The Saints head into The Jungle, while the Fins leave South Beach behind for the (semi) frozen tundra. Breakout Live breaks down all the matchups for week 10 in the NFL.
Byes: Ravens, Broncos, Texans, Vikings
Self-gloss alert: I went 11-2 last week and I’m 22-5 over the last two weeks. That doesn’t make me special. I know that. But it makes me feel good so let me live! Whether you’re impressed or not, thanks for reading.
Now, onto the stuff that actually matters: game breakdowns.
Redskins @ Buccaneers
I want to like Washington, I really do. But I can’t. The only thing they have going for them is a tenacious defense, but the Falcons made them look Beanie Baby-soft last week. Now the Skins take on another potent offense in Tampa Bay. Tampa’s turnover differential is minus-15, worst in the NFL, but most of those have come on INTs and Washington only has 7 of those this year. If the Skins can’t get 3 picks off of Ryan Fitzpatrick, they won’t win.
Cardinals @ Chiefs
Oooh, boy. I’m usually a big proponent of teams coming off a bye this late in the season, but that’s only when the matchup is even by most accounts. This matchup for Arizona is about as even as me vs. my wife when I try to chase a full slate of NFL games with some late-night NBA or Madden – it doesn’t go well. I’m sure the Cards spent their bye week preparing for the Chiefs, but they’d be better off preparing their post-game comments like, “We played hard, just came up short,” or, “Tough loss, but we’ll watch film and try to get better every day.” Arizona’s pass defense is its lone bright spot (6th in the NFL), so Mahomes won’t exactly have a field day, but Kareem Hunt will against the league’s 2nd-worst run defense. KC stays undefeated at Arrowhead in a laugher.
Bills @ Jets
As if this game wasn’t already cringe-worthy enough, Sam Darnold will sit out with an injury, opening the door for a matchup of back-up QBs between two teams who don’t even have good starters right now. Thing is, Jets’ backup Josh McCown can actually play a little. If Josh Allen can’t go, leaving Derek Anderson or (God forbid) Nathan Peterman to start again for Buffalo, then there is nothing on this Earth that can help them. As one of my favorite movie principals once put it, I award the Bills no points, and may God have mercy on their souls.
Jaguars @ Colts
My, how the mighty have fallen. I honestly cannot believe that the Colts are a 3-point favorite in this game, but that’s where we are in the soap opera that is the Jacksonville Jaguars. Is this really the same team that nearly went to the Super Bowl last year? By many accounts it is. The success turnover in the NFL is higher than any other sport, but the Jags’ struggles are easily the biggest surprise in the league. A revamped offensive line and a finally healthy Andrew Luck have led the Colts to two wins in a row. Were those wins against bad teams? Oh yeah (Oakland, Buffalo). But guess what? Jacksonville is also a bad team. That said, I still refuse to believe that Blake Bortles – as bad as he is – can single-handedly ruin this team. Leonard Fournette is finally back, so the Jags should just run it 60 times and hope the defense makes enough plays to win. I’ll take the Jags, but I don’t like it.
Lions @ Bears
Chicago has won two in a row, but wins against the Jets and the Fighting Nathan Petermans don’t exactly turn heads. A win against a division opponent in the Lions will help, even if the Lions have unofficially cashed in their chips for the year. Matt Stafford has taken a step back over the past couple of weeks, and things won’t get better against a bad-to-the-bone Bears defense. The only thing worse than giving up 10 sacks like the Lions did last week, is seeing that Khalil Mack practiced this week and could play Sunday. If Mack does play, it could be another double-digit sack day and the Lions entire O-line may just quit on the spot. Mitch Trubisky hasn’t been great of late, but he’s still on pace for nearly 4,000 yards and 32 TDs. He’ll do just enough and let his defense do the rest.
Saints @ Bengals
I picked the Saints to win it all at Breakout Live’s midway point predictions, and boy did they make me look good last week. The Saints are now 7-1 and are well-positioned for home field throughout the playoffs. There’s still a long way to go of course, but New Orleans looks like a team built for the long run, especially with the addition of Dez Bryant. No one knows if Dez will play this week, but it really won’t matter against Cincy’s 30th-ranked defense. Andy Dalton better have his red rocket upgraded nuke this week, because the only way the Bengals stand a chance is if Dalton tosses for 400 yards and 4 or 5 TDs. Not likely.
