Early leans & analysis Wk 10
Early leans & analysis

Posted Friday at 4:00 pm EST - odds are subject to change.

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NFL Week: 10

What you see below is our early leans. Many of the selections below will stay the same and some will be moved into official plays with wagers on Sunday. However, there is the possibility that we see, read or get a sense that something is not right with one of our selections and change our pick. There are several different criteria we use to grade a game and make it an official play and a lot of things can happen or change between Friday and Sunday. We’ll have all write-ups (except Monday Night Football) posted on Friday but our actual wagers won’t be posted until Sunday morning between 10 AM and 12:00 PM EST.

Sunday, Nov 12

New England +1½ over Indianapolis

Deutsche Bank Park, Frankfurt, Germany


9:30 AM EST. We're not sure what the fine folks in Frankfurt did to deserve this putrid pairing, but we do know that a matchup like this will not do much to grow the game abroad. The Patriots are 2-7 and have been designated the "home" team, but there are no advantages to be had here with all of the travel and the dozens of outside variables at play. Those outside variables are a big reason that we rarely step into these international games, as one cannot predict how much of an impact those variables will have. There are enough "in-game" variances in an NFL game that one must suffer through from the flags to the replay booth that we would prefer to not get mixed up in a game that has even more distractions.

 As for the two teams on the field, Pats head coach Bill Belichick sounded ecstatic to be going to Europe in the middle of the season, "It's a unique opportunity. When it gets there, we'll look forward to it." When someone as grumpy as B.B. tells you they are looking forward to something, they most certainly are not, and why would he be? His team is 2-7, and they just got beat by the Commanders at home in Foxboro. That was New England’s second loss in a row, with their 31-17 drubbing in Miami coming in Week 8. We'll note the Pats are also a pathetic 2-7 Against the Spread (ATS) this season.

The Colts are sitting a little prettier at 4-5, but that is not saying much. Indianapolis is already down rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson, who is out for the rest of the season, and so perennial backup Gardner Minshew is now the man under center for this run-first offense. Indy’s Zack Moss ranks second in the league with 615 rushing yards thus far, and the Colts have former leading rusher Jonathan Taylor back in the fold.

The players and coaches are going to try to tell themselves that this is just another football game, just like Colts coach Shane Steichen, "We're going over there on a business trip to go win a football game. That's the message—it's just a long road trip. Stay focused," but the reality of that is non-existent. It’s not just a business trip, and it’s not just another game. It’s a situation where everyone is totally out of their element. With so many other games on the board this weekend, why wager on this one with so much BS surrounding it? Put a gun to our heads, and we’ll lean to the Patriots. Recommendation: New England +1½ 

San Francisco -3 over Jacksonville

1:00 PM EST. Throw away all the stats and Xs and Os and everything you usually base your betting on. This game is about something much deeper.

The Jaguars are riding a wave of five straight wins, forming into one of the NFL’s premiere franchises according to many talking heads. And it’s not that they’ve simply won, it’s how they’ve won and how difficult some of the spots have been. In London they beat up on Atlanta and humbled the Bills, who were on an absolute tear before their Week 5 matchup. Upon returning to the States, Jacksonville was unaffected by the travel and emotional come-down of another successful international trip. They played a cleaner game than the Colts and won by margin. Then, facing a challenging spot at New Orleans on just three days of rest, Trevor Lawrence put on an all-world performance against a talented Saints’ defense. The result: another W. It was even more impressive considering the Saints blew a game at Houston just four days prior and were positioned well, at home, to get some redemption. Lawrence and a surging defense made sure that didn’t happen. Perhaps most impressively, the Jags came away victorious the next week at Pittsburgh. A sloppy game in mucky weather, Lawrence and the Jags proved that they could win ugly, defensive-battles, too.

These are the traits of an elite team: winning in tough spots, finding different ways to eke out success, and anchored by a true star QB and a defense that’s surprisingly exceptional through 9 weeks. The Jags are one of the best run-defenses (3.6 opponent yards per carry– 4th) and they’re top-ten in opponent points per game. We’re intrigued, but it’s still too early to say the Jags are “elite” from our purview.

