NFL Predictions Week 10: S/U, Against the Spread, Over/Under

Barbara BrunoContributor IINovember 9, 2011

NFL Predictions Week 10: S/U, Against the Spread, Over/Under

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    Picks Record Through Week 9

    Straight Up:  86-43   Against the Spread:  72-57   Over/Under:  63-66

    nfl.com headline:

    Colts/Pats off Sunday Night Schedule!

    Ya think? Peyton Manning is anticipating such a terrible season that he held a “spontaneous” (yeah, right) press conference at his locker, stating that he must return to the practice field in December so that the Colts have a chance to evaluate him. Wow.

    Translation:  “I’m going to prove to you that you don’t need to go nuts and draft Andrew Luck.” Stay tuned.

    As for last week’s picks, I admit it, I got caught up in the euphoria and picked Kansas City and Philadelphia. Shame on me. I’m a sucker for a good coaching story and I thought we had two.

    I still think that Haley and Castillo are good coaches. And if they don’t get summarily fired, their guys will improve.

    Castillo has the D-line cooking; the secondary is meshing. So let’s cut him some slack on those linebackers. Out of the three starters and the three backups, two are rookies, two are sophomores, and one is a third year man. They’re hardly out of diapers! And they are getting better.

    I just clearly overestimated both their ability to deal with Cutler, Forte and Barber and Vick’s ability to deal with Briggs and Urlacher. Maybe the Chicago D read how I was calling them old. Please don’t tell them where I live.

    Picks Disclaimer:

    Sometimes one just has to go with picks that seem a bit crazy. This is one of those weeks. Feel free to laugh at my logic and not follow my lead!

Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers

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    Straight Up:  San Diego

    Against the Spread:  Oakland +6.5

    Over/Under:  Cloudy and cooltheoretically good weather for both QBs to get on track. Over 48

    I don’t know how many more different ways that Philip Rivers can blame himself for everything. Enough already. It’s not all his fault. He probably thought he’d have a running game. Ryan Mathews is probable, so maybe he will. The one game in which Mike Tolbert was extensively utilized, the Chargers won. But WR Malcolm Floyd is out for this one. Great.

    It’s not all Carson’s fault either. He probably thought he’d have a running game. McFadden is out.

    I keep thinking that the Chargers simply must rally, but this is their third game in 11 days (including the game days). That’s pretty brutal. We can say this is a “must win” all we want to and it may not translate into a victory.

    But I am going to pick them because their best feature is their secondary, anchored by Weddle (a free agent actually earning his contract). You couldn’t prove this premise based on their performance against Aaron Rodgers, but I think they’ll be more disruptive against a Carson Palmer, who may wish he’d stayed in his living room.

    Watch the Chargers in the fourth quarter—they’ll be tired.

Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles

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    Straight Up:  Philly

    Against the Spread:  Philadelphia -13.5 (do not go over two TDs)

    Over/Under: sunny and mild. Under 47.5

    Yeah, I know, I just went down in flames with the Eagles on Monday. But this is the Cardinals flying east. With John Skelton under center. The Cardinals only hope is that Beanie Wells is all better and can run successfully against a Philly D giving up only 97 yards per game on the ground. Hmmm.

    On the other hand, Coach Andy Reid does much better with more time to prepare, and this is just four days. Reid may want to stick Cards’ return man Patrick Peterson in a locked closet somewhere just to be safe, but if Philly can’t beat this group, they will be right back in the “laughing stocks.”

    A tiny tip for Whisenhunt: when your QB gets two safeties in a game, it’s not going well.

Tennessee Titans at Carolina Panthers

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    Straight Up:  Carolina

    Against the Spread:  Carolina -2.5

    Over/Under:  sunny and lovely. Under 46

    Every week, we say that Chris Johnson is going to turn on the jets. Every week, we say that Fantastic Cam Newton will get a win. One of these things will happen Sunday. Probably not both.

    Neither team can stop the run, but the DeAngelo Williams/Jonathan Stewart combo is faring much better in 2011 than Mr. Johnson. Advantage Carolina.

    The Panthers’ defense is doing decently against the pass. As long as they are able to cover Titans’ TE Craig Stevens with one of their benchwarmer LBs, Carolina should be able to mostly handle a Matt Hasselbeck utterly devoid of offensive weapons.

    However, the Titans’ D may be giving up 412 yards per game, but opponents are scoring 25 points. And that has been Cam’s M.O. thus far: lots of yards, not so many points. I think he gets it done this week.

