Not sure if you read the story somewhere, but Week 9 in the NFL was almost catastrophic for the Las Vegas sportsbooks because they lost so much money essentially due to so many favorites covering: 10 of 14 by my count (casual bettors hugely lean toward favorites). Those that didn’t:: the Giants, who lost at home to the Steelers; the Raiders (who were only a one-point favorite), who lost at home to Tampa Bay; the Dolphins, who lost at Indianapolis; and the Panthers, who won at the Redskins.
Thus, it was undoubtedly an unremarkable week in your survivor pool with no big upsets. Maybe a few people took the Redskins, but that’s what you get for betting on a rookie QB. My top choice was Seattle at home vs. Minnesota only because I had used Houston and Green Bay already.
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For Week 10, the teams on a bye are Cleveland, Green Bay, Arizona and Washington. It’s the second-to-last bye week of the season. Presumed favorites are listed first.
New England vs. Buffalo: I shouldn’t need to explain this. The Bills actually played pretty well defensively last week in Houston, but the Pats are entering off a bye. When New England and Buffalo played in Week 4, the Pats had seven points at halftime and still finished with 52. The 45 points in the second half were the most in franchise history and fourth-most in NFL history.
Baltimore vs. Oakland: The Ravens’ offense, specifically Joe Flacco, has looked quite mediocre of late. But the Raiders have that cross-country trip and 10 a.m. Pacific time start, which rarely works out well. Plus, both RBs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson might sit.
San Francisco vs. St. Louis: The Rams are off a bye and have looked better this year, but not away from St. Louis. San Francisco perhaps could be peering toward next week’s Monday nighter against Chicago, but it won’t matter.
Pittsburgh vs. Kansas City (Monday): Will the Chiefs finally get a lead this week? Will anyone care? The Steelers have won 14 straight at home on Monday nights. They won’t have Troy Polamalu again and most definitely could overlook the Chiefs with Baltimore up next. But I just can’t see a loss.
Miami vs. Tennessee: I really wish the Titans and Chiefs played this year, but alas, they don’t. I’m starting to believe a bit in the Fins, but there are better choices out there. Tennessee could finally play with some fire after owner Bud Adams put everyone on the franchise on notice after last week’s debacle vs. Chicago.
Seattle vs. NY Jets: Took the Seahawks last week so I couldn’t go there again. But I wouldn’t bet against them at home. If the Jets lose off a bye week for their third straight defeat and fourth in five games, the Rex Ryan watch officially begins.
Indianapolis at Jacksonville (Thursday): This SCREAMS trap game. We all know these quick turnarounds heavily favor the home team. The young Colts have won three straight and Andrew Luck is doing things no rookie QB has. But those three wins have been by 13 total points and the Jags got their only win in Week 2 at Indy. Of course, they had Maurice-Jones Drew then (he had a very big game) and don’t now.
NY Giants at Cincinnati: Pick your struggling QB, Eli Manning or Andy Dalton. In the past four games, Manning has thrown two touchdowns and four interceptions and his passer rating has dropped each week. “Mr. Fourth Quarter” completed just 1-of-5 passes for a yard and was sacked twice in Sunday’s loss to the Steelers. Cincinnati, meanwhile, looks lost and is on a four-game skid. I don’t blame Dalton: It’s time for Marvin Lewis to go.
Detroit at Minnesota: If this were in Detroit, I would probably make the Lions my top choice this week, but not at Minnesota. Yes, I know the Vikings won 20-13 in Detroit in Week 4. But the wheels have fallen off for Christian Ponder since then. He passed for 63 yards in Seattle on Sunday, his second game in the past three with less than 70. Coach Leslie Frazier says he won’t bench his 2011 first-round pick, but he might be forced to. Also, Vikes star WR Percy Harvin is likely out. Matthew Stafford and the Lions seem to have figured things out, but I still don’t trust them on the road.
Atlanta at New Orleans: I’m flat-out calling a Saints win here (I bet they are favored by Sunday). The 1972 Dolphins can pop their champagne and toast the defeat of the NFL’s lone unbeaten.
Tampa Bay vs. San Diego: Doug “the Muscle Hamster” Martin is a beast, but I’m not buying the Bucs yet. Yes, they have won three of four, but they were against the Chiefs, Vikings and Raiders, and none of that trio will finish above .500. As for the Chargers? Cowboys West. Never trust them.
Denver at Carolina: You think former Panthers coach John Fox would like to stick it to his previous franchise? Peyton Manning has been unbelievable, but I mentioned last week I thought Carolina was much better than its record and it handled the Redskins. Might be just the impetus that Cam Newton needed.
Philadelphia vs. Dallas: The two most overhyped, underperforming franchises since the start of last season. Yet because it’s Eagles-Cowboys, it’s a national telecast and gets Fox TV’s top broadcast team. At least we know the loser is totally done at 3-6 and we can stop talking about that team.
Chicago vs. Houston: Obviously only here because it’s a tremendous matchup that could be a Super Bowl preview. The way the Bears are going, they might tie the NFL single-season record for interception returns for scores by halftime on Sunday night (two from tying).
I couldn’t find a game to put under this ledger – after all, the Browns are off. But there is only one game in Week 10 involving two teams with losing records and it’s Eagles-Cowboys. And that’s still must-see TV only because both franchises are imploding – to the delight of much of America -- and both probably undergo overhauls this offseason.
I would go in the order of the selections under the “good” above, although I have recommended the top three already and thus would pick Pittsburgh even though I don’t like relying on Monday night games.
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