Top storyline for each Week 10 NFL game

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A huge nationally televised divisional game.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Even after just nine weeks, multiple NFL teams are battling for their playoff lives. Who will remain relevant in the AFC South in a game between Jacksonville and Indianapolis?

Over in the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys do battle in a huge nationally televised divisional game. Meanwhile, we’re intrigued to see how the Los Angeles Rams rebound following their first loss of the season.

These are among the top storylines for each Week 10 NFL game.


Carolina Panthers at Pittsburgh Steelers: Battle of two red-hot teams

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It’s not too often that we get a November Thursday Night Football game that includes two teams on pace for 10-plus wins. But here we are. Carolina will head to Pittsburgh winners of three in a row and having averaged 39 points per game over the past two outings. Quarterback Cam Newton is once again playing at an MVP level. Meanwhile, second-year back Christian McCaffrey has broken out big time.

For the Steelers, it’s pretty much the same story. Ben Roethlisberger and Co. have won four consecutive games after a slow start to the season. Though, it’s second-year running back James Conner who is the bigger story. In Le’Veon Bell’s stead, Conner has tallied nearly 1,100 total yards and 10 touchdowns in eight games. He’s already made it into the franchise record book. This should be a good mid-week game.


Washington Redskins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Can Alex Smith and Co. bounce back?

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The Redskins were exposed big time in last week’s blowout home loss to Atlanta. As has been proven throughout his career, Smith struggled when playing from behind. He had no help from Adrian Peterson on the ground and Washington’s surprisingly good defense couldn’t stop the Falcons’ offense. In fact, Matt Ryan and Co. went for nearly 500 total yards.

Taking on a much lesser Buccaneers team in Week 10, it’s now time for the first-place Redskins to rebound big time. The good news? Tampa Bay has yielded 22 passing touchdowns compared to one interception on the season. Smith should feast here.


Arizona Cardinals at Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes, NFL MVP?

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The answer is a resounding yes. It’s also highly unlikely that this second-year quarterback will somehow take a step back in the MVP race Week 10 against a two-win Arizona Cardinals team. We’re honestly just running out of expletives to define what Mahomes has done for the 8-1 Chiefs on the season.

In addition to already breaking multiple records, Mahomes is completing 66 percent of his passes while leading this offense to an average of 36.3 points per game. He’s on pace for 5,400 total yards and 55 total touchdowns. It’s now up to Patrick Peterson and the Cardinals to somehow slow him down at Arrowhead come Sunday. Good luck with that.


Buffalo Bills at New York Jets: The Empire State’s toilet bowl

The Jets' quarterback situation is laughable. Bryce Petty

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There’s no other way to go about it. This game is going to be a real-live dumpster fire GIF. It pits a two-win Bills team against a Jets squad that saw rookie quarterback Sam Darnold throw four interceptions in a loss to the Dolphins last week. Now that Darnold won’t be active for this one, Josh McCown will get the start.

As bad as Darnold has played, Bills fans would give up their second born for him to be under center in Western New York. That’s because Buffalo quarterbacks have now tossed three touchdowns compared to 16 interceptions for an offense that’s averaging less than 11 points per game. Yeah, fans of these two teams should probably spend this Sunday getting some early holiday shopping done.


Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts: Big time game coming out of the bye

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Both Jacksonville and Indianapolis come out of their bye on the outside of real contention in an AFC South that’s now suddenly controlled by the red hot Texans. Whoever drops this game will be nothing more than irrelevant as America prepares for the annual gut carnage that is Thanksgiving. For the Colts, Week 10’s outing is an opportunity to prove that their recent success isn’t a fluke. They’ve won two in a row and are averaging 39.5 points per game during that span.

The trajectory is much different for a Jaguars team that’s now lost four consecutive and has seen a season with initial Super Bowl aspirations turn into a complete mess. This four-game losing streak has come with Jacksonville losing by a combined 68 points. That’s just bad.


Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears: Listen to them roar

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Following last week’s 41-9 win over the hapless Bills, Chicago finds itself at 5-3 and in first place in a highly competitive NFC North. It ranks No. 3 in total defense and is averaging nearly 30 points per game. To say this has been a stellar start to head coach Matt Nagy’s career in the Windy City would be an understatement.

This week’s game offers the Bears an opportunity to pretty much put the Lions to sleep. Having lost its past two games by a combined 29 points, Detroit is in the division cellar. A loss here would pretty much make Matt Patricia’s squad irrelevant moving forward.


