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For The Win: Week 10

NFL Picks Against the Las Vegas Lines

Here I am again this year, back for more NFL picks. Just like last season, I will still be picking all of the NFL games each week, but I will try and help some of you with some confidence and rankings of the selections - which also may assist those of you with Las Vegas trips. I tend to rate games that I like (and some extras like Over/Unders) with 1-3 "Stars", which basically highlight my best bets for the week. Those games which have zero stars I don't truly like one way or the other, but will select to help those trying to get some advice for their weekly office pools or other contests that they may be participating in either this week or this season.

Not a great week last week, but that’s how it goes sometimes.  You publish an article, a quarterback goes down – it happens.  Teams get upset as well, but you just plug along.  I am starting to notice that one pick can torpedo my Best Bets, so I may start to include a hedge or two going forwards just in case a remarkable upset happens (case in point – a “For the Win” of Washington might have helped a bit last week).  Anyway, there are several things I’m noticing as I look at Week 10 and attempt to go back to the “K.I.S.S.” well.  Here are two principles I am likely to refer to quite a bit for this week:

  1. I have mentioned this before, but most years the point spread DOES NOT MATTER in picking games.  That’s right – it is pretty remarkable, but the numbers hold true.  We have had 132 NFL games so far – more than half the season – and two games fell right on the point spread (for the numbers I use).  So with 130 games to consider, the favorite has won and covered the spread 68 times (52.3%), so just going with that you would be fine against sportsbooks this season.  Going further, underdogs have won outright 39 times (exactly 30% of the time).  That leaves 20 games where the favorite won but did not cover the number – less than 16% of the games.  So the takeaway is this – pick winners and ignore the point spread.  If you can pick the winner, you will win your wager over 80% of the time.  This is important this week with some big point spreads on the big boards for Week 10.
  2. Byes are starting to wrap up, but we can get some interesting data for the year by looking at how teams have performed after two weeks of rest.  We have 16 teams (half) in this category, and they are 9-7 (with the Rams and Giants facing each other last week).  Digging in more though I found this nugget – of the nine teams that have won, all of them are at .500 or better, and most (7 of 9) are 5-3 or 6-2 on the season at this point.  Additionally the nine winners were also 6-2-1 against the spread. Conversely, the seven teams that have lost right after a bye are a relative train wreck, with just three teams at 4-4 (Atlanta, Green Bay, Detroit) and the rest all at 3-5 or worse (the Giants, 1-7).  So takeaway #2 for me is that good teams on long periods of rest appear to be good picks.  Shocking, I know, but we do have six teams coming off the bye week this week.

Ok, with those two rules in mind, let’s dive into Week 10.  Here we go:

Note that the lines and Over/Unders are taken from VegasInsider.com.

Teams on a Bye Week – Baltimore, Kansas City, Oakland, Philadelphia

Teams coming off of a Bye Week – Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota, New England, Pittsburgh

(Thursday) SEATTLE (-5.5) at ARIZONA
I will be very clear on this one – I am not confident in this one at all.  This is more of a pick against Arizona than it is for Seattle, a team that dropped an incredibly winnable game at home against Washington on Sunday.  The Cardinals can only really do one thing right now, and that is run the ball with Adrian PetersonDrew Stanton hit a few decent throws last week, but no one will confuse the 49ers and Seahawks on defense.  I think Seattle goes out on the road and picks up a much needed win and washes the bad taste of that loss out of their mouth on the short week.  PICK: Seahawks

NEW ORLEANS (-2) at BUFFALO
This game is a tough read.  Both teams want to run the ball, but I like the Saints defense better.  Tyrod Taylor is better at home, which is good for Buffalo as they have to rebound after a loss at the Jets last Thursday.  There is no question that Drew Brees is better, but he is also better at home than on the road.  Tough call, but I like the Saints defense and ground game with two strong options (Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram) over just LeSean McCoy to help Taylor.  PICK: Saints

