Week 10 storylines: Panthers, Dolphins embrace spoiler role

A lot of teams don't want to be labeled a spoiler this early in the season because it implies the race for the playoffs is over. The truth of the matter is any team that has two wins or less isn't going to make the playoffs, but they could be candidates for a strong finish and an eye towards 2012. My favorite teams in this position are the Panthers and Dolphins.

Carolina is getting better by the week with Cam Newton under center. As soon as the young defense solidifies its gap control issues and stops losing players to injury, the Panthers may just be the most dangerous spoiler in the NFL. This week Tennessee comes to town with a 4-4 record and hopes of staying in the playoff race. I'll take the Panthers to spoil their plans.

Miami finally won its first game this past week after being close the previous few weeks. There is no quit in the Dolphins and when QB Matt Moore threw three touchdowns in Kansas City, it served notice to the league that beating Miami isn't going to be easy. The Redskins are barely alive in the NFC East race and travel to Miami. The Dolphins have more trips to the red zone, more explosive plays, and they face former Dolphins QB John Beck, who has yet to win an NFL game in seven tries as a starter. Miami sacked Matt Cassel five times last week and now gets Beck, who goes to the ground one out of every nine attempts. I like another win for the AFC spoilers.

Sweep or split?

Every year, there are more splits than sweeps in divisional games. NFL teams that lose the first game are forced to take a long look at what they did wrong and fix problems. The team that won is questioned as to why change what worked the first time.

This weekend, the Lions head to Chicago after beating the Bears 24-13 in Week 5, but they do so without RB Javid Best who accounted for 172 yards and one TD in the first game. Also, the Bears had nine procedure calls against them in Detroit because of the crowd noise. I see a split in this rematch.

The Patriots head to New York after beating the Jets 30-21 the first time. The Patriots are on a two-game losing streak and their defense doesn't hold up their end of the bargain. New England ran the ball well against the Jets last time, but Tom Brady only threw one touchdown pass. It was the only time this season Brady didn't throw multiple touchdown passes. I like the Jets to split this rivalry.

Finally, the Vikings head to Green Bay after losing to the Packers at home in rookie Christian Ponder's debut. The Packers average 39 points a game at home and the Vikings have never scored 39 points in a game this year. Here's a sweep waiting to happen.

Three for Tebow?

Tim Tebow is a controversial quarterback to say the least. He is as unconventional as it gets. He struggles to complete passes yet he's thrown six touchdowns and only one interception. He looks like he could run for more than 100 yards a game if the Broncos turned him loose.

He has already won two games on the road this year and has a 2-1 record as a starter. If he gets a third win this weekend, playing the inconsistent Chiefs, and puts the Broncos back in the division race, everyone is going to sit up and take notice.

I admire how Tebow shrugs off the criticism about his NFL skills and his threat to run has opened up lots of lanes for Willis McGahee. Who knows maybe, Tim Tebow is going to defy all odds?

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