New Orleans Saints at Cincinnati Bengals: NFL’s best team on display

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We can put this to rest right now. Fresh off their home win over the previously undefeated Rams, these Saints are now the best team in the NFL. That’s not even debatable right now. Having won seven consecutive games and averaging nearly 35 points per game, Drew Brees and Co. are a real juggernaut.

That should be tested to an extent Sunday in Cincinnati against a Bengals team that’s a surprising 5-3 on the season. Unfortunately for Cincinnati, it ranks dead last in the NFL against the pass and might have to go up against recently-signed wide receiver Dez Bryant in this one.


New England Patriots at Tennessee Titans: Home team’s surprising defense

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Following last week’s win over Dallas, these Titans head into Week 10 with the NFL’s top scoring defense. Given the struggles of high-priced former Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler, that’s a somewhat surprising note. It also has Tennessee at 4-4 on the season and still in the AFC Playoff picture.

Whether any of this continues Sunday against a Patriots squad that’s won six consecutive games remains to be seen. But it’s likely going to be on Marcus Mariota to continue the success we saw last week. New England has given up just 23 points over the past two games.


Atlanta Falcons at Cleveland Browns: Finding their rhythm

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If we’re going to be quick to criticize Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian like we were last season, we also have to give him credit for this unit’s success in 2018. Winners of three consecutive following a 1-4 start to the season, Atlanta is averaging nearly 32 points and well north of 400 yards during that span. Matt Ryan is playing at an MVP level and Julio Jones is racking up some ridiculous stats.

The goal against a bad Browns team on the road Sunday has to be to continue this recent string of success. Consistency from the Falcons’ offense will be needed if the team expects to get back in the NFC Playoff picture during the second half of the season.


Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders: Philip Rivers’ underrated season

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There’s a logical argument surrounding Rivers’ MVP candidacy. He has the Chargers at 6-2 through the first half of the season with the team’s only two losses coming against the Chiefs and Rams. In the six wins, Los Angeles is outscoring its opponents by north of 10 points per outing.

This likely won’t change Sunday against a Raiders defense that’s giving up nearly 32 points per game. In fact, Rivers should have a walk in the park in Northern California come game day. He’s now tossed 19 touchdowns compared to three interceptions on the season and is on pace for 4,500 passing yards. Whew.


Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams: In need of a rebound win

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Seattle’s playoff aspirations might rest on whether it can go into Southern California and come out with a win against the first-place Rams. Following last week’s home loss to the Chargers, Pete Carroll’s squad is 4-4 on the season. Dropping to under .500 through 10 weeks wouldn’t be good for the team’s relevance moving forward.

As it relates to the Rams, we’re interested to see how they respond after being handed their first loss of the season last week. A win here would put Los Angeles five games up in the win column in the NFC West with six games left.


Miami Dolphins at Green Bay Packers: End of the line for Mike McCarthy?


Speaking of battling for their playoff lives, the Packers head into Week 10 with a 3-4-1 record and having lost their past two games. In fact, Green Bay’s three wins on the season have come against teams with a combined 9-17 record. One of those wins was more about San Francisco failing to hold off Green Bay after leading by two scores in the second half.

The question now is whether McCarthy will even finish out the season should the Packers’ recent slide continue. There’s obviously a rift between him and franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers. A home loss to a less-talented Dolphins squad might signal the end of McCarthy’s career in Green Bay.


Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles: Same question for Jason Garrett

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Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has stated more than once that Garrett’s job is safe. That’s fine. We know it isn’t. After last week’s pitiful home loss to the Tennessee Titans, these Cowboys find themselves at 3-5 on the season and two games behind Washington in the NFC East. Another divisional loss on national television could force Jones’ hands here.

At issue is the play of quarterback Dak Prescott and the team’s offense. Even after adding Amari Cooper in a trade, this unit ranks 26th in the NFL in scoring. Given the talent it possesses, this can’t be deemed as acceptable for the powers to be in Big D.


New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers: New low for the road team?

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A loss Monday night against a two-win 49ers team would pretty much guarantee New York a top-two pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. This certainly isn’t what first-year head coach Pat Shurmur and Co. expected heading into the season. And a loss to a Nick Mullens-led 49ers squad would be a new low in Jersey.

There’s very little reason to believe Shurmur’s job isn’t safe. The same thing can’t be said for a quarterback Eli Manning that has regressed big time over the past couple seasons. If he’s outplayed by Mullens en route to another loss, things could change in a hurry for the two-time Super Bowl champ.

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