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Week 10 predictions

Vikings (2-6) at Packers (8-0)

8:30 Monday, ESPN

Packers by 13, 51

One thing we know about this game is Vikings rookie and former FSU QB Christian Ponder, above, isn't going to be fazed by facing the Packers, against whom he made his first pro start last month. That is hardly a suggestion he'll outplay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, however. Here's something to watch: Green Bay's defense has been leaky lately. And with games against the Lions and Giants coming up, there's not too much time to get it fixed. That has to be a bit troublesome for coach Mike McCarthy.

Packers 34, Vikings 23

Broncos (3-5) at Chiefs (4-4)

1 p.m.

Chiefs by 3, 41½

When the then-winless Dolphins blew out the Chiefs by four touchdowns last week, it was, inarguably, the most shocking result in recent weeks. Then you have the Broncos, led by mystifying QB Tim Tebow, coming off a 38-point outpouring against the Raiders. In other words, this is one of the week's toughest picks. A key point: Broncos RB Willis McGahee has been reborn the past few games. But behind DE Tamba Hali, above, Kansas City has allowed just one 100-yard rushing performance.

Chiefs 23, Broncos 17

Redskins (3-5) at Dolphins (1-7)

1 p.m.

Dolphins by 4, 37½

Interesting subplot here: Dolphins QB Matt Moore, above, was named the AFC offensive player of the week for his three-touchdown performance against the Chiefs a week ago. That helped the Dolphins earn their first victory, thereby reducing their odds of having the draft's first overall pick and selecting Stanford QB Andrew Luck. See where are we going with this? Moore has an opportunity to give himself a little more long-term job security today in this winnable game against the declining Redskins.

Dolphins 26, Redskins 23

Cardinals (2-6) at Eagles (3-5)

1 p.m.

Eagles by 14, 46½

Not much difference in the records. But Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb (toe) is hobbled, and this is a long trip to the East Coast for Arizona. Plus, the Eagles are desperate after letting a Monday matchup against the Bears slip away. The Eagles' LeSean McCoy, above, leads the NFL with 825 rushing yards, likely creating chances for QB Michael Vick to make downfield throws against the Cards' 29th-ranked pass defense. However, beware of Arizona rookie DB Patrick Peterson and his three punt returns for TDs.

Eagles 30, Cardinals 17

Ravens (6-2) at Seahawks (2-6)

4 p.m.

Ravens by 6½, 41

The Seahawks have scored 3, 12 and 13 points in their past three games, respectively. Surely, they're due for a breakout game, right? Maybe next week against the Rams. The Ravens are focused, particularly on defense. We can't find any reason to believe Seattle is going to suddenly have an offensive rejuvenation against the likes of LB Ray Lewis, above, DE Haloti Ngata and LB Terrell Suggs. For what it's worth, Baltimore has won five in a row against NFC opponents. This one will make it six.

Ravens 29, Seahawks 13

Giants (6-2) at 49ers (7-1)

4:15 p.m.

49ers by 3½, 42½

Six consecutive wins and counting for the Niners. And they've got another important streak going, too: Frank Gore, above, has five consecutive 100-yard rushing performances. No player in the franchise's glorious history has ever done that. That's key because the Giants are good enough in their front seven to put significant stress on 49ers QB Alex Smith. If the 49ers have to win through the air, it's going to be tough, at best. The Giants have won three in a row, including last week's last-minute rally against the Patriots.

49ers 23, Giants 21

Patriots (5-3) at Jets (5-3)

8:20 p.m., Ch. 8

Jets by 2, 47½

The Patriots are coming off consecutive losses (25-17 to the Steelers and 24-20 to the Giants) for just the third time in nine seasons, an astounding sign of their decade of dominance. But it's fair to ask whether there are starting to be legitimate signs of weakness in this team. Their defense, giving up 23 points per game, has been dreadful lately. Meanwhile, the offense is averaging just 19 points over its past three games. Defensive-minded Jets coach Rex Ryan, above, has to be smelling blood in the water.

