To say the last two weeks of NFL picks have been bad is an understatement. After starting the first eight weeks of the season at 63 percent overall (straight, spread and O/U combined), I have put together back-to-back mediocre performances to drop those numbers on the season to:
Straight Up: 99-47 (68 percent)
Spread: 87-59 (60 [percent)
Over/Under: 77-69 (53 percent)
For an overall percentage through Week 10 of 60 percent. While this number is still respectable, it never feels good to move in the wrong direction. With that being said, the past two weeks showed some big upsets and proved to be difficult ones to pick. Now it's time to get back into the swing of things with a big week.
This is how I plan to do it!
New York Jets (-6) at Denver Broncos (O/U=40.5)
The Broncos and ever polarizing QB Tim Tebow showed in Week 10 against the Chiefs that you don't necessarily have to pass the ball to win. Tebow only completed two passes for 69 yards on the way to a 17-10 victory over KC. In doing so, the Denver offense lost RB Knowshon Moreno for the year, and Willis McGahee was hurt as well, but may return for this Thursday night matchup.
Whether he does or not, it is clear that the Broncos offense will heavily favor the run moving forward, and against a stingy Jets D eager to redeem itself after a thrashing by the Patriots, I don't see John Fox's group putting up much of a fight at Mile High.
Straight: New York
Spread: New York
Carolina Panthers (+7) at Detroit Lions (O/U=47.5)
Both teams are coming off of demoralizing losses in Week 10 and look for a bounce-back game in this one. Fortunately for Detroit, they have more talent on both sides of the ball to bounce back with. The key to defeating Carolina is clearly to slow down rookie phenom Cam Newton, and I think Gunther Cunningham will have the Lions D ready to do just that. The Lions gain back a little momentum in this one heading into a tough stretch the next couple weeks.
Oakland Raiders (-1) at Minnesota Vikings (O/U=45.5)
The black and silver surprised a lot of people last Thursday with a victory over the fading Chargers. Carson Palmer led a balanced attack featuring big games by WR Denarius Moore and RB Michael Bush. The Vikings, on the other hand, became the latest victim in the Packers season on Monday Night Football as they fell hard to their still unbeaten division foes.
I still don't have full confidence in that Raider offense, and I think that Jared Allen's presence on the D-Line will be enough to disrupt Palmer's rhythm. Call me crazy, but I'm taking the Vikes in a close one at home.
Dallas Cowboys (-7.5) at Washington Redskins (O/U=41.5)
The Dallas offense has truly come into their own since rookie RB DeMarco Murray took over for injured Felix Jones in the backfield and have been putting up big numbers ever sense. It will be tough for Jones to dethrone Murray after the positive impact he has had up to this point, and the Washington defense are in no position to slow him down.
As long as Sexy Rexy is at the helm, it is hard to have faith that this team can put up big numbers on offense consistently, and against a Dallas team that enters this week on fire, that is exactly what they will need to pull an upset here. Not even the hype of the rivalry can help the 'Skins pull this one out.
Buffalo Bills (+2) at Miami Dolphins (O/U = 43)
Has it really come to this? The Bills, who looked so promising to start the season, are underdogs to a Miami team that was winless just two weeks ago? I'm not buying it. Miami has taken home back-to-back wins against the Chiefs and Redskins which, in my eyes, doesn't amount to much. Buffalo's offense get's back into the groove in this one against a Dolphin team which is poised to receive a serious reality check.
Jacksonville Jaguars (-1) at Cleveland Browns (O/U = 35)
All I can say about this one is I hope it isn't the only game broadcast in your area in this time slot. The Jags have been forgettable this season behind rookie QB Blaine Gabbert, and the Browns have been equally unimpressive.
Unable to convert on a sub-25 yard field goal in Week 10, Cleveland took an embarrassing loss at home to the Rams, but the Jags really don't make things tougher on them this week. I think the sour taste of that giveaway loss is enough to get Cleveland over the hump in this one, but neither team scores much in the Stinker of the Week.
