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Week 10 NFL Preview

Posted By Sports Talk Florida On November 6, 2012 @ 3:27 PM In Florida News,main feature,NFL | 1 Comment

NFL ENTERS SECOND HALF AS RACE TO PLAYOFFS INTENSIFIES

[1]The second half of the NFL season gets underway this week and the race to the playoffs is in full swing.

Week 10 starts on Thursday night (8:00 PM ET, NFL Network) when the Indianapolis Colts visit the Jacksonville Jaguars. It will conclude on Monday night (8:30 PM ET, ESPN) when the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Kansas City Chiefs.

“We’re 5-3 and we’re now searching for 6-3,” says Steelers head coach MIKE TOMLIN, whose team defeated the New York Giants 24-20 on Sunday. “Hopefully that win is a big step for us in terms of us trying to be the football team that we desire to be. Now it’s back to business and moving forward to next week’s challenges.”

The Steelers are one of 13 teams with at least five wins through the first nine weeks of the season. Halfway through the season, almost nothing is clear. There’s still plenty of football left to be played and a lot can happen.

“You’ve got to survive in this league and find a way to win,” says head coach GARY KUBIAK of the 7-1 Houston Texans. “It’s about winning and finding a way to get it done.”

While the Texans have the best record in the AFC, the Atlanta Falcons remain the league’s lone unbeaten team after a 19-13 win over Dallas.

The Falcons are the 15th team since 1978 – when the NFL introduced the 16-game schedule – to start a season 8-0. Of the previous 14 teams to get to the halfway point undefeated, nine advanced to the Super Bowl (64.3 percent).

“I want to be 16-0,” says Atlanta wide receiver RODDY WHITE, who leads the team with 709 receiving yards. “Well, 19-0.”

Of those previous 14 teams to start 8-0, six won the Super Bowl:
1985 Chicago 15-1 XX
1990 New York Giants 13-3 XXV
1991 Washington 14-2 XXVI
1998 Denver 14-2 XXXIII
2006 Indianapolis 12-4 XLI
2009 New Orleans 13-3 XLIV

But don’t count anyone out.

Since 2000, 29 teams have had a .500 or below winning percentage at the halfway point and proceeded to the playoffs, including at least one in each season. Of those 29 clubs, five have advanced to the Conference Championship Game, including the 2001 New England Patriots, who won Super Bowl XXXVI.

So as the second half gets underway, it’s all still to be decided. Some of the key games this week:

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (5-3) at JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (1-7) (Thursday, NFLN, 8:00 PM ET)

The Colts have won three games in a row and will look to get to 6-3 on Thursday night when they visit the Jaguars in a matchup of AFC South clubs.

Indianapolis quarterback ANDREW LUCK completed 30 of 48 passes (62.5 percent) for 433 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 105.6 passer rating in the Colts’ 23-20 Week 9 victory over Miami. His 433 passing yards are the most by a rookie in a game in NFL history, besting the previous mark of 432 yards set by CAM NEWTON last season. It also marked Luck’s fourth 300-yard passing game, tying PEYTON MANNING (1998) for the most by a rookie in NFL history.

“That’s why he was the first player taken in the NFL Draft,” says Colts wide receiver REGGIE WAYNE, who leads the NFL with 835 receiving yards. “He’s special.”

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (4-4) at TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (4-4) (Sunday, CBS, 1:00 PM ET)

Both the Chargers and Buccaneers evened their records at 4-4 with victories in Week 9.

San Diego won 31-13 on Thursday night, knocking off the division-rival Kansas City Chiefs. Chargers quarterback PHILIP RIVERS completed 90 percent of his passes (18 of 20) and threw two touchdowns while the San Diego defense got two scores: SHAUN PHILLIPS’ fumble-return touchdown and DEMORRIO WILLIAMS’s 59-yard interception-return TD.

“We played a complete game,” says Chargers head coach NORV TURNER. “Getting a win was big.”

San Diego will need to slow down Tampa Bay’s offense, which has scored at least 28 points in a team-record four consecutive games. Leading the way has been rookie running back DOUG MARTIN, who last week became only the second player in NFL history to rush for at least 250 yards (251) and four touchdowns in a game. Martin had touchdown runs of 70, 67, 45 and one yards in the victory at Oakland and is the only player in league history with three TD runs of at least 40 yards in a game.

“I’ve got to step back and just look at it,” says Martin, who grew up in nearby Stockton, California. “It’s surreal. I was just doing my job out there. I’m honored.”

Martin, the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month for October, has 486 scrimmage yards in his past two games, the most by a player in a two-game span in a season since Pro Football Hall of Famer WALTER PAYTON in 1977.

“What can I say about him that hasn’t already been said and will be exalted upon later,” says Buccaneers veteran defensive back RONDE BARBER. “He’s turned into a heck of a player here these past two weeks. Just the way he’s handled the pressure that he’s had to be the main guy here in our offense, that’s impressive.”

HOUSTON TEXANS (7-1) AT CHICAGO BEARS (7-1) (Sunday, NBC, 8:20 PM ET)

Two 7-1 teams will meet on Sunday night at Soldier Field in Chicago. The Texans are 3-0 on the road this season while the Bears have yet to lose (4-0) at home.

Both teams have a balanced offense and a staunch defense. Chicago leads the NFL with a +116 point differential (236 points scored, 120 points allowed) and Houston is second with a +100 mark (237, 137).

Offensively, the Texans are led by quarterback MATT SCHAUB (96.8 passer rating), running back ARIAN FOSTER (AFC-best 770 rushing yards and NFL-best 11 total touchdowns) and wide receiver ANDRE JOHNSON (42 catches, 562 yards). For the Bears, their offensive attack runs through quarterback JAY CUTLER (26-0 career record with 100+ passer rating, including playoffs), running back MATT FORTÉ (718 scrimmage yards) and wide receiver BRANDON MARSHALL (NFC-best 797 receiving yards).

“We’re happy to be 7-1 at the halfway mark,” says Schaub. “But we’re not finished. We’ve got to go in a tough environment against a very good football team next Sunday night so we’re already on to Chicago.”

On defense, two of the best defensive players in the NFL this season will take the field: Houston’s J.J. WATT and Chicago’s CHARLES TILLMAN. Defensive end Watt leads the NFL with 10.5 sacks and is the only player in the league with at least 10 sacks and 10 passes defensed. Cornerback Tillman leads the NFL with seven forced fumbles and is tied with teammate LANCE BRIGGS for the most interception-return touchdowns with two.

“The Bears have the best defense in the NFL,” says NFL Network analyst STEVE MARIUCCI.

Chicago is the first team in NFL history to return seven interceptions for touchdowns through the first eight games of a season. The Bears have an interception-return touchdown in five of their past six games and are the first team since the 1961 San Diego Chargers with an INT-TD in five games during a six-game span.

“We like where we are right now,” says Chicago head coach LOVIE SMITH. “I know this defense is doing some things that no other defense has done that I’ve been a part of. It’s special what we have going at the halfway point.”

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NFL FACTOID: Indianapolis’ ANDREW LUCK (433 yards) and Miami’s RYAN TANNEHILL (290) combined for 723 passing yards in their Week 9 meeting. That total is the most passing yards by two rookies in a game in NFL history.
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