Here are my NFL Week 10 Picks
(9-4 last week, 77-54-2 for the season)
Bye teams: Bills, Lions, Colts, Raiders
Cle @ Bal – And the losing streak continues for the Browns with no end in sight. They’ve lost all nine games so far this season, and their bye week isn’t even until Week 13. Looking ahead, it is very possible that they will finish the year winless, with this game at Bal, then vs Pit, vs NYG, vs Cin, at Buf, vs SD, and at Pit. Cleveland will probably lose all those games, and even looking ahead to next season isn’t an optimistic prospect; they’ll most likely lose all those games too. This is just an embarrassment, not only to the city of Cleveland but to the NFL in general, to have a team that is this inept. Shame on you, Brownies. The Ravens won’t mind beating up on them while they’re down; that’s exactly what this did last week vs Pittsburgh. Big Ben was coming off of an injury, which statistically bodes ill for his team, and the Ravens took care of business. They started the season hot, cooled off considerably, but a win vs the Steelers and now a probable win vs the Browns could shoot them in the proper direction, which is toward the playoffs. They are actually winning their division right now, so let’s see if they can hold on.
KC @ Car – The Chiefs move up into second place in the AFC West, after a win themselves and a Denver loss in Oakland. They ride a 4-game win streak and are 4-0 at home, something that’s not new, though their 7-2 overall record is something surprising. I have to believe that Kansas City comes back down to earth a bit eventually, and that could start in Week 10. They aren’t a wonderful team on the road, going 2-2, and their last two games have come against the Colts & Jags, so don’t put a wreathe around the necks of the Chiefs quite yet. A road game in Carolina and then one in Denver in two weeks will be the true test to their season. As far as the Panthers are concerned, they have a little win streak of their own, 2 games, which is something big since they only have 3 wins on the season. They are coming back into the thick of things, with the NFC South not at all sewn up, even with the Falcons being a pretty hot team. Carolina plays well at home, can put up points, and seems to be finding their footing here at the start of the second half of the season, so let’s see an upset.
Hou @ Jax – Only two teams score less than the Texans, and those teams are the Rams and the Bears. That’s surprising, given their offseason acquisitions, especially Brock Osweiler & Lamar Miller. These guys were supposed to turn the offense around, aiding a defense that’s been very good for years now. But the offense is just not clicking, and the team has suffered. Now, Houston is 5-3 and are winning their division, so it’s not been a disaster, but they should be much further ahead, Indy & Tenn shouldn’t be breathing down their necks, not the way those two teams have played. Also, although the Texans are undefeated at home, they are winless on the road, failing to travel well and indicating that they won’t be playoff relevant unless that’s something that can be fixed. The Jaguars are having a much poorer year, especially based upon high expectations, especially for the offense. They aren’t scoring either, aren’t playing good solid defense, and find themselves at the bottom of the AFC South. But, I think they can win one home game against a teetering Texans team, though I wouldn’t put money on it.
Den @ NO – I think this is the first time I’ll be picking the Broncos to lose this season; about time I guess, since they already have 3 losses. I could make valid excuses for the first two, but this third loss just looked awful. Playcalling was terrible, execution was off, defense was confused; it was a messy game, and although we should remember that it was a division road game against a rival, which are always extremely difficult to win, you can’t ignore the fact that the Broncos have problems. Can you fix those problems? Definitely; the defense is still solid, the offense is actually better than they were last year. But god is this a bad time to travel to New Orleans. Drew Brees is historically great playing at home, and this season seems to be his time to show that he still has what it takes to score touchdowns. It’ll be harder than usual against the Denver D, but I think he can still do it. And if he can’t, that Saints running game which is currently working so well surely will, so I’m concerned that there will be nothing Denver can do to stop every aspect of NO’s offense, nor will we be able to score enough to keep up, though I hope I’m wrong.
LA @ NYJ – Anyone who thought that the Rams might be a better team than expected was quickly disabused of that notion. They might have started out 3-1, but they’ve gone 0-4 since, revealing themselves to be the bad team everyone expected them to be. If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times, Jeff Fisher is a mediocre coach who is only good enough not to embarrass his team completely or in a Cleveland Browns kind of way. Otherwise, he’s fairly bad, never wins enough, and is probably the most overrated coach in the league. He needs to be fired at the end of this season, there’s no question about that. If I were a Jets fan, I wouldn’t feel the same way about Todd Bowles, despite a much poorer season that you thought was coming from New York. He has a quarterback problem and a defense problem. QB can be addressed; heck, they have two young, talented kids on their roster right now. And Bowles is a defensive guy, he has the knowledge to turn that around next year. So there’s hope for the Jets, but there’s less for the Rams, and this week I think the slightly better bad team wins.