Patriots @ Titans
It’s November, so naturally the Pats are peaking. They’ve won 6 in a row, and it’s business as usual for Brady and the gang. I do think Tennessee’s 5th-ranked defense will give New England some problems, but there’s just not enough talent on the other side of the ball for the Titans to keep up with the Pats. Sony Michel should return, Cordarrelle Patterson has become another nobody that Bill Belichick turned into a world beater, and Josh Gordon has found his groove. That’s terrible news for Tennessee.
Falcons @ Browns
The Falcons signed hometown kid Bruce Irvin this week, which helps their ailing defense a lot. Problem is, their biggest issues are in their secondary and I’m not sure adding a decent pass rusher does enough to mitigate those issues. But I’ll tell you one elixir that really helps: The Browns. Cleveland’s coaching staff is in disarray and Baker Mayfield’s struggles are a direct result. The Browns have enough talent to right the ship, assuming they find the right coach, but that’s a conversation for next year. The Falcons’ offense is too potent, and after sniffing the end zone for the first time in a year last week, Julio Jones may have finally broken the seal. 3 TDs for Julio this week wouldn’t be a surprise.
Chargers @ Raiders
Can you believe that when these two teams met back in Week 5, they were separated by just one win? That’s like saying turkey and tofurky are created equal because they’re separated by one letter – it doesn’t compute. The Chargers have established themselves as a real contender in the AFC while the Raiders have completely given up on their season. And if last week’s performance against the lowly 49ers was any indication, the Black Hole is about to get blown up.
Seahawks @ Rams
The Rams’ quest for a perfect season came to an end in New Orleans last week, but let’s be honest: they were never going 16-0. I actually think it’s better for them to get that first L on the books now, so they can forget about all the hoopla that goes with being undefeated and just play football. Seattle played LA tough a few weeks back at home, but going on the road against a Rams team looking to unleash some fury is not an ideal situation.
Dolphins @ Packers
Aaron Rodgers is hurt. Problem is, I can’t tell if it’s his knee that’s causing him the most pain, or if it’s Mike McCarthy’s offense. Rodgers is a bit of an aloof cat as it is, but every time the camera flashes to him on the sideline he looks like a guest on Maury Povich who just found out he IS the father. Rodgers is completing just 60.6% of his throws, a career worst to this point. Of the 26 QBs who’ve attempted at least 200 passes in 2018, Rodgers is 23rd. The three behind him? Bortles, Mayfield, Darnold. That’s not great company, especially for a future Hall of Famer. Things are not working and it may be time to blow it up in Green Bay – but that starts with McCarthy, not Rodgers. Fortunately, the Dolphins secondary is banged up and Brock Osweiler will likely be under center for Miami for another week. The Packers should win this one with ease. But even if they do, it’ll be nothing more than a one-week Band-Aid on a gaping, festering wound.
Cowboys @ Eagles
I love Jerry Jones. As someone who’s been conditioned to hate the Cowboys from birth, ‘ol Jer makes it so delightful to watch that circus from afar. On this week’s show, Jerry chased a 28-14 loss to the average Titans by committing to a Dak Prescott extension: “He’s young and he’s going to get extended.” Hey Jer, I’m (kinda) young too, want to toss some coin my way? Next thing you know, Jerry’s gonna go with the Al Davis response: “He’s a great playah… get over it.” Seriously, Dak is a decent player, but he’s not the kind of player the Cowboys should blindly commit to. Why should they? Dallas is 3-5, and they’re winless on the road. Now they head to Philly against an Eagles team that is rounding into form, they smell blood, and they’ll turn the lights out on Dallas’ 2018 season this weekend.
Giants @ 49ers
Games like this make you wish Monday Nighters could be flexed out. Alas, they can’t, so we’re stuck with this turtle race to wrap up Week 10. And that’s coming from a lifelong Niners fan, so you know it’s bad. Everybody knows about the “Sunday Scaries” – when that clock hits about 9 pm, you’re still hungover from the weekend, and the weight of another 5 days of work ahead feels like Jared Lorenzen sitting on your chest. This game gives me the Monday Scaries, because the only reprieve from a long weekend and an even longer Monday is going to be a whole lot of crap football. I will say this, though: it’s pretty awesome to see a QB matchup of former #1 overall pick Eli Manning vs. undrafted Nick Mullens in which SF clearly has the better player. I know it was the Raiders who Mullen shredded last Thursday, but I’m not sure Eli could even beat the cast of Raiders of the Lost Ark with 76-year old Harrison Ford at QB. I’m excited to see what Mullens can do coming off the best debut by a QB since 1970. New York presents a slightly tougher test with the NFL’s 16th ranked pass defense, but I think Mullens shows last week was no fluke and he’ll be the starter for SF the rest of the way.