We’re back with the tenth edition of MTS’ weekly picks against the spread for the 2016 season. Desperately searching for that big week, Perry went 6-6-1 in Week 9, with his “Pledges” going 2-1-1.
Perry is back in Week 10, though, and ready to unveil a big one, just as every gambler would say. Here is what Mr. Port is bringing to the table this week.
An asterisk denotes one of Perry’s “Pledges of the Week.” (Don’t call them “locks”; there’s no such thing!)
Week 10 Picks ATS
Thursday, November 10
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-10)
This is a really big spread for an offense that I still don’t trust. Unfortunately, it’s hard to put any faith in any unit the Browns trot out, but they are 5-1 ATS in their last six when playing in Baltimore.
The Ravens boast the league’s 26th-ranked scoring offense, averaging 19.25 points per game, and only scored 25 against this Browns defense the last time they played (Week 2). With Corey Coleman and Terrelle Pryor on the outside, Hue Jackson will find a way to put some points on the board.
Pick: Browns (+10)
Sunday, November 13
Kansas City Chiefs at Carolina Panthers (-3)
Alex Smith is expected to return, and both Spencer Ware and Justin Houston have a chance to suit up for the Chiefs, who are riding a four-game winning streak since their bye. Kansas City’s pass rush finally woke up thanks to Dee Ford, and their defense has held two of their last four opponents under 290 total yards (Oakland and Indianapolis).
Although it wasn’t pretty, Carolina recorded their third win of the season in Week 9 on the road. After rushing for just 59 yards against LA without their starting center in the lineup, Ryan Kalil should return in Week 10 to face the league’s 27th-ranked defense against the run.
The Chiefs will scheme to slow the Panthers rushing attack, and Alex Smith will play a very safe game, as always. I’ll take the points on the road.
Pick: Chiefs (+3)
Denver Broncos at New Orleans Saints (-1.5)
This will be a game between the league’s top-ranked pass attack and top-ranked pass defense. Drew Brees is averaging 336 yards per game through the air, but the Broncos defense has only allowed more than 200 net passing yards twice this season.
Signs are pointing to the Broncos being without Aqib Talib for a second straight game, and it is likely that defensive end Derek Wolfe will also miss Week 10. The good news is that the Saints don’t run the ball as effectively as the Raiders – 19th in yards per carry (4.1 YPA) – and their defense is worse.
Denver will have to establish its own ground game, after piling up a pitiful 33 yards against Oakland on Sunday night, and Bradley Roby will have to be much better filling in for Talib. Both are very plausible scenarios.
Pick: Broncos (+1.5)
Los Angeles Rams at New York Jets (-2)
Another loss for either one of these teams will all but close the door on their slim playoff hopes. Putting your faith in either one of these quarterbacks is rather difficult, but at least one is surrounded by a lot of talent.
As was the case last week, Case Keenum will not be able to take advantage of a weak Jets secondary, and Todd Gurley will be in tough against a very good Jets front. Ryan Fitzpatrick is aware that he’s got nothing to lose at this point and will continue to play with no fear.
I expect the Jets to find more ways to get the ball in Brandon Marshall’s hands, while their defense has Keenum on his back all day.
Pick: Jets (-2)
Green Bay Packers (-2.5) at Tennessee Titans
As much as I love what the Titans are doing, they are still incapable of beating even moderately good teams – evident by their loss last week to San Diego. Their four wins this year have come against the Lions (who had three TDs called back due to penalties and generally shot themselves in the foot all game), Dolphins (before the return of Branden Albert), Browns, and Jaguars.
Despite lacking even one serviceable running back, the Packers have a ton of talent on offense, and their defense is playing much better than expected (seventh in total defense). They are now 4-4 after an ugly loss at home to the Colts, but I don’t see that marking a trend.
Aaron Rodgers will come out ready to play, and the Titans’ exotic smashmouth run-game will be kept in check by the Packers top-ranked rush defense.
Pick: Packers (-2.5)*
Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles (Pick)
The Falcons offense has already been tested by three of the league’s top defenses – Denver, Seattle, and Green Bay – and has proven to be nearly unstoppable, racking up more than 360 total yards in each. Their defense, however, is among the weaker units in the league and struggled mightily after Desmond Trufant left the game against the Bucs last week.
Philadelphia continues to be held back by its lack of playmakers on offense, and their defense has given up big yards on the ground to teams who actually can run the ball – see Cleveland, Washington, and Dallas.
The Falcons, who can beat you with the run or the pass, will not be slowed, and Carson Wentz won’t be able to keep up, again.
Pick: Falcons (Pick)*
Minnesota Vikings at Washington (-3)
If there was ever a time that Jay Gruden needed to set his ego aside and just run the ball, it’s now. Washington is averaging 153.3 rushing yards in their last three, while the Vikings have allowed an average of 118.6 yards on the ground in their last three.
Meanwhile, Minnesota’s offense continues to look hopeless (32nd in total offense), and cannot afford for Alex Boone to miss his second straight game.
In spite of Washington allowing 4.9 yards per carry (31st), the Vikings won’t be able to take advantage.
