NFL Week 10: Sunday's Early Game Previews


Photo Courtesy of Robert Robinson

New Orleans Saints (7-1) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (5-3)

Preview

The New Orleans Saints are coming off the best win that any NFL team has had this season after beating the undefeated Rams at home. The Bengals will be without their best offensive playmaker in A.J. Green, but they will also be at home, where they are 3-1 on the season. Can the Bengals slow down the great Drew Brees this week?


Players to watch

As always, Drew Brees is a threat to carve up any opposing defense. This week is no different. Michael Thomas is coming off the best game that any receiver has had this year, so the Bengals would do well to have a spy on him over the top at all times. Alvin Kamara should see some time in the slot, given the fact that the Bengals safeties have struggled in coverage most of the season. Tyler Boyd will have to step up and be Andy Dalton’s number one target Sunday. If the Bengals are going to keep this game close, they will have to feed Joe Mixon to control the clock.


Keys to the game

New Orleans Saints

  • Protect Drew Brees

  • Do not get complacent

  • Get to Dalton without Davenport


Cincinnati Bengals

  • Control the time of possession

  • Get Brees off of his spot

  • Let Kamara eat


Injury list

New Orleans Saints

  • Marcus Davenport, DE- Toe (Out)

  • Dez Bryant, WR - Achilles (Out)


Cincinnati Bengals

  • Gio Bernard, RB- Knee (Questionable)

  • Vontaze Burfict, LB- Hip (Out)

  • Darqueze Dennard, CB- Sternum (Out)

  • A.J. Green, WR- Toe (Out)

  • Tyler Kroft, TE- Foot (Out)

  • Alex Redmond, OL- Hamstring (Doubtful)

  • Nick Vigil, LB- Knee (Out)

  • Josh Malone, WR - Hamstring (Out)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • Drew Brees, QB (NO)

  • Alvin Kamara, RB (NO)

  • Joe Mixon, RB (CIN)

  • Michael Thomas, WR (NO)

  • Andy Dalton, QB (CIN)


Prediction

The Saints are playing well on both sides of the ball, and they will be too much for the Cincinnati Bengals this week. Andy Dalton will play well at home, but Drew Brees will keep his foot on the gas and throw for three touchdowns. Mark Ingram will also have opportunities near the goal line, which would help him get some confidence back after a rough couple of weeks. The Bengals defense will not be able to get the key stop at the end to get Andy Dalton the ball back with a chance to tie the game.


Final Score: Saints 34, Bengals 27


Written by: Jake Leicht




Atlanta Falcons (4-4) vs. Cleveland Browns (2-6-1)

Preview

The Atlanta Falcons march into Cleveland on Sunday with an opportunity to better their playoff chances despite a very slow start to their 2018 campaign. The Browns are just looking to be competitive and take another step forward against a very good NFC opponent. At the end of the day Sunday, either the Atlanta Falcons will be one step closer to the playoffs, or the Cleveland Browns will have their biggest victory in several years.


Players to watch

If Denzel Ward is unable to play for the Browns, Julio Jones will have an absolute field day against the rest of Cleveland’s secondary. Even if Ward plays, he probably will not follow Julio across the field every play. Tevin Coleman should get plenty of open running lanes, given the fact that several Browns linebackers will not be playing on Sunday. If Matt Ryan is protected from Cleveland’s pass rushers, it could be a long day for the Brownies. No matter what, Baker Mayfield should have a nice day against the Falcons’ putrid secondary. I expect Jarvis Landry and Antonio Callaway to get plenty of looks down the field, especially if Atlanta’s offense is scoring at will. Nick Chubb could easily fall into the endzone once or twice as well.


