While marquee AFC teams Indianapolis, New England, and San Diego all have the week off, and Houston, Minnesota, and Washington also rest, the NFL features a handful of intriguing NFC matchups in week 10. The schedule is highlighted by Sunday night’s Bears vs. Packers clash, and on Monday, Carolina travels to Philadelphia for a must-win. Elsewhere, the 49ers visit New Orleans, and Seattle hosts the Giants. Let’s take a closer look at the full slate.
Cleveland (5-3) at Cincinnati (5-2-1) – Spread: Bengals -6.5
After playing well on the road early in the year (beating Tennessee and falling by a point in Pittsburgh), the Browns were manhandled by the then-winless Jacksonville Jaguars in week 7. They will have a much tougher road test in week 10 when they travel to Cincinnati. This will be the third straight home game for the Bengals, who have dominated opponents at Paul Brown Stadium the last few years. The Bengals haven’t lost at home since the 2012-13 season and have beaten the Ravens and Jaguars in their last two. Cincinnati starts a three game road trip in week 11 at New Orleans; with the Saints equally hot at home, the Bengals know they need a win this week to solidify their spot at the top of the AFC North. Of course, the Browns will be thinking the same – as a win will put them in top spot for the time being. The Bengals have won five of the last seven meetings in the series, including five straight and nine of the last ten at home.
Miami (5-3) at Detroit (6-2) – Spread: Lions -6
The Dolphins have been a strong road team this year, but meet a Lions squad which features the league’s top total defense and is coming off of a bye. Miami dropped their road opener against the Bills, but have since dominated the Raiders in London, plus Chicago and Jacksonville in true away contests. The Dolphins have won their last two games in Detroit and five of six overall against the Lions. Miami has won three straight overall after demolishing the Chargers 37-0 last week. Detroit beat Atlanta in London in week 8, but needed every second of the 60 minutes to do so. The Lions trailed the Falcons 21-0 but rallied for a 22-21 win, capped off by a last-play field goal. A week earlier, Detroit came from behind to shock the Saints 24-23. The Lions are 3-1 in games decided by one score and are also 3-1 at home, with their lone loss coming to Buffalo in week 5.
Kansas City (5-3) at Buffalo (5-3) – Spread: Chiefs -2.5
The Chiefs have played well since a week 6 bye and have held their own throughout the season on the road. Kansas City is 2-2 away from home and 3-1 against the spread. The Chiefs beat Miami on the road in week 3 and San Diego in week 7. Alex Smith and his teammates fell at Denver (24-17) in week 2, and at San Fran (22-17) in week 5. Buffalo has looked better on the road than at home. The Bills are 2-2 at home and just 1-3 against the spread. After the Bills’ week 1 win over Miami, they were dominated at home by the Chargers and Patriots, and needed a dramatic finish to get by Minnesota (17-16) in week 7. Dating back to the 1980s, Buffalo is 6-1 against the Chiefs at home.
Dallas (6-3) vs. Jacksonville (1-8) in London – Spread: Cowboys -7
After three straight home games (in which they went just 1-2), the Cowboys are on the road – albeit in London. Dallas is 3-0 on the road this year both straight-up and against the spread, winning at Tennessee (26-10), St. Louis (34-31), and Seattle (30-23). For Jacksonville, this will likely feel like another road game as the London audience is likely to favor America’s Team. The Jags are 1-7 overall and 0-5 on the road. Their lone win came at home against Cleveland in week 7. The last time these teams met with Jacksonville as the designated home team, the Cowboys earned a 24-17 victory. But that game was back in 2007 and featured Drew Bledsoe hooking up with Terrell Owens for the winning score.
San Francisco (4-4) at New Orleans (4-4) – Spread: Saints -5
The Niners are in the midst of four road games in the span of five weeks. Making matters worse, they lost the only home game in that stretch last weekend (13-10 to St. Louis) when Colin Kaepernick fumbled on the goal line on the last play of the game. On the season, San Francisco is 2-2 on the road. The Niners won at Dallas (28-17) and St. Louis (31-17), but dropped away games to Denver (42-17) and division rival Arizona ( 23-14). While the Saints aren’t having a phenomenal season, they are in the hunt for a division title, have won two straight, and, as usual, have been very good at home (make that perfect at home). New Orleans beat Minnesota 20-9 in week 3, got by the Bucs 37-31 in overtime during week 5, and crushed Green Bay 44-23 at the Superdome in week 8. New Orleans has also dominated this series, of late, winning seven of the last nine against San Francisco.
Tennessee (2-6) at Baltimore (5-4) – Spread: Ravens -10
The Titans return from a bye seeking their first road victory since opening day. Tennessee played their best game of the season in a 26-10 week 1 win in Kansas City. But that game looks more anomalous with each passing week. Since then, the Titans have lost to Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Washington; only the latter-most was close. After back-to-back road games against division rivals, the Ravens are back at home in week 10, where they’ve gone 3-1 straight up and against the spread. Baltimore is happy to be home after loses at Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. After falling to the Bengals at home in week 1, the Ravens have won three straight in front of friendly fans, destroying the Steelers, Panthers, and Falcons at M&T Bank Stadium. These teams have split their last eight matchups with six of them decided by one score or less.
