Bleacher Report's Expert Consensus Week 10 NFL Picks
It all hit the fan in Week 9 for Bleacher Report NFL correspondents Gary Davenport, Brad Gagnon, Kalyn Kahler, Matt Miller, Brent Sobleski and Master Tesfatsion, all of whom struggled mightily picking games against the spread as favorites went 5-9 ATS.
But now, the law of averages might be on the gang's side. Either that or the ship is sinking and you're welcome to fade our experts aggressively in Week 10.
Here's the damage:
1. Davenport: 68-63-2 (4-10 last week)
2. Miller: 64-63-2 (5-9 last week)
3. Kahler: 65-64-2 (4-10 last week)
4. Gagnon: 66-65-2 (3-11 last week)
5. Tesfatsion: 63-65-2 (5-8 last week)
6. Sobleski: 64-67-2 (3-11 last week)
Consensus picks: 57-56-1 (2-11 last week)
And here are 14 fresh takes and 13 new consensus picks for Week 10.
Indianapolis Colts (5-3) at Tennessee Titans (6-2)
DraftKings Line: Tennessee -2
The Tennessee Titans have covered the spread in four consecutive home games, but they're favored by just two points in Week 10 over an Indianapolis Colts squad with a worse record that is traveling on short rest.
With that in mind, the majority of our writers are backing the Titans on Thursday night in Nashville.
"The Titans are just the better team in this game," Davenport said. "Indy has all of one win against a team with a winning record, and that was against a flawed Chicago Bears team. The Colts are stout defensively, but the Titans should still have an easier time moving the ball than a Colts offense that sputtered in Week 9 against the Baltimore Ravens. Look for the Titans to eke out a close one at home to take control of the AFC South."
If Philip Rivers is on his game, a Colts team likely to get top wide receiver T.Y. Hilton back from a groin injury could easily win outright the way it did against the Detroit Lions in its last road game, but Indy could just as easily lay an egg as it did last week against the Ravens. Nothing is guaranteed here, which might explain why we lack unanimity, but the Titans look like the safer bet.
Consensus: Tennessee -2
Score Prediction: Titans 26, Colts 21
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7) at Green Bay Packers (6-2)
DraftKings Line: Green Bay -13
"The Green Bay Packers are 6-2," Tesfatsion said of Green Bay's Sunday meeting with the Jacksonville Jaguars. "Opposing teams have found success running the ball against them, and Green Bay is facing a pretty good undrafted rookie back in James Robinson. This spread is surprisingly a tough one, but it's hard for me to believe that Jake Luton can keep up with Aaron Rodgers. Packers win by two touchdowns."
Luton is making his second career start after shining in place of the injured Gardner Minshew II last week, but that came against the Houston Texans' 29th-ranked scoring defense. As Tesfatsion mentioned, Green Bay is also vulnerable on defense, but now defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has tape on Luton.
But the real clincher for our crew's decision to unanimously lay 13 points with Green Bay could be that Jacksonville has the league's worst pass defense in terms of DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) at Football Outsiders, while Rodgers is the NFL's highest-rated passer.
That's a brutal matchup for the Jags, who are 0-4 on the road with three eight-plus-point losses within that sample.
Jacksonville has four 14-plus-point losses already this season, with all of those coming against teams with worse records than the Packers. Risk the 13 points.
Davenport: Green Bay
Gagnon: Green Bay
Kahler: Green Bay
Miller: Green Bay
Sobleski: Green Bay
Tesfatsion: Green Bay
Consensus: Green Bay -13
Score Prediction: Packers 38, Jaguars 14
Philadelphia Eagles (3-4-1) at New York Giants (2-7)
DraftKings Line: Philadelphia -3.5
The Philadelphia Eagles are finally getting healthy, while the New York Giants can't beat anybody but the Washington Football Team. Those dynamics have the majority of our predictors risking a field goal plus a scary hook with an Eagles squad coming off its bye.
"At this point, your guess is as good as ours when it comes to the NFC Least and how it's going to play out this season," Sobleski admitted. "With that said, the Eagles still hold an advantage within the division. Plus, Philly is coming off its bye with a few expected returns to the lineup, particularly along the offensive line where guard Isaac Seumalo had been cleared by doctors this week and right tackle Lane Johnson had some time to heal."
