Week 10 has some big playoff matchups, as Nick Ballistreri digs deep into the schedule to find his 5 best bets of the week.
NFL SEASON ATS RECORD: 30-23-2
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
The Ravens made a statement to the rest of the NFL that they are for real. Lamar Jackson put on a show against the Patriots, and while he only threw for 163 yards, he had a touchdown, took care of the ball, and ran for 61 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Patriots defense had no answers, much like the rest of the league against Jackson.
The Bengals are coming off their bye week, and after the Dolphins won their first game last week, they are now the only winless team in football. They made some changes over their bye week, benching long-time QB Andy Dalton in favor of rookie 4th rounder Ryan Finley. The Bengals expected to get WR AJ Green back this week, but he was ruled out with a setback earlier this week.
Finley may not be the long term answer at QB, but he will be a welcome change for the Bengals. He impressed in the preseason, showing the accuracy and poise of a veteran. While I don’t expect the Bengals to win this game, I do expect them to stay relatively competitive and score some points. Combine that with the Ravens ability to score on any defense, and I’m targeting the total of 44 in this one, and riding with the OVER.
Kansas City Chiefs at Tennessee Titans
The Chiefs are back. After a few sluggish weeks adapting to life without Pat Mahomes, the Chiefs responded in a big way with a 26-23 victory last week. The ship is righted, and the aforementioned Pat Mahomes is now back in the fold for Kansas City. I can see Andy Reid smiling on the sideline already.
The Titans are coming off a 30-20 loss to the Panthers that wasn’t as close as the score indicated. They were thoroughly outplayed, and are on the outside of the playoff race labeled as a “pretender”. Even with Ryan Tannehill at QB, the Titans can’t score enough against good teams consistently. If you think they’ll be able to score with the Chiefs, think again.
The Chiefs are -6.5 in this game, and they will win. I want to buy this one to 5.5 to ensure we don’t get a half point loss here. Mahomes will be too much for the Titans D to handle, and the Chiefs will improve to 7-3, still with hopes of a 1st round bye.
Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts
Dolphins fans, the dreams of a winless season ended after their 26-18 victory against the Jets last week. This could be seen from a mile away. The Dolphins have been improving, keeping games competitive and it was only a matter of time before they pushed one through the finish line. The higher-ups in the organization may be tanking, but the players and coach Brian Flores sure aren’t.
The Colts are coming off a tough loss at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers, 26-24. Although they lost the game, they may have avoided disaster as it looked like QB Jacoby Brissett was down with a serious injury. He didn’t return to the game, but news was that he was OK, and he is questionable for this contest.
The Colts are 11.5 point favorites in this one. I understand the Dolphins are bad, but they are improving, and the Colts tend to play down to their competition. Regardless if Jacoby Brissett suits up, I’m taking the Dolphins with the points in this one.
Los Angeles Rams at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Rams saved their season with 2 victories before their bye week. Now, they weren’t the best opponents (Bengals, Falcons), but this is the NFL, and crazy things can happen on any given Sunday. Coming off their bye, the Rams are 5-3 and in the thick of the NFC playoff race. This game is big for their chances.
The Steelers are winners of 3 straight, and are now sitting at .500, at 4-4. The defense hasn’t been great, but it continues to make game-changing plays such as Minkah Fitzpatrick’s Pick-6 last week. In a weak AFC, the Steelers should feel like they’re right in the playoff race, and after Big Ben went down and they started 1-4, that’s a stark change from early season projections.
The Rams are 3.5 point favorites in this game. They’re on the road, but they’re coming off a bye week, and Sean McVay has been known to respond with the week off. However, I’m taking the Steelers in this one. They’re on a roll, and momentum is a big thing in sports. The Rams may win, but I’m taking the points at 3.5 in case the Steelers lose by a field goal.
Minnesota Vikings at Dallas Cowboys
This game is massive for the NFC playoff picture. The Cowboys have righted the ship it seemed, responding from their 3-game losing streak with 2 divisional victories to take control of the NFC East. On Monday Night, the Cowboys defeated the Giants 37-18, but had their struggles along the way. It took the defense locking in to take over the game before they could pull away. With the help of a stray black cat at Metlife, the Cowboys came out on top, which I told you would happen HERE.
The Vikings are coming off a crushing 26-23 loss to the Chiefs without Pat Mahomes. It was competitive throughout, but as it has been for most of his career, Kirk Cousins struggles against winning teams. You would think this would change with a good defense and one of the best running backs in Dalvin Cook, but the same song continues to play. This needs to change if the Vikings expect to go places.
On paper, this looks like a toss-up, as the Cowboys are 3 point favorites at home. But if you look a little deeper, this is a primetime game, which spells bad news for Cousins. In his career, Cousins is 6-13 in primetime games, letting the pressure get to him. He did win one a couple weeks back, but that was against the Redskins, which was not only expected, but demanded. Given the injuries to Adam Thielen and potentially Linval Joseph, I don’t think the Vikings come away with this game. I’m taking the Cowboys at -3 to end my Week 10 picks.