NFL Week 10 Super Six Preview: Panthers-Packers, Vikings-Cowboys, Seahawks-49ers Highlight NFC Showdowns

NFL: DEC 16 Seahawks at 49ers
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Here are the six best games from the 10th weekend of the NFL season.

Detroit Lions (3-4-1) at Chicago Bears (3-5)

It’s a tale of two quarterbacks in what might be an elimination game in the NFC. Detroit’s Matthew Stafford threw for 406 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s loss at Oakland. He is going for his fourth consecutive game with 300-plus passing yards, three-plus touchdowns and a 110-plus passer rating. Detroit has led in every game this season.

"A lot of close games. That’s the way this game goes. That’s the way this league is," Stafford said. "We just got to find ways to win it. Make a couple plays here or there. It doesn’t always have to be at the end of the game. It can be at the beginning of the game, too, to give us a little bit more of a cushion.”

Meanwhile, Chicago quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is in a funk. In three games back from a left shoulder injury, he’s completed 60.9 percent of his passes and ranks 25th of 29 qualifying quarterbacks with a 78.9 passer rating. Chicago is 0-3 in those games. His yards per attempt has fallen from 7.43 last season to a woeful 5.63 this season.

"It’s now or never," Bears receiver Anthony Miller said. "It’s win or go home for us. We’ve got to win."

Chicago already has lost more games than it did last season, when it won the NFC North.

"You try to find every answer that you can and you stay as positive as you can," coach Matt Nagy. "And I think that’s the beauty of all of this. There’s a silver lining, there really is. And people can say that’s cliché and they can say it sounds good. But I fully in my heart of hearts believe that. And I don’t know when it’s going to happen. It’s somewhere. It’s somewhere. And when you finally knock it down and you figure it out and you get it, then you’re going to say ‘OK, I see.’”

Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) at Tennessee Titans (4-5)

Patrick Mahomes is back for the Chiefs, with the MVP quarterback missing two games with a dislocated kneecap. He has a 100-plus passer rating in eight of his last nine road games. For the season, he has 15 touchdowns vs. just one interception.

"We knew how we’ve been doing the whole process of the injury," Mahomes, who will wear a brace on his right knee, said after Friday’s practice. "I knew I had a chance once I talked to all those doctors, and they said that as long as I was functioning well, moving well, that I could play this week."

The Chiefs went 1-1 without Mahomes, with a win last week against Minnesota. Tyreek Hill had six catches for 140 yards and one touchdown. In the process, he became the sixth player in NFL history with 20-plus touchdowns of 40-plus yards in his first four seasons.

The Titans are running out of time. Speaking of time, they need to start on time. They’ve been shut out in the first half four times this season. They lost all four of those games.

"We all have to have a sense of urgency," Titans running back Derrick Henry said. "We know what we’re up against. We know what we have to do." Henry will run at the league’s 29th-ranked run defense.

Los Angeles Rams (5-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4)

The Steelers are surging but will it matter to the Rams? Coach Sean McVay is 10-0 against AFC teams since taking over the Rams in 2017.

McVay’s team is coming off its bye and feeling good about things, even though their 5-3 record pales in comparison to last year’s 8-0 mark.

"This league has so many ebbs and flows, and we’re (only) halfway through," McVay said. "So much can be changed in these eight weeks. I think one of the things that has helped us over the last couple of years that you have to really be conscious about is not looking ahead. So many things are unpredictable. You start looking ahead, (and) you don’t take care of the business at hand."

The Steelers have stayed afloat without Ben Roethlisberger because they’re second in the NFL with 22 takeaways. It has forced at least three turnovers in four consecutive games, including each game of a three-game winning streak. Meanwhile, outside linebacker T.J. Watt has a sack in seven consecutive home games.

Before the trade deadline, the Rams acquired cornerback Jalen Ramsey. He’ll face Pittsburgh receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who became the first player in NFL history to reach 200 career receptions before his 23rd birthday.

Carolina Panthers (5-3) at Green Bay Packers (7-2)

This game features a pair of MVP candidates.

In one corner is Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey, who leads the NFL in rushing yards per game, total yards from scrimmage, rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns. In eight games, he’s reached 150 scrimmage yards six times, a feat matched only by Hall of Famer Jim Brown.

In the other corner is Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He’s thrown 17 touchdowns vs. two interceptions. He’ll be attacked by a defense that’s first in sacks and second in interceptions.

“When you know the pass rush is getting home, you can play a little more aggressive because you know the ball’s got to come out at certain times,” Rodgers said of Carolina’s defense. “The other thing is, a lot of their coverages, they have vision to the football. So they are playing through the quarterback and reading eyes and reading the top of the drop. When you have a pass rush and then you have eyes to the quarterback, you’re going to be in position to have your hands on the football a lot more often.”

The Panthers are 5-1 with Kyle Allen at quarterback, though he ranks in the bottom third of the league in completion percentage and passer rating.

