NFL Week 10 Picks
It’s a big week for NFL football, so be sure to check out our SportsIntel NFL Mid-Season Awards and Predictions! And feel free to post in the comments. We say some pretty ridiculous stuff, but won’t know it unless you talk some smack.
Picks by Chris
Minnesota Vikings (6-2) @ Washington Redskins (4-4); Line: EVEN
The Minnesota Vikings take on the Washington Redskins at FedExField and there are a couple of interesting aspects to this match up. The Vikings are poised to run away with the NFC North with the Bears still struggling offensively behind an inexperienced quarterback, the Packers are trending downward after losing Aaron Rodgers, and the Lions are underachieving through eight weeks. Mike Zimmer has positioned this team to be its usual defensive powerhouse, and they’ve had surprisingly good backup QB play out of Case Keenum. So good, they are going to stick with Keenum despite Teddy Bridgewater finally being healthy enough to play for the first time since August 2016. It’s been awhile, but Bridgewater was a pretty good QB. With that said, there is no controversy here because Keenum and Bridgewater have been the consummate professionals we’ve come to expect and both are just looking to win football games. I believe Keenum when he says he’s boring and he’s just preparing for opposing teams one week at a time, as always. However, if he does have a poor performance on Sunday, I wonder if Bridgewater’s eligibility is in the back of his mind. With so many team’s struggling at the position this season, having Bridgewater, Keenum, and Bradford on the roster seems to be a good place to be in for the team, but not the player.
Speaking of good places to be, the Redskins have listed 17 players off of their 53 man roster on the injury report, that’s not a good place to be, but it’s one they’re familiar with this season. They have a patchwork offensive line that somehow performed in Seattle on the road last week on their way to a team victory. Statistically, the Seahawks should have won that game but the final scoreline didn’t reflect that, so Kirk Cousins and the Redskins will be looking to hold this offense together against another tough defensive opponent.
The line reads even, but I just don’t see it. It’s a road game in Washington, and while Kai Forbath isn’t a fan of the field, I don’t think the rest of the Vikings give two figs about the state of the greenery in November. This defense is going to expose the Redskins troubles on the offensive line and we’re going to see Kirk Cousins in the dirt. I’m going with the Vikings, 24-17.
Los Angeles Chargers (3-5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (5-3); Line: Jags by 3.5
Last time I picked against Brad’s Los Angeles Chargers, I lost. But that’s results-oriented thinking and I’m going to stick to my guns on this one. The Jaguars are going to win this game. I don’t know how Blake Bortles becomes an early punchline that requires a stout defense and a sensational rookie running back to win games, then just last week when the rookie running back is benched for breaking a team rule, Bortles decides to step up and have a quality passing game. Blake, do you want to suck or keep your job? One performance certainly isn’t enough for the Jaguars to stop wanting another guy running the offense, but string a few of these successful games together and make us think you’ve learned how to play the position and we might give you the benefit of the doubt. Though I should say this all could just be the fact that he played the always disappointing Cincinnati Bengals. Yeah, that’s probably it.
Blake Bortles is going to have to be on the lookout for Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram as they have a combined 17 sacks so far this season, but the formula this week should be exploiting the Chargers atrocious run defense with Leonard Fournette. They’re ranked next to last at 31 in run defense and that’s an exciting prospect for Fournette in his first game back. Phillip Rivers has been his usual consistent, dependable self and the Chargers will need him to be near-perfect facing this Jaguars secondary. They’ve been electric through the first half of the season, and with Calais Campbell up front, they can get to the quarterback in a hurry as well. On paper, the Jaguars aren’t doing as well against the run either, but they’re ranking better than the Chargers. Still, Melvin Gordon could be a key player to watch for the Chargers as they might live or die by the performance he puts in Sunday.
I’ll make good on my earlier statement here, the Jaguars are going to win at home, 27-21.
Dallas Cowboys (5-3) @ Atlanta Falcons (4-4); Line: Falcons by 3
This is going to be an ugly game. The Falcons are struggling in a big way, and the Cowboy’s are just… the Cowboys. I’m a touch biased, but let’s keep going. Dak Prescott will have to play without RB1 Ezekiel Elliot, pending another 11th hour update on his suspension status, and I think that’s a tough situation to be in. Prescott has played well this year, but he’s had his ups and downs as well this season. Elliot has continued to be a dominant running back this season and he’s going to be tough to replace with Alfred Morris and the rest of the committee.
Meanwhile, the Falcon’s are getting quality play out of Matt Ryan and their backfield duo Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, and they’ve had some big plays from their receiving corps… so why do they suck?
Answer: Steve Sarkisian.
Their new offensive coordinator just hasn’t been able to iron out the consistency issues they face week in and week out. Last year, Matt Ryan was lauded for his ability to get production out of pretty much any player that set foot on the field with him, this season we’re often left wondering why Julio Jones has a ton of yards but no touchdowns? Their time of possession is averaging in favor of their opponents, and while I believe that was the case last season as well, they were putting points on the board in 2016. They’ve also struggled with generating a consistent pass rush on defense and only have 18 sacks on the year. You have to pressure the opposing quarterback on defense, and provide your own with enough time to make the right play. Ryan has been sacked 14 times on the year, which isn’t too bad, but his accuracy hasn’t been the same. Based on the numbers, including 7 interceptions to just 11 touchdowns, would suggest something is affecting him this season, and the biggest change to this offense is Sarkisian.
Will Dak Prescott be able to win on the road against the Falcons without Elliot? Can Matt Ryan and company finally get this dominant offense in sync and putting up points? The Falcons are 1-2 at home this season, and the Cowboys are 3-1 on the road. This is going to be a close game, but as I said earlier this season, the Falcons are already dead to me. I’m taking the Cowboys here, 24-21.
