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*Team listed in BOLD is my pick to win the game
Cincinnati (vs. Houston) – The Bengals won their 8th straight game to open the 2015 season last Thursday night and they do not play again until Monday night against the Houston Texans which means they will have 10 days off between games. Houston on the other hand is coming off a bye, but even having that much time to prepare shouldn’t make a difference against one of the hottest teams in the NFL. The Texans went into their bye week defeating the Titans in an ugly 20-6 win. In that game, they had the privilege of playing against the Titans’ backup QB, Zach Mettenberger. Houston’s pass rush came alive in that game, sacking Mettenberger 7 times. You shouldn’t expect to see those types of numbers against a Bengals’ offensive line that has allowed only 11 sacks on the season. The Bengals’ offensive line should do a good enough job against J.J. Watt, giving Dalton enough time in the pocket to find A.J. Green or Tyler Eifert throughout this game. Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard will continue to split the carries, but they should combine for roughly 30 carries and the two should rush for approximately 120-130 yards combined. For Houston, they may try to start the game running the ball against Cincinnati because the Bengals are susceptible against the run, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. If they can control the clock and target DeAndre Hopkins 15 times in this game, there is a chance that Houston could keep this game within a touchdown by the 4th quarter. Unfortunately for them, I believe the Bengals will end up pulling away in the 2nd half and they will end up winning this game decisively. The Bengals are a strong play in Survivor Pools this week.
Next 3 Games:
Houston: vs. NY Jets, vs. New Orleans, @ Buffalo
Cincinnati: @ Arizona, vs. St. Louis, @ Cleveland
Carolina (@ Tennessee) – Mike Mularkey won his head coaching debut for the Titans and broke the Titans’ six-game losing streak in a thrilling game against the Saints in Week 9. The game ended in overtime with Marcus Mariota directing an 80 yard drive that ended with him finding Anthony Fasano in the end zone for the 34-28 win in New Orleans. Mariota was extremely efficient in that game, completing 28 of his 39 passes for 371 yards and 4 touchdowns. But remember, this came at the expense of the Saints’ defense, not Carolina’s. The Panthers are coming off an exciting win of their own, and it was against a much better opponent than the Saints. Carolina’s defense stymied the Packers’ offense throughout the 1st half, holding Aaron Rodgers to just 73 passing yards. The defense sacked Rodgers 5 times in the game, but the defense got complacent and stopped being as aggressive as they had been while holding a 23 point lead. That allowed the Packers to get back into the game. The Panthers’ defense will put pressure on Mariota throughout the game and could force the rookie into a couple of turnovers. On offense, the Panthers will rely on Cam Newton’s arm and legs. Cam will look Greg Olsen’s way more than any receiver in this game, but I could see Cam trying to feed the ball to Devin Funchess more than usual as well. Jonathan Stewart will be handed the pigskin 15-18 times against a Titans team that allows 111 rushing yards per game, but I would be shocked if he broke 100 rushing yards. This game will be won on the defensive side of the ball and the defense should set the Panthers up with good field position a few times in this game. If the Panthers are still available in your Survivor Pool, this will be a good week to take Carolina as they try to make it 9 straight wins.
Next 3 Games:
Carolina: vs. Washington, @ Dallas, @ New Orleans
Tennessee: @ Jacksonville, vs. Oakland, vs. Jacksonville
New England (@ NY Giants) – The Patriots have lost to the Giants 3 straight times dating back to 2008, and 2 of those losses were in the Super Bowl. Don’t think for a second that Tom Brady and Bill Belichick don’t have that in the back of their minds and are seeking revenge. They are going to attack the soft Giants’ defense and will look to score early and often. The Giants’ pass defense, which ranks last in the NFL, will not have an answer for Rob Gronkowski and will have trouble covering Julian Edelman. The Patriots received some bad news on Monday and announced that Dion Lewis is out for the year with a torn ACL. LeGarrette Blount will continue to get the bulk of the carries, but James White could see some extra playing time on passing downs. The Patriots’ defense will also attack Eli Manning in this game, but this should be a good matchup between the Patriots’ front 7 and the Giants’ offensive line. If the Patriots can get to Eli by sacking him or just getting some good hits on him throughout the game, they should be able to rattle him and get him off his game. As long as the Patriots’ defense is able to do that, they should easily handle the Giants this weekend at MetLife Stadium. If you’ve held off this long from picking the Patriots, this will be a very good week to take New England in your pool.
