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NFL Week 10 game picks: Saints top 49ers; Cowboys rebound

The rules of making Week 10 Game picks:

a) Make them before having two frozen strawberry margaritas at a Mexican joint with a colleague.
b) Do them after Friday's injury report, not in the early morning on Thursday, when I'm doing them.
c) About item "a" ... some picks might come after.
d) Never trust a Cutler. (I kid, I kid.)
e) Trust in DeMarco overseas, man.

Dallas beats Jacksonville. That pick is below. What about the Niners in New Orleans?

Yep. Great points all around. First off, "Under a Blood Red Sky" will always be their coolest album. Secondly ... that defense is absolutely looking better these days. Kudos to the much-maligned Rob Ryan.

Alright, as for the rest, take a gander. And as always, feel free to share your take ... @HarrisonNFL is the place.

Now, let's get to it!

Elliot Harrison went 8-5 on his predictions for Week 9, giving him a record of 84-49-1 so far this season. How will he fare in Week 10? His picks are below.

Tennessee is coming off a bye, which, in theory, is a good thing ... until you realize Ken Whisenhunt is 1-5 coming off byes. Hey, all it takes is once, man. You know Baltimore will be ready for this game after back-to-back losses to AFC North rivals. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco might be stinking against his own division, but he's owning everyone else. When facing non-AFC North opponents, Flacco is averaging more than 9 yards per throw with 10 touchdowns against three picks. If the visiting Titans are to have any shot with Zack -- er, Zach -- Attack, they must improve on their league-worst conversion rate on third down (29.5 percent). #TENvsBAL

This game will come down to the host Bills' ability to protect Kyle Orton from the pass rush. Kansas City either sacks or knocks down opposing quarterbacks 28.3 percent of the time, which is the second-best rate in the AFC -- and Orton has been sacked on 10.8 percent of pass plays, the most of any quarterback in the NFL. Of course, Buffalo's pass rush is plenty stout in its own right, meaning the running backs could end up determining who wins. Give Kansas City the advantage there. I'm looking forward to this contest, as it is huge in terms of playoff positioning.

Speaking of, did you know the Chiefs ended the Bills' attempt to mount an AFL three-peat in 1966? Anyone? Bueller? #KCvsBUF

"Sneaky good game." -- @ChristensenDrew

He's not the best researcher for nothing, folks. The score might look a little high, considering both defenses have been balling. But the return of Calvin Johnson will present a matchup difficulty unlike anything the Dolphins have faced this season. With Megatron making trouble and Golden Tate likely drawing more iso coverage, there should be an opportunity for this oft-sputtering Lions offense to get going in Detroit. Tate, by the way, is just the second player in team history to have 50 or more catches through eight games, joining ... hit me up with your answers @HarrisonNFL.

Miami could try to slow the Lions down with the run game ... problem is, Lamar Miller, as effective as he's been, isn't 100 percent, and Detroit has yielded just 593 rushing yards in eight games, the fewest allowed by the franchise since 1940. #MIAvsDET

Will Tony Romo look like Stallone in "First Blood," dodging and darting his way through the trees, setting up intricate booby traps for pursuing linemen like they're Sheriff Teasle in his reversible jacket (which kind of resembled the Jags' helmets)? Or will he look like Stallone in "Copland," plodding around clumsily with a body trending downward?

 *Trending* has become the new buzzword in sports, and it appears 
 Blake Bortles is finally trending upward. Not throwing the football to the other guys in ways that set them up to then sprint toward your own goal line sure helps. Jacksonville is the worst in the NFL at protecting its quarterback 
 (35 sacks allowed) and is scoring 15.7 points per game. That is not a typo. 

Plain and simple, this is a must-win for the visiting 49ers. Drop to 4-5 and it's kiss the NFC West goodbye time. Think about San Francisco's competition. Arizona might not finish 15-1, but 11-5 is a safe bet -- to fall even that far, the Cards would have to go .500 the rest of the way. Then there are the Seahawks, who have owned Jim Harbaugh's group in Seattle lately.

New Orleans, meanwhile, looks hot. The offense is going, and while the Niners' defense will be an extremely tough matchup for Saints running back Mark Ingram, can San Francisco stop Drew Brees? Not to mention (but we'll mention) the fact that New Orleans has won 20 consecutive home matchups home under Sean Payton, including a playoff win over the Lions in 2011. This might be Week 10's premier contest. #SFvsNO

Will Ben Roethlisberger throw for 694 yards and nine touchdowns in New York this week? Will Michael Vick be able to make this Jets offense look non-dysfunctional? Let's address the first question. I was offered Ben Roethlisberger in a trade while literally taping a segment for "NFL Fantasy Live." Big Ben is the darling of both the NFL and about a million fantasy leagues. Here's the deal: He's surpassed 30 touchdown passes in a season just once in his career. He's always been a streaky player. That said, that crack Jets defensive backfield is allowing opposing passers a 112.8 rating -- a huge number. If I were Rex Ryan, I would pound Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson in this game, shortening up the possessions. #PITvsNYJ

Much speculation over the past few weeks over Mike Smith's job security. Personally, I think it's bunk (... of course, Thomas Dimitroff and Arthur Blank haven't hit me up for my opinion). If the rampant conjecture is true, this is a must-win for Atlanta. Unfortunately, the Falcons' defense has had an awful season, ranking last in total defense and sacks. Not only do opposing quarterbacks have all day to throw, but when their receivers catch the ball, the Falcons aren't getting them down -- they've allowed 1,247 yards after the catch, most among teams that have had a bye.