Atl @ Phi – Matt Ryan and the red hot Atlanta offense has to stumble at some point, even if it’s just for a week, and I think that time may be now. They are the only team to have scored 300+ points on the season, though they have yet to have their bye week, which is in Week 11, so other teams, like New Orleans, will have a chance to catch up. But you can only score 30+ points a game for so long, eventually a few mistakes will lead to a few less points and a bad defense will cost you a game. The Falcons have lost 3 on the season so far, and I really think they’re in for #4 right here. Because they started off on fire and have since cooled down, because Carson Wentz isn’t playing as well as he was at the beginning of the year, and because they sit at 4-4 at the bottom of their division, people forget that the Eagles are a solid team with a great defense. They only allow 18 points per game, so even allowing that the Falcons will score more than that, this is a game that Philly can win. They’re undefeated at home, and if they can hold Atlanta to 20-some total points, I think they can score just enough to win a close one.
Chi @ TB – Jay Cutler returned two weeks ago for the Bears (last week they had a bye) and boy were they glad to see him. Not that he’s the most electrifying figure, in fact he’s a big dull dud, but he lit something in the team and led them to a victory at home vs Minnesota. If he can connect with Alshon and if the running game can keep churning, Chicago can overcome its mediocre defense and win a few games before ultimately missing out on the playoffs. They just need to put up points, something that should be fairly easy in Tampa Bay. But while Chicago is winless on the road in 2016, Tampa is also winless at home, so something’s got to give here. When two teams are equally good or bad, going with the home club is usually the way to go, and I’ll do that here with this matchup. Famous Jameis has actually been putting up some points, especially to Mike Evans, so maybe the Bucs can score enough to make up for their bad defense. Still, it is weird that they’re 0-4 at home while 3-1 on the road, and shows some mental fragility from the team as a whole. I’ll still pick them though, in a shootout and without much confidence.
GB @ Ten – Rodgers can say relax all he wants, and I’m typically ready to believe him, but the Packers are starting to become worrisome. I think it’s their coach that’s the first & biggest problem, something that needs addressing sooner rather than later. Do I still think Green Bay can turn it around and make the playoffs? Absolutely, but at 4-4 they had better start right away before time runs out. And although the Titans aren’t an amazing team, this really isn’t the week to do that easily, as the Pack don’t play well on the road and don’t do that well against the AFC. That opens the door for Tennessee to beat one of the former mighty teams of the NFC, something that would sure legitimize them in the eyes of a good many more than a few. Again, I wouldn’t put any money on it, but I think the Titans have a real shot at winning this game. They are running the ball very well right now, their defense has shown flashes of potential, they’re at home, and GB just isn’t clicking and is running out of excuses. I think the momentum will be on Tennessee’s side for most of the game, though it’s hard to count Rodgers completely out.
Min @ Was – What’s happened to the Vikings, who were 5-0 to start the season but have lost the last 3 games since? Well, not to say I told you so, but Sam Bradford is no one’s savior, and to have ever thought otherwise is just silly. Eventually that Minnesota offense was going to crumble without AP or Bridgewater, and that’s exactly what’s happened. I’m actually surprised the Bradford hasn’t gotten hurt, isn’t on IR, so that’s something, but it’s not actually helpful since he’s leading the Viking offense absolutely nowhere. The only reason they’re still alive, and actually leading their division by a half a game, is because their defense is killer. They only allow 16 points a game, but in the last three games they’ve only scored an average of 12, so there you go. And now they have to head to Washington to face a Redskins team coming off a bye? I don’t like their chances. Washington is only OK, are 2-2 at home, tied the team they played last, and score about as much as they allow, so they aren’t scary in any way. But I think they are good enough to take care of business at home vs an offense that can’t put up points.
