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NFL Week 10: Five matchups to watch

November 10, 2013|By Sam Farmer
  • 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith, warming up before a game against the Indianapolis Colts, will make his return after a five-week absence.
49ers linebacker Aldon Smith, warming up before a game against the Indianapolis… (Josie Lepe / McClatchy-Tribune )

Five NFL matchups, and themes, worth watching in Week 10:

1. THE REPLACEMENTS: Denver Coach John Fox, recovering from heart surgery, will be replaced by defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is standing in for Houston Coach Gary Kubiak, who is recovering from a mini-stroke.

2. THEY’RE BACK: Quarterbacks Jay Cutler of Chicago and EJ Manuel of Buffalo are returning from injuries. The Bears play host to Detroit; the Bills are on the road against Pittsburgh.

3. BOTTOM TO TOP:  Three teams who currently own at least a share of first place in their divisions finished in last in 2012 — Detroit (5-3, NFC North), Kansas City (9-0, AFC West) and New Orleans (6-2, NFC South).

4. WHAT’S THE RUSH: San Francisco pass rusher Aldon Smith is expected to play against Carolina after spending the last five weeks in a treatment center. The Panthers are determined to prove they are playoff-worthy.

5. SOARING: Philadelphia has rediscovered its offense, and just in time for Sunday’s game at Green Bay. The Packers, meanwhile, will limp along without Aaron Rodgers (Seneca Wallace will start). At least they finally have a running game.

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