Keys to the game

Atlanta Falcons

  • Bend but don’t break defensively

  • Establish the run

  • Get Julio involved early


Cleveland Browns

  • Win the turnover battle

  • Beat man coverage

  • Protect Baker


Injury list

Atlanta Falcons

  • Derrick Shelby, DE - Groin (Questionable)

  • Matt Bryant, K- Hamstring (Out)

Cleveland Browns

  • Desmond Harrison, OL- Illness (Questionable)

  • David Njoku, TE- Ribs (Questionable)

  • Damarious Randall, DB- Groin (Questionable)

  • Joe Schobert, LB- Hamstring (Questionable)

  • J.C. Tretter, OL- Ankle (Questionable)

  • Denzel Ward, CB- Hip (Questionable)

  • Da’Mari Scott, WR - Shoulder (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • Julio Jones, WR (ATL)

  • Matt Ryan, QB (ATL)

  • Nick Chubb, RB (CLE)

  • Jarvis Landry, WR (CLE)

  • Tevin Coleman, RB (ATL)

Prediction

I fully expect the Falcons offense to have their way with the Browns defense. Matt Ryan will definitely have a couple of touchdowns in the air, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Julio Jones in the endzone on Sunday. Baker Mayfield will put the Cleveland Browns in position to win the game, but ultimately the Falcons will prevail in a game they have to win to continue their playoff push.


Final Score: Falcons 41, Browns 31


Written by: Jake Leicht




Chicago Bears (5-3) vs. Detroit Lions (3-5)

Preview

THE MACK IS BACK! Khalil Mack is expected to return after missing the last two weeks with an ankle injury. The Bears currently sit atop the NFC North riding a 2-game win streak, while the Lions are dead last in the division and hoping to halt their 2-game losing streak. This game has huge implications for both teams, as the Lions are desperate for a win and will be fighting tooth and nail to salvage their season. A loss will send them to 3-6 and all but eliminate them entirely from playoff contention. The Bears, on the other hand, are a half game up on the Vikings and could widen the gap with a divisional win come Sunday.


Players to watch

The Lions offense looked stagnant last week without Golden Tate, Matt Stafford's favorite target, and seemed to abandon the run game after finding success with Kerryon Johnson in the weeks prior. A Bears defense that features a linebacking corps including Roquan Smith, Leonard Floyd, and Danny Trevathan will look to continue their success against the run. They’ve allowed only 84 YPG on the ground and have yet to give up a rushing TD to an RB all season. Matt Stafford was sacked 10 times last week and will desperately need some better protection if Detroit hopes to have a chance of winning. Mitchell Trubisky will continue to hand the ball off to both Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard in hopes to set up the big play downfield to speedster Tyler Gabriel.


Keys to the game

Chicago Bears

  • Get after Stafford

  • Win the turnover battle

  • Establish the run

  • Set up the play action and Nagy’s misdirection/gadget plays


Detroit Lions

  • Protect Matt Stafford

  • Find success through the run game

  • Limit the big plays on defense


Injury list

Chicago Bears

  • Dion Sims, TE - Concussion (Out)

  • Bilal Nichols, DT - Knee (Questionable)


Detroit Lions

  • T.J. Lang, OG - Neck (Out)

  • Darius Slay, CB - Knee (Out)

  • Eli Harold, LB - Shoulder (Doubtful)

  • Ezekiel Ansah, DE - Shoulder (Questionable)

  • Kerryon Johnson, RB - Ankle (Questionable)

  • Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB - Neck (Questionable)

  • Luke Wilson, TE - Shoulder (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • Tarik Cohen, RB (CHI)

  • Mitchell Trubisky, QB (CHI)

  • Kerryon Johnson, RB (DET)

  • Bears Defense, D/ST (CHI)

  • Marvin Jones, WR (DET)


Prediction

It’s always a guessing game when predicting divisional matchups, but the facts do not favor the Lions this week. Detroit is expected to have both OG T.J. Lang and OT Taylor Decker back in action this week. Neither player will be 100%, and that could be costly against a defense that ranks 7th in sacks, 3rd against the run, 2nd in takeaways, and 3rd in points allowed. Stafford will need to shoulder the load and have a stellar performance if they hope to win at home. Matt Nagy has proven that his team can and will put up points no matter who they play and regardless of how well Trubisky is throwing the ball. I expect your typical hard-fought NFC North game this weekend. And though a gut feeling says the Lions could pull it off due to pure desperation, the Bears are strong where the Lions are weak and should manhandle Detroit in the trenches, resulting in a win for ”Da Bears”.