    I love Matt H. and am so sorry he is having this kind of year. Who would have thought this would happen when they came to him and said, “Yo, Matt, we’ll give you Chris Johnson, Kenny Britt and an actual O-line. Come on down to Nashville.” Poor guy

Houston Texans at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Straight Up:  Houston

    Against the Spread:  Houston -3.5

    Over/Under:  sunny and not too hot. Under 45.5

    Somebody hired Albert Haynesworth? How many more teams are going to try this guy out on Dan Snyder's dime. One more, evidently, since Tampa Bay claimed No. 92 off waivers. It's a mystery.

    On paper, this should not be much of a contest. Everyone keeps saying that Houston is a playoff team. I know they are 6-3, but I just cannot bring myself to care. Without Andre Johnson and Mario Williams, they don’t sparkle in the entertainment department, even though I give them kudos for continuing to win.

    I mean, the last two games featured rushing touchdowns by QB Matt Schaub. I know he’s a good passer and he seems like a classy guy—but Matt Schaub? I do not want to pay money to see him run just because he doesn’t have any WRs whose names anyone remembers.

    Thank goodness for Arian Foster or they would be the most boring winning team in the league. Tampa’s loss of D-lineman McCoy will not help their ability to stop Foster and Tate on the ground, Haynesworth or no Haynesworth.

    One thing you cannot say about a team with LeGarrette Blount on it is that it is boring. I wouldn’t want to make him angry, but I do like to watch him run the football. With him back in the fold, the Bucs should fare better than their current 77 yards per game on the ground. Although the Texans are only allowing 60. Wow. Maybe not.

Washington Redskins at Miami Dolphins

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    Straight Up:  Miami

    Against the Spread:  Washington +3.5

    Over/Under:  Under 37.5 There will be wind.

    I think the Dolphins are probably in better shape here, but it’s truly a case of which train wreck is worse. I’m picking Washington because I’m a shameless homer, but I certainly would not put a penny on them. Sorry, ‘Skins.

    Statistically, the Dolphins should kill Washington. But the ‘Fins don’t play well at home and I expect the crowd to be less than supportive at the first sign of trouble. And Redskins’ LBs Orakpo and Kerrigan can bring trouble.

    Neither team can pass worth “diddly poo,” so the game will be decided on the ground. If Reggie Bush can continue his newfound vitality, this one will be over early. Odds are in his favor since the Redskins’ rush D is pitiful (over 150 yards against them per week).

    But I hold out hope that Washington’s Torain can pound the rock, too. Or maybe even Tashard Choice, who is optimistic about playing.

    Don’t listen to me on this pick: I’m clearly delusional. Playoffs?

St. Louis Rams at Cleveland Browns

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    Straight Up:  Cleveland

    Against the Spread:  Cleveland -2.5 (and not a half a point more)

    Over/Under:  Under 37.5 (you know why)

    If it weren’t for Steven Jackson, there would be no earthly reason to watch this game—even in Cleveland and St. Louis. Other than No. 39 slashing, dashing and flying down the field, the only issue of marginal interest is whether Pat Shurmur will be able to take advantage of his intimate knowledge of Sam Bradford. He did coach the Rams’ QB to Rookie of the Year status in 2010, so he should be ideally suited to know how to shut No. 8 down.

    Bradford would probably like to take Shurmur home with him, since the Josh McDaniels experiment is a disaster for the Rams’ offense. Like that’s a surprise. Chalk Josh up to another of the scores of people Tom Brady has made look talented over the past decade.

    As optimistic as I am forcing myself to be, I have no idea who will be healthy enough to run the football for the Browns, and that is the key to the game. Here is your moment, Chris Ogbonnaya. If you don’t gain more than 28 yards, Holmgren will start pulling in guys off the street. At half-time.

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons

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    Straight Up:  New Orleans

    Against the Spread:  New Orleans -.5

    Over/Under: Over 49.5

    Call up all of your friends who only like football when it’s an offensive spectacle.

    Statistically speaking, New Orleans has a three point advantage. Well, that’s not very helpful with these offenses. The Saints are leading the division coming in, but if they lose in the Georgia Dome, it will be a tie at the top of the NFC South. So, the game matters. A lot.

    Oddly enough, as high-flying as they both are (and welcome to the NFL Mr. Julio Jones), I think the game will ultimately be decided on the ground.

    Atlanta’s biggest advantage is studly RB Michael Turner; the Saints are surrendering almost 141 points per game on the ground. Oh dear. Advantage Falcons.

    Both teams give up less than 200 yards per week through the air. Advantage Falcons.

    If Gregg Williams perplexingly toothless D doesn’t find its growl on Sunday, Atlanta could walk (run) away with this one.

