NFL Week 10 was a wild one, with seven underdogs knocking off favored teams. The most notable upsets of course were two home teams favored by double-digits losing: the Colts being blown out by the Rams, and the Titans to the hapless and heretofore winless Jaguars. Tampa Bay did not last long as the only team without a victory, as they too got their first win Monday night. Carolina overcame coast-to-coast travel to defeat heavily favored San Francisco and prove the naysayers wrong about their stout defense being the result of a weak schedule; this week Kansas City will attempt to do the same when they take on the Broncos in what is not only the Game Of The Week, but probably the most anticipated game of the season thus far – though that claim will surely be supplanted just a week from now when the Broncos visit Foxborough for the 13th rendition of Brady versus Peyton.
Denver hosting the Chiefs is receiving most of the attention, and deservedly so; not only is it a classic game between a great offense and a great defense, the two teams combine for a 17-1 record. ESPN lucked out this week with what appeared to be a dog, but has the second best game of the week from a national perspective, with the 6-3 Panthers hosting the 7-2 Patriots. Then there is a game that nobody is talking about: the 6-3 San Francisco 49ers at the 7-2 New Orleans Saints; that late afternoon game should make for an excellent prelude to the Pats game.
There are six intradivision games this week, with all but one of them having playoff implications. Division games are so important because they represent a two-game swing in the standings. Cleveland can close to within one game if they win at Cincinnati, but if the Bengals win then the Browns fall three games behind. Kansas City can open up a two-game lead over the Broncos with a win at Denver, the Eagles can take a 2½-game lead over visiting Washington, the Jets can solidify their playoff hopes with a victory at Buffalo, and on Thursday the Colts all but wrapped up the AFC South as they now hold a three-game lead over the Titans.
For those without the Sunday Ticket, you can check out what games are on in your area here.
2-7 Atlanta Falcons at 1-8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers ★★
Early game on FOX; Sam Rosen, Heath Evans
Both teams have been hit hard by injuries, though Roddy White and Stevan Jackson are nearing 100% for Atlanta. Still, that does nothing to address the problems the Falcons have with both of their lines. The Tampa Bay offensive line consistently opened holes for their depleted backfield last week against Miami, and the Buc defense set a franchise record by allowing just two yards rushing. One area that still needs improvement is offensive production in the second half: the Bucs have scored just ten points all season in the third quarter.
Pick • Upset: Bucs 27, Falcons 23 ✔
Bucs +1½ ✔
Over 43½ (one unit) ✔ +100
Final Score: Bucs 41, Falcons 28 … Tampa Bay covers by 14 … over by 25½
5-4 New York Jets at 3-7 Buffalo Bills ★★★
Early game on CBS; Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
The Jets have not won consecutive games all year, but that streak should end Sunday. Buffalo will
likely be without their top two receivers, Steve Johnson and Robert Woods; that leaves Marquise Goodwin and T.J. Graham as the starters. The Jets have the best run defense in the NFL, allowing a league-best 3.1 yards per carry and 74 yards rushing per game; it is difficult to see where Buffalo will get any offense generated.
