Itching to watch an underdog try to overcome the odds or triumph against adversity? Simply looking to pass the time reading another NFL.com article while stuck in your cube? Nick Shook offers a bead on four us-against-the-world scenarios to track entering Week 10 of the 2022 NFL season. The order below is determined by confidence rankings, from No. 1 (most confident) to No. 4 (least confident).
This NFL season has already brought us plenty of surprises. For some, those surprises have been disappointments, resulting in frequent frustration.
In the same spirit, three of the four matchups I've chosen for Week 10 include at least one struggling offense. Only one game -- the last one listed here -- includes two teams that have consistently put points on the board this season.
As we all know, offense thrills. This week's underdogs are out to prove they should not be slept on, and they just might earn some respect along the way.
Here are the four underdogs in which I have the most confidence to pull off an upset in Week 10.
The lines below provided by DraftKings are current as of 4:40 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Nov. 9 unless otherwise noted below.
- WHERE: Allianz Arena (Munich)
- WHEN: 9:30 a.m. ET on Sunday | NFL Network, NFL+
- SPREAD: Seahawks +3
How much longer are oddsmakers going to continue to view the Seahawks as underdogs?
Geno Smith is playing at a near-MVP level and the Seahawks keep winning. In Munich, they’ll face a Buccaneers team that needed a frantic final-minute drive last week to finally reach the end zone in one of the ugliest games we'll ever see between two teams that were perceived as contenders heading into the season. And yet ... the Seahawks are underdogs?
I can see some logic in that assessment. Tom Brady is undefeated in three career international games (his last coming in 2017), the offense found some semblance of rhythm on that final drive last week and the Bucs looked like they actually enjoyed playing football for the first time in what seems like ages.
Still, though, that's only one drive. Victory Monday feels better than the alternative, but the issues with the Bucs are still apparent. And right now, Pete Carroll is a candidate for Coach of the Year because of how he's brought the young-and-hungry Seahawks together with the belief they can beat anyone.
I'll take that group over one that seems to be fighting against both itself and the weight of expectations just to compete on a weekly basis. Keep soaring, Seahawks.
- WHERE: SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, Calif.)
- WHEN: 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday | FOX
- SPREAD: Cardinals +1.5
Los Angeles' offense relies on one connection -- Matthew Stafford to Cooper Kupp -- and isn’t offering much else. However, Stafford's status for Sunday is now in question, as head coach Sean McVay announced Wednesday that the quarterback is in the concussion protocol. Stafford's backup, John Wolford, led the Rams to a win in his one career start -- an 18-7 victory over Arizona in Week 17 of the 2020 season.
As for the Cardinals, they have health concerns of their own. Kyler Murray is dealing with a hamstring injury that is a day-to-day proposition, per NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. Obviously, the outlook changes quite a bit here if Stafford and/or Murray are unable to play.
Recently, Arizona has been leaning primarily on dropping Murray back to pass 35 times a game and hoping he'll find DeAndre Hopkins for a big gain. Last week, things didn't go according to that plan. Murray ended up targeting Rondale Moore twice as much as he did Hopkins, and the result, unsurprisingly, underwhelmed. Murray finished with 175 pass yards and two touchdowns, and appeared frustrated throughout the afternoon in a home loss to the Seahawks. In the two games prior, however, Hopkins had posted a line of 22/262/1.
Arizona dropped the first meeting between these two teams in Week 3, but back then, the Rams were coming off a 31-point outburst and had reason to believe their offense would find its way. McVay’s team is averaging 14 points per game since that win over the Cardinals, and it seems like almost a given that their 29th-ranked scoring offense will struggle with the ball each week.
The Cardinals are averaging 22.6 points per game, good for 16th in the NFL. Arizona’s defense ranks second to last in points allowed per game, but it’s been opportunistic, with three pick-sixes in the last three games.
In this battle of two struggling offenses, I’ll side with the team that seems to have a bit more working in its favor right now.
- WHERE: Acrisure Stadium (Pittsburgh)
- WHEN: 1 p.m. ET on Sunday | FOX
- SPREAD: Steelers +1.5
The Saints closed out Week 9 on a national stage with a forgettable performance from Andy Dalton and a very limited offense that converted just 3 of 11 third-down attempts. New Orleans might not have scored a touchdown against Baltimore had the Ravens played through the whistle on Juwan Johnson's receiving score.
Unfortunately for the Saints, I’m not seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. The cavalry isn't coming. Even if Dennis Allen were open to the idea of replacing Dalton with Jameis Winston, the potential for production wouldn’t become significantly better. These are the 2022 Saints, especially when injuries mount as they have in the last few weeks.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, is clearly giving Kenny Pickett a season to figure things out. The Steelers have just two wins this year, but the young quarterback gives Pittsburgh fans a reason to tune in on Sundays. Those fans could be rewarded this weekend.
The last Steelers victory came against an NFC South squad that, like the Saints, was struggling on offense, as Pittsburgh eked out a win over the Bucs at home in a game that required Mitch Trubisky to finish the job for an injured Pickett. With the rookie healthy again, we can't bank on Trubisky getting involved this time around, but it might not matter all that much because the Saints are missing a handful of key players. Pete Werner, Marcus Davenport and Erik McCoy all left Monday night's game with injuries, while Bradley Roby and Michael Thomas are currently on injured reserve.
The Steelers, coming off their bye week, are in much better shape health-wise on offense. Chase Claypool is now with the Bears, creating more room for opportunities for rookie George Pickens, and the Saints might not have an answer for him, depending on Marshon Lattimore's status.
The Saints might also lack an offensive answer in general, which could be the biggest factor in deciding this game.
- WHERE: Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Gardens, Fla.)
- WHEN: 1 p.m. ET on Sunday | CBS
- SPREAD: Browns +3.5
It took one surprise win (and a subsequent social media roasting) for me to keep the door slightly cracked open for the Browns in 2022.
Call this space Believeland, if you must. Two weeks after the Browns had their worst showing of the season in a loss to New England, they scored an unexpectedly dominant win over the Bengals, whom they've owned since Joe Burrow was drafted. Against Miami, however, we have much less recent history to examine.
The last time these two teams faced off -- Week 12 of the 2019 season -- Baker Mayfield was the Browns’ quarterback, Freddie Kitchens was head coach, Odell Beckham Jr. was catching passes and Jarvis Landry was exacting his revenge on his former team, complete with a dog impression. It's been a while.
The revamped Dolphins are on a roll, winning three straight. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa owns a 6-0 record in games he has started and finished this season. The NFL's passer rating leader broke 300 yards through the air once again in Miami's Week 9 win over Chicago, and the Dolphins aren't showing any signs of slowing down.
Chalk this up as a loss for the Browns, right? Well, not quite.
Miami allowed 252 rushing yards to Chicago. Sure, Justin Fields accounted for 178 of that total, and Jacoby Brissett is not Fields. But Cleveland does have Nick Chubb, who leads the league in rushing touchdowns (10) and ranks second in rushing yards (841).
Cleveland can win this game by controlling it on the ground and avoiding offensive mistakes. Most importantly, though, the Browns' defense must limit the high-flying Dolphins' aerial attack.
A month ago, the Browns were in shambles defensively, but Cleveland has turned things around in recent weeks, largely containing Lamar Jackson's Ravens and shutting down Burrow and the Bengals. Like last season, defensive coordinator Joe Woods might be getting this group together at just the right time. Their true test comes Sunday in Miami Gardens.