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NFL Insiders predict: Week 10 upsets, coaching hot seat, more

NFL, Los Angeles Rams

Our NFL Insiders predict Week 10's biggest upsets, fantasy flops and sleepers. Plus: Can the Rams really top the Seahawks in the NFC West? Which coach should be most concerned about keeping his job? And what was the most memorable play of the first half?


What's your top upset pick for Week 10?

Matt Bowen, NFL writer: Chargers over Jaguars. I like the Chargers coming off their bye. Yes, that Jags secondary is the top unit in the league and the pass rush can create chaos for Philip Rivers when the pocket starts to fold up. But with a high-volume game from Melvin Gordon, efficient play in the red zone and opportunistic defense, the Chargers can steal one here on the cross-country trip.

Dan Graziano, NFL writer: Bills over Saints. I like Buffalo's chances for a bounce-back at home with a few extra days of rest. Last Thursday's game was uncharacteristic of this year's Bills team, which has avoided turnovers and dumb penalties, but didn't do so in the loss to the Jets. I'm willing to believe the Bills just laid an egg and will be better in their next game, which will likely feature the Bills debut of Kelvin Benjamin. And the Saints have to lose again at some point, right?

Aaron Schatz, editor-in-chief of Football Outsiders: Cowboys over Falcons. The Cowboys have moved up to eighth in the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings. The Falcons are 19th. Yet the line of Atlanta minus-3 would indicate that Vegas thinks these two teams are nearly equal. Even if Ezekiel Elliott loses his suspension appeal and can't play Sunday, his loss doesn't quite make up the current difference between these teams. And if Elliott's suspension still doesn't start this week? The Cowboys should be favored, even on the road.

Mike Sando, senior NFL writer: Bills over Saints. I'll take the Bills to bounce back at home against New Orleans in a game that could feature chilly temperatures and rain. That's no knock on the Saints, however. They'll win 10 to 13 games this season as long as they keep allowing under 22 points per game. That has been their track record in the Sean Payton-Drew Brees era.

Field Yates, NFL Insider: Chargers over Jaguars. The Jacksonville defense is ferocious -- it has allowed nine or fewer points in five of eight games this season -- that much is for certain. But against an offense that still aims to grind out yards on the ground and have quarterback Blake Bortles play carefully, the Chargers likely won't need a game full of sustained drives to win; 24 points could do it. Los Angeles will be rested coming off of its bye.

Fill in the blank: I'd give the Rams a __ percent chance to win the NFC West.

Bowen: 50 percent. The Rams are playing really good football right now and the development of Jared Goff in Sean McVay's offense is a great example of coaching at the highest level. But I'm not going to sell on the Seahawks just yet. Seattle won the first head-to-head matchup in L.A. and Pete Carroll has traditionally made strong adjustments in the second half of the season to fix (or cover up) issues.

Graziano: 60 percent. The head-to-head result aside, Los Angeles deserves to be the favorite at this point. The Rams are a far more dynamic offense (not that that's saying much), and they're one of the few teams in the league with a front-seven difference-maker dominating enough to make Seattle say, "Wow! I wish we had that guy." Aaron Donald breaking apart offensive lines up front, Goff eating up McVay's playbook ... the Rams are legit. The Seahawks' addition of left tackle Duane Brown is big, but Seattle's defense just isn't what it used to be. When would the Seahawks ever have given away a late lead like they did to Washington on Sunday?

Schatz: 65 percent. The Football Outsiders playoff odds simulation actually has the odds slightly higher. I've been driving the Rams bandwagon since April, but never in my wildest imagination did I think we would be talking about the Rams as a possible No. 1 seed. According to our DVOA ratings, they are now the No. 1 team in the NFL this season, ranked in the top 10 in all three phases of the game.

Sando: 51 percent. The Rams have been better than the Seahawks this season and could be better in the end. Seattle did win the matchup in Los Angeles; much could hinge on the rematch. I'll be watching over the second half of the season to see how Goff performs late in fourth quarters with games on the line. He has had two chances this season, throwing a pick against Washington and coming up just short against the Seahawks. His day could be coming -- in Seattle?