Final Score: Bears 31, Lions 17


Written by: Jack Bourgeois




Arizona Cardinals (2-6) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (8-1)

Preview

This game should be one of the more lopsided games on the slate this weekend. It features one of the worst teams in football in the Arizona Cardinals up against Kansas City, arguably the best team in the AFC. Early MVP candidate Patrick Mahomes will be looking to continue his dominance, while Arizona searches for any signs of life this season behind rookie quarterback Josh Rosen. Things could get ugly very, very quickly unless the Cardinals play near perfect this Sunday.


Players to watch

One of the only chances the Cardinals have of keeping this game close lies in the hands of running back David Johnson. Typically regarded as one of the top running backs in the league, Johnson has struggled this season, only rushing for 394 yards and five touchdowns so far. Luckily for him, he will be facing a Kansas City defense that has struggled against the run. They rank 25th in the league against the run, allowing 124.8 yards per game on the ground. For the Chiefs, all eyes will be on Patrick Mahomes and his speedy go-to receiver Tyreek Hill. It will be a very fun matchup to watch, as Hill will likely be going up against All-Pro corner Patrick Peterson.


Keys to the game

Arizona Cardinals

  • Get David Johnson going

  • Put pressure on Mahomes

  • Long drives on offense

  • Limit turnovers


Kansas City Chiefs

  • Establish the run

  • Big play opportunities

  • Stop the run

  • Force turnovers


Injury list

Arizona Cardinals

  • Chad Williams, WR - Ankle (Out)

  • Robert Nkemdiche, DE - Calf (Out)

  • Tre Boston, S - Chest (Questionable)

  • Jermaine Gresham, TE - Back (Questionable)

  • Mike Iupati, OG - Back (Questionable)

  • Corey Peters, DT - Ankle (Questionable)

  • Justin Pugh, OG - Hand (Questionable)

  • Jeremy Vujnovich, OL - Hamstring (Questionable)

  • Budda Baker, S - Foot (Questionable)


Kansas City Chiefs

  • Eric Berry, S - Heel (Doubtful)

  • Mitch Morse, C - Concussion (Out)

  • Cam Erving, OG - Illness (Questionable)

  • Anthony Hitchens, LB - Ribs (Questionable)

  • Sammy Watkins, WR - Foot (Questionable)

  • Justin Houston, LB - Hamstring (Questionable)

  • Daniel Sorensen, S - Knee (Questionable)

  • Frank Zombo, LB - Hamstring (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • Patrick Mahomes, QB (KC)

  • Kareem Hunt, RB (KC)

  • Tyreek Hill, WR (KC)

  • Travis Kelce, TE (KC)

  • David Johnson, RB (ARI)

Prediction

This game has a huge chance to get ugly and will! Arizona doesn’t have enough answers on defense for this Kansas City offensive attack. I look for Mahomes to keep his momentum going with another huge game. It also doesn’t help that the Cardinals have very limited options on offense. Johnson will continue to struggle and Rosen won’t have much luck either. Kansas City will pick up a dominating win to stay atop the AFC.

Final Score: Chiefs 42, Cardinals 10


Written by: Ryan Lippert




New England Patriots (7-2) vs. Tennessee Titans (4-4)

Preview

The Patriots are riding a 6-game winning streak into Nashville to take on the Titans, who are coming off a big Monday night football win that brought them to .500. New England’s offense has been playing very well recently but will face a tough test this week. The Titans have arguably the best defense in the league right now if you take a dive into the stats — 1st in points per game allowed, total touchdowns allowed, and opponents red zone TD percentage. The Titans started to establish an identity in their last game but still have some kinks that they need to work out. The Patriots defense should give them problems, but with former Pats on their defense and coaching staff, maybe they can use that to their advantage when their offense schemes for the game.