But that's not all. Veteran receiver Alshon Jeffery (foot) is practicing fully for the first time all season, top back Miles Sanders (knee) has returned to practice on a limited basis, and defensive tackle Malik Jackson (quad) might have a chance to avoid a missed start as a result of the bye week.
Still, we're far from unanimous here, with Gagnon noting the Giants are pretty healthy too and have hung around of late. Each of their last five games has been decided by three or fewer points, and, for what it's worth, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is just 1-3 coming off bye weeks.
Don't go overboard on anything associated with the NFC East right now.
Gagnon: New York
Tesfatsion: New York
Consensus: Philadelphia -3.5
Score Prediction: Eagles 26, Giants 20
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3) at Carolina Panthers (3-6)
DraftKings Line: Tampa Bay -5
With age, we bounce back just a little bit more slowly. And after Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady struggled mightily in a thrashing at the hands of the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night, half of our pickers are betting the 43-year-old doesn't bounce back emphatically enough to beat the division-rival Carolina Panthers by six-plus points.
The other half is willing to lay five with the Bucs, who won't likely have to deal with an (again) injured Christian McCaffrey and could get veteran guard Ali Marpet back from a concussion.
Tesfatsion on Carolina: "The Bucs got demolished by the Saints on Sunday night, so it's easy to think they're going to have a bounce-back game against the 3-6 Panthers. I'm not so sure about that. Carolina plays hard, and it's a well-coached team that keeps it close every week. The Panthers have lost by one possession in each of the last four weeks. I think they keep it close against Tampa Bay, especially as a home underdog."
Davenport on Tampa: "The Buccaneers were embarrassed by the Saints last week, while the Panthers gave the Kansas City Chiefs all they could handle. Tampa is going to be seething after last week's beatdown, and the Buccaneers defense should tee off Sunday against a Panthers team that will apparently again be without McCaffrey. The Buccaneers dispatched the Panthers by two touchdowns in Week 2, and there's little reason to think the rematch will go much differently."
Davenport: Tampa Bay
Gagnon: Tampa Bay
Sobleski: Tampa Bay
Score Prediction: Buccaneers 28, Panthers 23
Houston Texans (2-6) at Cleveland Browns (5-3)
DraftKings Line: Cleveland -3.5
Baker Mayfield hasn't been right, Odell Beckham Jr. is out for the year, Myles Garrett has been dealing with a knee injury and 80 percent of their offensive line has been limited in practice this week, but our crew isn't giving up on a Cleveland Browns team that scored just six points in an ugly home loss ahead of its Week 9 bye.
The majority of the group is taking the Browns to cover as a 3.5-point fave Sunday against the Houston Texans.
Of course, the bye itself might have helped. Cleveland looks a little healthier now, with Mayfield and Garrett both off the injury report (the third-year quarterback was also on the reserve/COVID-19 list but has been activated from that as well). And the Texans, who haven't beaten a team not named the Jaguars this season, have one of the worst defenses in the NFL. That could make it easier to forget about OBJ's knee injury, at least for one week.
"More importantly," Sobleski added, "the standout trio of running back Nick Chubb, tight end Austin Hooper and guard Wyatt Teller all returned to practice this week."
That could make life extremely difficult on a Houston run D that ranks 28th in DVOA.
Consensus: Cleveland -3.5
Score Prediction: Browns 28, Texans 23
Washington Football Team (2-6) at Detroit Lions (3-5)
DraftKings Line: Detroit -4.5
The Detroit Lions have been handily defeated in back-to-back weeks and might still be without injured No. 1 receiver Kenny Golladay for Sunday's matchup with the unreliable but defensively stout Washington Football Team. And while there's always a risk associated with backing either of these squads, five of our six experts are confused as to why these 3-5 Lions are favored by 4.5 points against the WFT.
"The Lions have won just one game by more than a field goal this season," Gagnon said, "and that came against Jacksonville. Washington is a lot more talented than the Jags, and that increasingly strong and healthy defense probably won't have to deal with Golladay.