Jets 24, Patriots 21

Lions (6-2) at Bears (5-3)

4:15 p.m.

Bears by 2½, 45

The Bears are, to some extent, flying under the radar. But what's going on in Chicago is worth touting. They have won three consecutive games, including last week's at the Eagles, since losing at Detroit on Oct. 10. QB Jay Cutler, above, is playing solidly, but what continues to drive the Bears is the play of RB Matt Forte. He and Saints RB Darren Sproles might be the two most indefensible players in football right now. Forte's a blast to watch, but more important, he gives the Bears a chance to win every Sunday.

Bears 24, Lions 21

Saints (6-3) at Falcons (5-3)

1 p.m.

Pick 'em, 50

As poorly as the Bucs played against the Saints last week, they had a chance to win the game if they had a better finish. That's largely because the Saints defense has its issues, and it's particularly bad against the run. They are giving up a league-high 5.3 yards per carry, and you can't help but believe the Falcons' Michael Turner, above, is wearing a big smile because of that. If the Falcons can consistently move the chains, they will keep Saints QB Drew Brees on the sideline and control the pace.

Falcons 24, Saints 23

Titans (4-4) at Panthers (2-6)

1 p.m.

Panthers by 3½, 46½

It's hard to have much conviction about the Titans nowadays given their inconsistent ways. They started 3-1 and are 1-3 since, looking like a certain team in our area that wears pewter and red and similarly can't get it together. At this point, there's no sense basing this pick on invisible Tennessee RB Chris Johnson, above, but there's enough collective talent on this roster to pull this one out. A big question here is if Tennessee can prevent big plays by QB Cam Newton and WR Steve Smith.

Titans 24, Panthers 20

Steelers (6-3) at Bengals (6-2)

1 p.m.

Steelers by 3½, 41½

A big, big game for the Bengals. Right now, they're the team with the nice little record but few believers. That would change with a win here. But the Steelers know they are 0-2 in the AFC North, including last week's loss to the Ravens. Given how the Bengals and Ravens are playing, 0-3 would be big trouble. Expect a focused effort from Pittsburgh, and look for defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau to throw the kitchen sink at rookie QB Andy Dalton, above. A defensive struggle is brewing here.

Steelers 20, Bengals 17

Rams (1-7) at Browns (3-5)

1 p.m.

Browns by 2½, 37

Patriots QB Tom Brady is averaging 337 passing yards per game this season, most in the NFL. A little context: That's more than the average total yards of either offense featured in this game. Just thought we should set the tone for the kind of barn burner this is going to be. If there's a difference here, it would have to be the Browns defense, No. 1 against the pass (though dreadful against the run). Browns QB Colt McCoy, above, should make a play or two to win it.

Browns 21, Rams 17

Jaguars (2-6) at Colts (0-9)

1 p.m.

Jaguars by 3, 37½

Look, we realize QB Peyton Manning is a pretty big loss for the Colts. But jeepers! Where's the pride? A better question: Where's the defense? Jacksonville RB Maurice Jones-Drew, above, could score a bunch of fantasy points against the NFL's 31st-ranked run defense. In the past four games, Jones-Drew has faced a quartet of ferocious defenses (Bengals, Steelers, Ravens and Texans). He still managed to make some noise in each game. He could have his way today.

Jaguars 24, Colts 20

Bills (5-3) at Cowboys (4-4)

1 p.m.

Cowboys by 5½, 47½

Are the Bills back to being the Bills? After a 3-0 start, they looked eerily similar to the sub-.500 teams of past seasons in last week's 27-11 home loss to the Jets. Whatever the case, the Bills are still in a three-way tie for first in the AFC East. But this doesn't appear to be a good matchup. They're on the road, and they're facing a team with a potent passing game. Buffalo has given up big individual receiving performances this season. So it could be a big game for Dallas TE Jason Witten, above.

Cowboys 27, Bills 21

Week 10 predictions 11/12/11 [Last modified: Saturday, November 12, 2011 7:50pm]

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