Next 3 Games:
New England: vs. Buffalo, @ Denver, vs. Philadelphia
NY Giants: BYE, @ Washington, vs. NY Jets
Green Bay (vs. Detroit) – The Packers have lost two games in a row and have not played very well on either side of the ball. Granted, they have faced two of the best defenses in the league (Broncos and Panthers) on the road over those last 2 weeks, so they should be very relieved that they return to Lambeau Field and face off against a weak Detroit defense in Week 10. The Lions are coming off a bye, but I don’t think that additional time to plan will be enough for a team that has allowed an average of 37 points per game over their last 4 games. The Lions are allowing an average of 133.8 rushing yards per game, so this is a juicy matchup for James Starks, who I believe will be given the bulk of the carries over Eddie Lacy, whether he plays or not this week. Although the Lions struggle at stopping the run, the Packers will continue to go to their strength, which is their passing game with Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has had two very rough games these last 2 weeks, but he showed a lot of fight against the Panthers in the 4th quarter and nearly brought the Packers back from a 23 point deficit. I don’t think the Lions will be able to hold the Packers’ offense to many 3 and outs in this game. Green Bay will control the time of possession and many of their drives should either end in touchdowns or field goals. This game will also be on the shoulders of the Green Bay defense that will need to get stops and keep Calvin Johnson from getting the best of the secondary too often in this game. Green Bay is going to be focused on snapping their two-game losing streak and Rodgers is going to be mentally focused on getting the win and turning the page from his game-ending turnover against the Panthers. I don’t think the Lions have a very good chance at stealing a win on the road this weekend.
Next 3 Games:
Detroit: vs. Oakland, vs. Philadelphia, vs. Green Bay
Green Bay: @ Minnesota, vs. Chicago, @ Detroit
St. Louis (vs. Chicago) – The Chicago Bears snapped a two-game losing streak against the San Diego Chargers and their depleted defense on Monday night. Jay Cutler led the Bears on a 10 play, 80 yard drive that ended with Zach Miller making an incredible one-handed touchdown catch that put the Bears up for good by 3 points with 3:19 left in the game. Cutler still made some mistakes, one of which resulted in a pick-6. Alshon Jeffery exploded for 151 yards on 10 catches, but this also came against a Chargers’ defense that is decimated with injuries. The Rams’ defense, which has held opponents to just 220 passing yards per game should be able to keep Jeffery in check this week and could hold him to 5 or 6 catches this week. The key to this game will be the Rams’ front 7 against the Bears’ offensive line. I think the Bears’ O-Line will have a lot of trouble protecting Cutler this week, and if Cutler is under pressure, you can almost guarantee he will make a few mistakes which could cost the Bears this game. As for the Rams offensively, it’s no secret at this point that they will lean on Todd Gurley throughout this game. Gurley is in for a favorable matchup this week against a Bears defense that allows 4.6 yards per carry. Last week, Gurley was held to under 128 rushing yards for the first time in 5 games which means Gurley is in for a bounce back game this week. The Rams’ defense will be too much for the Bears this week and should lead them to another win.
Next 3 Games:
Chicago: vs. Denver, @ Green Bay, vs. San Francisco
St. Louis: @ Baltimore, @ Cincinnati, vs. Arizona
Denver (vs. Kansas City) – Denver is looking to bounce back after suffering their first loss of the season last week against the Indianapolis Colts. The Broncos fell behind early but climbed back from a 17-0 deficit, only to see it slip away on Adam Vinatieri’s 55 yard field goal. Denver still had a chance to tie the game or take the lead when they got the ball back with 6:13 left in the game, but Manning threw a crucial interception on his first throw of that drive to Demaryius Thomas. The Denver defense, which had been so great, couldn’t keep the Colts off the field as the Colts controlled the ball for 38 minutes, including the final 6 minutes of the game. The Broncos were also hit with eight penalties, something that they will have cut down on against the Chiefs this week. I expect the Broncos’ defense to turn things around and play much better this week. They are going dominate the Chiefs’ offensive line and wreak havoc on Alex Smith. Charcandrick West has done a nice job filling in as the starting running back for the injured Jamaal Charles, but he’s also faced the Steelers and Lions in those two starts. He’s going up against a different animal in the Broncos’ run defense that ranks 2nd in the NFL and only allows 3.5 ypc. The Broncos have won 7 straight against Kansas City, including a 31-24 victory in Week 2 this year. The last 7 contests have been decided by a minimum of 7 points with the average margin of victory being 12.4 points. The Broncos will be without Aqib Talib this week due to a suspension, but even without his services this week, the Broncos should bounce back and lock in their 8th win of the season and give themselves a stronger hold on their division.
