It’s hard to believe, but we’re already past the halfway point of the 2013 NFL season. Time flies when you’re having fun. That is unless you’re a Jaguars or Buccaneers fan, in that case this probably seems like a season that will never end.
Things change quickly in the world of professional football, just a week ago it looked like the Green Bay Packers were among the hottest teams in the league and cruising to another NFC North title and perhaps a first round bye. Now with Aaron Rodgers out for at least three weeks with a fractured collarbone things look a little less certain.
The week ten slate of games looks to be a good one. Competitive games should be easy to find throughout the schedule, the Thursday Night Football game between the Vikings and Redskins to open the week should be more than enough evidence to support that case. After eight weeks of terrible TNF games, we have been lucky enough to have amazing contests in back to back weeks.
Anyway, without further adieu, here is the Guardian Express expert picks for week ten of the NFL, Minnesota’s win over Washington not included.
Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers
Buffalo wins what should be a close game. CJ Spiller is finally looking like himself after taking time off to rest that injured ankle. Putting up 140 yards a week ago shows that he is finally ready to be the force that everyone expected him to be heading into the year.
Couple that with the fact that Fred Jackson has been impressive as a feature back in the wake of Spiller’s absence and the struggling Pittsburgh Steelers defense will not be able to contain these backs.
A final tidbit on this game, EJ Manuel is making his return to the field. This Bills team held tough against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs a week ago with Jeff Tuel at quarterback. The upgrade is obvious.
Bills 24, Steelers 21
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
The Cincinnati Bengals suffered a let down game against the Miami Dolphins in week nine will have had the taste of defeat on the tip of their tongues for ten days when they kick off against the rival Baltimore Ravens.
At 3-5 the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens look nothing like the team that won it all last year. The offensive line is a mess and they haven’t been able to run the ball with Ray Rice at all this year. Joe Flacco looks far from elite at quarterback, and the defense is not as good as it once was.
Cincinnati should control the battle in the trenches on both sides of the ball, even without Geno Atkins able to play. Rice won’t have a breakout performance in this one, but Gio Bernard should come close to matching his impressive outing against the Dolphins a week ago.
Mix in the Andy Dalton to AJ Green combination and this Bengals team should extend its lead in the AFC North on Sunday.
Bengals, 23, Ravens 14
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears
The return of Jay Cutler should help a Bears team that already is riding a hot streak into this one following a win over the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football.
Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson should have another stellar outing against a Bears defense that is not as effective as it once was. Reggie Bush also should produce another huge day, something he has made a habit of since moving to the Motor City.
Chicago on offense resembles Detroit in many ways. Brandon Marshall is a big receiver that can do it all, targeted almost as much as Johnson is in Detroit. Matt Forte is having a huge impact this year, showing that he truly has become an elite running back. Second year receiver Alshon Jeffrey perhaps makes this offense more versatile than the Lions, who really don’t have a reliable second option for Stafford opposite Johnson.
In a game that is so evenly matched, the home team is the pick.
Bears 31, Lions 28
Philadelphia Eagles at Green Bay Packers
A week ago this looked like it would be a no-brainer pick for the Packers. Then Nick Foles exploded for a historic 7 touchdown game and Aaron Rodgers went down with his collarbone injury. Suddenly this game looks very even.
Seneca Wallace didn’t do much last week, but now he has a full week to learn the playbook and expand what Mike McCarthy is comfortable running with him under center.
Nick Foles almost certainly will not repeat his performance from a week ago, and the Packers defense will put a lot of the pressure on itself so that Wallace doesn’t feel as if he has to win the game on his own.
Eddie Lacy is the key in this game. His performance likely will dictate which way this game goes. Here’s a vote leaning towards a productive outing.
Packers, 24, Eagles 23
St. Louis Rams at Indianapolis Colts
This one is pretty straightforward, the Colts are hot of late and the Rams are struggling to say the least. Andrew Luck has been a stud at home this year, which is a dangerous recipe for the travelling Rams.
Unless the Rams are able to get Zac Stacy going and play ball control throughout this game, it will get ugly.
Colts 34, Rams 20
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans
Another relatively straightforward game. The Jaguars are winless and look like they could stay that way for a long time. Losing their star receiver Justin Blackmon to suspension for the year doesn’t help this anemic offense put up points either.
Tennessee has been surprisingly competitive this season, and that is largely due to quarterback Jake Locker taking better care of the football than he ever has before. If Locker can manage this game and the defense can stop Maurice Jones-Drew, the Titans win easy.
Titans 20, Jaguars 10
Oakland Raiders at New York Giants
The New York Giants have been one of the more disappointing teams so far in 2013, but they still find themselves just two games back in the woeful NFC East. The Raiders have played better ball than many would have guessed, and Terrelle Pryor has been a huge bright spot for this bunch.
