The NFL has been wacky for a while now and Week 9 might have been the weirdest yet. Underdogs went 7-6 straight up and 10-4 ATS making them 54-78 straight up and 77-57-1 ATS this season. Week 9 was defined by wild upsets including the Broncos nearly shutting out the Cowboys in Dallas, the Jaguars knocking off the Bills, and the Cardinals going on the road and winning without Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins. Let’s take a look at the Week 10 games and I’ll see if I can’t identify a couple more upsets to target this week.
Teams on bye: Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans, New York Giants
My Week 9 record: 8-6 SU, 7-7 ATS, 6-8 O/U
My record overall: 82-54 SU, 72-64 ATS, 64-71-1 O/U
Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins
The Ravens shrugged off a 7-point halftime deficit and a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to close on a 17-7 run and knock off the Vikings. Lamar Jackson threw two interceptions, but his late-game heroics helped his team back into the game. Marquise Brown led the way with nine catches for 116 yards, but Rashod Bateman is coming into his own as a rookie receiver who can make a big difference in the offense. Miami has allowed 280.9 passing yards per game, the third-most in the NFL, so Jackson should have his way in this game. Baltimore has yet to fully figure out its run game outside of Jackson, but they’ve done enough through the air to field an elite offense this season.
Baltimore’s defense has quietly not been very good either this season and they have allowed 282.5 passing yards per game, the second-most in the NFL. Outside of Marlon Humphery, the secondary has seen some inconsistent play from young players and the front seven isn’t as good as it’s been in recent years. Baltimore has just 15 sacks this year, tied for the fifth-fewest in the NFL. Regardless of whether it’s Tua Tagovailoa or Jacoby Brissett under center for Miami, I expect them to put up some points in this game. Myles Gaskin, Mike Gesicki, and Jaylen Waddle provide a solid offensive nucleus to support the team.
The Dolphins turned the ball over five times on Sunday and won anyways. They can’t get away with that this week. However, Baltimore’s offense will put tons of pressure on a weak Miami defense and it will come down to whether or not the Dolphins can score enough to keep this interesting. I’m taking the home team to cover the touchdown spread on the short week in what should be a high-scoring game.
Baltimore Ravens: WR Sammy Watkins (thigh) Q, DT Brandon Williams (shoulder) Q, RB Latavius Murray (ankle) Q
Miami Dolphins: QB Tua Tagovailoa (finger) Q, WR Will Fuller (finger) IR, WR DeVante Parker (shoulder) IR
Matchup To Watch: Marquise Brown and Rashod Bateman (BAL WRs) vs. Xavien Howard and Byron Jones (MIA CBs)
My Pick: Ravens win 27-23, Dolphins cover, over 47.5 points
Week 10 Betting Picks Video
Atlanta Falcons at Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys looked lethargic and unprepared in Week 9, which are the adjectives I used to describe their opponent in the Denver Broncos. The 30-16 final score is incredibly misleading – Dallas had not scored any points until about four minutes left in the fourth quarter. Denver’s defense saw many young players step up with enormous performances while Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb were held to a combined 60 receiving yards. Both players were dealing with minor injuries, and it’s hard to imagine them being held in check to that level again this week against a weak Falcons’ secondary. Ezekiel Elliott should also do much better moving forward after being held to just 76 yards from scrimmage last week. Dak Prescott was rusty in the previous week, but I’m banking on a bounce-back game for him here.
Younghoe Koo’s last-second walk-off field goal secured a win for the Falcons as Cordarrelle Patterson turned in a dominant performance with 136 yards from scrimmage. The absence of Calvin Ridley makes things difficult for Atlanta moving forward as their pass-catching weapons can be somewhat limited. However, Olamide Zaccheaus had a massive two-touchdown effort on Sunday,, and Kyle Pitts is always good for some big plays. While Dallas has had some huge takeaways this season, their defense has allowed the eighth-most passing yards per game. Matt Ryan should have a strong game in what is projected as one of the highest-scoring matchups of the week.