Yates: 50 percent. The one-game lead helps, but what matters more is that the Rams have so many of the ingredients to sustain success and also are playing terrific situational football. They have a balanced offensive attack and a fast and aggressive defense. Seattle traditionally heats up in the second half of the season and already secured a win against the Rams in L.A., making this a 50-50 toss-up.

Who's your pick to be the biggest fantasy flop this weekend?

Bowen: Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers. In the two games with Brett Hundley starting at quarterback for Green Bay, Nelson has been held to just five receptions on 13 targets for 48 yards. And he has failed to find the end zone. The Packers' call sheet has been cut down, Hundley is still showing signs of inexperience in the pocket and the short passing game doesn't create upper-tier fantasy production. I don't expect that to change this Sunday against a Bears defense that's flying around the field on tape right now.

Graziano: Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers This assumes the league doesn't hand out a suspension to Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who was ejected from Sunday's game against the Bengals for fighting. (I don't think it will.) Assuming full strength, Jacksonville's pass defense is a monster, bringing pressure up front and locking things down on the back end with those guys in the secondary. The Jags are allowing a league-low 6.9 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks and a league-low 22.9 fantasy points per game to wide receivers. I'm downgrading Allen, Philip Rivers and anybody in the Chargers' passing game this week.

Schatz: Adrian Peterson, RB, Cardinals. Yes, Arizona wants to ride Peterson with Carson Palmer out. But the Seahawks are the No. 6 defense in the league when it comes to preventing fantasy points to running backs. If Seattle can take an early lead, the game script completely takes Peterson out.

Sando: Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins. The Redskins' improbable finish at Seattle boosted his stats somewhat in Week 9, but with so many Washington players injured, we should expect tough sledding for Cousins against a formidable Minnesota defense.

Yates: Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots. I'll look past Week 9 for the Broncos' run defense, which was the last to surrender a touchdown in 2017 (Philadelphia had three in Week 9, however). Playing at home, I believe the Broncos' run defense will be a closer facsimile to what it was during the first seven games of the season: dominant. Lewis' role has ballooned of late, but this will be tough sledding against the Broncos.

Outside of Hue Jackson and Chuck Pagano -- who seem to perpetually be on the hot seat -- which NFL coach should be in the most trouble?

Bowen: Dirk Koetter, Buccaneers. The No. 1 job of the head coach -- at any level of football -- is to build the proper team culture. That shows in the attention to detail, technique, fundamentals and discipline that carries over to the field. The Bucs have plenty of talent and made key offseason additions. But at 2-6, with a team that lacks a true identity, Koetter should be held responsible.

Graziano: Dirk Koetter, Buccaneers. Obviously, the situation with the Giants is a huge mess, but Ben McAdoo did go 11-5 last year and the Giants have a history of being patient with coaches. Heck, Ray Handley got two whole years. Bucs ownership does not have such a history, and I wonder if Koetter is the first coach to be let go this season. Tampa Bay had extremely high hopes for this season, and when you promote a guy from offensive coordinator to head coach because you like his relationship with the young quarterback, he's in trouble if the quarterback doesn't advance quickly.

Schatz: Marvin Lewis, Bengals. Cincinnati is completely stagnant. The Bengals held on to Lewis through an entire success cycle, and are now at a down point. This would be a good time to bring on a head coach who can develop young offensive players, work with the offensive line and rebuild the offense around Joe Mixon and John Ross.

Sando: Ben McAdoo, Giants. This holds especially if the Giants appear inept in losing at San Francisco in Week 10. A home loss to the Jets would similarly downgrade Dirk Koetter in Tampa, but I'd cut him a little slack because Jameis Winston has been hurt for a few weeks.

