Tom Brady and the embarrassed Patriots seek redemption in an AFC showdown against the Steelers, Michael Vick and a disgruntled Donovan McNabb go head to head (hopefully for the full game), and the top spot in the NFC West is on the line.
Due to the collapse of the Dallas Cowboys, Jay Cutler, and the NFL’s schedule committee, the three most intriguing matchups of week 10 are in prime time. Thus, we’re treated to an underwhelming slate of Sunday afternoon football. Let’s hope Jay Cutler and the NFC West step up their game.
Last Week: 11 – 2 – 0
Season: 75 – 55 – 0
Boycotting Amazon.com (Bye Week)
If Philip Rivers throws for 295 yards and 4 TDs with receivers from the bottom of the depth chart, what’s he going to do once Antonio Gates, Malcolm Floyd, and Vincent Jackson return?
A much needed week of rest before a difficult playoff run, including road games in Minnesota, New England, Atlanta, and hosting the Giants. Favre Bowl IV awaits the Packers in week 11.
Changing the team’s historic slogan after a three game winning streak doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.
New Orleans finally strung two wins together for the first time since week 2. With Seattle, Dallas, Cincinnati, and St. Louis looming, the Saints look like a lock for the NFC playoffs.
Thursday Night (8:20PM ET)
Ravens at Falcons
Thursday nights are big television nights in my house. For me, the NBA on TNT broadcast is must see TV – Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith are too good to miss. Depending on the matchup, I may even stick around for the game. My wife, on the other hand, cares as much about the NBA on TNT as I care about the quality of McDonald’s hamburgers. Once 9PM ET hits, our Thursday night consists of Grey’s Anatomy (which I recently learned is a play on words because “Gray’s Anatomy” is actually a gigantic textbook detailing the human body). This Thursday, the NFL returns. Therein lies the problem. I only have one TV and can’t DVR both the football and basketball game. If my wife didn’t already graciously surrender the TV for 13 hours on Sundays, I would hide the TV clicker. Oh well. I’m still not buying the Falcons as an elite team. RAVENS If I were Charles Barkley; Ravens +.5
Early Games (1:00PM ET)
Lions at Bills
A deflating, inexplicable, heart wrenching home loss last week, traveling to play an awful team this week, just lost their franchise quarterback for the second time this season… Yes sir, the Lions are ripe for the picking. Good thing the Bills brought in Shawne Merriman. He didn’t even make it through one practice before suffering another injury. BILLS If I were Charles Barkley; Bills -3
Vikings at Bears
In 2003, the Philadelphia Eagles, coming off two consecutive losses in the NFC Championship game, were 2-3 and looked miserable against the New York Giants in week 7. With 1:34 remaining, Brian Westbrook returned a punt for a touchdown, giving the Eagles a 14-10 win. Philadelphia went on to win nine of their last ten en route to another NFC Championship game appearence. I watched Minnesota’s rally in the final six minutes last Sunday and it felt a lot like Westbrook’s return. The players hate the coach and the coach hates the quarterback, but it wouldn’t be the first time team turmoil bred success (hello Tom Coughlin’s Giants). Until completely eliminated from the playoff race, the Vikings are a threat to win the NFC title. VIKINGS If I were Charles Barkley; Vikings -1
Jets at Browns
Cleveland and Colt McCoy can’t knock off two conference heavyweights in consecutive weeks, can they? The Jets got their wake-up call last week in Detroit, and Cleveland lost the element of surprise by pasting New England, so I say no. JETS If I were Charles Barkley; Jets -3
Titans at Dolphins
The Dolphins will need their first home victory of the year if they hope to stay in the race for the AFC East. Chad Pennington should limit Miami’s turnovers, but until Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams get the ground game chugging, the Dolphins will still struggle to score. For the Titans, they better hope Randy Moss will do what he failed to do in New England and Minnesota this season; try. DOLPHINS If I were Charles Barkley; Dolphins +1.5
Bengals at Colts
Congratulations, Chad Ochocinco, you’ve become irrelevant. And so have the Bengals. With Tennessee visiting a desperate Miami team, the Colts have a nice opportunity to put a game between themselves and the Titans. With the Patriots and Chargers on deck, the Colts can’t afford to drop games they’re supposed to win, especially considering the wildcard spots look to belong to the AFC North and AFC East. Peyton Manning at home is about as close as there is to a sure thing in the NFL. COLTS If I were Charles Barkley; Colts -7
Texans at Jaguars
When the Jaguars lose, they really lose. Margin of defeat in their four losses; 25, 25, 27, and 22. Regardless, Jack Del Rio and David Garrard refuse to go away. Just when you think they’ve run out of time in Jacksonville, they steal a win. The Texans’ playoff lives are already hanging by a thread, so a loss here would essentially sink their season. If Gary Kubiak wants to keep his job, he’ll make sure Arian Foster has the ball in hands at least 30 times on Sunday. Foster is a treat to watch. His running is smoother than any other back in the league with the exception of Chris Johnson. When you watch Foster run, he expects to make the first guy miss, and more often than not, he does. TEXANS If I were Charles Barkley; Texans +1
