We have reached double-digit weeks in the NFL season as we enter Week 10. The season is just growing up so fast. The Week 10 slate kicks off with what should be a fun game in Pittsburgh between the Panthers and Steelers and concludes with what could be a snoozer in San Francisco between the Giants and 49ers. All of the action in between should be plenty entertaining with six games that have a Vegas total over 49 points but there could be some blowouts along with the way with four teams favored by double-digits.
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Note: DVOA referenced in this article stands for Defense-adjusted Value Over Average which is a metric from FootballOutsiders.com.
So, let’s get right to the numbers and analysis…
Carolina Panthers @ Pittsburgh Steelers
The Panthers outscored the Bucs last week to win their third game in a row. They will travel on a short week to face the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The Steelers pass defense has been improved in recent week ranking 8th in passing yards allowed (234) and 5th in TD pass allowed (1.3) over the last five weeks. The Steelers also rank 1st DVOA defending opposing pass-catching RBs this season so Cam Newton might need to find his other receivers instead of Christian McCaffrey. Greg Olsen is a likely candidate as the Steelers rank 26th DVOA against TEs and have allowed 6.6 receptions (30th) and 73 yards (29th) per game to the position. Other than Olsen the next best option might be either D.J. Moore or Curtis Samuel who have been more involved in the offense in recent weeks and draws easier individual matchups. McCaffrey could also struggle to get things going on the ground as the Steelers run defense has allowed just 3.61 YPC (5th) to opposing RBs this season. Of course, Newton is also a threat on the ground.
The Steelers have reeled off four straight wins after their victory over the Ravens last week. They look to extend the streak at home against the Panthers on Thursday night. The Panthers pass defense has been regressing lately especially in the TD department allowing 2.4 TD passes (31st) per game over the last five weeks and gave up four to Ryan Fitzpatrick last week. Roethlisberger historically has been better at home and will look to spread the ball around to his targets. JuJu Smith-Schuster might have the best individual matchup, but Antonio Brown will always get his and enjoys the primetime spotlight. Meanwhile, the TE duo of Vance McDonald and Jesse James could thrive against the 27th DVOA ranked defense against TEs if you can pick the right one. Last week was James, so I’m going with McDonald this week. Also, James Conner is a threat for a receiving score as the Panthers have allowed 0.6 receiving TDs by RBs over the last five weeks. Conner could have more problems when he runs the ball against the Panthers 7th DVOA ranked run defense that has been stingy in the red zone allowing just 0.2 rushing TDs (2nd) over the last five weeks.
- Greg Olsen (**)
- DJ Moore (*)
- Ben Roethlisberger (**)
- Antonio Brown (*)
- JuJu Smith-Schuster (**)
- Vance McDonald (**)