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Texans-Bears, Falcons-Saints, Cowboys-Eagles head Week 10


It's a schedule maker's dream. All you want on a Sunday night, when the bulk of the week's games are finished and America is sitting down in front of the TV, is to have two elite teams going head-to-head, settling an argument on the field.

That's Sunday night: Houston Texans at Chicago Bears, a showdown between two one-loss teams with résumés so stout, all of us are left to look for weaknesses (good luck with that).

In many ways, the two teams are similar. Both are tested, both have high-profile wins under their belts and both feature productive, well-rounded offenses that are overshadowed by flashy and disruptive defenses. Oh, and both have lost to the Green Bay Packers.

All the more reason to find some kind of asymmetry on the field.

With the playoffs coming into focus, one victory might prove increasingly meaningfully. The Texans figure to have more of a buffer zone as far as earning a No. 1 playoff seed, and the Bears are still looking up at the Atlanta Falcons while playing in the NFC North, the NFL's toughest division. A "W" over the vaunted Texans could act as an accelerator.

Sorry, Falcons fans. The winner of this one gets to wear our temporary crown as the regular season's best.

Here is your Week 10 primer, with games ranked in order of intrigue, from 1 to 14:


    • Dallas at Philadelphia

      Sun 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX Get Tickets
    • Why this game is No. 3:

      The word for this is "rubbernecking." Like when you're driving along the highway, you see a crash and you crane your neck because you can't avoid checking out the carnage. Welcome to Cowboys-Eagles. Loser gets Sean Payton? Well, we're a long ways from that. But the loser will be 3-6 in a surprisingly downtrodden NFC East, and likely kissing any faint playoff hopes goodbye. It's fun to watch winning teams, efficient teams, teams that are going places. They can be electric. But I won't be turning away from this, with so many immediate and future outcomes hanging in the balance. On the field, the biggest key for the Eagles will be keeping Cowboys pass rusher DeMarcus Ware from breezing past a replacement-filled offensive line and spending his day in Michael Vick's lap. The goal, one figures, would be to allow fewer than the seven sacks the Eagles gave up on Monday. As for the Cowboys, if they can't score against this confused unit, they might never get it together. #DALvsPHI
    • Watch: Game Preview
    • St. Louis at San Francisco

      Sun 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX Get Tickets
    • Why this game is No. 5:

      I'll admit, I'm a sucker for the San Francisco 49ers. Love watching 'em. This game isn't eye-popping on paper, even though it's an NFC West matchup. But I'm excited to see how it turns out, mainly because the St. Louis Rams are one of the few teams that can take the Niners out of their game. Quarterback Alex Smith is coming off one of the most efficient outings in NFL history, with a successful run game giving Smith and his receivers easy access to endless completions against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 8. It will be a challenge to repeat that against a Rams team that has shown flashes of being able to stop the run and can really cover the ball in the air. The physical Cortland Finnegan and the promising Janoris Jenkins will be on the case for St. Louis. Niners receiver Randy Moss hasn't been lighting up the stat sheet, but he still draws double-coverage and opens up the field. My bet is that he won't this time, though, as either corner will be tasked with roughing him up. That extra defender will help St. Louis. Of course, if the 49ers' front four is in Rams quarterback Sam Bradford's face all afternoon, none of that will matter much. #STLvsSF
    • Watch: Game Preview
    • San Diego at Tampa Bay

      Sun 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS Get Tickets
    • Why this game is No. 6:

      Just a few short, panic-filled weeks ago, this was shaping up to be a game between two falling and failing franchises. San Diego Chargers coach Norv Turner was reportedly a loss away from being fired, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just couldn't finish off games. Two weeks later? Not so much. Now the Buccaneers have a chance to win three in a row, thrusting themselves into the playoff conversation. A win by the Chargers, meanwhile, would be enough to give Turner at least a few more weeks. On the field, the matchup between two offenses that fling it deep will be fascinating (and head-turning) to watch. But the subtext is most intriguing. San Diego general manager A.J. Smith is also under fire. And the best player he let walk away via free agency last offseason? The same one he spent 2011 tormenting: Bucs receiver Vincent Jackson. If Jackson thrives on Sunday, it will intensify the spotlight on Smith. How bad will quarterback Philip Rivers be hurting if Jackson -- the one who got away -- torches the Chargers? #SDvsTB
    • Watch: Game Preview


    • New York at Seattle

      Sun 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS Get Tickets
    • Why this game is No. 8:

      None of the reasons to watch this game include finding out about Tim Tebow's magical new and growing role. Safe to say, if that was going to save the New York Jets' season, it would've been unveiled already. Whether No. 15 takes six snaps or eight isn't that interesting to me. What about the battle between two much-debated pass rushers, first-round draft picks who are often the subject of comparison? OK, I'm into that. The Seattle Seahawks' Bruce Irvin (the 15th overall pick in April) and Gang Green's Quinton Coples (16th) will be measured against each other throughout their careers, and this is their first head-to-head battle in the crazed confines of CenturyLink Field. Really, the reason to check out this game is to see whether the Jets should be talking about 2012 or 2013. Coming off a bye, Jets coach Rex Ryan said this about his team earlier this week: "We're not sniffing the playoffs." A loss will make that a fact. #NYJvsSEA
    • Watch: Game Preview


Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.



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