Players to watch

Dion Lewis and Malcolm Butler, two former Patriots, will be looking to get some revenge in their first action since leaving New England. Butler hasn’t played well since coming to Tennessee, but after the infamous Super Bowl benching, you know he will look to perform at his best and pick off Tom Brady. Marcus Mariota gave us glimpses of the good quarterback he could be despite recurring issues that continued last week. I am looking to see if he can continue that progress or go back to the underwhelming quarterback we saw in the first half of the season. Butler has given up 7 touchdowns this year, so I am sure Josh Gordon is licking his chops to get a chance to take him deep throughout the game.


Keys to the game

New England Patriots

  • Don’t let Mariota’s legs beat you

  • Protect Brady

  • Control the clock


Tennessee Titans

  • Pressure Brady

  • Establish the run

  • No costly turnovers


Injury list

New England Patriots

  • Trent Brown, OT - Illness (Questionable)

  • Rob Gronkowski, TE - Ankle/Back (Questionable)

  • Dont’a Hightower, LB - Knee (Questionable)

  • Jacob Hollister, TE - Hamstring (Questionable)

  • Shaq Mason, OG - Calf (Questionable)

  • Sony Michel, RB - Knee (Questionable)


Tennessee Titans

  • Jack Conklin, OT - Concussion (Out)

  • Dane Cruikshank, S - Knee (Questionable)

  • Taywan Taylor, WR - Foot (Questionable)

  • Derrick Morgan, LB - Shoulder (Questionable)

  • Tajae Sharpe, WR - Ankle (Questionable)

  • Bennie Logan, DT - Knee (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • Rob Gronkowski, TE (NE)

  • James White, RB (NE)

  • Dion Lewis, RB (TE)

  • Josh Gordon, WR (NE)

  • Corey Davis, WR (TEN)

Prediction

This has trap game written all over it. The Patriots are riding high, so nobody thinks the Titans can pull this off. But, Tennessee will be looking to get revenge from last year’s playoff lost and they have former Pats in their building that could be a factor into how this game turns out. With how well their defense is playing, the Titans will be able to keep themselves in this game with a pass rush that gives Brady fits. In the end, New England will find a way to break down their defense and will force Mariota into some turnovers. The Pats find a way to sneak out of Nashville with a win.


Final Score: Patriots 21, Titans 17


Written by: Cody Manning




Washington Redskins (5-3) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5)

Preview

After an unsuccessful but very impressive attempt at a comeback against the Carolina Panthers, Major Ryan Fitzpatrick and his army of Buccaneers return home to do battle with the Redskins of Washington. The Redskins, while still in first place in the NFC East, are coming to town with a massively banged up offensive line, with four starters either out or on injured reserve. Tampa, meanwhile, is looking to stay alive in what appears to be a wide-open NFC wild card playoff picture (the division is completely out of reach now). This is almost a must-win for both sides, so it will come down to which side can play consistently for 60 minutes.


Players to watch

Ryan Fitzpatrick and Alex Smith will be tasked with being the standard bearers to lead their teams to victory. Fitzpatrick will have more efficient help, with Mike Evans, Desean Jackson, and OJ Howard widely outperforming the Redskins core. Washington still boasts Adrian Peterson, however, so it remains to be seen if the offensive line can protect him long enough to find some running lanes. On defense, Ryan Kerrigan is still a very competent linebacker, so he’ll be making sure his entire squad will be prepared for this challenge. The Bucs defensive core is stacked at every level except the secondary, where all players aside from Brent Grimes are rookies. This could be their coming out party, but that remains to be seen.


Keys to the game

Washington Redskins

  • Offensive line protection

  • Need to generate pass rush

  • Watch out for Desean Jackson


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Take advantage of Washington’s O-line

  • Get scoring early and fast

  • Secondary needs to step up


Injury list

Washington Redskins

  • Chris Thompson, RB - Ribs (Out)

  • Trent Williams, OT - Thumb (Out)

  • Jamison Crowder, WR - Ankle (Out)

  • Quinton Dunbar, CB - Shin (Questionable)

  • Morgan Moses, OT - Knee (Questionable)


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Vinny Curry, DE - Ankle (Out)

  • Ronald Jones, RB - Hamstring (Out)

  • Evan Smith, OG - Hip (Out)

  • M.J. Stewart, CB - Foot (Out)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • Alex Smith, QB (WAS)

  • Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB (TB)

  • Mike Evans, WR (TB)

  • Desean Jackson, WR (TB)

  • OJ Howard, TE (TB)

Prediction

The Redskins’ offensive line group scares me currently, and I just can’t seem to believe currently that they’ll be able to stop the very powerful Bucs pass rush. Also, if that line can’t protect Adrian Peterson, and Alex Smith is forced into throwing the ball 46 times like he did last week, that’s a recipe for disaster. On the other side, Tampa Bay is returning home, it’s their Salute to Service game, and they’re still riding what little “Fitzmagic” remains in their quarterback’s arm. They have a great three-game stretch coming up with teams who just have awful records. Tampa Bay wins comfortably in this one.


Final Score: Buccaneers 30, Redskins 13


Written by: Joe Carlino




Buffalo Bills (2-7) vs. New York Jets (3-6)

Preview

If you’re into sloppy, unorganized, turnover-prone football, then this game is for you. The Bills offense has turned the ball over a league-leading 22 times this year, while the Jets aren't much better themselves with 20. It seems that neither team can score either — Buffalo has averaged 6.7 points and 300 total yards per game in their last three contests, while the Jets averaged just 11.0 points and a league-low 248.3 yards in the same span. But what should really make this a sloppy battle is that both teams actually sport pretty solid defenses this year. Each team has over 20 sacks, and each team is missing its top-10 rookie QB (Josh Allen injured his elbow and Sam Darnold is in a walking boot with a sprained ankle). This isn’t going to be pretty and I would advise not even tuning in.


Players to watch

Sadly, all eyes will be on the quarterbacks this week. Josh McCown has performed well in spot starts in his career, but this Jets offense is particularly bad. The offense will rely heavily on his shoulders, so he’ll need help from Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson to get something going against the elite Tre’Davious White. With Trumaine Edmunds out, Isaiah Crowell will have a chance to be featured against a team that has allowed an average of 120 yards on the ground in their last three games. If the Bills want to get anything going on offense, they will have to lean on LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory in the run game. The Jets have had an up-and-down run defense this year, but Leonard Williams has played like a man on fire as of late. Maybe he can help stifle the Bills running game. Unfortunately, the Bills have to start Nathan Peterman at quarterback this week, so all of the Jets defensive backs should prosper.


Keys to the game

Buffalo Bills

  • Lean on Ivory and McCoy

  • Do Not put the ball into Peterman’s hands often

  • Pressure the Quarterback

  • Force McCown to beat you


New York Jets

  • Establish the run

  • Control the clock

  • Force them to pass

  • Let your defense win this game


Injury list

Buffalo Bills

  • Trent Murphy, DE- Knee (Out)

  • Trumaine Edmunds, MLB- Concussion (Questionable)

  • Josh Allen, QB - Elbow (Questionable)

  • Derek Anderson, QB - Concussion (Out)

  • Chris Ivory, RB - Shoulder (Questionable)

  • Charles Clay, TE - Pectoral (Out)

  • Andre Holmes, WR - Neck (Questionable)


New York Jets

  • Sam Darnold, QB - Foot (Doubtful)

  • Robby Anderson, WR- Ankle (Doubtful)

  • Spencer Long, C - Knee/Finger (Doubtful)

