We're hours away from Week 10 of the NFL season. A few teams' fates are sealed and a few teams are in very good shape, which means that the remaining teams are desperately trying to figure out how to responsibly set their expectations. This week's results will help. Here they are, game by game:
Ravens (6-2) at Falcons (6-2)
The first game of Week 10 will probably be the best. It's kind of a shame that they play in a dome, since game time temperatures will hover around an ideal 55 to 60 degrees, but it's for the best, since Atlanta climate is either 105 with 100% humidity, 15 degrees with freezing rain, or tornadoes. Anyway, I'm guessing the Falcons start 7-2 for the first time since 2004.
Falcons 20, Ravens 17
Lions (2-6) at Bills (0-8)
The Bills are winless, but they've lost their last three games by only a field goal, and five of their eight games have been lost by single-possession margins. They clearly have the ability to win a football game, but they might have trouble doing so against a Lions team that, despite its 2-6 record, actually has a +15 point differential this season. Shrug. Even if the Bills go 0-16, at least they're playing every game like it's the Super Bowl.
Lions 17, Bills 6
Vikings (3-5) at Bears (5-3)
I have a saying when it comes to Brett Favre: it just wouldn't be the same without the Gunslinger. You may argue that it would be the same without the Gunslinger, but I am here to reassert that it would not (be the same (without the Gunslinger)).
Vikings 31, Bears 21
Jets (6-2) at Browns (3-5)
Look. You show me a picture of the Browns, and then a picture of the Jets, I'm not confused. But you put them both in the same picture and show it to me, and all I can think of is Vinny Testaverde. It's just a thing I have. Vinny, by the way, will be 53 years old on Saturday, which means that if you remember watching him actually play football, you are about ten years older than you think you are.
Jets 31, Browns 24
Bengals (2-6) at Colts (5-3)
On Sunday, a team from a town that 65% of the country couldn't point to on a map takes on another town that 65% of the country couldn't point to on a map. Outside of the Ohio Valley region, everyone thinks that Cincinnati is in the middle of Ohio, and while most can correctly identify Indianapolis as being in the middle of Indiana, they think Indiana is Iowa. Maps are free in many places!
Colts 28, Bengals 17
Titans (5-3) at Dolphins (4-4)
The Titans are the best team in Madden 11. If you protect against the pass, Chris Johnson will run for 11 yards. If you protect against the run, Vince Young will pass for 23 yards. If you can find a way to strike a balance between a pass and rush defense, Vince Young will run for 11 yards. If you can manage to do all this while assigning someone as a QB spy, Vince Young gets this Galaga-like upgrade where a trio of lasers shoots out of his chest and kills all of your players. F*** the Titans.
Titans 27, Dolphins 13
Panthers (1-7) at Buccaneers (5-3)
Put the Panthers' and Buccaneers' uniforms on the field at the same time and it's guaranteed to be the most 2002 thing you've ever seen. I won't bother arguing this point because you know I'm right.
Buccaneers 21, Panthers 10
Texans (4-4) at Jaguars (4-4)
It's rough being a fan of a 4-4 team, because you start doing the "well if they win against these guys and this happens and then this does this" math to map your team's route into the playoffs, and over half the time, they won't make it. Both of these teams have talented guys at offensive skill positions, but both defenses resemble the contraption you built when you were playing baseball in a cul-de-sac at age 10 and were desperately trying to keep the ball from rolling into the sewer grate.
Texans 41, Jaguars 35, OT
Chiefs (5-3) at Broncos (2-6)
Two of the Chiefs' losses have come in excruciatingly close circumstances. The point I really want to drive home is this: if the Chiefs had won just a couple more games, they would have won a couple more games by now. A win against the struggling Broncos this week would place them in great position to make it to the playoffs, where they will lose in the first round because they are the Chiefs. I realize that trying to find team continuity over a period of greater than five years is a fool's errand, since roster turnover makes it irrelevant, but heartbreak is the 12th man on the field that the Chiefs never draw a whistle for.
Chiefs 24, Broncos 16
Cowboys (1-7) at Giants (6-2)
I think it's appropriate to consider whether the Cowboys' 2010 will end up being the most disappointing in the history of American sports. At this point, Jason Garrett is basically Bruce Willis in the final five minutes of Armageddon, just trying to do the best he can with what he's got.
Giants 34, Cowboys 13
Seahawks (4-4) at Cardinals (3-5)
Ah yes, the NFC West, the attic of the NFL.
"Ey! Ey, Martha! Found this, ah, these couple a' football teams up here!"
"What's their point differential?"
"Got a, uh, minus-68 and a minus-51. Might could put these in the gahden out back!"
"Stanley, ya got too much crap in that gahden anyway! When ya gonna even plant anything in that gahden?"
"Ain't tomata season! Gotta wait for tomata season."
Cardinals 31, Seattle 28, OT
Rams (4-4) at 49ers (2-6)
"An' lookit this! Got a coupla more teams, they were hear behind that box fulla packin' peanuts!"
"Ya don't say?"
"Yeah... got a 2-6 team with a coach with a foot out the door, and a 4-4 team with an anemic offense."
"Oh hey Stanley, why ain't ya go ahead and save those. We can use 'em for picklin' jars."
"Gotta pickle some gherkins! Might make some marmalade jam too, for when the kids come to visit."
"Ya don't pickle marmalade jam!"
"Shut up ya face! I'm sayin, I can keep the marmalade jam in there anyways, let it settle in the fridge!"
"Shut up ya own face!"
49ers 16, Rams 10
Patriots (6-2) at Steelers (6-2)
This is the second-biggest game of Week 10, and given the teams involved, probably the most popular. These are two of the best teams in the NFL. The Steelers have only allowed 15.4 points per game this season, and they have a good shot to go 7-2 so long as Rashard Mendenhall continues his game plan of getting hit after two yards and spending the next 13 yards falling down very, very slowly.
Steelers 24, Patriots 21
Eagles (5-3) at Redskins (4-4)
Michael Vick is responsible for terribly evil things and he deserved prison. I think he's a new man, but I have no way of really knowing, which is why I have chosen to retreat to my default mode of completely divorcing an artist/athlete's contributions from his or her personal merits. It's easier that way; in this instance, it allows me to watch Michael Vick play and have a hell of a lot of fun doing so.
Eagles 27, Redskins 20