Walk the Line: Week 10
After scrolling through the list of games next week, I can honestly say I am not fond of one single matchup. This is unfortunate because I've been on a hot streak (6-2-1 in the last three weeks).
Before I go on to the picks I'm going to switch things up a bit this week. We're halfway through the season and the supremacy across the top of the NFL rankings seems fairly even. I'm going to give you my mid-season NFL power rankings, which hopefully won't jinx any of the teams that are playing in the trap games this week (Atlanta and Denver) or the matchup of the year: Houston at Chicago.
No. 1: Atlanta Falcons Do I think Atlanta is going to reach the Super Bowl this year? No. But give credit where credit is due. The Falcons are a flawless 8-0 thus far, so for now, they are deserving of the top spot. But the one flaw is their schedule - their opponents' combined record is 24-41, and the Broncos are the only team they have played that are above .500. Atlanta's schedule doesn't get much tougher for the latter part of the season, so a 14-2 record at season's end is likely. However, the Falcons will be tested when they reach the playoffs in the loaded NFC.
No. 2: Chicago Bears The Bears have suffered one loss this season, but the assault the Packers put on quarterback Jay Cutler in week two seems like centuries ago. Besides a close game against Carolina a couple weeks ago, the Bears have been blowing out opponents all season. They have the best defense in the NFL right now, and Jay Cutler finally has someone to throw the ball to on offense.
No. 3: Green Bay Packers Rodgers has finally returned to form after his MVP season last year. The Packers are on a four-game winning streak that started with the dismantling of the Texans. It's impossible to predict who will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl at this point in the season, but you have to like Green Bay's odds with the way things have been going recently.
No. 4 Houston Texans Finally, an AFC teams reaches the board. Why so low you ask? I still haven't forgotten the show Rodgers put on Houston almost a month ago. The Packers exploited the Texans' offense with ease by shutting down the run game and making Matt Schaub run the offense. The Texans may be able to avoid this in the regular season against mediocre teams, but this blemish will creep up on them when they get into the heart of the playoffs.
No. 5 San Francisco 49ers The 49ers have one of the best rosters in football, which includes the second-best defense and an offense full of playmakers. If Alex Smith can continue to manage games and not turn the ball over, it's going to be hard for the opposition to beat San Francisco. But again, the 49ers success relies on the quarterback. San Francisco should find itself back in NFC Championship game if it can score 20 points and not turn the ball over.
Sorry to you Giants and Patriots fans but the Giants' redzone offense is beyond pitiful, and the Patriots still have a bit more to prove than a blowout against the Rams for them to be considered elite.
Note: Lines as of Nov. 7, via: sportsbook.ag
Matchup of the Week (6-3): Houston Texans at Chicago Bears (-1) Arguably the biggest matchup of the season. I'll get right to the point: I'm taking the Bears. Their 'D' is perfectly capable of shutting down the Texans' running game, which the Packers proved is the key to success against Houston. Should be a low scoring game with two of the best defenses in the NFL battling it out. Texans 17, Bears 20
Locks (9-8-1): Tennessee Titans (+6) at Miami Dolphins The Titans are my favorite team, but this is the first time all year I am picking them. I have picked against them twice this year and was correct both times. The Titans should come out with a vengeance after getting embarrassed by the Bears last week, and the Dolphins simply aren't that good. Five of their eight games have been decided by four points or less. They should handle Tennessee, but more than a touchdown difference would be surprising. Titans 16, Dolphins 20
Dallas Cowboys (-1.5) at Philadelphia Eagles Scary game here. NFC East games are normally toss-ups, but Dallas' losses haven't been as bad Philly's. Romo hasn't been that bad, but Vick and the Eagles' offensive line has. Dallas should be able to blitz the Eagles into submission Sunday and spark its annual November rally into the NFL relevance. Cowboys 27, Eagles 21
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