The recent stumbles of the San Francisco 49ers are well-documented. After a complete dismantling of the Cowboys in Week 5, the Niners have somehow lost three straight games. Once heralded as an obvious Super Bowl contender and perhaps the NFL’s best team, now San-Fran faces an uphill battle for the top seed in the NFC playoffs. Looking back at how they lost, they were in a lot of “wrong-place, wrong-time” spots. Of course truly elite teams shouldn’t be so bothered by those situations, but the Niners are humans, too. The Browns benefited from a sloppy, windy weather game in Cleveland. Minnesota was at their lowest and Kirk Cousins was out to prove the world wrong in Week 7, and in Week 8 Joe Burrow and the Bengals initiated their ascent into relevancy once again. This week won’t be easy, either, but the 49ers are considerably more desperate for a win at this point.

Which brings us back to our original assertion. The Jags have the personnel and momentum to compete and even beat the 49ers, but this battle is about the mental side of football. Are Trevor Lawrence and his team ready to take the next step? They might be, but it’ll take more than some nice road wins against mediocre teams for us to believe it. Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel are both healthy. Star left tackle Trent Williams might play. Both teams have had two weeks to prepare for this game, but we love that more for Brock Purdy and his offense, who have seen their first true struggles with Purdy under center the last few weeks. The Jags are likely due for a regression game, they haven’t made many mistakes the last five weeks, while we expect the best from San Francisco. That’s why we can only look one way. Recommendation: San Francisco -3

Houston +6½ over Cincinnati

1:00 PM EST. We’ve been bullish in our support of the Bengals in recent weeks, and hopefully everyone now sees why. Afraid of betting on Cincinnati at San Francisco when the Niners were coming off two straight losses? We were not. Afraid of betting on Cincinnati against Buffalo, months removed from booting the Bills out of the playoffs and with Damar Hamlin on their sideline? Never. The Bengals have the DNA of a Super Bowl champion. Only the Kansas City Chiefs can claim the same aura among elite NFL teams, although Philadelphia is certainly getting close. Typically only a couple NFL squads have “it” at any given time, and we’re confident the Bengals are one of those programs. They have the QB, insane talent around him, and the defense to back him up when they need to. And it’s Burrow’s moxie, a “there’s no way we’re not winning this” type of confidence (reminiscent of Tom Brady), that drives their success. And for what it’s worth, head coach Zac Taylor mostly just stays out of his way– smart.

If this is all true, and if the Bengals just made the 49ers and Bills look inferior in consecutive weeks, then why the hell wouldn’t we bet on them again in Week 9?

That question is exactly why we cannot bet on Cincinnati this Sunday. The sportsbooks know you’re impressed by the Bengals right now. Even oddsmakers initially made the mistake of inflating the spread– they listed the Texans as 8-point underdogs when lines opened late on Sunday. WIthin a day, big-wigs-bettors put down a truckload of cash on Houston and the line quickly corrected to where it sits now. 

As pristine as Zac Taylor’s operation has been, they’re still composed of human beings (last I checked, anyway). The preparation and focus it took to beat a team like the 49ers, followed by the emotions of a budding rivalry between Buffalo, had to cause some sort of mental high. Conversely, when a meaningless team like the Texans come to town, the energy must deflate a bit.

Of course, one angle that could inspire Burrow is his opponent’s QB. CJ Stroud, the former Ohio State starter who’s taken the NFL by storm in his rookie year, hails from the same alma mater that benched Burrow many moons ago. Or as Joe said it to the media this week, “I went to school at Ohio State. I played QB at LSU.” Sounds to me like Joey “brrr” is finding some fire in this connection, but it still might not be enough to cover a line this big on Sunday.

This is a terrible sandwich spot for Cincinnati. Last week they dominated a perennial contender in the AFC for the second time in a row, and next Thursday they’ll be in Baltimore for a huge AFC North battle. The Texans, despite how enigmatic their QB has been, must feel like an obstacle in the way of a bigger prize.

We haven’t gotten into great detail about CJ Stroud and his performance last week because, well, you already know all about it. Stroud has been the talk of the town for good reason, but don’t be surprised if he has a hiccup or two against a very professional Bengals’ defense. Fortunately, DeMeco Ryans coaches a young and hungry defense that can make plays, too. In any case, the Texans aren’t the kind of team that goes down easy. Cincinnati is building momentum but the pressure remains; they’re still 1½ games behind Baltimore; reason enough to be thinking ahead. We can’t take the Bengals in that situation. Recommendation: Houston +6½  

Cleveland +6½ over Baltimore

1:00 PM EST. Is there a hotter football team in the world right now than the Ravens? Is there a hotter quarterback on the planet than Lamar Jackson? If we are asking these questions, you can probably figure out where this one is going, as both Jackson and therefore the Ravens' stocks are skyrocketing. Baltimore is thumping teams nearly every week, as they just whacked Seattle 37-3 and Detroit 38-6 in Weeks 9 and 7 respectively while also knocking off Arizona (Week 8) and Tennessee (Week 6) during this four-game winning streak. By the way, the Ravens already have a lopsided victory over the Browns, 28-3, in Cleveland, back in Week 4.

While it’s not likely to shake out this way, at the moment, the AFC North has four teams that qualify for a playoff position. The Browns, Steelers, and Bengals are all 5-3 but the Brownies stock is sinking, big time.  Cleveland’s defense had been lit up in three of the previous four games prior to their shutout of the JUCO looking Cardinals. The defense had seven sacks & three takeaways vs Arizona. Cleveland was a big favorite last week and covered but the market will never put much emphasis on a weak win v Arizona and neither will we. Point is, Cleveland’s market credibility has been dropping for weeks.

In terms of recency bias, give a massive, massive edge to the Ravens. Not only that, but Baltimore outrushed Seattle by a resonating count of 298-28 last week and we promise you that the CBS/FOX panels will be salivating all over themselves when discussing that on Sunday morning. The market is going to be influenced.

We noted the game these two teams played earlier this season, but we didn’t mention that the Browns were not at full strength in that game with Deshaun Watson sidelined with a sore shoulder. We’d like to note that despite missing their starting QB, the Browns were pretty much a coin flip (+1) when that game kicked off just five weeks ago and now they are taking back nearly a touchdown in Baltimore with Watson back in the lineup. Incidentally, the QB for the Brownies that day was none other than Dorian Thompson-Robinson.

Right now, Lamar Jackson is the flavor of the month. He’s getting every possible accolade thrown his way including being the odds on favorite to win the MVP. The man on the street is simply not interested in betting against the Ravens right now and that is one of the reasons why Cleveland is the prudent choice here. The oddsmakers could have made Baltimore a -7 point choice and not swayed a single bet. Always be leary of wagering on favs that look good and are priced at -6 or -6½.

Recency bias comes into play here. Buy low/sell high comes into play here. Baltimore being the hottest team in the NFL comes into play here. Baltimore cashing tickets every week (they are 7-2 ATS) also comes into play here. It’s also worth noting that Baltimore will host the Bengals on Thursday night Football four days after this one in what is already being talked about as the “best game of the year”. We simply cannot recommend buying Baltimore when its stock is this high, as it fits into our “too late to the Baltimore ticket cashing party” mantra. The Brownies check every conceivable box here. Recommendation: Cleveland +6½

Packers/Steelers under 39

1:00 PM EST. The Green Bay Packers won last weekend at home against a backup QB, slow clap, but there was nothing particularly impressive about the W. Green Bay let second-string QB Brett Rypien and the Rams hang around in a one-score game until 9 minutes left in the fourth quarter, where they finally created separation. Along the way, the Packers were mistake-prone and clumsy, fumbling it twice to eliminate potential scoring drives and only going 1-4 in the red-zone. It was the ultimate “gimme spot” for Green Bay, off multiple losses and against a team they were short-handed, yet they nearly let LAR make it a competitive game. Jordan Love had a clean performance, that’s a positive, but he was also facing a Rams’ defense that’s been struggling against the pass (22nd in opponent yards per pass, 23rd in sack rating) and occupies a bottom-third ranking in holistic stats like opponent points per game and yards per play. They will have no such defense on Sunday.

The Steelers found a way to make it happen again. Against the rifle arm of Will Levis and an energized Titans’ squad last Thursday night, Pittsburgh answered the call in clutch moments and found a way to win. Many see Pittsburgh’s style of play as improbable and unsustainable, but we see a team that remains united because of an elite coach, and a roster with exceptional talent that can take over games in the most pivotal moments. This total is predictably low for several key reasons. Firstly and most obviously is what everyone in sports/betting media is talking about– the Steelers’ lack of production. Game in and game out, Pittsburgh produces very mediocre results in points and yards, an offense that’s ranked unsurprisingly in the bottom five of the league. This game projects to be no different, especially since the Packers have been a solid defense this season. Green Bay is 6th in opponent yards per play (4.9), tenth in points allowed per game (19.9), and ninth in yards per pass (6.2). Full of young energetic talent, they should be able to keep the Steelers at bay for most of this battle.