Yates: Dirk Koetter, Buccaneers. Tampa Bay entered this season with significant aspirations as Winston entered his third pro campaign and the offense profiled as explosive with the additions of DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard, among others. The team has cratered to 2-6 as Winston deals with a shoulder injury. Very little has gone right so far this year in Tampa.

Pick a fringe fantasy player who should be started in Week 10.

Bowen: Josh McCown, QB, Jets. In his past three games, McCown has completed 71.3 percent of his passes for 606 yards and six touchdowns. He also has rushed for two scores over that span. For fantasy managers looking for a solid streaming option at the position, I like McCown against a subpar Bucs defense that's giving up an average of 18.9 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks (26th overall).

Graziano: Orleans Darkwa, RB, Giants. Darkwa seems to be the clear No. 1 option in the running game for the reeling Giants, and this week they play the 49ers, who are allowing the most fantasy points per game in the league to running backs. He ran the ball very well early in last week's loss to the Rams, which got out of hand quickly and turned into a negative game script for a team trying to run the ball. That's not likely to happen against the winless 49ers, who could obviously beat the 1-7 Giants but aren't likely to blow them out.

Schatz: Eric Decker, WR, Titans. Decker has a nice setup against a Cincinnati defense that plays well against outside receivers, but is last in DVOA against slot receivers.

Sando: Robert Woods, WR, Rams. Just over 25 percent of ESPN fantasy owners had Woods on their rosters coming out of Week 9. That percentage is sure to rise after Woods put up 22 points against the Giants. He has 19 catches over the Rams' past four games and now faces Houston.

Yates: C.J. Beathard, QB, 49ers. How about San Francisco's quarterback? For starters, he has shown himself to have good athletic ability, leading to 86 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in three starts, helping to raise his floor. But the matchup is also outstanding, as the Giants have allowed 14 passing touchdowns and more than 1,600 passing yards in their past five games.

What was the most memorable play of the first half of the season?

Bowen: I'll go back to Week 5 with Jalen Ramsey's interception of Ben Roethlisberger. Amazing stuff. Widen with the release of the tight end, close on the throw and break in front to finish? Come on, how many defensive backs actually recover there and make the play? Ramsey is a star, the future of the league at the cornerback position. And he plays with a swagger that shows up on every single snap. I would love to coach this guy.

Graziano: Unfortunately, for me, it's the play on which Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone. This NFL season has been defined by the injury absences of some of its biggest stars, and a second half is about to unfold without Rodgers, J.J. Watt, Odell Beckham Jr., Deshaun Watson, David Johnson, Julian Edelman, Joe Thomas, Jason Peters or Eric Berry, to name a few. Rodgers' injury, from my perspective, is the symbol of a tough season. There are always injuries, but this year the bug seems to be targeting some of the most fun and thrilling players to watch.

Schatz: I'm going all the way back to Week 1 for Tyreek Hill's 75-yard touchdown reception against a completely blown coverage by the Patriots. It was an announcement that Alex Smith was going to throw deep a bit more often this year, and that the Chiefs' offense could be seriously dangerous despite cutting Jeremy Maclin. It was also a huge, clear sign that something was very wrong with the communication in New England's defense. Plus, big Hill plays are always fun to watch.

Sando: Tom Brady somehow finding Brandin Cooks along the left side of the end zone in Foxborough to improbably beat the Texans in Week 3. The entire drive defied logic, but that throw, in that situation? The 25-yard strike changed the Patriots' win probability from 20 percent to 98 percent, the largest one-play shift in the NFL this season.

Yates: A Week 3 win for Philadelphia was clinched by a 61-yard field goal by kicker Jake Elliott, who nailed the booming kick as the clock expired in regulation time, giving the Eagles a three-point win against the Giants. That kicked off (no pun intended) what is currently a seven-game winning streak and felt like a launching point for what has become the best team in football. It was an unlikely kick -- any 60-plus-yard kick is a massive feat -- by an unlikely kicker (it was just Elliott's second game in Philadelphia) and helped kick-start an incredible stretch of football by the Eagles.

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