NFL Picks Against the Spread for Week 10: Steelers, 49ers and Patriots to Cover

Kevin HansonAnalyst IIINovember 12, 2011

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 12:  Rashard Mendenhall #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs with the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals during the game on December 12, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Picking three NFL games against the spread (ATS) every week for entertainment purposes, my official goal is to finish 2-1 (or better) ATS each week.

Fortunately, I've been more successful than that this season, so a 2-1 record last week dropped me to 19-6-2 (76.0 percent) ATS on the season through Week 9.

My one loss last week was my Cowboys (-11) pick over the Seahawks. The Cowboys won by only 10 points after the Seahawks converted a 4th-and-7 in the fourth quarter and ultimately scored on that drive with a Marshawn Lynch rushing touchdown.

Two of my six losses have been come-from-behind covers by the Seahawks as I had picked against them in Week 4 when they hosted the Falcons, who were 4.5-point favorites and blew a 20-point lead to win by only two points (and not cover).

Here are my three Week 10 picks against the spread:

Pittsburgh Steelers (-4) over Cincinnati Bengals

After the first quarter of the season, the Steelers had allowed more rushing yards than they have through Week 4 in any season since 1994. Since then, however, they have turned things around and rank sixth in the NFL in rushing defense (95.6 yards allowed per game).

Since allowing Houston's Arian Foster to rush for 155 yards in Week 4, they have not allowed a 100-yard rusher. In addition, no running back has more than 43 yards against them in their past three games and those backs include Baltimore's Ray Rice, Arizona's Beanie Wells and New England's BenJarvus Green-Ellis. In other words, I don't expect Cincinnati's Cedric Benson, who has been very mediocre this season, to have a strong game.

Meanwhile, the Steelers pass defense has been even stronger than their run defense as they have allowed the third-fewest passing yards this season. As great as A.J. Green and solid as Andy Dalton have played this season, it would not surprise me to see the Bengals' offense sputter this week.

[In fact, the Bengals face a team that ranks in the top four in pass defense in each of their next five games (Bengals' full 2011 schedule): Steelers twice, Browns, Ravens and Texans.]

While the Bengals defense is strong, they have a strong group of young offensive skill players and a few high draft picks from Oakland coming their way, their long-term future looks positive. Their short-term future, on the other hand, does not as the Bengals end their five-game winning streak this week.

San Francisco 49ers (-3.5) over New York Giants

Aside from an overtime loss to the Cowboys, the 49ers have not lost a game this year. After getting a tough come-from-behind road victory over the Patriots last week, the Giants head to the west coast for another tough matchup, which could have playoff-positioning implications.

In fact, the Giants have a brutal schedule from last week through the end of the season.

For a second week in a row, the Giants will be without running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who has a cracked bone in his foot. Even with Bradshaw, however, it may not have mattered. The 49ers rank first in the NFL in rush defense (70.8 yards per game allowed) and are the only team in the league to not have allowed a rushing touchdown this season.

On the other hand, 49ers running back Frank Gore is dealing with an ankle injury, but he is expected to play this week. Gore has a five-game streak of 100-yard rushing games and the Giants have been bad against the run this season. Not only are they in the bottom ten in the league in rush defense, the Giants have allowed a running back to finish with 98 rushing yards or more for five straight weeks before last week.

With five of their seven remaining games after this week against the Cardinals, Rams and Seahawks, the Niners have a legitimate shot to win 13 games (or more) this season.

New England Patriots (+1.5) over New York Jets

When the Jets host the Patriots on Sunday Night Football, the game will feature one team on a three-game winning streak and another looking to avoid a three-game losing streak.

Against the Giants, who have struggled to stop the run as noted above, I expected the Pats to give BenJarvus Green-Ellis many more carries than they actually did. It is not that he was unproductive running the ball, but The Law Firm had only 12 carries for 52 yards. In fact, the trio of Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead and Stevan Ridley had only 22 carries.

With the Darrelle Revis likely on Wes Welker, who leads the NFL in receptions (66) and receiving yards (960), it is unlikely that Welker has another big game. In their first matchup, Welker had five receptions for 124 yards but that included a 73-yard reception that Revis is unlikely to give up again.

Provided the Patriots are more committed to the run as they were in their first win over the Jets, they can avoid another loss. In that nine-point win in Foxboro, Green-Ellis had 27 carries for 136 yards and two touchdowns, all season highs, and Stevan Ridley carried the ball seven times as well.

If the Patriots lose Sunday night, it will be the first time since 2002 that they have lost three consecutive games. Perhaps this pick is as much of a hunch as anything, but I just can't see a Brady-led team losing three straight regular-season games.

Not only do I pick three games against the spread each week, but so do the other two "handicappers" at The Weekly Blitz. To see their picks, click here.

For positional and/or flex rankings for both standard-scoring and/or point-per-reception (PPR) scoring formats, check out our fantasy section at

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