Pick • Upset: Jets 20, Bills 10 ✘
Jets +1 (two units) ✘✘ -220
Under 41 (one unit) ✘ -110
Final Score: Bills 37, Jets 14 … Buffalo covers by 22 … over by 10
6-3 Detroit Lions at 3-6 Pittsburgh Steelers ★★★
Early game on FOX; Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick
Pittsburgh’s defense may be without LB LaMarr Woodley and DE Brett Keisel, making an already difficult task of getting enough pressure on Matthew Stafford to slow down the Detroit passing game even more challenging. The Steeler defense has the second fewest takeaways in the NFL this year (7), ranks 29th in rushing yards per game, and now must figure out how to stop the 7th-ranked scoring offense (26.4 ppg) that can beat you with Calvin Johnson (904 yards receiving, 9 TD) or Reggie Bush (967 yards from scrimmage)
Pick • Lions 24, Steelers 20 ✘
Lions -2½ ✘
Under 47 ✘
Final Score: Steelers 37, Lions 27 … Pittsburgh covers by 12½ … over by 17
3-6 Washington Redskins at 5-5 Philadelphia Eagles ★★★
Early game on FOX; Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch
Nick Foles threw for 345 yards in his last start against Washington, and in his last two games he has been lights out, passing for ten touchdowns with no interceptions. Foles has developed a good rapport with Riley Cooper, giving him a second dependable target along with DeSean Jackson. With LeSean McCoy the Eagles have a well balanced offense, and the team ranks fourth in yardage (413 ypg) and 11th in scoring (25.2 ppg). That is bad news for a Washington defense that has struggled mightily: the Redskins rank 31st in scoring (31.9 ppg) and are 27th in yardage (389 ypg). Of course the Philadelphia defense is a sieve as well; with LB Mychal Kendricks injured the Eagles will rely that much more on Patrick Chung in coverage. That of course is a monumental issue; expect TE Jordan Reed to exploit Chung and have a big game. Philly is 0-4 at home and has lost ten straight at Lincoln Financial Field, but Washington has only one win on the road this year; the Eagles should be able to give their fans a rare victory in a high scoring game.
Pick • Eagles 31, Redskins 28 ✔
Redskins +4½ ✘
Over 53 (one unit) ✘ -110
Final Score: Eagles 24, Redskins 16 … Philadelphia covers by 3½ … under by 13
4-5 San Diego Chargers at 4-5 Miami Dolphins ★★★★
Late game on CBS; Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf
The Dolphins in a tough spot from top to bottom. On the field they have an offensive line that has next to no playing time together, off the field they are being asked questions about their locker room, and the club has a lame duck general manager and a head coach who will probably be the fall guy in the Incognito scandal. Does Miami have the grit to get past all that and band together? I would go with the Chargers, but it is always tough for west coast teams to travel across three time zones and play an early game. Cameron Wake is back for the Fins, and their defense has forced seven turnovers in the last
Pick • Upset: Dolphins 23, Chargers 20 ✔
Dolphins +2½ ✔
Under 45½ ✔
Final Score: Dolphins 20, Chargers 16 … Miami covers by 6½ … under by 9½
4-5 Baltimore Ravens at 5-4 Chicago Bears ★★★★
Early game on CBS; Jim Nantz, Phil Simms
The Ravens are 1-4 on the road this year, scoring fewer than 21 points in three of those games, and their offensive line has somehow managed to make Ray Rice inconsequential. Baltimore may have a cure for that however, facing a porous Chicago defense that dearly misses defensive tackles Henry Melton and Nate Collins and linebackers D.J. Williams and Lance Briggs. Josh McCown has been more than adequate filling in for Jay Cutler, but his lack of arm strength does take away the threat of the deep pass. Matt Forte had trouble running last week, and that may be the case again this week against Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil; Roberto Garza could not handle Nick Fairley last week, and now he faces Haloti Ngata. This is a critical game for both teams that could easily go either way.
Pick • Bears 21, Ravens 17 ✔
Bears -3 – Push –
Under 45½ ✔
Final Score: Bears 23, Ravens 20 in OT … Push … under by 2½
4-5 Cleveland Browns at 6-4 Cincinnati Bengals ★★★
Early game on CBS; Marv Albert, Rich Gannon
The Browns are 4-1 in games started by Jason Campbell or Brian Hoyer this season, and 0-4 in games started by Brandon Weeden, so maybe they have a chance of winning and sweeping the Bengals. Cincinnati is listing badly, having lost the last two. Campbell did throw for 293 yards and two touchdowns on the road at Kansas City, and the Chiefs have a better pass defense and overall defense than the Bengals – especially now that Geno Atkins is on IR.