Pittsburgh (6-3) at New York Jets (1-8) – Spread: Steelers -6
After three straight home wins, the Steelers are on the road for the first time in a month. Pittsburgh has been very inconsistent away from home. They got beat badly at Baltimore in week 2, bounced back to crush Carolina in week 3, played poorly in a 17-9 win at Jacksonville in week 5, and, most recently, laid an egg against the Browns in week 6. The Jets have a bye in week 11 and it is possible that, if New York doesn’t perform well in front of home fans, Rex Ryan will not have a job come week 12. At home this year, the Jets are 1-4 straight-up and 0-5 against the spread. New York was blitzed by Buffalo, 43-23, the last time they played at home in week 8.
Atlanta (2-6) at Tampa Bay (1-7) – Spread: Falcons -1.5
At first glance (and possibly second), this game will be a battle of futility. The Falcons return from their bye week having lost five straight. Atlanta led Detroit 21-0 in London during week 8 but lost 22-21 after Matt Prater got two attempts at the game-winning field goal. The Falcons are 0-4 in true road games, with all four contests decided by at least ten points. The Bucs aren’t any better at home than the Falcons are on the road, though, going 0-4 in Tampa so far. On the bright side, three of their four home games have been one score contests. In week 8, they led Minnesota for most of the game, but gave up a last-drive field goal to send the game to OT, where they promptly fumbled on the first play from scrimmage and lost 19-13. In week 3, the Falcons routed Tampa Bay 56-14, outgaining the Bucs 488-217 in a game that featured nine turnovers.
Denver (6-2) at Oakland (0-8) – Spread: Broncos -12
After starting the year with five home games during their first seven contests, Denver is on the road for the second of three straight games. The Broncos got rocked in New England 43-21 last week snapping a four game winning streak. Denver has won five straight in the series against Oakland, which spans 109 total contests. The five wins have come by an average margin of nearly 19 points. The Raiders are home for the first time since a 24-13 week 7 loss against Arizona. Oakland is 0-4 at home with double-digit losses against Houston, Miami, and Arizona, and a 31-28 setback against the Chargers.
St. Louis (3-5) at Arizona (7-1) – Spread: Cardinals -7.5
The Rams play their third straight road game when they visit Arizona. The first two contests have had mixed results, a lopsided loss at Kansas City, and a narrow win in San Francisco. St. Louis is 2-2 on the road straight up and against the spread. Last year, the Rams lost in Glendale 30-10. The Cardinals have beaten the Rams in five of the last seven games at University of Phoenix Stadium. Arizona is 4-0 at home this year and 3-1 against the spread. They beat the Eagles 24-20 in week 8 at home.
New York Giants (3-5) at Seattle (5-3) – Spread: Seahawks -9.5
After losing two straight divisional road games, the Giants were off in week 8. Following a feeble effort against the Colts at home on Monday, New York is back at MetLife Stadium. The G-Men are 2-2 at home this season, both straight up and against the spread. While the Giants play three of their first four games following the bye at home, all four games are against potential playoff teams. In week 10, the Seahawks will be at home for a second straight game after beating the Raiders 30-24 last weekend. They are currently 3-1 at CenturyLink Field. Seattle lost at home to Dallas 30-23, a game they were favored to win by nine points. This is the second year in a row the Seahawks and Giants will hook up; last year, Seattle embarrassed New York 23-0 at MetLife Stadium.
Chicago (3-5) at Green Bay (5-3) – Spread: Packers -7.5
After back-to-back losses, the Bears were off in week 9 before traveling to Green Bay in week 10. Chicago lost at home to Miami 27-14 in week 7 and then were rocked by the Patriots in New England 51-23 in week 8. Chicago is 3-5 against the spread but a solid 3-2 on the road. Green Bay has won eight of their last nine against the Bears, including a 38-17 win at Soldier Field in week 4. Aaron Rodgers completed 22 of 28 passes for 302 yards and four touchdowns in the Packers win. Jay Cutler threw two costly interceptions for the Bears. Green Bay is 3-0 in home games with an average margin of victory of 20 points. Green Bay will also come into this game off of a week 9 bye; Mike McCarthy is 9-1 after a bye as head coach of the Packers.
Carolina (3-5-1) at Philadelphia (6-2) – Spread: Eagles -6
The Panthers are back on the road in week 10. The Panthers have played a difficult road slate this season and have had mixed results. After opening the year with a 20-14 win at Tampa Bay, the Panthers have dropped road games to Baltimore (38-10 in week 4) and Green Bay (38-17 in week 7). Carolina also tied the Bengals in Cincinnati (37-37 in week 6), a decent result considering the Bengals have not lost at home in almost two years. Carolina has a bit of extra time to prepare for the Eagles after a TNF loss against the Saints in week 9. Philadelphia is at home for their only game in front of friendly fans during a month long span. This year, the Eagles are 4-0 at home and 3-1 against the spread. With Nick Foles out, Mark Sanchez starts under center for Chip Kelly’s squad. Philadelphia has won three of their last four against the Panthers, but lost 30-22 at home in 2012.
(Photo credit: Melissa Batson (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)