Matt Ryan is playing much better football lately despite the loss of Calvin Ridley, and Atlanta has to be taken somewhat seriously as a wild card team in the NFC. A nine-point line seems huge for what these teams looked like in Week 9, and I’ll back the road dog to keep this one close.
Atlanta Falcons: WR Calvin Ridley (personal) NFI-R
Dallas Cowboys: OT Tyron Smith (ankle) O, WR Michael Gallup (calf) IR, DE DeMarcus Lawrence (foot) IR, DE Randy Gregory (calf) IR, TE Blake Jarwin (hip) IR
Matchup To Watch: Jake Matthews (ATL OT) vs. Randy Gregory (DAL DE)
My Pick: Cowboys win 27-20, Falcons cover, under 52 points
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts
The Jaguars pulled off the biggest upset of the season on Sunday and the sixth-biggest upset since 1990 as they beat the Bills as 16-point home underdogs. Ironically, the Bills were also involved in the fourth and fifth-biggest upsets since 1990, as well, winning one and losing the other. Jacksonville’s Josh Allen outplayed Buffalo’s Josh Allen handily. The defensive superstar finished with eight tackles, two for a loss, one sack, one pass defense, one interception, and one fumble recovery to fuel his team’s win. Jacksonville went into that game with the worst defense in the NFL by all accounts, and they had ranked 32nd in defensive DVOA, so that was certainly a surprising performance by them. However, I don’t have much confidence in the team moving forward, and a road game against an elite Indianapolis rushing attack led by Jonathan Taylor will be a tough out for the Jaguars.
Carson Wentz has quietly been playing solid football this season with 17 touchdowns to just three interceptions, despite the offensive line being banged up all year and Wentz dealing with ankle injuries of his own. Michael Pittman Jr. is ascending into superstar status as the team’s WR1 with four touchdowns over the past three weeks, while Jonathan Taylor is coming off perhaps his best game as a pro with 200 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns against the Jets. Outside of Taylor and Pittman, the Colts don’t have much in the way of consistent skill-position talent, but they shouldn’t need it against a poor Jacksonville defense.
Trevor Lawrence’s X-rays came back negative on his ankle injury, but it’s still going to be a limiting factor for the rookie quarterback. It’s hard to consider the Jaguars’ Week 9 performance as anything but a one-off with how poor they have been over the past two years, and the Colts should be able to cover this spread as the home team coming off an extended rest after playing on Thursday Night Football in Week 9.
Jacksonville Jaguars: RB James Robinson (heel) Q, C Brandon Linder (knee – MCL) IR, OG A.J. Cann (knee) IR
Indianapolis Colts: WR T.Y. Hilton (concussion) Q, OT Braden Smith (triceps) Q, DE DeForest Buckner (back) Q, CB Xavier Rhodes (calf) O
Matchup To Watch: Eric Fisher (IND OT) vs. Josh Allen (JAX DE)
My Pick: Colts win 34-20, Colts cover, over 48 points
Cleveland Browns at New England Patriots
I wasn’t a huge fan of the “Baker Mayfield is better without OBJ” narrative before the season, but there’s clearly something to it at this point. Mayfield had a solid game on Sunday with a 132.6 passer rating against what had been a very solid Bengals’ defense, although he didn’t need to do a ton volume-wise in the game. With a dominant defensive showing and Nick Chubb running for 137 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries, Cleveland never gave Cincinnati an inch in the crucial divisional game. Donovan Peoples-Jones scored on a 60-yard touchdown but only had two catches as only one Browns’ player, Jarvis Landry, had three or more receptions. New England has allowed just 4.1 yards per carry this season, the ninth-fewest in the NFL, but Chubb looks to be back to total health and is one of the best running backs in football when healthy.
The Patriots earned a 24-6 win over the Panthers as Sam Darnold was intercepted three times, overshadowing Mac Jones’s underwhelming performance. New England’s rookie quarterback has just three touchdowns to one interception over his last three games and has not completed over 67% of his passes in a game over that span. The Patriots’ run game has picked up the slack with a strong committee effort from Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, and Brandon Bolden, but Cleveland has allowed just 3.5 yards per carry this year, the second-fewest in the NFL. If the Patriots can’t run the ball in this game, which is a strong possibility against this defense, can Mac Jones effectively move the ball through the air enough to keep the chains moving?