"Am I worried about what the WFT offense can do with a rusty Alex Smith under center? Of course, but the Lions struggle mightily against the run anyway, and Washington back Antonio Gibson is a game removed from a 128-yard performance against the Dallas Cowboys. I'm expecting something similar here as Ron Rivera's group wins outright."
It should be noted that Gibson is dealing with a shoulder injury, but fellow Washington back J.D. McKissic has also exploded with 217 scrimmage yards and a 5.8 yards-per-attempt average the last three weeks.
Consensus: Washington +4.5
Score Prediction: Washington 23, Lions 21
Buffalo Bills (7-2) at Arizona Cardinals (5-3)
DraftKings Line: Arizona -2.5
"This could easily turn into one of those games where if you use the restroom at the wrong point you'll miss two scores," Davenport said of Sunday's highly anticipated matchup between the Buffalo Bills and Arizona Cardinals. "Arizona is looking to rebound from a heartbreaker against the Miami Dolphins, while the Bills are looking to build on last week's impressive home win over the Seattle Seahawks.
"Neither of these clubs has an especially great defense, but I trust Buffalo's just a tad more. Kyler Murray and Josh Allen are going to put on a show, but when the dust settles it's going to be the Bills who leave the desert with a close win in a shootout. An extra half-point here would be nice, though."
Indeed, in order to cover, the Cards merely need to win by a field goal at home against an opponent that has a lower team DVOA. And so it's also easy to understand why this vote was far from unanimous.
Still, Buffalo is 7-2 for a reason, the evolving Cardinals have tripped up a little more often than the Bills this season, and key Cards defensive back Budda Baker is dealing with a groin injury.
The Bills aren't as hot as they were in September, but they've quietly won three straight and might present some value as an underdog in this spot.
Consensus: Buffalo +2.5
Score Prediction: Bills 30, Cardinals 27
Los Angeles Chargers (2-6) at Miami Dolphins (5-3)
DraftKings Line: Miami -2.5
"What a great rookie quarterback matchup," Tesfatsion said of Sunday's awesome battle between the Justin Herbert-led Los Angeles Chargers and the Tua Tagovailoa-led Miami Dolphins in South Florida. "Herbert has surprised me this season, and he looks like the real deal. While I was skeptical if it was time for Tua, he looked impressive last week against the Cardinals."
Indeed, Tagovailoa hit on some deep balls, made several plays with his legs and was a difference-maker in a turnover-free performance as Miami beat Arizona. But he's not the only reason the vast majority of our experts are laying 2.5 points with the Dolphins over Herbert's snakebitten Bolts.
"The difference here is going to be Miami's defense," Tesfatsion added. "It has played well the last two games, and I expect that to continue against the Chargers."
That D has surrendered just 20.1 points per game, and it has a top-10 DVOA when defending the pass. That's bad news for Herbert and a pass-oriented Chargers offense that is missing top back Austin Ekeler.
The Chargers can't seem to close games, while the Dolphins haven't lost since Week 4. Why should we bet on that changing with healthier Miami at home in this matchup? We'll risk the 2.5 points.
Kahler: Los Angeles
Consensus: Miami -2.5
Score Prediction: Dolphins 27, Chargers 21
Denver Broncos (3-5) at Las Vegas Raiders (5-3)
DraftKings Line: Las Vegas -5
The logic for the majority of our panel appears to be that if the Las Vegas Raiders can beat the Browns and Chargers by five-plus points each in back-to-back road games, they can continue that run at home as a five-point favorite over the inconsistent and depleted Denver Broncos.
"It pains me to say this," Kahler said, "but Drew Lock is struggling. The good Drew Lock showed up too late last week. For that reason, I'm going with Vegas."
In fact, the good Drew Lock has been tardy the last two weeks. Lock got hot in the second half of a Week 8 comeback victory over the Chargers and then led three touchdown drives in the fourth quarter of a Week 9 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. He's got zero touchdown passes and a 58.3 passer rating before the fourth quarter the last two weeks, and five touchdown passes and a 117.1 rating beyond that.
Now, the Raiders' 26th-ranked pass defense in DVOA might allow Lock to catch fire earlier this time, but an efficient Las Vegas offense is unlikely to be as forgiving as the sloppy Chargers or the inconsistent Falcons (who still held on to win by a touchdown anyway), and the Denver D has surrendered 30 or more points in three straight outings.
