After nine grueling weeks, I'm still hanging around––albeit by a thread––in the LVH Supercontest.
At 23-22, I have a winning record, which most would happily chalk up as a moral victory. Especially with Grantland.com's Bill Simmons lagging behind at 21-23-1.
But I'm not here for moral victories; I'm here for real ones. And with about seven games needed to catch up to the money spots, it's now or never for my season.
I went 3-2 last week, cashing in on the Bears, Seahawks and Bucs while losing on the Bengals and Redskins. But with a couple of 2-3 weeks haunting me, 3-2 the rest of the way just won't cut it. I need big weeks, and I need them now.
Here are the five bets I'll be playing in Week 10:
*The official Supercontest lines don't come out until later today, but here's where they currently stand at LVH (via vegasinsider.com).
New York Giants (-4) at Cincinnati Bengals
I'm sick of the Bengals.
I went against the public and took them getting 3.5 vs. Denver last week, and they buried me. A couple fluky Manning INTs made me think I might abscond with an undeserved cover, but it was a bad bet. Goddamn, this team just isn't any good.
New York, on the other hand, is (a) coming off a loss, and (b) on the road, where they inexplicably seem to play better. I'd feel a little more comfortable if their division rivals didn't go 0-3 last week, but the G-Men should come out fired up regardless.
If the Broncos get 3.5 against the Bengals and the Giants get four, I believe the implication is that New York is only half a point better than Denver. That's simply not true.
Giants by a touchdown—at least.
San Diego Chargers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3)
This is a pure value bet. Getting three points at home means that Vegas is ostensibly calling the Bucs and Chargers even teams.
My eyes tell me something different.
The Bucs' recent offensive explosion has vaulted them back into playoff contention, but they've been sneaky good all season long. Freeman and company have yet to lose a game by more than a touchdown under new head coach Greg Schiano.
San Diego, meanwhile, is also in the thick of a playoff race, but their road has looked far rockier. A dominating Thursday night victory over the Chiefs ended a three-game skid, but beating down on a bunch of fringe-NFL players is hardly enough to inspire confidence.
At 23-22, I'm one of the few Supercontest contestants who has yet to push a game this year. Although this could easily be the game where that comes to an end, I'll take the home-field and coaching advantage in Tampa. #FireNorv
Detroit Lions (-2.5) at Minnesota Vikings
Never tie your hopes to a sinking ship, right?
The Vikings' season is starting to implode, albeit predictably, in front of our eyes, as early-season darling Christian Ponder has struggled to maintain a level of consistency.
The Lions, on the other hand, are finally starting to play like the 10-6 team that made the playoffs last season. Last week's demolition of the Jaguars in Jacksonville is exactly what a good team is supposed to do when they play an inferior opponent on the road.
It's hard to beat any team twice, and the Vikings already pilfered a game from Detroit at Ford Field. Look for the Lions to flip the script in this one, even if Adrian Peterson is poised to put up some solid fantasy numbers against a suspect defense.
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles (+1.5)
It's absurd, obscene, and farcical to put any money on the Eagles after watching their offensive line perform in New Orleans, but I'm gonna go for it anyway.
Philly's got the worst front line in the NFL right now, but they have innovative coaches and a mobile quarterback, who should be able to work around their deficiencies (at least to some extent). Prior to the last couple of weeks, against two of the league's best offenses, the Eagles defense has looked good, and they should come out fired up against a division opponent at home.
The loser of this one can officially bury the hatchet on their season, so it should be nice and physical. And while it may––and probably will––come back to which coach wants to win the game less, Philly against an NFC East opponent at home has always been smart money.
Especially as underdogs.
Houston Texans at Chicago Bears (-1)
This is clearly the must-watch game of Week 10, and with good reason. These teams are essentially mirrors of one another: 7-1 record, fickle quarterback, all-world wide receiver, dynamic running back, ball-hawking defense.
These two pleasant surprises will go head-to-head in what could very well be a preview of this year's Super Bowl. I've got them valued at about even and was expecting to see the line at Bears -3, so my eyes widened when I saw it this low.
In what essentially amounts to a pick 'em, I'll gladly take the home team with the slightly better defense.