football
Photo Credit: detroitlions.com

2. The “Are They For Real?” Bowl

The Miami Dolphins are hot, winning three games in a row. They have done it a myriad of different ways. Two weeks ago when Ryan Tannehill was off his game the defense stepped up and took matters into their own hands with two pick-sixes. Last week, they completely rolled a very good San Diego Chargers team in every facet of the game. The defense has caused 10 turnovers over their three-game winning streak and they head to Detroit to face a very turnover-prone Lions offense.

Matthew Stafford has to be chomping at the bit. He has quietly begun his transformation from gunslinger to quarterback. He’s not there yet as he has thrown 7 interceptions to 11 touchdowns, but he is playing smarter and in more control than he ever has. The same guy that would lose close games at the wire just last year, now has the moxie to lead huge comebacks as he has done the last two weeks. Stafford has made Golden Tate a star for good things, not just “catching” that pass against the Packers. Now, he gets his favorite toy back. Calvin Johnson‘s return should amp up the passing attack that was surprisingly able to uphold itself in Megatron’s absence.

The bottom line is if at the beginning of the season, you told me the Week 10 match-up between these two teams would be a defensive battle, I’d laugh in your face. Lo and behold the number one defense in football (the Lions) is taking on the number three defense in football (the Phins). Both teams are led by quarterbacks that seem to be maturing and finally coming into their own. This game has all the elements for a good one, and will probably come to down to which defense can capitalize on which quarterback makes the last mistake.

3. Is the Bird really the word?

Looking at this match-up on paper, it simply doesn’t seem like a fair match-up. The Rams are led by their third-string quarterback Austin Davis, who has show promise but has also shown why he started the season as a third-string QB. Zac Stacy is arguably the biggest bust in football. Chris Long, their second best defensive player has been out all year. Despite all of that, they have upset NFC West foes the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers. The Cardinals are up next.

I have already gushed about the Cardinals. They are not only good, but their defense is another team altogether at home. This however is the ultimate trap game. Two weeks ago, the Cards prevailed in the Battle of the Birds when they grounded the high-flying Eagles attack. This past week the had to go into Big D and defeat the Cowboys. Next week, the Cardinals will square off against the first place Lions. That’s  three first place teams in the last four weeks. Right there in between are the St. Louis Lambs, a team that loves to play the underdog and upset the Goliaths when they roll in as the Davids. If the Cardinals aren’t careful, we may have another exciting game in which the Lambs come out on top.

Photo credit: AP
Photo credit: AP

Game of the Week: Chicago Bears at the Green Bay Packers

The times they are a-changing. Did you know that since 2010, either the Bears or the Packers have been the NFC North Champion? Now, the Packers are playing second fiddle to a dominant Lions’ team and the Bears are sinking deeper into the cellar of the North (although they’d be one game out of first in the awful NFC South!). This game is huge. If the Bears lose another one, they will be at 3-6 and will have to essentially win out to make the playoffs and have Brandon Marshall‘s asinine claim of Jay Cutler being MVP in 2014 come to fruition. The Packers don’t want to see their three-year reign as Division Champs come to an end, and every loss will put them farther away from that dream.

This should be one of the best games of the season. Both teams have been somewhat underperforming thus far, but both teams are still averaging well over 20 points a game. Neither team has a very good defense. The Bears would be good but is beat up, and the Packers are opportunistic on D with big play making ability, but allow the big play with their gambles as well. There are some of the most exciting players in all of football on the offensive side of the field in Aaron Rodgers, Cutler, Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte, Eddie Lacy, Jordy Nelson, Martellus Bennett and Randall Cobb. That means we are probably in for a 13-10 game because that’s what happens every time I am excited for a shootout.

Survivor Pick of the Week

The Ravens are the easiest pick this week. The Titans are coming into Baltimore where the Ravens play like one of the elite teams in the NFL. Plus, the Ravens were just humiliated in prime time  at the hands of Big Ben. If you are running low on teams and have to start digging deep, you need to be smart at this point of the season. We are reaching the time of year where home field advantage and weather conditions play a huge factor. That being said, I think the Buffalo Bills will beat the Chiefs at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bills are in serious playoff contention and slowly getting healthier. This battle between old school AFL clubs will be close, but I think the Bills prevail.

 

 

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