The points are a tad scary here, but it might be time to accept that the Raiders are a good team while nobody expects you to trust the Broncos.
Kahler: Las Vegas
Miller: Las Vegas
Sobleski: Las Vegas
Tesfatsion: Las Vegas
Consensus: Las Vegas -5
Score Prediction: Raiders 30, Broncos 23
Cincinnati Bengals (2-5-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (8-0)
DraftKings Line: Pittsburgh -7
There's a chaotic feeling surrounding Sunday's divisional matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers, as both teams have been forced to sideline key players from practice—Mackensie Alexander, Trae Waynes, Margus Hunt for the Bengals and Ben Roethlisberger, Vance McDonald and Vince Williams of the Steelers—as a result of potential exposure to COVID-19.
Setting that unknown aside for now, most of our writers like the Steelers to take care of business as a seven-point fave.
"After last weekend's surprising effort against the deteriorating Cowboys, the Steelers won't take the Bengals lightly," Sobleski said. "Yes, Joe Burrow and Co. are often competitive, but everyone should expect Pittsburgh to enter this contest with renewed vigor and a defense ready to attack this year's No. 1 overall draft pick. Besides, Cincinnati's offensive line will be completely outclassed against the Steelers' defensive front."
That particular matchup is pretty daunting for Cincinnati. The line wasn't very good to begin with, and at present, Jonah Williams is dealing with a stinger, Bobby Hart has a knee injury and Trey Hopkins is coming back from a concussion. Running back Joe Mixon might not be able to take much heat off Burrow, as he continues to be out of practice with a knee injury.
That could leave the rookie high and dry far too often against a Steelers D that leads the NFL in sacks and pressure rate by large margins.
Still, this is far from a clean sweep. At the very least, a backdoor cover could be open for a Bengals team that has just one multi-score loss this season, especially with a slew of COVID-19-related question marks surrounding this game.
Miller: No pick
Consensus: Pittsburgh -7
Score Prediction: Steelers 28, Bengals 20
Seattle Seahawks (6-2) at Los Angeles Rams (5-3)
DraftKings Line: Los Angeles -1.5
When the Seattle Seahawks lost their first game of the season back in Week 7, Russell Wilson and Co. responded with a beatdown of the division-rival San Francisco 49ers. Now they're coming off their second loss of 2020, and nearly all of our correspondents figure a veteran team with an MVP candidate at quarterback will bounce back again with a W as an underdog against the division-rival Los Angeles Rams.
"What do people see in the Rams that would suggest they should be laying points at what is essentially a neutral site with no crowd in L.A.?" Gagnon wondered. "Yeah, they're coming off a bye, but I'd be more scared of Seattle coming off a loss. Wilson should be fired up to make a statement against a familiar defense, and I'm not sure Jared Goff can take full advantage of Seattle's vulnerability against the pass. L.A. is just 3-3 in its last six games, and Goff has a 58.3 completion percentage and a 78.3 passer rating in his last three outings."
But we don't have unanimity here thanks to Davenport, who issued this dissenting opinion: "This game comes down to one thing for me: the Rams have one of the better defenses in the NFL, while the Seahawks, um, do not.
"This isn't to say that Wilson, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett won't still get theirs, but the Rams have a much better chance at getting a stop here and there than Seattle's tissue-paper D—especially if Aaron Donald can get pressure on Wilson. Goff is going to have his best performance of the season, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp are going to have big games, and things are going to get that much more interesting in the NFC West."
It's probably worth noting that those words come from the dude who leads the pick standings through nine weeks.
Davenport: Los Angeles
Consensus: Seattle +1.5
Score Prediction: Seahawks 30, Rams 27
San Francisco 49ers (4-5) at New Orleans Saints (6-2)
DraftKings Line: New Orleans -9
The New Orleans Saints have somewhat quietly won five consecutive games, quarterback Drew Brees has sneakily caught fire and banged-up top receiver Michael Thomas should be a little bit healthier for Sunday's meeting with the injury-ravaged San Francisco 49ers.
That being the case, it seems most of our predictors are surprised this line hasn't moved into the double digits.
After demolishing the Bucs," Kahler said, "New Orleans now looks like the team to beat in the hard-to-read NFC. The Saints offense has exploded, and the Niners are still a very injured team."
Very. No Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, Nick Bosa, Richard Sherman, Raheem Mostert, Weston Richburg, Solomon Thomas, Jaquiski Tartt or Dee Ford. Now you can add cornerback K'Waun Williams to that list. And although they hope to get key starters Deebo Samuel and Tevin Coleman back soon, neither has been practicing this week.
The Saints haven't blown a lot of teams out this year, but San Francisco quite simply hasn't been competitive in back-to-back double-digit-point losses and shouldn't be expected to put up much of a fight in this spot.
Davenport: New Orleans
Gagnon: New Orleans
Kahler: New Orleans
Miller: New Orleans
Sobleski: New Orleans
Tesfatsion: San Francisco
Consensus: New Orleans -9
Score Prediction: Saints 34, 49ers 16
Baltimore Ravens (6-2) at New England Patriots (3-5)
DraftKings Line: Baltimore -7
The Baltimore Ravens are this week's heaviest public favorite while laying seven points against a New England Patriots squad that embarrassed itself by nearly losing to the winless New York Jets on national television in Week 9.
Because Bill Belichick is Bill Belichick, because the Ravens haven't been quite right this year and because Baltimore—which is already without star left tackle Ronnie Stanley—is dealing with two key injuries to Calais Campbell and Matt Judon in the defensive front seven, it might be tempting to fade the public.
Davenport and Gagnon are doing exactly that, but they're in the minority here. Keep in mind that New England is just as banged up and is operating on short rest. Do the seemingly defeated Pats have the personnel to take advantage of the shorthanded Ravens up front on either side of the ball?
"The Ravens still have something to prove even after Sunday's victory over the Colts," Sobleski said. "And the Patriots are far too limited in multiple areas based on their current roster construction. This meeting is a statement game for Baltimore. John Harbaugh's crew has come up short against the AFC's best this season. Granted, the Patriots are no longer counted among those teams, but the previous reverence for their success didn't disappear. Baltimore can send a message by making Belichick's squad look bad on a national stage."
For the second week in a row, at that.
Davenport: New England
Gagnon: New England
Consensus: Baltimore -7
Score Prediction: Ravens 27, Patriots 17
Minnesota Vikings (3-5) at Chicago Bears (5-4)
DraftKings Line: Minnesota -3
You get the feeling the suddenly energized Minnesota Vikings believe they have a run in them, while the slumping Chicago Bears might be realizing their hot start was a mirage. In a meeting between NFC North teams seemingly moving in opposite directions, our crew is all over Minnesota as a mere three-point favorite at Soldier Field on Monday night.
"The Vikings are 2-10 in their last 12 trips to Chicago, but after three straight losses for the Bears because of an offense that ranks at the bottom of the league in most categories, I don't have any faith Chicago will figure it out this week," Kahler said. "The offensive line is a total mess of backups and guys shuffling around. Going into this division game, the Bears offense ranks 31st in yards per play, 32nd in rushing yards per game, 29th in rushing yards per play, 27th in first downs per game, 31st on third down, 30th in the red zone, 28th in points per game. I rest my case."
Although after resting said case, Kahler added that "the Vikings have won two in a row and seem to be finding a bit of groove now," which is true especially of top offensive weapons Dalvin Cook (478 scrimmage yards and six touchdowns the last two weeks) and Kirk Cousins (four touchdown passes, zero picks and a 146.7 passer rating over the same stretch).
Chicago remains excellent defensively, but the run D has been touched up a bit in recent weeks as well, and Cook is the hottest player in the sport right now. The Vikes defense has also come around to a degree, and it's unlikely the struggling Nick Foles can take advantage of soft spots within that unit.
Lay the field goal to cap the week.
Consensus: Minnesota -3
Score Prediction: Vikings 27, Bears 17
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL).
Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ/WV/PA), 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN), 1-800-522-4700 (NH/CO) or 1-800-BETS OFF (IA).
21+. NJ/PA/WV/IN/NH/IA/CO/IL only. Odds and lines subject to change. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions.