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Columns - Magazine

Survivor Guide: Week 10

by Mark Miller
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

*Team listed in BOLD is my pick to win the game


Strong Play:


Arizona (vs. San Francisco) – San Francisco’s offense actually looked pretty decent in the first half of their game against the Saints last Sunday. The 49ers were able to put up 20 points in the first half and Colin Kaepernick threw for 286 yards, but then things went south in the second half. The 49ers were done in by three fumbles in the second half, including two on their two final possessions of the game. Their run defense was putrid, but that’s par for the course at this point. The Saints ground game totaled 248 rushing yards on 42 runs (5.9 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. San Francisco gets the honor of having to try to stop Cardinals running back David Johnson this weekend. The last time these two teams played against each other, Johnson ran for 157 yards and averaged 5.8 yards per carry. Johnson also made his way into the end zone on two runs in that game. I don’t expect anything different in this game. Look for Arizona to run the ball around 35 times this week and they will be very successful at it. Drew Stanton started for the Cardinals in the previous matchup and he only completed 11 of his 28 passes. Carson Palmer will be getting the start this week and he should be able to pick apart the 49ers’ secondary. He may only have to throw it 30 times in this game, but you should expect him to complete roughly 22 of his passes and throw for about 250 yards. But it will be the Cardinals’ ground game behind David Johnson that propels the Cards to a win following their bye week. 


Next 3 Games:
San Francisco: vs. New England, @Miami, @Chicago
Arizona: @Minnesota, @Atlanta, vs. Washington


Baltimore (vs. Cleveland) – The Baltimore Ravens came to play on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers and they were intent on not allowing a less than 100% Ben Roethlisberger beat them. The Steelers offense was less than perfect, but the Ravens defense deserves credit for limiting the Steelers to just 277 yards of total offense in the game. The Ravens forced the Steelers to punt on nine of their first 10 possessions, and in that lone possession when they didn’t punt, the Ravens intercepted a pass. On the Steelers’ 10th possession, the Ravens blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown. The Ravens also held Le’Veon Bell to just 32 yards on 14 carries. The Ravens defense has been extremely impressive this season, allowing just 223 passing yards per game (7th in the NFL) and a miniscule 76.1 rushing yards per game (2nd in the NFL). I expect that Baltimore won’t have much trouble shutting down Cleveland’s offense on Thursday night. Cleveland decided to start Cody Kessler in Week 9 against Dallas and that didn’t fare well for them. Although Kessler didn’t turn the ball over, he was sacked four times and hit an additional seven. Baltimore has only recorded 18 sacks on the season, but I expect that they will dominate the Browns’ offensive line and keep Kessler under pressure the entire game. I don’t normally rank teams that play on Thursday high in Survivor Pools because of the short rest, but I am making an exception this week. Many people will still have Baltimore available in their pool and they are a team that I believe is a strong play in Week 10.


Next 3 Games:
Cleveland: vs. Pittsburgh, vs. NY Giants, BYE
Baltimore: @Dallas, vs. Cincinnati, vs. Miami


Decent Play:


Atlanta (@ Philadelphia) – Atlanta’s offense continued to roll last Thursday night against the Buccaneers totaling 461 yards, 344 of which came in the air from Matt Ryan. The Falcons had a perfectly balanced attacked against Tampa Bay, throwing and running the ball 34 times each. Devonta Freeman led the ground attack, rushing 17 times for 77 yards and caught 2 passes for 28 yards. But the biggest playmaker in the game was Julio Jones, which shouldn’t be surprising. He ended up with eight catches for 111 yards and one touchdown. The Eagles defense had helped lead Philly to a 3-0 record to start the season, but they’ve come back down to earth the last few weeks. I don’t think that the Eagles will be able to contain Jones or the Falcons’ high-octane offense this week as Atlanta should be able to score about 30 points this week in Philly. The Eagles offense has struggled since their bye week and Carson Wentz was forced to throw the ball 47 times last week against the Giants, but he only completed 57% of his passes. Because I expect that the Eagles will fall behind early, Wentz will be relied upon to dig the Eagles out of a hole, and I’m not confident he’ll be able to lead the Philly offense to make a comeback against a Falcons defense that seems to improve every single week. The Eagles have now lost four out of their last five games and are sitting at 4-4 on the season. This game against Atlanta is a very important game for their playoff hopes, especially since three out of their losses in the last four weeks came against divisional opponents Washington, Dallas and New York. I don’t think they’ll be able to keep pace with Atlanta’s offense and the Eagles could possibly be blown out this week in front of their home crowd.


