NFL week 9 summary, week 10 preview

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Blake Krantz

by Blake Krantz
Week 10 presents several “must-win” games for teams trying to remain in the playoff picture, as the season takes the turn from separating good starts from bad starts to separating playoff contenders from teams waiting for the 2016 NFL Draft.
The Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens, and Miami Dolphins are in trouble, with little hope for a playoff spot, while the Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks will look for victories to keep pace in the NFC.
For Dallas and Baltimore, the 2015 season has simply been a disaster, with both teams sitting at a dismal 2-6. For the Cowboys, the issue has been injuries, with both star receiver Dez Bryant and quarterback Tony Romo missing the majority of the season to this point.
By Week 11, Dallas will be at full strength with Romo returning and Bryant already back with the team, although a string of six straight losses since Romo went down with a broken collarbone in Week 2 has already nearly put the Cowboys out of the playoff picture.
Dallas has also suffered from many off-field distractions to this point, such as Bryant’s tirade against the media and the domestic abuse allegations against Greg Hardy, with poignant photos of Hardy’s girlfriend questioning the morality of Hardy remaining on the field for Dallas.
The story for the Ravens has been much more of an enigma. Sure, Baltimore lost a weapon in wide receiver Torrey Smith this offseason, and the offense seemed to lack firepower going into the season.
But the core was still there, with John Harbaugh, Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs, and veteran wide receiver Steve Smith as the Raven’s core leaders. Every season before, Baltimore had always been a lock for the playoffs, able to do more with less as well as nearly any team in the NFL.
This year has not been the case. Suggs and Smith went down with injuries, and the Ravens seem helplessly lost at the bottom of an AFC North division led by the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals.
For Miami, the season seemed to turn around under Dan Campbell as the new head coach beginning in Week 5, but a lopsided 33-17 loss to Buffalo Sunday may have been the “nail in the coffin” for the Dolphins’ playoff hopes this year.
The Eagles and Seahawks have pivotal games this week, with large playoff-implications. Philadelphia can keep pace with the Giants in the NFC East with a win against Miami Sunday, and Seattle can inch closer towards a wild-card spots in a huge game Sunday night against the Arizona Cardinals in a game between two formidable defenses.
With a win, the Eagles can at least stay a half-game behind New York, if not pass them, and the Seahawks can pull within one game of Arizona in the NFC West. I see both of these teams winning at home in Week 10, setting up close divisional races for the rest of the season in the NFC.
The Green Bay Packers should also get back on track in Week 10 in a great matchup against the Lions at home. The Packers are coming off of back-to-back losses to Denver and Carolina, and desperately need a win to remain the favorite over Minnesota in the NFC North.
Finally, the Minnesota Vikings and Oakland Raiders and the New England Patriots and New York Giants will face off Sunday afternoon. The two games include four teams who are strong contenders to make the playoffs, if not earn a bye in the case of the 8-0 Pats.
In Oakland, the Raiders will look to bounce back from a loss in Pittsburgh Sunday against the Vikings. Oakland currently sits at 4-4 while the Vikings are 6-2 after a close overtime victory over the Rams in Minnesota.
Despite the records, Derek Carr and the Raiders should emerge victorious in this one, holding Adrian Peterson to just 80 all purpose yards.
At Metlife Stadium in New Jersey, the Giants will host the Patriots, in an intriguing game between a New England team that has looked unstoppable at times and a New York team that has historically proved capable of beating “unbeatable” Patriot teams.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin is 5-1 against Bill Belichick in his career, and the Giants have ended the Patriots’ last two ten-game winning streaks.
They will have the same opportunity at home Sunday, and for this reason this game should go down to the wire. Although the Giants have looked vulnerable at times throughout the season, they are a talented team nonetheless, and will be able to keep this one close until the fourth quarter.
In the end, New York, just like the eight teams that the Patriots have beaten this season, will not be able to keep up with Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and New England’s offense for 60 minutes. The Pats will win the game on the road in Week 10 to improve to 9-0, with both teams reaching 30 points on the scoreboard.