Cincinnati Bengals (+7) at Baltimore Ravens (O/U=40.5)
The Bengals proved last week in a narrow loss to the Steelers that they are not to be taken lightly despite their apparent youth in key positions. The Ravens proved, in a loss to Seattle that they are absolutely the most unpredictable team in the league. Unable to stop the Seahawks on their final drive, the Ravens D watched in agony as the clock ran to zero and Tavaris Jackson walked off the field all smiles. Hard to believe that just one week prior, they pulled one out against Pittsburgh.
This one could be the game of the week, as both team come in with something to prove after losses. Baltimore comes away with the win at home, but not by much.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+14.5) at Green Bay Packers (O/U=49)
Green Bay continued to roll against the Vikings on Monday night, and Rodgers and Company don't appear to be slowing down any time soon. It's hard to picture even a very good team beating GB at this point in time, and Tampa certainly isn't that. The Pack roll right through this one with ease at Lambeau.
Straight: Green Bay
Spread: Green Bay
Seattle Seahawks (+2) at St. Louis Rams (O/U=39)
Both of these teams eeked out wins in Week 10, and look to continue that trend here. The Seahawks victory was much more impressive over a talented Baltimore group, while the Rams escaped by just one over the lowly Browns due to the special teams gaffe mentioned earlier.
St. Louis comes back down to earth in this one as Hawks RB Marshawn Lynch vies for three straight impressive performances.
Arizona Cardinals (+9.5) at San Francisco 49ers (O/U = 41.5)
In arguably the surprise of the week, the Cards took down the Eagles, who have proven to be not nearly as scary as advertised. The Niners answered a lot of questions in a victory over the talented Giants and have definitely proven that their 8-1 record is no fluke. San Fran has yet to allow a single rushing TD this season, a jaw dropping stat at this point in the season, and although the Skelton-Fitzgerald combination was enough to squeak by the fading Eagles, it will not be nearly enough to endure the SF defense.
Straight: San Francisco
Spread: San Francisco
Tennessee Titans (+6) at Atlanta Falcons (O/U = 44)
Falcons head coach Mike Smith made the inexplicable call to go for it on fourth down in Atlanta territory in overtime against the Saints in Week 10, ultimately leading to their defeat. I don't believe Matty Ice will let them fall twice in a row at home with a loss here. Tennessee throttled the Panthers in Carolina in Week 10, and if Chris Johnson can continue to produce like he did in that one, then he gives his team a shot, but I just don't see it happening.
San Diego Chargers (+3.5) at Chicago Bears (O/U=45)
San Diego's skid has now grown to four games, as Philip Rivers continue to claim that his team's confidence has not been shaken. Well, after a couple hits by Julius Peppers, he may be changing his story.
The Bears defense was the main reason for their win over Detroit last week, and they have shown the ability to perform at a high level inside the walls of Soldier Field. My guess is they will continue to do so.
Philadelphia Eagles (+4.5) at New York Giants (O/U=47)
The Eagles proved in last week's loss to Arizona that, while they possess arguably the most talent in the league, they are clearly not ready to compete at a high level consistently quite yet. Vick will likely play following a rib injury to the Cards, but it's hard to think he will be as effective on the ground as the Eagles will need him to be to in order to hang on against Eli and the Giants. Even without RB Ahmad Bradshaw, the Giants will continue the "Dream Team's" nightmare season.
Straight: New York
Spread: New York
Kansas City Chiefs (+15) at New England Patriots (O/U = 47)
The Patriots decisive win over the Jets in Week 10 proved that amid criticism, this team is certainly still for real. Kansas City have lacked explosion on the offensive side of the ball following Jamaal Charles' early season exit, and even blew last weeks single fantastic play, a miraculous catch by WR Jon Baldwin. Not even 15 points are enough for KC in Foxboro. Brady and the Pats roll big.
Straight: New England
Spread: New England
Following a week full of even matchups in Week 9, many of this Sunday's games feature clear favorites. Not that that really means anything, as we all know anything can happen in the NFL these days. So tune in and enjoy what promises to be yet another entertaining week in the best league on the planet.