Week 10 NFL Preview

nfl-logoSecond Half Gets Underway; Week Starts On Thursday With Bears At Niners; Pats-Colts Renew Rivalry

The second half of the NFL season gets underway this week and the race to the playoffs is on. Week 10 starts on Thursday when the Chicago Bears head to San Francisco to face the 49ers on NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football.

Two teams – the Indianapolis Colts (8-0) and New Orleans Saints (8-0) – remain undefeated, marking the first time since 1990 (New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers) that the league has had a pair of 8-0 teams.

“We’re halfway through the season,” says Saints head coach SEAN PAYTON. “It’s a very competitive NFC right now. We’re seeing a lot of good football teams that are going to be playing well here in November. Our emphasis is to play well and keep getting better.”

The Saints stayed perfect last week with a come-from-behind 30-20 win over Carolina. New Orleans trailed 14-0 and became just the third team in NFL history to maintain a perfect record this far into a season by winning a game in which it trailed by at least 14 points.

“The more you win games like this,” says Saints quarterback DREW BREES, “the more that you believe you can come back to win games.”

New Orleans heads to St. Louis this weekend with a chance to get to 9-0 for the first time in franchise history. Meanwhile, the league’s other unbeaten team, the Colts, will host the New England Patriots on Sunday night.

“As this decade comes to a close,” says NBC’s AL MICHAELS, who will call the game, “there’s no question that the best rivalry game for this decade has been Indianapolis against New England.”

Here are some of the headline games in Week 10:

CHICAGO BEARS (4-4) at SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (3-5) (Thursday, NFLN, 8:20 PM ET)

Two teams with playoff aspirations – the Bears and Niners – will meet Thursday as NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football returns. Both teams enter the week tied for second place in their divisions and looking to bounce back from losses.

“With the second half of the season underway,” says NFL Network’s BOB PAPA, who will call the game, “the Bears and Niners must get on the winning track. This game could wind up having playoff tiebreaking implications in the NFC.”

San Francisco head coach MIKE SINGLETARY will face the organization he played for during his Hall of Fame career (1981-1992) as a linebacker.

“I’m just excited for the game,” says Singletary. “I don’t have emotions other than those I have for facing any other team.”

Chicago quarterback JAY CUTLER passed for 369 yards and three touchdowns – all to tight end GREG OLSEN – last week in a loss to Arizona. Last year with Denver, Cutler passed for 447 yards, the most ever on Thursday Night Football.

“When you play a game like that one (against Arizona),” says Chicago head coach LOVIE SMITH, “you want to play immediately and that’s the good thing about this short week.”


First place in the AFC North is on the line when the 6-2 Bengals visit the 6-2 Steelers.

Cincinnati is coming off a 17-7 win over Baltimore and improved to 4-0 in the division. Running back CEDRIC BENSON, who ranks second in the NFL with 837 rushing yards, rushed for 117 yards against the Ravens and became the first player since Pittsburgh’s JEROME BETTIS (1997) to rush for 100 yards twice in one season against Baltimore.

“We’re in a good spot,” says Bengals quarterback CARSON PALMER, who passed for 224 yards and a touchdown. “But in no way are we satisfied or patting ourselves on the back. There is still a lot of football to be played. We still have to play a lot of good football teams. We are going to get every team’s ‘A’ game, especially this week in Pittsburgh.”

The Steelers defeated Denver 28-10 this past Monday night and have now won five in a row. Pittsburgh has scored at least 27 points in each of its past five games, the longest such streak in franchise history. Quarterback BEN ROETHLISBERGER threw three touchdown passes, including two to HINES WARD, and running back RASHARD MENDENHALL rushed for 155 yards in the win over the Broncos. Pittsburgh’s defense held the Broncos to 27 rushing yards and did not allow an offensive touchdown, the first time Denver has rushed for fewer than 30 yards and didn’t score an offensive touchdown at home in franchise history.

“I’m thankful to play with people like this,” says Steelers rookie defensive end ZIGGY HOOD. “It’s not only the kind of players they are, but the kind of people. To be able to play on a defense like this is just unbelievable. It’s a blessing.”

DALLAS COWBOYS (6-2) at GREEN BAY PACKERS (4-4) (Sunday, FOX, 4:15 PM ET)

The surging Cowboys, who lead the NFC East, head to Lambeau Field to face the Packers.

Dallas has won four games in a row and the club is 5-1 in the conference. Last week, the Cowboys defeated Philadelphia 20-16 on Sunday night. Quarterback TONY ROMO passed for 307 yards and threw the game-winning 49-yard touchdown to MILES AUSTIN in the fourth quarter. Romo has now won 13 consecutive November starts, tied for the longest streak by a quarterback since 1950.

“Every game is bigger,” says Cowboys defensive end MARCUS SPEARS. “You don’t think about the number of weeks left in the season or any other opponents in front of you. We’ve got Green Bay next and that’s the focus.”

The Packers will look to get back on track after a 38-28 road loss at Tampa Bay. Quarterback AARON RODGERS has posted a passer rating of at least 100 in five of the past six games and ranks fifth in the league with a 103.3 mark.

“I have all the confidence in this team that we’ll get ready and we’ll move on and win a big game here at home against Dallas,” says Packers head coach MIKE MC CARTHY.


The decade’s two winningest teams will meet on Sunday night in Indianapolis. The Colts have won an NFL-best 109 regular-season games since 2000 while the Patriots are second with 108 victories. The teams have combined for four Super Bowl championships this decade.

Since 2003, these two teams have met at least once every year for a total of nine games – six in the regular season and three in the playoffs. Six of those nine meetings have been decided by seven points or fewer. New England has won five of the nine contests, but Indianapolis has won four of the past five, including last year’s 18-15 win at home.

“It’s going to be a great game,” says NBC analyst and former Colts head coach TONY DUNGY, “and it’s going to boil down to what it always does: two great quarterbacks (NE’s TOM BRADY and Ind.’s PEYTON MANNING), which team can get pressure on the other quarterback, and which quarterback can make the plays without turning the ball over.”

The Colts have won 17 consecutive regular-season games dating back to last year and can tie the 2003-04 Patriots for the second-longest streak (18) in NFL history. With the victory over Houston last week, JIM CALDWELL became the second rookie head coach in the past 80 years to start a season 8-0 (POTSY CLARK, 1931 Portsmouth Spartans).

“It’s a big game,” says Caldwell, “and it’s against a very talented opponent. It’s the next game for us. The next one for us is the most important one.”

The Patriots have won three in a row and sit atop the AFC East with a 6-2 mark after defeating Miami 27-17 last week.

“We always enjoy playing them,” says Brady of the Colts. “They’re a great team. They seem to always be one of the best teams in the league and they’re good in all three phases and very well-coached. It will be a great challenge for us.”

There have been 651 touchdowns scored this season. That is the third-most through the first nine weeks of a season in NFL history and the most since 655 in 2002. The record for the most touchdowns through the first nine weeks of a season is 667 set in 1983.