We’ve had a few weeks lately with some dicey slates. In Week 9, the matchups not only appeared to be lopsided, we saw a bunch of favored teams lay an egg. All that makes things interesting but isn’t always the best to watch. By contrast, the Week 10 slate has me giddy. The four teams on a bye haven’t done much to impact the intrigue of the slate, with three exceptional early options, an intriguing afternoon matchup and a compelling Sunday Night battle. Below, as always, are the five games on the Sunday Slate that have me most excited.
Sunday Early Games:
Atlanta Falcons (4-4) at Dallas Cowboys (6-2)
The Cowboys entered Week 9 on a heater, having won six straight and looking like a potential challenger in the NFC. Then they fell behind 30-0 at home to the Denver Broncos. While a couple late touchdowns made the score respectable, it was a beating. The Falcons, by contrast, have been scrappy. They looked lost early but have battled back to .500, heading to Dallas fresh off an upset win over the Saints. The Falcons need a win to remain in the playoff race, while the Cowboys need a strong rebound from an ugly Week 9 performance. That sets up plenty of intrigue between two strong offenses in Dallas Sunday.
New Orleans Saints (5-3) at Tennessee Titans (7-2)
Don’t look now, but the Titans are the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC. The team beat the Chiefs, Bills and swept their division rivals the Colts. Then the Titans lost Derrick Henry for the season before heading to Los Angeles to face the red-hot Rams. No matter, the Titans jumped out to a 21-3 lead and recorded a convincing Sunday night win. They are contenders, they are for real and they seem to be improving. The Saints, meanwhile, are simply scrappy. The team rebounded to get a big win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to position themselves for a playoff run. Then, last week, with Jameis Winston now lost for the season, the Saints fell behind big early to the Falcons and couldn’t make it all the way back. The Saints are 5-3, in the thick of the pack in the NFC and need wins to stay in the race. That won’t be easy against the Titans. This figures to be an exciting battle between two strong teams.
Cleveland Browns (5-4) at New England Patriots (5-4)
This is a battle of two teams that are fighting for the playoffs. The Browns have endured erratic play, injuries and an off-field saga that led to Odell Beckham, Jr., being released. Despite that, they rolled in Cincinnati last week and hung 41 on the Bengals, earning a huge win. The Patriots, meanwhile, have been scrappy behind rookie quarterback Mac Jones. The team started slowly, suffering a number of close losses. But back-to-back wins over the Chargers and Panthers have the Patriots back above .500 and cruising toward a possible return to the post-season. Both teams need the win Sunday and only one can get it. Will it be Baker and the boys or can Bill Belichick smother his former team? This should be a heck of a battle, even though points figure to be at a premium.
Sunday Late Games:
Seattle Seahawks (3-5) at Green Bay Packers (7-2)
This one is a tale of two quarterbacks. Russell Wilson suffered a horrendous finger injury that forced him to finally miss time. In his stead, Geno Smith kept the Seahawks close but only went 1-2. Still, the Seahawks aren’t out of it and now Wilson is ready to return, which means Seattle gets a boost post bye. For the Packers, Aaron Rodgers has been the biggest story in the league for two weeks, but not because of his play. He missed Week 9 thanks to COVID, and he’s been a near constant headline because of his vaccination status and comments on the Pat McAfee Show. He’s eligible to come off the COVID list Saturday and seems on track for a return to the field. Will he be rusty? Will they elect to roll out Jordan Love again anyway? This is a juicy matchup that offers plenty of intrigue and will have a big impact on the NFC playoff race.
Sunday Night Game:
Kansas City Chiefs (5-4) at Las Vegas Raiders (5-3)
The Chiefs roll into their Week 10 battle finally above .500. But it hasn’t been easy. The offense has sputtered and Patrick Mahomes has looked mortal. The Raiders roll into this game having suffered a string of off-field controversies that appeared to take a toll Sunday in New York. The Raiders entered in first place in the AFC West, suffered a loss to the Giants, and headed home one of four teams in the division sitting on five wins. The Chiefs-Raiders games the past few seasons have been great, with the Raiders pushing the Chiefs even when Kansas City was at its best. It’s far from its best right now, and both these teams are jockeying for position atop the division. That gives this a little extra intensity for Sunday Night Football.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.