Eli Manning has turned the ball over too many times and the running game that was supposed to be spearheaded by David Wilson has been nearly nonexistent for the Giants.
Oakland has little else on offense besides Pryor, especially with McFadden sitting out with injury. Plus you just saw what the defense can allow after that 7 touchdown effort from Nick Foles last week.
When these teams get together on Sunday the Giants will have the emotional edge given that they still have a realistic shot at the playoffs. Add in home field advantage, and the Giants are the pick in this one as long as Eli Manning can avoid turnovers.
Giants 24, Raiders 13
Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons
The Seahawks struggle against the Buccaneers a week ago, but managed to claw back and win in overtime. That should carry a little momentum into this week for a team already considered to be a frontrunner for a Super Bowl title. Atlanta on the other hand has been an absolute mess this season.
A bright spot for the Falcons is that they are finally getting a little healthier, Stevan Jackson is back on the field and so is All-Pro receiver Roddy White. Matt Ryan will have a familiar target he knows he can depend on for the first time in what seems like forever.
Seattle has a stud filled defense and an ultra consistent offense lead by Marshawn Lynch. If ‘Beast Mode’ can get it going and the Seahawks offense get in a rhythm, watch out.
The Falcons offense will look better with White back on the field, but there’s almost no way they produce enough to defeat the Seahawks. Seattle is the pick.
Seahawks 28, Falcons 17
Carolina Panthers at San Francisco 49ers
The Carolina Panthers, as I have already wrote, match up quite well with the San Francisco 49ers. Both teams have mobile quarterbacks who have rocket arms. Strong running games and aging star receivers finish the rest of the offensive makeup.
On defense both of these teams have strong front sevens and solid secondaries. Playmaking defenses are a rare thing in today’s NFL, but this matchup gives us two of the best this year.
The Panthers have a four game win streak after a 1-3 start and are one of the most underrated teams in the league today. San Francisco looks much like it did last year, however they may not be giving the Panthers enough credit in this one.
As mentioned in the previous article, the Panthers are my upset pick for week ten.
Panthers 23, 49ers 20
Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers
Phillip Rivers return to prominence has been one of the more feel good stories for this NFL season, however at 4-4 a matchup against the 7-1 Denver Broncos is not something that this team is ready for.
Peyton Manning has been unbelievable so far this season and the Broncos offense is as close to unstoppable as you can get in the NFL. San Diego also can put up points and Denver’s defense is struggling to stop anyone.
This game has shootout written all over it, however the Broncos simply have too much fire power for the Chargers to keep up with.
Broncos 41, Chargers 30
Houston Texans at Arizona Cardinals
The Houston Texans were supposed to be a Super Bowl contender this year. Instead they are 2-6 and on the verge of being eliminated from the playoffs. The Arizona Cardinals don’t look like playoff contenders either, but at 4-4 they have looked much better than the Texans.
With Case Keenum under center the Texans offense has looked better, especially Andre Johnson. However with Patrick Peterson blanketing Johnson, Keenum will have to look elsewhere to move the football. He also won’t have Arian Foster to turn to, after it was announced he is undergoing back surgery and likely will miss the remainder of the season. Arizona likely will control the line of scrimmage and make it tough for Ben Tate to find running room.
When the Cardinals have the ball, they likely will be trying to force feed Andre Ellington the football even with Rashad Mendenhall back on the field. Ellington looks like a gamebreaker and should take some defensive pressure off of Larry Fitzgerald.
As strange as it seems, the Cardinals look to be the safe pick against the Texans.
Cardinals 21, Texans 17
Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints
Talk about a shootout waiting to happen. The Saints have the offensive firepower to keep up with anyone, and the Cowboys have already shown they can keep pace with the Broncos in a shootout.
Drew Brees and the Saints offense looks tough. Jimmy Graham has been unstoppable this year, touchdowns have become a habit for him. Expect that to continue, as well as a long touchdown or two by Kenny Stills or Robert Meachem. Dallas won’t be able to contain this bunch.
Tony Romo has looked good this season as well, and Dez Bryant and Jason Witten should be able to match the Saints weapons for much of this game. If DeMarco Murray can get going, the Cowboys may be able to control the clock enough to squeak out a victory.
That being said, it is difficult to pick an NFC East team this season. The Saints are the pick.
Saints 34, Cowboys 31
Miami Dolphins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been a mess this season. The only team that may be more of a mess right now is the Miami Dolphins. It just so happens these teams meet up on Monday Night Football in a game that almost no one is excited about.
Miami likely is distracted by the whole Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin scandal that is ongoing. Add in an upset win over the Bengals a week ago and this team looks primed for a let down.
Tampa Bay quarterback Mike Glennon has looked decent in action so far, and rookie Mike James is coming off an explosion of 158 yards against the Seahawks a week ago.
If there ever was a time for the Buccaneers to get a win, this is it. Tampa Bay is the pick.
Buccaneers 24, Dolphins 17