Pick • Bengals 20, Browns 17 ✔
Browns +6 ✘
Under 42 ✘
Final Score: Bengals 41, Browns 20 … Cincinnati covers by 15 … over by 19
3-6 Oakland Raiders at 2-7 Houston Texans ★★
Early game on CBS; Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots
With RB Arian Foster done for the year and Ben Tate playing with four cracked ribs, the Houston running game – an integral part of their offense – has been too ineffective. Houston’s passing game relies on the opposing defense worrying about the run, and that is not a concern. As the game progresses defenses have no fear of the run, and are pinning their ears back and teeing off on the quarterback. In Case Keenum’s three starts, he has thrown seven touchdown passes – but only one has been in the second half. The Raiders however have their own issues: RB Darren McFadden may not play due to a hamstring injury and QB Terrelle Pryor is banged up with a knee injury. Oakland went 0-8 on the road last year and is 0-4 this year; this will be their best chance to end that streak this season.
Pick • Texans 20, Raiders 10 ✘
Texans -7 (one unit) ✘ -110
Under 41½ (two units) ✘✘ -220
Final Score: Raiders 28, Texans 23 … Oakland covers by 12 … over by 9½
5-4 Arizona Cardinals at 1-8 Jacksonville Jaguars ★★
Early game on FOX; Dick Stockton, Ronde Barber
Arizona is strong enough on defense – third against the run, 13th against the pass – that they should be able to handle the anemic Jacksonville offense with no problem. Andre Ellington (7.2 yards per carry) makes the Cardinal offense much more productive, as for the first time in what seems forever opposing defenses cannot sellout defending the pass; that makes Carson Palmer more productive (4 TD, 2 INT in last two games). More importantly the presence of Ellington opens things up for Larry Fitzgerald, who will be going up against a Jacksonville secondary that starts three rookies.
Pick • Cardinals 27, Jaguars 13 ✔
Cardinals -7 (two units) ✔✔ +200
Over 40½ ✔
Final Score: Cardinals 27, Jaguars 14 … Arizona covers by 6 … over by ½
9-0 Kansas City Chiefs at 8-1 Denver Broncos ★★★★★
Sunday night on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth
The disrespected Chiefs may have had a string of close calls, but the fact remains that they are the only undefeated team in the NFL. The KC defense has yet to allow more than 17 points in a game, while scoring six defensive touchdowns and leading the NFL with 23 turnovers. Jamaal Charles has 1,114 yards from scrimmage, and QB Alex Smith has been quietly efficient. The Broncos were held to under 30 points for the first time last week, and much will depend on how Peyton Manning’s ankles have healed – and how often Justin Houston (11 sacks) and Tamba Hali (9 sacks) get to him.
Pick • Broncos 27, Chiefs 24 ✔
Chiefs +8 ✘
Over 49 ✘
Final Score: Broncos 27, Chiefs 17 … Denver covers by 2 … under by 5
2-7 Minnesota Vikings at 9-1 Seattle Seahawks ★
Late game on FOX; Chris Myers, Tim Ryan
The Seahawks got their wake-up call when they nearly lost to the Bucs two weeks ago; they’ll be better prepared this time. About the only reason to watch this game is to watch how well Adrian Peterson can perform against the Seattle defense, or perhaps to see how Percy Harvin does in his return.
Pick • Seahawks 27, Vikings 13 ✔
Seahawks -13 ✔
Under 45½ ✘
Final Score: Seahawks 41, Vikings 20 … Seattle covers by 8 … over by 15½
6-3 San Francisco 49ers at 7-2 New Orleans Saints ★★★★★
Late game on FOX; Joe Buck, Troy Aikman
Since the week one win over Green Bay, Colin Kaepernick has been rather inconsistent. Excluding that game, Kaepernick is 97-181 (53.6%) with an equal number of touchdowns as interceptions (six). Last week he was 11-22 for just 91 yards, and a paltry 42.0 passer rating; that marked the third time this season he has had a game with a passer rating below 50. The New Orleans defense has been playing very well, and the Saints are next to impossible to defeat at home. As if their offense needed any more weapons, Saints RB Mark Ingram returned from a five-week hiatus with a 145-yard game, and the Saints rushed for 242 yards. The 49ers are getting a bit healthier, but they’re still not the same as they were last year.
Pick • Saints 28, 49ers 20 ✔
Saints -3 – Push –
Over 47½ ✘
Final Score: Saints 23, 49ers 20 … Push … under by 4½
5-4 Green Bay Packers at 3-6 New York Giants ★★
Late game on FOX; Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston
Green Bay QB Scott Tolzien was decent in his NFL debut last week (280 yards), but it is difficult to look past the fact that he was a practice squad player two weeks ago – and he did throw two picks. Through the first six games of the season the Giants were giving up 34 points per game, but in the last three games they have allowed just 34 points total. During those six games Eli Manning was a turnover machine, with fifteen interceptions and four fumbles; in the last three games he has thrown only one pick. The chances of Green Bay turning Manning back to his earlier self are slim; their defense is dead last in the NFL with only three interceptions this year.
Pick • Giants 24, Packers 17 ✔
Giants -5 ✔
Under 42 ✔
Final Score: Giants 27, Packers 13 … New York covers by 9 … under by 2
7-2 New England Patriots at 6-3 Carolina Panthers ★★★★★
Monday Night on ESPN; Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden
Key matchup in this game will likely be Carolina LB Luke Kuechly versus New England TE Rob Gronkowski. Kuechly has proven himself to be one of the best, if not the best linebacker in the NFL. However, Gronk has been unstoppable when healthy: too fast for linebackers to cover, and too strong for safeties to tackle. Although the Patriots offense struggled early in the season, that has not been the case when both Gronk and Danny Amendola are on the field; with Shane Vereen reportedly being able to return as well, this is an offense unlike any other that Carolina has faced. On the flip side, the Patriots have not faced a defense as talented as this one either; they are fully capable of collapsing the pocket, the Achilles heel to the New England offense. This should be a great game for any and all football fans that could go either way, featuring an excellent defense versus a very good offense.
Pick • Panthers 28, Patriots 24 ✔
Panthers -2½ ✔
Over 46 ✘
Final Score: Panthers 24, Patriots 20 … Carolina covers by 1½ … under by 2
6-3 Indianapolis Colts at 4-5 Tennessee Titans ★★★
Thursday Night on NFLN; Brad Nessler, Mike Mayock
Tennessee started out strong but couldn’t hold on. It looked like the Titans were going to head into halftime up 21-3, but they settled for a field goal when the drive stalled at the 7-yard line. Just when it looked they might get the ball back with another chance for a score after forcing a three-and-out, a flag was thrown giving Indy another chance and they drove for a field goal of their own. The Colts came out in the second half with a long drive for a touchdown, and scored another TD two plays later when Tennessee fumbled the kickoff away. The difference between a win or a loss was critical for the Titans: instead of being one game behind in the division the Colts hold a three game lead, and instead of being a half-game behind the Jets they are now 11th in the AFC, needing to pass five teams to make the playoffs.
Pick • Colts 24, Titans 17 ✔
Colts -3 – Push –
Under 42½ ✘
Final Score: Colts 30, Titans 27 … Push … over by 14½
Three Game College Teaser (two units) ✔✔ +200
Kansas St (-1½) vs TCU ✔
S Carolina (-3½) vs Florida ✔
Vanderbilt (-3) vs Kentucky ✔
Three Game College Parlay (one unit) ✘ -110
Kansas St (-10½) vs TCU ✘
S Carolina (-12½) vs Florida ✘
Vanderbilt (-12) vs Kentucky ✔
Three Game NFL Teaser (two units) ✘✘ -220
Falcons-Bucs over 34½ ✔
Cardinals +2 vs Jaguars ✔
Jets-Bills under 50 ✘
Three Game NFL Parlay (one unit) ✘ -110
Texans +7 vs Raiders ✘
Cardinals -7 vs Jaguars ✔
Jets-Bills under 41 ✘
320 Indiana at Wisconsin (-25½) (one unit) ✔ +100
You cannot underestimate how rancid the Hoosiers are this year. All you need to know about this game is that Indiana ranks 122nd in yards allowed (519.1 ypg), 109th in rushing defense (217.4 ypg) and 113th in scoring defense (37.4 ppg).
