Friday, November 9, 2018

NFL Week 10 Primer (With Picks): Winning Streaks

The Steelers started off Week 10 with a bang, pummeling the Panthers by 31 points. Ben Roethlisberger had one of the best nights of his career, posting a perfect passer rating (158.3), and throwing more touchdown passes (5) than incompletions (3). The 328 pass yards and zero turnovers were a nice touch. One of our editors was very right about that game, and one was very, very wrong...
By Jeremy Conlin (@jeremy_conlin) and Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

The Los Angeles Chargers have won five consecutive games.

After last night, the Pittsburgh Steelers have won five consecutive games.

The New England Patriots have won six consecutive games.

The Houston Texans have won six consecutive games.

The New Orleans Saints have won seven consecutive games.

Entering last weekend, the Los Angeles Rams had won eight consecutive games.

That's a lot of pretty long streaks, isn't it?

And that's not even it.

Atlanta has won three straight. Washington had won three straight before losing to those Falcons last week. Kansas City has won three straight, and won five straight to open the season. Carolina had won three straight entering last night.

As the season progresses, it seems more and more like the good teams are separating themselves from the pack. All of those teams listed above (save for Washington, who lost three starters to IR last week alone and might be in trouble, and Atlanta, who has a terrible defense) seem like sure-fire playoff teams and legitimate contenders to reach their conference championship game (or better).

The problem seems to be, though, that the second-tier teams just aren't up to snuff. Baltimore's scoring margin is still one of the best in the league, but they're 4-5 and currently sit as the ninth-best team in the AFC. The battle for the sixth position in the NFC seems rather under-whelming. The Eagles, Vikings, Packers, Falcons, and Seahawks all seem vaguely in the mix, but they also seem to all be tripping over each other to not make the playoffs. We'll see where it goes.

Last Week was another good week for your heroes, agreeing on nine picks and going 6-3, and splitting our disagreements 2-2, continuing our trek back to .500 for the season. In fact, Joe is within striking distance. A particularly good week here just might do it.

Here Are The Picks We Agree On (Home Teams In CAPS)

Buffalo (+7) over NEW YORK JETS

JC: The Bills still have a halfway decent defense. Did they give up 41 points last week? Yes, technically. But two of those were defensive scores, the Bills committed four turnovers, leading to the Bears having an average starting field position of the 44 yard line. They only actually gave up 190 total yards. When the Bills turn the ball over fewer than twice, they're 2-0. If they can turn the game into a rock fight against Josh McCown, seven points seems doable.

JP: This should be ugly, and a touchdown is a lot to give for either of these teams.

Atlanta (-6) over CLEVELAND

JC: Atlanta's offense is undoubtedly finding their stride, putting up 1331 yards in their last three games. They've turned the ball over five times. Total. All season. Their four losses are to the Eagles, Steelers, Saints, and Bengals, and they've taken care of business against the bad teams. Cleveland firing their coach clearly didn't solve what ailed them so Atlanta giving less than a touchdown seems good here.

JP: Much like the Jets, I had dreams of the Browns being a feisty underdog (especially at home), but those hope have quickly faded.

New Orleans (-5.5) over CINCINNATI

JC: A.J. Green isn't playing? I'm no longer interested. I like Cincinnati as a value pick going forward, so long as their offense is healthy. I really like Tyler Boyd, I really, really like Joe Mixon (as a football player, at least). With Green out of the lineup, though, and Giovani Bernard's status still uncertain, I can't take this Bengals' defense against the hottest offense in football.

JP: New Orleans' offense is rolling enough that I'm willing to not care that Cincy is at home coming off a bye.

New England (-6.5) over TENNESSEE

JC: So, the Patriots seem like a buzz saw again, huh? This New England team blew this Tennessee team out of the water last January, and I just don't see this season's Tennessee team as any better than they were last year. If anything, they're worse. The one thing I can guarantee you is that the Patriots are going to attack Malcolm Butler here. He left on bad terms and he's having a bad season to boot. They're going to pick on him.

JP: This seems like a 21+ point Patriots win, doesn't it?

INDIANAPOLIS (-3) over Jacksonville

JC: It's been a month since the Jaguars resembled a professional football team. I have no problem with fading them until they do. The Colts, meanwhile, are actually on a bit of a roll - they have two straight blowout wins (against the Bills and Raiders, but still), and really haven't been overly embarrassed at any point this season. They might actually be good. I'm still not sold on the Texans, so this Colts team might be a player in the AFC South if they pick up a win here.

JP: Ugh. How did we get here, Jags? The scary thing is that the AFC South is still in reach for whichever team wins this game, but I think it will be the Colts, and Andrew Luck who is slowly rounding back into form.