Next 3 Games:
Atlanta: BYE, vs. Arizona, vs. Kansas City
Philadelphia: @Seattle, vs. Green Bay, @Cincinnati


Green Bay (@ Tennessee) – The Packers offense was less than impressive against the Colts last week and Aaron Rodgers certainly deserves criticism for his inaccuracy, which has been a consistent theme this year. I am still waiting for Green Bay’s offense to break out of this funk, and every week I convince myself it is going to happen. I don’t think I can convince myself anymore that it will happen this week against a Titans defense that has played surprisingly well this season. Their pass rush has quietly been very good this year and has recorded 23 sacks on the season. Granted, the Titans defense couldn’t get to Phillip Rivers last week and their run defense was carved apart for 208 rushing yards last week, but prior to their game against the Chargers they had only allowed a paltry 220 rushing yards in their previous four games. I think the Titans defense will regroup and limit the Packers rushing attack, which will be led by Ty Montgomery again this week and will hold him under 100 rushing yards. The Packers may struggle and be inconsistent again this week against Tennessee, but they will figure out a way to keep drives alive and should be able to put points on the board whether it’s field goals or touchdowns. The reason I’m high on Green Bay this week is because their run defense will keep DeMarco Murray in check. The Titans are also expected to be without Derrick Henry this week, and that will be a huge blow to the Titans offense. I believe Marcus Mariota will struggle against Green Bay and the Titans will be forced into many three-and-outs. The Packers aren’t a lock and the Titans may keep this game close, but I think the Packers figure out a way to secure a win on the road in Week 10.


Next 3 Games:
Green Bay: @Washington, @Philadelphia, vs. Houston
Tennessee: @Indianapolis, @Chicago, BYE


Houston (@ Jacksonville) – Jacksonville is certainly making a case for being the worst team in the NFL along with the 49ers and Browns after another bad loss to Kansas City in Week 9. The Chiefs offense was severely undermanned last week so Jacksonville’s defense was able to keep the game within striking distance. Once again, the Jaguars offense was pretty putrid and Blake Bortles was underwhelming, as usual, although the receivers didn’t help and dropped a number of passes in the game. Bortles has now completed just 59% of his passes on the season and has a total of 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on the year. Things don’t get easier this week for him as the Houston Texans, who are coming off a bye, are allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete just 59.5% of their passes (6th in the NFL) and allow just 191 passing yards per game (2nd in the NFL). One positive for Bortles; the Texans have just three interceptions on the season. Houston on the other hand hasn’t had the best quarterback play this season behind Brock Osweiler, but they will be leaning heavily on running back Lamar Miller to carry the offense this week. Jacksonville has allowed opposing teams to rush for 116.9 rushing yards per game so expect a heavy dosage of Miller who is expected to be close to 100% healthy this week. Obviously, Osweiler will need to throw the ball this game, and I expect that he will be able to find a way to get the ball into the hands of his two best receiving playmakers, DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. This may not be a very high scoring game, but I do like Houston to lock up their first road win of the season this week in Jacksonville.


