Week 10 kicked off Thursday night, but there a few major games to look out for today:
New Orleans @ Atlanta –
A rivalry that has only recently got national attention in the last 5 years due to both teams becoming more relevant, the Falcons and Saints always play a great game. This week’s matchup has 1st place for the NFC South on the line, the Saints are 6-3, the Falcons are 5-3, a Falcons win gives them a half-game lead over New Orleans. A Saints win solidifies their lead with a 7-3 record, while the Falcons and Buccaneers sit with at least four losses. The Falcons are 7th against the run, which is something they’ll need to keep up with Darren Sproles coming to town, as he’s averaging a ridiculous 7.1 yards every time he touches the ball, and has been a major reason that this Saints offense has been resembling that 2009 Super Bowl winning one. The key to winning this game for either side? Keep the other offense off the field. The Falcons need to get back to their running ways on both sides, run the ball and stop it, stay on the field and don’t give Brees and this high octane offense an opportunity to put points on you, because they will, and quick.
Detroit @ Chicago
Last time these two teams met, Jahvid Best ran wild while the Lions marched their way to a 5-0 record. Since then, he’s been gone and the team has looked a little different, losing two straight games before rebounding against the Broncos last weekend. The Bears meanwhile have looked impressive offensively since that game, especially against the Eagles Monday night. While their offensive line is still a concern, it looks as if the team is playing to Cutler’s strengths and letting Forte run wild, not just Martz’s favorite plays. The Lions defense has a tough game in front of them, they allow 137 rushing yards per game, while Forte has been averaging just over 100 yards per game.
New York (G-Men) @ San Francisco
Eli Manning is the most unimpressive consistent winner in recent history, it looks ugly, but he almost always gets it done. On the other side of the field today will be Alex Smith….who has been, less than satisfactory during his career….until now. Who would’ve thought coming into this season that a Week 10 matchup between the Giants and 49ers would be pivotal in determining who may end up with that playoff bye week? Well, that’s where we are here, the second best record in the NFC is up for grabs, with two teams that many believed would be the basement dwellers of their division.
That’s why I love football.
The Giants, when you look at the numbers, don’t look all too impressive, except for their passing game, which is ranked 6th (though one could argue they’ve yet to play a stout passing defense), on the other hand the Niners are dominant when it comes to the running game. They’re 6th offensively and 1st in stopping it, having their strengths finally show up is exactly what they’ve been waiting on, despite the 30th ranked passing game. Why? Because Alex Smith isn’t turning the ball over, making the awful mistakes he’s made in his past. Mainly due to a consistent running game, but also due to a coach that is finally able to work with him. Just when we were all ready to give up on him…
Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh
No seriously, the Bengals are 6-2, think about that. In 2010 they were 4-12, Carson Palmer said “Dawg, I’m out” and retired until traded. In comes Andy Dalton from TCU, a QB that many thought would take time to develop into something special, they didn’t expect him to come out swinging so quickly. He’s also been aided by Cedric Benson and rookie AJ Green, who’ve made this offense something of an efficiency machine, while this defense has remained spectacular. 10th against the pass, 2nd against the run, the Bengals defense is something to be reckoned with, and they’ll face their first big divisional test. The Pittsburgh Steelers are averaging 278.8 yards per game in the air, with Roethlesberger playing some of the best games of his career this season, they also are 18th on the ground. Oh, their defense is also pretty good too, and have not allowed any opponent to score more than 20 points since the season-opening loss against Baltimore (35).