NFL Picks Week 10: Underdogs Sure to Cover the Spread

Avi Wolfman-ArentCorrespondent IINovember 12, 2011

NFL Picks Week 10: Underdogs Sure to Cover the Spread

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    Put the Week 10 upset police on high alert, the following NFL teams will cover the spread on Sunday.

    It's a topsy-turvy game this NFL thing; it rewards those willing to break with convention. Swim with conventional wisdom and you're sure to drown.

    So take your money to Las Vegas and pick these teams. While you're there check out Pacquaio-Marquez, because you wouldn't want to waste a trip to the desert.

Washington Redskins

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    Line Says: Miami Dolphins by 4

    The Miami Dolphins win one lousy game (last week) against one lousy team (Kansas City) and they're a four-point favorite? Sorry, I'm not buying that.

    Both the Dolphins and Redskins rank in the top half of the league in scoring defense and near the bottom in scoring offense (Miami's 25th, the Redskins 27th). It smells like an ugly, low-scoring affair with little separation between the two sides.

    And throw out the three-point cushion Miami gets as the home team. The Dolphins haven't won in South Florida in their past seven tries, so I'm thinking the home faithful aren't doing much to improve their chances.

    I can't see Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore doing enough against the Redskins D to give Miami a one-touchdown margin or greater. This game comes down to a field goal, with the Redskins just as likely to win as the Dolphins. 

Arizona Cardinals

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    Line Says: Philadelphia Eagles by 15

    This is less a matter of matchup and more a matter of principal. In today's NFL, with parity so pervasive and talent so deep, it's hard for me to get behind a 15-point spread.

    Unless you're the Green Bay Packers, don't count on a margin of victory greater than two touchdowns.

    Take that statement to the Nth degree when considering the wildly inconsistent Philadelphia Eagles—they'll still win against Arizona, but turnovers will keep the game close.

Seattle Seahawks

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    Line Says: Baltimore Ravens by 7.5

    Take what I said about the Miami Dolphins—their lack of home field advantage—and flip it for the Seattle Seahawks.

    Seattle's a bad team that gets appreciably better at home. Including their playoff win against New Orleans, the Seahawks went 6-3 at home in 2010. So far this year they're 1-2, but one of those losses came to Atlanta by just two points.

    Seattle's defense hovers right around the league average in yards allowed and has enough muscle to keep Baltimore close through most the game. Remember last time the Ravens came off an emotional win against the Pittsburgh Steelers? They stunk up the joint in a blowout loss to Tennessee.

    This time they'll have to fly cross-country to play in a tough road stadium. Even with Baltimore's distinct talent advantage, I expect this game to be decided by one touchdown or less.

    Baltimore still wins, but it stays close.

New York Giants

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    Line Says: San Francisco 49ers by 3.5

    They're a 7-1 playoff lock with a championship-caliber defense; so why don't I trust the San Francisco 49ers? Two things.

    Thing one: Alex Smith. His yards per game are down (even compared to lackluster career numbers) and he's bound to start hurting this team.

    He's serviceable right now because he's been intercepted on just one percent of his drop-backs—easily a career best—but I don't think that will keep.

    Thing two: San Francisco's been outgained in half of their games this year; they've only lost one of those games and that simply cannot hold. You cannot get outgained every other week and win more than 75 percent of your games—at least not in the long run.

    The averages catch up to San Francisco this week, as the Giants pass rush harasses Alex Smith into key mistakes and Eli Manning does enough to keep a very good defense at bay.

Minnesota Vikings

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    Line Says: Green Bay Packers by 13.5

    Sure the Packers are dominant, but how many times have they beaten an opponent by more than 13 this year? Just twice; twice in eight games.

    That is to say, it's a less likely outcome than you might imagine.

    Three weeks ago Minnesota played Green Bay and lost by just six, and they actually outgained the Pack in that game, amassing over 200 rushing yards.

    Aaron Rodgers might be the best player in this game, but Adrian Peterson is the second-best. That rushing attack will keep Minnesota in this Monday night road contest and prevent the Green Bay hounds from circling rookie QB Christian Ponder.

    Minnesota keeps this one close before stumbling in the second half.