Panthers at Buccaneers
Three starts is hardly enough evidence to call someone a bust, but if the Panthers could return to the 2010 NFL draft, do you think they’d still take Jimmy Clausen over Colt McCoy, who was taken 37 picks later? “Heck no, heck no,” said my brother, a die-hard Panther fan. At 5-3 the Bucs are in the playoff hunt. Not For long, though. I can’t see Tampa Bay finishing better than 3-5 in the season’s second half. BUCCANEERS If I were Charles Barkley; Panthers +6.5
Game to Watch: Vikings at Bears
Game on Call: Titans at Dolphins
Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)
Chiefs at Broncos
The Broncos aren’t very good, but two weeks to prepare for the slumping Chiefs should make this a competitive game. The Chiefs run the ball extremely well and play solid defense, making them tough to beat home or away. However, Todd Haley will foolishly pass on a field goal for the hundredth time this season. Only this time, it will cost his team a division win. BRONCOS If I were Charles Barkley; Broncos +1
Seahawks at Cardinals
I know, I know, I’m thinking the same thing; The AFC and NFC West boast the most intriguing late afternoon games? Yes, it’s shocking. The Cardinals need a win to stay in the mix for the division title. The Seahawks need a win to keep pace with the Rams (assuming St. Louis wins). It may be lousy football, but it should be competitive nonetheless. And now that Kurt Warner is available, maybe he gets the itch to return for a playoff push. CARDINALS If I were Charles Barkley; Cardinals -3
Cowboys at Giants
When your title changes from “Successor at Head Coach” to “Interim Head Coach,” that’s a demotion, right? Unless he rallies the Cowboys to a 6-2 record over the second half of the season, Jason Garrett will probably go from interim head coach to unemployed come January. If Jerry Jones was intent on correcting his franchise, he’d of fired himself. The Giants are a franchise. The Cowboys are a circus. I know the “throw out the records when these teams meet” cliché is applicable here. However, Dallas gave up weeks ago. Even with a new coach I’m not expecting too much more. GIANTS If I were Charles Barkley; Cowboys +14
Rams at 49ers
Nothing against Sam Bradford and the Rams, but this would be my ideal scenario for Sunday’s events in the NFC West: The Cardinals top the Seahawks, putting both teams at 4-5. The 49ers continue their resurgence by knocking off the Rams, sending St. Louis to 4-5 and propelling the left for dead 49ers to 3-6. A win on Sunday would put San Francisco one game out of the division lead with four division games remaining. This is why we love the NFC West…or why we tolerate it. You choose. 49ERS If I were Charles Barkley; 49ers -6
Game to Watch: Chiefs at Broncos
Game on Call: Rams at 49ers
Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)
Patriots at Steelers
Patriot fans must be concerned. Their “Golden Boy,” Tom Brady, has been outplayed by Mark Sanchez, Joe Flacco, and most recently, rookie Colt McCoy. Without a reliable running game, New England’s offense is ordinary if Brady isn’t performing at a high level. To makes matters worse, the Patriot defense is underachieving and especially vulnerable to power running games. Peyton Hillis left tread marks last Sunday. This week, Rashard Mendenhall and the Steelers (hardly a finesse offense) aim to bully the Patriots. A week ago I thought New England was a legitimate contender for a ring. Now, they look primed for a three game skid. Pittsburgh is tough at home and rainy, damp weather won’t help a struggling Patriot passing attack. 2003-2004 Tom Brady could win this game. Unfortunately, the 2010 version of Tom Brady can’t, and won’t. STEELERS If I were Charles Barkley; Steelers -4.5
Monday Night (8:30PM ET)
Eagles at Redskins
Only Donovan McNabb would find himself in a situation where he’s unbelievably mad at both the opponent and his own team. At one time or another, both the Eagles and Redskins coveted McNabb. Eventually (in the case of the Redskins it only took weeks), both grew frustrated by his play and humiliated him. We’ve seen players put up big games when trying to exact revenge on a former employer, but what is a player capable of when he’s looking to punish his current team as well? Has this ever happened before? Last time McNabb was benched, he ripped the Cardinals to the tune of 260 yards and 4 TDs the following week. Who knows, maybe we’ll see McNabb gush over his Philadelphia coaches and teammates in his post game press conference a la Randy Moss. And maybe we’ll see him cut by Washington on Wednesday. And maybe we’ll see him in a Bears or Cardinals uniform in the postseason. Everything is in play here. At the very least, I hope McNabb lazers one of his patented scuttle balls off Shanahan’s head. Either Shanahan, it doesn’t matter. Ok, I’m done. If Michael Vick can make it out of the 1st quarter this time, I think the Eagles will be alright. Unless of course McNabb channels his anger into a heroic performance, in which case I’ll turn on the Flyers game and cry into a pillow. EAGLES If I were Charles Barkley; Eagles -3
Last Week: 3 – 8 – 2
Season: 54 – 71 – 5
(Lines as of 11/11, 7:27PM ET, from bodog)