Each and every team has reached its midway point, with the Atlanta Falcons the only to be undefeated after eight games. Last week’s victory over the Cowboys was an ugly, grind-it-out performance, but an impressive one, as Atlanta kept Dallas out of the end zone until the fourth quarter. This week, the undefeated Falcons travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints in a divisional battle that promises to be high scoring. Elsewhere, the NFL Week 10 picks contain some high octane match-ups, most notably the Texans and Bears, who will battle on Sunday night.
The Cowboys and Eagles renew its heated rivalry, with each team in a must win situation. Eli Manning and the Giants travel to Cincinnati, while brother Peyton travels to Carolina to take on Cam Newton and the Panthers.
Over in the “Pick Your Knows” department, it was a solid week, as I managed eight victories and upped my win total to 73, which is good for 14 games over the .500-mark. In the end, it was my gutsy picks of Arizona and Cincinnati that didn’t pan out, setting me back slightly.
Last Week: 8-6
This Season: 73-59
Last Two Seasons: 144-112 (2010) and 131-125 (2011)
It’s once again time to “Pick Your Knows” – the only time it’s not a disgusting habit – and here are Week 10’s scheduled games (with spreads as they appear through CBS Sports Fantasy).
Pick Your Knows: 2012 NFL Week 10 Picks Against the Spread
Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars (+3.5)
Andrew Luck is coming off a rookie record passing performance, throwing for 434 yards against Miami, while the Jags are still without its best offensive weapon in Maurice Jones-Drew. MJD’s absence makes it clear why the Colts have the 3½-point edge, even when playing on the road. Still, it’s a tricky line as Indy doesn’t blow opponents out and Luck is still learning. But the Jags have the league’s worst pass offense (170.4 ypg) and no MJD to spark the ground game, leaving it hard to pick Jacksonville in any game where the spread is this low. Andrew Luck will ride last week’s momentum. Colts cover.
KP’s Pick: Indianapolis
Update: Colts 27, Jaguars 10 – Andrew Luck ran for two scores and the Colts continued its momentum, dominating the Jags on the road and improving to 6-3 on the season.
Oakland Raiders at Baltimore Ravens (-7.5)
Darren McFadden is doubtful with a leg injury, meaning that Oakland’s most potent offensive weapon is likely out. Baltimore’s offense has sputtered some as of late, but overall, the Ravens have been exceptional when playing at home. Doug Martin torched the Oakland run defense last week. Baltimore always builds its offense around Ray Rice, and it’s a good possibility that the Ravens will have plenty of success running the ball. Oakland will need to rely on Carson Palmer, and the Ravens have given up its fair share of pass yards, but the Baltimore defense has also managed 9 INT’s while allowing just 6 touchdowns. With no McFadden, bank on the Ravens to cover at home.
KP’s Pick: Baltimore
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (+2.5)
Detroit’s offense is flourishing over the last few weeks, and currently sits as the top pass offense in the NFL (307.2 ypg). The Vikings have the home field advantage and the league’s top rusher in Adrian Peterson. Expect the Vikings to try to control the clock with the run game, while the Lions try to score points early and often to force Minnesota into a shootout. The Vikings are clearly not a shootout team, especially considering Christian Ponder’s recent struggles. To make things worse, Percy Harvin is questionable with an ankle sprain. Harvin’s absence would be a huge hit on the Minnesota offense. The Vikings’ pass defense is 9th in yards allowed, but has given up 14 TD’s with just 4 picks. I like Minnesota at home, but I like the Detroit offense even more, especially if Percy Harvin is hampered or off the field entirely – and that’s why I see Detroit covering on the road in a key divisional game.
