After starting the season 53-38-1 against the spread, I’ve cooled off faster than an Adam Gase-led offense. Bad pick after bad pick the last three weeks (you’re not alone, Sam Darnold) has dropped my record to below .500. The good news? There are some winnable games this week and there’s still about a half season left, so plenty of time to turn it around.
Home teams went an incredible 11-0 straight up AND against the spread on Sunday (not including the London game), reversing the season-long trend of road teams dominating (72-44-2 entering Week 9). The Giants (MNF) and Cardinals (TNF) were the only two home teams not to win, although Arizona did cover.
Underdogs went 7-7 ATS last week and are 76-58-1.
My most confident picks ATS this week are the 49ers, Cardinals, Cowboys, Browns and Steelers. Stay away from Lions-Bears.
GAME OF THE WEEK/LOCK OF THE WEEK
SEAHAWKS (7-2) AT 49ERS (8-0)
49ers by 6; O/U: 47
The perfect 49ers have yet to face a quarterback of Russell Wilson’s caliber. The near-perfect MVP frontrunner has yet to face a defense like this, either. Against Nick Bosa and the 49ers’ relentless pass rush, Wilson will face constant pressure, limiting his magician-like escapes and improvised deep shots to Tyler Lockett. The 49ers are stacked on defense, and Richard Sherman should be pumped to face his former team. Seattle’s defense is a far cry from its Legion of Boom days. Jimmy Garoppolo, fresh off his best game of the year, a 4-TD performance at Arizona, should pick apart a weak secondary as he faces little to no pass rush. Not only are the 49ers well-rested after their TNF win, but they’re also likely getting key offensive pieces back in tackles Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey and fullback Kyle Juszczyk. Matt Breida and Tevin Colemn should run wild. And I haven’t even mentioned the best tight end in football. Who’s going to stop George Kittle? San Francisco’s last two home wins were 51-13 over the Panthers and 31-3 over the Browns, also a Monday nighter. Seattle barely escaped Cleveland in Week 6, and just needed OT at home to fend off the two-win Bucs. Its seven wins are against teams with a combined 18 wins, and its two losses vs. New Orleans (7-1) and Baltimore (6-2). Now it runs into an 8-0 buzzsaw loaded on both sides in front of an electric crowd on MNF. Seattle is in the same division as San Francisco, but as many still doubting the NFL’s lone remaining undefeated team will learn, it isn’t in the same league.
The pick: 49ers
1 P.M. GAMES
GIANTS (2-7) “AT” JETS (1-7)
Giants by 3; O/U: 44
It’s Week 10, and the Jets and Giants still have as many MetLife Stadium wins combined (2-7) as the Buffalo Bills (2-0). By late Sunday afternoon, I’ll be able to retire that stat … unless, of course, the game ends in a tie. Wouldn’t that be fitting? The Giants have lost five in a row, are coming off a disheartening loss to the Cowboys on Monday night and have a Swiss cheese defense. Still, they don’t stink as bad as the Jets, who just lost to the winless Dolphins. Pat Shurmur should thank Adam Gase, because if it wasn’t for him and the Jets’ 1-7 mess, more focus would be on the 2-7 Giants. In a battle of two bad teams, it’s impossible to predict what will happen. Sam Darnold should be able to pick apart the Giants secondary, but he’s looked so bad the last three weeks (eight interceptions), maybe he won’t. Daniel Jones has hit a rookie wall but I have more faith in him, Saquon Barkley and the Giants offense. This should be close in the fourth quarter, and considering how bad things have gone for the Jets, Leonard Williams will probably make a play to seal the win for the Giants.
The pick: Giants
CHIEFS (6-3) AT TITANS (4-5)
Chiefs by 6; O/U: 48
With Patrick Mahomes likely back, expect the Chiefs to feed off his return and build off last week’s thrilling win. Tennessee will need 24-27 points to cover but it won’t be able to hang with Kansas City’s big-play attack. I picked against KC in Week 1, and now I get a do-over in Mahomes’ “second opener.”
