Darnell's NFL Week 10 Breakdown
Houston Texans @ Cleveland Browns
This is a matchup of two teams that are in the bottom ten in the league in points allowed. They allow their opponents to score a good amount of points on them. The Cleveland Browns are remaining moderately successful due to their top offensive line and their fifth best rushing attack. Kareem Hunt and the returning Nick Chubb are fed early and often. Although Baker Mayfield has not played as well as we expected, his team has a winning record. The Houston Texans are being exposed as the frauds that many people thought they were last year when they made the playoffs. I eluded to them as being, "the luckiest team in football last year" when I wrote them up early this season. It is all coming to fruition now. The Texans are bad. The only team they seem to able to beat is the Jacksonville Jaguars. That is not a major accomplishment. They may be without their starting running back, David Johnson. If he were to miss, Duke Johnson would step in against his former team. I don't think there is significant difference between these two running backs. Deshawn Watson is playing well, but it surrounded by a team that will not lead him to success. The Browns must win nearly every game in order to keep pace with the Baltimore Ravens and the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers. We will have to see if they can keep their offensive stride without their super-talented wideout, Odell Beckham Jr.
Washington Football Team @ Detroit Lions
Somehow, despite having a .250 winning percentage and losing at home to the New York Giants, Washington is in second place in their division. They are not that far out of reach of the first place Philadelphia Eagles. Kyle Allen will undergo surgery, and miss the rest of the season. This opens the door for Alex Smith to continue his comeback journey. Smith has had a moderate level of success with Washington prior to his injury. Washington has the second worst passing attack in the NFL. Haskins have not panned out so far, and Kyle Allen did not help the team much. Hopefully Smith can increase the offensive production versus The Lions' fifth worst defense. The Lions have a middle of the road offense. As of Thursday, neither Kenny Golladay nor T.J. Hockensen practiced. Their status is still questionable. Two huge play makers for the Lions could make a difference in how they approach this game against Washington.
Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants
The first place Eagles come off their bye to take on the New York Giants. The Eagles have barely been surviving health wise. They still manage to find themselves in first place. This bye week could not have come at a better time for them. Desean Jackson and Zach Ertz are still on injured reserve. They will not play Sunday. Some of the Eagles playmakers will be in the mix. Jalen Reagor, Dallas Gordert and Alshon Jeffrey will join the emerging star, Travis Fulgham to take on New York’s 13th ranked defense. The Giants have difficulty in coverage, so having added weapons to throw to can only make Carson Wentz’s job easier. The New York Giants seem to still be adjusting to life within Saquon Barkley. Wayne Gallman has scored a touchdown in each of the last three games. Golden Tate and Sterling Shephard were limited in practice, and are both questionable to play. If these players were to miss, it would put a limit on who Daniel Jones could throw to. We could be seeing a lot more Evan Engram and Darius Slayton. Kaden Smith will also be out. Levine Toilolo will be backing up Evan Engram. The first time these two teams played, the Eagles squeaked by with a one-point victory. The Eagles look to win in a more dominant fashion. The Giants look to gain ground in the divisional race.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Green Bay Packers
The Jaguars take their bottom ten defense to the frozen tundra in Green Bay to take on the high-powered Packers. The Jaguars have difficulty stopping opponents on the ground and through the air. They will have to put points up in order to keep pace with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. With Gardner Minshew still out for week 10, this task will fall on Jake Luton who made his first start last week against the Houston Texans. This week he is at risk of being without D.J. Chark and Laviska Shanault. If these two were to miss, Keelan Cole and Chris Conley will have to step into bigger roles to compete with the Packers. Green Bay expects to get Allen Lazard back. This will be another weapon added to the arsenal of Aaron Rodgers. This will make it a little more difficult for the Jaguars bottom five coverage unit. Their tight end, Robert Tonyan is questionable and may miss this game. Green Bay will need to continue to win in order to keep pulling away from the Chicago Bears. The Jaguars have the second worst record in the NFL, so their playoff hopes are more than likely finished.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers
The Panthers will be home to host Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Last week, the Panthers were in a hard-fought battle with the Kansas City Chiefs but came up just short. They enjoyed the return of their superstar running back, Christian McCaffery. Unfortunately, it appears his return is going to be short lived. Mccaffery is listed as doubtful after hurting his shoulder in that game. Tampa Bay still has the second-best defense in the NFL, despite getting embarrassed on national television by the New Orleans Saints. They should be able to bottle up the rushing attack of Mike Davis. QB Teddy Bridgewater will have his full deployment of wide receivers, so Tampa Bay’s coverage unit will not have any unexpected breaks in coverage. The Buccaneers looked nearly as bad on offense last week as they did on defense. Tom Brady looked as if he had never played with this group of playmakers before. Some people say that Antonio Brown is toxic to a team, and that he is cursed. I will have to see more evidence to see that. Chris Godwin and Scotty Miller may be out, but Brady still has a plethora of weapons to throw to. Mike Evans, Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski are slated to play in this game. These players, along with the two-headed running back attack, should supply Brady with enough weapons to play the game that he wants. With the Buccaneers losing both games to the Saints, they need to keep winning.
Los Angeles Chargers @ Miami Dolphins
Justin Herbert will lead his Chargers into the Miami Dolphins’ stadium for a battle of two teams that are in second place in their respective divisions. The Chargers suffered a last-second loss at the hands of the Raiders. The Dolphins went into Arizona and defeated Kyler Murray and the Cardinals. They've had two straight games with a defensive score. This season, the Dolphins have given up the third fewest points. This is a far cry from their terrible defense of last year. The Chargers seem to be all flash and no substance. They consistently lose games late. They perform well on the field offensively, but they can’t seem to finish out games the way they should. After unfortunately getting hurt on the first drive of the game last week, Justin Jackson is listed as questionable. Eckler is still out, so if Jackson misses, that would open up more work for Kalen Ballage. I don’t think there is much drop off or upgrade in these running backs. On the defensive side of the ball, Joey Bosa is listed as questionable after missing the game against the Raiders. He is an extremely talented defensive lineman that may make a difference in the amount of time Miami gets to throw the ball. On the other side of the ball is another rookie that has somewhat impressed. Tua Tagovailoa may be getting Matt Brieda back in the fold. Myles Gaskin is not expected to return for another couple of weeks, so the Dolphins’ backups will have to step up. Preston Williams will be out for at least three more weeks. I am expected an interesting matchup. The Dolphins, being alive in the playoff hunt should perform well. The Chargers are on a downward spiral so it will be up to them to upgrade their play..
Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders
The Denver Broncos, after coming up short in Atlanta will head to Oakland to face Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders held on to defeat the Chargers last week and will look to continue momentum in order to push for the playoffs. Metrically, the Raiders are arguably the worst defense in the NFL. Somehow, they have a winning record and are alive for a playoff berth. Outside of Tyrell Williams there is no one that is slated to miss this game offensively. They will need as many weapons as possible to compete with Denver’s third ranked defense. Drew Lock has looked a lot better in the last 3 weeks than he has early in the season. Jerry Jeudy is beginning to slowly emerge as a good wide receiver. Jeudy, and Tim Patrick are both listed as questionable for this matchup. Lock would need as many options as possible to enhance their offense. Denver ranks bottom five offensively in the NFL. If the Broncos plan on making a miracle run to the playoffs, it has to start with this game. The Raiders are looking to keep pace with the Chiefs as well as the wildcard contenders, so they do not want to drop a divisional game here.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers uncharacteristically struggled against an awful and injured Dallas Cowboys team. They temporarily lost Ben Roethlisberger to a knee injury, but he returned to bring his team back. The Steelers are the only undefeated team in the NFL, and they have Superbowl aspirations. Currently, Big Ben is unable to practice due to quarantine restrictions. Mike Tomlin has stated that the team is prepping as if he will play. With the uncertainty of things nowadays, you never can be too sure, so keep an eye on that situation. If he were to sit, the offense will take a hit with Mason Rudolph starting. The Steelers are already a bottom ten offense in the league, so losing a hall of fame quarterback wouldn’t be good news. The Bengals will have an uphill battle if they wish to defeat the unbeaten Steelers. They have a bottom three rushing attack that will face off against the Steeler’s fourth ranked rush defense. With Joe Mixon doubtful, Giovonni Bernard will have to take on a bigger role. This will make things harder on the Bengals Sunday. Due to personal reasons, Geno Atkins will be out for this game as well. Atkins is a top flight interior defensive lineman, so his absence could assist in Pittsburgh finding running lanes. The Steelers look to extend their winning streak, while the Bengals will attempt to establish some identity and knock the Steelers off their perch.
