NFL Week 10 Preview
Ravens @ Dolphins
Lamar Jackson is from Pompano Beach, Florida and Marquise Brown is from Hollywood, Florida… both of those cities are less than an hour away from Hard Rock Stadium. There is a different feeling when you play in your house. People you grew up with are watching you in the stands; there is an added motivation. I believe Lamar Jackson will shred this defense to millions and millions of pieces. The Dolphins’ run defense ranks middle of the pack, but they will have to devote all eleven-man to stopping Jackson from getting loose with his legs. What makes this challenge even more difficult this season is Marquise Brown’s development as a receiver. Brown has had either 100 yards receiving or a touchdown in 6/8 games this season; his top-end speed prevents defenses from bringing an extra safety down to stop the run. If the Dolphins defense overloads the box, Jackson will be able to buy enough time to find Brown running free downfield. On top of Brown, Rashod Bateman has been added to the mix. Bateman has only played two games in his rookie season, but he has shown glimpses of potential. While Byron Jones and Xavien Howard both have elite coverage skills, teams have been able to throw on this defense. If Lamar Jackson can connect with Brown, Bateman, or Mark Andrews downfield, Jacoby Brissett, Myles Gaskin, and Jaylen Waddle will have to rally the two-win Dolphins to an upset. Against this high-powered Baltimore offense that has been killing teams both in the run and pass game, I expect Jackson and Brown to light this defense up and get a commanding win on Thursday Night.
What to Watch For: Can Rashod Bateman make a name for himself in his first Thursday Night Game?
Player of the Game: Marquise Brown WR Ravens
Final Score: Ravens 34 Dolphins 20
Saints @ Titans
From a matchup standpoint, this game favors the Saints. With that being said, the Saints don't have their star running back, Alvin Kamara or their veteran left tackle, Terron Armstead. Trevor Simeon was able to find success against the Falcons defense last week, which runs the same scheme as Tennessee's defense. However, the Falcons defense doesn't have Kevin Byard, Jeffery Simmons, or Bud Dupree. The Titans' defense is legit, and they are finally getting back their starting linebacker, Jayon Brown. While the Titans did upset the Rams on Sunday Night Football last week, they can't continue to run the ball as frequently as they were with Derrick Henry in the backfield. Don't get me wrong, Adrian Peterson is a super-human, but even Superman has his kryptonite. Peterson has been out of football for a while now and it will take a few games for him to get his legs underneath him. With Julio Jones being placed on injured reserved, someone outside of AJ Brown must step up on Tennessee's offense. Without Jones and Henry in the offense, Mike Vrabel will need to find a player who can handle a heavy workload outside of Brown. The Saints are in a similar boat; without Kamara in the game, Taysom Hill, Mark Ingram, or Marquez Calloway will need to step up. This game will be all about the "unsung hero", I'm not sure who that hero will be, but I like the Titans to win this game. The Titans' defensive performance in 2021 has been the best I've seen a Titans defense play since I started watching football. I expect their defense to carry them to a win for a second straight week.
What to Watch For: Who will be the unsung hero in this game?
Player of the Game: Kevin Byard FS Titans
Final Score: Saints 24 Titans 26
Bills @ Jets
Last week the Bills got sucker-punched, they took a hit when they were least expecting it, but now we get to see the true identity of this team. Is it fight or flight? The city of Buffalo is filled with grit and hardworking people; people that I know wouldn't back down from a fight. Against Mike White and a Jets team that got ran off the television, I like Buffalo to bounce back in week 10. While offensively the Bills are known for utilizing Josh Allen's strong arm and throwing the ball downfield, this game will be a little different. The Jets have one of the worst run defenses in the entire National Football League and I expect Zack Moss to get the heaviest workload of his career. I expect Brian Daboll to utilize Moss' downhill running strength to Buffalo's advantage. The Bills are going to run the ball down Robert Saleh's throat, then use play-action to free up Stefon Diggs downfield. While both Quinnen and Quincy Williams have been having career years for New York, it won't be enough to stop an angry Bills team. As for the Jets' offense, Mike White has something. Even though this may be his final game starting in a Jets uniform, because of Zach Wilson's return, White has made the most out of his opportunity. He is playing with nothing to lose and that means he will take his shots. Whether it be Elijah Moore or Corey Davis catching the ball, I like the Jets to put up a fight in this game. Coming off of an extended rest, Robert Saleh won't ever back down from a fight. I love the foundation the Jets have put in place, but the Bills have more than just a foundation, they have a full building. The Bills should win this game in a high-scoring effort.