Next 3 Games:
Houston: @Oakland, vs. San Diego, @Green Bay
Jacksonville: @Detroit, @Buffalo, vs. Denver


Risky Play:


Denver (@ New Orleans) – Don’t look now, but after starting the season 0-3 the Saints have improved to 4-4 and are just a half a game out of the playoffs. Drew Brees has played extremely well over the last four games, completing 73.6% of his passes (126-171), has averaged 355 yards and has thrown 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions.  They have played some tough defenses in Kansas City and Seattle over those four games and now face another extremely tough defense in the Denver Broncos in Week 10. The Broncos’ run defense has been mediocre, at best, over the last three weeks, having allowed an average of 160.3 rushing yards per game. Obviously, the Saints’ bread-and-butter is airing the ball out, but they have had some success running the football with the tandem of Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower. Granted, their overall numbers are inflated as the two combined for 245 yards on just 38 carries against the 49ers. Ingram and Hightower are going to have a much more difficult time finding running lanes this week against the Broncos. Devontae Booker on the other hand should have a lot of success running the football against a Saints’ run defense that allows 4.4 rushing yards per carry and have allowed 12 rushing touchdowns on the season, which ranks second to last in the NFL. The Broncos will first try to establish the run against New Orleans, then as long as they have success running the football, which I think they will, they will allow Trevor Siemian to start throwing the ball. The Broncos will be calling for safe passing plays with high percentage type throws that will end up as completions so that the clock keeps running. Denver wants to keep the ball out of Brees’ hands, especially with him playing at home. This isn’t the best game to take the Broncos, but with a bye next week and having to play Kansas City the following week, it might too much to ask for you to hold off on taking the Broncos until Week 13 against Jacksonville.


Next 3 Games:
Denver: BYE, vs. Kansas City, @Jacksonville
New Orleans: @Carolina, vs. Los Angeles, vs. Detroit


Dallas (@Pittsburgh) – The Cowboys continued to make their case for being the best team in the NFC after their dominating 35-10 win against the Browns in Week 9 which made it seven straight wins for the Cowboys.  Dallas is now 7-1 on the season and are sitting two games ahead of the Giants in the NFC East. But should there be any skepticism about the Cowboys because their wins have come against teams with a combined record of 18-37-2 this season? Or should their opponents not matter and are they as good as their record seems to show? I guess we’ll know this week because they will be tested against the Steelers on the road this Sunday. Pittsburgh is coming off an abysmal loss to the Baltimore Ravens and although Ben Roethlisberger finished the game with 264 yards, he only completed 51% of his passes. In fact, he was only 8-18 with 54 yards through threequarters. Granted, Roethlisberger is not healthy so it is amazing in itself that he was able to suit up. I guess the question is; will he be able to get closer to 100% healthy this week? Or does he need a few more weeks to get to that point? Pittsburgh’s pass defense has been playing much better over the last five games, allowing just 242.4 passing yards per game. The run defense has played very well for the most part, but has had their occasional let-down game as they did against Jay Ajayi and the Miami Dolphins four weeks ago. They will really be tested against Ezekiel Elliot this week as I expect Elliot to be given the football 25-30 times in this game. If Pittsburgh can’t slow Elliot down then they will have a tough time beating the Cowboys this week. Although Roethlisberger isn’t completely healthy, I still think coming into Pittsburgh is going to be a very tough game for Dallas to pull out the win, which is why I’m ranking the Cowboys as a risky play this week.


Next 3 Games:
Dallas: vs. Baltimore, vs. Washington, @Minnesota
Pittsburgh: @Cleveland, @Indianapolis, vs. NY Giants


NY Jets (vs. Los Angeles) – The Jets kick off their first of three straight home games this week against the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams are losers of four straight and have only scored a total of 20 points in their last two games. The offense has turned the ball over nine times in the last four games, eight of which have come from interceptions thrown by Case Keenum, and the defense has only one takeaway in that same time frame. You can’t win many games with a 9:1 ratio like that.  The Jets offense has struggled in the passing game and is averaging exactly 200 passing yards per game over the last four games. The Jets are excelling in the run game though and have averaged 155 rushing yards per game over the last three games. Both teams are going to focus on stopping the run, which the Jets will definitely be able to do and I don’t think Todd Gurley will be much of a factor this week. So it will come down to which team is able to make a couple big plays in the passing game. I’m not confident in either team, but I trust Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa to make plays on the offensive side of the ball for the Jets. Additionally, the Rams have to travel across the country to play a 1pm game in NJ. I don’t like this game, but I do like the Jets to take this one at home.