KP’s Pick: Detroit
San Diego Chargers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.5)
San Diego has had a few extra days to rest and prepare for the Bucs, but Tampa Bay’s offense is cruising over the last month. Doug Martin destroyed the Oakland run defense last week and Josh Freeman has 11 touchdowns over his last four games. The Chargers – as they have been for years under Norv Turner – are a streaky, Jekyll and Hyde team. San Diego has the extra rest, but as many have noted, traveling from the west coast to the east coast is often a challenge for teams. The key with Tampa Bay is that they are dead last versus the pass and at the top of the league in rushing yards allowed. With this spread and this matchup, it’s more of a gut call for me. Plain and simple, I don’t trust San Diego under Norv Turner, and the Tampa Bay offense has been red hot of late. Tampa Bay covers at home, but barely.
KP’s Pick: Tampa Bay
Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins (-6.5)
Jake Locker is expected to get his first start since late September. The Titans have actually been a very balanced team over the last month and have gained more than double the yards on the ground when compared to Miami. That balance combined with Jake Locker’s ability to run will provide a challenge for the Miami defense. Five of Miami’s last six games have been decided by four points or fewer, the lone exception being a blowout win against the Jets. The Dolphins have been solid on defense, but Tennessee has been balanced thanks to solid play by Chris Johnson. Considering Miami’s general history on the year, I’m expecting this to be a close game. Take the Titans and the points.
KP’s Pick: Tennessee
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints (+3.5)
Will the real Saints please stand up? Actually, last week’s performance can be put on Philly’s O-line, plus the fact that the Eagles put up a lot of yards, but failed miserably in the red zone. Simply said, the New Orleans defense is not cured, and is still giving up a lot of yards to opponents. The Saints have had success in this series, winning three straight, but the undefeated Falcons haven’t had the chance to face this sub-par New Orleans defense. Each team is jam-packed with offensive weapons, likely leading to a shootout on the turf in New Orleans. But with the spread this low, it’s hard to imagine Atlanta allowing the Saints to keep it at a field goal or less. Falcons win by a touchdown or more.
KP’s Pick: Atlanta
Denver Broncos at Carolina Panthers (+3.5)
Peyton Manning (20 TD, 6 INT) is putting up MVP-like numbers while Cam Newton (6 TD, 8 INT) is suffering through a bit of a sophomore slump. Carolina has played better over the last few weeks, but the Broncos have been on a solid stretch, scoring in bunches. The Broncos have the NFL’s fourth-ranked passing offense, while Carolina counters with a middle-of-the-road bunch that has allowed only 9 TD’s, but managed just six picks. Denver has held opponents to 10 sacks on the season and with plenty of time and a secondary that doesn’t do a lot of ball hawking, it’s hard to imagine Manning not continuing Denver’s offensive onslaught. Broncos cover on the road.
KP’s Pick: Denver
New York Giants at Cincinnati Bengals (+4.5)
Hakeem Nicks was a question mark early in the week, but appears primed to hit the field on Sunday. Still, New York’s offense has struggled over the last few weeks while the Bengals are fighting a current losing streak. Eli Manning had the opportunity to talk to brother Peyton, who faced the Bengals last week. That could mean an advantage for the Giants. Both teams fall into the top ten in sacks, meaning likely pressure against each quarterback. A.J. Green is talking some trash with the New York defense, but his talent is elite, and could still see plenty of success. New York does have 17 INT’s on the year, meaning Andy Dalton will need to be on his game. Still, Cincy has outgained its opponents in five of its last six games. This is a tricky line and this honestly may be the last time I pick the Bengals, as they have burned me twice in recent weeks. I’m taking Cincy and the points.
KP’s Pick: Cincinnati
Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (-11.5)
The Pats are coming off a bye week and will have plenty of rest and time to prep for its home game against the Bills. Earlier in the season, New England trounced Buffalo by 24 points. Buffalo’s run game is 6th in the NFL and New England’s run defense is 7th. This puts pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick and the pass game to perform on the road. Since Buffalo’s offensive balance could be hindered some, that leaves Fitzpatrick to have to compete against Tom Brady and New England’s potent offense. That seems unlikely, and playing with a week of prep, this one looks like another blowout for the Pats.
