I continued to tread water last week with a mark of 6-6-1 against the spread. Upon the arrival of Week 10, 59-68-5 is where I stand for the year. My picks are bolded, outright upsets have an asterisk and all lines are from rtsports.com at the time of my writing.
Seahawks (-6) at Cardinals – Even after a last-second loss last week, Seattle is fine. Sometimes the opposing quarterback makes a couple great throws and you get beat. Three missed field goals also did not help matters, but that happens sometimes too.
Arizona may be able to rely exclusively on Adrian Peterson against winless San Francisco, but not an angry Seattle team. Drew Stanton will have to play the game of his life for his team to have a chance here. It is nearly impossible to expect that from a career backup. Sea 27 Ari 13
Bengals at Titans (-4.5) – The Titans offense is still very pedestrian. Fortunately for them, they are battling Jacksonville for the division title and teams like Baltimore for a possible Wild Card spot. All those teams have similar issues.
This pick has more to do with the opponent. I am officially out on the Bengals after the way they were dominated in Jacksonville last week. It is one thing when a guy like Vontaze Burfict loses his cool. However, when a model citizen like A.J. Green loses his cool, it is time to clean house. Ten 21 Cin 13
Browns at Lions (-12.5) – The Lions proved me wrong and did exactly what they should have done against a shorthanded opponent last week. They find themselves in a similar spot here. It would be insane to pick the winless Browns, but they are still playing hard. One week does not change a recent history of struggling in strange spots for Detroit. Det 31 Cle 20
Packers at Bears (-5.5) – My goodness, the Brett Hundley led Packers looked awful last week. I really thought they would be okay at home coming off a bye, but they were dominated by Detroit. The advantages Green Bay had before the game last week are gone, and Chicago has improved in all phases of the game in recent weeks. Aaron Rodgers is not saving the day anytime soon. Chi 20 GB 13
*Chargers at Jaguars (-4) – Blake Bortles has actually been a key part of Jacksonville’s last two wins. This team might actually be around for the long haul. However, the Chargers pass rush is one of the best kept secrets in football, and the Jags defense will have a much tougher time controlling a borderline future Hall of Famer like Philip Rivers as opposed to the other quarterbacks they have dealt with in recent weeks. LAC 27 Jac 24
Vikings (-1) at *Redskins – This is the toughest pick of the week for me. Minnesota’s quarterback situation continues to evolve, and they continue to win. That speaks to how good the rest of the roster is.
However, what Kirk Cousins pulled off in Seattle last week with a third of the roster battling injuries was nothing short of remarkable. It felt like a turning point for Washington’s season as well as his career. Everyone who has bought in to Cousins has eventually been burned.
I have never bought in until now. The Redskins’ playoff run starts with him leading his team to a mini upset here. Jay Gruden also deserves a ton of credit for the way he has worked around all the injuries. Was 21 Min 20
Saints (-3) at Bills – I am also out on Buffalo after last week. They had a golden opportunity to tighten their grip on their first playoff spot in 18 years and got run over by the Jets. Sean McDermott is the right guy in the long-term. However, with their remaining schedule, they needed to win last week. It looks like we are headed for at least one more year of the “same old Bills.”
Meanwhile, the Saints have given up losing after dropping their first two games. Drew Brees finally has a running game and a defense to help him out. New Orleans looks unstoppable because of it. NO 30 Buf 20
Jets (-2.5) at Buccaneers – The Bucs are the third and final member of my “officially out” club after last week. Jameis Winston clearly has the talent to be the building block of an NFL franchise, but not the maturity. His lack of maturity seems to have spread to the entire roster.
Veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick will fill in for an injured Winston for the next few weeks. With the team sitting at 2-6, it hardly matters. The good news is Tampa Bay does have some good players, and the maturity issue is fixable, but not with this coaching staff.
Conversely, you will not find a coach who has done a better job this year than Todd Bowles. He has a team that many people predicted to go winless on the brink of being .500 in mid-November. Whatever he is selling, his guys are clearly buying in. NYJ 17 TB 10
Steelers (-10) at Colts – Indianapolis is awful, but not as awful as everyone thinks. With Jacoby Brissett at the helm, the Colts have won three games and lost two others by three points or less. They are a few bounces of the ball away from being a .500 football team.
The Steelers are one of a handful of AFC teams with six wins. As long as Le’Veon Bell is the centerpiece of the offense, they will remain tough to deal with.
Pittsburgh has more firepower and will win. However, they have a tendency to play down to their competition. This will be closer than it should be. Pit 28 Ind 24
Texans at Rams (-11.5) – Normally, swallowing this many points in an NFL game is foolish, but the Rams are rolling right now, and we saw what the Texans are without Deshaun Watson last week. 11.5 points does not feel like enough here. LAR 35 Hou 13
Cowboys at Falcons (-3) – Most people have bailed on the Falcons. They have lost three out of four, but they are a different team on their home turf. In recent home games, they have jumped out to early leads only to fade late.
With or without Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas is not built to play from behind. They may well prove to be the better team over the long haul, but this is simply a bad matchup. Atl 31 Dal 24
Giants (-2) at 49ers – These two teams have one win between them. It will be a tough game to watch and is also tough to predict. The 49ers just do not have much talent. Jimmy Garoppolo changes nothing in the short term. The Giants have plenty of talent, but most of it is injured or disgruntled. They win the coin flip here because Eli Manning will play well after all the talk about replacing him this week. NYG 17 SF 13
Patriots (-7.5) at Broncos – Last week, I joked about the Broncos defense going on strike. Unfortunately for Denver fans, that is basically what ended up happening. Even though they were up against the hottest quarterback on the planet, it was still shocking. Even more shocking is the fact that Denver still ranked in the top five in passing and total defense after giving up over 50 points last week. That is how good they had been.
This is a proud defense that has given Tom Brady fits over the years, especially in Denver. They did not take kindly to being humiliated in Philadelphia.
I expect them to bounce back strong and keep the home team in the game. However, Denver’s current offense facing the reigning Super Bowl champions is like bringing a plastic knife to a gunfight. NE 24 Den 20
Dolphins at Panthers (-9.5) – This is way too many points to swallow. Relatively speaking, the Dolphins offense has been a bit better in recent weeks. They have scored over 20 points in two of their last three games.
Defense has not been an issue for the Dolphins this year, and Carolina has struggled on offense at times. Despite winning two of their last three games, they have only scored 40 total points in that span. Jay Cutler was really good in the first half against Oakland last week. He finally seems to be finding a bit of rhythm.
Carolina is the better team here and will find a way to get the job done. However, they never seem to blow anyone out, especially when they are supposed to. Car 24 Mia 21
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