Nov. 20, 2018
Pick 6: NFL Week 10
Week 9 started out with a shocking performance from 49ers' rookie Nick Mullens. The undrafted QB was 16 for 22 with 262 yards, 3 TD's, 0 INT's, and a passer rating of 151.9. It was against the Raiders, so it barely counts, but still a great way to begin a career. It turns out the Thursday Night Trash Bowl can occasionally bring out something good.
On Sunday, the biggest headline was, of course, the New Orleans Saints finally putting an end to the Rams undefeated season. That game was one of the best we've seen this season, and it could very well be a preview of the NFC Championship.
After all the week's games were played, another big roster move made headlines. This time it wasn't a trade but the much anticipated signing of Dez Bryant. The Saints added him to an already stacked offense. The rest of the league should be shaking in their boots.
Now without further ado, let's pick 6.
Panthers vs Steelers
The Panthers and Steelers almost seem like the same team. Cam Newton as he grows as a passer is essentially just a younger, more athletic Ben Roethlisberger. Both passers have great young runners behind them in James Conner and Christian McCaffrey, averaging 4.7 and 4.6 yards per carry, respectively. Defensively, they give up nearly an identical amount passing and rushing yards, as well as points. If these teams switched uniforms this week, you would hardly tell a difference.
There is one major category that separates one from the other. Turnovers. Pittsburgh currently has a turnover differential of -3 (t-21st in NFL), the worst of any division leader. In recent years, Carolina has been in the same boat, having finished each of the last two seasons in the negatives in this category. However, this season they boast a differential of +8 (4th in NFL). If you can dominate this aspect of the game, you won't lose many games. This one advantage will be critical in a Carolina win on Thursday Night.
Panthers win, 35-24
Lions vs Bears
Going into the 2018 season, I don't think anyone expected the Bears or Lions to threaten the Packers and Vikings. Well, the Bears are sitting pretty in 1st place, and while the Lions have an uphill battle from 3-5, they are still very much in the mix. Part of the reason this division has been so interesting is because every team seems capable of beating anybody, while also seeming very beatable themselves. So you can't sleep on any of them right now. Divisional games like this one will be the key to the division title.
Unfortunately for Detroit, this game seems to come at a bad time. The Lions are coming off a game in Minnesota where Stafford was sacked 10 times, nearly doubling his season total. Meanwhile, the Bears were busy deconstructing the Bills in Buffalo. In the NFL, momentum goes a long way. The outcomes of those games, the Chicago venue, and Mack's potential return from injury are all working against Detroit.
Bears win, 23-17
Saints vs Bengals
I'm typically one to enjoy good defensive battles in sports. But sometimes, you need an explosive shootout. That's what we should get in Cincinnati this week. The defenses in this game give up more passing yards than any other teams in the league. Just about any QB in the league could shred these defenses. Even without A.J. Green, Andy Dalton should have a great day. And Brees, well, he might break records.
It doesn't seem like much of a contest here. The Saints are clearly a better football team. I mean they just beat the Rams after all. The Bengals' extra week of planning will help, but I can't realistically see a Cincinnati win. However, it should be a great show.
Saints win, 42-33
Dolphins vs Packers
Two teams hanging around .500 are looking to prove themselves to be more. I believe both teams have the talent to make a run at any time, but they just haven't been able to put it together. This could be pivotal game for either side. A win here could start a streak that puts one of them firmly in playoff position.
I'm usually one to stress the fact that a QB doesn't make a team. It's what you put around a passer that really makes the difference. However, having an all-time great throwing the ball sure helps to win a lot of games. I'll take Rodgers over Osweiler any day.
If the Packers do indeed win this game, I could see them having another late-season push that we've come to know them for. I don't know if Aaron has another classic phrase like "R-E-L-A-X" or "Run the table" in his back pocket, but he doesn't need one. We know and they know that they are always in the mix with him under center.
Packers win, 27-26
Seahawks vs Rams
At 4-4, Seattle has little to no chance at a division title at this point, but every game is crucial in the wild card race. Standing in their way is the no longer undefeated L.A. Rams. No one wants to run into a team like the Rams in a situation like the Seahawks are in. But based on their previous meeting, Seattle seems to have a real chance here. It's funny, for a few years when the Seahawks were one of the most dominant teams in football, the Rams seemed to have their number. Now the Rams are on top, and the Seahawks might turn out to be the same kind of pest to the Rams as the Rams were to them just a couple years ago.
I don't see Seattle coming out on top, but I expect the same level of excitement from this matchup as we have gotten in years past. Should be a great show in a hard-fought L.A. win.
Rams win, 30-28
Cowboys vs Eagles
Most people assumed the Eagles would sit atop the NFC East once again in 2018. If you had to choose another team, it probably would have been the Cowboys. Well right now, it's the Redskins. Who saw that one coming? While there is just a slim margin separating all three teams, the Eagles and Cowboys need to pick up the pace quickly if they're going to pass Washington with time slowly dwindling. Divisional wins will be huge down the stretch. Only 4 divisional games have been played in the East thus far. Each of the three aforementioned teams picked up a win over New York, and Washington also beat Dallas a couple weeks ago. All 8 of the other divisional meetings have yet to come, and they will likely be the difference in a tight race.
The Cowboys added Amari Cooper in a very aggressive trade a couple weeks ago. Was a 1st-round pick over-paying. Yes, indeed it was. Was it also a much needed addition to a weak receiving group. Yes, absolutely. This move at least gives them a chance at contending.
However, they still can't compete with Philly. The Eagles have had a significant decrease in play from last year's team, but they still feel like they can beat anybody. They have talent all over the field, and on a good day, they can beat you in any aspect of the game. The Cowboys are much the opposite.
Eagles win 27-21