NFL Week 10: 5 best games on Sunday
The NFL Week 10 slate is one of the best we have seen all season, led by the Super Bowl XLIX rematch of the Patriots and Seahawks.
5. Minnesota Vikings at Washington Redskins
This is going to be a huge game both now, and when the NFC playoff picture comes into focus later this year. Minnesota looked like it was going to cruise into the postseason as the NFC North champion. but things are changing.
The Vikings are now sitting at 5-3 with three consecutive losses, the latest coming at home against the Detroit Lions in overtime. With the defection of offensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and the increasing issues of a banged-up offensive line, Minnesota has to wonder whether it can get off the proverbial mat.
Meanwhile, the Redskins are coming off a week of rest after earning a tie against the Cincinnati Bengals in London. At 4-3-1, the division championship is still open to the Redskins, but it won’t be easy. The Dallas Cowboys are 7-1 and have already beaten Washington at FedEx Field. In other words, it might be wise to focus on a wild card spot.
While this won’t be playing into a head-to-head tiebreaker (unless the Vikings tie, which is highly unlikely), it could have plenty to do with conference record and common opponent somewhere down the line.
4. Denver Broncos at New Orleans Saints
This is going to be a perfect contrast between two styles. Denver always wants to churn out a game by playing terrific defense and forcing turnovers, while offensively pounding ahead with the run game. While New Orleans is more balanced than past seasons on the offense, the defense remains a bend-but-try-not-to-break unit. It’s been ugly, but the Saints have found a way to get to 4-4.
The Broncos might be 6-3, but this is a borderline must-win for them. Denver has a bye after this game but the final six games on the schedule are brutal, with four coming against the Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots. With a win in New Orleans, the Broncos would be able to reach the postseason without much trouble. A loss, and things could get rough in a hurry.
For the Saints, they have gotten themselves back into the mix in terms of NFC Wild Card picture. New Orleans is in the gaggle for the fifth and sixth seeds alongside the New York Giants, Detroit Lions, Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals. To reach the postseason, the Saints have to take care of business at home, and a banged-up Broncos team gives them that chance.
3. Kansas City Chiefs at Carolina Panthers
If the Panthers have any designs of winning the NFC South, or even reaching the playoffs as a wild card team, every game is crucial. This weekend, Carolina has a tough game at Bank of America Stadium against the Chiefs, who come into the contest with a four-game winning streak.
Kansas City was absurdly banged up last week but found a way to beat the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars. The Chiefs were without Alex Smith, Justin Houston, Spencer Ware and Jeremy Maclin, all of whom could be back for Carolian (Smith has been announced as the starting quarterback). Kansas City is not a dynamo offensively, but it does enough to win while relying on a destructive defense that ranks first in takeaways.
The Panthers should be able to attack Kansas City on the ground. The Chiefs rank 30th in the NFL for yards allowed per rushing attempt, something both Cam Newton and Jonathan Stewart should be excited about. However, Newton is prone to both taking sacks and being intercepted, so the key for both sides will be to grab a lead and dictate the game.
While the game is more important for the Panthers, the Chiefs are chasing down the second seed in the AFC playoffs.
2. Dallas Cowboys at Pittsburgh Steelers
Anybody from a casual to diehard fan will be tuning into this game. First of all, the history is amazing. These two storied franchises have won a combined 11 Super Bowls between them, and faced off three times (1975, 1978 and 1995). Of course, we live in the here and now, and both Dallas and Pittsburgh are incredibly compelling.
For the Cowboys, you have two rookie stars leading the show in quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott. Both are putting up numbers that astound, especially Elliott, who is leading the NFL by a comfortable margin in rushing yards. If both can keep up the pace, the Cowboys are the odds-on favorite to reach the Super Bowl.
Pittsburgh has not enjoyed the same kind of breathless season. The Steelers started out 4-1 and looked to be in cruise control, but things have soured. Mike Tomlin’s team has lost three consecutive games, falling to 4-4 and second place of the AFC North behind the Baltimore Ravens. With a loss here, the Steelers are in real danger of missing the playoffs.
If Ben Roethlisberger can’t play better than he did in Baltimore, it could be lights out for Pittsburgh. There will be open receivers against Dallas, but can he hit them?
1. Seattle Seahawks at New England Patriots
This has to be the best game of the week, if not the season. Seattle is not quite the juggernaut it is made out to be because of a leaky offensive line, but the Seahawks remain very dangerous. Just ask the Buffalo Bills, who gave up 28 first-half point to them on Monday night.
This is also the first time we get to see New England’s defense without Jamie Collins. Collins, who was predictably dragged through the social media mud after being dealt to the Cleveland Browns, is a fine player and the best one on the defense. Without him, teams will have more success both throwing to tight ends and running between the tackles.
Yet, the Patriots are 7-1 and considered the best team in football for a reason. New England has Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Martellus Bennett and Danny Amendola, just to name a few weapons. Combine that with the coaching styles of Bill Belichick, and New England has a real shot to not lose another game the rest of the year.
If the Seahawks win, they will announce another Super Bowl campaign. If not, they fall to 5-3-1 and would be hard-pressed to reach a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs.