Baseball season is over, election season is finished and neither basketball nor hockey have really kicked it into high gear. In other words, it’s pretty much all football, all the time.
At least that’s how the NESN.com trio of Mike Cole, Ricky Doyle and Andre Khatchaturian are approaching things as they make their weekly NFL picks.
Here’s how the guys fared last week.
Mike Cole: 6-6-1 (53-76-4 overall). We’re pretty sure he’d be in first place by now if we only counted the early games, but we count ’em all. Alas.
Ricky Doyle: 6-6-1 (60-69-4) Missed a chance to creep a little more toward .500, but he still holds a one-game lead, thanks in large part to Andre’s stinker two weeks ago.
Andre Khatchaturian: 7-5-1 (59-70-4). He had a nice bounce-back from a 4-9 showing the week before. People don’t forget.
On to the Week 10 picks, with the lines courtesy of our pals at OddsShark.
THURSDAY, NOV. 10
Cleveland Browns (0-9) at (-10) Baltimore Ravens (4-4), Thursday, 8:30 p.m.
Mike: Browns. Too many points on a Thursday night between two pretty bad teams. The Ravens have outscored the Browns by only 23 combined points in their last six meetings, including a Cleveland win.
Andre: Browns. The over/under and the spread can tell us what Vegas thinks the score will be. This game’s over/under is set at 45 so Vegas sees a score of 27-17 or 28-18. The Ravens haven’t scored 28 in a game all year. Cody Kessler is good enough to keep this close and the Ravens offense isn’t anything to write home about — even against the Browns.
Ricky: Browns. The Ravens’ defense has been underrated this season despite being banged up, but Baltimore’s offense leaves much to be desired. This game has “sloppy divisional battle” written all over it, so give me the points, especially with it being played on Thursday night.
SUNDAY, NOV. 13
Chicago Bears (2-6) at (-1.5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-4), Sunday, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bears. The Bucs are dead last in big-play (pass plays of 25 yards or more, rushes of 10 yards or more) differential. Expect a big game from Jordan Howard, who’s averaging 5.1 yard per rush this season.
Andre: Bears. The Bears own an honor the Bucs held last season — the highest yards-per-play differential among non-playoff teams. The Bucs, meanwhile, have the second-worst yards-per-play differential this season.
Ricky: Bears. The Bucs are coming off back-to-back losses in which their defense was torched. The Bears, meanwhile, are coming off an impressive win over the Vikings followed by a bye. It’s always dicey putting too much stock into Jay Cutler’s good games because of the inevitable letdown that follows, but he actually looked solid is his return versus Minnesota and that trend should continue versus Tampa Bay’s 27th-ranked pass defense.
Minnesota Vikings (5-3) at (-3) Washington Redskins (4-3-1), Sunday, 1 p.m.
Mike: Redskins. The Vikings are one of the worst teams in the NFL when it comes to converting red zone trips into touchdowns. Add in Blair Walsh’s well-documented kicking issues, and you wonder how they’ll be able to score enough points to win this game.
Andre: Redskins. The Redskins’ offensive line ranks third in pass protection and fourth in run blocking according to Football Outsiders. The Vikings are clearly the better defensive team, but what does it matter when they’re going to have trouble moving the ball with Sam Bradford?
Ricky: Vikings. I regret getting too high on the Vikings a few weeks ago. But I also don’t want to make the mistake of getting too low on them following three straight losses. The Redskins are dealing with issues on both sides of their offensive line — left tackle Trent Williams is suspended and right tackle Morgan Moses left Washington’s last game against Cincinnati with an injury — and that could be an issue if Minnesota’s defense plays near its early-season level.
Kansas City Chiefs (6-2) at (-3) Carolina Panthers (3-5), Sunday, 1 p.m.
Mike: Chiefs. I still haven’t seen anything out of the Panthers that makes me think they’re back, while the Chiefs keep on winning football games. There’s also a chance Alex Smith, Spencer Ware and Justin Houston all return for KC this week.
Andre: Chiefs. The Chiefs have zero giveaways and 10 takeaways in the last four games and now lead the league in turnover differential (plus-13). Carolina is 26th in turnover differential (minus-6).
