Matchups to Watch  

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Week 10 full of great matchups, including Brady-Polamalu

Patriots QB Tom Brady vs. Steelers S Troy Polamalu

Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

In six games against the Steelers, Brady has played well with 11 touchdowns, three interceptions and a 102.3 passer rating. Since 2000, these two teams have won a combined five Super Bowls and played in six. The outcome of this game will have a lot of bearing on the two teams' road to the playoffs. Pittsburgh plays well at home at night and will be tough to beat.

Pittsburgh is the No. 1 ranked team in scoring defense, while New England is the second-ranked scoring offense. Both of these players will most likely be first-ballot Hall of Fame players.

Brady is playing well and is on pace for 28 touchdown passes this year. He is not a runner, but his forte is feeling pressure and recognizing where the blitz is coming from. He excels at sliding in the pocket to avoid the rush, but Polamalu is an explosive blitzer, who is very disruptive, so Brady's skills will be put to the test.

Brady is very good at throwing the long ball, especially to his left, but will most likely stick to underneath passes in this game. The Steelers excel at forcing turnovers, and Brady will have to avoid miscues for the Patriots to win.

Polamalu is a team leader in the locker room and on the field. He has very good speed and burst and is consistently around the ball. He lines up all over the field pre-snap, but can't get caught out of position against the clever Brady.

Polamalu is effective in the short zone and is great at breaking on the ball and delivering hits. He's impressive in the box, and is a good tackler. Those talents will be challenged by the Patriots, however, who love to attack on short and intermediate routes with slot receiver Wes Welker and tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.

Polamalu has impressive ball skills and can make some great interceptions. If he can force Brady into some turnovers, the Steelers will have a great chance to win.

Bonus matchup: Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace vs. Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty

The Steelers are 9-0 when Wallace has a touchdown, but McCourty has played well in recent weeks with two interceptions.

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson vs. Bears LB Lance Briggs

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

This has been a very even series over the past decade, but the Vikings have some urgency to win this game.

Peterson leads the NFC in rushing yards and touchdowns. In six career games against Chicago he has 11 touchdowns and 733 yards.

To stop Peterson, you have to gang tackle him before he gets past the line of scrimmage. He has outstanding speed and running skills. For his part, Briggs also possesses elite speed (especially for a linebacker) and is good at taking on guards with a shoulder, while gaining leverage against the runner.


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It doesn't matter if the play begins inside with a dive play, Peterson has the ability to get outside and gain the edge. He is on pace to become only the second player in NFL history to rush for 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns in his first three NFL seasons.

Peterson has cured his fumbling woes of the past and does not have a single one this year.

The Bears rank third against the run and fourth overall in points allowed. Briggs has averaged 100 tackles for six consecutive years. He is at his best when he has free access from blockers and can be the side tackler.

Briggs has the ability to attack the pocket and avoid the blocker on blitzes. He is at his best in zone coverages where he can use his speed to get to the ball. He must be at his best in both the backfield and in pass coverage to limit Peterson.

Bonus matchup: Vikings quarterback Brett Favre vs. Bears cornerback Charles Tillman

In his career vs. Chicago, Favre has passed for 8,373 yards and 58 touchdowns. Favre set another record last week by going the longest time between 400-yard passing games -- 17 years. The last one was at Chicago in 1993.

Jets ILB David Harris vs. Browns RB Peyton Hillis

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Being able to run the ball is very important at Cleveland Browns Stadium because of the winds that affect the passing game later in the season.

Harris is the Jets' second-leading tackler. He is in his foruth year and deserves Pro Bowl consideration. He is active and aggressive and has what linebackers need to be successful: Outstanding instincts and great tackling ability. He takes good angles and is tough and competitive. He will have lots of opportunities to make plays in this game against Cleveland's power running scheme.

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Hillis rushed for over 100 yards in 2008 against the Jets. He's on pace to rush for 1,288 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. He would be only the fourth running back in Browns history to rush for 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. Two of the three are in the Hall of Fame (Jim Brown and LeRoy Kelly).

Hillis has great size and speed, but was considered more of a blocker and receiver in college at Arkansas than a pure runner. He is very strong, with good running ability. He has three 100-plus rushing yard games this season. He played very little in 2009.

Bonus matchup: Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson vs. Browns linebacker Eric Barton

L.T. is on track to have his ninth 1,000-yard season, but Barton, a former Jet, will be fired up to shut him down.

Eagles WR DeSean Jackson vs. Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall

Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

This is a must win for the Redskins if they hope to get into the playoffs.

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Jackson is not very big and has a wiry frame, but has no fear catching the ball coming across the middle or returning punts. He had 11 touchdowns last year with eight coming on plays of 50-plus yards.

On his four touchdowns this year, he averages 56.8 yards per touchdown. He has unbelievable speed and quickness to go with good hands. He can pass off a reverse and will do that at some point this season. He is a tough matchup and you have to try and knock him off his pass routes and not punt to him if possible.

Hall leads the NFL with six interceptions in eight games, with five coming in the past two games. He is a trash talker, who takes a lot of chances. He has outstanding speed and is an excellent athlete with great upper body strength.

Hall has great ball skills and burst, but is not a very good tackler and sometimes loses his cool. He needs to be at his best for the Redskins to have a chance to win.

Bonus matchup: Eagles offensive tackle Jason Peters vs. Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo

Orakpo leads the team with seven sacks, while Peters shut out Dwight Freeney last week.

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