Week 10 NFL Picks – TJ Calkins Weekly
06 November 2019
Thanks for stopping back for this week’s NFL Picks. Week 9 saw a new occurrence, the Dolphins finding their way into the win column. It seemed like a foregone conclusion that Miami would be picking first in the draft but now we have the Redskins, Jets and particularly the Bengals very much in play for and potentially even more likely for the top pick.
Week 10 NFL Picks
We have another week short on total games with six teams on a bye, and we have a couple of clunker games mixed in this week that will likely be slow and sloppy. The most significant player news of the week is the probable return of Patrick Mahomes in a road spot against the Titans. We also have a handful of teams whose playoff hopes are hanging by the thinnest of threads playing at home and favored, and it will be interesting to see which of these teams can find the motivation to potentially turn their season around. We get a better set of prime time games this week that should feature a couple competitive matchups and those will be discussed. Let’s get to the games.
Play Of The Week
Carolina Panthers at Green Bay Packers
Opening Line: Packers -7 and 48
Current Line: Packers -5 and 47
The Panthers are coming off an easy home win in which running back Christian McCaffrey further solidified his claim to be the league MVP. McCaffrey added 166 yards and three more scores to his resume and DJ Moore added a 100 yard receiving performance in a tougher matchup than the one standing in front of them this week. The Packers were routed last week in an ugly performance at the Chargers and this game could work as a blueprint for the rest of the league on how to stop the LaFleur offense. The Packers also saw an alarming trend continue on the defensive side of the ball, and that is allowing running backs to take over the game against them. The Packers allowed 202 total yards and a pair of scores to Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler and the matchup this week is extremely more dangerous in McCaffrey. In addition to not being able to stop the backs, the Pack allowed a 100 yard receiving day to Mike Williams and tight end Hunter Henry nearly got there as well. We could be looking at a Groundhog Day outcome here, despite the Pack playing this game at home. Even if Aaron Rodgers and co are able to right the ship on the offensive side of the ball, they will have no answer for McCaffrey and the Panthers +5 is our play of the week .
Betting Pick: Panthers +5
Kansas City Chiefs at Tennessee Titans
Opening Line: Chiefs -3 and 48.5
Current Line: Chiefs -4 and 48.5
Obviously the huge news to monitor here is Patrick Mahomes returning to the lineup as he is expected to do. Matt Moore performed admirably in his absence, but the team as a whole just has extra levels when Mahomes is on the field. Additionally working in the Chiefs favor is head coach Andy Reid remembering a player that was a massive part of their success in 2018, and he is Damien Williams. In the last game and a half, Williams has been back to dominating the backfield touches and the offense is better and more effective for it. I don’t expect the Titans to just roll over at home, but they can be simply outscored like Carolina did last week and have developed issues defending top wide receivers, which means Tyreek Hill could be in for quite a day. The Titans are certainly at their best when playing from ahead, but they won’t get that luxury here. They do however have competence when being forced to throw with Ryan Tannehill under center and there will be enough points coming back to play the over along with the Chiefs in the return of Mahomes.
Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns
Opening Line: Browns -2.5 and 42.5
Current Line: Browns -3 and 40
It is quite telling when a 2-6 team opens as a favorite against a healthy 6-2 team. It is also telling what to expect in that game when the total is bet down to a gross 40 almost immediately. The Browns woes have been well publicized this season, and they are a team that has consistently snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. The Bills are simply not a team indicative of a 6-2 record, but instead the beneficiary of a favorable schedule. Their losses were a close one against the divisional rival Patriots and a route against the Eagles. Their wins have come against the worst teams in the NFL. That list with margin of victory looks like Jets 1, Giants 14, Bengals 4, Titans 7, Dolphins 10 and Redskins 15. While the Browns have had their own issues, particularly with poor coaching, they are a superior team to the list above. If the Bills are to win this game, it is likely on the back of rookie running back Devin Singletary, who was elevated to a feature role last week. This is certainly a spot to stay away from as the Browns are now at full desperation albeit in a home game against an offense that doesn’t generally put teams away.