Ricky: Chiefs. Kansas City has the best turnover differential in the NFL (plus-13). Carolina, on the other hand, is tied with two others for the fifth-worst turnover differential (minus-6). That’s enough for me.
(-1.5) Houston Texans (5-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6), Sunday, 1 p.m.
Mike: Jaguars. Jacksonville’s running game broke out in a big way Sunday to the tune of 205 rushing yards. The Jags should stick to that plan against a Houston defense allowing 4.4 yards per carry, which is tied for 21st worst in the NFL.
Andre: Jaguars. The combined turnover differential in this game is minus-19. These two have also combined to force just one turnover in their last four games. Assuming there aren’t many turnovers in this one, the Jags actually have a better yards-per-play differential, so I’ll take them.
Ricky: Texans. Houston is 7-0 straight up and 6-0-1 against the spread in its last seven games versus AFC South opponents, suggesting that despite the Texans’ flaws, they still can beat bad teams.
(-2.5) Green Bay Packers (4-4) at Tennessee Titans (4-5), Sunday, 1 p.m.
Mike: Packers. I don’t have any stats or trends to back up this pick, but I just can’t see Aaron Rodgers letting the Packers lose this game.
Andre: Packers. Rodgers has been excellent in the last three games (10 TD, 1 INT) with a horrible supporting cast. You have to think him ripping his teammates after the last game will be a wake-up call for everyone. The Packers are also great stopping the run (3.3 yards allowed per carry — 2nd), which is a crucial element to the Titans’ offensive attack.
Ricky: Packers. Tennessee isn’t good at covering — the Titans are 3-13-1 against the spread in their last 17 games — and they’re getting less than a field goal. Plus, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota reportedly is dealing with an ankle injury, which could make him a little less mobile than usual. The Packers have been a mess at times, but perhaps last week’s loss to the Colts (and Rodgers’ postgame criticism) will light a fire under them, so long as head coach Mike McCarthy doesn’t screw things up too badly.
Los Angeles Rams (3-5) at (-2) New York Jets (3-6), Sunday, 1 p.m.
Mike: Rams. When you’ve got two bad teams, take the points and don’t look back.
Andre: Jets. The Rams have just one takeaway compared to nine giveaways in the last four games — all of them losses.
Ricky: Rams. The Jets are in disarray, both on and off the field, and the Rams have a decent enough defense in spite of their obvious offensive suckery.
Denver Broncos (6-3) at (-1.5) New Orleans Saints (4-4), Sunday, 1 p.m.
Mike: Saints. The Broncos need their Week 11 bye in the worst way. If the Denver defense were healthy, it would be much more tempting to take the Broncos, but with the statuses of Aqib Talib and Derek Wolfe uncertain, it’s hard to see Denver keeping pace.
Andre: Broncos. I love Drew Brees, but the Broncos allow just 5.7 yards per pass attempt and are also second in the league in sacks with 28. The Saints are on the other side of the spectrum allowing 8.3 yards per pass attempt (30th) so I think Trevor Siemian plays decent and the Broncos force a few turnovers to win the game.
Ricky: Saints. For as good as the Broncos’ defense has been this season, their offense has really struggled. Denver ranks 28th in total yards per game, 26th in yards per play, 25th in passing and 23rd in rushing. It’s hard to imagine the Broncos keeping up with the Saints, who should be able to do enough offensively against a banged-up Denver defense if they continue to protect Brees.
Atlanta Falcons (6-3) at (PK) Philadelphia Eagles (4-4), Sunday, 1 p.m.
Mike: Falcons. The book appears to be out on Carson Wentz, who has a 72.4 passer rating in his last four games, three of which were Eagles losses. He doesn’t have a ton of help around him, either.
Andre: Falcons. Atlanta leads the league in yards-per-play differential (1.2). They also have 17 sacks in their last five games and Wentz tends to become a different quarterback when under pressure, which he has been ever since Lane Johnson was suspended in Week 6.
Ricky: Falcons. If this turns into a track meet, there’s no way the Eagles can keep up. The Falcons are good at pressuring the quarterback, so that could rattle Philadelphia’s rookie quarterback.
Miami Dolphins (4-4) at (-3.5) San Diego Chargers (4-5) Sunday, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Dolphins. Miami hasn’t turned the ball over and has allowed just two sacks during its three-game winning streak. Sure, those were all home games, but I still think the Dolphins have figured out enough to keep this game close.