The Browns are still missing Jack Conklin, Kareem Hunt, and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. Still, they’re getting healthier by the week, and their ability to win in the trenches every single week continues to impress me. New England’s defense will be overwhelmed by Cleveland’s rushing attack, and the Patriots’ run game won’t be as effective against a top-notch run defense. I’ll take Baker Mayfield to earn a crucial road win as his team hunts for a playoff spot in a crowded AFC field.
Cleveland Browns: CB Greedy Williams (shoulder) Q, RB Nick Chubb (illness) IR/COVID-19, RB Demetric Felton (illness) IR/COVID-19, OT Jack Conklin (elbow) IR, RB Kareem Hunt (calf) IR, LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (ankle) IR
New England Patriots: RB Damien Harris (head) Q, RB Rhamondre Stevenson (head) Q, OG Shaq Mason (abdomen) Q, LB Kyle Van Noy (groin) Q, TE Jonnu Smith (shoulder) Q, LB Jamie Collins (ankle) D, OT Trent Brown (calf) IR
Matchup To Watch: Isaiah Wynn (NE OT) vs. Myles Garrett (CLE DE)
My Pick: Browns win 27-23, Browns cover, over 44.5 points
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets
The Bills’ loss to the Jaguars has overshadowed the Jets’ win over the Bengals from a couple of weeks ago as the biggest upset of the season, but Mike White led New York to a huge victory not too long ago. The real question for New York becomes whether or not they want to turn the offense back over to Zach Wilson as he returns to practice this week but is unlikely to be back at 100% health. White picked up nerve contusion in his right forearm on Thursday, putting a damper on what looked like it could turn into another signature performance for the quarterback in just his second career start. Elijah Moore broke out with Josh Johnson taking over the passing reigns, and the rookie wideout caught seven balls for 84 yards and two touchdowns. With Alijah Vera-Tucker playing excellent ball on the offensive line and Michael Carter continuing to impress at running back, the Jets’ offense has tons of exciting young talent.
Josh Allen ran into a buzzsaw by the name of Josh Allen last week, and the Bills’ quarterback had easily his worst performance of the season with just 5.6 passing yards per attempt and two interceptions along with four sacks. Buffalo’s offense never found its footing in the game, and their lack of a consistent run game allowed Jacksonville to find an effective blueprint to stopping them as they loaded up on defensive backs and prevented the Bills from getting the long plays they thrive on. In their last four games against the Jets, the Bills have averaged just 17 points per game, so this may not be the excellent matchup many will make it out to be to provide a bounce-back spot for Buffalo.
I firmly believe the Bills are still the team to beat in the AFC, but their shocking loss to the Jaguars underscored the fact that they have not played a challenging schedule to this point. New York has been feisty in recent weeks, and I’ll always be hesitant to pick a team to cover a large spread in a divisional matchup. However, this looks like a great spot for the Bills to bounce back with a huge win and get their offense back on track.
Buffalo Bills: TE Dawson Knox (hand) Q, RB Zack Moss (concussion) Q, OT Spencer Brown (back) Q, LB Tremaine Edmunds (hamstring) O, OG Jon Feliciano (calf) IR
New York Jets: WR Corey Davis (hip) Q, DE Shaq Lawson (hamstring) Q, OG Alijah Vera-Tucker (toe) Q, RB Tevin Coleman (hamstring) Q, S Marcus Maye (Achilles) O, QB Zach Wilson (knee – PCL) O
Matchup To Watch: Mitch Morse (BUF C) vs. Quinnen Williams (NYJ DT)
My Pick: Bills win 34-14, Bills cover, over 48 points
Detroit Lions at Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday, November 14, 2021, at 1:00 pm ET
The Steelers nearly blew 14 and 10-point leads in the second half as Justin Fields had his best game as a pro against them. Ben Roethlisberger continues to be underwhelming as he lacks the arm strength and velocity to push the ball downfield at this point in his career, and the absence of Chase Claypool removes the team’s best deep target. Najee Harris scored another touchdown on Monday, his fifth-straight game with a score, but his efficiency has been poor behind one of the league’s worst offensive lines. Pat Freiermuth has emerged as a reliable target for the Steelers and the rookie tight end scored two touchdowns on Monday. Outside of him and Diontae Johnson, the Steelers don’t have many reliable pass-catchers who can put pressure on the defense. Behind a poor offensive line and with a faltering Ben Roethlisberger, it’s hard to trust this offense, even against a bad Lions’ defense.
Jared Goff has struggled this season and likely isn’t the long-term answer for Detroit. With Frank Ragnow and Taylor Decker out, the offensive line hasn’t been as good as expected, and that’s going to be a problem against the Steelers with T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward wreaking havoc. D’Andre Swift has been dominant this season and is one of the best running backs in the NFL, and Pittsburgh’s run defense hasn’t been as dominant as public perception would lead you to believe. Swift and T.J. Hockenson are relied upon as the team’s top targets every week with arguably the worst wide receiver room in the NFL holding back the offense. Pittsburgh’s pass rush could create a couple of turnovers in this game, but Swift and Hockenson do enough to keep this game competitive.
The Steelers are the better team here and are playing at home, but the Lions have been fiesty this season and nearly came away with wins over the Ravens and Vikings earlier in the year. Dan Campell should have his team fired up coming out of the bye week and the Steelers are playing on a short week of rest following an intense Monday Night Football game. I’m still picking Pittsburgh to get the win at home, but Detroit does enough to cover the big spread.
Update: Ben Roethlisberger has been ruled out for this game and the Steelers are throwing out Mason Rudolph on a short week without much practice. I’m taking the Lions to win outright given their rest advantage and the poor play of Rudolph in the past.
Detroit Lions: OT Taylor Decker (finger) Q, RB Jamaaal Williams (thigh) O, CB Ifeatu Melifonwu (thigh) IR
Pittsburgh Steelers: WR Chase Claypool (toe) O, DE Stephon Tuitt (undisclosed) IR
Matchup To Watch: Penei Sewell (DET OT) vs. T.J. Watt (PIT OLB)
My Pick: Lions win 20-17, Lions cover, under 42.5 points
New Orleans Saints at Tennessee Titans
The Titans continue to be the most impressive team in the AFC and have to be taken seriously as a Super Bowl contender at this point. Derrick Henry stands to be a significant loss for the offense, and the defense has been hit by several injuries, but Tennessee just keeps stringing together wins against top teams and now has a five-game win streak. The road win over the Rams was arguably their most impressive result so far, especially since it came without Henry, and the Tennessee defense shut down one of the hottest offenses in football. Jeffery Simmons came up huge with three sacks while Amani Hooker continues to emerge as a top-notch complement to elite safety Kevin Byard who had a pick-six on Matthew Stafford. The Saints’ elite run defense would make this a difficult matchup for the Titans, but their secondary has struggled lately, and A.J. Brown could be in for a huge game.,,
I’m very intrigued to see if the Saints go back to Trevor Siemian this week. Still, you have that he wasn’t nearly as much of an issue as the defense was – New Orleans allowed Matt Ryan to throw for 343 yards on a 76% completion rate despite Atlanta being without top wideout Calvin Ridley. Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport put plenty of pressure on Ryan, but the secondary didn’t hold up, and that’s a concern for a defense allowing the sixth-most passing yards per game this season. Alvin Kamara came through with over 100 yards from scrimmage, but the rest of the team’s skill position players have been inconsistent at best and unreliable at worst throughout this season. Stafford struggled against the Titans’ defense last week, and it’s hard to imagine Siemian doing much better with the weapons currently at his disposal.
This week’s game presents another opportunity for the Titans to prove they can win in a wide variety of ways, and I don’t see how the Saints can compete with the hottest team in football with the personnel they currently have available.