As for the home team, Mike Glennon hasn't taken a step forward this season, as his passer rating, completion percentage, and touchdown-to-interception ratio are all slightly down -- as in, not improving. That's why the Bucs' choice is Josh McCown. Incidentally, I expect him to play relatively well. Give McCown 17 of 24 for 260 yards, two touchdowns, an interception and maybe a fumble. Oh, and Atlanta wins. #ATLvsTB

You think Peyton Manning will be a tad bit motivated in Oakland following last Sunday's loss in New England? Yeah, me too -- as if he needed it. During his tenure in Denver, Manning has lit up the Raiders like no other, completing 81 -- 81! -- percent of his passes against them. Meanwhile, Oakland refuses to help out its quarterback with a ground attack ... call it a ground shake weight. The Raiders are averaging 65.5 rushing yards per game, the lowest mark since the 1946 Detroit Lions. Camp Wilson led that team with 207 yards rushing. You could really stake your fortunes to Camp Wilson. Wait for it ... #DENvsOAK

The Arizona Cardinals have a golden opportunity to pad their lead in the NFC West and take one more step toward securing home-field advantage for the playoffs. If they beat the Rams, they'll be 8-1 with two games left against the Seahawks -- and bear in mind the fact that they won in Seattle last season.

The question here is this: Can St. Louis push it offensively and crack the 200-yard mark in the desert? Last week's total of 193 yards marked the lowest output by a winning team this year. All we're asking is that Austin Davis fling it all over the park and really go wild for a crazy total of, like, 250. Don't put the defense in a position where it has to play like the '85 Bears again. #STLvsAZ

Before you go assuming this game will be easy-peasy for the host Seahawks, remember all the times we've seen Tom Coughlin's Giants rebound from bad circumstances and string together some unlikely wins. I still expect Seattle to take this game, given that Richard Sherman can follow Odell Beckham Jr. (we've seen sequences in which Sherman has switched sides rather than sticking to one side as he did earlier this season).

Interesting side note: Beckham's distributor, Eli Manning, has thrown 13 touchdown passes and one interception over the past six contests -- and yet, the Giants are 3-3 over that stretch. Now, the Seahawks' pass defense has been fantastic over the past three weeks, allowing 179.3 passing yards per game. Then again, that was against Derek "Inexperienced Rookie Who Also Plays for the Raiders" Carr, Cam "I Throw Rocketballs on Back-shoulder Fades" Newton and Austin "Even *I'm* Shocked I'm Playing" Davis (love Davis, though). #NYGvsSEA

The Bears' defense has been bad for weeks. They've allowed 4.5 red-zone drives per game, the most in the NFL -- and that doesn't even reflect all the scoring drives, merely those during which a play is run inside the 20. Chicago isn't just failing to stop big plays; they aren't getting them, either, as they're near the bottom of the barrel in terms of gains of 20-plus yards. Meanwhile, I anticipate Green Bay will use Eddie Lacy a lot come Sunday night. And I wouldn't be surprised if Aaron Rodgers went off; he's 5-1 with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 10:3 and a passer rating of 106.4 against the Bears in Lambeau. Just get rid of the ball earlier this time, Aaron. #CHIvsGB

Philadelphia wins at home Monday night, partially on the shoulders of one Mark Sanchez. Not only did he average more than three points per drive last week (on the season, Nick Foles averaged 1.7), but he also completed 80 percent of his passes with a 112.5 passer rating in the preseason. The Panthers' defensive backs -- particularly Antoine Cason and Melvin White -- have been getting toasted. Carolina's defense on the whole has struggled; consider that, after giving up 21 touchdowns all last year, the Panthers have allowed 28 already in 2014.

Back to Sanchez for a moment: Why is he playing better? Could it be maturity? He'll turn 28 next week. How many of you were less obnoxious at 28 than 22? Who didn't wear smediums and headbands right out of school before going full corporate in their late 20s? #CARvsPHI


The Browns are such friendly neighbors; they've been kind enough to drop 17 straight road games to AFC North foes since 2008. The last win came from a Derek Anderson-led Cleveland team over a Cincinnati squad that was in the wily, bearded care of Ryan Fitzpatrick (who, at the time, was actually sporting a five o'clock shadow reminiscent of George Michael in the "Careless Whisper" days). On that note: I've been hearing some whispers from fans and observers that Jeremy Hill is a better lead running back than Giovani Bernard, who will miss his second consecutive game. The former made a case for himself with 154 rushing yards against the Jags last week.

Cleveland's defense has improved lately -- facing Derek Carr and Mike Glennon will do that for you. But A.J. Green will present problems in Cincy. By the way, Brian Hoyer is the first Browns quarterback with 200 yards in each of his first eight games since Brian Sipe in 1983. Let's hope Hoyer doesn't continue to follow in Sipe's footsteps and sign with the USFL. That would be bad. #CLEvsCIN

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.

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