Analysis

Spoiler Alert: Week 10

Week 10 picks coming up, but a few things real quick ...

» After another soul-cleansing thrashing of a divisional foe, are the Cleveland Browns now the favorites to win the AFC North? They've gotta make it through just one more game sans their -- and the NFL's (?) -- most explosive performer, Josh Gordon. For fun, let's also throw in Jordan Cameron, himself a high-end pass-catcher when healthy. Now take a look at the team's next six games: HOU, at ATL, at BUF, IND, CIN, at CAR. 4-2 seems possible if not likely ... and if that bit of speculation proves accurate, the division crown could come down to how the Browns fare in Art Modell's adopted home, Baltimore, in Week 17.

» Having now survived his latest "referendum game," Brian Hoyer is now 9-3 as the Browns' starter. He's not setting the fantasy football world on fire, but Mike Pettine probably doesn't care much about that. What happens, though, if Hoyer's under center for a game in January? Will that be enough to ensure the Browns bring him back with Johnny Manziel burning a hole in the bench? Does Hoyer need to win a playoff game for the team to give him a new contract north of $12 million? This negotiation -- assuming it happens at all -- will be one of the more fascinating of the free agency era.

» Speaking of Johnny Football, the race to see which human being will be the last to start an NFL game at quarterback is now down to him, me, Coolio, my Aunt Roberta, 2001 Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch and a guy named Seth, who hails from the Quad Cities area.

» For more expansive debate on four of Week 10's biggest games, I encourage -- nay, demand! -- you watch the latest edition of DDFPTV's Red Challenge Flag picks segment, starring Elliot Harrison, Handsome Hank Hodgson and NFL Media's stats bad boy, Drew Christensen:

And, of course, don't miss Football Baby as the pigskin-pickin' prodigy tries to go to 12-0 on the season. (Video at the top of the page.)

» Remember when Hue Jackson was gonna fix the Cincinnati Bengals' offense and vault himself into a head coaching gig for 2015?

» I've said it before, but Thursday night's performance requires me to repeat it: Especially given the short shelf life of most anyone who works in the NFL, it's downright miraculous how long the thoroughly mediocre Marvin Lewis has kept his job. This is his 12th season. He's the second-longest-tenured head coach in the NFL, behind only Bill Belichick. The periodic division crowns (2005, '09, '13) and general air of respectability (at least among those who don't stay up to watch the team's prime-time performances) are a fine upgrade from the previous generation, but he's never won a playoff game. Has any coach in the Super Bowl era kept his job for so long while achieving so little?

» On one hand, it's hard to imagine how the recently soaring Steelers lost at home to the bum Bucs. On the other hand, Mike Tomlin's kryptonite has been games his team should win ... as this stat from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Mark Kaboly illuminates:

In other words, that second win of 2014 is a real possibility this Sunday, Rex.

» Two of the league's top three defenses will be on display when the Dolphins and Lions hit Ford Field on Sunday. (Go back and re-read that last sentence. It's kinda hard to believe.) And while Cam Wake and his pals are terrific, Detroit has the NFL's No. 1 defense. That may not last, but the offense with the returning Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush should allow the D to slip a bit without repercussion. The Lions have a great shot at hanging in the playoff chase ... but Megatron's gonna have to be Megatron, with road games in Foxborough, Green Bay and Glendale (ARI) still upcoming. (Go back and re-read "Glendale" being mentioned among tough road games. It's kinda hard to believe.)

» If Tony Romo and Mark Sanchez both perform well over the next month or two -- and Detroit hangs in there -- the NFC playoffs will start without EITHER the defending champs or 49ers.

» Under any circumstances, it's an all-time humiliation to lose a nationally televised prime-time game by 42 points. It's exponentially worse, though, when the team that delivers that pummeling stinks itself. This Sunday, the humiliated Bucs face Mike Smith's underachieving 2-6 Falcons in the rematch. Watching pro football is one of my favorite things on Earth, but -- outside of those who've got Julio Jones or Vincent Jackson on their fantasy teams -- I can't imagine turning this game on.

» In light of Dalton's woeful Thursday night performance, let's revisit the watershed moment in 2011, when then-Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden convinced Mike Brownto draft Dalton over Colin Kaepernick.

» And don't forget my prediction back in June: AJ McCarron will start a game for the Bengals ... and it won't be because of an Andy Dalton injury. You oughta listen: I also told you Ryan Mallett would be starting for the Texans in 2014 .. and that was when Mallett was still Tom Brady's backup.

» By the time Brady and the Patriotsnext take the field, there's a decent chance either the Bills or Dolphins will have the same number of wins as the perennial AFC East champs. In Week 10, 5-3 Buffalo hosts K.C. and 5-3 Miami visits Detroit. Next Thursday night, the Bills and Dolphins will get it on in South Beach. Maybe the division title isn't a lock for New England after all ...

WARNING: Do NOT continue reading if you don't want to know the final scores of the Week 10 games. (0-1 this week, 9-4 last week, 84-50-1 on the season)


COWBOYS 21
JAGS 24

Dez Bryant: 2 TDs
Blake Bortles: 20-36, 340 yds, 2 TDs, INT


DOLPHINS 20
LIONS 28

Brian Hartline: 6 rec, 90 yds, TD
Calvin Johnson: 8 rec, 140 yds, TD


NINERS 33
SAINTS 27

Colin Kaepernick: 16-26, 280 yds, TD; 10 car, 80 yds, TD
Jimmy Graham: 5 rec, 80 yds, TD


CHIEFS 21
BILLS 23

Jamaal Charles: 100 yds/scrimmage
Sammy Watkins: 4 rec, 110 yds, TD


TITANS 19
RAVENS 31

TEN: 17 rush yds
BAL: 180 rush yds


STEELERS 23
JETS 20

Martavis Bryant: 11-yd TD rec
Percy Harvin: 130 yds/scrimmage, TD


FALCONS 28
BUCS 26

Julio Jones: 10 rec, 150 yds, 2 TDs
Vincent Jackson: 9 rec, 140 yds, TDs


BRONCOS 27
RAIDERS 16

Demaryius Thomas: 8 rec, 180 yds, 2 TDs
Khalil Mack: 18 tackles


RAMS 14
CARDS 19

Trumaine Johnson: 39-yd INT TD
Michael Floyd: 78-yd TD rec


GIANTS 16
SEAHAWKS 30

Andre Williams: 15 car, 70 yds
Christine Michael: 2 TDs


BEARS 24
PACKERS 34

Brandon Marshall: 8 rec, 125 yds, TD
Eddie Lacy: 20 car, 120 yds, TD


PANTHERS 17
EAGLES 24

Kelvin Benjamin: 7 rec, 115 yds, TD
LeSean McCoy: 150 yds/scrimmage, 2 TDs


Enjoy the games! I hope your team wins (unless they're playing my team).

Follow Dave Dameshek on Twitter @Dameshek.

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