What to Watch For: Can the Bills run the football?
Player of the Game: Zack Moss RB Bills
Final Score: Bills 31 Jets 23
Lions @ Steelers
If there was ever a time for the Lions to get their first win, this would be it. Coming off of a bye week, the Lions are facing a Ben Roethlisberger-less Steelers team. With Mason Rudolph set to start and the Steelers coming off of a short week, this is Jared Goff's time to shine. They just added Josh Reynolds to the depth chart and D'Andre Swift is a top ten running back in the NFL. It's hard not to root for Motor City Dan Campbell (MCDC), but the Steelers' defense will surely terrorize the Lions' offense. TJ Watt is arguably the best defensive player in the NFL right now and Minkah Fitzpatrick has been taking heads off of quarterbacks this year. As for the Steelers' offense, expect a healthy diet for Najee Harris come Sunday. Harris is a candidate for offensive rookie of the year and has been exposing defenses all season long. His ability to make something out of nothing behind the abysmal Pittsburgh offensive line has been nothing short of spectacular. No matter who is at quarterback for the Steelers on Sunday, I expect Harris to be fed properly. Without both Chase Claypool and JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Steelers offense will be very one dimensional. As much as I want to pick the Lions to win this game, Najee Harris and TJ Watt are just too damn good. If it was nearly any other team, I'd be picking against the Steelers, but the Lions first win will unfortunately have to come another week.
What to Watch For: Will Najee Harris carry the Steelers' offense to victory?
Player of the Game: TJ Watt EDGE Steelers
Final Score: Lions 20 Steelers 24
Jaguars @ Colts
Both of these teams are coming off of statement wins, but no team had the bigger upset than the Jaguars last week. The Jaguars' defense was able to shut down the Bills' offense. Jags' pass rusher, Josh Allen, won AFC defensive player of the week and was able to wreak havoc against Bills' left tackle, Dion Dawkins. The Colts' offensive line only gave up one sack against the Jets last week; it will be a lot harder for Josh Allen to repeat his success against Indianapolis. Frank Reich will be calling lots of run-pass options against a weak Jaguars secondary. Carson Wentz will be getting the ball out so fast that Josh Allen won't be able to get to him. Jonathan Taylor has been the best running back in the NFL thus far (excluding Derrick Henry); with the extra three days' rest, Taylor will be back and better against the Jaguars. The Colts are a team who will be making a playoff push, right now it is all about stacking wins, and they should be able to take down a young Jaguars team. Deforest Buckner and Kwity Paye are going to make Trevor Lawrence uncomfortable while Darius Leonard and Kenny Moore will be able to shut down the Jaguars' RPO-focused offense. This will be a tough outing for the rookie quarterback; the Colts should win this game by double digits.