Buffalo Bills @ Arizona Cardinals
This is the game that a lot of people are interested in. Kyler Murray have been playing out of this world. He has turned himself into a dual threat weapon with his rushing ability. These are two high powered offenses that rank in the top five in the NFL. Kenyon Drake is listed as questionable for the Cardinals. If he were to miss, Chase Edmonds would be thrust into a heavy role once again. A lot of people feel as if Edmonds is the better running back anyway. Where it may be an upgrade, having both running backs to deploy seems to be more beneficial for the Cardinals. The Bills have a top three pass rush. With Murray’s ability to extend plays and create plays of his own, that may limit the effectiveness of this pass rush. After losing a close game to the Miami Dolphins, Arizona will need to win in order to keep themselves in competition for a stout division race. The Bills are commanding the AFC East, but the Dolphins seem to have heated up as of late, so the Bills would want to stay ahead of them. I am expected this to be a battle of two play-making quarterbacks battling to establish momentum for the second half of the season.
San Francisco 49ers @ New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints will host a San Francisco team that has been injury-riddled for most of the season. Jimmy Garappolo will be out for at least another month. This will thrust Nick Mullins into the starting position again. George Kittle and Deebo Samuel are the top guys at their respective position. They too will miss this game. There are still injuries on defense. Nick Bosa, arguably a top three defensive player in the league will remain out. Richard Sherman is expected to play, which should definitely add some help to the 49ers’ coverage unit. Despite the injuries, San Francisco still ranks top ten in defense. This is mainly due to them being the best tackling team in the league. They do not miss tackles often. That usually is the difference between a modest gain and a huge play. The Saints had one of the most one-sided wins we’ve seen all season against the Buccaneers. Drew Brees was able to do whatever he wanted with little or no resistance. The Saints are clicking on all cylinders. They are top ten in offense, defense, and special teams. In my opinion, they have supplanted the Buccaneers as the best team in the NFC and possibly the NFL. Drew Brees and Michael Thomas are listed as questionable, but I fully expect them to play. This offense is mainly run through Brees, Thomas and Alvin Kamara. Sean Payton sprinkles in some Taysom Hill, Latavius Murray and other weapons to execute their plan. This game will mark the final chance for the 49ers to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Seattle Seahawks @ Los Angeles Rams
Just like most games involving two AFC West teams, this game looks to be one of the most interesting of the day. The Seahawks had their defense shredded by Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills last week, while the Rams rested. Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde are both questionable, after missing the last two weeks. Rashad Penny is eligible to return in week 10, so we will see how the current running back injuries affect the decision to bring Penny back into the fold. The Seahawks have the number one rushing defense in the league. Darrel Henderson is questionable, so if he misses, Cam Akers and Malcolm Brown will have to shoulder the load. This will add to the challenge of this very stingy run defense. Seattle's defense, although good against the run, have been very generous. They have given up an average of 30 points per game. The reason their record is so good is because they are putting up an average of 34 points per game. These two teams appear to be the best in the division, so we will see if the Rams can close the gap with the Seahawks.