TENNESSEE (-3.5) vs. CINCINNATI
Not in love with this matchup (or that hook on the three points) but I like the Titans’ offense way more than the Bengals.  That’s far more about the running backs (Derrick Henry, DeMarco Murray) and Marcus Mariota, while A.J. Green is the best wideout with a great matchup.  The problem?  Andy Dalton.  I am not picking Andy Dalton, even with a weak Titans secondary.  PICK:  Titans 

CHICAGO (-3) vs. GREEN BAY
So many competing takes on this game.  The Bears are coming off of their bye (plus) but are not that good on offense (minus).  Chicago does have a good defense though (plus) and they face the Packers’ softer secondary (plus) – but with a rookie quarterback in Mitch Trubisky (minus).  As for Green Bay, they are coming off a home loss (minus), are going with a backup quarterback (minus) and are on a short week (minus).  I am struggling to find enough in the positives column to take Green Bay here, but the points are big.  Right – K.I.S.S.  Hold my nose, don’t look and take Chicago.  PICK: Bears

DETROIT (-10) vs. CLEVELAND
I really thought I would be writing up this game as a trap for Detroit.  The Lions just won in Green Bay, so they are riding a high and have two divisional games in the coming two weeks – after hosting the Browns.  Cleveland is coming off of their bye week and could be ready to compete, as they still do not have a win and opportunities are few for them to get it.  I do see a couple (at Cincinnati, vs. Baltimore, at Chicago) so they have a few more chances to go.  Detroit is no doubt better, so I am taking the home team in that case as I think Detroit should win by two touchdowns.  PICK:  Lions

PITTSBURGH (-10) at INDIANAPOLIS
As I mentioned earlier, good teams coming off of the bye week are pretty solid this year (teams currently at 5-3 or better are 7-0 off the bye and 5-1-1 against the spread), so that describes the Steelers in this case.  Pittsburgh was 6-1 after a bye for Mike Tomlin, but he has faltered the past three seasons.  That said, I like the matchup for the Steelers even with the “Ben Roethlisberger is better at home” narrative working against the offense.  Jacoby Brissett played well last week against Houston, but the Texans were a total mess without Deshaun Watson.  Swallow the points here and take Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and LeVeon Bell to get a big win for Pittsburgh as the Steelers need to keep up with Kansas City and New England atop the AFC.  PICK: Steelers

TAMPA BAY (+2.5) vs. NEW YORK JETS
This game may look ugly, but it sets up as a beautiful point spread advantage for the home underdog Buccaneers.  Jameis Winston will be out of this game (and possibly more) but Ryan Fitzpatrick is a top notch backup and he gets to face one of his former teams on Sunday.  Mike Evans is suspended, yes, but DeSean Jackson and two solid tight end options in Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard.  The Jets have given up the sixth-most PPR points to the tight end position this season, and I love a home dog when I can find advantageous situations.  New York will try and exploit the Tampa Bay pass defense, which is a weakness for the Buccaneers for sure, but I like Fitzpatrick way more than Josh McCown.  Tampa Bay wins in a potential shootout in Florida, 34-27.  PICK: Buccaneers

MINNESOTA (-1) at WASHINGTON
Let’s talk about the Vikings, shall we?  Good team?  6-2 record, so check.  Coming off of a bye?  Yes, so another check.  Now how about Washington?  They played way above their heads out in Seattle last week (and some would argue the Seahawks played down several levels) so Washington is riding a euphoric high after an unexpected win.  Reality sets and the Vikings drop Washington down several pegs as Minnesota goes to D.C. to exploit Washington’s inability to stop tight ends and running quarterbacks, so expect bigger performances from Kyle Rudolph and Case Keenum in a lower scoring affair.  PICK:  Vikings

JACKSONVILLE (-4) vs. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
This game might be the fastest game of the day on Sunday, as I expect both teams to run the ball all day long and practically give up on their respective passing offenses.  Both Jacksonville (4.9 yards per carry) and the Chargers (4.6) are in the Bottom 5 of the NFL in yards per carry against on the ground, but “Sacksonville” is one of the best pass defenses in the league with 35 sacks, only 156.4 yards passing against and a QB rating of 63.5 for their opposing quarterbacks.  The Chargers are not bad either (201.9 yards, 26 sacks, 90.2 QBR) but this is Blake Bortles we are talking about here.  Both Bortles and Philip Rivers have been known to have implosion games, and Rivers has mediocre numbers on the season (2,028 yards passing, 13:6 TD:INT) and Bortles’ numbers are similar (1,657 and 10:5).  Rivers is the better passer but Jacksonville is the better defense, and Fournette is going to be raring to go after a one-game suspension.  Close call but I like the better defense here in a tight matchup, but overall I would pass on this game as I see it 23-17 or even 17-13 Jacksonville.  PICK: Jaguars