What to Watch For: Josh Allen against Eric Fisher
Player of the Game: Carson Wentz QB Colts
Final Score: Jaguars 17 Colts 27
Buccaneers @ Football Team (WFT)
Having been in the league for so long, Tom Brady knows how to win coming off of bye weeks. Last season, the Buccaneers beat the Vikings coming off of their bye-week, and now they have the Washington Football Team (WFT). With that being said, the WFT is also coming off of a bye-week. Experience matters when dealing with the bye-week; it is the first time in a season where the players can relax and take their minds off of football. For certain teams, this is a mental reset; for others, it is a mental setback. Teams can often come out flat following a bye week; just look at the Bills and Raiders last week. The WFT is a much less experienced team that could struggle to get things rolling against a veteran Buccaneers team. This season, the WFT's defense has been extremely underwhelming; they have the worst pass defense in the league. With Chase Young, Montez Sweat, Kameron Curl, Jonathan Allen, Da'Ron Payne, and the latest addition of Jarrad Davis, this team was supposed to be a contender. Ever since Ryan Fitzpatrick got hurt in week one, they have been missing their spark. Even though Antonio Brown is out and Chris Godwin is a game-time decision, I expect Bruce Arians' offense to light things up. This could be one of those vintage Tom Brady four touchdown performances. The Buccaneers defense is going to roll coverage towards Terry McLaurin to stop the WFT's number one receiver. In order for the WFT to win this game, they will need to provide some trickery. There aren't enough rabbits in Ron Rivera's hat for the WFT to win this ball game.
What to Watch For: Can Jaelon Darden be an impact player?
Player of the Game: Mike Evans WR Buccaneers
Final Score: Buccaneers 31 WFT 17
Browns @ Patriots
This may very well be the game of the day. Mac Jones has led the Patriots to three-straight wins and New Englands' offense is averaging 35 points per game since week seven which is second in the NFL. The Browns on the other hand are coming off of their biggest win of the season; an crushing upset against the Bengals. Without Damien Harris in the lineup, I expect the Patriots' offense to comeout very pass-heavy. Jones will be airing the football out to Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor, but with Grant Delpit and Denzel Ward roaming in the secondary, I could see Jones having some problems. Not only do I expect the Browns secondary to have success against the rookie quarterback; Myles Garrett will give Mac Jones a true welcome to the league. Garrett is on pace to win defensive player of the year and has been devasting quarterbacks all season long. Like the grim-reaper, Garrett is going to be in Jones' nightmares for the rest of the season after this game. Offensively for the Browns, the goal should be finding a way to mitigate Matthew Judon. Like Garrett, Judon has been terrorizing quarterbacks this season. Without Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, the Browns offense will run through D'Ernest Johnson. The Patriots have an extremely aggressive defense, but they can't be overly aggressive when facing Johnson. Having the ability to cut on a dime, Johnson does a great job finding cutback lanes. I expect the Browns to be able to run all over the Patriots' defense. This should be a great game, but I like Cleveland to pull off the upset.
What to Watch For: Can Mac Jones get the ball out fast against the Browns' defense?
Player of the Game: Myles Garrett DE Browns
Final Score: Browns 26 Patriots 20
Falcons @ Cowboys
The Falcons have quietly had one of the best offenses this year. Call it the Arthur Smith effect, but the Cowboys should be on upset alert. Cordarrelle Patterson has proven to be unstoppable while Matt Ryan has put up top-ten numbers this season. The Cowboys' defense has to hone in on containing Patterson. This is a Dan Quinn revenge game and I expect the Cowboys defense to pull out all sorts of different blitz-packages in this one. While at times it can be very bad, the Cowboys' defense isn't afraid to take a risk. Trevon Diggs isn't afraid to jump routes and Micah Parsons goes all-out on his rushes. It is rare to say that a defense is truly fun to watch, but I can't take my eyes off of Dallas' defense when they are on the field. Last week was a wake-up call for the Cowboys; I can't see them being upset two weeks in a row. I expect the Cowboys' offense to be very run-heavy this week. Kellen Moore will utilize both Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott against the Falcons' terrible run defense. This should be a higher-scoring game, but the Cowboys need a win here. If the Cowboys are going to make a run deep into January, they need to win the games they are favored in. I expect Dak Prescott to get things back on track against the four win Falcons team.
What to Watch For: Is Cordarrelle Patterson unstoppable?
Player of the Game: Tony Pollard RB Cowboys
Final Score: Falcons 26 Cowboys 31
Panthers @ Cardinals
Who would have ever thought in 2021 we would be seeing a PJ Walker vs Colt McCoy game with Cam Newton serving as the Panthers' backup. The unpredictability of the NFL is what makes it so fun to watch. This is a major opportunity for both Walker and McCoy; they can prove that they are capable of being starters elsewhere in the NFL. While all eyes will be on Walker, I am just excited to see Joe Brady's packages for Newton. The league is better when Newton is playing (and healthy); he is a hard player not to root for. DJ Moore has been on a little slump recently, but Newton could potentially spark a fire for Moore. Whether or not Newton is throwing Moore the football, I believe the outcome of this game will depend on Moore's success. The key for Walker is to make sure he gets the ball to McCaffrey and Moore. He doesn't need to do too much. As for the Cardinals' offense, McCoy didn't have to do too much to beat the 49ers; the offense ran through James Conner. I believe Carolina is going to devote all of their assets into limiting Conner. The Panthers are going to make the Cardinals beat them by throwing the football. Without Deandre Hopkins on the field: AJ Green, Rondale Moore, and Christian Kirk will need to step up in his absence. I think McCoy will have a hard time moving the ball on Carolina's young defense. This will be the upset of the week.
What to Watch For: The Cam Newton package
Player of the Game: Christian McCaffrey RB Panthers
Final Score: Panthers 27 Cardinals 23
Vikings @ Chargers
The battle of the Justins, the battle of 2020 offensive rookie of the year candidates, the battle of two high-powered offenses; this should be one of the highest scoring games of the season. The Vikings nearly upset the Ravens last week and Dalvin Cook has looked like the best running back in the NFL recently. The Vikings are going to pound the rock in this game to keep Justin Herbert on the sideline. Fortunately for the Chargers, I think Herbert is going to be scoring so much against this weak defense, that the Vikings will have to throw the ball to keep up. With Justin Jefferson lined up against Asante Samuel Jr., I expect Adam Thielen to get a heavy dosage of targets. The Chargers desperately need a win, and I think they pull themselves together and beat the Vikings this week. Justin Herbert is going to pick on this weak secondary and throw the ball up to Mike Williams. Both of these teams seem to live in close games, I like the Vikings to cover the three point spread, but the Chargers to pull off the win. Justin Herbert senses the urgency and rallies his team in the battle for 2020 offensive rookie of the year.
What to Watch For: Justin Jefferson vs Asante Samuel Jr.
Player of the Game: Justin Herbert QB Chargers
Final Score: Vikings 30 Chargers 34
Seahawks @ Packers
Ladies and gentlemen, it is the return we have all been waiting for... Russell Wilson is finally back. Prior to his broken finger, Wilson hadn't missed a game in his entire career. For three treacherous weeks we had to watch a Wilson-less Seahawks offense. It felt like all Pete Carroll was doing was trying to establish the run, but the only thing he established was three losses out of the last four games. Thankfully for the 12th man, they have their franchise back. Wilson is the greatest athlete in Seattle history, and I have genuinely missed watching him on the field. It is important to remember, the Packers also have their starting quarterback returning! Aaron Rodgers is back from COVID and is ready to silence his haters. What Rodgers did was terrible, but he seems to thrive under criticism. He uses his hate to his advantage, look what he did after getting blown out in week one. He pulled together a seven game win-streak. The Seahawks' corners have struggled all season long; Davante Adams' stomach has to be growling. While I can't wait to see what Wilson does in his first game back, I don't think Seattle's offense will be able to keep up with the Packers'. Eric Stokes has had an incredible rookie season and the Packers have a top seven pass defense in the NFL. The Packers and Seahawks have an incredible in-conference rivalry, but I like Rodgers to come out on top in this game.
