Week 10 is off and running in the NFL. I was on the wrong side of a ten point spread Thursday night, picking the Browns is rarely a good idea. Last week, I was a pedestrian 6-5-2 and am now 64-69-6 on the year. All spreads are from rtsports.com at the time of my writing. My picks are bolded and outright upsets have an asterisk. Here goes nothing.
*Falcons at Eagles (PK) – For any site to have three pick ‘em games in one week is quite rare. The first of those match ups features two pleasant surprises. I struggle to see either team making a real playoff run, but Atlanta’s Matt Ryan is playing at an MVP level for now and the Falcons offense is by far the best unit in this game. That is good enough for me. Atl 30 Phi 24
*Bears at Bucs (PK) – I like the Bucs on paper, but something is missing. I am not sure what. Their young offensive talent is still too inconsistent. Meanwhile, I had the bears in the playoffs this year. I am never afraid to own up to a horrible prediction. Right now, Tampa Bay has a home-field disadvantage. They are 3-17 in their last 20 home games. On the other end, Chicago seemed reenergized on both sides of the ball in support of returning quarterback Jay Cutler last time out. I expect both trends to continue. Chi 21 TB 17
*Broncos at Saints (-2.5) – This is the kind of game I would feel much more comfortable betting five minutes in, but that is frowned upon. Last week was a humbling experience for the Broncos and their fans, myself included. However, the much-maligned Saints defense could be just the thing Denver needs to get the running game going. If that happens, everything else follows suit for the Broncos, including the play of first-year starter Trevor Siemian. However, Drew Brees and the Saints are always going to score points and the Broncos defense is banged up at every position level. Yet, it is still better than anything the Saints have on defense. Either the Saints roll here or Denver’s superiority in two of the three phases is just enough to get the job done. I will go with the latter. Den 31 NO 28
Packers (-2.5) at Titans- Yes, the Packers are struggling on offense, but the lack of respect here is stunning. On their worst day they are significantly better than anything Tennessee has to offer. The Titans are hanging around in a bad division, but continue to turn the football over at an alarming rate. A pair of defensive scores led to their demise last week in San Diego. It should surprise no one if that happens again here. Like the rest of the AFC South, Tennessee has really struggled outside the division the last couple years. They are improving, but not ready for a team that is capable of playing like Green Bay can, even if they are struggling. GB 31 Ten 20
Texans at Jaguars (PK) – With the way Brock Osweiler has played, I am not sure how the Texans are 5-3 and in first place, but they are. That same bad division referenced above certainly helps. They stay inside the division and notch another win this week. Hou 24 Jac 13
Chiefs at Panthers (-3) – Carolina is starting to wake up. They are nowhere close to where they were last year and it may be too little too late for the playoffs, but I certainly would not want to play them. This is just a bad matchup for Kansas City. Alex Smith, who is returning from injury relies on taking what the defense gives him. Based on the last two weeks, the Panthers defense will give him nothing. Kansas City is not built to play against flashy teams with offensive firepower. Make no mistake, the Panthers have that even though they have struggled this year. Car 27 KC 19
Rams at Jets (-2) – Good God what an awful game. In terms of quarterback play, these might be the two worst teams in football right now. Yet, both are resistant to playing the young quarterbacks they have on the bench. No one seems to understand why. The only reasonable explanation I can offer is holding on to miniscule playoff hopes. The Jets have a little more talent at the skill positions. Veteran running back Matt Forte is still a big time playmaker. He will be the difference in an ugly game. NYJ 16 LA 10
Vikings at Redskins (-3) – Remember when the Vikings were undefeated and Mike Zimmer was the second coming of Vince Lombardi? Yeah, me neither. Due to a mix of injuries and players simply coming back down to earth, Minnesota’s season is slowly falling apart. The defense is still very good, but the patchwork offensive line is dragging the entire other side of the ball down the drain. The Redskins should have just enough offensive juice behind Kirk Cousins to pull out a tight game. Was 20 Min 14
Dolphins at Chargers (-3.5) – Here is your sneaky good game of the week. What Jay Ajayi has done for the Dolphins is incredible. His 500+ yards rushing combined in the last three games has taken the Dolphins from dead in the water to a team that could fight for a playoff spot. Unfortunately for them, San Diego is the best last-place team anyone has ever seen. They are just in the wrong division in the wrong year. If games were 58 minutes rather than 60 they would have just a single defeat, but they have closed games much better in the last month. Philip Rivers is white-hot and running back Melvin Gordon has finally found his NFL sea legs. Should be a fun one, I will take San Diego pulling away late. SD 32 Mia 21
Cowboys at Steelers (-2.5) – While last week’s loss may really hurt the Steelers down the road, in the short term, it means nothing. Ben Roethlisberger had no business being out there last week. The coaching staff should have saved him from himself. Of course he said he was okay to play. He is a competitor. In theory, he will only get healthier going forward. As good as Dak Prescott has been, he really has not been forced to keep up with an elite quarterback in a shootout. That is exactly what this game will turn in to. Until I see it, I will have my doubts. Pit 35 Dal 28.
photo from timesunion.com
49ers at Cardinals (-13.5) – This pick has nothing to do with Xs and Os and everything to do with value. The 49ers are dreadful in every way you can imagine, particularly on defense. Chip Kelly is a college coach, and there is nothing wrong with that. Apparently, he is the only one who does not realize it. Despite all that, the Cardinals are not 13.5 points better than anyone in this league. AZ 33 SF 24
*Seahawks at Patriots (-7.5) – Russell Wilson is finally starting to look like himself and Seattle’s defense will always travel well, even to New England. Believe it or not, the Patriots are made up of humans just like every other team. The only style that occasionally disrupts Tom Brady and the offense are fast, physical defenses who can rush the passer. See Seattle. So, why not go out on a limb? Sea 24 NE 20
photo from espn.com
MNF: *Bengals at Giants (-2.5) – Two teams with very high ceilings and very low floors in terms of their level of play. The Giants as a home favorite scare me. The Bengals in primetime scare me. I wouldn’t advise putting a nickel on this game, but the Bengals are a little more balanced on offense. Cin 27 NYG 23
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