State of the NFL Week 10

By Michael LoCoco
PSDC NFL Beat Writer

Photo Credit: John Leyba, The Denver Post

It really is a strange year in the NFL. Peyton Manning is benched on the same day he breaks Brett Favre’s record for career yardage. Farther north, Brett Favre’s replacement, Aaron Rodgers, struggles to get the Packers to score at all. The NFL can’t figure out what a catch is and we might genuinely have two teams racing for perfection come December. It has been a wacky year and more is sure to come. Let’s take a look at some of the top stories from around the NFL in Week 10.

What is Going on in Green Bay

In a year full of top teams on the bottom like Seattle and Baltimore, no fall has come more quickly or manifested so dramatically as the decline of the Green Bay Packers. The offense for Green Bay has become abominable. Against Detroit, one of the worst defenses in the league, a team that allowed more than 30 points per game, the Packers mustered all of three points until late in the final quarter of play. No one knows what the answer is. Injuries surely play a role; losing Jordy Nelson and missing Eddie Lacy haven’t helped. Could it be the playcalling? Could it be the schemes? No one knows. What we do know is that, despite a 6-3 record, Green Bay is playing like one of the worst teams in the NFL. They were taken apart by a Denver team that just benched its quarterback the same day he broke the career yardage record. It was one thing for Green Bay to lose back to back roadies against undefeated ball clubs. It is quite another for them to lose at home to a team that hasn’t won in Green Bay in over two decades. The Lions are suffering from internal turmoil and have only won one other game this year, and they beat Green Bay in Lambeau. No one has won at Lambeau since 2013, not even the mighty Patriots. Instead, Green Bay has become a laughingstock. The team started a span of four division games in 18 days on Sunday. They play the division leading Vikings this week. Green Bay is a stable place. They don’t fire folks quickly. However, it is safe to say that a fourth straight loss would turn some heads. The way they are playing, Minnesota might win by 20. Green Bay needs to get things sorted or they’ll joint Baltimore and Seattle: on the outside looking in.

Can Anyone Stop New England

Photo Credit: Jim Dedmon/Fox Sports

It seemed obvious to anyone watching the game when Eli Manning slid on third down to avoid a bad play that New England was going to win. Despite the fact that Eli Manning had just put his team in position to kick a field goal that would put his team up by two, the failure to score a touchdown with nearly two minutes left meant that Tom Brady would have two minutes to get his team into field goal range. He did and the Pats won. At 9-0 it is worth asking, can anyone stop the Pats?

New England has a favorable schedule moving forward. In their remaining six games they play Buffalo, Miami and the Jets. They also play Houston, Philly, Denver, and Tennessee. Of those games, the toughest might be Denver in Denver, but do any of them really look daunting to the Pats? New England will be heavy favorites in every single one of these games. Now to be clear, this is the National Football League and there are no easy games. Still, it is hard to imagine any of the division opponents besting New England. The same clearly goes for Houston and for the Titans. The safest thing to say is that every team has a chance of winning, but that no one expects them to. Really, the only thing that will keep New England from a perfect record will be if they beat themselves. That might be the only way someone stops the Pats.

Champagne Watch

After a week off to do the midseason review, the Champagne Watch is back. In its absence the Broncos were dropped from the ranks of the unbeaten. That leaves only the Panthers, Patriots and Bengals as unbeaten clubs.

The Bengals play the Texans on Monday Night and a win will push them to 9-0. The expectation will be for them to do exactly that. They follow that up with one of their biggest tests of the year, away in Arizona. That almost surely will be the game of the week next week.

The Panthers took care of business against the Titans. They are easily the class of the NFC and should expect to enter December unbeaten. Unfortunately, twin December contests against Atlanta and a tough road date with the Giants in December stand in their way. Next week they face Washington.

The Patriots squeaked past Tom Coughlin and the Giants in what was their toughest test so far. They’ll take on Rex Ryan and the Bills on Monday Night next week. The calls for perfection have begun.

Who I Like on Monday Night

Cincinnati 35 Houston 20

This is a lot to ask of Houston. They are traveling a decent ways to get to Cincy and they don’t have a quarterback. Despite playing in the dismal AFC South, this is a lost season. It’s hard to expect them to do much against the Bengals. Good luck Houston.

Follow Mike on Twitter: @MichaelLoCocoWI

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