Final Score: Wisconsin 51, Indiana 3 … Wisconsin covers by 22½
Top Play Of The Week:
322 Kentucky at Vanderbilt (-12) (three units) ✔✔✔ +300
After defeating Georgia and Florida, Vandy will be psyched for a chance at bowl eligibility with a win. The Commodores have outscored Kentucky 78-8 in the last two seasons, and the Wildcats are horrible on both sides of the ball.
Final Score: Vanderbilt 22, Kentucky 6 … Vanderbilt covers by 4
331 Cincinnati (pick) at Rutgers (one unit) ✔ +100
The Bearcats are playing much better now than they did early in the season, winners of the last four; they are also 2-0 on the road in conference. Rutgers on the other hand is sliding; they lost two in a row before a miracle finish gave them a win over lowly Temple. Cincinnati QB Brendon Kay has been steady, while Rutgers QB Gary Nova has been inconsistent and prone to making poor decisions.
Final Score: Cincinnati 52, Rutgers 17 … Cincinnati covers by 35
335 Central Florida (-16) at Temple (one unit) ✘ -110
The Knights cannot be too pleased that even after last week’s win over Houston; they still rank behind Louisville, whom they beat three weeks ago. A 3-point loss to South Carolina is the only blemish on their record, but they are probably realizing that they need to run up the score to get the voter’s attention. Sorry Temple, but that’s a recipe to make you road kill.
Final Score: Central Florida 39, Temple 36 … Temple covers by 13
340 Florida at South Carolina (-12½) (two units) ✘✘ -220
One Gator QB after another has been sidelined with an injury, and it shows in their offense. You know that Steve Spurrier would love to rack up a nice, big victory against his alma mater, and keep a shot at the SEC title game alive.
Final Score: South Carolina 19, Florida 14 … Florida covers by 7½
360 Texas Tech vs Baylor (-26½) (one unit) ✔ +100
The Bears have sights on a national championship game, and style points still unfortunately count in college football rankings. The Red Raiders are in disarray after three straight losses, and far too one-dimensional on offense; more importantly, their 68th-ranked defense is no match for Baylor’s prolific offense.
Final Score: Baylor 63, Texas Tech 34 … Baylor covers by 1½
375 Michigan State (-5½) at Nebraska (one unit) ✔ +100
The Spartans have allowed just nine points in their last three games, and their defense rank third nationwide with just 11.6 points allowed per game. In their last game they held Michigan to an incredible minus-48 yards rushing, and they have had two weeks to prepare for this game. If not for a four-point loss to Notre Dame in September, we’re talking about the Spartans in the same breath as other undefeated teams this year.
Final Score: Michigan State 41, Nebraska 28 … MSU covers by 7½
383 Stanford (-3½) at Southern Cal (one unit) ✘ -110
Both teams have good defenses, but Stanford runs the ball better; the Cardinal knows what is at stake here and won’t take the Trojans lightly. In the last three weeks the Stanford defense has forced five turnovers and 15 sacks against some pretty good competition.
Final Score: Southern Cal 20, Stanford 17 … USC covers by 6½
392 Texas Christian at Kansas State (-10½) (two units) ✘✘ -220
After close losses to a pair of ranked teams, the Wildcats have rebounded with three wins in which they have outscored their opponents 125-45, and are rushing for more than 250 yards per game over the last four weeks. TCU’s 96th-ranked offense has scored 21 points just twice in the last six games; the Wildcats should win easily.
Final Score: Kansas State 33, TCU 31 … TCU covers by 12½
394 Troy at Mississippi (-28) (one unit) ✔ +100
There was a time a few years ago when Troy was pretty good, a borderline nationally ranked team. That is no longer the case; they’re just 3-3 in the lowly Sun Belt conference, and when they played an SEC team earlier this year they got smoked, losing 62-7 to Mississippi State. Ole Miss isn’t bad – they just beat Arkansas and at 6-3 they are bowl eligible – and at the same time they’re not so great that they will look past Troy.