Mia @ SD – Although the Dolphins have now won three in a row, none of those wins have come on the road, a major red flag when questioning whether or not this team is for real. Like the Redskins, the Dolphins are the definition of mediocrity, and won’t be able to look upon this year as a season when anything took off. I expect them to eek out a few more wins along the way, but nothing much else, and I also expect them to lose in Week 10. Even with Ajayi running well, Miami just doesn’t score enough to be competitive, at least not with the likes of some of these modern teams that are built to get touchdowns. The Chargers are a great example of that, a team that has abandoned defense and only attempts to score. Atlanta, New Orleans, Oakland, Indy, even Buffalo; these teams get points by the bucket, but, like San Diego, don’t play defense well enough to create a balanced team. That’s been proven to eventually hurt you, and in the long run I think it will do exactly that to all these squads. But, for one week, the Chargers can easily score enough on the Dolphins at home to win one game. Just don’t trust them too much going forward.
SF @ Ari – It’s up to seven in a row now, and the Niners have the worst losing streak in the league, other than the Browns of course, who may never win again. Kaepernick is back under center, but at long as Chip Kelly is the coach no one is going to succeed for the 49ers. He’s just literally the worst, both professionally and attitude-ally, and he needs to go far, far away. My hope would be that, in the next few years, he’s fired and heads off back to college. Then I’ll hope he gets a job at East Central North Dakota State Community Bible College of Agriculture, fails there, and is never heard from again. Let’s move on to the Cardinals, who despite an off year, still have a legitimate shot at the playoffs and an outside chance at the division. They just haven’t played like the team we imagined they would be, not at all, but hope is not lost yet. Their defense is quietly one of the best in the league, barely allows other teams to score, but just hasn’t been supported by an up-and-down offense. That changes this week though, and I think the Cards win 30-someodd to something in the teens in a game that is never even close.
Dal @ Pit – Who’s the hottest team in the league? It’s not the Falcons, it’s the Cowboys, with a 7-game win streak going strong. Dak has been a revelation, all the more shocking that he’s actually playing as well in the regular season as he did in the preseason. Zeke looks like a HOFer, the O-line is tops, and the defense is actually stepping up their game in response. Dallas in 4-0 on the road this season, 2-0 against the AFC, and is looking dead ahead at a deep playoff run. BUT, and there’s always a but, things can change quickly. The Giants are creeping up behind them, the Tony Romo drama is back on board, and this isn’t just another road game, this is a trip to angry Pittsburgh where the Steelers are desperate to stop a slide and will fight until the last whistle to win this game. Big Ben came back last week but he just wasn’t himself, continuing a trend of losses after returning from injuries. I expect him to be back to form this week, with he & his team knowing that this is a must-win game. The Ravens are at the top of the AFC North, which has to make Pitt livid, and I think they go out and do something about it.
Sea @ NE – Here’s the best game of the week, a showdown of great teams and a possible Super Bowl preview on Sunday Night. I don’t know who could beat the Patriots right now, at least at home, so there’s no way I can pick the Seahawks to win this game, as much as I think they’re one of the best teams in the league. They just find ways to win, and that’s usually because of good coaching, so give Carroll the credit for molding a winning club. You might not like them, but I hope you respect them, because they have that “it” factor that so many other teams lack. However, they aren’t great on the road, going 1-2-1, so that will be their Achilles’ Heel come January perhaps, and won’t help them get there either. For the Patriots, I can’t imagine them losing this game, despite whatever magic Seattle might have. Brady is just too good, Belichick game plans too well, and gaining little advantages in nefarious ways adds up to wins. I don’t like the Patriots, but I give them grudging respect for being so damn unbeatable. I just hope this is a good game, and I think it can be, but I have to go with New England.
Cin @ NYG – The Bengals are just starting to warm up and can see their path to the playoffs. With Ben’s injury and with the Ravens set to come back down the standings eventually, Cinci could move their way up, if only they could string together a couple games. A tie in London hurt them, and they would use a bye week to set up a start of a new streak if they could, but it won’t be easy, not with a trip to New York in Week 10. But their schedule does get much easier after this, so there’s reason to be hopeful. I just think they need one more week before they start to head toward the playoffs, because this matchup could be a loss for Cincinnati. The Giants, my pick for a stellar season, started off weakly but have since improved immeasurably. They began the season 2-3, but have since gone 3-0, so stock is rising on Wall Street. Eli is playing better, Odell is stepping up, and this new defense is actually holding their own. The G-Men are 3-1 at home this season, while the Ben-Gals are 1-3 on the road. Seems an easy decision for a Monday Night pick, though I’ll be rooting from Columbus, Ohio for a quality & close game.