I went 3-2 in Week 9, and I’m now 21-23-1 on the season. The biggest surprise in the contest was the Chiefs covering their contest line at -2.5, which assumed Patrick Mahomes would play in that game. But Mahomes was ruled out and money flowed in on the Vikings before the matchup. Minnesota then closed as a 5.5-point favorite, but lost by three points to let a lot of people down.
As always, my picks will be separated into five categories. Keep in mind that some game theory could factor into my selections because of the large-field NFL “picks” contest I’m in. For example, I might avoid a game in an attempt to be contrarian if I think a large amount of the field will be on a certain side.
With six teams on a bye, it’s a tough week to find picks. Here’s what I’m currently thinking for the Week 10 slate.
Note: My picks could change based on information and any injury news that is not factored into the contest line. I will tweet from @natejacobson1 when I have a change in opinion on a game. I will also discuss and finalize these picks on a Periscope show I host called Weekend Warriors. This week’s show is on Friday at 7 p.m. ET and can be seen on Stadium’s Periscope or Stadium’s Twitter.
Sides I’ll use unless there’s an injury
Panthers (+5) over Packers: My favorite NFL pick of the week is the Panthers plus the points. I’m still not a believer in the Packers who are struggling defensively. There was an early-season perception that they had an elite defense, but they have allowed 6.1 yards per play this season which is 25th in the league. There’s also line value on the Panthers here based on the Packers’ last two home games. Green Bay was only a 3.5-point favorite against Detroit about a month ago and five-point favorites against the Raiders the week after. The Panthers are better than both teams, so getting five provides enough value. I also like the matchup when Carolina has the ball. The Panthers’ strength is running back Christian McCaffrey and the Packers’ weakness is stopping the run and containing short passes. All of this leads to a bet on the Panthers — especially if you can get a better number than +5.
49ers (-6.5) over Seahawks: Some might view this line as too big because the Seahawks are 7-2, but Seattle only has a point differential of +18, so regression is coming with a tough stretch of games approaching. It will start on Monday night at the 49ers, who are in a very good spot. San Francisco has the rest advantage since they last played on Thursday. Expect for Kyle Shanahan to make a statement in primetime with extra days to prepare and add new elements to his offense. San Francisco is also getting healthy as offensive tackles Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey are expected to return. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk is also set to return, which is a key part of the personnel package that Shanahan likes to use. The 49ers win here by double digits.
Sides I’ll likely use
Chargers (-1.5) over Raiders: I’m taking the Thursday night game this week and going with the Chargers on the road. Los Angeles dominated Green Bay last week 26-11 and had a huge yards per play edge at 6.5 to 3.8. That performance was what we expected of the Chargers before the season when they had a win total of 9.5 and were a trendy pick to make the Super Bowl. Oakland has been impressive on offense this season, but the pass defense has had plenty of issues. That is a problem for the Raiders, as new Chargers OC Shane Steichen wants to throw the ball more. For the contest I’m taking -1.5, but betting the Chargers on a short moneyline.
Titans (+3.5) over Chiefs: This would be considered a contrarian pick since the market has gone to Chiefs -6 with more optimism that Patrick Mahomes will start this Sunday. However, I don’t believe he is 100 percent and that would limit him on the field this week. If Mahomes does start, many people in contests will take the Chiefs at the stale number of 3.5. This is an opportunity for me to get leverage on the field by taking the Titans. I will also look to bet on the Titans closer to game day at +6 or better. I’m hoping the line continues to go up if Mahomes is a full participant in practice the rest of the week.
Bengals (+10) over Ravens: I wasn’t planning on betting the Bengals and rookie Ryan Finley earlier in the week, but the situation is too good to pass up. The Ravens are coming off a huge primetime win over the Patriots and have another big game at home against the Texans next week. So a game against the winless Bengals, who are coming off a bye week, is as bad of a scheduling spot as you can ask for. I don’t know what to expect of Finley, who was Cincinnati’s fourth-round pick this past year, but maybe he gives the team a boost as he takes over for Andy Dalton. We have seen backup quarterbacks like Teddy Bridgewater and Mason Rudolph play well enough to cover when taking over for their teams.
Picks I’m considering
Browns (-3) over Bills: This might feel like a trap with a 2-6 team being a field goal favorite against a 6-2 team. The main reason for this line is the strength of schedule for the Bills as the combined record of the teams they have beat is 9-42. That number proves that it’s hard to know what to make of Buffalo and how they stack up with the rest of the league.
Buccaneers (-4.5) over Cardinals: The storyline in this game is Bruce Arians against his former team. Tampa Bay is also a few plays away from having a better record than 2-6. It’s not a game I love, but I think there’s some line value at this number.
Bears (-2.5) over Lions: I view these franchises as even teams, and the Bears should get three points for home field. So getting under a field goal makes this a low-confidence pick on Chicago that I will likely use in the contest where I need to select seven games.
Games I’ll likely avoid
Rams (-3.5) at Steelers: There might be line value on the Steelers, but I feel lucky that they were able to cover and win for me last week against the Colts. The Steelers pass rush should have some success against the Rams offensive line, but Los Angeles is in a good spot coming off a bye week. I would look at the under in this game if you wanted to play it.
Vikings at Cowboys (-3): The line is correct at a field goal. If it was 2.5 I would consider the Cowboys, and if it was +3.5 I would consider the Vikings.
Games I’ll definitely avoid unless there’s a major injury
Giants (-2.5) at Jets: I would take out the home-field edge for the Jets in this game because they play in the same stadium. However, I have no interest in betting the Giants as close to field goal favorites.
Falcons at Saints (-13): Before the season I thought this would be a crucial matchup in the NFC South, but that’s not the case (and it’s reflected in the spread). I hardly ever lay double digits in the NFL, but I also want no part of the the Falcons.
Dolphins at Colts (-10): There has been a big line move in this game, dropping from 13.5 to 10. Part of the reason is Indianapolis possibly being without quarterback Jacoby Brissett — and they are already down wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. The Dolphins have covered four-straight games and won their first game of the season last week. Since the market is starting to correct itself after being so low on the ‘Phins, I wouldn’t touch either side in this one.