Pick: Washington (-3)
Houston Texans (-1.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Under new offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, the Jaguars’ offense had some balance, and their 205 rushing yards against the Chiefs almost matched their rushing total from their last three games combined (207).
Houston is hoping their offense got itself (mostly Brock Osweiler) sorted out during the bye week; they rank 30th in both scoring and total offense. Fortunately, even without J.J. Watt the Texans defense has continued to be one of the league’s best, ranking fifth in total defense.
Although Houston ranks 28th against the run, I’m not ready to buy into what we saw from Jacksonville last week. The Texans have won nine of their last 11 against the Jags, and I expect Brock Osweiler to come out and have his best game of the season.
Pick: Texans (-1.5)*
Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1.5)
I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but the Bears have not been as bad as their 2-6 record would suggest. John Fox has the defense playing respectable football, especially considering all the injuries he’s dealt with on that side of the ball. Offensively, rookie running back Jordan Howard has been sensational, and Jay Cutler, in his first game back from injury, did his best to tempt Bears fans into falling for him again.
The Bucs don’t have much going for them, which is largely due to: (a) Jameis Winston’s inconsistent play under center, and (b) their horrible defense (29th in scoring, 28th in total defense). Even if Doug Martin does return this week, it won’t change the fortunes of the Tampa Bay offense.
Alshon Jeffery will get his looks with Cutler under center and the two will take advantage of a very weak Bucs secondary. Tampa Bay falls to 0-5 at home.
Pick: Bears (+1.5)
Miami Dolphins at San Diego Chargers (-4)
It’s safe to say the Dolphins are now a run-first team, averaging 205 yards on the ground in their last three games. All three of those games resulted in wins, and the offense has not committed a single turnover in their win-streak. However, I’m not buying into their defense being a respectable unit just yet.
San Diego’s five losses this season have come by a combined 22 points. This team is a handful of plays away from being 8-1. Philip Rivers deserves some love in the MVP discussion for what he’s done without two of his best weapons on offense (Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead) but he has received a lot of help from Melvin Gordon in their last few games. I expect Gordon to be a major contributor in this one, facing the 30th-ranked defense against the run.
The Chargers’ record (4-5) is not indicative of their play, and they’ll bring Miami back down to Earth.
Pick: Chargers (-4)
San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals (-13.5)
The 49ers have proven a couple things this season: one, they will find a way to run the ball; and two, they can’t play any defense (overlook their Week 1 performance; shutouts don’t really count when Case Keenum is on the other side of the field). Colin Kaepernick may be a slightly better option than Blaine Gabbert, but I’d prefer to call him the lesser of two evils.
The Cardinals, coming off their bye, now face an uphill battle to climb back into the playoff race. They have been haunted by their horrible offensive line all season (25 sacks, fourth-worst), but will be able to lean on David Johnson against the worst run defense in the league.
Arizona desperately needs to get some momentum, and a thrashing of the 49ers, who have lost their last four games by a combined 76 points, at home is a good start.
Pick: Cardinals (-13.5)*
Dallas Cowboys at Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.5)
I don’t care what the record of their opponents is, it’s time to start considering the Cowboys the best team in the NFC. Their rushing attack cannot be stopped, and Dak Prescott continues making all the right plays. Surprisingly, their defense has risen to the occasion as well, ranking fourth in scoring and tenth in total defense.
The Steelers remain one of the most inconsistent teams in the league. Their offense has been held to 45 points over the last three (albeit with Landry Jones at QB for one), after scoring 74 in their previous two. Their defense remains average at best. I don’t see Big Ben and the offense continuing to be limited to 15 points per game, but I also don’t believe the Steeler defense, which has allowed an average of 137.3 yards on the ground in the last three, can slow Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys’ bruising offense.
Pick: Cowboys (+2.5)
Seattle Seahawks at New England Patriots (-7.5)
This seems like a lot of points, but since Tom Brady has returned, the Pats smallest margin of victory has been 11 points. Brady’s passer rating in his four games this year is an astounding 133.9, but Seattle will be the best pass defense he’s seen this year.
The Seahawks are likely to get Kam Chancellor back, which will be huge against the Patriots two big tight ends. However, Seattle has nothing that even remotely resembles a rushing attack, and Bill Belichick will be able to scheme to stop a very one-dimensional offense.
Tom Brady will make a major statement in this one, exposing the Legion of Boom, while Russell Wilson won’t be able to shoulder the load against the second-ranked scoring defense.
Pick: Patriots (-7.5)
Monday, November 14
Cincinnati Bengals at New York Giants (-2.5)
The winner of this game will likely be decided by which secondary plays better. Both offenses rank in the top-six in terms of passing, but neither can defend through the air: the Bengals are 21st against the pass, while the Giants rank 25th.
Only one of these teams sports any sort of balance on offense; Cincinnati possesses the seventh-ranked rushing attack, compared to the Giants league-worst ground game. In a game that will feature a lot of OBJ and A.J. Green, I’ll side with Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard to be the difference-makers.
Pick: Bengals (+2.5)
Photo Credit: Keith Allison (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/].