The second half of the NFL season kicked off with a bang last week. We got to see how some of the big moves made at the trade deadline worked out for the teams involved, what sort of work teams will have to do down the stretch in order to make the playoffs, and the increased competition for end-season awards. With DeShaun Watson done for the season, will the Offensive Rookie of the Year be Kareem Hunt or Leonard Fournette? Will Carson Wentz be the first Eagle to win MVP since Norm Van Brocklin in 1960? Can the Chiefs return to their winning ways after losing 3 of their last 4 games?
With all of these questions in mind and plenty of other things to watch out for, here are the best games to check out during Week 10 of the NFL season.
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals, Thursday, November 9 @ 8:25 EST
The Seahawks have been a weird team to watch this yet. There are times where they look like world-beaters, and there are others in which they look like they aren’t living up to the talent that they possess. Their defense has been stellar as usual, giving up over 17 points just twice this season, but their offense has relied solely on quarterback Russell Wilson. This isn’t necessarily a terrible thing considering that Wilson is an excellent player, but he’s constantly feeling massive amounts of pressure because of his offensive line’s inability to protect him. If he were not such a great mobile quarterback, Seattle wouldn’t be able to do anything on offense. The fact that they have not had a 100-yard rushing performance doesn’t help either, as the running backs have looked terrible since they lost Chris Carson for the season. In fact, Wilson led the team in rushing in 3 of their 8 games. In essence, he’s under way too much pressure and it’s something Seattle needs to remedy. Arizona seems to be in an opposite situation offensively. Running back Adrian Peterson at 32-years-old is coming off a performance in which he carried the ball 37 times, the most of his career and the highest volume of carries by any running back over the age of 30 in NFL history. It is vital for him to have success, as quarterback Drew Stanton is not an ideal replacement for the injured Carson Palmer. Basically, they need to rely heavily on Peterson in order to make up for Stanton’s deficiencies, which will be a very tough thing to do against the Seahawks. I still think Russell Wilson will be under immense amounts of pressure, but he’s more capable of leading his team to victory than Peterson. That’s not a slight at Peterson, though, as quarterbacks are much more capable of doing so than running backs are.
Predicted winner: Seahawks
New Orleans Saints at Buffalo Bills, Sunday, November 12 @ 1:00 pm EST
I cannot get over this Saints team. At 6-2, they’re tied for the second best record in the NFL and are showing no signs of slowing down. As I see it, are two big reasons as to why they’re seeing so much more success than they have in recent years: a decent defense and a running attack that actually works. Their defensive unit is tied for 9th in the league in points per game with 19.4 after being 31st in the category last year. Offensively, quarterback Drew Brees finally has a run game that can back him up. During the 2015-16, New Orleans was 24th in rushing yards per game. The following year, they finished 16th in the category. This year, they’re in 7th. That is a huge improvement and a necessary one considering Brees is slowing down in his old age. Alvin Kamara has looked great in recent weeks and works very well with fellow running back Mark Ingram. The Saints are more well-rounded now than they have been in a long time and they’re looking great. The Bills have also been a nice surprise this year, sitting at 5-3 in a strangely good AFC East. Granted, they’re pretty boring statistically, with running back LeSean McCoy being their only real exciting thing on offense, but they’ve been very efficient. Through 8 games, they’ve only turned the ball over 5 times, having a +11 give/take ratio, placing them at the top spot in the league. The trade in which they acquired wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin from the Panthers should make them a lot more exciting, as it gave quarterback Tyrod Taylor a great new target in the passing game. Rookie cornerback Tre’Davious White looks like a bonafide superstar at the position and will only be getting better. However, the entire team looked awful in their recent loss to the Jets, which gives me a cause for concern. In terms of who will win this game, I’m gonna go with the Saints. They’ve won 6 games in a row and look unstoppable, something which I don’t think the Bills will be able to match.
Predicted winner: Saints
New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, November 12 @ 4:25 pm EST
This game will be a comedy of errors. Combined, both teams are a laughable 1-16 and have zero chance of doing anything this season. What’s gonna make this matchup worth watching is the two quarterback situations. Now that they can’t compete this season, the Giants are trying to look toward a future without quarterback Eli Manning, so much so that he might not even start this game. Manning has not missed a game since becoming the team’s starter halfway through his rookie season in 2004, so this is a pretty huge deal. Backup Geno Smith could be taking his place, and, as a Jets fan, I know how not-pretty that’ll be. The 9ers, on the other hand, might have found their quarterback of the future following a trade with the Patriots in which they acquired Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo looked very solid during his short stint as the starter in New England during Tom Brady’s 4-game suspension last season and the 49ers hope he will be able to bring them some semblance of success, because they have literally nothing else going for them. This is a really hard game to pick because both teams are just so bad, but I’ll give it to the 49ers because of the possibility of Geno Smith starting for the G-men. If nothing else, you can just watch this game to laugh at the players.
Predicted winner: 49ers
Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, November 12 @ 4:25 pm EST
Both of these teams are fighting for an NFC wild card spot, so this match up will heavily influence which team can actually make the playoffs. At 5-3, the Cowboys are going to finish 2nd in the NFC East unless some sort of epic collapse by the ridiculously good 8-1 Philadelphia Eagles takes place. Again, so much of their success relies on running back Ezekiel Elliott’s availability which seems to change every 10 seconds. Zeke has been outstanding this season and is a key focal point of any defense’s game plan, taking some of the pressure off quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott has also played very well, but he would have a much harder time if Elliott weren’t playing. There’s no word on Elliott’s status for this week just yet, so we’ll have to assume he’s playing. This being the case, Atlanta’s offense needs to get somewhere near where it was last year. After leading the league in points scored last season by a mile, they’ve fallen to 17th in points per game this season. Last year’s MVP quarterback Matt Ryan has largely been a disappointment the team is suffering because of it. What’s more, they’ve lost to every team they’ve played with season with a record of .500 or better, so they obviously struggle against the competition they would have to beat in the postseason if they made it there, and the Cowboys are one such team. I’m gonna give the win to Dallas.
Predicted winner: Cowboys
New England Patriots at Denver Broncos, Sunday, November 12 @ 8:30 pm EST
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is right up there with Carson Wentz in the battle for NFL MVP despite being over 15 years older than the Eagles quarterback. New England leads the lead in passing yards per game with 302.1 and Brady still cannot be stopped by opposing defenses. In terms of how he might prevent him from keeping that success up in this game, there are two key things to consider in this game for Brady. The first is that he might be without wide receiver Chris Hogan, who has brought a great amount of versatility to New England’s offense and emerged as one of Brady’s top targets. The second is that Denver ranks 4th in the league in passing yards allowed with 192.4. There’s a huge discrepancy between that number and the one I mentioned before for New England so it’ll be really exciting to see how that matchup works out. New England has one massive flaw, though: their passing defense is the absolute worst in the league, giving up 295.5 yards per game through the air. Thankfully for them, Denver quarterback Brock Osweiler is pretty bad as well. However, if there’s any game where Osweiler can show he can actually play in the NFL, it’ll be this one. So basically, it’s Brady up against a good defense and Owseiler up against a bad one. In that matchup, I’ll take Tom Brady any day.
Predicted winner: Patriots