  • Neal Sterling, TE - Concussion (Out)

  • Steve McLendon, NT- Ankle (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • LeSean McCoy RB (BUF)

  • New York Jets D/ST (NYJ)

  • Isaiah Crowell, RB (NYJ)

  • Buffalo Bills D/ST (BUF)

  • Josh McCown, QB (NYJ)


Prediction

This is going to be an awful game any way you slice it. Both teams are marching out terrible, turnover-prone offenses with backup QBs at the helm. Since this one is at home, and I actually think McCown is the best quarterback in this match, I’m going to give this one to the Jets. The Bills have no real chance of scoring with Peterman under center, and therefore become extremely predictable. The Jets should still have trouble scoring against a tough Buffalo pass rush, but I think the Bills offense will turn it over enough in their own territory that the Jets will be able to capitalize. Skip this game if you can.

Final Score: Jets 10, Bills 3


Written by: George Haraktsis




Jacksonville Jaguars (3-5) vs. Indianapolis Colts (3-5)

Preview

The Jaguars will be looking to correct all the things that went wrong during their first half of the season in a divisional matchup with the Colts. Indianapolis is on a two-game winning streak and their offense was looking great as they headed into their bye week. With more players returning from injuries, they have a chance to get back in the hunt for the playoffs with a big win on Sunday. Jacksonville has to show that they made some improvements on their offense and try to take advantage of Indy’s young defense. It will be a hard-fought divisional matchup to determine which team can make that late season push into the playoff picture.


Players to watch

Blake Bortles is Jacksonville’s quarterback whether or not the media and fans like it. But if he comes out and lays a dud in their first game off a bye week, then they better be prepared for all the backlash of not trading for a quarterback prior to the deadline. Leonard Fournette will be in action for the first time since his lengthy absence. Andrew Luck has been playing great over the last month, but much of that can be due to how well Indy’s offensive line has played. They will be tested against Jacksonville’s elite pass rushers, so that is a matchup to pay attention to. Marlon Mack has been playing lights out and will look to continue his play to make life even easier on Luck.


Keys to the game

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Establish the run

  • Limit Bortles’ mistakes

  • Pressure Luck


Indianapolis Colts

  • No costly turnovers

  • Protect Luck

  • Make Jaguars offense one-dimensional (Pass-heavy)


Injury list

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • A.J. Bouye, CB - Calf (Out)

  • Quenton Meeks, CB - Knee (Out)

  • Eli Ankou, DT - Calf (Doubtful)

  • David Grinnage, TE - Knee (Questionable)

  • Lerentee McCray, DE - (Questionable)

  • James O’Shaughnessy, TE - Hip (Questionable)

  • Telvin Smith, LB - Shoulder (Questionable)

Indianapolis Colts

  • Mike Mitchell, S - Calf (Out)

  • Ryan Hewitt, TE - Ankle (Out)

  • Erik Swoope, TE - Knee (Out)

  • Denzelle Good, T/G - Illness (Questionable)

  • Ryan Grant, WR - Ankle (Questionable)

  • Nate Hairston, CB - Ankle (Questionable)

  • Kemoko Turay, DE - Neck (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • Andrew Luck, QB (IND)

  • T.Y. Hilton, WR (IND)

  • Marlon Mack, RB (IND)

  • Leonard Fournette, RB (JAX)

  • Eric Ebron, TE (IND)

Prediction

The Jaguars dominated in their two-game series in 2017, but with Andrew Luck back the Colts are instantly more competitive. With this game being at home, I expect Indianapolis to come out and utilize all their weapons on offense to wear down Jacksonville’s defense. The Colts defense has been solid against the rush, so if they can make the Jaguars one-dimensional then that is where they can force Bortles into making mistakes. The Jags defense will help keep them in the game but Luck leads the way in the 4th quarter to help get a huge divisional win coming off the bye.


Final Score: Colts 28, Jaguars 24


Written by: Cody Manning