Next 3 Games:
Kansas City: @ San Diego, vs. Buffalo, @ Oakland
Denver: @ Chicago, vs. New England, @ San Diego
Pittsburgh (vs. Cleveland) – Antonio Brown set a Steelers record for receiving yards in a single game against the Raider last week, going off for 284 yards on 17 receptions. But with that good news came some more bad news for the Steelers who lost Ben Roethlisberger to a foot injury in the fourth quarter. Although Roethlisberger says he will not rule himself out of this game against the Browns, I’m not hopeful that he will suit up and I would imagine that the Steelers will sit him out this game, giving him two weeks off with their bye next week. If Ben can’t go, Landry Jones will get the start and if he does start, they will limit his throws and will go to a ground and pound attack with DeAngelo Williams. Williams is coming off another good game in which he shredded a solid Raiders’ run defense for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns on 27 carries in his first start since Week 2. Cleveland just allowed 152 rushing yards to the Bengals, which is par for the course at this point as they allow an average of 147 rushing yards per game. As long as the Steelers can control the clock and maintain time of possession by running the ball 30 times, they should win this game despite Jones starting at QB. But because Jones is expected to start, it makes me bump the Steelers down, making them a bit of a risky play. If Roethlisberger does in fact surprise us and starts this week, you can go ahead and bump them up a tier. If you need to pick a team in this particular tier because you’ve used the teams ranked ahead of them already, this would be a good week to take the Steelers because they won’t face an easier team in their next 4 games.
Next 3 Games:
Cleveland: BYE, vs. Baltimore, vs. Cincinnati
Pittsburgh: BYE, @ Seattle, vs. Indianapolis
NY Jets (vs. Buffalo) – The Thursday Night game is one that the NFL Network is happy to have which features Rex Ryan making his return to MetLife Stadium for the first time since being fired by the Jets at the end of the season last year. The Bills evened their record at 4-4 and ended their two-game losing skid last week against the Dolphins. They took advantage of a depleted Dolphins’ defense that was without Cameron Wake. The Bills exposed the Dolphins’ run defense and ran the ball 36 times and gained 266 yards on the ground. LeSean McCoy injured his shoulder in the game, but he’s expected to be ready to go even on short rest. McCoy and Karlos Williams will have to earn every yard this week against the Jets’ defense that allows just 3.8 yards per carry and only 80.6 rushing yards per game, tops in the NFL. Sammy Watkins returned to the lineup, catching all 8 passes that came his way, including one catch for 63 yards and another touchdown reception for 44 yards. Since Watkins is the only threat in the Bills’ passing game, Darrell Revis will cover him throughout this game. For the Jets offensively, Chris Ivory will get the majority of the carries, but he has struggled over the last three games, totaling 84 rushing yards over those three contests and has only averaged a meager 1.5 yards per carry. If he can’t get things going in this game, you could possibly see Zac Stacy steal a couple of carries. But the difference in this game will be Ryan Fitzpatrick. As long as he is efficient and continues to protect the football (0 turnovers in the last three games), the Jets should put up enough points on the board to beat the Bills. But I’m certain Rex has had this game circled on his calendar and he has been game planning for this one for a while now, which to me makes it a risky play this week.
