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Sunday playbook

MVP candidates put it on the line during Week 10

The defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots will be on a bye this week, and so will the AFC South-leading Houston Texans and their exciting quarterback Deshaun Watson.

But there are some attractive matchups in Week 10 of the National Football League schedule Sunday and Monday night.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, a leading candidate for Most Valuable Player honors, will go up against the undefeated San Francisco 49ers and their No. 1 defense on Monday night. Wilson leads the NFL with 22 touchdown passes and a 118.2 passer rating. The Niners have allowed only 102 points, fewest in the NFC and only four more than the Patriots.

The Carolina Panthers' game against the Packers in Green Bay features two other leading MVP candidates, Christian McCaffrey of the Panthers and Aaron Rodgers of the Packers. McCaffrey (881) is second to Dalvin Cook (894) of the Minnesota Vikings in rushing yards, but he leads the league in scrimmage yards with 1,244, which includes 363 receiving. With 78 points on 13 touchdowns, McCaffrey leads the league by a wide margin in scoring by nonkickers.

Despite an off game last week in a loss on the road to the Chargers, the Packers' Rodgers is having an MVP-level year with 17 TD passes, only two interceptions and a 104.4 passer rating.

The Minnesota Vikings-at-Dallas Cowboys game in Arlington, Texas, pits current league rushing leader Cook against last year's leader, Ezekiel Elliott, who has 741 rushing yards.

A capsule look at Week 10 matchups:

Game of the week

Seahawks (7-2) at 49ers (8-0)

TV: ESPN, 8:15 p.m.

The line: 49ers (-6).

Record ATS: Seahawks 4-5; 49ers 3-5.

Over/under: 46 1/2.

Times over/under: Seahawks 6/3; 49ers 4/4.

The scoop: Seattle had won 10 straight over the Niners before a Week 15 26-23 overtime loss in Santa Clara in 2018. Outcome was a hint of what was to come this season with the 49ers. Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan is supposed to be an offensive guru, but the coordinator of the defense that has moved past New England for No. 1 in the NFL (241.0 ypg) is Robert Saleh. He's a Northern Michigan guy who has been in the league since starting with Houston in 2005. Northern Michigan is the same school that turned out Steve Mariucci and Tom Izzo. ... It's an odd year for Seahawks, who are 4-0 on road but only 3-2 at home, where they often seem invincible.

Outlook: Wilson keeps coming through for Seahawks team that keeps adding weapons, latest being WR Josh Gordon. This will be a  physical battle and both should go all out. Seattle has bye next week before heading to Philadelphia for Sunday-nighter. Niners will get sort of a breather at home against Cardinals next week. Seahawks, 27-24.

Top attractions

Panthers (5-3) at Packers (7-2)

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.

The line: Packers (-5 1/2).

Record ATS: Panthers 5-3; Packers 5-4.

Over/under: 46 1/2.

Times over/under: Panthers 6/2; Packers 7/1/1.

The scoop: Battle of teams that could be on the wild-card bubble in the NFC with a loss. Panthers rebounded from embarrassing lopsided loss at San Francisco two weeks ago by beating Tennessee team that was on upswing. Word that QB Cam Newton was on IR and done for the season should clear up uncertainty among Panthers. They are prepared to carry on with backup Kyle Allen the rest of the way. ... Panthers may go as far as McCaffrey is able to take them. He leads NFL in rushing touchdowns with 10.

Outlook: Hard to go against Packers and Rodgers at Lambeau. Packers, 28-17.

Rams (5-3) at Steelers (4-4)

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.

The line: Rams (-3 1/2).

Record ATS: Rams 5-4; Steelers 5-3.

Over/under: 43 1/2.

Times over/under: Rams 4/4; Steelers 4/4.