Arizona Cardinals at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Opening Line: Bucs -5.5 and 54
Current Line: Bucs -4.5 and 51.5
The loser of this game will have their playoff hopes snuffed out. The Cardinals secondary improved with cornerback Patrick Peterson back in the fold, and the Bucs don’t use the tight end position as a volume receiving threat, so this matchup isn’t perfect for Jameis Winston and company. The Cardinals tight end defense has been horrific to this point in the season. The Bucs appear to have turned the lead in the backfield over to Ronald Jones, but they aren’t a threat to control the ball and clock with the running game and the offense will continue to only go as far as the passing game takes it. For the Bucs, Mike Evans is likely to be shadowed by Peterson and Evans was not at all productive in their last matchup in 2017. This is a spot where the Bucs will likely need to rely on slot receiver Chris Godwin and a bit of an uptick in tight end production. For the Cardinals, the passing game will have to answer the bell in this one as the Bucs are quite exploitable by the pass at every level, but are stout against the run. Rookie quarterback Kyler Murray has had ups and downs to this point in the season, but this is a spot where top receiver Christian Kirk could be in for a big game and it should be noted the Cardinals staff is now working to get big play threat Andy Isabella involved in the offense. This is a game with a wide range of outcomes and should be viewed as over or pass, and I lean pass here as it is difficult to trust either offense to be efficient.
New York Giants at New York Jets
Opening Line: Jets -1.5 and 41
Current Line: Giants -2.5 and 43.5
In a week that saw the Jets beaten fairly easily by the Dolphins, there is a strong argument to be made the Giants had an even worse week. While Sam Darnold and company continued to struggle and soon to be unemployed Adam Gase still couldn’t find a way to unleash Leveon Bell, the Giants offense and quarterback was even worse. Rookie quarterback Daniel Jones continued to turn the ball over and the Giants were unable to finish drives when they didn’t turn it over, the Giants low end defense was worn down and they were eventually blown out by the Cowboys. The Jets are stout against the run and will be an imperfect matchup for Saquon Barkley and the Jets have been unable to effectively run the ball this entire season. This means the weight will fall on the shoulders of two young quarterbacks whose confidence will be the most fragile of things at this juncture, and it could create quite an ugly game. If I had to take a lean in this game it would be towards the Jets as their defense is a superior unit and Darnold should have more open targets available, but this is not a game to risk any portion of the bankroll.
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints
Opening Line: Saints -13 and 50
Current Line: Saints -12.5 and 51
The Falcons and Saints both come off their bye weeks and it was needed for the health of both teams. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and Saints running back Alvin Kamara were both dealing with injuries that should be behind them with the week off. Saints quarterback Drew Brees also got an extra week for the completion of healing to his injured thumb. Something that can’t be healed however, is the state of the Falcons defense. This remains arguably the league’s worst unit and they have to go on the road to face one of the most efficient offenses in the league. The Saints will beat them at every level and the expectation is the Saints will score at will. The Saints defense is markedly improved form 2018, and a bit more balanced. The strength of the unit is still against running backs, but they are better against passing games overall this season. They aren’t quite as good against the tight end as they were, but they are much better at covering wide receivers. Even with this being the case, the high end Atlanta passing game will be forced to throw often to attempt to keep pace, and they are capable of doing so, at least within the point spread. The more favorable play here is the over as the Saints should easily be in the 30s with the Falcons keeping enough pace to see the over comfortably home.
Betting Pick: Over 51
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
Opening Line: Ravens -10 and 46
Current Line: Ravens -10 and 45.5
This game will mark the debut of Bengals rookie quarterback Ryan Finley as it was announced he would replace incumbent starter Andy Dalton during their bye week. Also expected this week is the season debut of wide receiver AJ Green for the Bengals. We know what Green brings to the table as a high end vet, the more unknown is what Finley brings to the table and whether he can be an upgrade on Dalton. The Bengals defense remains balanced and just about average, but one that could not overcome the woeful nature of the offense to this point in the season. They are most susceptible to the run and that is quite obviously the strength of the Baltimore attack, so they will need some help from the offense in this one. To be blunt, the Bengal offense couldn’t get much worse and Green will add an extra layer. This game is favorite or pass for me, but with the elements of unknown and the divisional nature of the matchup, it is a spot to stay away from.
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears
Opening Line: Bears -3.5 and 44
Current Line: Bears -2.5 and 41.5
This is a must win spot for both teams if they want any hope of keeping pace with the Vikings and Packers within their division. After being stubborn in 2018 about throwing the football when called for, the Lions have opened up the offense enough that Matthew Stafford gives them a chance in most games, and the underrated receiving corps helps immensely with that. How much of the willingness to pass has to do with losing running back Kerryon Johnson is arguable and likely plays a factor, but the offense has good balance at this time, and is effective. The Bears vaunted unit form the beginning of the year is hardly that at this point and they are susceptible to a balanced attack and the Lions will be able to score in the 20s. On the other side of the ball, it’s safe to say Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has bottomed out, and their only hope of an effective offense lies in riding rookie running back David Montgomery. Luckily for them, the Lions defense is perhaps the worst in the league against the running back position and they will have difficulty stopping a rush heavy attack from the Bears, should coach Matt Nagy embrace this as the path of least resistance. Given the matchups on each side, the total is simply too low here and that is the point of attack. I envision the over being home some time in the 3rd quarter.
