Every team has at least passed the half way mark in their season. Some team’s playoff hopes are already gone. While the weather gets colder, the games will get hotter. Let’s first look back at what we learned in Week 9.
1. Kansas City stays undefeated thanks to forcing turnovers. The Chiefs offense, 25th overall in the NFL, hasn’t been great (317.3 yards/game). Their defense, ranked 8th overall in the NFL, has been much better (326.9 yards/game). But the biggest reason for their 9-0 record has been the Chiefs ability to force turnovers. They have forced 23 turnovers, including two that led to touchdowns this past Sunday, and have a +15 Turnover margin (Both 1st in the NFL). The Chiefs have their bye this week and will play the Broncos 2 out of the next 3 weeks. This will surely be great NFL theatre and will give the Chiefs a chance to show the NFL that they belong in the conversation of Super Bowl contender.
2. The NFC North is Detroit’s to lose. The Bears have lost Jay Cutler for a few more weeks due to injury. Now Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers will miss nearly a month due to injury. The Detroit Lions have a golden opportunity to gain some ground during this time. The Lions play both the Bears and Packers before November comes to an end. Matthew Stafford trails only Drew Brees in passing yards per game in the NFC (327 yards/game). Megatron continues to be a freak of nature. The Lions seek a rare home playoff game and this next month will go a long way to accomplish that.
3. Tom Brady is still Tom Brady. If there was any doubt, this past Sunday erased that. Against the Steelers, Tom Brady passed for 432 yards and 4 touchdowns. Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola have both gotten healthy in the past few weeks and have a lot to do with the Patriots improving. Much like the Chiefs, the Patriots have been successful because of their ability to force turnovers (19 forced turnovers and +9 turnover margin). Still, the Jets and Dolphins refuse to go away and will play a role in how the Patriots finish this season. Fortunately for the Patriots, they’ve already played the Jets both times and only have to face the Dolphins one more time. These next two weeks are very important (at Carolina, Denver) for the Patriots trying to get home field advantage for the postseason.
4. The Panthers quietly are 5-3. After starting 1-3, the Panthers have won 4 in a row. Unfortunately for the Panthers, the second half of their season is much tougher (including games at San Francisco, vs. New England, at Miami, vs. New York Jets, and 2 games vs. the Saints). The Panthers might have the best defense in the NFC. They are second only to the Seahawks in yards allowed per game (296 yards/game) and also have forced 19 turnovers with a +8 turnover margin (both second to Dallas). They are not as good offensively but the Panther’s run game is nothing to ignore (130 rushing yards/game). If the season ended today, the Panthers would be in the playoffs.
5. The NFC East is still up for grabs. All four NFC East teams won this past Sunday and no team is out of it. The Giants are definitely a long shot. The Redskins, Cowboys, and Eagles have all won 3 out of their last 5. The Cowboys at 5-4 lead the division by a slim margin. Historically, the Cowboys don’t play well late in the year under Tony Romo so this truly could be anyone’s division. It’s up to Romo to silence his critics.
Week 10 Meaningless Power Rankings
1. Kansas City Chiefs
2. Indianapolis Colts
3. Denver Broncos
4. Seattle Seahawks
5. San Francisco 49ers
6. New England Patriots
7. Detroit Lions
8. New Orleans Saints
9. Cincinnati Bengals
10. Carolina Panthers
5 Games to Watch in Week 10
Last Week’s Record (2-3) Season Record (24-20)
Sunday, November 10th: Detroit Lions (5-3) at Chicago Bears (5-3)
As mentioned before, the Bears are without Jay Cutler while the Lions continue to win. Both defenses have given up the exact amount of yards per game (381) while the Lions (416 yards/game) have been more lethal on offense than the Bears (377 yards/game). However, the Bears run game (120.1 yards/game) has been more successful than the Lions (98.1 yards/game). Although the Bears are at home, it’s unlikely that Josh McCown will be unlikely to outscore the Lions offense.
My pick: Detroit Lions
Sunday, November 10th: Philadelphia Eagles (4-5) at Green Bay Packers (5-3)
This looked like a mismatch up until Monday Night when Aaron Rodgers went down with a collarbone injury. Both offenses are lethal. Green Bay’s offense is number 1 (423 yards/game) in the NFC but will certainly not be as lethal without Rodgers. It doesn’t seem to matter who is at quarterback for the Eagles, who are 3rd in the NFC offensively (413.2 yards/game), as Nick Foles threw for 7 touchdowns this past Sunday. It may not matter who is at quarterback for the Packers as the Eagles have given up more yards a game than any team in the NFL (419.3). One of the oddest tales of the Eagles’ season is they have all 4 of their wins on the road. Without Rodgers, the Packers are a different team. The Eagles, with a win, can make things very interesting in the NFC East.
My pick: Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, November 10th: Carolina Panthers (5-3) at San Francisco 49ers (6-2)
This is a matchup between two of the hottest teams in the NFC. Both the Panthers and 49ers have been on a roll over the last month or so. The Panthers have won 4 in a row while the 49ers have won 5 in a row. Earlier in this article, we looked how good the Panthers were defensively. San Francisco isn’t bad either allowing 325.1 yards a game (6th in the NFL). They’ve also forced 16 turnovers with a +4 turnover margin. The key matchup of this game will be San Francisco’s running game (1st in the NFL with 153 yards/game) against the Panthers run defense (2nd in NFL with 79.1 yards/game). If the Panthers defense forces turnovers, they can definitely pull off the upset. I will go with the home team simply because the 49ers don’t lose at home often under Jim Harbaugh.
My pick: San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, November 10th: Denver Broncos (7-1) at San Diego Chargers (4-4)
Two teams in the same divisions fighting for different spots. The Chargers don’t have much a chance to win the division but are right in the thick of the wild card race. The Broncos are hoping to avoid a trap game before playing Kansas City 2 out of the next 3 weeks. We have covered Denver’s offense extensively in this column. Most people know how dangerous it is. The Chargers are no slouches gaining 403.8 yards a game (6th in the NFL). The key matchup in this game may be the Chargers passing offense (ranked 4th in the NFL with 300 passing yards/game) against the Broncos passing defense (ranked 30th in the NFL with 299.1 passing yards/game). If you look at passer rating, Peyton Manning (119.4) and Philip Rivers (106.5) have been the top two quarterbacks in the AFC. Even with the weak Broncos passing defense, I like Manning to outscore Rivers in what may be the highest scoring game of the week.
My pick: Denver Broncos
Sunday, November 10th: Dallas Cowboys (5-4) at New Orleans Saints (6-2)
Speaking of high scoring, this game will more than likely have it. New Orleans (27 points/game) and Dallas (28.6) are 6th and 3rd in the NFC respectively in scoring. Only Philadelphia has a worse defense in the NFL than Dallas (419.2 yards/game) yet the Cowboys are at the top of the NFC in forced turnovers (21). The Saints are undefeated at home this season (4-0) while the Cowboys have struggled on the road (1-3). The Superdome on a Sunday night in Primetime will be a tough place for the Cowboys to win. Drew Brees (leads NFC in passing with 334 yards/game) is having another great year and will continue to play well against a poor Dallas defense.
My pick: New Orleans Saints
This weekend the NFL will honor Veterans as the United States observes Veterans Day. I am extremely proud of those that I know that have served this country, both family and friends. If you know anyone that has served in the military, be sure to thank them this weekend. Have a good weekend and God bless!
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