NFL: Week Ten Predictions

Posted: November 6, 2014 in Uncategorized
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At 6-2 and atop the NFC East, the Philadelphia Eagles and their fans should be riding high midway through the 2014 season. But, that’s certainly not the case.

sanchizeIn the team’s 31-21 victory last Sunday over the Houston Texans, Philadelphia lost their leaders on both offense and defense, possibly for the remainder of the campaign. Nick Foles, who has commanded the team’s high powered attack for over year now, is out 6-8 weeks after cracking his clavicle in the second quarter on a sack by Whitney Mercilus. Later in the game, the heart and soul of Philadelphia’s defense, DeMeco Ryans, was lost for the year with a torn Achilles tendon.

In Foles’ stead, former Jets’ gun slinger Mark Sanchez is expected to step in. The “Sanchize,” as he was known during his time in New York, has never played with an offense as talented and dynamic as Philadelphia’s. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone if Philadelphia’s unit doesn’t miss a beat without their starter. With LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Jeremy Maclin, Zach Ertz, etc. all performing capably, Sanchez should be able to merely manage the game and put up points.

The concern comes on defense, where the loss of Ryans exposes what was already a thin crop at middle linebacker. Veteran Casey Matthews is expected to return to the starting lineup, a spot he occupied for 4 games while Mychal Kendricks nursed a calf injury. Matthews isn’t very fast and tackles like your sister. So, his ascension to the starting job is a serious cause for concern. Rookie Marcus Smith II and fellow youngster Emmanuel Acho are also expected to see their playing time increase with Ryans on the mend. All of this only serves to add more pressure to the Eagles’ solid offensive line and Kendricks, who will now be the team’s point-man against the run.

This Monday, Philadelphia will return home for the first time in a month to take on the Carolina Panthers. On paper, this is a matchup of two banged up playoff teams from a year ago. But, the fact of the matter is that this Panthers team is merely Brandon Boykin, Bradley Fletchera shell of its former self. Cam Newton, the #1 pick in 2011, has been more inconsistent than the American electorate. The offseason losses both on the offensive line and at wide receiver are clearly handicapping the Panthers’ QB. While rookie WR Kelvin Benjamin has been stellar, the rest of the offense has stagnated, with Newton having perhaps the worst game of his season last week against New Orleans.

At 3-5, the Panthers’ defense has also been a major disappointment. After emerging as one of the best young defensive units in the game, Carolina has seen their shimmering star go dim. One area that the Eagles should be able to particularly expose is the Panthers’ run defense, which ranks 26th in the NFL. Expect a steady dose of McCoy, Sproles, and Chris Polk against Luke Kuechly’s club.

All in all, Philadelphia comes into this game as a solid favorite, and for good reason. The Eagles have shown an ability to stay in every game they’ve played. On the other hand, the Panthers have only looked worse and worse over the last few weeks. Still, Newton’s talent alone could give Philadelphia, who hasn’t played many scrambling QB this season, fits. I think it will be a tight affair, with a lake Cody Parkey field goal perhaps serving as the difference in an Eagles’ win.

Line: Philadelphia -6
Pick: Philadelphia, 29-26

Now, on to week ten!

Last Week: 6-7 (Best pick: Philadelphia, 26-17)
2014 Season ATS: 62-52

Cleveland Browns (5-3) AT Cincinnati Bengals (5-2-1) – Bengals -6.5

Prediction: Bengals, 28-14. Cincinnati’s defense has taken a lot of flack over the last few weeks. But, they’ll get an opportunity to put some separation between themselves and their cross-state rivals with a win on Thursday night. The Browns haven’t won on the road against a division rival in years, a fact that will likely remain true after this weekend despite what has been a banner year for Cleveland, so far.

Kansas City Chiefs (5-3) AT Buffalo Bills (5-3) – Chiefs -2.5

Prediction: Bills, 24-21. I have to give credit where it’s due. Andy Reid has turned Kansas City from an AFC doormat to a threat any given Sunday. The problem is, this is a classic Andy Reid trap game. A week from Sunday, the Chiefs play host to the defending champion Seattle Seahawks. Meanwhile, Buffalo is fresh off a bye week and are expected to get RB Fred Jackson back from injury. The winner of this game is in great position to get a wild card spot. The loser will have to climb their way out of a crowded sea of AFC also-rans.

Miami Dolphins (5-3) AT Detroit Lions (6-2) – Lions -3

jerermyhillPrediction: Detroit, 27-24. Two of last year’s most disappointing teams, the Dolphins and Lions were both in line for the playoffs going into the final month of 2013 before falling apart down the stretch. They’ll have another chance to reach January football as the two take each other on in the Motor City. Detroit is coming off of a bye. Meanwhile, Miami squashed San Diego 37-0 at home last week. I’m not in love with either team’s chances of representing their conference in Arizona. But, I’ll take the Lions at home in what should be a solid affair.

