Cincinnati Bengals at New York Giants, 8:30p.m. EST
It’s a long shot, but we have another possible Super Bowl matchup this week. Each team has a solid quarterback and good receiving targets. Cincy gets the edge in the running game while the Giants get the nod at receiver. Both defenses can wreak havoc and they all have playoff experience. No matter what, this is going to be fun to watch.
Keys to the Game
Another dreaded game in prime time? Not so fast. I think the Bengals have done enough to shed that tag. They’ll need to be focused on keeping the heat off of Andy Dalton all game with Giants pass rushers on the loose. They have a talented O-line, but they’ll need to be on their A-game facing this athletic group, led by Olivier Vernon. A healthy Andy Dalton is necessary for a win here.
New York Giants
The Giants are going to have to slow down the running game of Cincinnati. Bernard and Hill can run you into the ground if you’re not ready and on top of that, Bernard is a threat out of the backfield. Play action will kill you if you have to bring the safeties into the box every play. Keeping their effectiveness down will allow the Giants the flexibility to cover A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert properly.
Seattle Seahawks at New England Patriots, 8:30p.m. EST
I’m sure Seahawks fans have had this one circled on the calendar since the schedule came out. This is the first meeting between the two teams since their Super Bowl matchup in February of 2015. Seattle has many new players while New England’s roster is much of the same, but you know it’s going to be a heated contest.
Keys to the Game
It’s never easy going into Gillette Stadium and teams rarely come away with a win. To pull it off, the Seahawks are going to need contributions in all facets of the game. Russell Wilson will need to be effective to keep the safeties honest and allow Seattle to establish a running game. They can’t afford to be one dimensional. The key on defense will be hitting Tom Brady. If he goes unchecked, they’ll be in for a long night.
Keeping Tom Brady upright and bringing Russell Wilson down will decide this one. The Seahawks still have a tough defense that will be salivating at the chance for revenge on Brady and the Pats. Brady can’t complete passes from his back. On the other side, Wilson is dynamic and is developing the ability to take the game over between his arm and legs. The Seahawks have and underrated corps of receiving targets that will be tough to sit back and cover.
Dallas Cowboys at Pittsburgh Steelers, 4:25p.m.
Week 10 keeps this old rivalry alive. The history between these two goes all the way back to the 1960s. Pittsburgh dominated the series during the seventies and Dallas took its turn in the 90s. These days, Pittsburgh has had more success, but Dallas had the last laugh, winning their most recent matchup in 2012. On top of all that, these two teams have the potential to meet in the Super Bowl this year.
Keys to the Game
The Cowboys cannot afford mistakes in this matchup. Their defense is going to struggle with the high-powered Pittsburgh offense, so they need to make the most of every one of their possessions. Field goals are not going to cut it in this shootout, they need touchdowns. Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and Ezekiel Elliott are going to need to come up big for Dallas to outscore the Steelers
The Steelers will have trouble stopping the Dallas offense themselves, but a stop or two or a turnover will go along way in securing a lead for them. Tony Romo has been susceptible to turning the ball over when in trouble. The Steelers will need to muster a little bit of pass rush to get Romo to fire some ill-advised throws into double coverage. Getting to Romo is the best way to slow down the Cowboy offense.
Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1p.m. EST
At first glance, you may be wondering why in the world I’m recommending that you watch this game. Reading the names, I understand where you’re coming from — but you’re not here for face value, you’re here to find the best games to watch. This is a matchup that likely holds the future of the AFC South (unless Indy can figure it out). The Jaguars added a boatload of talent this offseason in free agency and the draft and Houston did the same. I’m not ready to call either a Super Bowl contender, but they sport some of the best young talent in the league.
Keys to the Game
The Texans will need to wreak a little havoc on defense in this one. The Jaguars’ best weapon is likely going to be Blake Bortles at quarterback, who is improving with each season. He has a habit of connecting downfield with Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson for big gains and touchdowns. Lucky for Houston, they employ the league’s best defender in J.J. Watt and he likes to hit quarterbacks. Pressure in the backfield will force Bortles to get rid of the ball quicker than he’d like, limiting yardage and potentially forcing turnovers.
It’s time to put that new defense to the test. The Texans have some potent firepower on offense these days and they’ll test every angle of the Jaguar defense. If the Jags can get some early stops and force Houston into third and long passing situations, it would put them in a great position to attack Brock Osweiler. Let’s not forget how little experience he has on the field. Putting him under fire will go a long way in earning the Jags a division win.