Next 3 Games:
Buffalo: @ New England, @ Kansas City, vs. Houston
NY Jets: @ Houston, vs. Miami, @ NY Giants
Philadelphia (vs. Miami) – The Dolphins have followed up their two game winning streak under new head coach Dan Campbell with two consecutive losses against the Patriots and Bills. In those two games, the Dolphins’ defense, which lost Cameron Wake for the season, has allowed 36 and 33 points, respectively. Sammy Watkins burned the Dolphins secondary on two occasions in Week 9, one of which was for a 44-yard touchdown. Coincidentally, Sam Bradford and Jordan Matthews connected on a 41 yard touchdown pass in overtime against the Cowboys on Sunday Night. Dolphins corner back Brent Grimes is going to have to make sure that he doesn’t get burned for a second straight week and will need blanket Matthews all game in order to shutdown the Eagles passing game. DeMarco Murray continued to do a good job running the football and was handed the ball 18 times in Week 9 and averaged 4.6 yards per carry. Over the last 4 games, Murray has averaged 85 rushing yards and 4.45 yards per carry and has even scored a touch down in 3 of those 4 games. Murray will have a good chance at breaking 100 yards for just the second time this season and could find the end zone against a Dolphins team that has allowed a total of 361 rushing yards and 5.8 yards per carry over the last two games. Although the Dolphins have not played well the last two weeks, I think Philadelphia is a risky play this week. Miami’s offense should be able to move the chains in this game as Lamar Miller will be used heavily in both the running and passing game and Jarvis Landry should see 8-10 targets and he should reel in at least 6 catches. Miami could keep this game within one score and if Bradford makes any mistakes, which isn’t out of the question, Miami could steal this game. Although I don’t think that will happen, Philadelphia isn’t a team I’d want to rely on for my Survivor Pool this week.
Next 3 Games:
Miami: vs. Dallas, @ NY Jets, vs. Baltimore
Philadelphia: vs. Tampa Bay, @ Detroit, @ New England
Jacksonville (@ Baltimore) – The Ravens headed into their Bye week with a pretty impressive win on the road in San Diego in Week 8. This week they host the 2-6 Jaguars who have yet to win a game on the road this season. In fact, their last road win came on December 1, 2013. But I believe they snap that streak this week. Jacksonville’s defense allows just 3.2 rushing yards per carry, tops in the NFL. They should be able to contain Justin Forsett this week, forcing the Ravens, who have lost Steve Smith for the season, to beat them in the air. Blake Bortles continues to show flashes of how good he can be, but he can’t seem to avoid making mistakes. Those mistakes have turned into 7 interceptions over the last 4 games. If Bortles can cut down on his mistakes Jacksonville has a shot at breaking their losing streak on the road. But due to the fact that Bortles can’t be completely trusted, the Jaguars are not a team I’d rely on this week.
Next 3 Games:
Jacksonville: vs. Tennessee, vs. San Diego, @ Tennessee
Baltimore: vs. St. Louis, @ Cleveland, @ Miami
Washington (vs. New Orleans) – The Saints are probably the most frustrating team in the league, especially when it comes to Survivor Pools. They lose games that they are expected to win and win games that they are expected to lose. This game against Washington is a game I would expect them to win, even on the road. But I can’t pick them this week just for the fact that since 2012 the Saints are 12-18 on the road, which includes their 1-3 road record this season. Washington is also 3-1 at home this year, which plays in their favor. But Washington can’t be trusted either. They can’t run the ball and Kirk Cousins is usually good for at least one pick per game. In fact, he has thrown multiple interceptions 4 times this season. Drew Brees has been fantastic over his last two games completing 67 of his 89 passes (75%) for a total of 892 yards, but these games were also played at home. Brees is a different player on the road (62% completion percentage) compared to at home (74%). I think New Orleans is the better team, but their road woes and Brees being a different player away from home makes this a game that you should avoid.
