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Week Ten Picks

November 10th, 2016

It feels like I’d have to be pretty damned tone deaf to lead off with bashing myself over my performance picking football games in the immediate wake of the American electorate’s miserable failure picking a president. So I’ll just present the W-L numbers straight up. (There’s no electoral college to invert the results here, either, so I’ve got to live with the raw data.)

In week nine, I went 8-5 picking straight up, 6-6-1 against the spread. For the season, that gets me to 79-52-2 (.602) straight up, 60-71-2 (.451) against the spread.

Moving on to week 10, here’s what not to expect.

Cleveland (+10) at Baltimore
If you can beat a team by five points in their building, you ought to be able to beat them by 10 in your own, right? Let’s add a few for the traveling on a short week disadvantage and call it Ravens by 13.

Houston (-1.5) at Jacksonville
There are only two teams in the NFL that have worse giveaway-takeaway differentials than the Texans’ -7. One of them is the Jaguars, who sit at the bottom of the barrel at -12. This is not the stuff good fooball games are made of. These teams that are not nearly so different as you might imagine if all you know is that Houston is leading the AFC South at 5-3 while Jacksonville is in the tank at 2-6. If you’re forced to watch, you should expect to see a sloppy game that ends with one squad or the other falling backward into victory. I guess I’ll take the visitors, since their ineptitude has proven less damaging to this point in the season. Texans by one.

Kansas City (+3) at Carolina
The Chiefs defense leads the league in interceptions with 12. Cam Newton‘s rocking an unimpressive interception percentage of 2.5. Kansas City wins this game by four.

Denver (+1.5) at New Orleans
This makes the second straight week in which the Broncos are on the road facing one of the league’s most productive quarterbacks and one of the league’s highest scoring offenses. They wilted last week. I expect much of the same again, though the Saints D should allow the Broncos at least to keep it a bit more competitive. New Orleans by a field goal.

Los Angeles (+1.5) at NY Jets
Even the Jets aren’t bad enough to lose a home game to the Rams. Probably. I think. New Jersey by three.

Atlanta (even) at Philadelphia
Each of these teams are about as unbalanced  as they come. The Falcons are all offense. The Eagles are all D. That should probably even out as they go head-to-head. But here’s something else to consider: Unbalanced Atlanta has, by and large, overcome better opposition in its six wins than unbalanced Philadelphia has in its four. I think the difference shows in this game. Falcons by six.

Minnesota (+3) at Washington
I can’t jump off the Vikings bandwagon. That’s mostly because I was never on it to begin with. But I still think Minnesota gets off the schneid this week. Vikings by two.

Green Bay (-2.5) at Tennessee
I don’t have any better idea than anyone else of what’s really wrong with the Packers. I know it doesn’t appear to be their run defense. Except, you know, when they face teams with a strong ground game. Titans by a point.

Chicago (even) at Tampa Bay
Check out this expert analysis: It’s a near certainty that one of these teams is just bad enough to lose to the other. You can’t get it that good anywhere else, folks. Home team by three.

Miami (+4) at San Diego
Fresh off three straight wins in Miami (to round out a four-game home stand) the Dolphins get back to losing on the road. Chargers by a touchdown.

San Francisco (+13.5) at Arizona
Let’s see if I have anything interesting to say about this game. Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. Nope. I’m empty. Cardinals by 17.

Dallas (+2.5) at Pittsburgh
I have absolutely no doubt that once Ben Roethlisberger is back to full health, the Steelers will be a dangerous team again. But the most recent evidence I have suggests that Roethlisberger isn’t quite there. Dallas by a field goal.

Seattle (+7.5) at New England
The Seahawks, who have managed one win over a good opponent all season (a week six nail-biter at home over Atlanta), travel across the country on six days rest to face the best team in the NFL. And, oh, yeah, the Patriots are coming off their bye. I’m not sure any of that bodes particularly well for Seattle. Neither do the big three predictive stats: Scoring differential, Patriots +3.6; passer rating differential, Patriots +9.8; takeaway-giveaway differential, Patriots +1. I’m not comfortable with the idea of giving more than a touchdown to a team with a defense as strong as the Seahawks’, though, so let’s say New England by six.

Cincinnati (+2.5) at NY Giants
The home team is the better team. I don’t think much more needs to be said. Giants by four.

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