We don’t want to say we’re in the dog days of the NFL season or that the Week 10 slate is a huge pile of flaming garbage, but the biggest stories this week have been the New Orleans Saints signing a potentially washed-up Dez Bryant, and Le’Veon Bell figuring out how to write words upside down in a tweet.
Not only is NESN.com’s trio of Mike Cole, Ricky Doyle and Andre Khatchaturian not washed up, none of them have any clue how to write upside down, which means this week’s NFL against-the-spread picks are presented to you, as always, right side up. Neat, right?
Here’s how they fared last week.
Mike Cole: 8-5 (63-67-2 overall)
Ricky Doyle: 7-6 (66-64-2)
Andre Khatchaturian: 9-4 (71-59-2)
Here are their Week 10 picks, with lines courtesy of OddsShark.com.
THURSDAY, NOV. 8
Carolina Panthers at (-4) Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:20 p.m.
Mike: Steelers. The Panthers are having a fine season, but most of their success has come at home (5-0 vs. 1-2 on the road) where they’re averaging 10 more points per game than they are away from Charlotte. They’ve forced 13 turnovers at home to just two on the road, while road teams are just 2-7 on “Thursday Night Football” this season.
Ricky: Steelers. Christian McCaffrey has been awesome for the Panthers, making an impact both running and catching the football. The Steelers have the ability to slow the dual-threat running back, though. Pittsburgh is ranked No. 4 at defending the run, according to Pro Football Focus, and has allowed an NFL-low 186 receiving yards to running backs. Another area to watch: The red zone, where the Steelers are ranked second in scoring percentage and the Panthers are ranked 31st in opponent scoring percentage.
Andre: Panthers. Cam Newton is playing the best football of his career and he’s getting solid protection. He’s on pace to being sacked just 24 times, which would be the lowest total of his career. As a result, he’s putting up a career high in completion percentage and a career low in interception percentage. In a game with two similarly strong offensive lines, I’ll take the points.
SUNDAY, NOV. 11
Arizona Cardinals at (-16.5) Kansas City Chiefs, 1 p.m.
Mike: Cardinals. There’s no denying the Chiefs’ offensive prowess, but I dunno, maybe that defense gets complacent late and leaves the back door open.
Ricky: Cardinals. Betting on the Chiefs has been a very good strategy. They’re 12-1 ATS in their last 13 games dating back to last season. But Kansas City has a huge game with the Los Angeles Rams looming next week. Maybe the Chiefs rest some guys in the second half, paving the way for a backdoor cover.
Andre: Cardinals. Arizona is 10th in yards allowed per play. They lost to the Bears by two points, Seahawks by three and the Vikings by 10. They are coming off a bye week and they have the defense to keep it close.
(-4.5) Atlanta Falcons at Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m.
Mike: Falcons. It’s all coming up B.C. right now. The Eagles are nationally ranked, and their best alum, Matt Ryan, is a legitimate MVP contender. He has a 17-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio the last six weeks, a stretch that includes a three-game win streak despite myriad injuries on the defensive side for Atlanta.
Ricky: Falcons. Maybe this isn’t a lost season for the Falcons after all? Deion Jones is practicing again and they just signed Bruce Irvin. Atlanta’s defense should improve down the stretch. Meanwhile, the Browns don’t do anything particularly well. But they do a lot of things poorly. The Falcons will exploit those flaws en route to a fourth straight win.
Andre: Falcons. The Browns are 29th in yards per play differential and have only found success in terms of forcing turnovers. Unfortunately for Cleveland, they go up against Ryan, who has thrown only one interception over his last six games and is playing some of his best football right now.
Buffalo Bills at (-7.5) New York Jets, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bills. Are either of these teams actually capable of scoring 7 1/2 points? I mean, obviously you can’t score a half-point, but you catch my drift. Someone wins this game 13-6.
Ricky: Jets. I don’t love the Jets’ offense. But that’s OK. The Bills’ offense is good for a couple of pick-sixes, right?
Andre: Jets. Sam Darnold had two touchdowns and seven picks over the last three weeks, so it’s probably a good thing Josh McCown (18 touchdowns, nine interceptions, 67.3 percent completions in 2017) is starting against the Bills defense. The Bills’ historically bad offense has scored just one touchdown over the last three weeks.
