A look ahead to five things about Week 10 in the NFL’s 2017 season:
1. In Fox’s doubleheader game that will be shown to virtually a national audience, the Dallas Cowboys will try to beat Atlanta without Ezekiel Elliott, who begins serving his suspension, and left tackle Tyron Smith, who is injured. This game has wild-card implications as both teams are two behind in the loss column in their divisions. If the Cowboys lose without Elliott, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is likely to be even more motivated to complain about commissioner Roger Goodell’s power.
2. New England, which is 6-2 and tied for the best record in the AFC, comes off its bye week by going to Denver for a prime time Sunday night game. Tom Brady should face a good matchup against the Denver defense. The Patriots haven’t done a good time of protecting him and it won’t be surprising if they have problems blocking Von Miller. The New England defense has been shaky this year, but the Patriots should be able to contain Brock Osweiler as questions continue to be being asked about why John Elway didn’t have a better quarterback plan after Peyton Manning retired.
3. San Francisco (0-9) and Cleveland (0-8) are the only two winless teams in the league this year. The 49ers have a chance at their first victory as they go against a dysfunctional 1-7 New York Giants team. The 49ers, though, don’t seem ready to give Jimmy Garappolo his first start and are apparently sticking with rookie C.J. Beathard. The Browns, though, appear to have little chance of posting their first victory against the 4-4 Detroit Lions.
4. In a curious twist of scheduling, the Cincinnati Bengals are playing the two teams fighting for the AFC South title – the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans – in back to back games. The Bengals lost to the Jaguars, 23-7, last week, and now the Titans will try to match it. The Jaguars have a tougher task against the Los Angeles Chargers, who are 3-5 after an 0-4 start. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has beaten the Jaguars six times in a row, but the Jaguars have upgraded their defense and are favored. If both teams win, the Titans and Jaguars will remain tied at 6-3.
5. The New Orleans Saints have won six in a row after a 0-2 start but have a difficult task Sunday at Buffalo, which has had 10 days to prepare after their disappointing 34-21 loss to the New York Jets that left the 5-3 Bills a game behind the Patriots. The Bills should test the Saints defense, whose six game winning streak as featured victories over such quarterback as Mitchell Trubisky, Brett Hundley and Jay Cutler. Buffalo’s Tyrod Taylor isn’t an elite quarterback but should be able to duel Drew Brees in what should be a close game.