The pick: Chiefs
BILLS (6-2) AT BROWNS (2-6)
Browns by 3; O/U: 40
Buffalo’s six wins are against teams with a combined 9-42 record. Cleveland’s six losses are against teams with a 35-17 combined record. That isn’t to discount how well-coached Buffalo is, or how much of a mess Cleveland is, but the point is these teams are a lot closer than the 6-2 vs. 2-6 matchup suggests. The Browns are 0-3 at home (straight up and ATS), but if they start the way they did against Seattle in Week 6 (20-6 lead before losing, 32-28), they’ll win. The key, and I hope Freddie Kitchens is reading, is to feed Nick Chubb. The Bills allow 111.6 rushing yards per game and 4.4 yards per carry. The Browns average 121/5.2.
The pick: Browns
RAVENS (6-2) AT BENGALS (0-8)
Ravens by 10; O/U: 44.5
This is a prime candidate for the letdown theory. From facing 8-0 in prime time to 0-8 at 1 p.m., it’s understandable if Baltimore isn’t as up for this game. Bengals QB Ryan Finley makes his NFL debut, and with two weeks to prepare, I’ll take the big underdog at home that covered at Baltimore in Week 6 (23-17 loss as 11-point underdogs).
The pick: Bengals
FALCONS (1-7) AT SAINTS (6-2)
Saints by 13; O/U: 51.5
The Falcons just can’t catch a break. The Saints, like them, are off a bye, so rest is a non-factor. Atlanta (2-6 ATS) has been a bet-against team whereas New Orleans (6-2 ATS, six straight covers and outright wins) has rewarded backers. The script will remain the same as the Saints roll to The Big, Easy win.
The pick: Saints
LIONS (3-4-1) AT BEARS (3-5)
Bears by 2.5; O/U: 41.5
Chicago has lost four in a row and has looked even worse than a 3-5 team. Detroit has lost four out of five but easily could be 5-3 or 6-2 if a few bounces went its way. Matthew Stafford is the wayyyyy better quarterback but the Lions can’t run the ball. I’m going “George Costanza” with this pick and doing the opposite of my original thought, so give me the more desperate team at home that you just know will put it all together when you least expect it.
The pick: Bears
CARDINALS (3-5-1) AT BUCS (2-6)
Bucs by 4.5; O/U: 52
The last time Tampa Bay was home, Daniel Jones and the Giants had a wild comeback win. Yes, the Bucs (2-6 ATS) haven’t played in their building since Week 3, and while being home after a long layoff should provide a boost (see: Oakland last week), it’s not enough of a factor here. Count on the Cards (6-3 ATS) to be in this game the whole way, as Kyler Murray’s improvisation plus Tampa Bay’s poor pass defense (293.5 yards per game, second most) make the Cardinals a live ’dog. You think Bruce Arians wishes he was back at Arizona with Murray instead of being stuck with Jameis Winston?
The pick: Cardinals
4 P.M. GAMES
PANTHERS (5-3) AT PACKERS (7-2)
Packers by 5.5; O/U: 47
Carolina rebounded with a home win after its worst loss of the season. Expect Green Bay to do the same thing at Lambeau Field. Aaron Rodgers called the 26-11 loss at the Chargers a “good slice of humble pie for us.” The hungry Pack gets back on track.
The pick: Packers
DOLPHINS (1-7) AT COLTS (5-3)
Colts by 10.5; O/U: 44
This is too many points. The Colts’ five wins have been by 2, 3, 6, 7 and 2 points. Miami is on a 4-0 ATS run, and figures to be feeling good after ending the 0-16 talk.
The pick: Dolphins
RAMS (5-3) AT STEELERS (4-4)
Rams by 3.5 O/U: 44
Don’t think the Rams are back to last year’s form just because they’ve won two in a row against the one-win Falcons and winless Bengals. Jared Goff and the offensive line will be in for a long day against a Pittsburgh defense with 29 sacks, 11 interceptions and 10 forced fumbles. This will be close but getting over a field goal at home with a reinvigorated team (4-4 after 1-4) feels like a steal.
The pick: Steelers
VIKINGS (6-3) AT COWBOYS (5-3)
Cowboys by 3; O/U: 48
One QB is 6-13 in prime time. The other is 14-5. You know which record belongs to which player. Cousins, also 15-26-2 on the road, can’t win the big game. Prescott, 20-8 at home, leads another SNF win in Dallas three weeks after the Cowboys crushed the Eagles, 37-10.
The pick: Cowboys
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