Welcome back to another week of the NFL season. The season always seems to go by so fast and this year is no different. We are over the halfway point now and have six teams on bye this week. Despite some quality teams having a bye, there are some intriguing matchups on the schedule this week. Last week, we saw every home team win or cover the spread except for the London game and Monday Night Football; but an extremely strange occurrence nevertheless. The Patriots were served some humble pie on the road as MVP candidate Lamar Jackson and the Ravens dominated in the trenches to defeat the once unbeaten Patriots. The conversation around the MVP has heated up and the top candidates (Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson) all have a fair claim. They also all have tough schedules coming up, so it should get sorted out in the coming weeks. Let’s get into some Week 10 action.
Carolina Panthers vs Green Bay Packers
Carolina comes into this one on a high after winning last week against the Titans. This game will pose an entirely different challenge as the Panthers will look to slow down Aaron Rodgers and this Packers team. The Panthers have been a top 10 defense against the pass all year long and will need to count on their backend to hold up against a Packers offense that ranks sixth in DVOA. A clash of two top 10 units will have some fireworks. The Panther defense, however, has been terrible against the run. That is where the Packers need to exploit this defense. Last week, the Packers couldn’t get anything going against the Chargers; and that included Aaron Rodgers, who looked pedestrian at best. The Packers rank 4th in rushing offense, according to football outsiders, and have a real chance to pound the rock here and save Aaron Rodgers from putting it all on him this week. Look for Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams to take advantage of running lanes against the Carolina front.
On the Panthers side of the ball, offensively they have an absolute machine in Christian McCaffrey. The worry with him is he is already over 160+ carries and 42 catches. The Panthers seem content on giving him the dreaded 300 carries this year, which is good for your fantasy teams, but likely not good for CMC and the rest of his career. The Panthers put Cam Newton on IR this week, which qualms all the quarterback squabbling, but it doesn’t do much for the ceiling of this passing game, which has been in the bottom half of the league. The Panthers passing offense sits at 24th in DVOA and Kyle Allen as a quarterback is at 23rd in the NFL. The Packers defense is middle of the road in passing defense, but their run defense is equally bad compared to the Carolina run defense. Look for Carolina to continue to pound the ball with McCaffrey in this one, cover the spread, and possibly even win.
My pick: Carolina +5.5
Minnesota Vikings vs Dallas Cowboys
This is set up as a potential huge matchup in the NFC playoff race, as both teams need a win to solidify their current standing. The Vikings come into this one losing a tough game at Arrowhead last week. Adam Thielen left that game early and will be out for this one as well. The Vikings offense, spearheaded by Dalvin Cook and the rushing attack, will look to use their ground game against this average Cowboys defense. The Vikings and Cowboys both have top 10 offenses, according to PFF and DVOA. The Cook and Elliott battle and how often both teams use play action to help their passing games will be fun to watch, as both Cousins and Prescott rely on play-action to move the ball down the field and are at their best when doing so. On defense, both these teams rank in the top half of the league with Dallas right at the bottom of the top half. The secondary for the Vikings needs to play better and if they can get pressure on Prescott and limit Elliott, the Vikings could steal one here. The Cowboys will continue to give Elliott the ball and predicate their offense off the run, which has benefitted Prescott, who ranks highly in every analytical category. Their offense has been highly efficient when using play-action and I look for that to continue here.
My pick: Cowboys -3
Seattle Seahawks vs San Francisco 49ers
What a game this is shaping up to be! The Seattle Seahawks come into the Bay after just getting by Tampa Bay last week. Russell Wilson leads the top passing attack in the NFL into San Francisco and the second-best defense in the NFL, according to DVOA. The weakness of the 49ers defense is their run defense, which was evident in their three-point win over the Cardinals last week as newly acquired Kenyon Drake gashed them on the ground. The 49ers pass defense is the top overall group and their run defense is 20th in the league. This works into the hands of Seattle. They love to run the ball almost to the detriment of their MVP caliber quarterback. Look for the Seahawks to again rely on Chris Carson to run the ball 15-20 times against this SF front, especially if the 49ers can’t get it going on offense.
That said, Jimmy G came out and balled last week against the Cardinals. The 49ers are also getting healthy on the offensive line and at fullback this week, which should help bolster this offense. The addition of Emmanuel Sanders has been a breath of fresh air and gives the 49ers a legitimate matchup problem in their receiving core. This 49ers offense has not been an overly efficient group, ranking in the middle of the pack, however this Seattle defense ranks in the bottom third of defenses and has given up back-to-back big games to Matt Schaub and Jameis Winston. The 49ers will stick to their misdirection run game and will let Jimmy G take some shots in this one off the play action. The 49ers should be solid enough, as long as they take care of the ball, to win this one at home with this defense, but it will be close.
My pick: Seattle +6.5
As we roll into Week 10, it is important to watch these inter-conference and inter-divisional games closely as they will have the greatest effect on playoffs and how it all shakes out. The NFC is going to come down to the wire and there is still a wide-open playoff spot in the AFC that could also come down to the last week. Remember to catch up on all Unwrapped Sports Network content at unwrappedsports.com. Also make sure to check out our live content on www.sportscastr.com. You can watch and follow me on Sportcastr @SemiProUSN. Have a good weekend everyone and good luck!
Corey Easley is a Contributor for the Unwrapped Sports Network website. Follow him @Cmoney52 on Twitter.