Picks by Brad
Green Bay Packers (4-4) @ Chicago Bears (3-5); Line: Bears by 6
Mitch Trubisky makes his fifth career start on Sunday against a Packer team starting Brett Hundley for just the third time in his career and for his first time ever on the road; not exactly what we expected from this matchup when the season started. Chicago comes out of the bye week with just three players on its injury report while Green Bay limps in on the short week after a loss on MNF and is missing players all over the place. Dismal circumstances all around for the green and gold.
However, in the interest of domestic bliss, let me see if I can find some silver linings for the reeling Pack. How about the revenge factor? Based on the controversy surrounding the last meeting between these division rivals, I think there are some GB players who wouldn’t mind putting a crack-back block on Danny Trevathan. (Sadly it looks like a strained calf may keep the Bears LB out of this Week 4 rematch, but check out the varying opinions on the hit here: Chris’s take and Danny’s take.) How about the pressure being off a young QB? Hundley has been bad in his two home starts, but maybe getting away from the shadow of Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi is just what the doctor ordered for the athletic signal caller. Install some simple concepts and turn him loose, McCarthy!!!
Having said all that, I just don’t see the injury-plagued Packers rising up in this spot. The Bears have won two of their last three at home and those victories are against current playoff teams Carolina and Pittsburgh. Sorry Andrea. Bears 20, Packers 17
Cincinnati Bengals (3-5) @ Tennessee Titans (5-3); Line: Titans by 4.5
As I wrote in Monday’s 5 Things I Think, frustration is mounting for the Bengals. They’re actually quite lucky that AJ Green wasn’t suspended by the league for his attack on Jags rookie DB Jalen Ramsey although, as Chris wrote in his Week 9 AAR, there was certainly some provocation. Green was fined $42k and chose not to appeal so I guess we’re all just moving on. Since starting the year 0-3, the Bengals had actually kinda righted the ship winning 3 of 4 before imploding last week in Northern Florida. On the road this week against the other co-leader in the AFC South, I expect more of the same. Scoring just 16.1 points per game Cincy’s offense is 4th worst in the NFL in that department and dead last in rushing. With injuries in the backfield and on the offensive line, there is little to indicate the running game will get better anytime soon. Tennessee, on the other hand, is riding a three-game winning streak and hasn’t dropped a home game since way back on September 10th. When healthy, Mariota has been solid and the defense has been consistently stout against the run. The Titans do it with balance and the advanced metrics like them much more than they do the Bengals. I see the Flying Mularkey’s protecting home field. Titans 23, Bengals 16
New York Giants (1-7) @ San Francisco 49ers (0-9); Line: Giants by 2.5
It’s pretty amazing that the Giants can be a betting favorite in this game after getting dump-trucked at home by the Rams last week, but these are the 2017 San Francisco Oh-and-Niners. The Giants haven’t been much better though. In fact most metrics have these two teams just about dead even other than special teams, where the 49ers are ranked 8th in the NFL to the Giants 30th. So maybe that’s the advantage that, combined with home-field, can deliver the first win of the year to Santa Clara. Beyond the numbers, I think the Niners are the much healthier team as well. In fact, after looking at the Giant’s injury report, I don’t even know who’s gonna play defense for them. With all those injured linebackers, Carlos Hyde might just have a field day. As the 49ers go into the bye week, we might be looking at the last start anyone not named “Handsome” Jimmy Garoppolo makes for this franchise until 2027 (wouldn’t that be something?!) I’m rolling with The-Light-At-The-End-Of-The-Tunnel Red and Gold! 49ers 19, Giants 17
Picks by Danny
New Orleans Saints (6-2) @ Buffalo Bills (5-3); Line: Saints by 2.5
This could be a tricky game for the Saints going to Buffalo as the elements turn in the northeast. The Saints have been great this year and the biggest surprise has been their defense. They are currently fielding both a top-ten defense and top-ten offense. They currently own the longest winning streak in the NFL and their only losses are to the Patriots and Vikings. I think the common sense pick here is to expect the Saints to continue to roll, but I would expect this Bills defense to give the Saints problems with a forecast calling for temps in the low 40s and 30s. The Bills are built to succeed in this kind of weather with a strong and diverse running game and physical defense that can get after the passer. I’m torn about which way to go with this game, but ultimately I think the Saints barely pull this one out 17-16. If I were the odds makers this would be a pick’em.
New York Jets (4-5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-6); Line: Jets by 1
The Bucs have had an awful season. Jameis Winston has regressed and this team has struggled to win close games. They have been competitive but just haven’t been able to pull out enough big plays to get in the W column very much this season. Meanwhile, the Jets, who everyone expected to be awful, have surprised everyone. I think the Jets performance thus far is enough reason to give Todd Bowles another season with the team. As impressed as I’ve been with the Jets, I think that the reeling Bucs take pride in their home field and do just enough to win. Bucs 24, Jets 23
New England Patriots (6-2) @ Denver Broncos (3-5); Line: Patriots by 8.5
The Patriots head into Denver, where Tom Brady has struggled, to face the reeling Broncos. The odds makers certainly like the Pats in this one. The Patriots have the league’s best passing offense and a defense that gives up more yards than any other defense in the league. Brock Osweiler isn’t scaring anyone either, Von Miller however does. The Patriots get the win, but don’t beat the spread in this game. The Broncos defense is built to stop Brady and home field normally provides a few calls that swing the home team’s way. Patriots 24, Broncos 20