Detroit Lions at (-6.5) Chicago Bears, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bears. Chicago will be 10-3 or 9-4, and I still won’t believe in them. A big reason is I’m not yet buying Mitch Trubisky. But I don’t think he’ll get in the way this week, and the Bears’ defense will take care of business.
Ricky: Lions. The Bears’ defense is coming off strong showings against the Jets and Bills, but those teams are extremely limited offensively, as mentioned above. The Lions played well in desperation mode earlier this season and the same could happen this Sunday, when Detroit looks to rebound from back-to-back losses to the Seahawks and Vikings. Also, the Lions are 3-1 ATS on the road this season and 9-1 SU against the Bears since 2013.
Andre: Bears. The Bears are fifth in yards-per-play differential, second in takeaways and second in turnover differential. The Lions can’t stop the run (31st in yards allowed per carry) and the Bears have run for 120 yards or more in five of their last six games.
Jacksonville Jaguars at (-3) Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m.
Mike: Jaguars. If the Jags lose the game, then fine, I’ll admit they’re bad and stop taking them. But they’re coming off the bye, and they should have Leonard Fournette back. Maybe that will be enough to help the offense find its footing some.
Ricky: Jaguars. The Colts have exceeded expectations, but their back-to-back wins came against the Bills (terrible) and Raiders (also terrible). The Jags absolutely need a win this week to keep pace in the AFC South, and I’ll bank on them securing a victory by finally stepping up defensively.
Andre: Colts. Andrew Luck has only been sacked on 2.8 percent of dropbacks — easily the lowest mark of his career — and as a result he’s on pace to shatter his personal record for touchdown passes in a season. Meanwhile, Blake Bortles’ completion percentage is nine points lower on the road, where he has more interceptions than touchdowns.
(-6.5) New England Patriots at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m.
Mike: Patriots. If the Titans are going to win this game or even cover, they’re going to need to be perfect on defense. Their 28 points on Monday night was a season-high; the Patriots are averaging 35 points per contest during their six-game winning streak. Also: The Patriots are a ridiculous 8-1 ATS the last nine years in the game before their bye.
Ricky: Patriots. Know what happened the last five times the Patriots played the Titans? New England went 5-0 both SU and ATS, winning by an average of — wait for it — 29 points (!). Take the Pats and don’t look back.
Andre: Patriots. The Titans have allowed the fewest points in the NFL, but they’re allowing 5.4 yards per play, which is 12th in the league. Aside from last week, Marcus Mariota and Tennessee’s offense has been largely ineffective, as they’re 30th in yards per play and 31st in opponent sack percentage.
(-5) New Orleans Saints at Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bengals. Feels like a trap game for New Orleans, who played Minnesota two weeks ago, the Rams last week and then takes on Philadelphia next week. Also, the Saints’ pass defense isn’t getting any better, so expect Andy Dalton to be able to keep pace at home.
Ricky: Saints. The Bengals are on pace to break the 2012 Saints’ record for most yards allowed in a season. They have allowed more than 480 yards in each of their last three games to the Buccaneers, Chiefs and Steelers, who rank second, third and fourth, respectively, in yards per game. Now, Cincinnati faces New Orleans’ offense, which ranks seventh in yards per game and second in points per game. Good luck.
Andre: Saints. The Saints have the best rush defense in football, allowing 3.4 yards per carry. In the Bengals’ three losses, they rushed the ball for fewer than 70 yards per game. If the Bengals can’t run the ball and have to rely on Dalton to win the game without A.J. Green, they’re in trouble.
Washington Redskins at (-3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bucs. The Bucs have generated 13 pressures per game the last three weeks (per PFF) with nine sacks combined in those games — and now they get a decimated offensive line. It also doesn’t help that Washington is the NFL’s second-most penalized team.
Ricky: Bucs. The Redskins just got waxed by the Falcons, who are kind of similar to the Bucs: Dangerous offense. Bad defense. Washington simply doesn’t have the firepower to take advantage of Tampa Bay’s defensive deficiencies.