Final Score: Ole Miss 51, Troy 21 … Ole Miss covers by 2
$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $
For whatever reason I am finding college games to be easier to predict than NFL games this year, even though I follow the pro game much more closely. I think that’s due to being ahead of the curve early in the season on certain bad teams (Giants, Steelers, Vikings), and now there not being as many lines that are as far off due to public perceptions. Also in college there is a larger delta from the best team to the worst since there are only 32 pro teams, and talent is more evenly distributed due to the draft, salary cap and free agency. After a few weeks it is easier to get a handle on college teams, whereas early in the year I’m hesitant to make predictions due to the annual turnover of personnel. All in all it was a good week, thanks primarily to hitting on a moneyline underdog (Vanderbilt at Florida) and a three game parlay. Worst call was going with the Titans minus the points versus Jacksonville; I was wrong on that pick ATS, as part of a teaser, and part of another parlay – a total of four units.
Tale Of The Tape
Week 10 Results
Straight Up: 7-7, 50%
Underdogs to win straight up: 1-1, 50%
Against the Spread: 8-6, 57%
ATS picking favorites: 3-4, 43% (1-0, +100)
ATS picking underdogs: 5-2, 71% (0-1, -110)
ATS Confidence Picks: 1-1, 50% (-10)
One Unit Plays ATS: 1-1, -10
Two Unit Plays ATS: none
Three Unit Plays ATS: none
Four Unit Plays ATS: none
Five Unit Plays ATS: none
220 risked, net -10; -4.5% ROI
Over Under Total: 6-8, 43%
Picking Over: 3-6, 33% (2-1, +190)
Picking Under: 3-2, 60% (0-0, +000)
O/U Confidence Picks: 2-1, 67% (+190)
One Unit Plays O/U: 1-1, -10
Two Unit Plays O/U: 1-0, +200
Three Unit Plays O/U: none
Four Unit Plays O/U: none
Five Unit Plays O/U: none
440 risked, net +190; +43.2% ROI
Best Play of the Week: correct (Auburn -7 at Tennessee); +300
3-Game Teasers: 0-1, -110
2-Game Parlays: none
3-Game Parlays: 1-1, +380
4-Game Parlays: none
College Games: 7-5 (5-4 ATS, 1-1 O/U, 1-0 Money Line); 1760 risked; net +590; 33.5% ROI
Week 10 Total: 11-9; 2860 risked; net +1040; +36.4% ROI
Straight Up: 100-47 (68%)
Underdogs to win straight up: 14-12 (54%)
Against the Spread: 68-76-3 (47%)
ATS picking favorites: 36-41-2, 46% (17-18, -830)
ATS picking underdogs: 32-35-1, 48% (8-6, +310)
ATS Confidence Picks: 25-24, 51% (-520)
One Unit Plays ATS: 14-11, 56% (+190)
Two Unit Plays ATS: 8-9, 47% (-370)
Three Unit Plays ATS: 1-2, 33% (-360)
Four Unit Plays ATS: 1-2, 50% (-480)
Five Unit Plays ATS: 1-0, 100% (+500)
Over Under Total: 77-70 (52%)
Picking Over: 41-30, 58% (13-10, +560)
Picking Under: 36-40, 47% (12-11, +40)
O/U Confidence Picks: 25-21, 54% (+600)
One Unit Plays O/U: 15-11, 58% (+290)
Two Unit Plays O/U: 7-8, 47% (-360)
Three Unit Plays O/U: 2-1, 67% (+270)
Four Unit Plays O/U: 1-0, 100% (+400)
Five Unit Plays O/U: none
Best Play of the Week: 6-3, 67% (+1200)
3-Game Teasers: 6-5 (+530)
2-Game Parlays: none
3-Game Parlays: 2-4 (+540)
4-Game Parlays: 0-1 (-110)
College Games: 31-13-1, 70% (+2770)
Grand Total: 89-67-1; 57%; 27,180 risked; net +3,810; 14.0% ROI
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