Star safety Minkah Fitzpatrick could return for the Steelers this Sunday, but either way we anticipate plenty of success for their defense. Jordan Love is on pace for 16 interceptions in his inaugural year as a starter, and when he’s faced an above-average pass defense this season (Saints, Lions, Vikings), the Green Bay offense has only mustered 16 ppg. Aaron Jones has been banged up and looked better last Sunday in Green Bay’s win over the Rams. In fact it was easily the Packers’ best output from their backfield. Pittsburgh can be humbled against good running teams (they allow 4.5 yards per carry, ranked 26th), but we imagine defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and an aggressive Steeler-defense will fill the box and force Love to beat them this Sunday.

Few spots are harder than playing against a raucous Pittsburgh crowd and we have no faith that Love can hold his own. There are no explosive qualities to the Green Bay passing game through eight games. That creates a fine recipe for TJ Watt and a hungry defensive line to bear-down and force Love and the Packers’ offense into more errors. The Steelers will probably win, but their offense rarely needs to do much. Recommendation: GB/PIT under 39

Arizona (+105) over Atlanta

1:00 PM EST. Fantasy-heads were salivating at the Falcons’ offensive potential before the season began. Bijan Robinson was one of the most sought-after draft picks across all fantasy leagues, predicted to explode into Arthur Smith’s run-heavy scheme. Flanked by young, dynamic catchers like Drake London and Kyle Pitts, analysts surmised that second-year QB Desmond Ridder would comfortably ease into a new offense set up for his success and that Atlanta would be a formidable contender in the NFC because of it. Of course a slew of new veteran talent on defense didn’t hurt, either.

Fast-forward ten weeks into the NFL season and the Falcons are the definition of “mid,” as the kids like to say. Their defense? Pretty darn good against the pass (6.1 yards per pass allowed, 7th overall), but they rarely get a sack (ranked 24th in sack rate) and they allow teams to score 21.3 ppg (18th). Don’t get us wrong– they’re vastly improved from last season, but it’s not the type of lock-down defense that can keep a team afloat unless the Falcons’ offense is doing well. That’s not something we can say at this juncture.

Arthur Smith’s offense still beckons more questions than answers. Last week they officially made a switch at QB after Desmond Ridder had a few underwhelming and mistake-prone performances in a row, but how much does Taylor Heinicke really add to their potential? Not enough last week; Atlanta lost in his first start, at home against Josh Dobbs and the Vikings. And he had a bad interception that really tilted the momentum in Minny’s favor when the score was tied 21-21 in the second half. Even though first-round draft pick Bijan Robinson is gaining 5 yards per carry, he only averages 11.4 rushes a game. Their offense can move the ball (344.3 yards per game, 11th), but their 18.4 ppg (25th) is a ripe indication of how disappointing they’ve been. A 4-5 record does the trick, too.

This week it won’t get any less challenging. Sure, the Cardinals have largely been an afterthought for most of their opponents. They’re 1-8 heading into this Sunday. But they have reason for optimism– Kyler Murray, the former #1 draft pick in 2019, will return in his first regular season game since tearing his ACL last season. Although not always consistent, Murray adds dynamic running ability and a pristine arm to a Cardinals’ offense that desperately needs a spark.

After Arizona put up just 58 yards last week at Cleveland (how is that even possible?), you’d think the market would be selling this team and giving them more points. Even with Murray returning, their defense and the surrounding talent of their offense haven’t been stellar. But like the Raiders post-Josh-McDaniels-firing, Arizona can get a big sigh of relief with an experienced and high-ceiling QB back under center. Even better, Murray knows he’s likely fighting for his job this season, since the Cardinals will inevitably receive a top draft pick in a QB-filled draft next Spring if they continue on this course. Arizona will be motivated and rejuvenated at home, and we don’t trust the Falcons as far as we can throw them. Recommendation: Arizona +105

Minnesota +3 over New Orleans

1:00 pm EST. The Saints have yet to really impress us, and they’re 2-7 ATS mark so far this season speaks to how disappointing they’ve been. Last week was yet another example. The Saints couldn’t cover the closing line (-8.5), even with the Bears giving them about 100 chances to do so. Tyson Bagent and a shaky Bears’ offense turned the ball over on 5 different occasions and the visiting Bears committed 9 penalties. Yet the Saints let them hang around within one-score of a tie all game. Then a late turnover on downs, a missed field goal– we could go on and on, but Week 9 was a microcosm of a very shaky New Orleans’ season. It hasn’t been pretty.

On the other side, there are nothing but positive sentiments surrounding the Minnesota Vikings right now. In storybook fashion, just days after getting traded, Josh Dobbs took over as the Vikings’ starter last Sunday at Atlanta and somehow found a way to win. Dobbs stepped in at the start of the second quarter, getting sacked for a safety in his own end zone within seconds, and immediately Minnesota’s chances of winning felt thin. Don’t tell that to Dobbs, though. Proving his merit with Arizona by fighting hard and making a hapless Cardinals’ offense competitive in so many games this season, Dobbs found a rhythm against the Falcons and led his new offense to 28 points in three quarters. He also engineered scores on three out of four of his final drives. Head coach Kevin O’Connell may have found a secret weapon in Dobbs, who threw 20-30 for 158 yards and ran for another 66 yards for 3 total touchdowns on Sunday in his VIkings’ debut. We don’t hate that the journeyman QB is a rocket-scientist, either. He should own the Minnesota playbook on a different level this weekend.

That Vikings’ momentum is the kind of thing that can work wonders in pro-sports. Amazingly, Minnesota would actually make the playoffs if they started today, and they have Josh Dobbs to thank after last Sunday’s improbable win. With a renewed sense of energy and playing against a team we simply can’t trust, we see plenty of value on a feisty home dog. Recommendation: Minnesota +3

Tennessee +1 over Tampa Bay

1:00 PM EST. The challenge here is trying to find which team holds more value or specifically which team has less market appeal. The 3-5 Buccaneers lost their fourth-straight game with an impressive defensive collapse that allowed C.J. Stroud to set several NFL rookie records, however, Tampa still scored a pile of points while Tennessee can’t score any and market propensity is to side with the team that can score. Nobody likes to wager on a football team that can’t move five yards. Tennessee has scored 16 points three times this year, 3 points once and 15 points once while Tampa is coming off a big output and has covered the past two weeks.

The glow from the Titans win over the visiting Falcons didn't last long. Now the Titans are mercifully moving on from Ryan Tannehill as their starting quarterback, with rookie Will Levis officially being named the starter for the rest of the season by head coach Mike Vrabel this week. Levis has two turns as the starting pivot under his belt, going 1-1, but there was much to like in the loss he took on the road on a short week on Thursday Night Football in Pittsburgh to kick off Week 9. Levis went 22-for-39 for 262 yards and an interception in his second start, first on the road, in an incredibly hostile environment in Steeletown, and he had his team in a position to win the game, as the Titans led 16-13 after three quarters. This kid looks very good to us. There is no shame in that loss, and it speaks volumes about what the Titans think of Levis that they made this move. Levis is completing 60.3% of his passes in his limited action this season, and he’s thrown for 500 yards and four touchdowns with that one INT last week. Meanwhile, Tannehill had two touchdowns to six INTs in his six starts, and he posts the third-worst QBR by qualified starters, with only Zach Wilson and Bryce Young behind him. Tannehill on the bench is perfect.

You know what else is perfect and that we’ve read in a million places? Tampa is tough to score on. Only five teams are allowing fewer points per game than the Buccaneers. That’s nice it really is but Tampa gives up a brick load of yardage so that misleading stat is worthless. The reason they have not allowed points is nothing but pure luck, as teams have consistently kicked themselves in the foot when getting into the Red Zone on this garbage defense. Only three teams in the entire league have surrendered more yards than the Bucs. Do not buy into the 5th fewest points allowed narrative because that’s about to blow up and we’re strongly suggesting that Levis, Derrick Henry, et all will expose this lousy bunch for what they truly are and win going away.  . Recommendation: Tennessee +1

L.A Chargers +3 over Detroit

4:05 PM EST. There is going to be a temptation here to spot points with the Lions on the road, as they are coming off their bye well-rested and ready for the second half of the season while the Chargers are playing this game on a short week after having travel to the swamps of Jersey to play the Jets on Monday Night Football. Through the first eight games, Detroit is both 6-2 straight up and Against the Spread (ATS), which has their loyal backers dancing to the pay window with regularity. The last time we saw the Lions was on Halloween Eve on Monday Night Football in a game they beat the Raiders 26-14.