What to Watch For: Russell Wilson's return
Player of the Game: Davante Adams WR Packers
FInal Score: Seahawks 27 Packers 30
Eagles @ Broncos
While both of these teams have been extremely underwhelming this season, their first round picks have not. The two Alabama alum, Devonta Smith and Patrick Surtain, have been sensational thus far and are major bright spots for both teams. Sticking with the Alabama alumni, Jerry Jeudy is a player I am watching in this game. With Courtland Sutton being covered by Darius Slay, I can see a lot of targets coming Jeudy's way. Jeudy is one of the best route runners in the NFL and he'll have opportunities downfield against the Eagles' secondary. Even though I see success coming Jeudy's way, I like the Eagles to win this game. Jalen Hurts took strides last week against the Chargers, and with Miles Sanders potentially returning to the lineup, this Eagles offense could light things up. Everybody knows I am a huge Jalen Hurts believer; this is the game where he can make everybody else a believer as well. Both of these teams are playing with nothing to lose, but the Eagles have a quarterback who takes more chances. While the Broncos have a good pass defense, I expect Jalen Hurts to extend plays with his legs freeing up receivers downfield. This should be a low scoring game that ends with the Eagles flying high.
What to Watch For: Devonta Smith vs Patrick Surtain
Player of the Game: Jalen Hurts QB Eagles
Final Score: Eagles 20 Broncos 12
Chiefs @ Raiders
Since Derek Carr entered the league in 2014, this has been one of the best rivalries in all of football. While the Raiders might not have always been relevant, these games have always been close. This year, Derek Carr is having arguably the best season of his career. Even though the Raiders came out flat last week against the Giants, I expect them to have a great game against the Chiefs. Kansas City's defense ranks close to the bottom in the league in every major category; this means that the Raiders will be able to run and throw the ball on Sunday Night Football. While I do expect Carr to have a huge game, Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson must establish the run in this game. Keep Patrick Mahomes on the sideline and utilize Josh Jacobs' physicality. The Raiders are going to hang a lot of points on the Chiefs' struggling defense, but I expect Tyrann Mathieu to step up underneath the bright lights. As for the Chiefs' offense, Patrick Mahomes will need to get the ball out fast. Maxx Crosby, Solomon Thomas, and Yannick Ngakoue are all having phenomenal seasons. While it worked in the past, Patrick Mahomes has been trying to do too much this year. Without a true number two receiver, defenses have been putting all their assets into stopping Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. The Raiders have been able to generate pressure with just four man rushes which helps their atrocious secondary. Mahomes is capable of buying time which is will allow Kelce, Hill, and Mecole Hardman to break loose downfield. This should be a high scoring affair, but I think the Raiders defense steps up and helps Las Vegas pull off the home upset.
What to Watch For: Can Derek Carr get it done on Sunday Night Football?
Player of the Game: Derek Carr QB Raiders
Final Score: Chiefs 26 Raiders 34
Rams @ 49ers
We have finally reached the long-awaited debuts of Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. as members of the Los Angeles Rams. While I don't expect too heavy of a workload for Beckham, Miller could be in for a day. This will be the first time in years since he hasn't received a double-team on nearly every play. Miller will go head-to-head against rookie right tackle, Jaylon Moore, who is filling in for Mike McGlinchey who is out for the season with a torn quadriceps. This will undoubtedly be Moore's welcome to the league moment. Offensively, Sean McVay's game-plan will run through Cooper Kupp. While Kyle Shanahan always does a great job coaching against McVay, this is an entirely new offense with Matthew Stafford at quarterback. This is 49ers safety Jimmie Ward's first game back from injury; I could see McVay attacking the 49ers' secondary with the rookie Deommodore Lenoir set to start opposite Emmanuel Moseley. As for the 49ers' offense, it will run through Elijah Mitchell. The rookie running back has impressed, to say the least; Mitchell's speed combined with Shanahan's scheme can confuse any defense even one with Aaron Donald and Sean McVay. I expect Jalen Ramsey to be matched up against Brandon Aiyuk because Deebo Samuel moves around so much on San Francisco's offense. That means Samuel will be able to have opportunities in the second level of the defense. While I do expect the 49ers to find some success offensively, I don't think it will be enough to keep up with the Rams' downfield passing attack. This is just the first step in the Rams' Super Bowl journey with Beckham Jr. and Miller in the lineup.
What to Watch For: The debut of Odell Beckham Jr. and Von Miller
Player of the Game: Von Miller EDGE Rams
Final Score: Rams 31 49ers 23