Next 3 Games:
Los Angeles: vs. Miami, @New Orleans, @New England
NY Jets: BYE, vs. New England, vs. Indianapolis


San Diego (vs. Miami) – The Chargers and Dolphins seasons have almost mirrored one another’s season with each team starting out 1-4 but rebounding and now fighting for a playoff spot. Both teams have excelled in the running game of late with Jay Ajayi rushing for 529 yards in the last three weeks for Miami while averaging 6.9 yards per carry. Melvin Gordon hasn’t put up eye-popping numbers like Ajayi, but he’s been great in his own right, averaging 117 rushing yards per game over the last four and has also been a major contributor in the passing game in the last three games, catching 14 passes for 162 yards and one touchdown. The Chargers’ run defense will be the difference-maker in this game because they only allowed the Falcons to rush for more than 93 yards against them. The Chargers are only allowing opposing runners to rush for 3.8 yards per carry on the season and I expect them to slow down Ajayi and hold him to less than 100 yards in this game. That means that Ryan Tannehill will be expected to lead the Dolphins in this game and he’s not exactly a quarterback I have much faith in. Phillip Rivers can be a wild card and can have a tendency to throw multiple picks in a game, but with a game on the line, I’m taking him over Tannehill to lead my team to a win.


Next 3 Games:
Miami: @Los Angeles, vs. San Francisco, @Baltimore
San Diego: BYE, @Houston, vs. Tampa Bay




NY Giants (vs. Cincinnati) – The surging New York Giants will host the Cincinnati Bengals in what should be a very fun, and possibly high-scoring game on Monday night. Cincinnati is coming off bye and will be looking to turn their up-and-down season around and begin a winning streak this week against the Giants. The key for both teams is getting the ball into the hands of their most dynamic play makers which happen to both be their wide receivers, Odell Beckham and A.J. Green. Eli Manning played a very good game against the Eagles and finished the day with 257 yards and four touchdowns. His only blemishes were two interceptions, including a big one late in the 4th quarter, but the defense bailed him out and held the Eagles out of the end zone to preserve the win. The Giants defense has been very good of late and after having just three takeaways in the first six games, New York now has six takeaways in the last two. Andy Dalton has done a nice job protecting the football this year and has only three interceptions on the season, but if the Giants defense can get enough pressure on Dalton in this game, they may be able to force him into a turnover or two this week. If New York’s defense is successful in doing so, they have a legitimate shot at winning this game, although I think this game will remain close and may come down to the final possession which is a big reason why I recommend avoiding both teams this week.


Next 3 Games:
Cincinnati: vs. Buffalo, @Baltimore, vs. Philadelphia
NY Giants: vs. Chicago, @Cleveland, @Pittsburgh


Carolina (vs. Kansas City) – Carolina’s season looked lost following their loss to the Saints in Week 6, but they have regrouped and started to turn their season around following their bye week. The biggest reason for their current two-game winning streak is that their defense has played much better and are allowing just 339.5 total yards per game in the last two weeks. Kansas City continues to win despite playing with a backup quarterback (Nick Foles) and a backup running back (Charcandrick West). Granted, it helps that they faced both the Colts and Jaguars, but they still pulled out the wins. Spencer Ware is expected to return to KC’s starting lineup this week, but he will have a tough time against the Panthers’ run defense which has allowed a total of 83 rushing yards over the last two weeks. Alex Smith is also expected to return this week as well, but he’ll be under pressure all game against a Panthers defense that has created three combined turnovers in Weeks 9 and 10. The Panthers are also going to struggle offensively, so this should be a defensive battle right from the opening kickoff. This game will come down to whichever defense makes big stops and creates turnovers in critical moments of the game, so I’m recommending that you choose any other team rated higher than them this week. 