This was to be the Lions’ year, and so far, it’s played out that way, as not only is Detroit atop the NFC North in November, but their closest rival for that crown, the Vikings, lost their starting quarterback for the rest of the season. If we didn’t know better, we’d say it’s almost going "too well" for a tortured franchise like the Lions. Despite the winning and the accolades that come with it, the Lions are not as strong as their record might indicate. When it comes to the power rankings, Detroit is outside the top-10, sitting just 12 behind the likes of Jacksonville (11th), Cleveland (10th), and yes, the Chargers (9th).

The Chargers are perennial underachievers, and 2023 is no different, as L.A. is just 4-4 (3-4-1 ATS). When you have one of the best young pivots in the game in Justin Herbert and surround him with explosive weapons like Austin Ekeler and Keenan Allen, you expect fireworks week in and week out. That has not happened this season. We acknowledge that often teams coming off a prime-time win like the Chargers did on Monday Night Football are usually overvalued, but that is just not the case here. A big reason for that is because the Chargers beat the Jets, who have no quarterback. We listen to the talking heads, and to a man, not one was giving credit to the Chargers for the win. The story was about the Jets and how bad Zach Wilson is.

If we strip away the reputations and simply look at this game from an objective lens with no decals on the helmets, the Chargers cannot be an underdog at home to the Lions. We know that there are going to be more Lions fans in the stands at SoFi than those there to show their lightning bolts, but that reputation as a weak home crowd also fuels the market and the media to fade the Chargers when they play in Los Angeles, which plays into our favor here, as we are now getting the better team, taking back inflated points on their home field. That’s a wager we’re going to make every single time. Recommendation: L.A. Chargers +3

Dallas -16½ over N.Y. Giants

4:25 PM EST. The problem with even considering betting on the Giants in this contest is an obvious one. Big Blue has been a try-hard unit ever since Brian Daboll, last year’s coach of the year, came to town. They’re not as talented as most of the teams, but at least they can put up a competitive fight. In recent weeks their defense has kept them in games, despite their offense’s struggles. With Daniel Jones returning in Week 9, there was still a slim-hope that New York could resurrect their season and at least produce some positive results before a better chance at success next year. That hope was distinguished early in Vegas last Sunday. Jones left the game after just nine pass attempts, and now we know that he tore his ACL and he’s out for the season.

What happened from there was somewhat predictable. A rejuvenated Raiders’ team dominated the Giants, leading 24-0 at the half and winning 30-6. Third string backup Tommy DeVito, who does not look like a real NFL QB in any regard, threw multiple INTs and couldn’t lead his team down the field. Needless to say, with DeVito as their starter, it’s hard to imagine the Giants earning any more wins this season. It would also make too much sense for them to not even try, since the next NFL draft will bring one of the greatest QB classes we’ve seen in some time. New York’s season should enter experimentation-mode from here on.

The Cowboys are also coming off a loss, but a much more admirable one. Dak Prescott played one of the best games of his career (29-44, 374 yards and 3 touchdowns) and Dallas nearly beat their arch-rival, the Philadelphia Eagles. The game looked and felt like a battle of the elites in the NFC, and although Dallas ultimately lost, the game could have gone either way. Dallas’ defense struggled early, particularly at the start of the first and third quarters, but they stunted Jalen Hurts and the Eagles' offense on three straight drives in the fourth quarter. Jerry Jones’ boys came close, but it wasn’t to be.

Following such a disappointing loss and looking for redemption, against a team that literally can’t score a point– it’s ugly, but these are the inflated favorites we must wager on. How are the Giants going to score any points? With their backs against the wall against a highly potent Cowboys’ offense, how is the defense going to stay motivated or even interested in this game? These are all fair questions. Despite the 40-0 thrashing the Boys gave the Giants in Week 1, which is usually a great angle for revenge, Big Blue just doesn’t have the right personnel to stay competitive in this contest. Swallow the points, even if it’s uncomfortable. Recommendation: Dallas -16½

Seattle -6½  over Washington

4:25 PM EST. The Seattle Seahawks fell hard last week, just like the Lions did a few weeks prior, to a dominant Baltimore Ravens team on their home field. It was by far the worst performance of the Seahawks all season, but as a bettor it’s vital to forgive and forget quickly when betting on a league that’s in constant flux. Normally Pete Carroll’s team is clutch in early slots (now 23-10 in his last 33 early afternoon games) but it wasn’t to be in Week 9. A formidable Seahawks’ offense was outgained 515 to 151 in a 37-3 loss.