Andre: Redskins. Washington did lose two starting offensive lineman for the rest of the year, but the Buccaneers don’t really generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks. As a result, opposing quarterbacks complete a league-high 74 percent of passes against Tampa Bay. It should be a field day for Alex Smith.
(-10) Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Chargers. The Raiders are terrible, and that’s about it.
Ricky: Chargers. It’s hard to imagine a more discouraging start to Jon Gruden’s second tenure as Raiders head coach. Might as well pile on.
Andre: Chargers. The Chargers have the league’s best yards-per-play differential and the Raiders are 31st in the same category. Oakland has a league-low seven sacks this year and allows the fifth-most yards per carry. Sounds like it’ll be a huge game for Philip Rivers and Melvin Gordon.
Miami Dolphins at (-9.5) Green Bay Packers, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Packers. Mike McCarthy, who basically guaranteed a win, is coaching for his job. He and Aaron Rodgers have gotten hot before, and they have to do so now, too. More importantly, the Packers’ defense should feast against a Miami offensive line that couldn’t stop the Jets last week and could be without its two tackles this week.
Ricky: Packers. Brock Osweiler is starting again for the Dolphins. That’s a problem, because Osweiler hasn?t thrown a touchdown in more than eight quarters. The ‘Phins are 1-8 ATS in their last nine games as road underdogs, and the test will be especially stiff this weekend in cold conditions at Lambeau Field.
Andre: Packers. Miami leads the league in interceptions this year, but Rodgers isn’t going to throw many picks. The Dolphins allow 8.2 yards per pass attempt. Green Bay is undefeated at home and its losses have come against stiff competition on the road like the Rams and Patriots.
Seattle Seahawks at (-10) Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Seahawks. That’s a whole lot of points for a divisional game. These two teams played a close one in Week 5, with Seattle “limiting” Todd Gurley to “only” 77 yards. The Seahawks also ought to pick on Marcus Peters, who is having a horrendous season; Russell Wilson had a perfect passer rating when targeting him in their first meeting.
Ricky: Seahawks. The Rams have had problems in pass coverage, really magnifying the loss of Aqib Talib. They rank 25th in opponent passer rating (96.8) and have allowed more passes of 40 yards or more (11) than any team in the NFL. Expect a huge play or two from the Seahawks’ offense, which has eight pass plays of 40 yards or more this season.
Andre: Seahawks. The Rams are 1-4-1 against the spread over the last six games. Seattle is third in turnover differential and they’ve coughed up the ball just twice over the last six games. The Rams are 25th in rush defense, so I don’t expect Wilson to be forced to win the game with his arm. Seattle has enough to keep this game within a score.
Dallas Cowboys at (-6.5) Philadelphia Eagles, 8:20 p.m.
Mike: Eagles. Stop. Putting. The. Cowboys. In. Primetime. … Tough spot here for Dallas, too, going on the road in the division on a short week when the Eagles are coming off their bye.
Ricky: Eagles. Stop Ezekiel Elliott and force Dak Prescott to throw. Seems simple enough, right? The real question: Will the Cowboys finally consider firing Jason Garrett after getting stomped by the Eagles in primetime? Probably not. But they should.
Andre: Eagles. The Cowboys are winless on the road and Prescott has been horrendous away from Dallas with five touchdowns and five interceptions. The Eagles are well-rested after a bye week and Dallas is coming off a short week after playing on Monday night.
MONDAY, NOV. 12
New York Giants at (-3) San Francisco 49ers, 8:15 p.m.
Mike: Giants. The 49ers are 1-13 ATS as home favorites since 2013 — and it’s remarkable they’ve been home favorites that many times, to be honest. Nick Mullens had a great game in his debut, but it’s hard to see him having similar success, even against the Giants, when New York now has some tape on Mullens and is coming off its bye.
Ricky: Giants. Worst game in “Monday Night Football” history? Give me the Giants and the remote to change the channel.
Andre: 49ers. Even with their terrible record, the Niners somehow have a positive yards-per-play differential. If they weren’t 31st in turnover differential, they might have a better record. They haven’t turned the ball over in two games and the Giants aren’t really the type of team that’s going to force turnovers.