Andre: Dolphins. Jay Ajayi had 111 rushing yards against a Jets rush defense that’s actually decent against the run. He makes life easier for Ryan Tannehill, too. He hasn’t thrown a pick since Ajayi began his torrid pace. Miami is also third in the league in defensive hurries (62) so I expect them to make life tough for Philip Rivers.
Ricky: Chargers. The Dolphins rank 30th in the NFL in run defense, allowing 136.1 yards per game on the ground. Good luck stopping Melvin Gordon, who’s been a stud all season.
San Francisco 49ers (1-7) at (-13) Arizona Cardinals (3-4-1), Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Cardinals. The 49ers are giving up 193 rushing yards per game, which is a number so high it almost seems fake. That means another big day for David Johnson. Offensively, how does San Fran generate anything against a Cardinals defense allowing the fewest yards per game in the NFL?
Andre: Cardinals. The Cardinals have the fourth-highest yards per play differential and they’re going up against a team that has the worst. The Niners also have an average margin of defeat of 17.3 points. They stink.
Ricky: Cardinals. Big spread. Don’t care. Niners stink.
Dallas Cowboys (7-1) at (-2.5) Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4), Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Steelers. I’m admittedly putting a lot of stock into the notion Ben Roethlisberger will look much more like himself this week, and if that’s the case, I think the Steelers have enough firepower to take advantage of a banged-up Dallas secondary.
Andre: Cowboys. Banged-up Dallas secondary? What is Mike thinking? Has he not seen Orlando Scandrick and Brandon Carr play? I don’t see why the Steelers are favored in this game. What do they have in their arsenal to stop Ezekiel Elliott? Nothing. Their 11 sacks also is the fewest in the NFL, meaning their their pass rush won’t do anything productive against the Dallas offensive line.
Ricky: Steelers. I’m still waiting for a letdown game from the ‘Boys. My guess is it comes this week, as Pittsburgh is in desperation mode after losing three straight. The Steelers’ offense started to make strides in the second half last week against the Ravens after three quarters of literally limping by behind a hobbled Roethlisberger.
Seattle Seahawks (5-2-1) at (-7.5) New England Patriots (7-1), Sunday, 8:30 p.m.
Mike: Seahawks. There are a lot of reasons to pick the Patriots here, but that line is just big enough to grab the points. The Patriots are 19-3 after the bye since 2003, but they’re just 12-9-1 against the spread in those games. They might be a little overvalued in this spot.
Andre: Patriots. The Seahawks’ defense was on the field for 82 plays against the Bills on Monday night. That’s a lot of plays. They’ll have a short week of rest going up against a Patriots team that is coming off a bye week. I have plenty of other reasons to explain why the Patriots will blow out the Seahawks, but Mike told me to shorten my writing.
Ricky: Seahawks. Jimmy Graham could cause matchup problems for the Patriots’ defense, which also will be forced to adjust in its first game without Jamie Collins. New England might win this game, and it might never seem in doubt. But the Seahawks will find a way to cover, even if it’s via a late score.
MONDAY, NOV. 14
Cincinnati Bengals (3-4-1) at (-2.5) New York Giants (5-3), Monday, 8:30 p.m.
Mike: Bengals. The Giants’ run game is pretty much nonexistent (3.6 YPC), so even if they get an early lead, it’s not easy for them to put away teams — as we saw Sunday vs. Philadelphia. Also like the Cincy’s coming off the bye while New York’s last three games were against Dallas, Minnesota and Philly; that gauntlet can take its toll.
Andre: Giants. I picked the Giants to win the NFC East at the start of the season because of the Tony Romo injury and because I loved the defensive additions they made in the offseason. They started slow, but the Giants’ D is coming together now as they allow just 6.5 yards per pass attempt. I also love their offensive threats against a shaky Bengals secondary which continues to suffer ever since Reggie Nelson went to Oakland.
Ricky: Giants. The Bengals are 0-8-1 in their last nine games versus teams with winning records. The Giants fit the bill, and it helps that New York is at home, where the G-Men are 7-2 in their last nine games against teams with winning records.
Thumbnail photo via Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports Images
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