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Toss-up weekend: Six tough games to pick

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Welcome to the toughest week of the season to pick games.

Starting with Thursday night's game between two teams that couldn't play any defense, Week 10 has a slate of toss-ups between evenly matched teams. It feels like the kind of week that could be a turning point for many middling seasons.

Listed below: The six toughest games to pick in toss-up week. I didn't include Denver-San Diego or New Orleans-Dallas. Those both are big games, especially for the underdogs. The Chargers' offense has proven capable of scoring with anyone and they have beaten quality opponents at home like the Cowboys and Colts. But it's awfully hard to pick against Peyton Manning.

The Cowboys are capable of staying with any team, even the Saints on the road. Jason Garrett's squad is even better at losing heartbreakers in a variety of ways.

Here are the toughest games to pick, along with the impact for each game:

6. Philadelphia Eagles at Green Bay Packers: Can the Packers win with Seneca Wallace? The Eagles' defense has played better in recent weeks and Nick Foles is coming off his seven touchdown-pass game, yet only one Around The League writer took the plunge with Philadelphia this week.

The Eagles could be in first place if they win this game, while the Packers need to win a couple of games before Aaron Rodgers returns.

5. Carolina Panthers at San Francisco 49ers : This probably wasn't as tough a game to pick to everyone else. The Panthers are somewhat heavy underdogs on the road to a 49ers team that is getting Aldon Smith and Mario Manningham back. I see this as a game that will shape the NFC playoff race.

I expect both of these teams to make the playoffs. But the winner of this game will have a much better chance at a division crown and a bye. Yes, the Panthers are that good. They are ready for a signature win so that everyone in the country knows they are that good, too.

4. Houston Texans at Arizona Cardinals: By some measures, the Cardinals have the best defense in the league. With a date against Jacksonville next week, we could be staring at a 6-4 Arizona squad through 11 weeks.

And yet we can't quite give up on these Texans yet. Case Keenum is playing that well. Any chance for a miracle rally to wild-card contention has to start this week.

3. Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore's last stand in the AFC North. The defending Super Bowl champion has looked like a sub-mediocre team all season. If the Ravens don't win here, the Bengals should cruise to the division title. If Cincy falls, it's a three-team race with the Browns still in the mix.

I can't shake the feeling that Baltimore has too much championship pedigree to go down without a fight.

2. Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers: This isn't the biggest game of the weekend, but it was maddening to pick. The Bills are the best 3-6 team in the league. Kyle Williams, Mario Williams and the entire defensive line is playing great. The secondary is different with Jairus Byrd and Stephon Gilmore back at full strength. Buffalo could be a playoff team if it had better quarterback play.

The Steelers are consistently lousy, but defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau eats up rookie quarterbacks. (Look what Pittsburgh did to Geno Smith.) Loser of this game finally gets the fork. I'm rolling with Buffalo to win. You know what team is showing up each week.

1. Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears: Matthew Stafford hasn't won in Chicago. Jay Cutler returns from injury, but the Bears' defense remains a huge weakness. These two teams only know how to play nail-biting, insane finishes to games. A season sweep by the Lions would put them in great position in the NFC North.

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