Separation anxiety: Parity running rampant as Week 10 arrives

11/15/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak

In a word, the NFL is "average." A few teams remain unbeaten but no one seems overly dominant in a season that a little further than halfway is marred with a lot of 500 ball clubs and playoff positioning and even division winners that are below that 500 mark. Week 10 has a few games with a lot of playoff and division potential in mind.
Minnesota at Oakland 4:05pm Sunday
At 6 and 2, Minnesota has tied Green Bay for first place in the NFC North. At 4 and 4, the Raiders remain in contention for an AFC wild card and still have an outside shot at catching Denver for the top spot in the AFC West. The biggest story of the week for Vikings fans was would QB Teddy Bridgewater be able to play after being knocked out of last week's game and diagnosed with a concussion. Bridgewater has been cleared to play, which is a big boost for Minnesota. The biggest concern for Raiders fans was would RB Latavius Murray be able to play after he also suffered a concussion in last week's loss. Murray practiced this week and should be good to go as well. Oakland's secondary, which was shredded by Pittsburgh last week for 597 yards, should get a boost as well as safety Nate Allen is expected to play for the first time since the season opener. Oakland is 5 and 1 all time against Minnesota at home and have also won 5 of their past 7 home games.

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New England at NY Giants 4:25pm Sunday
At 8 and 0, the Patriots are one of three undefeated teams left in the NFL. At 5 and 4, the Giants hold a 1/2 game lead over Philadelphia in the NFC East. Ironically, when the Patriots went 17 and 0 in 2007, they beat the Giants in the regular season. But it was the Giants who would end New England's perfect season in the Super Bowl. New England is averaging an NFL best 34.5 points per game, while Tom Brady leads the league with 22 touchdown passes. That doesn't bode well for a Giants defense that is allowing 429.4 yards per game, which is the second worst mark in the NFL. New York will also be without starting defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins, who suffered a season ending injury last week. But the Patriots ground game will take a hit, as they'll be without RB Dion Lewis, who was lost for the season last week. The Giants have won the past 3 meetings between these teams, with two of those wins coming in Super Bowls. They last met in the regular season in 2011, a 24 to 20 Giants win that ended New England's 31 game home winning streak.
Arizona at Seattle 8:30pm Sunday
Both of these teams come into this key NFC West matchup on 2 game winning streaks. The 4 and 4 Seahawks need a victory to keep pace with the 6 and 2 Cardinals for the division lead. Seattle swept both games last season, but in both games Arizona was without starting QB Carson Palmer. The Seahawks outscored the Cardinals 54 to 9 in those two wins last season. Palmer leads the NFC this season with 20 TD passes. His opponent under center, Russell Wilson, has an amazing 28 and 3 career record at home as a starting quarterback. Palmer though is 12 and 2 over the past two seasons for Arizona. The last time that Palmer played at Seattle, the Cardinals won 17 to 10 despite the fact that Palmer threw 4 interceptions. The Seahawks have only allowed 362 total yards and 15 points in their past two games, wins over San Francisco and Dallas. But the Cardinals are second in the NFL in scoring, averaging 32.9 points per game. Seattle is allowing 98.5 yards per game rushing, and will be tasked with trying to slow down Chris Johnson, who has rushed for 100 or more yards in 4 of the Cardinals past 6 games.

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