Next 3 Games:
New Orleans: BYE, @ Houston, vs. Carolina
Washington: @ Carolina, vs. NY Giants, vs. Dallas
Tampa Bay (vs. Dallas) – Dallas’ losing streak reached 6 games after their overtime loss to the Eagles on Sunday night. What makes it so frustrating for the Cowboys organization and its fans is the fact that the Cowboys could have won 5 of those 6 games. Now they find themselves with a 2-6 record, but luckily for them, they are still within striking distance of the Giants if they can just figure out how to string together a couple wins before Tony Romo returns. The Bucs sit at 3-5 and are coming off a loss to the Giants and beat themselves by turning the ball over. I expect Doug Martin, Charles Sims and Mike Evans to all hold onto the football this week and make up for last week’s turnovers. The Cowboys will most likely be without Sean Lee this week after he suffered a concussion against the Eagles last week. That is a major blow to their defense. The Cowboys allow 4.5 rushing yards per carry, and being without the services of Sean Lee means Doug Martin should have a bounce back game after averaging just 2.8 yards per carry the Giants last week. Mike Evans has accounted for 67% of his yards on the season over the last 3 games and he should add onto those numbers this week against a Cowboys team that allows their opponents to complete 69% of their passes, 3rd worst in the NFL. The Bucs should win this game, but they have struggled at home on the season with a 1-3 record. So much for home field advantage. Also, keep in mind that the Cowboys have had the opportunity to win 5 of their last 6 games, so you have to figure that they’ll steal one of these games at some point. I don’t think that it will happen this week, but because there is that possibility, I have to list this game as one that I would avoid.
Next 3 Games:
Dallas: @ Miami, vs. Carolina, @ Washington
Tampa Bay: @ Philadelphia, @ Indianapolis, vs. Atlanta
Oakland (vs. Minnesota) – The Raiders suffered a tough loss against the Steelers in Pittsburgh in Week 9, and Amari Cooper had a large hand in this loss with 2 drops in the game, including one crucial drop in the 4th quarter. Nevertheless, Cooper and Michael Crabtree have been reliable receivers for Derek Carr so far this season. Minnesota’s defensive line is in for a tough matchup against a solid Raiders’ offensive line that has allowed just 10 sacks on the season. The big question for the Raiders this week is the availability of Latavius Murray who suffered a concussion last week and his status as of right is unknown. If he can’t go, Roy Helu may get the nod to start against the Vikings. As for the Vikings, Adrian Peterson will hope to repeat what DeAngelo Williams did against the Raiders and that is just tear apart their run defense. I just think this is going to be a tough matchup for AP and I believe the Raiders will do a nice job not allowing AP to rip off multiple long runs. If Oakland can contain AP without allowing Stefon Diggs to burn their secondary, Oakland has a very good chance at coming away with a home win and staying in the playoff hunt, possibly even overtaking the 6th seed once again.
Next 3 Games:
Minnesota: vs. Green Bay, @ Atlanta, vs. Seattle
Oakland: @ Detroit, @ Tennessee, vs. Kansas City
Seattle (vs. Arizona) – The Cardinals and Seahawks are both coming off byes in a very critical NFC West matchup. If Arizona pulls out the road victory, they’ll have a commanding 3 game lead over the Seahawks with 7 games remaining. If the Seahawks pull out the win, they will be 1 game out for the division lead and we will have ourselves quite the battle heading down the stretch and could possibly end up with the division title on the line in the final week of the season when these two close out the regular season against one another. Seattle started the season losing their first 2 games, then followed that up with 2 straight wins followed by 2 losses and have now won 2 straight games. So if they follow this trend, they should be in line for a loss, right? Well, I don’t buy into those types of trends. I do think this will be a defensive battle and a low scoring game. Seattle has won 4 out of the last 5 games against Arizona, and the games haven’t been particularly close with the average score in Seattle’s 4 wins being 37-8. But Arizona did come into Seattle in 2013 and hand Seattle their only home loss of the season that year. Seattle isn’t a shoe-in this game and I think that you should hold off on Seattle until next week when they host the 49ers.
Next 3 Games:
Arizona: vs. Cincinnati, @ San Francisco, @ St. Louis
Seattle: vs. San Francisco, vs. Pittsburgh, @ Minnesota
Week 10 Survivor Pool Rankings:
1. Cincinnati Bengals
2. Carolina Panthers
3. New England Patriots
4. Green Bay Packers
5. St. Louis Rams
6. Denver Broncos
7. Pittsburgh Steelers
8. NY Jets
9. Philadelphia Eagles
10. Jacksonville Jaguars
11. Washington Redskins
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
13. Oakland Raiders
14. Seattle Seahawks