In Week 10, the New England Patriots will face their toughest test of the 2016 season when they play a strong Seattle Seahawks team. And SB Nation’s football writers think they’ll ace it.
All 10 of the network’s experts are picking the Pats to improve to 8-1 and strengthen their grip on the top spot in the AFC. Last week’s result against the Bills may have been all they needed to sway toward Bill Belichick. The Seahawks needed a last-minute stand and some controversial calls to defeat Buffalo at home 31-25.
That was the same Buffalo team Tom Brady dismantled in Week 8 for an easy 41-25 victory on the road. As a result, the always-reliable transitive property made New England a popular pick in one of the top regular season showdowns of the year.
But while our experts are picking one NFC stalwart to fall in its cross-conference battle, they're also rooting for a revival in the NFC South. Six pickers are calling for the Panthers to continue their turnaround and send the Chiefs to just their third loss of the season. Carolina has won two straight after starting the season 1-5, and now Cam Newton and company are looking to Kansas City for help in more ways than one.
The Chiefs overcame a 1-5 start in 2015 to rally all the way to the AFC Divisional round of the playoffs. A win over the visitors on Sunday would keep Carolina on track for that same turnaround this season.
Elsewhere, there isn't much love for the teams at the bottom of the power rankings. The Browns and 49ers are both expected to continue their race to the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Cleveland got a single vote of confidence in its game against the Ravens, while everyone expects the Cardinals to top the 49ers. Plummeting also seems to fit the Minnesota Vikings -- the majority of our experts favor them to lose their fourth straight game and fall from first place in the NFC North.
Finally, a Monday Night Football matchup between two teams on the periphery of the playoff race shows just how little faith our crew has in Cincinnati's bid for a sixth straight postseason appearance. The experts almost uniformly picked against the Bengals to escape East Rutherford with a win against the up-and-down Giants in Week 10. Only Tyler Tynes was bold enough to back the Bengals.
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