The scoop: After losing at Seattle and to 49ers at home, the Rams picked on Falcons (1-7) and Bengals (0-8) before bye last week. Now they get to tangle with Steelers, who have won four of last five with the loss coming to red-hot Ravens. ... Steelers backup quarterback Mason Rudolph performing about as well as Rams Jared Goff. Steelers James Conner has more rushing yards than Todd Gurley II of Rams. ... J.J. Watt's little brother, T.J., has 7.5 sacks for Pittsburgh.

Outlook: If you gave up on Steelers after 0-3 start to Patriots, Seahawks and 49ers, you shouldn't have. Terrible Towel magic lives. Steelers, 24-20.

Vikings (6-3) at Cowboys (5-3)

TV: NBC, 8:20 p.m.

The line: Cowboys (-3).

Record ATS: Vikings 5-4; Cowboys 5-3.

Over/under: 48.

Times over/under: Vikings 4/5; Cowboys 5/3.

The scoop: The Vikings' Cook leads league with 894 rushing yards and has a 5.1 average. When Elliott (741, 4.7) is rolling, Cowboys look like a Super Bowl contender, and he's run for more than 100 in each of the last four games. ... Robert Quinn, picked up at Dolphins' garage sale, leads Dallas with 6.5 sacks. Cowboys' "D" is developing fine under veteran coach Rod Marinelli, allowing 318.1 ypg.

Outlook: After four wins in a row, Vikings let one get away on last-play FG at Kansas City last week. Now another toughie on the road. Cowboys, 23-16.

Chiefs (6-3) at Titans (4-5)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Chiefs (-5 1/2).

Record ATS: Titans 4-5; Chiefs 4-5.

Over/under: 48.

Times over/under: Titans 4/5; Chiefs 5/4.

The scoop: With Ryan Tannehill at QB, Tennessee had won home games over Chargers and Buccaneers before falling at Carolina last week. Now they take on Kansas City, and all indications are that the Chiefs will get Patrick Mahomes back. Chiefs have to forget about Chargers' threat in AFC West and worry about improving Raiders.

Outlook: Can't see Tennessee offense keeping up with Chiefs, whether it's Mahomes or Matt Moore at quarterback. Chiefs, 34-20.

Bills (6-2) Browns (2-6)

TV: CBS, 1 p.m.

The line: Browns (-2 1/2).

Record ATS: Bills 5-3; Browns 2-6.

Over/under: 40.

Times over/under: Bills 2/6; Browns 2/6.

The scoop: Browns O-line getting blame for Baker Mayfield's struggles, but four of five starters are back from end of 2018 season when Mayfield was starring. Big change came on failing defensive unit. ... There's turmoil and inept coaching in Cleveland, but there is talent. If the Browns have any competitive heart, they have to see Bills as a vulnerable opponent. ... Bills' second-half improvement in run defense last week came after they realized that Dwayne Haskins posed no downfield passing threat. The way Eagles and Adrian Peterson (in first half) tore through run defense has to be a concern. ... Media and Bills followers so concerned over team's long run without a 300-yard passing game don't realize that Hall of Famer Jim Kelly was 10-16 in games he passed for 300 or more.

Outlook: Bills' skeptics will get a chance to gloat. Browns, 20-16.

Best of the rest

Lions (3-4-1) at Bears (3-5)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Bears (-2 1/2).

Record ATS: Lions 4-4; Bears 2-6.

Over/under: 41 1/2.

Times over/under: Lions 6/2; Bears 2/6.

The scoop: Detroit best 3-4-1 team in football. Also the only one. Lions seem to be in every game, even against strong teams like Eagles, Chiefs, Packers and Vikings, but couldn't close the deal against ordinary Cardinals and Raiders. ... Windy City fans are steamed over offense that is producing only 17.8 ppg. There was a time when Chicago fans used to love rooting for a team that won games with scores in the teens.

Outlook: Despite boo birds, Mitch Trubisky completed 76.7 percent, passed for three touchdowns and rated 146.6 in last home game, a loss to Chargers on missed FG. Detroit is a tease, but can't resist. Lions, 20-19.

Falcons (1-7) at Saints (7-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Saints (-13).