New Orleans Saints: DB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (foot) Q
Tennessee Titans: OT Taylor Lewan (undisclosed) Q, OG Nate Davis (concussion) Q
Matchup To Watch: A.J. Brown (TEN WR) vs. Marshon Lattimore (NO CB)
My Pick: Titans win 26-17, Titans cover, under 44.5 points
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Washington Football Team
Taylor Heinecke and Washington arguably gave Tampa Bay their toughest test of the playoffs last year in a 31-23 win for the Bucs that required every bit of effort from Tom Brady’s team. It’s hard to develop two teams who needed a bye week more than these two squads; Sean Murphy-Bunting is back at practice, while it sounds like Carlton Davis has a solid chance to return this week. However, Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski aren’t quite ready to practice. For Washington, Logan Thomas is expected to return this week, but most of the starting offensive line remains injured. Chase Roullier is on Injured Reserve, while Brandon Scherff, Samuel Cosmi, and Cornelius Lucas are listed on the injury report. That’s bad news against Tampa, who features one of the best front sevens in football. Washington will be hopeful the bye week gave Terry McLaurin and Antonio Gibson a chance to overcome lingering injuries.
As of now, it doesn’t sound like Tom Brady will have his full complement of pass-catching talent as Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski are not back at practice. However, Scotty Miller is back at practice and could take on a more significant role if Brown and Gronkowski are inactive once again. Of course, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are still an elite receiving tandem who should be very productive against a Washington pass defense, allowing the most passing yards and second-most passing touchdowns this season. The Washington defense has fallen hard from last season when they were the fourth-best scoring defense in the NFL. Injuries to Montez Sweat and William Jackson hang over that team, and it’s hard to know which version of the defense we’ll see this week.
As it stands, this is one of the most challenging lines to call on the week. Both teams are dealing with significant injuries that will impact which direction I end up leaning. If Brown and Gronkowski play, I’ll be more confident in the Tampa side. If Washington gets some offensive linemen back, I’ll be more confident in their ability to do enough to keep this game close. For now, I’ll take Washington to cover coming out of the bye week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR Antonio Brown (ankle) Q, TE Rob Gronkowski (back) Q, CB Carlton Davis (quadriceps) IR
Washington Football Team: OG Brandon Scherff (knee – MCL) Q, WR Curtis Samuel (groin) Q, WR Dyami Brown (knee) Q, OT Samuel Cosmi (ankle) Q, OT Cornelius Lucas (illness) Q, DE Montez Sweat (jaw) D, C Chase Roullier (lower leg) IR
Matchup To Watch: Tristan Wirfs (TB OT) vs. Chase Young (WAS DE)
My Pick: Buccaneers win 31-23, Washington covers, over 51.5 points
Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals
With each week that passes, it’s evident that Carolina has mismanaged the quarterback position, essentially trading a second and fourth-round pick in the 2022 draft to “upgrade” from Teddy Bridgewater to Sam Darnold and rejecting the opportunity to draft Justin Fields or Mac Jones in the process. For that trade to have made sense, the Panthers bet on Darnold to be more than just a quality starter – they needed him to be a top option right away. He’s now thrown for 11 interceptions to just seven touchdowns as he gets dangerously close to having more career picks than scores. His atrocious play has repeatedly held his team back, and even with Christian McCaffrey back in the lineup on Sunday, the Panthers’ offense was nonexistent. It’s impossible to trust Darnold at this point, and it’s pretty sad how his poor play has hamstrung what should be a potent offense with CMC, D.J. Moore, and Robby Anderson.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, earned a win in Week 9 that was a massive resume-builder for Kliff Kingsbury as they smothered the 49ers on the road with Colt McCoy doing his best Kyler Murray impression and Christian Kirk stepping up in the absence of DeAndre Hopkins. It wasn’t without incident as Chase Edmonds landed on Injured Reserve with a high-ankle sprain, but James Conner has been outstanding this year and had 173 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns against the 49ers. I was frankly shocked at how easily Arizona moved the ball last week against what profiles as a solid defense, and I have a lot of confidence in this team regardless of whether or not Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins return this week.
I’m doing my best to avoid betting on games early on the week as late-week injuries, and positive COVID-19 tests can throw a wrench into your betting plans, but this one might be too good to pass up. Darnold will struggle against a defense that thrives on creating havoc, and the Cardinals are going to be just fine against what I continue to believe is an overrated defense, regardless of who they have available.
Update: Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins have been ruled out again, and their absences are going to catch up to the Cardinals this week. I’ll still take the 8-1 outfit to get the win at home, but Carolina’s defense limits the Arizona offense and keeps this game very close. With Christian McCaffrey back, as well, the Panthers could do enough offensively to pull off the upset.
Carolina Panthers: QB Sam Darnold (shoulder) Q, C Pat Elflein (hamstring) Q, DE Brian Burns (ankle) Q, C Matt Paradis (knee – ACL) IR, OT Cameron Erving (calf) IR
Arizona Cardinals: QB Kyler Murray (ankle) Q, WR DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring) Q, RB Chase Edmonds (ankle) D
Matchup To Watch: Kelvin Beachum (ARI OT) vs. Haason Reddick (CAR DE)
My Pick: Cardinals win 23-20, Panthers cover, under 45.5 points
Minnesota Vikings at Los Angeles Chargers
I can’t remember a team that enjoys blowing opportunities as much as the Vikings. One week after losing to the Cooper Rush-led Cowboys with the world watching on primetime, Minnesota blew a 14-point lead they held at two different points in the game and let the Ravens beat them in overtime. Dalvin Cook looked like himself again with 17 carries for 110 yards, and Justin Jefferson got back in the end zone, so the team used their top skill players better this week, while Adam Thielen was quiet outside of a fourth-quarter touchdown. Minnesota scored 31 points against a defense that completely shut down their opponent this week in the Chargers a few weeks ago. The Vikings should be able to take advantage of an injured, weak Chargers defense that is allowing 161.6 rushing yards per game, the most in the NFL by a significant margin – the Texans allow the second-most at 136.9 per game.
Justin Herbert is coming off his best game in a while and his first 300-yard passing game in almost a month. Mike Williams was held to two catches for 58 yards as he deals with a knee injury he suffered back in Week 5. Keenan Allen stepped up with 12 catches for 104 yards, and five different receivers had 35+ yards. One of the most exciting aspects of this game should be on third down – the Chargers have converted 44.1% of their third-down attempts this season, the eighth-best rate in the NFL, while the Vikings have allowed just a 33.7% third-down rate, the fifth-best among defenses. If Mike Williams were healthy, I’d be very excited about his ability to take advantage of Bashaud Breeland, who has been burned in coverage all season. However, the explosiveness of the Chargers’ offense has been significantly limited, with Williams, not at 100%.
Both offenses in this game should have the upper hand, but Dalvin Cook’s matchup against the run defense that allows the most rushing yards in the NFL stands out as the most significant mismatch in the game. Cook should run all over the Chargers, and I’m banking on that, translating into a Minnesota win with LA’s offense not at its best right now.
Minnesota Vikings: DT Michael Pierce (elbow) Q, CB Bashaud Breeland (groin) Q, S Harrison Smith (illness) IR – COVID-19, C Garrett Bradbury (illness) IR – COVID-19
Los Angeles Chargers: CB Michael Davis (hamstring) Q, CB Asante Samuel Jr. (concussion) Q, OT Bryan Bulaga (back) IR
Matchup To Watch: Rashawn Slater (LAC OT) vs. Everson Griffen (MIN DE)
My Pick: Vikings win 30-27, Vikings cover, over 52 points
Philadelphia Eagles at Denver Broncos
As a Broncos fan, I certainly didn’t see that huge upset win coming last week. It wasn’t just a close road win for Denver – the Cowboys were shut out for basically the entire game until they scored a couple of late touchdowns in garbage time. I certainly didn’t expect that kind of game script, but it led to some massive production for the team’s running backs as Javonte Williams (17-111) and Melvin Gordon (21-80-1) had some of their best games of the season. This season, Philadelphia’s run defense has been middle-of-the-pack, but Denver’s running back tandem is a very talented and capable pairing. Teddy Bridgewater is coming off a very efficient game, and when the Broncos commit to running the ball, it makes his life infinitely easier. With Jerry Jeudy back in the lineup and Noah Fant likely returning this week to join Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick, Denver has tons of offensive talent to throw at a mediocre Eagles’ defense.