Next 3 Games:
Kansas City: vs. Tampa Bay, @Denver, @Atlanta
Carolina: vs. New Orleans, @Oakland, @Seattle


Tampa Bay (vs. Chicago) – The Chicago Bears had a very surprising win against the Minnesota Vikings two weeks ago and went into their bye week on a very high note.  Jay Cutler returned to the field and played very well, completing 20 of his 31 passes for 252 yards and one touchdown. More surprising was the fact that Cutler didn’t turn the ball over and led the Bears to the 20-10 victory. My question is: Can Cutler do that again or will he revert back to his old ways and possibly implode on the road against the Buccaneers? Tampa Bay played Thursday night against the Falcons and Matt Ryan and Julio Jones humiliated their defense. On a positive note, Jameis Winston played well, throwing three touchdowns, two of which went to Mike Evans, and he didn’t throw a single interception. Doug Martin didn’t play in Week 9 and he is questionable to return this weekend against Chicago. If Martin is able to suit up, I would be inclined to move Tampa Bay up a spot or two in these rankings, but due to the uncertainty of his status and the fact that Tampa Bay’s defense has allowed 73 points in the last two games, I’d recommend avoiding the Bucs at home this week against the Bears.


Next 3 Games:
Chicago: @NY Giants, vs. Tennessee, vs. San Francisco
Tampa Bay: @Kansas City. Vs. Seattle, @San Diego


New England (vs. Seattle) – The Sunday night game of the week is one of the most anticipated matchups of the season with the Seahawks traveling to New England to take on the Patriots. It’s a short week for Seattle after hosting Buffalo on Monday night, which ended up being a very exciting game. Following a blocked punt on Seattle’s opening drive, the Seahawks offense came alive and scored four touchdowns on their next five possessions in the first half. The second half was a different story as they generated just 55 yards of offense, but their offense only had three possessions prior to their fourth and final possession which ended with a kneel down. The Seahawks defense came up huge in the fourth quarter and stopped Buffalo from scoring a game-winning touchdown with under a minute to go in the game, but they didn’t play exceptionally well prior to that and allowed Tyrod Taylor to throw for 289 yards and let up 117 rushing yards to LeSean McCoy and Michael Gillislee. But that’s what happens when the Buffalo has control of the football for 40 minutes of the game; the defense is bound to get worn out. New England should be able to control the football for a large portion of the game and should be able to move the ball against Seattle’s defense. Although Seattle is just 1-2-1 on the road this season, they still have a tendency to find a way to squeeze out wins which is why I would recommend avoiding this game at all costs this week. 


Next 3 Games:
Seattle: vs. Philadelphia, @Tampa Bay, vs. Carolina
New England: @San Francisco, @NY Jets, vs. Los Angeles


Bold Prediction:


Washington (vs. Minnesota) – Minnesota’s anemic offense has scored just 36 points over their last three games and their defense no longer looks dominant like it did when they started out 5-0. During their three-game losing streak, the Vikings have allowed a total of 356 rushing yards (119 yards per game) compared to a total of 389 in their first five games (77.8 rushing yards per game). Washington is coming off a bye and hoping to rebound from their Week 7 loss to the Lions and Week 8 tie with the Bengals. Kirk Cousins was dominant in these last two games despite not being able to lead his team to wins. It will definitely be a challenge for Cousins to move the ball through the air against Minnesota, but I believe that if Washington can establish the run early on with Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson, it should open things up for Cousins to get the ball over to Jordan Reed, DeSean Jackson and even Vernon Davis. With the Vikings in a free fall right now, this could be a good time to take Washington who has to face Green Bay at home next week followed by road games against Dallas and Arizona in the following two weeks.


Next 3 Games:
Minnesota: vs. Arizona, @Detroit, vs. Dallas
Washington: vs. Green Bay, @Dallas, @Arizona


Week 10 Survivor Pool Rankings:


1.    Arizona Cardinals
2.    Baltimore Ravens
3.    Atlanta Falcons
4.    Green Bay Packers
5.    Houston Texans
6.    Denver Broncos
7.    Dallas Cowboys
8.    New York Jets
9.    San Diego Chargers
10.    Washington Redskins
11.    New York Giants
12.    Carolina Panthers
13.    Tampa Bay Buccaneers
14.    New England Patriots

Mark Miller
Mark Miller writes the Survivor Picks column for Rotoworld. He can be found on Twitter.