Record ATS: Falcons 2-6; Saints 6-2.

Over/under: 51 1/2.

Times over/under: Falcons 4/4; Saints 5/3.

The scoop: Atlanta got a bye last week after six straight losses. Only win was over Eagles. ... Must be an NFL scheduling mistake. Both teams coming off bye week for their divisional matchup. ... Saints closing gap in series between '60s NFL expansion teams. New Orleans has won last three to narrow margin to 51-48. Saints have won six in a row since their only loss at Rams.

Outlook: Drew Brees has 53 career TD passes against Falcons. He should add two or three to that total against defense that is yielding 379.5 yards a game. Saints, 42-27.

Dolphins (1-7) at Colts (5-3)

Kickoff: 4:05 p.m.

The line: Colts (-10 1/2).

Record ATS: Dolphins 4-4; Colts 5-3.

Over/under: 44.

Times over/under: Dolphins 3/5; Colts 5/3.

The scoop: Miami's 10-game losing streak ended with win over Jets last week. Ryan Fitzpatrick passed for two touchdowns and 288 yards against one of his former teams. Fitz has some receiving weapons in WR Devante Parker and TE Mike Gesicki. ... Colts are for real. Would have defeated Steelers last week if they hadn't lost QB Jacoby Brissett to first-half injury. Question is, will Brissett be back or will Brian Hoyer have to start?

Outlook: Fitz is always a dangerous underdog. Colts, 24-17.

Cardinals (3-5-1) at Buccaneers (2-6)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Buccaneers (-4).

Record ATS: Cardinals 5-4; Buccaneers 2-6.

Over/under: 52 1/2.

Times over/under: Cardinals 4/5; Buccaneers 7/1.

The scoop: After three wins in a row, Arizona has lost to Saints and Niners. No shame in that. Loss to 49ers was only 28-25. Old pro WR Larry Fitzgerald of Cards is looking for fifth straight game with TD reception. ... Jameis Winston has passed for 300-plus yards in five games this season, including last three, all losses.

Outlook: Believe it or not, it's Buccaneers' first game in Tampa since Sept. 22, and you can bet there will be 30,000 there to enjoy a 33-23 victory.

Giants (2-7) at Jets (1-7)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Giants (2 1/2).

Record ATS: Giants 4-5; Jets 1-7.

Over/under: 43.

Times over/under: Giants 5/4; Jets 3/5.

The scoop: They're fighting for mythical championship of the Sour Apple. Favored only by field goal or less to disjointed Jets should be insult to Giants. At one time, this looked like a attractive RB duel between Saquon Barkley of Giants and Le'Veon Bell of Jets. It's been a tough season for both.

Outlook: Giants rookie Daniel Jones should outperform Jets' QB Sam Darnold. Giants, 27-20.

Dog of the weeks

Ravens (6-2) at Bengals (0-8)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Ravens (-10).

Record ATS: Ravens 4-4; Bengala 3-5.

Over/under: 44.

Times over/under: Ravens 5/2; Bengals 3/5.

The scoop:  Bengals have lost 10 straight since 30-16 win over visiting Raiders last December 16. QB Andy Dalton taking the fall for Bengals' failures. Rookie Ryan Finley, who played at Boise State and North Carolina State, will get the start for Cincy after bye week to prepare. ... Ravens riding high after handing Patriots their first loss but win was not as decisive as some portraying. After falling behind, 17-0, Patriots were driving for go-ahead touchdown when Julian Edelman's fumble after pass reception was returned 70 yards for score to reverse the momentum.

Outlook: Ravens averaging 31.4 points, 427 yards per game while Bengals giving up 26.3 and 435.8. Seems like simple math. Ravens, 31-10.

Last week: Favorites were 9-5 straight up, 8-6 against the spread. Road favorites were 3-5 straight up, 2-6 against the spread. Over/under was 10/4.

Last week's results: 9-4 straight up; 7-6 against the spread.

Season's record: 73-52-1 straight up; 56-70 against the spread.

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