Buffalo Bills at Dallas Cowboys

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    Straight Up:  Buffalo Bills

    Against the Spread:  Buffalo +5.5

    Over/Under:  Over 48

    Take your pick of facts for this contest:

    Dallas is scoring two more points per game than the Bills. Both teams allow opponents to score 18 points. The Bills just lost their NT. The Cowboys have lost their mojo. The Bills just lost a bit of swagger in losing to the Jets. Chan Gailey is the more even-keeled coach. The Bills aren’t that spectacular on the road.

    This is one of those picks I warned you about—I’m going with the Bills because:

    1)    I think the AFC East is tougher competition than the NFC East this year.

    2)    Dallas is giving up 6.6 yards per rush and Fred Jackson is coming to town.

    3)    Fitzpatrick is less of a head case than Romo.

    4)    Miles Austin is not playing for the ‘Boys.

    5)    I hate Dallas.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals

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    Straight Up:  Pittsburgh

    Against the Spread:  Cincinnati +3.5

    Over/Under: mostly sunny and high 50s. Lucky fans. Over 41.5

    I’d say, “Age before beauty,” but the Bengals aren’t exactly pretty.

    Ultimately, the Ravens “tugged on Superman’s cape” Sunday night. Well, actually, they ripped it off and stomped on it. So, unless they are too tuckered out, the Steelers will be breathing fire coming off the bus.

    Bizarrely, this AFC North showdown will be decided by the passing game:  neither team is rushing for 100 yards and neither team has allowed more than 77 ground yards to the opponents on average.

    This should favor the veteran Ben and his guys. But the Bengals are giving away less than 16 points per game. Finally a Marvin Lewis defense that looks like a Marvin Lewis defense!

    I think that if young TE Gresham can be there for even younger QB Dalton, the young’uns have a chance. A small chance. And I really want to believe.

Baltimore Ravens at Seattle Seahawks

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    Straight Up:  Baltimore

    Against the Spread:  Seattle +7.5

    Over/Under: Over 41 cloudy, 40s, chance of showers.

    Let’s see: Tavaris Jackson is a bust—again. He must be a really nice guy to get all of these chances. Charlie Whitehurst is not looking promising.

    Who is the third string quarterback? Josh Portis (yes, he’s Clinton’s cousin). No career stats. Okay. All I can say is that in preseason he looked like a 24-year-old QB with no career stats. So...Charlie it is! Terrific.

    Combine a woeful Seattle offense with a very good Ravens’ defense and Baltimore should walk away from this point with a 10 point win. But they have got to be tired and beat up from Monday night. This has trap game written all over it.

    I think they will be happy and confident enough that they’ll win, but I wouldn’t guarantee it, since they have a habit of only playing to the level of their competition.

    Unless Ray Rice is absolutely exhausted, he should have a good day against the Seattle D (over 132 yards rushing given up weekly). Even if he is, there is a happy and fresh Ricky Williams ready to carry the rock.

    Lee Evans might even be back as a target for Flacco. That will be the most interesting part of this game if he can play.

    Unless Seattle RB Leon Washington returns two kicks for scores and Marshawn Lynch has a 125-yard day, Baltimore should win. But I’m afraid that they won’t cover due to the letdown.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts

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    Straight Up:  Jacksonville

    Against the Spread:  Jacksonville -3.5

    Over/Under:  Under 38 

    This game will be the antithesis of last week’s Green Bay/San Diego matchup. Despite the presence of Reggie Wayne and Maurice Jones-Drew, these teams seem to think that offense is optional in 2011.

    I was going to try picking the Colts again this week against a pitiful Jags’ O, but then Dallas Clark got hurt, which means there's one less scoring possibility on a team that already can’t get it in the endzone. This team has averaged eight points per week in the past month. Is there ice water in hell yet?

    Jacksonville hasn’t been much better, but they have the advantage of facing a Colts’ D that is presenting opponents with forty points per game. Forty!

    Bottom line: neither team can score, Indy can’t stop anyone from scoring. But the Jaguars have a defense.

Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs

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    Straight Up:  Kansas City

    Against the Spread:  Kansas City -3.5

    Over/Under:  Over 41 It may rain late.

    I realize that me telling you I have absolutely no idea who will win this game isn’t very helpful. But, seriously, no one knows.

    That said, Denver has covered almost 225 yards on the ground this month. Yeah, that’s a shock with No. 15 in the game. The KC rush D isn’t very strong, so that’s an advantage for Team Tebow.

    I’m picking KC because I think that they have a stronger defense overall. But if Denver sticks with McGahee pounding the rock, they could prevail.

Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears

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    Straight Up:  Chicago

    Against the Spread:  Chicago -.5

    Over/Under:  Over 45.5

    Chicago has a short week after their tough win over Philly. They could be primed for a letdown. Bears’ fans had better hope that Lovie has them focused for this very, very important divisional game.

    It’s hard not to go with the Bears on the running game alone. Matt Forte and Marion Barber are a daunting prospect for any D. Even one with Ndamukong Suh and Kyle Vanden Bosch.

    Meanwhile, the Lions have Maurice Morris, Keiland Williams and Kevin Smith. Hmmm. Advantage Bears. Big advantage Bears.

    Of course, it won’t matter unless that infamously porous Chicago O-line can protect Cutler. (Did you see him? He actually smiled last week. Wow.) Unfortunately for Jay this means advantage Detroit.

    Fly in the ointment: Devin Hester hurt his ankle Monday. That’ll put a dent in the Bears’ offense and special teams production.

    Da Bears’ defense needs to show me some conditioning on Sunday as they try (emphasis on “try”) to cover Calvin Johnson and those accurate Matthew Stafford deep balls.

New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers

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    Straight Up:  Giants—Eli is a very good road QB (30-13 ATS in last 43 road games)

    Against the Spread:  Giants +3.5

    Over/Under:  Under 42.5

    This is another potential letdown disaster after Big Blue beat the arch-rival Pats. Don’t try to tell this team that wasn’t a huge re-match.

    I hope for New York fans that Coughlin has been parading SF defensive stats before his guys all week. Because this 49ers defensive unit rocks.

    In the past month, they have given up 13.3 points per game, 61 rushing yards and an average of 239 passing yards. That’ll give you pause. Especially if you are an emotionally spent team having run difficulties anyway. And travelling across country.

    Then there’s a New York D that’s allowing 135.3 yards rushing these days. That’s the scariest stat in this whole pick. Osi, Justin, Mathias—meet Frank Gore.

    I have to go with the G-men on QB play. I know, I’m hyping Alex Smith as Comeback Player of the Year (and I mean it), but let’s get real.

    Unless the somewhat shuffled O-line can’t protect No. 10 or Eli has one of those INT-happy days, New York should win this one.

    But it’s a real trap game, so don’t go crazy.

New England Patriots at New York Jets

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    Straight Up:  New York Jets

    Against the Spread:  New York Jets -1.5

    Over/Under:  Over 47.5

    I’m probably insane to even suggest that the Pats will lose three in a row, particularly to a team as streaky as Gang Green. But nobody thought they’d lose again at home (ever, in perpetuity). So, yes, it’s possible.

    This is not scientific (and cyber-metrics people close your eyes), but…the Jets are having more fun. A lot more fun.

    Can’t you just feel the pressure sitting on those young Patriots players? I’m not concerned about Belichick, Welker and Brady, but I’m not at all sure that this isn’t getting to the D and the TEs.

    There are three keys to this matchup.

    1)    The Giants showed you how to do this—get to Brady!

    2)    Whichever of Welker or Tomlinson has the better day, their team will win. Welker is the ultimate “something out of nothing” guy, and LT is having a field day proving he’s still got it. Well, okay, he’s still got some of it. Maybe enough.

    3)    If the Jets can keep the offense steady with LT and Greene running the ball against the Pats’ defense (giving up 95 per game this month), then Sanchez has a chance to not get twitchy.

    Tip to New York linebackers:  if Kevin Faulk plays (knee) and he’s in the game on third down, he is going to get the football.

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers

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    Straight Up:  Green Bay

    Against the Spread:  Minnesota +13.5

    Over/Under: Under 51.5 It might be raining, and that might upset the Packers’ game plan. If it doesn’t rain after all, switch to the Over.

    The Vikings almost pulled off a fourth-quarter comeback upset two weeks ago. I’d be a lot more optimistic about that if it weren’t for the fact that nobody had ever seen Ponder play and now there is film on him.

    But still, thirteen and a half points is a lot against a team with Adrian Peterson.

    We all know how this is going to go:

    1)    Adrian Peterson will battle the rather weak Packers’ D and see if he can loosen things up enough for Ponder to throw it to Shiancoe.

    2)    The old Vikings’ secondary is going to lose its collective mind trying to cover the 17 people to whom Rodgers throws the ball. They will try to do this minus Chris Cook (arrested for domestic violence) and Antoine Winfield (neck). Hmmm.

    3)    Actually, that second one is impossible, so I think the game comes down to whether or not Jared Allen and Company can re-route Aaron Rodgers’ day. Completely.

    This is a truly crazy week in which the folks in Vegas, football faithful and reality come together to make spreads that are entirely too accurate to please prognosticators like me. But that only means we will probably see some rockin' football--starting Thursday!