The time is now if the Seahawks want to stay competitive in the NFC. After Washington, their next seven games are brutal: LAR, SF, DAL, SF, PHI, TEN, PIT. Regardless of what they showed last week, Seattle has a young, hungry defense and plenty of talent on offense. Geno Smith has regressed a bit in recent weeks, but he’s due for a much better performance. At home after such an embarrassing loss, there might not be a better spot.

Washington is one of the hardest teams to handicap. Their offense clearly has a ton of talent, but Sam Howell has virtually no steady protection on a weekly basis. That should be an issue against an angry Seahawks defense that’s top ten in sack rate (8.28%). The Seahawks run-game has been a thorn in their side, unable to muster consistent production (4.1 yards per carry, 15th). Sunday presents a nice matchup for the home-team in that regard, since Washington is a bottom-third rush defense (4.3 yards per carry allowed). Now without Chase Young and Montez Sweat, those numbers are only bound to climb.

The Commanders won last week but we don’t take much from the victory. The Patriots’ franchise is slowly burning into smithereens and their defense apparently decided to take off in Week 9. That’s not a good sign for Bill Belichik and the Patriots, but it doesn’t garner much appreciation for Washington either. This presents as an “all-in” type of spot for Seattle behind their home fans, an element deserving of a solid 2-3 points of line value alone, and we expect the Seahawks to take advantage and cover in a game they should win. It’s now or never. Recommendation: Seattle -6½ 

N.Y. Jets/Las Vegas under 36½ 

8:20 PM EST. The Raiders faced the worst team in football last week and won big. Normally that would give us more fodder to fade a team, but not in this case. Whether it was Tommy DeVito (my God is he horrible) or Joe Montana starting at QB for the Giants last Sunday, we don’t think it would have mattered. Leading up to their Week 9 contest, Raiders’ players were sounding off about their relief and corresponding excitement since Mark Davis decided to fire Josh McDaneils. McDaniels, who reportedly has next to no emotional intelligence and way too much hubris for a dork who benefitted from the GOAT, Tom Brady, had Las Vegas reeling before he was booted. Now, with a former player like Antonio Pierce taking the reins in Sin City, there’s a new buzz around the Raiders’ organization. The results were instant last week, even if it was a “gimme-game” against the Daniel Jones-less G-Men. We like that sort of momentum, especially when a team remains at home. Those same positive sentiments cannot be placed on the flailing Jets.

New York has kept a decent record (4-4) despite their circumstances without Aaron Rodgers, but that doesn’t mean things are going splendidly. Coach Robert has been dodgy with the media all week, basically flat out saying that he doesn’t trust Wilson but he has no other choice but to play him. That can’t restore too much confidence in the young QB. And while the Jets’ defense keeps the team competitive most weekends, they didn’t have many answers for a talented Chargers’ offense on Monday Night Football. The Jets’ upcoming schedule doesn’t get any easier– the Bills, Dolphins, and Falcons are on deck. This checks out as a game the Jets may need to win if they want a shot at the AFC playoffs, but we imagine we’ll see more effort and more efficiency from their defense.

Aidan O’Connell and the Raiders’ offense got the job done last week but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Sauce Gardner is turning into one of the best cornerbacks in pro-football and he’ll take the challenge of Devante Adams very seriously, while O’Connell should face constant pressure from New York’s dangerous pass-rush. The Raiders’ defense is anchored by Maxx Crosby, who’s been playing out of his mind in recent weeks. He leads the NFL with 53 QB pressures and 10 sacks through 9 weeks. Both teams do a great job at limiting opposing offenses most weeks and both defenses will be motivated to keep their playoff hopes alive as we enter the back-half of the season. Combine that with two QBs we simply cannot trust and this is a fine recipe for a defensive battle. Recommendation: N.Y. Jets/Las Vegas under 36½ 

Our Pick

Early leans & analysis (Risking 0 units - To Win: 0.00)