Dallas Cowboys (6-3) AT Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8) – Cowboys -7

Prediction: Cowboys, 31-17. London is calling and the NFL is answering. America’s Team is heading to the UK for a matchup against the team no one in America cares about. Tony Romo is expected to play despite being one bad hit away from a life alert button. I guess Dallas is feeling the desperation after back-to-back home losses, the latter of which illustrated just how pathetic a QB Brandon Weeden is. Despite that fact, this game has bounce back written all over it for Dallas.

San Francisco 49ers (4-4) AT New Orleans Saints (4-4) – Saints -5.5

Prediction: Saints, 21-17. Classic Jim Harbaugh led drive at the end of the 49ers’ loss to St. Louis last week. Much like the Super Bowl following 2012, San Francisco had 1st and goal inside the 5-yard line and was unable to punch it in. Also like that loss to Baltimore, Frank Gore didn’t touch the ball once inside the red-zone. Now, the veteran RB is questionable for this week’s game in The Big Easy. We’ll see whether or not New Orleans’ home dominance (4-0) continues against one of the best defenses in football. Something tells me that it will, and San Francisco will find themselves in an even deeper hole than anyone could have imagined.

Tennessee Titans (2-6) AT Baltimore Ravens (5-4) – Ravens -10

Prediction: Ravens, 30-21. Tennessee may have a bye week to prepare for a slumping Ravens team. But, they also have rookie QB Zach Mettenberger at QB, who is more proficient with a cell phone camera than he is with a football. This is a classic bounce back affair for Baltimore, who can’t afford another loss while battling in an uber-competitive AFC North.

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3) AT New York Jets (1-8) – Steelers -6

bigbenPrediction: Steelers, 38-16. The Jets might be the worst team in the league. Not necessarily based on talent. But, more on drive and the will to win. This is a team that has given up and has no real reason to play for their coach anymore. Michael Vick’s career will be over soon, and he’s just playing out the paycheck at this point. On the other hand, the Steelers have hit their stride and with the performance of their offense the last few weeks, have a real reason to believe that playoff football could return to Heinz Field for the first time in nearly 5-years.

Atlanta Falcons (2-6) AT Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-6) – Falcons -3

Prediction: Buccaneers, 20-17. In the stinker of the week, these two NFC South doormats duel in a game that only the sadistic would choose to watch. It’s a matchup of the stoppable force (Atlanta is 0-4 on the road) and the movable object (Tampa is 0-4 at home). One of these teams needs to win. Might as well make it the home team, as Josh McCown returns to the starting QB spot for the Bucs.

Denver Broncos (6-2) AT Oakland Raiders (0-8) – Broncos -12

Prediction: Broncos, 41-20. Nothing like the NFL serving up a nice tomato can matchup for Peyton Manning and the Broncos, who are fresh off their thwacking at the hands of New England. The Raiders gave Seattle quite a fight last week. I wouldn’t expect the same amount of success against a pissed off Denver team. Manning could throw for 5 touchdowns in this one as the Broncos bounce back and keep the soon to be 0-16 Raiders out of the win column.

St. Louis Rams (3-5) AT Arizona Cardinals (7-1) – Cardinals -7.5

Prediction: Cardinals, 20-17. If there’s one thing St. Louis has proven to me this season, it’s that they never go down without a fight. I learned from my mistake last week, picking San Francisco to obliterate the Rams at home. Jeff Fisher has his team coming to play every week and it’s likely what will save his job when all is said and done. On the other side, Arizona believes that it’s going to be the first team to play a Super Bowl at home when Glendale hosts the 49th annual event this February. I don’t know if I’m willing to go that far. But, the odds on favorite for home field advantage can take a big step with a win on Sunday.

New York Giants (3-5) AT Seattle Seahawks (5-3) – Seahawks -9.5

Prediction: Seahawks, 31-21. The Giants’ defense looks worse and worse every week, and it’s not going to get better when they have to travel to Seattle on a short week. It’s going to be a sad ending to Tom Coughlin’s career, as the Giants are probably on their way to no better than a 7-9 season. Meanwhile, Seattle struggled at times last week against Oakland. They’ll need to start picking up their play if they hope to survive a brutal stretch in Nov/Dec that includes Arizona (2x), San Francisco (2x), Philadelphia, and Kansas City.

Chicago Bears (3-5) AT Green Bay Packers (5-3) – Packers -7.5

Prediction: Bears, 31-27. My upset pick of the week sees Chicago keeping their division hopes alive with a big road win in Lambeau. The Bears haven’t looked very mighty this season. But, a bye week and desperation might be just enough to halt Aaron Rodgers and the Pack, who are 3-0 at home this season. Look for Matt Forte to be a huge part of the offense against Green Bay’s 32nd ranked rush defense.

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