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Week 10 showcases some big divisional showdowns

Remember the lockout? Yeah, I barely do, too, even though I froze through a suit on 21st Street in D.C. in March and then sweated through a few suits right back on the same street in July.

Well, this is one of the final weeks where we'll deal with what little vestiges of the lockout remain. Because there are no byes this week -- though some teams have them in Week 11 -- and almost every game is either a division matchup or an interconference game. Quirky deal, for sure, but obviously there were some scheduling contingencies built in given the uncertainty last spring and summer.

Either way, it's a boon for us now. Fans get a full 16 games and a bunch of games that could end up being the difference between teams making or missing the postseason. Most important of all, Thursday Night Football on NFL Network is back, featuring one of those big divisional battles no less. Remember, games here are rated as either a footlong, a six-inch, a pita or a finger sandwich. Let the football feast now spread to three days a week!

    • Oakland at San Diego

      Thur 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL NETWORK Get Tickets
    • Why to watch:

      First place in the wild and wacky AFC West is on the line. Norv Turner's offense is under scrutiny, along with Philip Rivers' accuracy, while Hue Jackson's desperate move for Carson Palmer will tell the tale on Oakland's season.
    • Inside slant:

      Palmer has thrown six picks in six quarters with the Raiders and some wonder about the long-term durability of his arm/elbow. Rivers is leading the NFL in turnovers and threw consecutive pick-sixes last Sunday. Suffice to say, if either QB can shake the funk, his team will likely prevail. Might the Chargers sneak in an option play or two after Denver rolled up 297 yards rushing on Oakland a few days ago?
    • Rating:

      Footlong
    • Watch: Game Preview
    • New Orleans at Atlanta

      Sun 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX Get Tickets
    • Why to watch:

      Two teams with the ability to go deep in the playoffs meet in another division-settling type game. Drew Brees is on pace to break Dan Marino's single-season passing yardage record and the Falcons can be vulnerable on the back end.
    • Inside slant:

      Michael Turner in the power-run game, against a front seven that has been steamrolled at times. The Saints are hopeful of getting star linebacker Jonathan Vilma back. John Abraham could be moved around some to exploit some issues in New Orleans' offensive line.
    • Rating:

      Footlong
    • Watch: Game Preview
    • New York at San Francisco

      Sun 4:15 p.m. ET, FOX Get Tickets
    • Why to watch:

      Eli Manning and Alex Smith are ranked fifth and sixth, respectively, in quarterback rating. But one is being asked to win games, and the other merely to manage them. The 49ers have been a dominant run team; the Giants are just trying to get back to their power attack. Both teams are also leading their division.
    • Inside slant:

      For all of the comments about the Giants' secondary, they are almost identical to the 49ers in opposing passer rating. With Smith's downfield reads limited, expect defensive coordinator Perry Fewell to have his DBs squat on some shorter routes. Giants center David Baas is a longtime former 49ers player, and should have some insight into curbing Frank Gore and that run game.
    • Rating:

      Footlong
    • Watch: Game Preview
    • Pittsburgh at Cincinnati

      Sun 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS Get Tickets
    • Why to watch:

      Are the Bengals for real? Will they be able to compete with the big bullies of the AFC North? We'll find out plenty soon enough, starting with this one. The Steelers would drop a third division game with a loss, having already been swept by Baltimore. This game has crucial tiebreaker implications.
    • Inside slant:

      Rookie Andy Dalton has been excellent against the blitz -- completing 63 percent of his passes, with three touchdowns and no picks, and a 95.4 rating. But he hasn't seen a Dick LeBeau defense coming off a bitter loss at home in which it allowed a 92-yard, game-winning drive to an archrival. Buckle up, son.
    • Rating:

      Footlong
    • Watch: Game Preview
    • Houston at Tampa Bay

      Sun 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS Get Tickets
    • Why to watch:

      No tandem in the league is running the ball harder than Arian Foster and Ben Tate right now. Houston has a chance to start pulling away in its division, and if Tampa Bay is going to try to progress from 2010, it has to start now.
    • Inside slant:

      The Texans' defense has a new identity under new coordinator Wade Phillips, especially in the secondary. Only two teams have more interceptions than Houston, and opposing quarterbacks have a 66.9 passer rating (only the Jets have been better). Josh Freeman has been giving defenders ample opportunities to make plays on the ball.
    • Rating:

      Six-inch
    • Watch: Game Preview
    • Arizona at Philadelphia

      Sun 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX Get Tickets
    • Why to watch:

      This looks like it could be a blowout, with Arizona's horrible defense matched against a dominant offense. Plus, the Cardinals have to travel across the country to boot. So why is it rated this high? Well, Kevin Kolb could return to Philly (though it's looking doubtful midweek), depending on how his foot comes along. No one does a reunion like Eagles fans. That could be interesting.
    • Inside slant:

      Through the first eight weeks of the season, DeSean Jackson had just seven catches of 25 yards or more, and hasn't had the kind of huge games he did a year ago with Michael Vick. He might see a big dose of rookie Patrick Peterson here, but look for him to get off a few big ones. Peterson also leads the league in pass interference calls.
    • Rating:

      Six-inch
    • Watch: Game Preview
    • Buffalo at Dallas

      Sun 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS Get Tickets
    • Why to watch:

      Remember when these teams used to hook up in Super Bowls (SBXXVII, SBXXVIII)? Which franchise do you think is closer to getting back to that standard? Many might actually lean to Buffalo.
    • Inside slant:

      Another way back for you -- how about when Chan Gailey used to coach the Cowboys? It will definitely will be an interesting day for him with Jerry Jones on the opposite sideline. Dallas' rush defense, very strong the first few weeks, got shredded by Seattle on Sunday and Fred Jackson will like the perfect climate-controlled environs of Jerry World. Oh, and no doubt Rob Ryan will talk to Rex Ryan, after the Jets just stifled the Bills' offense last week.
    • Rating:

      Pita
    • Watch: Game Preview
    • Minnesota at Green Bay

      Mon 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN Get Tickets
    • Why to watch:

      Christian Ponder and the Vikings gave the Pack all they could handle a few weeks back when he made his first career start. If the Packers do lose a game, you'd think it would come against a divisional foe that knows them best.
    • Inside slant:

      The Packers are giving up more big plays than they're comfortable with, but the Vikes don't produce many. Aaron Rodgers faces a wounded secondary; only three teams have allowed more passing touchdowns than the Vikings.
    • Rating:

      Pita
    • Watch: Game Preview
    • Tennessee at Carolina

      Sun 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS Get Tickets
    • Why to watch:

      Cam Newton comes in off a bye week. Steve Smith has almost 1,000 receiving yards already. And the Titans' defense has been slipping. These could be two teams heading in opposite directions.
    • Inside slant:

      Six of Carolina's eight games have been decided by one score. Close games are the norm for the Panthers. The Panthers' special teams have been worst in the NFL, and the team is trying to adjust that coming out of the bye. Carolina is allowing a robust 4.6 yards per carry, so if Chris Johnson was going to get rolling ...
    • Rating:

      Finger sandwich
    • Watch: Game Preview
    • St. Louis at Cleveland

      Sun 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX Get Tickets
    • Why to watch:

      Could one of the teams that started 0-6 or 0-7 win three games before the Browns or Redskins win another one?
    • Inside slant:

      Browns rookie coach Pat Shurmur ran the Rams' offense with Sam Bradford in 2010. There should be plenty of inside intel on this game. However, with all the injuries to both teams, there will be a lot of relying on skill position guys who haven't been in town more than a few weeks.
    • Rating:

      Finger sandwich
    • Watch: Game Preview
    • Washington at Miami

      Sun 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX Get Tickets
    • Why to watch:

      Again, could one of the previously winless teams get to three wins before the Redskins or Browns win again? Yeah, um, okay.
    • Inside slant:

      Redskins starter John Beck began his career in Miami, where he did not win a game. He has yet to win one with the Redskins, either, and Rex Grossman could get a second crack at it soon. Meanwhile, Matt Moore has been quietly decent under center for Miami. This could be a feel-good game for Cameron Wake as well, who is off last year's sack pace.
    • Rating:

      Finger sandwich
    • Watch: Game Preview

Follow Jason La Canfora on Twitter @jasonlacanfora.

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