Week ten of the 2011 NFL season is upon us and the playoff race is heating up. We have our first Thursday Night Football game of the season as the Raiders and Chargers square off in a huge divisional matchup. We have three divisions where three teams are tied or within a half game of each other, which should make for a wild finish to the season.
This week features a host of great games with a variety of implications. All four AFC West opponents are squaring off. The San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants meet in a potential battle for the second first round bye. Cincinnati hosts Pittsburgh looking to prove they are legit. Atlanta hosts New Orleans in a huge NFC South tilt. What more can you ask for?
David - SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (-8) over Oakland Raiders: The Raiders are a mess right now. I thought they were ready to blow out the Broncos coming out of the gates last week, but things fell apart. The Raiders can turn this thing around, but I'm not sure if they actually are going to get it turned around. I see a Chargers ten point win on Thursday Night Football.
James - Oakland Raiders (+8) over SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: The Raiders were humiliated against the Denver Broncos last weekend and only had a short week to prepare for the first Thursday night game of the season. So why pick them? Carson Palmer and the Raiders passing attack looked very promising, the run game still looks strong and I expect the Raiders defense to step up to the place and redeem themselves.
David - ATLANTA FALCONS (even) over New Orleans: This is one of the best matchups of the weekend. I think this could be a fairly tight battle, but New Orleans struggles enough on the road that I think the currently hot Falcons can pull out the victory in the Georgia Dome.
James - New Orleans Saints (Even) over ATLANTA FALCONS: These are two teams that win games with their offense. Unfortunately for the Falcons, their offense has struggled this season. Meanwhile, Drew Brees has not been great this season, but the Saints offense is still playing well enough to win this game on the road.
David - Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) over CINCINNATI BENGALS: The Bengals have a chance to make a statement in the AFC North. Unfortunately, I don't think they're going to be able to do so. The Bengals are playing some solid football, but I don't think it's enough to get over the hump against the Steelers.
James - Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) over CINCINNATI BENGALS: Coming into the season, no one could have guessed that this would be a big game. The Bengals have surprised everyone this season and are playing well, but they are still young and I do not believe they are ready to play at the level of the Steelers.
David - St. Louis Rams (+2.5) over CLEVELAND BROWNS: The Rams are a tough team to figure out, but the Browns are not any easier. If the Rams can get Sam Bradford back on the field and get a full workload from Steven Jackson, they have the talent to win this. Of course, I also thought they could beat Arizona last week.
James - CLEVELAND BROWNS (-2.5) over St. Louis Rams: This season seems to be chalked full of games between really bad teams and this is yet another one. On paper, I think the Rams are a better team, but the Browns are playing better football in my opinion. This will be a close and low scoring game, but I think the Browns pull it out.
David - DALLAS COWBOYS (-5) over Buffalo Bills: I don't really know what to make of the Buffalo Bills at this point. They started strong, but have been tripped up enough that they could stumble right out of the playoff picture. They have reached a point where I don't trust them on the road for now.
James - Buffalo Bills (+5) over DALLAS COWBOYS: While Dallas continues to struggle to meet the perennially lofty expectations that come along with being the Cowboys, the Bills are exceeding all expectation (what few there were). The Bills are not ready to be the dominant team they looked like they could be early in the season, but they are still playing very good football. With the Cowboys still struggling to find themselves, I think the Bills win this game.
David - Jacksonville Jaguars (-3) over INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: As James points out, this is arguably the Colts best opportunity for a win this season. Nonetheless I will stick to my credo of picking against the Colts, even at home.
James - Jacksonville Jaguars (-3) over INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: This is likely going to be the Colts best opportunity to win a game this season. They won't do it. The Colts just plain suck, while the Jaguars suck to a lesser extent. Maybe the Colts will have better Luck next season.
David - KANSAS CITY (-3) over Denver Broncos: Do I dare bet against the Fightin Tim Tebows? Consider this betting on their inconsistency more than anything. This is a wildly unpredictable game. The Broncos are impossible to predict and the Chiefs had their win streak snapped by the previously winless Miami Dolphins. Really?
James - KANSAS CITY (-3) over Denver Broncos: After a solid game against the Raiders, the Broncos and Tim Tebow will come back to earth against a decent Chiefs team in Kansas City. I expect the Chiefs to contain Tebow in the run and force him to pass the ball, often to players in red jerseys.
David - Washington Redskins (+4) over MIAMI DOLPHINS: The Redskins are in a bit of a free fall while the Dolphins somehow managed their first victory of the season. I think Miami's win was more flukish than anything.
James - Washington Redskins (+4) over MIAMI DOLPHINS: Blech, more bad football. While the Redskins started the season well, the have struggled a lot in recent weeks. The Dolphins may have just gotten their first win of the season, but Fins fans should not get used to that feeling. In the end, I think Shanahan is a far better coach than Sporano and he will win the game for the Redskins.
David - PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (NL) over Arizona Cardinals: For some reason there was no line available on this game. Likely because the entire free world would pick the Eagles, no matter what the outcome of Monday Night Football.
James - PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (NL) over Arizona Cardinals: The Eagles may need to go 8-0 the remainder of the season in order to make the playoffs. Luckily for them, they start that stretch against an abysmal Cardinals team. The Cardinals were bad with Kevin Kolb, but if he sits out this week, they will be horrendous. Eagles should win this one easily.
David - HOUSTON TEXANS (-3) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Houston will likely be without Andre Johnson once again, but even still I think they have enough talent even with just Arian Foster to grab the win and the cover.
James - HOUSTON TEXANS (-3) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Houston started the season off slowly, and with injuries to two of its key players, it looked like they might tank the remainder of the season. Instead, they have come on strong in recent weeks Tampa Bay is going to have a very hard time staying in this game.
David - CAROLINA PANTHERS (-3) over Tennessee Titans: The Panthers have been an entertaining team, but they have yet to nail down a statement win. Beating Tennessee isn't exactly a statement, but it would be their biggest win to date. I think they can do it and win by seven to ten points.
James - Tennessee Titans (+3) over CAROLINA PANTHERS: This is a real tough one to call. Both teams are better than expected (I know the Panthers only have two wins, but they have been playing good football and have a lot of very close losses to good teams). In the end, I think the Titans have a far better defense than the Panthers and as a result, they should be able to pull out the win in Carolina.
David - Baltimore Ravens (-7) over SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: I almost talked myself into Seattle given their home field advantage at times and also an emotional letdown for the Ravens. But then I thought better of it.
James - Baltimore Ravens (-7) over SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: The Ravens are probably the best team in the AFC this season. The Seahawks are probably one of the three worst teams in the NFL this season. I am in absolute shock the line on this is only one touchdown. Yes, Seattle is a tough place to play, but the difference in talent is astounding.
David - Detroit Lions (+2.5) over CHICAGO BEARS: The Lions have struggled lately, but I think they get back on the horse and in the swing of things. With only a one game lead on the Bears, this game is huge for Detroit.
James - Detroit Lions (+2.5) over CHICAGO BEARS: Now this is going to be an exciting game. Both of these teams are looking like real playoff contenders and both are playing very well. I was very very tempted to take the Bears at home, but I am still not confident in their re-worked offensive line while I still firmly believe the Lions have the best defensive line in the league. This one will be won or lost in the trenches.
David - SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (-3) over New York Giants: I never pick against the 49ers. Ever. This is a tough game for the 49ers, but they are rolling on defense and that should be enough to give them a solid chance.
James - SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (-3) over New York Giants: Another great game this weekend. The Niners might have a hard time with the Giants defensive line, but hey, their offense is not why they are winning so many games. The Niners have one of the best defenses in the league this year and they should be able to hold down Eli Manning, despite the great season he is having.
David - NEW YORK JETS (Even) over New England Patriots: Pats on the road in the Meadowlands? Sorry, I just can't see it. I think the Sanchise has a strong game against the weak Patriots secondary. That doesn't mean the Patriots aren't going to the playoffs this year, but they have some significant weaknesses.
James - New England Patriots (Even) over NEW YORK JETS: The Patriots started the season looking like world beaters before coming back to Earth. The Jets have been inconsistent throughout the season and will likely continue to be so. When it comes down to it, I just think the Patriots are a better team and its hard to take Mark Sanchez over Tom Brady.
David - GREEN BAY PACKERS (-14.5) over Minnesota Vikings: Christian Ponder and the Vikings gave the Packers a heck of a run in the Metrodome earlier this season. I don't see that repeating. Not even remotely.
James - GREEN BAY PACKERS (-14.5) over Minnesota Vikings: The Packers are just absurd this year. They are playing unbelievable football, and most importantly, doing it in every phase of the game. The defense is making plays, the offense is, well one of the best in the league and the special teams is pretty good as well. Just like I will not take the Colts at any point this season, I do not see myself betting against the Packers anytime this season either.
Last Week: 7-7-0
Last Week: 7-7-0