Bleacher Report’s Expert Consensus Week 10 NFL Picks
There’s a great slate of NFL football in Week 10 as teams start to reveal their true selves. The days of fine-tuning or figuring out team chemistry are over. Now is the time to turn around poor starts. Teams that heat up could stay hot right into the playoffs.
The game of the week is easily the Chicago Bears versus the the Houston Texans. Both teams are at the top of their games with defenses that can harass any quarterback. The pressure will be on Jay Cutler and Matt Schaub. Whomever handles that pressure best should go home with a victory.
The Dallas Cowboys-Philadelphia Eagles showdown could get any number of people fired, depending on who loses.
Who did our experts pick in those games and the rest? Click forward to find out.
Our B/R Panel of Experts
Note: All betting odds are for informational purposes only and courtesy of Statfox.com. Although spreads are provided, all picks are straight-up.
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
B/R Consensus: Colts (10-1)
Vegas: Colts (-3)
The Colts are a different team on the road, but it’s hard to rationalize the Andrew Luck we saw last week doing anything less than trouncing the Jaguars.
Andrew Luck is simply playing at a higher level than any rookie quarterback should. His decision-making, accuracy, pocket presence and moxie are everything the Jacksonville Jaguars wish they had in Blaine Gabbert. The Jaguars will get a close look at a real franchise quarterback this week.
Andrew Luck and the Colts are on a magical ride that figures to continue as they look to avenge their Week 3 loss to Jacksonville. The Jags are just not a very good team offensively, and while their defense will probably keep this close for a while, I just don’t see them being able to score enough points to beat a Colts team that has found an identity while rallying around not only their star-in-the-making quarterback but their inspirational head coach as well.
The home-field advantage is so strong for Thursday night games that I’m actually taking the Jags here. Most advanced metrics say the two teams are about equal, so I’m taking the home squad.
New York Giants vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
B/R Consensus: Giants (10-1)
Vegas: Giants (-4)
I say this almost every week either here or in our video previews: The Bengals don’t beat teams that don’t roll over for them. On paper, maybe the Bengals have a chance here, but Andy Dalton vs. Eli Manning? C’mon, man!
The Bengals actually match up well with the Giants, but their offensive line hasn’t been good enough this season to warrant faith in Andy Dalton this week. The Giants should roll to a win.
This would have been a potential trap for the Giants against an unpredictable Bengals team on the road, but I can’t see Tom Coughlin’s guys losing back-to-back games right now. A Manning will take advantage of that mediocre pass defense for the second week in a row.
The Bengals are on a downward spiral they aren’t going to get themselves out of this week when they host the New York Giants. The Giants are going to be playing angry after falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 9, but that isn’t the only reason why they’ll win.
The Giants are simply the better team, and though the better team doesn’t always win, they will this week against a Bengals team that has a lot of work to do.
Tennessee Titans vs. Miami Dolphins
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
B/R Consensus: Dolphins (Unanimous)
Vegas: Dolphins (-6)
Taken together, Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker don’t have the talent that Andrew Luck needed to beat the Dolphins last week. The Titans were embarrassed against the Bears, and that embarrassment should continue for at least one more week.
Fresh off a tail-whipping from the Chicago Bears, the Titans will be fired up, but against a stout run defense in Miami, they won’t be able to move the ball or generate the points needed to compete.
The Dolphins have to be looking forward to getting the bad taste out of their mouths after losing a winnable game in Indy. The Titans are just what the doctor ordered. Titans owner Bud Adams put the entire organization on notice after last week’s embarrassing loss to the Bears, but it won’t matter. They’re too inconsistent in every phase of the game, but especially on defense, and the current coaching staff has no answers.
Tennessee plays like a team that has quit on the season. Miami’s defense is too good, and Ryan Tannehill should have a field day against the porous Titans’ secondary.
After having their three-game winning streak snapped, the Dolphins have a prime opportunity to start a new win streak against a soft Titans team. The Titans haven’t shown the ability to stop anything, and their offense simply isn’t potent enough in the passing game to take advantage of Miami’s weaknesses on the back end.
Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings
Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
B/R Consensus: Lions (7-4)
Vegas: Lions (-2)
Winning at the Metrodome is never easy. It is loud, louder than you think of when you hear the word “loud.” So, this is somewhat of a trap game for a Lions team that has had trouble with offensive execution. That said, they are meeting the Vikings at a perfect time and should be able to harass Christian Ponder enough to get another victory.
The Vikings have lost two straight, Percy Harvin is on crutches and Christian Ponder looks shaky. The Vikings will still get the win. Their secondary can contain Calvin Johnson, and Adrian Peterson can get enough production to secure the win.
The Vikings have to figure out a way to get Christian Ponder on track. OK, let me rephrase that: The VIkings have to hide Christian Ponder. It’s obviously not all Ponder, but now that Percy Harvin will most likely miss this game, the Lions will be stacking the box more than ever to stop Adrian Peterson and dare Ponder to beat them. As for the Lions on the other side of the ball, the worst thing they could do is to try to force things to Megatron. They can run the ball just enough to stay ahead of the sticks and make things easy on Matt Stafford.
This will be a close one. The Lions are on the rise while the Vikings are stumbling. But for me, this is a ”get right” game for the Vikings and a chance to get back on track. Adrian Peterson will carry the offense and grind out the clock to keep the Lions’ offense off the field.
Interestingly, both lead wide receivers are balky right now, though Calvin Johnson is more likely to play than Percy Harvin. Still, I expect a bounce-back week from the Vikings, who will get one more big play than the Lions in a coin-flip game.
Also Picking the Vikings: Frenz, Dunlevy.
Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots
Scott Heavey/Getty Images
B/R Consensus: Patriots (Unanimous)
Vegas: Patriots (-11)
New England just has too many weapons for the Bills. Seriously, it’s not if the Bills are going to lose, but how fantastically and which weapons the Patriots will use to apply the butt-whipping.
Following a bye, there’s no way the Patriots lose this one at home. The last time they played Buffalo, Tom Brady and company scored 52 points. This time around won’t be much different.
The one chance the Bills have here is if they are able to force a bunch of turnovers. They did it in the game they won in 2011, and they forced a few earlier this year. Of course, Tom Brady and company have other ideas. If Aaron Hernandez is able to go, I just don’t see the Bills slowing down him and Gronkowski. The two-headed tight-end monster has eaten up the Bills the last two years. Nothing much will change this week.
These teams are on opposite trajectories since the second half of their previous meeting. The Patriots have gone 4-1, the Bills have gone 1-4. Buffalo has been unwilling to run the ball, and the Bills will be unable to do it against a tough Patriots defense. This will be another shootout with the home team picking up the win.
Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
B/R Consensus: Falcons (10-1)
Vegas: Falcons (-1)
The Saints are rolling and may end up as the Falcons’ first huge test of the season. Still, when you lay these two teams out on paper, the Falcons can match up with all of Drew Brees‘ weapons and the Saints’ defense can’t say the same.
If you believe in trap games, this is one of them. The Falcons are traveling to New Orleans, where they will be facing the worst defense in the NFL, but a division rival that has nothing to lose. The Falcons will win, but only if they give the Saints the respect they deserve.
The Saints can’t tackle. They can run the ball and work off play-action. Expect a whole lot of that against a Falcons team that will be able to move up and down the field at will against a bad Saints defense. There’s no reason to pick the Saints here, except that it’s at home and divisional opponents always play each other tough. For one week at least, that gets it done for the Saints.
The Falcons are 8-0, but far from perfect. This team has holes to exploit, but it takes a good pass rush and pass defense to get it done. New Orleans has neither. This game will be closer than it should be because of the rivalry, but Atlanta has too much for the Saints to handle.
San Diego Chargers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
J. Meric/Getty Images
B/R Consensus: Buccaneers (8-3)
Vegas: Buccaneers (-3)
Man, whatever Greg Schiano has told this team to turn them around from their early-season struggles should be taped and put on repeat in every high school locker room in America. The Buccaneers finally look like the team they put together in the offseason.
The San Diego Chargers are good enough to beat Tampa, but not after traveling from coast to coast. Even off a long week, I can’t put my bet on Norv Turner.
The Chargers aren’t exactly consistent and they are coached by Norv Turner. But Philip Rivers and San Diego’s pass-catchers will be able to take advantage of a suspect Buccaneers secondary. Yes, Doug Martin will get his yards and Vincent Jackson will find the end zone against his old team. But Rivers and the Chargers have enough firepower to outlast the Bucs’ offense.
West Coast teams traveling to the East Coast and playing in the early game are at such a disadvantage that even the NFL has acknowledged that it may tweak the schedule in the future. Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams against San Diego’s pass defense is a huge mismatch, and Doug Martin tore through Oakland’s previously high-ranked run defense in Week 9.
You can bet that Jackson will also be ready for his former team. The Chargers beat the lowly Chiefs in Week 9 to save Norv Turner’s job, but the Chargers actually let them hang around for far a full three quarters thanks to another poor decision by Philip Rivers. The Bucs will win in a high-scoring affair.
Over the past four games, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been the best team in the NFC South. Josh Freeman has been brilliant, and the Bucs clearly found a gem in rookie running back Doug Martin.
Also Picking the Chargers: Frenz, Dunlevy.
Denver Broncos vs. Carolina Panthers
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
B/R Consensus: Broncos (Unanimous)
Vegas: Broncos (-4)
Peyton Manning might be the big name here, but it’s hard to see the Broncos doing anything but running it right up the Panthers’ gut all day long. If, somehow, Cam Newton is able to make it a shootout, that’s still right up Manning’s alley.
This one should get ugly. Even with as well as Carolina runs the ball and as poor as Denver is against a strong run game, there’s no way Peyton Manning doesn’t tear apart the Panthers’ defense.
The Panthers have played well on defense the past two weeks and they seem to have simplified things on offense. But I still don’t see this Carolina team being able to put together the complete effort that will be required to beat Peyton Manning and the Broncos. If the Broncos continue to get the kind of play from their defense they have the past few weeks, I don’t think this one will be close.
The Panthers got a taste of victory Sunday, but that won’t last long when their next opponent is Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Manning should exploit Carolina’s secondary and put up enough points to make Cam Newton have to play from behind and likely make mistakes.
Oakland Raiders vs. Baltimore Ravens
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
B/R Consensus: Ravens (Unanimous)
Vegas: Ravens (-7)
Wait, so the Raiders are traveling across country and people expect them to beat the Ravens? No, just no.
The Raiders have been experts at finding ways to shoot themselves in the foot. When playing a team as talented as Baltimore—even with injuries—you can’t afford to turn the ball over. Oakland will, and Baltimore will win.
The Ravens have a bad habit of letting bad teams hang around, from the Chiefs to the Browns. Is this the week offensive coordinator Cam Cameron features Ray Rice and tries to physically impose his team’s will on the opposition, instead of trying to make Joe Flacco into something he’s not? Probably not. But Carson Palmer and the Raiders won’t make them pay.
The Raiders could be without Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson. It’s another West Coast team traveling east, and the Raiders continue to play bad football even at home. Carson Palmer might find some success against Baltimore’s secondary, and the Raiders could get cornerback Ron Bartell and linebacker Aaron Curry back from injury, but there’s just not enough here to even think the game will be close. The Raiders have put together nice games against Pittsburgh and Atlanta, so maybe they have a rebound game…just don’t bet on it.
The Baltimore Ravens have yet to lose at home this year. They’re one of the better home-field teams in the league since Joe Flacco has been their quarterback. Plus, the notoriously hard trip from the West Coast to the East Coast should be a major stumbling block for the Raiders. This isn’t the Baltimore team of seasons past, but it should still manage to best the inconsistent Raiders.
New York Jets vs. Seattle Seahawks
Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
B/R Consensus: Seahawks (Unanimous)
Vegas: Seahawks (-6)
This game could be played at a neutral site on some orbiting moon of some far-off planet and I would still take the Seahawks’ tough and physical defense over Mark Sanchez and the Jets’ excuse for an offense. In Seattle, with that crowd, this could be a rout.
The Seahawks are perfect at home this year. That streak will continue as the NFL’s most dangerous secondary tears apart Mark Sanchez. The over/under should be set at three Sanchez interceptions.
The Seahawks always play much better at home, and the Jets’ offense has enough problems of its own when it’s not facing one of the best defenses in the league. The Jets’ run defense has trended upward in the past few games, but will it be enough to slow down the hard-charging Marshawn Lynch in front of a riled-up Seattle crowd? I don’t like New York’s chances.
Even though the Jets are coming off a much-needed bye week, it won’t matter. Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seahawks’ offense have been unstoppable at home. Wilson is 4-0 at CenturyLink Field—his touchdown to interception ratio is 9-0 and his quarterback rating is an astonishing 118.2. The ‘Hawks will win big for the second week in a row.
St. Louis Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
B/R Consensus: 49ers (Unanimous)
Vegas: 49ers (-11.5)
The Rams have one of the worst offensive lines in the league and the Niners have an incredible ability to rush the passer with fewer players than many teams need to use. The Rams could keep this score closer (and lower) than Vegas thinks, but the Niners should win fairly easily.
A bye week for both teams allowed plenty of rest, but that won’t change the outcome. The Rams last game was an embarrassing takedown by the New England Patriots. It’s hard to see this one having a different result.
The 49ers and Rams are on opposite ends of the spectrum, but only for a little while longer. Jeff Fisher has his team headed in the right direction, while the 49ers are where St. Louis wants to be as a franchise. Alex Smith and Frank Gore will take turns putting this game away.