KP’s Pick: New England
New York Jets at Seattle Seahawks (-6.5)
The Jets are coming off a bye week, while the Seahawks are deadly (and undefeated) at home. The key matchup will be a unique one, with Mark Sanchez facing former college coach Pete Carroll. Carroll knows all of Sanchez’s strengths and weaknesses, which should lead to an advantage for Seattle. The Seahawks also thrive off Marshawn Lynch and the run game, which is 7th in the NFL, averaging nearly 140 yards per game on the ground. New York’s run defense is ranked 29th and the Jets are also 29th in sacks, which means Russell Wilson could have some comfort in the pocket. Seattle’s pass defense has held opponents to a 75.8 QB rating on the year, too. The Jets have had a week off, but all signs point to Seattle remaining undefeated at home. Seahawks cover.
KP’s Pick: Seattle
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5)
The Eagles are a mess right now, with the offensive line unable to protect Mike Vick, to the whole team being unable to play turnover-free football or score in the red zone. Dallas is having turnover problems of its own, specifically through Tony Romo, who has 13 interceptions on the season. Philadelphia had a players only meeting last week, only to follow that with a double-digit road loss to the Saints. The Dallas offense has been very one-dimensional with DeMarco Murray injured. Still, Philly’s defense is 30th in sacks (with 12) and Tony Romo should limit his mistakes with time to throw. That, plus New Orleans was able to mow down the Eagles’ defense last week. The Cowboys have just as many weapons. Dallas wins on the road.
KP’s Pick: Dallas
St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers (-11.5)
Both teams are coming off a bye week, allowing for plenty of rest and preparation. The Niners are very dangerous at home. San Francisco has a potent defense, meshed with an offense that loves to run the ball and chew up clock. Therefore, a high-scoring affair is highly unlikely. That leaves a high spread that would easily be in jeopardy if the Rams find a way to get a touchdown on defense or special teams. The 49ers are second in pass defense and first in rushing offense. The Rams have allowed 23 sacks (6th most in the NFL), which is where this one could get dicey for St. Louis. But again, with a spread this high in a run heavy game, I’m banking on Jeff Fisher to find a way to get the Rams in the end zone, which would mean the San Francisco offense would have to score more than 21 points to cover. Take the Rams and the points.
KP’s Pick: St. Louis
Houston Texans at Chicago Bears (-1.5)
Both teams have just one loss on the season, each falling to the Packers. Each is strong and balanced, as easily visible in KP’s latest edition of NFL Power Rankings (Texans are #1, Bears are #2). Charles Tillman may miss the game due to the birth of his child. Tillman recently said that he plans to play on Sunday and that the baby is due on Monday, but everyone knows the unpredictability of such a situation. Look at the trenches, where both teams are 3rd in sacks with 25. Chicago is also 3rd in sacks allowed (28). The Texans have allowed only 10 sacks, the second fewest in the NFL. Every critic knows the types of performances that Jay Cutler can have when facing difficult defenses. The chance for multiple picks and mistakes is there. This one should be a dandy, and I’m taking the Texans, because of the sacks stat, plus Cutler’s history. In a tossup game, Houston wins.
KP’s Pick: Houston
Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers (-12.5)
This could be tricky as the Chiefs have had a few extra days to rest and prepare, but as a whole, they have been a disaster this season. Kansas City’s lone strength has been its run game, which ranks 3rd in the league, averaging nearly 150 yards per game. But top back Jamaal Charles is questionable for Monday’s game. For Pittsburgh, both Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer are practicing, which could mean an increase in running depth. WR Antonio Brown is out, but the Steelers have plenty of other weapons to throw to. With the run game potentially hampered, the Chiefs may need to lean on its pass game more. But Pittsburgh’s pass defense is first in the NFL, allowing just 174 ypg. The Steelers will also be playing at home in front of a juiced up crowd. When you add it all up, this game has the makings of a blowout. Steelers cover and win by at least two touchdowns.
KP’s Pick: Pittsburgh
Bye Week: Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals and Washington Redskins