In these weekly previews, I’ll highlight the results that I found shocking from the previous week, as well as preview the game I am most looking forward to from the weekend ahead. As we get later into the season, I may add some other sections to this, including playoff positioning and a look forward to the upcoming draft. 

The Top Games From Week 9

This space will be less about games that were shocking based on preseason expectations and more about the games that had the most impact on the standings as we move past the halfway point in the schedule. Now that every team has played at least eight games, we are officially at the halfway point, so we’ll be featuring the playoff picture every week. Because of this, we will cover only two games per week in this space, unless there is a third game that really caught our attention.

New Orleans Saints 45 – Los Angeles Rams 35
The final undefeated team has fallen.

I predicted a score of 34-31 in favor of the Rams, so I was off yet again. Todd Gurley was held in check by the Saints defense, only accounting for 79 total yards and one touchdown. On the other side, Drew Brees had more touchdowns than incompletions for a while, and ended the game only 25 of 36, which actually lowered his completion percentage on the season (which is currently an NFL record 76.3%). Nevertheless, he threw for 346 yards and 4 touchdowns, perhaps trying to cement himself as an MVP candidate in his own right, and in this game, he outplayed Gurley for the honors.

Houston Texans 19 – Denver Broncos 17
This space should celebrate streaks, even if the game may have been a bit of a bummer. The Texans have won six in a row after holding on against the Broncos in a game that new Texan Demaryius Thomas played against his former team days after being traded. Thomas had 61 yards on three receptions, but the star of the game was DeAndre Hopkins, who went over 100 yards (on 10 receptions) and scored a very important touchdown. Their winning streak has moved the Texans into first place in the AFC South, while the Broncos fell  to 3-6 and third place in the AFC West. After the firing of Browns coach Hue Jackson last week, Broncos coach Vance Joseph has probably moved into the lead as the next coach to be fired.

Week 10 Game of the Week

For once, the Thursday night game this week looks to be pretty decent, with the Carolina Panthers heading to Heinz Field to face off against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It doesn’t look like Le’Veon Bell will be playing yet again (if he does at all this season), something the Steelers weren’t really expecting heading into the season. In his absence, however, James Conner has done well, accumulating 1,085 yards from scrimmage (706 rushing) and scoring 10 total touchdowns. At quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger has been his steady self, and has even started every game so far this season, throwing for 2,560 yards and 16 touchdowns (with only 7 interceptions).

On the other side of the ball, Cam Newton has rediscovered his MVP form of 2015. Though he has fewer yards and touchdowns than Big Ben, adding 342 yards (and four touchdowns) on the ground rounds out his game. He’s been helped by the all-around performance of Christian McCaffery, who has played in all eight games this season and generated 880 yards from scrimmage (502 rushing) and five touchdowns.

The Steelers are favored by 3 in this game, which is to be expected because it is a home game. And with the weather turning colder, I can see them pulling the game out here as well, though it probably won’t be pretty or high scoring.

Prediction: Steelers 20 Panthers 17

Playoff Picture

With each team having played at least eight games on the season, we’ll use the space to update the playoff picture each week. Here’s how it currently stands:

AFC
1. Kansas City Chiefs (West) – 8-1
2. New England Patriots (East) – 7-2
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (North) – 5-2-1
4. Houston Texans (South) – 6-3
5. Los Angeles Chargers (WC #1) – 6-2
6. Cincinnati Bengals (WC #2) – 5-3
Next two teams: Miami Dolphins (5-4) & Tennessee Titans (4-4)

NFC
1. Los Angeles Rams (West) – 8-1
2. New Orleans Saints (South) – 7-1
3. Chicago Bears (North) – 5-3
4. Washington (East) – 5-3
5. Carolina Panthers (WC #1) – 6-2
6. Minnesota Vikings (WC #2) – 5-3-1
Next two teams: Philadelphia Eagles (4-4) & Seattle Seahawks (4-4)

Week 10 Bye Teams

To make sure you get your fantasy lineups adjusted as necessary, the following four teams are on byes this week:

Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, and Minnesota Vikings


Until next time…

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