Both the Rams and 49ers are coming off bye weeks, so both teams should be well-rested. But St. Louis will need more than rest if it plans plan on beating Jim Harbaugh’s club at home. San Francisco looked dominant against the Cardinals two weeks ago. Its offense is clicking on all cylinders and its defense has only allowed nine points in its last two games. The 49ers will roll.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
B/R Consensus: Cowboys (6-5)
Vegas: Eagles (-1)
Against almost any other team, I would be picking against the Cowboys this week. Honestly, I think it’s the beginning of the end for both of these teams, The head coach (or at least an assistant or two) could find themselves looking for work after a loss here. The ‘Boys will win because they should be able to keep Michael Vick on his back (or put him on the sidelines).
Two teams on the brink of calamity. The difference will be which quarterback has fewer turnovers, and there will be plenty of them. The Eagles get the edge here, thanks to LeSean McCoy and the speed of their offense against a banged-up Dallas defense.
This battle of NFC East also-rans is going to be tough to watch. Neither offense has any semblance of continuity, rather each lurch from concept to concept hoping to find something that works. It’s hard to watch. Equally hard to watch is the Eagles trying to tackle people. Dallas wins simply because it can actually play defense.
I still believe the Eagles are flat-out more talented than the Cowboys, and they took both meetings with Dallas last season. Philly should prevail at home in a hard-fought game between two desperate teams.
Also Picking the Eagles: Hangst, Hansen, Langland.
Houston Texans vs. Chicago Bears
Bob Levey/Getty Images
B/R Consensus: Bears (8-3)
Vegas: Bears (-1.5)
A few weeks ago, it would’ve been absurd to pick against the Texans. But the Bears’ defense is the best in football, and their offense is starting to click. The Texans can beat anyone if they execute, but the Bears should be able to jump out in front pretty quickly and stay there.
The loss of Brian Cushing will be felt against the Chicago Bears. Solider Field is a tough place to play no matter the time of year, but in the cold of mid-November, with the Bears’ defense playing as well as any in the NFL, Houston will run into a brick wall and suffer its second loss of the season.
The Texans and Bears have spent most of the year beating up on lesser teams, although Houston did beat the Broncos, and the Bears, well, the Bears haven’t beat anybody of consequence. Yes, their defense has been lights-out, but the Texans are specifically built to take advantage of the way the Bears like to keep their safeties deep. Arian Foster will open up things for Matt Schaub and Owen Daniels in a big way.
Houston is a very good team, but I think the Bears are the best in football. They’ve hammered the AFC this year and have the corners to make things difficult for the Texans’ passing game.
Another coin-flip game, but ultimately I think people are underrating the Bears. They finally have an offense going and the defense is the best in the league. While J.J. Watt is a playmaker and will give Gabe Carimi and J’Marcus Webb fits on the line, ultimately the Bears can overcome this by using Matt Forte and Michael Bush early and often.
Meanwhile, the Bears’ defense will have to shut down Arian Foster, no small feat I’ll admit. But it’s a task I firmly believe this defense can accomplish. Put Peanut Tillman on Andre Johnson and the biggest issue will be Owen Daniels, whom I think they can contain. This is going to be a tough game, a fun game to watch and will truly tell us exactly how good these two teams are. The answer is probably ”very” in both cases, but we’ll see.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
B/R Consensus: Steelers (Unanimous)
Vegas: Steelers (-12)
All of a sudden, the Steelers look like playoff contenders, and the Chiefs, well, the Chiefs look like they should start scouting QBs to take with the first overall pick. The Steelers should win this one and by a big margin.
This won’t be pretty. The Chiefs are self-destructing in every way possible. The Steelers, on the other hand, are getting hot. Todd Haley’s revenge will be exacted on the Chiefs, as his Steelers’ offense produces big plays and plenty of points.
It’s possible that Romeo Crennel fired himself as defensive coordinator after he saw how the Steelers ran through the Giants on Sunday. Even if he made the decision after last Thursday’s 31-13 loss to the Chargers, my guess as to what went through his head when he saw that Steelers-Giants film was this: “Oh, heck no. I’m out.” Things will get late real early for the Chiefs in this one.
Kansas City is the worst team in the NFL, and though anything can happen, the Chiefs winning this Monday in Pittsburgh isn’t a possibility. The Steelers showed in Week 9 they remain a perennial playoff contender, and they should again display this in Week 10, handily defeating the Chiefs (as they should).
- NFL Week 10: NFC SOUTH (searchsportsnews.wordpress.com)