Week 10 was, well, a 10 for your favorite NFL picks columnist, as my 10-4 record against the spread (ATS) was the first time I’ve hit double digits in wins since Week 1. If you’re picking every game every week, this is the time of year where you should have learned enough about certain teams and certain situations that give you good reads that can beat the ‘books.
Underdogs went 9-5 ATS last week, with six winning outright, to continue a hot stretch. They’re 27-15 ATS over the last three weeks and 82-65-2 for the season.
My most confident picks ATS this week are Cincinnati, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Chicago. There aren’t any true "stay-away" games, but avoid Arizona-Seattle because of the Cardinals’ injury uncertainty.
GAME OF THE WEEK
DALLAS (7-2) AT KANSAS CITY (6-4)
TV: Fox, 4:25 p.m.
Kansas City by 2.5; O/U: 55.5
Patrick Mahomes (406 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INTs) and Kansas City looked like their old selves with a 41-14 win at Las Vegas. I picked them to win the AFC this year, but I still need to see it against a top-tier opponent like Dallas. KC has allowed 17, 7 and 14 points in its last three games, all wins, but that was against the Giants, Aaron Rodgers-less Packers and a lost Raiders team. Let’s see how this defense fares against the Cowboys’ top-ranked offense, first in points per game (31.6) and yards (433.9). Dak Prescott has a ton of weapons and should have success the way Buffalo, Tennessee and the L.A. Chargers had against KC. Dallas is the NFL’s best bet (8-1 ATS); KC (3-7 ATS) is one of the worst. The spread won’t even factor into this one as the Cowboys win a high-scoring game, something like 37-34.
The pick: Dallas
GIANTS (3-6) AT TAMPA BAY (6-3)
TV: ESPN, WPIX, 8:15 p.m.
Tampa Bay by 11; O/U: 49.5
Tampa Bay looked lost after its bye week. How will the Giants fare? Teams are 6-9-1 straight up following their bye and 5-11 ATS. This is a tough draw for the Giants considering the Bucs haven't won since Week 7, and Bruce Arians just called his team "very dumb" after an upset loss at Washington. I still believe the Giants can be competitive and cover the big number. They've had two weeks to prepare and Daniel Jones returns to the site of the greatest game of his career, which just so happened to be his first start. Big Blue's defense has been playing better (they've allowed 3, 17 and 16 points in the last three games) and if the Giants can score 20-24, they'll cover.
The pick: Giants
1 p.m. GAMES
MIAMI (3-7) AT JETS (2-7)
Miami by 3.5; O/U: 44.5
This line is fishy. Why are the Fish favored by 3.5 on the road? Sure, the Jets have allowed 45 or more points in three of their last four games but it's not as if Miami is a good team. Two weeks ago, the Dolphins were 1-7, then beat fellow 1-win Houston and caught Baltimore at the perfect time on a short week after it had played overtime four days earlier. The Jets have had a weird season, winning when you least expect it. Forget who’s starting at quarterback, this game is all about the defense and I expect Robert Saleh’s crew to silence its critics, especially the Jets’ Rex-coach, with a sound win.
The pick: Jets
INDIANAPOLIS (5-5) AT BUFFALO (6-3)
Buffalo by 7; O/U: 49.5
The Colts have won four of five to give them a shot at a wild-card spot. HBO must be happy, too, as "Hard Knocks" is following Indianapolis during the season, a first for the show. Expect this game to be featured heavily. Buffalo beat Indianapolis, 27-24, in last year’s wild-card game. The rematch should be just as competitive. The Colts have played better than their record suggests (four of their losses were hard-fought battles against the Titans (twice), Ravens and Rams). Take advantage of the inflated point spread.
The pick: Indianapolis
HOUSTON (1-8) AT TENNESSEE (7-2)
Tennessee by 10; O/U: 44.5
The Titans have won six in a row, all covers. They’re 7-0 vs. 2020 playoff teams, including their last five wins. Even if the hosts are half-interested, Tennessee can waltz against a Texans team riding an eight-game skid with half its losses by 40, 28, 26 and 16.
The pick: Tennessee
GREEN BAY (8-2) AT MINNESOTA (4-5)
Green Bay by 1.5; O/U: 47.5
If you've bet Green Bay the last nine weeks, you haven't lost once. The Packers are on a remarkable 8-0-1 run ATS . . . but I think this is the week it ends. Minnesota is much better than its record suggests, having lost a couple heartbreakers. The Packers' defense has been phenomenal so if it gets the best of Kirk Cousins, I won’t be shocked. But the idea of the Vikings "needing the game more" and Green Bay not having Aaron Jones gives Minnesota the slight edge in what feels like another down-to-the-wire finish.
The pick: Minnesota
NEW ORLEANS (5-4) AT PHILADELPHIA (4-6)
Philadelphia by 2; O/U: 43
The Eagles are 0-4 at home. The Saints hadn't lost two games in a row all season until last week's two-point defeat at Tennessee. This will be close, but New Orleans avoids a three-game skid thanks to its coaching and defense.
The pick: New Orleans
WASHINGTON (3-6) AT CAROLINA (5-5)
Carolina by 3; O/U: 43
This game’s storylines are juicier than a telenovela. Cam Newton’s return to Carolina . . . with old coach Ron Rivera on the other sideline. Newton is going to start after running for a TD and throwing for one in his return last week. Both teams enter off wins as big underdogs, so this should be close. I'll give the edge to the home team that has a little juice with Newton's return. Christian McCaffrey also should have a nice day against a Washington defense that is down its starting defensive ends.
The pick: Carolina
BALTIMORE (6-3) AT CHICAGO (3-6)
Baltimore by 4.5; O/U: 44.5
Lamar Jackson and the Ravens should bounce back after a 22-10 loss at Miami on TNF. Still, I'm going to take the big spread with the hosts for a couple reasons: 1) Chicago has had two weeks to prepare for this game; 2) Baltimore plays close games, including three overtime contests. Four of its wins were decided by 1, 2, 6 and 3 points. Oh, one more: Justin Fields improves with every passing game.
The pick: Chicago
DETROIT (0-8-1) AT CLEVELAND (5-5)
Cleveland by 11.5; O/U: 43.5
Good news, Lions fans: Your team won't be the NFL's first 0-17 team. Bad news, Lions fans: They can still be the first 0-16-1 team. Detroit does have a winning record ATS (5-4), but it could be emotionally spent from last week’s 16-16 tie and looking ahead to Thanksgiving Day.
The pick: Cleveland
SAN FRANCISCO (4-5) AT JACKSONVILLE (2-7)
San Francisco by 6.5; O/U: 45
Jacksonville has covered three of its last four (2-2 record) and should be able to keep this under a touchdown. San Francisco is off its best win (31-10 over the Rams on MNF), but the cross-country flight on a short week against an inferior opponent could add up to a slow start.
The pick: Jacksonville
4 p.m. GAMES
ARIZONA (8-2) AT SEATTLE (3-6)
Arizona by 2.5; O/U: 48
This is a tough one to pick because we don’t know if Kyler Murray is going to start. If he does, expect the Cards to get back on track before their bye. If he doesn’t . . . they can still win against a non-vintage Seattle team.
The pick: Arizona
LOCK OF THE WEEK
CINCINNATI (5-4) AT LAS VEGAS (5-4)
Cincinnati by 1; O/U: 50.5
Sometimes, the bye arrives at the perfect time. The Bengals needed to hit the reset button after a 25-point loss to the Browns at home followed by a stunning defeat at the Jets. I believe the Bengals are closer to the team that won, 41-17, at Baltimore the week before the Jets setback. They’re a young team with a young coach and this is a good spot to regroup and stay competitive in the crowded AFC North. The Raiders are reeling, having lost two in a row and dealing with the kind of off-the-field drama that most teams don’t endure for years, let alone weeks like this team has. Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase can take a page out of KC’s playbook from last week and find lots of holes in this Vegas defense.
The pick: Cincinnati
PITTSBURGH (5-3-1) AT L.A. CHARGERS (5-4)
TV: NBC, 8:20 p.m.
L.A. by 5.5; O/U: 47
Even if Ben Roethlisberger can’t return from the COVID list, this should be close. The Chargers are dealing with their own issues on that front, and they’re always playing close games (seven of nine decided by seven or fewer points, and five by five or fewer). With a lot of black and gold in the stands, Pittsburgh will feel right at home and is a live ‘dog.
The pick: Pittsburgh
STAFF STANDINGS AND PICKS
(best bets in bold)
79-69-2 overall, 5-5 best bets
Last week: 10-4
Atlanta Jets Giants Indianapolis Tennessee
Minnesota New Orleans Carolina Chicago Cleveland
Jacksonville Dallas Arizona Cincinnati Pittsburgh
Last week: 4-10
Atlanta Jets Giants Indianapolis Tennessee
Minnesota Philadelphia Carolina Baltimore Cleveland
Jacksonville Kansas City Seattle Las Vegas L.A. Chargers
Last week: 7-7
Atlanta Miami Giants Buffalo Tennessee
Green Bay New Orleans Carolina Baltimore Cleveland
Jacksonville Dallas Arizona Las Vegas L.A. Chargers
Last week: 6-8
New England Jets Tampa Bay Buffalo Tennessee
Green Bay Philadelphia Carolina Baltimore Detroit
San Francisco Kansas City Seattle Las Vegas L.A. Chargers