CHICAGO (-7) over Detroit

JC: I'm on a roll picking Detroit games. Two in a row. Let's go for three. Their defense sucks and this Chicago team has a propensity to punish undisciplined defenses, especially when they can force turnovers and generate good field position.

JP: Yeah, the Lions' defense sucks, and they gave away their best offensive skill player. That, and I think the Bears are legitimately dangerous when the protect the football (not a given).

Here Are The Picks We Disagree On (Home Teams Still In CAPS)

JC: PITTSBURGH (-3.5) over Carolina


JP: Carolina (+3.5) over PITTSBURGH


JC: TAMPA BAY (-3) over Washington

As mentioned above, Washington lost both starting guards (Brandon Scherff and Shawn Lauvao) and wide receiver Paul Richardson for the season last week. On top of that, starting left tackle Trent Williams is out this week, as is utility back Chris Thompson. This team is in rough shape. Tampa Bay isn't exactly lighting the world on fire right now, but I just don't want to have to trust this version of this Washington team on the road.

JP: Washington (+3) over TAMPA BAY

I know Washington's O-line is beaten up, but do we really think this Bucs defense can stop anybody right now? I don't, and despite their immense skill talent, I'm not counting on the Bucs dropping 40 every week.

JC: GREEN BAY (-10) over Miami

The way I often make my picks is by predicting what the line of each game will be before I look them up. If I picked the line too big, I'll usually end up taking the favorite (If I thought I had to give a touchdown and I only have to give five and a half, that's value). Vice-versa, if I predict the line too low, I'll take the underdog (expecting to get a field goal and getting an extra point). When I'm off by a lot (two points or more), I almost always follow that rule, and I win those bets more often than I lose them. Here, though, I'm going the other way. I had this line in the six-to-seven range, so logic says I should take Miami getting double digits. But as soon as I saw the line, I realized that it made sense. This Miami team is NOT good. Don't let their record fool you. They're bad. The Packers still haven't lost at home this year, and I don't expect that to change here.

JP: Miami (+10) over GREEN BAY

I mean, Miami isn't GOOD, per se, but are we sure Green Bay is either? 10 points is pretty steep against a team that isn't bottom five in the league.

JC: KANSAS CITY (-16.5) over Arizona

I like nothing about this Arizona team. Literally nothing. I have no positives to mention. Even David Johnson isn't good. I don't want to talk about this game, I just want to move on.

JP: Arizona (+16.5) over KANSAS CITY

Can you feel that backdoor cover coming, baby?!

JC: Los Angeles Chargers (-10) over OAKLAND

I'm a bit late to the party, but holy good god is this Oakland team bad. Like, I knew they were bad, but for some reason, somehow, I was waiting for them to look like the 2016 team again that went 12-4. I mean, they weren't even good last year - they went 6-10. I don't know what the hell I was waiting for. I'm done, though. Even at home, I'm not taking them getting 10 points. That's about as low as a team can fall.

JP: OAKLAND (+10) over Los Angeles Chargers

Plot twist! After weeks of saying the Raiders are the worst team in football (and being right!), I'm picking Oakland to put up one last gasp for the year and keep things close with their old division rival. They still probably won't win, but hey, baby steps.

JC: Seattle (+10) over LOS ANGELES RAMS

I keep saying this - five of the Rams' last six games are one-score games or losses. I just don't understand them giving double digits against good teams. They were favored by a touchdown against Minnesota and pushed. They were favored by 7.5 against Seattle and lost. They were favored by a touchdown against Denver and lost. They were favored by 9.5 against Green Bay and lost. They were favored on the road against New Orleans and lost. Why are they still getting this much respect? This line is like, four points too high. They only spread they've covered in the last month was against the 49ers. I don't get it.

JP: LOS ANGELES RAMS (-10) over Seattle

I just FEEL like the Rams are blowing everybody out, so that makes it so. That's how America works now, right?

JC: PHILADELPHIA (-7) over Dallas

I think Dallas is done. Losing at home to the Titans stoops pretty low. Philadelphia at home, coming off a bye week, isn't the place where Dallas is going to save their season. I'm just not buying it.

JP: Dallas (+7) over PHILADELPHIA

This pick has more to do with Philly than Dallas, in the sense that I'm just not buying the Birds quite yet, and wacky things happen in these NFC East games.

JC: New York Giants (+3) over SAN FRANCISCO

Happy Veterans Day!

JP: SAN FRANCISCO (-3) over New York Giants

This Niners team is bad, but they can at least run the ball and defend a bit. Only a FG spread at home against the carcass of Eli Manning? Seems like a decent bet to me.

Jeremy's Record:
Last Week: 8-5
Season: 56-73-5
Last Week's Disagreements: 2-2
Season: 18-24-1

Joe's Record:
Last Week: 8-5
Season: 62-67-5
Last Week's Disagreements: 2-2
Season: 24-18-1

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