This is the week when separation and reality set in. Several teams will go from being on the brink of something special -- or catastrophic -- to knowing exactly what they are. Some will rise and start planning for the playoffs. Some will start counting the days to the NFL draft.
Among the NFL's Week 10 storylines are answers to questions like, are the Pats frauds or for real? Can Jason Garrett do more than keep a tidy locker-room? Which Ryan (Rex or Rob) will win? And if the NFC West falls any further into oblivion ... will it make a noise?
But we'll start in South Florida, where literally and figuratively Randy Moss could be just a few steps or missteps away from the beach. Titans-Dolphins offers a wealth of twists, including:
Moss, of course, will garner the most attention on and off the field. If his latest costume-switch into Titans gear does not work out, he'll be "on the beach" like so many other waived and cut players in no time. If the ideal scenario plays out, and Moss stretches defenses, helps Chris Johnson and makes either Kerry Collins or Vince Young look like a superstar, the Titans may well be in Super Bowl contention. Seriously, the good Moss can do that much for a team already with a Super Bowl-caliber defense and rushing attack.
Can newly acquired Al Harris bring life to the Dolphins' defense and a win at home? Harris, cut by Green Bay, isn't the same Pro Bowl player he once was. In fact, he's an aging player with diminishing skills coming off knee surgery. But Harris doesn't need to be the same old Harris. He needs to mentor a young secondary, teach them how to be true professionals, help in spots and show the way for a good secondary on a good defense that needs to create more turnovers.
Which quarterback will show the way for their respective teams -- Vince Young, Kerry Collins, Chad Pennington, Chad Henne, or none of the above? All indications are that Collins will start in place of the injured VY, who Titans coach Jeff Fisher said will be a game-time decision. But at Friday's crucial practice, it was Collins who took the majority of the snaps with the first-team and put in extra time with Moss after practice, as well. On the other side of the field, Henne was benched in favor of Chad Pennington, as the 4-4 Dolphins look for some kind of spark to move up the AFC South standings.
No game epitomizes the make-or-break aspect of this week -- across the league -- more than this one. For the Dolphins, receiver Brandon Marshall guaranteed the Dolphins would make the playoffs this week. He can go a long way toward backing up the talk, considering it's the offense that has not been playoff-caliber. If the Dolphins drop to 4-5, put a bow on this season and start counting the ways they'll have to improve next.
As for the Titans, it's all there in front of them. So, too, is a potential implosion. If the Moss experiment works, not only will it lessen the sting of losing Kenny Britt, but also it will make running back Chris Johnson doubly dangerous. The Titans score points, but their passing game ranks just 26th in the NFL. Young's strength is throwing the long ball, but Collins is the better passer and has been much improved this year.
Other key storylines to watch in Week 10: