2017 NFL Picks Week 10: Shaming Jameis Winston and Loading up on Road Teams
Not too shabby! It’s a long slow climb back from our disastrous Week 7, but we’re steadily moving towards .500 and I’m confident we’ll get there and over the hump before the end of the season.
Before we get into the picks, I want to draw your attention to something very, very important. Jameis Winston did something really dumb in an attempt to fire up his teammates last week, and he deserves our scorn.
Look, motivational speaking is a skill, and it’s one not everyone has. Jameis, it’s important to acknowledge these shortcomings and let other people step in for you. At the very end of the video you can even see his teammate interrupting, not that it did much good; the Bucs lost 30-10 to the Saints and fell to 2-6 for the season. I don’t think there’s much left for Tampa Bay to accomplish this week, but maybe they can use this, look across the sideline at a player who consistently gets his team up for games, and come back better next year.
Probably not, though. For some reason I don’t think Mr. FHRITP is humble enough to pass the reins or socially intelligent enough to improve his technique. Bye, Tampa – on to the picks!
Seattle Seahawks -6 at Arizona Cardinals
Drew Stanton putting up points on the Seahawks’ defense just didn’t seem feasible to me. And for the most of the game, it wasn’t! Throw in a nice garbage-time score at the end, though, and a seemingly safe cover turned into a push. Womp womp.
New York Jets -2.5 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This feels wrong on so many levels. I’m picking the New York Jets (remember all the 0-16 speculation?) to cover as favorites on the road. It’s just too tempting though. In addition to Jameis’s injury and Mike Evans’s possible suspension, the Jets are a better team coming into this matchup. They’re considerably better on defense (21st to 30th) and special teams (15th to 23rd), and nothing closes a gap between offenses (23rd to 18th) like your opponent putting Ryan Fitzpatrick behind center. I know it seems crazy, but Tampa hasn’t covered a 2.5 point spread since they snuck past the Giants (yippee!) in Week 4. Let’s go Josh McCown!
Green Bay Packers +5.5 at Chicago Bears
I know, I (correctly!) picked the Lions to cover a 2-point spread against Green Bay last week LINK based on the presence of Brett Hundley and not much else. He’s starting at quarterback again for the Packers this week, but something about this game just doesn’t feel right to me. It’s possible I’m so unaccustomed to having nice things that I can’t picture Chicago winning under any circumstances, but my pick here is at least partially reflective of the reality of being a Bears fan. Even when Brett Hundley is forced into action because of an Aaron Rodgers injury, we might be staring at a push at the quarterback position. Mitch Trubisky hasn’t exactly been lighting the world on fire, and if we don’t have the edge there, why should we win by more than a touchdown? Green Bay currently has the top-ranked rushing offense in the NFL by DVOA; the Bears rank 16th, well ahead of their 31st-ranked passing game. We do have an edge on defense, but it isn’t as drastic as you might expect; Chicago ranks 13th in defensive DVOA and Green Bay ranks 20th. The Packers have the edge in special teams (16th to 29th) and coaching (eye test). I’ll happily take nearly a touchdown of points in a game with all the makings of a classic rock fight.
New Orleans Saints -3 at Buffalo Bills
This one is tricky. The Bills have looked very good at times this year, but they’re also coming off a loss to the Jets. The Saints, on the other hand, will always face concerns about their ability to perform away from home, especially in cold weather, despite all evidence suggesting the effect is minimal LINK. I’m picking New Orleans here because with each passing week, Buffalo’s big wins look less and less impressive. Their 10-point victory over the Broncos in Week 4, with Denver coming off a blowout home victory over Dallas? Denver is now 22nd in total DVOA and looking to Brock Osweiler for answers. A Week 8 win over the Raiders? Not as hard to do as we thought it would be coming into the season, with Oakland now sitting at 4-5 and 20th in total DVOA. Winning in Atlanta was big until it became clear that last year’s NFC champions are a shell of their former selves. The best team Buffalo has faced this season by DVOA is the 14th-ranked Carolina Panthers, a game they lost 9-3 on the road. New Orleans currently sits 5th in total DVOA, with the best offense the Bills will have faced all season. I think Drew Brees and co. will get out to a lead early and put pressure on Buffalo to keep up. I like Tyrod Taylor, but the supporting cast just isn’t in place to do it.
Los Angeles Rams -11 vs. Houston Texans
The Texans are bad without Deshaun Watson. After scoring 30+ points in five straight games with the rookie quarterback under center, Houston realized the gravity of their problem (ba-dum tch) last week in a 20-14 loss to Indianapolis. The Colts are 30th in DVOA. Somehow, the Los Angeles Rams and Jared Goff are 1st! That’s right, it only took one offseason for the Rams to shake whatever funk Jeff Fisher had imposed on the franchise and surge all the way to the top of Football Outsiders’ favorite advanced statistic leaderboard. The Rams are 9th in offensive DVOA, 3rd in defensive DVOA, and 1st in special teams DVOA. They get after the opposing team’s passer (6th in adjusted sack rate) and protect their own (2nd in ASR allowed). I don’t want to spend much time or energy thinking about the Texans with Tom Savage at the helm, so let’s just promise to never forget that Houston head coach Bill O’Brien thought he was a better quarterback than Deshaun Watson coming out of training camp. This one should get ugly fast.
Dallas Cowboys +3 at Atlanta Falcons
This line immediately jumped out at me just days after the Cowboys dominated a quality Chiefs team and the Falcons once again failed to break 20 points. Whatever magic Matt Ryan and Kyle Shanahan had last year is officially gone, and this line definitely doesn’t reflect it. Atlanta ranks 19th in total DVOA to Dallas’s 8th. The Cowboys are better on offense (4th to 8th), defense (23rd to 29th), and special teams (7th to 18th). They have better offensive and defensive lines, and with Philadelphia setting the pace in the NFC East, as much urgency to win as the Falcons. Sure, Ezekiel Elliott might be suspended this week. He might have been suspended every week this season! Even if he is, it doesn’t matter; whoever fills in at running back will still be productive behind that dominant offensive line. Dak Prescott is an absolute superstar well on his way to a second consecutive season with a better than 4-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio. Don’t overthink this one, just take the better team and the points
New England Patriots -7.5 at Denver Broncos
The Patriots are obviously better than the Broncos on offense, so the question here becomes: how big of a gap is there between these defenses? New England was historically bad through the first few weeks of the season, and they still rank 31st in defensive DVOA. I’d find that much more troubling if either A) they were allowing more than 12.75 points over their last four games or B) they were facing any other quarterback. What do the four teams the Patriots have faced over that stretch have in common besides an extra loss on their record for their efforts? They’re all better than Denver offensively! The Buccaneers (18th), Jets (23rd), Falcons (8th), and Chargers (17th) are all ahead of the Broncos (25th) in offensive DVOA. I know it doesn’t make a lot of sense for New England to be accomplishing this much with the league’s second-worst defense by DVOA, but there’s a very simple explanation: black magic. With Belichick’s sorcery and a sneaky revenge game for Tom Brady against Brock Osweiler, I’m expecting a runaway victory.
That's all for this week! Kick back, relax, and feel free to blame me if you put money on these picks and come out behind. I won't compensate you, but maybe your significant others will send their wrath in my direction instead of yours.