LOS ANGELES RAMS (-11.5) vs. HOUSTON  
The Rams just crushed the Giants last week 51-17 in a game that one could say was not even that close.  Todd Gurley and Jared Goff had field days against New York, and the Texans are just going to be playing out the string without their star quarterback.  That’s terrible to say, but sometimes the truth hurts.  The Rams are 6-2 and pushing for a top seed in the NFC, and I expect them to roll all over Houston this week.  PICK: Rams

DALLAS (+3) at ATLANTA
I don’t get this point spread at all.  The Cowboys just beat one of the best teams in the NFL (Kansas City) and now travel to face the floundering Falcons, who laid another egg in Carolina last week.  Even if Ezekiel Elliott doesn’t play (who knows any week), I like Dak Prescott to emulate what Cam Newton did in Week 9 and for the Cowboys to keep their division hopes alive with a matchup with the Eagles looming next week.  PICK: Cowboys 

SAN FRANCISCO (+1) vs. NEW YORK GIANTS
You are reading this right.  I am taking a winless team to beat the Giants for one simple reason – I don’t think the 49ers go winless this year, and I also do not see many better chances for San Francisco to get that win.  After Week 10, the 49ers go on a bye before three road games (Chicago, Houston, Rams) and three home contests (Seattle, Tennessee, Jacksonville).  Maybe they can beat Chicago or Houston, but the level of difficulty certainly goes up on the road.  So I am looking at an 0-9 team beating a 1-7 team, which does not feel like much of a stretch.  The 49ers looked pretty good last week in a loss to Arizona, and they have been pretty close so far, but I think they get it done come Sunday.  PICK: 49ers 

NEW ENGLAND (-7.5) at DENVER
Somewhat of a surprise that this game was not flexed out of the Sunday night prime time spot, but then again it is New England and Tom Brady.  Denver was a complete mess in Philadelphia and you can bet that the Patriots were watching that game.  Look for New England to come off of their bye week and dominate Denver, even on the road.  PICK: Patriots

(Monday) CAROLINA (-8.5) vs. MIAMI
Marshawn Lynch ran through the Dolphins for two scores last week, and only a porous Oakland secondary could make Jay Cutler and company look very good.  The Panthers are much better on defense and Cam Newton with Christian McCaffrey are poised to have a field day on Monday.  PICK: Panthers

BEST BETS

Once again this year I will give not only the "Best Bets" but also a rating of each one on a 1-3 "Star" scale. The more stars, the more I like that side of the game.