This season has been full of adversity for the Eagles, and they’re effectively out of the race for the NFC East, even though the Broncos did them a favor and added another loss to the Cowboys’ record. Jalen Hurts had every opportunity to explode as a passer against an injured Los Angeles secondary, and he threw for under 10 yards per attempt. DeVonta Smith exploded with five catches for 116 yards and a touchdown, but Hurts has been a pretty poor passer throughout this season. The Eagles’ offense is predicated on running the ball and the Broncos held Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard to a combined 16 carries for 78 yards last week. Denver’s front seven has been reinforced by adding veterans Kenny Young and Stephen Weatherly in recent weeks while seeing young player step up, and the secondary is coming off its best game of the season.
Jalen Hurts struggled to throw the ball against much worse defenses than Denver’s, and the Broncos’ offense looked like it finally started to click last week. The AFC West is still wide open and the Broncos will be fired up after their huge upset win. I’m picking them to continue that momentum into a win over a mediocre Eagles’ team.
Philadelphia Eagles: CB Darius Slay (hamstring) Q, OG Brandon Brooks (pectoral) IR, RB Miles Sanders (ankle) IR
Denver Broncos: CB Patrick Surtain II (knee) Q, OT Garrett Bolles (ankle) Q, DT Mike Purcell (thumb) Q, OT Bobby Massie (ankle) D, OG Graham Glasgow (ankle) O, OLB Bradley Chubb (ankle) IR
Matchup To Watch: DeVonta Smith (PHI WR) vs. Kyle Fuller (DEN CB)
My Pick: Broncos win 26-21, Broncos cover, over 45 points
Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers
For a minute there, it looked like this game might have been Geno Smith vs. Jordan Love, and that would have sucked. Russell Wilson has been cleared to play following the finger injury that kept him out for several weeks, and he practiced on Monday. Aaron Rodgers, meanwhile, has been in the headlines for all of the wrong reasons but should be able to play this week if everything goes well regarding the COVID-19 protocol. Rodgers and Wilson have split their games 3-3 in the regular season and 1-1 in the playoffs with some incredibly memorable showdowns along the way. The Seahawks might be 3-5, but the race for the wild card spots in the NFC is wide open, and they are only a game out of a postseason spot at the moment.
Discussions of a potential quarterback controversy in Green Bay were fun for a minute, but Jordan Love is not ready to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, and I’m not sure he ever will be. Luckily for Green Bay, Rodgers should be back in action to take on a Seattle defense allowing the fifth-most passing yards per game this season. Seattle simply doesn’t have anyone good enough to cover Davante Adams, and their run defense has also been vulnerable this season, making this an intense matchup for Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon. The biggest concern here is it’s very difficult to know what version of Aaron Rodgers we will see following a bout with COVID-19 – rust could be a factor for both quarterbacks in this game.
This game has massive playoff implications, but I’m not projecting it to be the shootout many will be hoping for with both teams’ quarterbacks returning to the lineup following absences from their respective teams. I’ll take the Packers to get the win at home, but Seattle keeps this a game and could grab the upset.
Seattle Seahawks: CB D.J. Reed (groin) Q, QB Russell Wilson (finger) IR, RB Chris Carson (neck) IR
Green Bay Packers: DT Kenny Clark (back) Q, CB Eric Stokes (knee) Q, QB Aaron Rodgers (illness) IR – COVID-19, OT David Bakhtiari (knee – ACL) PUP, CB Jaire Alexander (shoulder – AC joint) IR
Matchup To Watch: Ethan Pocic (SEA C) vs. Kenny Clark (GB DT)
My Pick: Packers win 24-21, Seahawks cover, under 49.5 points
Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders earned a major upset win over the Chiefs in Kansas City last season, but the Chiefs have had their number in recent years with wins in six of their last seven meetings and eleven of their last thirteen. However, Kansas City has a 4-16 ATS record in their previous 20 games. Betting on this game is going to be incredibly difficult. Teams have deployed a heavy dose of Cover 2 shell defense against the Chiefs this season, putting two safeties over the top and forcing Patrick Mahomes to make consistent, accurate throws underneath, something he has not been capable of. It hasn’t helped KC much that their run game has practically been nonexistent. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce haven’t been nearly as dominant as we’ve grown accustomed to seeing them and the big question here is if the Chiefs’ offense is simply broken or if it can recover in time for the playoffs.
