NFL Week 10 Preview — The Patriots Face Their Giant Nemesis
The second half of the 2015 NFL season kicks off with several interesting games, including a match-up of teams who have recently met twice in the Super Bowl. Here’s a preview of this week’s action:
Thursday, November 12
Rex Ryan Loves Trolling the Jets, but Can His Team Actually Beat Them?
Buffalo at N.Y. Jets | MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.; 8:25 p.m. (ET) on NFL Network
Bills head coach Rex Ryan returns to the Meadowlands to face the Jets, a team he coached for a sometimes frightful — but always fun — six-year stint that ended after last season. In case the New York media forgot how colorful Ryan can be, he’s reminded them this week by wearing a Clemson helmet to a press conference, playfully sniping at New York QB Ryan Fitzpatrick’s beard and naming former New York linebacker I.K. Enemkpali — who famously broke the jaw of Jets’ backup QB Geno Smith this preseason— as one of Buffalo’s captains for the primetime game.
Ryan can get inside the heads of his former players all he wants, but he’d be better off if Bills running back LeSean McCoy and wide receiver Sammy Watkins got into the Jets’ defense on Thursday night. Both New York (5–3) and Buffalo (4–4) need a win to keep pace in the AFC Wild Card race. Truth: the Jets should beat the Bills with the defense Ryan helped build and a mistake-free performance from bearded-wonder Fitzpatrick, but Rex has a way of always landing on his, um, feet.
Sunday, November 15
Yes, Both the Raiders & Vikings Are Playoff Contenders
Minnesota at Oakland | O.co Coliseum, Oakland; 4:05 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Recent history wouldn’t have suggested this week’s Raiders-Vikings game would feature two teams with legitimate postseason hopes, but that’s exactly the case. Minnesota (6–2) is the biggest surprise outside Carolina in the NFC. The Vikings are tied with the Packers for the NFC North lead thanks to a stingy defense that allows opponents just 17.5 points per game — second-best in the NFL. The defense will be tested by the potent offense of Oakland (4–4), which is steered by quarterback Derek Carr.
Both teams have plenty of injury questions that could affect the game. The Raiders need blossoming receiver Amari Cooper to recover from a quad injury; running back Latavius Murray to make it through the NFL’s concussion protocol and starting center Rodney Hudson to return from an ankle injury. The Vikings hope quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and corner Terence Newman are cleared by the league’s concussion protocol, too, and that linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks can start on defense.
The Patriots Play the Giants: What Could Go Wrong?
New England at N.Y. Giants | MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.: 4:25 p.m. on CBS
At a glance, there seems to be little chance that the Giants current leaky defense can contain Tom Brady and the NFL’s highest-scoring offense, but we’ve been here before, right? Yes, in the Super Bowl (twice). Brady, Bill Belichick and New England (8–0) could win this game by 100 points and it wouldn’t be enough to take away the sting of those two Super Bowl losses to overachieving New York (5–4), wind-blown Tom Coughlin and derpy Eli Manning. Still, the Pats will try and the pundits will rehash the improbable losses/wins.
The most pressing questions this week: can the New England defense stop Manning from controlling the game tempo with clock-eating drives? And, will the Pats thin offensive line keep Jason Pierre-Paul from, er, going off on Brady?
The Cardinals Can Seize Control of the NFC West
Arizona at Seattle | CenturyLink Field, Seattle; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on NBC
It’s partly the fault of Seattle (4–4) that Arizona (6–2) hasn’t gotten credit for becoming one of the NFC’s best teams over the past two seasons. The Seahawks have been a Super Bowl-level team whose defense triumphs in big games late in the year. Legion of Boom and all that. The Cards? Well, they fold.
Arizona can finally get the signature win its team has been lacking — and take a three-game lead on Seattle — with a victory this week. Of course, the Cardinals were three games ahead of Seattle last season when they crashed and burned at CenturyLink Field in November — the start of a 2–5 tailspin that included a playoff loss to the Panthers. History could easily repeat itself this Sunday night.
Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer needs to continue to set up his passing attack with the running of Chris Johnson. On defense, the Cardinals must keep the running of Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson in check — and off the field.
Monday, November 16
Can the Texans Catch the Bengals in a Trap?
Houston at Cincinnati | Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
Undefeated Cincinnati (8–0) has been the most consistent team in the NFL this season. Houston (3–5) has often been terrible. This is what trap games are all about.
The Bengals should easily win this home game by at least the 10-plus points by which they are favored. However, the Texans pass rush is just good enough to pressure Andy Dalton into a mistake or two that could make this one competitive. If Cincy is at all looking past this contest, Houston has shown it can win with Brian Hoyer throwing to DeAndre Hopkins. It’s just not likely to happen often enough.
Sunday, November 15
Detroit at Green Bay | Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wis.; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Dallas at Tampa Bay | Raymond James Stadium, Tampa. Fla.; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Carolina at Tennessee | Nissan Stadium, Nashville; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Chicago at St. Louis | Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
New Orleans at Washington | FedEx Field, Landover, Md.; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Miami at Philadelphia | Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Cleveland at Pittsburgh | Heinz Field, Pittsburgh; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Jacksonville at Baltimore | M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Kansas City at Denver | Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Bye Week: Atlanta, Indianapolis, San Diego, San Francisco