What did we say before guiding you to victory last week?
To paraphrase: “Have a short memory and get ready for Week 9.”
We put a disappointing Week 8 behind us where we went 0-3 in the primetime games and bounced back in exceptional fashion. We flipped the switch like a championship fighter and swept the primetime games with blowout victories from the Saints, Steelers and Colts when the lights were bright last week.
What do championship fighters do when they have their opponents on the ropes? They bury them.
We turn to Week 10, 68-63-2 overall, and Vegas is backed against the turnbuckle and it’s wobbling. Let’s finish him.
Cleveland at Cincinnati (-6)
Another Thursday night divisional game to set the tone for the week. Here’s a stat that will make you feel warm and bubbly with the winter weather approaching: Rookie head coaches are 0-3, losing by an average of 23 points on Thursday Night Football this year. The Browns have played five of their eight games at home so far and are 1-2 on the road, with a loss to Jacksonville and a one-point win at Tennessee. A.J. Green is back and healthy and Jeremy Hill is ready to rumble after a monster game against the Jaguars.
THE PICK: Bengals (-6)
Dallas (-6) at Jacksonville
This is the third and final game across the pond over in London. It was tough to get a mid-week line on this game with the questionable status of Tony Romo. Brandon Weeden looked atrocious in the Cowboy’s Week 9 loss to Arizona. If Romo made the long flight over the Atlantic one would think he’d suit up for a must-win against the hapless Jags. Even if he doesn’t, DeMarco Murray should have a monster game. Blake Bortles has really been struggling; It’s tough to back him on a neutral field.
THE PICK: Cowboys (-6)
Miami at Detroit (-3)
Don’t let Detroit’s record (6-2) fool you here. They needed their opposition to collapse in the final minutes of their last two games to walk away with victories. Sure, they are getting their playmakers Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush back from injury, but this is a perfect spot for a letdown after the bye week. Both teams bring superior defenses with them into this contest, but the X-factor is Ryan Tannehill. He’s playing better football than Matthew Stafford and Miami is playing inspired ball for their coach who recently loss his father.
THE PICK: Dolphins (+3)
Kansas City (-2) at Buffalo
This game has HUGE playoff implications and the Bills haven’t been in the playoff discussion this late in the season in a long time. They are also off their bye week and host a team who is on fire in Kansas City, winning five of their last six games. The Bills backfield is beat up and Sammy Watkins injured his groin in practice on Wednesday. If the Bills home field advantage is worth approximately three points then Vegas must really believe Kansas City is the better team.
THE PICK: Chiefs (-2)
San Francisco at New Orleans (-4.5)
Wow, the San Francisco 49ers are reeling. They made us look bad backing them, laying double-digit points at home to the St. Louis Rams and lost outright, despite holding the Rams to almost nothing offensively. The Saints can smell blood in the NFC South and another win will put them in position to run away with the division the last eight weeks. Plus, the Saints just don’t lose at home.
THE PICK: Saints (-4.5)
Tennessee at Baltimore (-10)
Tennessee isn’t a very good football team this year, but they’ve made a change at quarterback and are off a bye week looking to finish strong. The Ravens on the other hand are reeling and their secondary is in shambles after Big Ben ripped them for a half-dozen touchdowns last week. Tennessee should show life in this one and the back door is open.
THE PICK: Titans (+10)
Pittsburgh (-5) at New York Jets
A million points and a million touchdowns for Big Ben and the Steelers at home the last two weeks should result in a blowout this week at the hands of the Jets. But some things about the NFL make no sense. It’s the perfect time to fade the Steelers as they’ve played nearly flawless football the last two weeks and the Jets are pathetically done. Michael Vick has helped the offense since being named the starter and Troy Polamalu won’t play on Sunday. Trap game.
THE PICK: Jets (+5)
Atlanta (-1.5) at Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay decided their season is over and has gone back to Josh McCown. Its not like Mike Glennon was playing bad, but he wasn’t exactly winning games. McCown stunk earlier this year, especially in the Week 3 embarrassment at the hands of the Falcons, but he’s a consummate pro who’s been around the league for some time. Mike Evans has emerged as a deadly receiver and Bobby Rainey gives the Bucs a better shot to win than Doug Martin does. Atlanta’s season went down the tubes with the last-second loss to Detroit in London. I’ll be surprised if they show up for this one.
THE PICK: Bucs (+1.5)
Denver (-11.5) at Oakland
We’d be wasting your time to sit here and write an analysis on how to back the Raiders in this one. There is none. We have tried before and we’ve failed miserably, embarrassingly backing the silver and black. The hope here is that the Broncos and Peyton Manning are ticked from playing a horrendous game against the Patriots and will look to beat up on their hapless divisional foe. Denver should get way ahead in this one and we have to guard against the back door.
THE PICK: Broncos (-11.5)
St. Louis at Arizona (-7)
Two straight divisional wins for the Rams. Can they make it three? The Rams defense has turned it up a notch as they harassed Colin Kaepernick all game last Sunday and will try to do the same against Carson Palmer in the desert. Jeff Fisher gets the most out of his team even when it seems they have nothing to play for. Austin Davis will play better in this game, because frankly he can’t play much worse. Arizona is the better team, but a familiar divisional foe usually results in a close game as the Rams last two games have gone. Not to mention the classic letdown by the Cardinals after the statement win in Dallas.
THE PICK: Rams (+7)
New York Giants at Seattle (-9)
The Giants stink. That is about all the analysis needed for this matchup. Seattle isn’t blowing people away either, but it’s desperation time if they want to keep pace with the Cardinals. If you watched the Monday Night game in New York there’s no way you can back them going across the country to the toughest place to play in the league.
THE PICK: Seahawks (-9)
Chicago at Green Bay (-7)
Both teams are off their bye weeks and both are looking to rebound from losses. The Bears moreso than the Packers need to win this game as they were humiliated two weeks ago in New England. Aaron Rodgers tweaked his hamstring, but says he’s fine for the upcoming matchup with the Bears, who he OWNS. He’s 9-2 against Chicago the last five years and Jay Cutler simply doesn’t beat the Packers too often. It would be easy to say the Bears are desperate for a win, but it also seems like there is turmoil and tension inside the locker room that’s keeping them from playing their best football.
THE PICK: Packers (-7)
Carolina at Philadelphia (-6)
The storyline here is Mark Sanchez filling in for injured Nick Foles for possibly the rest of the season. He looked good in backup duty last week, leading the Eagles to a road victory in Houston. The Panthers will have eight days to prepare for Sanchez’s tendencies and if they want to make the playoffs they have to win this game after their horrible showing last Thursday night at home against the Saints. They have 11 days in between games and are desperate for a win.
THE PICK: Panthers (+6)
Best of luck in Week 10!