Betting Pick: Over +41.5
Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts
Opening Line: Colts -15.5 and 44
Current Line: Colts -10.5 and 44.5
The Colts saw starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett suffer an apparently minor injury last week. The injury forced him from last week’s loss to the Steelers. Brian Hoyer played aggressively in relief, accounting for three passing touchdowns, but also accounting for two back breaking turnovers. The Dolphins have vastly improved after the quarterback switch back to Ryan Fitzpatrick and got their first win of the season last week. The Colts will just be the deeper and more talented team in this one, but they are notorious for playing close games this season, and the value in taking the underdog was sucked out of this one by the massive line shift. In what was a dog or pass situation, the five point line movement took the value out of the play and this game is one to sit out of.
Los Angeles Rams at Pittsburgh Steelers
4:25 PM EST
Opening Line: Rams -3.5 and 45.5
Current Line: Rams -3.5 and 44
The Rams come off their bye week and face a stiff defensive test, as the Steelers unit has risen to the elite of the league on that side of the ball. Jared Goff will need to protect the football against this opportunistic unit. This is a spot where the passing game may need some help from running back Todd Gurley as too much passing could easily lead to turnovers. Working against the Rams is the east coast game once the temperatures have shifted, but at least it isn’t a 1PM start time. Quarterback Mason Rudolph remains a work in progress and became a checkdown machine last week against the Colts, but the turnovers forced by the defense were enough to see the Steelers to a win. They should have running back James Conner back in the fold this week to bring balance back to the offense. The key to the day is likely finding a matchup to win with against the Rams secondary, and that will likely be the individual matchup on Troy Hill, who will see at least three different wide receivers line up against him. This and the game as a whole very much feels like a coin flip scenario and is a situation to avoid.
Minnesota Vikings at Dallas Cowboys
8:20 PM EST
Opening Line: Cowboys -3 and 45.5
Current Line: Cowboys -3 and 47
With the ineptitude displayed in prime time scheduling of games, it feels like a gift to get a matchup with true playoff implications. The 6-3 Vikings travel to Dallas and are just 2-3 on the road this year and likely to be without top wide out Adam Thielen. This is unfortunate as a balanced attack is the best against Dallas and the Vikings will need a big game from Stefon Diggs and will need either Kyle Rudolph or Olabisi Johnson to step up as the secondary pass catcher. Running back Dalvin Cook will continue to be the focal point of the offense and will likely be the key to the game. The 5-3 Cowboys will attempt to get their second win of the season against a non bottom feeding team, as their wins to this point have only come inside their division with a win against the Dolphins added. We assume Vikings corner Xavier Rhodes will shadow wide out Amari Cooper and that could very well be the individual matchup that decides this game. In a dog or pass spot, the best play is to sit out of this one.
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers
8:15PM EST Monday Night
Opening Line: 49ers -6 and 44
Current Line: 49ers -6 and 46.5
Rejoice! Consecutive prime time games with playoff implications. The 8-0 49ers host the 7-2 Seahawks in a divisional clash, and this game could ultimately end up deciding the division as the 49ers still have to travel to Seattle in week 17. The 49ers will deploy their normal run heavy attack with slot receiver Emmanuel Sanders and tight end George Kittle pulling the weight in the receiving department. The Seahawks tend to have problems with slot and tight end so the passing game could be the path of least resistance in this one, but that means Jimmy Garroppolo will have to protect the football, an area he’s been unsteady in in the past. On the Seahawks side, we know what we’re getting from them. Attempt to run the ball and ultimately call on elite Russell Wilson to bail them out, resulting in a one score game one way or the other. Added to the arsenal of weaponry for Wilson this week is Josh Gordon, and the matchup for the 49ers high end secondary is a rough one. We know there is no defense for the perfect throw, and Russell Wilson and the pass catchers are nearly matchup proof because of this. The underdog is quite attractive here in what should be a highly competitive game and one to schedule yourself to tune in for.
Betting Pick: Seahawks +6
TJ Calkins was raised in a gambling loving household. He knew how to handicap horse races and follow line movements well before his tenth birthday. Follow@tjcalkins