As advertised, the NFL's Week 10 slate is going to be one of the season's toughest.
Look at Thursday, where a Pittsburgh Steelers team welcomed the strong Carolina Panthers to town on a short week while favored by only four points.
The Steelers quickly turned it into a 52-21 blowout, hurting plenty of bettors in a single swoop—especially those who thought Cam Newton's strong stretch would include beating up on a bad Steelers defense.
So goes the pitfalls of being this late in the season. Out in the cold, bad teams shrivel and contenders keep heating up, something we'll see again across a slate littered with huge lines and tough decisions for would-be bettors.
Week 10 NFL Odds
Arizona at Kansas City (-17) | O/U 50
Buffalo at N.Y. Jets (-7) | O/U 37
Jacksonville at Indianapolis (-3) | O/U 46.5
New England (-7) at Tennessee | O/U n/a
New Orleans (-6) at Cincinnati | O/U 54
Washington at Tampa Bay (-3) | O/U 51.5
Atlanta (-6.5) at Cleveland | O/U 51
Detroit at Chicago (-7) | O/U 45
L.A. Chargers (-10.5) at Oakland | O/U 50.5
Miami at Green Bay (-10) | O/U 47.5
Seattle at L.A. Rams (-9.5) | O/U 51.5
Dallas at Philadelphia (-7.5) | O/U n/a
N.Y. Giants at San Francisco (-3) | O/U 43.5
Jacksonville at Indianapolis (-3)
Not too long ago, one would have thought the Jacksonville Jaguars could go into Indianapolis and be huge favorites over the Colts.
But look at what elite franchise quarterbacks can do.
Andrew Luck has improved as the season progresses, putting more zip on his passes, expanding the playbook and involving more weapons as he goes. He's sitting on a 65.8 completion percentage with 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions with multiple touchdowns in five consecutive games, throwing for three or more in each game of the stretch.
This hasn't produced droves of wins for the Colts by any means, as one of the NFL's secretly worst front offices continues to have problems building the defense, but playing contenders like Philadelphia, Houston and New England over that stretch hasn't helped.
While Luck has returned to form, the Jaguars have fallen off the face of the planet and hobble into this one.
Two key Jaguars starters show up on the injury report:
The Jaguars defense has let up 30, 40, 20 and 24 points over its last four outings, all losses. Not surprisingly, the Blake Bortles-led offense hasn't scored more than 18 points in a game during that stretch.
These Jaguars are a long, long way from being the team that scored a win over New England in Week 2, and even that now looks suspect because the Patriots tend to start seasons slowly.
At home and without having to worry about Jalen Ramsey, Luck shouldn't have a problem keeping his hot streak going as two AFC South teams heading in different directions pass one another on their respective paths.
Prediction: Colts 27, Jaguars 17
L.A. Chargers (-10.5) at Oakland
It doesn't get much easier than this.
Big spread or not, rolling with the Los Angeles Chargers over the Oakland Raiders makes plenty of sense. The 10-year rebuilding plan around Jon Gruden's vision has the Raiders with just one win on the season—an overtime affair against the Cleveland Browns.
Oakland enters this one as a loser of four in a row, including a 27-3 loss to Seattle and a 34-3 loss to San Francisco on a Thursday game in which it was abundantly clear the players stopped buying into what Gruden is selling.
Along the way, Derek Carr has only thrown 10 touchdowns against eight interceptions and Marshawn Lynch has been lost for the season. The offense took another hit with the trade of Amari Cooper, and the Khalil Mack-less defense ranks 31st, coughing up 31.5 points per game.
It's fitting Oakland has commanded so much attention alongside the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West—it has allowed the Chargers to fly under the radar.
Normally, a six-win team with an elite quarterback under center and a defense only allowing 22.5 points per game would get more attention.
But as usual with Philip Rivers, he isn't getting much in the way to credit at all:
All Rivers has done this year is complete 67.1 percent of his passes with 19 touchdowns and just three interceptions, keying a 6-2 sprint where the only losses were understandable against Kansas City and the Los Angeles Rams.
Last time out, Rivers went to Seattle and downed the Seahawks, 25-17, casually throwing two touchdowns while his defense allowed just 356 total yards despite being outsnapped 75-50.
The Raiders don't have the firepower to match the Chargers, something seen in Week 5 already when the Chargers put up a 26-10 win over their rivals. With the Raiders players seemingly giving up and with the side losing even more talent since, this one could be uglier.
Prediction: Chargers 34, Raiders 10
Miami at Green Bay (-10)
Here's another big line that shouldn't scare bettors away.
Yes, the Green Bay Packers have lost two in a row, but losing to the Rams and the Patriots on the road isn't something that should dramatically influence future decisions from a picks standpoint. While the Packers haven't been perfect, Aaron Rodgers still starts from under center and has casually put up 15 touchdowns and one interception this year.
While shoddy playcalling has held the Packers back from realizing potential, one look at the injury report for Week 10 still says quite a bit:
Those Dolphins enter riding a win over the Jets, but losses to the Patriots (38-7), Cincinnati Bengals, (27-17), Detroit Lions (32-21) and Texans (42-23) since Week 4 are more telling about how the team performs against competent competition.
With that context in mind, also remember it's the Brock Osweiler show, and he only has six touchdowns against three interceptions this year. He's leading an offense that has come back down to earth after the first few weeks saw it catch opponents off guard despite losing a talent like Jarvis Landry.
In short, Osweiler isn't going to go to Green Bay in the cold of November and steal a win. While neither team has overly impressed, the Dolphins are mediocre enough to provide Rodgers wiggle room to overcome both them and his own coaching staff before looking ahead to a date with Seattle.
Prediction: Packers 24, Jets 7
Odds via OddsShark