  • (Thursday) SEATTLE (-5.5) at ARIZONA
  • DETROIT (-10) vs. CLEVELAND
  • PITTSBURGH (-10) at INDIANAPOLIS
  • LOS ANGELES RAMS (-11.5) vs. HOUSTON   
  • DALLAS (+3) at ATLANTA  
  • (Monday) CAROLINA (-8.5) vs. MIAMI
  • MIAMI  “FOR THE WIN” (+360) over CAROLINA (Hedge)
  • TAMPA BAY “FOR THE WIN” (+120) vs. NEW YORK JETS
  • INDIANAPOLIS“FOR THE WIN” (+360) over PITTSBURGH
  • SAN FRANCISCO “FOR THE WIN” (+125) vs. NEW YORK GIANTS
  • 3-TEAM, 7-POINT TEASER (+127 ODDS):
    • DETROIT (-3) vs. CLEVELAND
    • PITTSBURGH (-3) at INDIANAPOLIS
    • JACKSONVILLE (+3) vs. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
  • 6-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (6.1-1 ODDS):
    • NEW ENGLAND (-1.5) at DENVER
    • (Monday) CAROLINA (-2.5) vs. MIAMI   
    • DALLAS (+9) at ATLANTA  
    • MINNESOTA (+5) at WASHINGTON  
    • NEW ORLEANS (+4) at BUFFALO  
    • LOS ANGELES RAMS (-5.5) vs. HOUSTON    
  • 7-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (8.9-1 ODDS):
    • NEW ENGLAND (-1.5) at DENVER
    • (Monday) CAROLINA (-2.5) vs. MIAMI   
    • DALLAS (+9) at ATLANTA  
    • MINNESOTA (+5) at WASHINGTON  
    • NEW ORLEANS (+4) at BUFFALO  
    • LOS ANGELES RAMS (-5.5) vs. HOUSTON   
    • TAMPA BAY (+8.5) vs. NEW YORK JETS
  • 8-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (12.75-1 ODDS):
    • NEW ENGLAND (-1.5) at DENVER
    • (Monday) CAROLINA (-2.5) vs. MIAMI   
    • DALLAS (+9) at ATLANTA  
    • MINNESOTA (+5) at WASHINGTON  
    • NEW ORLEANS (+4) at BUFFALO  
    • LOS ANGELES RAMS (-5.5) vs. HOUSTON   
    • TAMPA BAY (+8.5) vs. NEW YORK JETS
    • PITTSBURGH (-4) at INDIANAPOLIS  
  • 9-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (18.25-1 ODDS):
    • NEW ENGLAND (-1.5) at DENVER
    • (Monday) CAROLINA (-2.5) vs. MIAMI   
    • DALLAS (+9) at ATLANTA  
    • MINNESOTA (+5) at WASHINGTON  
    • NEW ORLEANS (+4) at BUFFALO  
    • LOS ANGELES RAMS (-5.5) vs. HOUSTON   
    • TAMPA BAY (+8.5) vs. NEW YORK JETS
    • PITTSBURGH (-4) at INDIANAPOLIS
    • DETROIT (-4) vs. CLEVELAND

** TWO STAR GAMES **

  • NEW ORLEANS (-2) at BUFFALO  
  • TAMPA BAY (+2.5) vs. NEW YORK JETS
  • MINNESOTA (-1) at WASHINGTON  
  • JACKSONVILLE (-4) vs. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
  • NEW ENGLAND (-7.5) at DENVER
  • 6-POINT TEASER: (Monday) CAROLINA (-2.5) vs. MIAMI (OVER 34.5)   
  • 4-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (2.65-1 ODDS):
    • NEW ENGLAND (-1.5) at DENVER
    • (Monday) CAROLINA (-2.5) vs. MIAMI   
    • DALLAS (+9) at ATLANTA  
    • MINNESOTA (+5) at WASHINGTON   
  • 5-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER: (Monday) CAROLINA (-2.5) vs. MIAMI (OVER 34.5)   
    • NEW ORLEANS (-2) at BUFFALO  
    • TAMPA BAY (+2.5) vs. NEW YORK JETS
    • MINNESOTA (-1) at WASHINGTON  
    • JACKSONVILLE (-4) vs. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
    • NEW ENGLAND (-7.5) at DENVER 

*** THREE STAR GAMES ***

  •  3-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (1.65-1 ODDS):
    • NEW ENGLAND (-1.5) at DENVER
    • (Monday) CAROLINA (-2.5) vs. MIAMI   
    • DALLAS (+9) at ATLANTA   

PICK(S) OF THE WEEK:  Seattle, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Los Angeles Rams, Dallas, New England, Carolina

RESULTS

Last Week

  • OVERALL: 5-7-1 (75%)
  • BEST BETS (STARS): 6-18 (25%)
  • PICK OF WEEK: 3-2 (60%)

Season

  • OVERALL: 66-61-5 (52.0%)
  • BEST BETS (STARS): 132.85-136-3 (49.4%)
  • PICK OF WEEK: 37-27-2 (57.8%)

Good luck this weekend!

Questions, suggestions, and comments are always welcome to pasquino@footballguys.com