Derek Carr is coming off his worst game of the season against the Giants last week as he threw two interceptions and just 6.4 yards per attempt against what should have been a beatable New York defense. The loss of Henry Ruggs as a constant threat to take the top off the defense allowed the Giants to play more challenging underneath coverage and load the box against the run game. Carr also just looked off, which is pretty excusable for a number of reasons. The early morning East Coast road trip is always challenging for West Coast quarterbacks and the Raiders have dealt with a ton of adversity lately. It’s very difficult to know how to handicap the Jon Gruden situation, Henry Ruggs tragedy, and now the Damon Arnette release.
I wouldn’t be shocked to see Las Vegas come into this game fired up with something to prove and a chance to gain momentum in a wide-open division. I also wouldn’t be shocked to see them discombobulated and unprepared given all of the adversity they’ve dealt with. I’m going to be paying close attention to what beat reporters are saying about the vibes around this team, but for now I’m taking the Raiders because I can’t in good faith pick the Chiefs to cover the spread on the road right now.
Kansas City Chiefs: OG Mike Remmers, OT Lucas Niang (ribs) Q, RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (knee – MCL) IR
Las Vegas Raiders: LB Nick Kwiatkoski (ankle) Q, CB Trayvon Mullen (toe) IR, LB Nicolas Morrow (ankle) IR
Matchup To Watch: Tyreek Hill (KC WR) vs. Nate Hobbs (LV slot CB)
My Pick: Raiders win 27-23, Raiders cover, under 51 points
Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers
The Rams suffered a disappointing loss as seven-point home favorites against the Titans on Sunday night, and they’ll have a long week to lick their wounds and hope to get back in the win column as the Cardinals are starting to pull away in the NFC West. The 49ers’ loss to the Colt McCoy-led Cardinals has to be described as embarassing. DeMeco Ryans has struggled to maintain the 49ers’ standing as a top-notch defense in his first year as defensive coordinator and Matthew Stafford should be able to get back on track in this game with Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods proving to be too much for a banged-up San Francisco secondary to handle. Darrell Henderson should also have a big game against a defense that allowed James Conner to rack up 173 yards from scrimmage last week.
Jimmy Garoppolo is going to be in danger of losing his starting job soon with how poorly the 49ers have been playing, and this isn’t going to be an easy game for him, especially after right tackle Mike McGlinchey was lost for the season with a torn quadriceps. Garoppolo was sacked five times and hit eight times last week, leaving him battered and bruised. This week won’t be any easier with Aaron Donald, Leonard Floyd, and new Rams’ edge rusher Von Miller coming to town. Trent Williams had one of his worse games last week, and he needs to be much better in this game to help protect his quarterback. Jalen Ramsey will see a ton of Deebo Samuel, one of the most productive receivers in the NFL this season.
The 49ers have been 2-8 ATS and 1-9 straight up at home since the start of 2020, and I don’t expect this to be the game where they finally overcome their home woes. The Rams will be fired up for a bounce-back win as they hope to keep pace with the Cardinals and this iteration of the 49ers’ defense can’t handle a talented, highly-productive Rams’ offense.
Los Angeles Rams: QB Matthew Stafford (ankle) Q, OLB Von Miller (ankle) Q
San Francisco 49ers: S Jimmie Ward (quadriceps) Q
Matchup To Watch: Deebo Samuel (SF WR) vs. Jalen Ramsey (LAR CB)
My Pick: Rams win 31-24, Rams cover, over 49.5 points