“It’s not just all about Kyle,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “We’ve been able to protect him, we’ve been able to run the ball effectively, we’ve been able to distribute the ball to the different playmakers we have as far as our tight ends, our wide receivers and our running backs. Football’s the ultimate team game. The thing that you’ve got to be able to have is 11 guys on the field working together as a group. We’ve been very fortunate.”

Minnesota Vikings (6-3) at Dallas Cowboys (5-3)

The Sunday night game will feature two of the league’s best running backs. Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook has 100-plus scrimmage yards in seven of nine games and leads the NFL with 894 rushing yards. Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott is going for his fourth consecutive 100-yard rushing game.

The Vikings had their four-game winning streak snapped at Kansas City. In his last five games, quarterback Kirk Cousins has 13 touchdowns, one interception and a 127.1 passer rating. He has nine touchdowns and zero picks in his last three road games. However, the Vikings are 0-9-1 in their last 10 road games against teams with winning records.

"If you’re going to be a playoff team, you have to win tough games in tough environments at some point," Cousins said. "Otherwise, you’re probably not getting into the playoffs."

Minnesota is 3-0 against NFC East teams this season. Dallas, meanwhile, is 4-0 with 35.0 points per game against the NFC East but 1-3 with 21.2 points per game in the rest of their games.

Seattle Seahawks (7-2) at San Francisco 49ers (8-0)

The Monday night game will be a heavyweight showdown. The 49ers are 8-0 for the first time since 1990 but they’ve benefitted from the softest schedule in the NFC. That will change against the rival Seahawks.

San Francisco is allowing just 12.8 points per game. That unit will be tested by Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, who is having an MVP-type season with 22 touchdowns vs. one interception. He has a 130-plus passer rating in five games this season; the NFL full-season record is six. That prolific offense could be even better with the presumed debut of receiver Josh Gordon.

"Me and Russ have been talking about it for a little while behind the scenes how nice it would be but here I am," Gordon said. "I admire his game. I think maybe he respected mine mutually. I love the way he plays. It’s as simple as that. He’s just a great ball player. He can make it happen from pretty much anywhere."

In a bit of role reversal, Seattle’s once powerful defense is one of the worst in the league. It ranks 28th in the league against the pass with 278.1 yards per game. Meanwhile, San Francisco has allowed a league-low 138.1 passing yards per game. That’s a big reason why San Francisco is the second team in NFL history to finish with a winning percentage of .250 or below and rebound to win its first eight games of the following season.

Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had one of the best games of his career last week with 317 yards and four touchdowns last week at Arizona. However, stud tight end George Kittle is not expected to play.

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Here are the six best games from the 10th weekend of the NFL season.

Detroit Lions (3-4-1) at Chicago Bears (3-5)

It’s a tale of two quarterbacks in what might be an elimination game in the NFC. Detroit’s Matthew Stafford threw for 406 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s loss at Oakland. He is going for his fourth consecutive game with 300-plus passing yards, three-plus touchdowns and a 110-plus passer rating. Detroit has led in every game this season.

"A lot of close games. That’s the way this game goes. That’s the way this league is," Stafford said. "We just got to find ways to win it. Make a couple plays here or there. It doesn’t always have to be at the end of the game. It can be at the beginning of the game, too, to give us a little bit more of a cushion.”

Meanwhile, Chicago quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is in a funk. In three games back from a left shoulder injury, he’s completed 60.9 percent of his passes and ranks 25th of 29 qualifying quarterbacks with a 78.9 passer rating. Chicago is 0-3 in those games. His yards per attempt has fallen from 7.43 last season to a woeful 5.63 this season.

"It’s now or never," Bears receiver Anthony Miller said. "It’s win or go home for us. We’ve got to win."

Chicago already has lost more games than it did last season, when it won the NFC North.

"You try to find every answer that you can and you stay as positive as you can," coach Matt Nagy. "And I think that’s the beauty of all of this. There’s a silver lining, there really is. And people can say that’s cliché and they can say it sounds good. But I fully in my heart of hearts believe that. And I don’t know when it’s going to happen. It’s somewhere. It’s somewhere. And when you finally knock it down and you figure it out and you get it, then you’re going to say ‘OK, I see.’”

Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) at Tennessee Titans (4-5)

Patrick Mahomes is back for the Chiefs, with the MVP quarterback missing two games with a dislocated kneecap. He has a 100-plus passer rating in eight of his last nine road games. For the season, he has 15 touchdowns vs. just one interception.

"We knew how we’ve been doing the whole process of the injury," Mahomes, who will wear a brace on his right knee, said after Friday’s practice. "I knew I had a chance once I talked to all those doctors, and they said that as long as I was functioning well, moving well, that I could play this week."

The Chiefs went 1-1 without Mahomes, with a win last week against Minnesota. Tyreek Hill had six catches for 140 yards and one touchdown. In the process, he became the sixth player in NFL history with 20-plus touchdowns of 40-plus yards in his first four seasons.

The Titans are running out of time. Speaking of time, they need to start on time. They’ve been shut out in the first half four times this season. They lost all four of those games.

"We all have to have a sense of urgency," Titans running back Derrick Henry said. "We know what we’re up against. We know what we have to do." Henry will run at the league’s 29th-ranked run defense.

Los Angeles Rams (5-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4)

The Steelers are surging but will it matter to the Rams? Coach Sean McVay is 10-0 against AFC teams since taking over the Rams in 2017.

McVay’s team is coming off its bye and feeling good about things, even though their 5-3 record pales in comparison to last year’s 8-0 mark.

"This league has so many ebbs and flows, and we’re (only) halfway through," McVay said. "So much can be changed in these eight weeks. I think one of the things that has helped us over the last couple of years that you have to really be conscious about is not looking ahead. So many things are unpredictable. You start looking ahead, (and) you don’t take care of the business at hand."

The Steelers have stayed afloat without Ben Roethlisberger because they’re second in the NFL with 22 takeaways. It has forced at least three turnovers in four consecutive games, including each game of a three-game winning streak. Meanwhile, outside linebacker T.J. Watt has a sack in seven consecutive home games.

Before the trade deadline, the Rams acquired cornerback Jalen Ramsey. He’ll face Pittsburgh receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who became the first player in NFL history to reach 200 career receptions before his 23rd birthday.

Carolina Panthers (5-3) at Green Bay Packers (7-2)

This game features a pair of MVP candidates.

In one corner is Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey, who leads the NFL in rushing yards per game, total yards from scrimmage, rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns. In eight games, he’s reached 150 scrimmage yards six times, a feat matched only by Hall of Famer Jim Brown.

In the other corner is Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He’s thrown 17 touchdowns vs. two interceptions. He’ll be attacked by a defense that’s first in sacks and second in interceptions.

“When you know the pass rush is getting home, you can play a little more aggressive because you know the ball’s got to come out at certain times,” Rodgers said of Carolina’s defense. “The other thing is, a lot of their coverages, they have vision to the football. So they are playing through the quarterback and reading eyes and reading the top of the drop. When you have a pass rush and then you have eyes to the quarterback, you’re going to be in position to have your hands on the football a lot more often.”

The Panthers are 5-1 with Kyle Allen at quarterback, though he ranks in the bottom third of the league in completion percentage and passer rating.

“It’s not just all about Kyle,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “We’ve been able to protect him, we’ve been able to run the ball effectively, we’ve been able to distribute the ball to the different playmakers we have as far as our tight ends, our wide receivers and our running backs. Football’s the ultimate team game. The thing that you’ve got to be able to have is 11 guys on the field working together as a group. We’ve been very fortunate.”

Minnesota Vikings (6-3) at Dallas Cowboys (5-3)

The Sunday night game will feature two of the league’s best running backs. Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook has 100-plus scrimmage yards in seven of nine games and leads the NFL with 894 rushing yards. Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott is going for his fourth consecutive 100-yard rushing game.

The Vikings had their four-game winning streak snapped at Kansas City. In his last five games, quarterback Kirk Cousins has 13 touchdowns, one interception and a 127.1 passer rating. He has nine touchdowns and zero picks in his last three road games. However, the Vikings are 0-9-1 in their last 10 road games against teams with winning records.

"If you’re going to be a playoff team, you have to win tough games in tough environments at some point," Cousins said. "Otherwise, you’re probably not getting into the playoffs."

Minnesota is 3-0 against NFC East teams this season. Dallas, meanwhile, is 4-0 with 35.0 points per game against the NFC East but 1-3 with 21.2 points per game in the rest of their games.

Seattle Seahawks (7-2) at San Francisco 49ers (8-0)

The Monday night game will be a heavyweight showdown. The 49ers are 8-0 for the first time since 1990 but they’ve benefitted from the softest schedule in the NFC. That will change against the rival Seahawks.

San Francisco is allowing just 12.8 points per game. That unit will be tested by Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, who is having an MVP-type season with 22 touchdowns vs. one interception. He has a 130-plus passer rating in five games this season; the NFL full-season record is six. That prolific offense could be even better with the presumed debut of receiver Josh Gordon.

"Me and Russ have been talking about it for a little while behind the scenes how nice it would be but here I am," Gordon said. "I admire his game. I think maybe he respected mine mutually. I love the way he plays. It’s as simple as that. He’s just a great ball player. He can make it happen from pretty much anywhere."

In a bit of role reversal, Seattle’s once powerful defense is one of the worst in the league. It ranks 28th in the league against the pass with 278.1 yards per game. Meanwhile, San Francisco has allowed a league-low 138.1 passing yards per game. That’s a big reason why San Francisco is the second team in NFL history to finish with a winning percentage of .250 or below and rebound to win its first eight games of the following season.

Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had one of the best games of his career last week with 317 yards and four touchdowns last week at Arizona. However, stud tight end George Kittle is not expected to play.

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I am in my 12th season covering the Green Bay Packers and NFL Draft, with this being Year 1 with Maven's new Packers site. In February and March, I attended my 10th Sco

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