The NFL last week went all Herb Alpert on us - when they said come flay with me the footballs did just that, and when teams needed their game to Rise, they went Beyond and the result was a plethora of amazingly taut games. So now we enter Week Ten and suddenly things are not what they seemed. My picks -
NY JETS over Bills - Both teams are .500 or better (the Jets are 5-3) entering this game; the Jets have the better overall team though I give Tyrod Taylor a slight edge over Ryan Fitzpatrick; the biggest edge lays in coaching as Todd Bowles has made the Jets professional in contrast to the chaotic freelancing of Rex Ryan in Buffalo.
Saints over REDSKINS - The Saints have all the edges - quarterback, coach, team culture, etc. - and are smarting over a bitter loss last week even though they're still in the wildcard hunt even at 4-5.
EAGLES over Dolphins - Philly's rough start appears to be behind them while Miami's momentum from the promotion of Dan Campbell now looks gone.
RAMS over Bears - Jay Cutler pulled off a preposterous win at San Diego, but the Rams are made of sterner stuff than that; coordinator Gregg Williams got called out by the Vikings and by Rodney Harrison, and it looks to be firing up the Rams.
TITANS over Panthers - The Titans have owned the Saints since Jeff Fisher took over the then-Houston Oilers and have averaged 27 points scored in the last six games; they have Marcus Mariota back, their defense looks to be playing substantially better of late, and the change in head coaches paid immediate dividends. Now the Titans get the unbeaten Panthers, a team they've beaten three straight times and which has struggled to close out games of late while the Titans have played comeback football pretty much since the Bucs game.
Jaguars over RAVENS - This rivalry used to be about streaks - the Jags won the first ten meetings dating to the final year of the original Cleveland Browns. Now they've seesawed the last five meetings and the Ravens come off their bye still uncertain about what they are as the Jaguars have played better the last two games.
BUCS over Cowboys - Neither team is a playoff contender, but the Bucs are starting to establish some legitimate muscle under improving quarterback Jameis Winston as the Cowboys flail away with six straight losses.
STEELERS over Browns - Suddenly the Steelers may not know who their quarterback will be with Roethlisberger's latest foot injury; it won't matter against a Browns team still with a quarterback controversy in Johnny Turnovers.
PACKERS over Lions - The Packers got exposed the last two games but the Lions look to be imploding and the guy they thought would be their quarterback of the future looks more and more like their quarterback of the past.
RAIDERS over Vikings - Both teams are far ahead of where they were, and the Raiders under Derek Carr and an improving roster are showing they're for real. Expect something akin to the shootout in Pittsburgh here.
BRONCOS over Chiefs - The unbeaten season is now gone, so the Broncos get the Chiefs again, one of the teams Peyton Manning owns, bad arm or no bad arm.
Patriots over NY GIANTS - We know the recent history. We know the bitterness of the three straight losses by the Patriots. We also know the Giants remain the inconsistent team they've long been; they force turnovers except the Patriots generally don't give up turnovers; their defense has been speared (19th in points allowed) and Brady has elevated his game even as Eli Manning is now more comfortable in the offense installed last year.
SEAHAWKS over Cardinals - The Seahawks started slow last year and then raced to the Superbowl. The Cardinals remain a legitimate NFC contender, so this game should be a grinder to the end.
BENGALS over Texans - Cincinnati remains on a roll and Houston remains iffy on their quarterback and in general; their vaunted defense in particular is a joke now even at eighth in passing yards allowed per game. Look for Andy Dalton and his arsenal of pass-catchers to have another feast.
One more note - the injury to Andrew Luck may not change much for the Colts going forward, since Matt Hasselback showed he can still win in a relief role and a schedule that takes a turn for the better with perhaps five eminently winnable games left.
So we await.