by Ryan Meehan
We’re now in double digit weeks of the NFL season, and the league is starting to get busier than ever. Tony Romo will return to the fold this week, further burying the fact that the team his Cowboys just lost to (the Arizona Cardinals) are now 7-1 and two games ahead of the World Champion Seahawks in the brutal NFC West. We’ll get to that later, but whoever was running the Cowboys’ Twitter account made a major mistake this week that I thought was hilarious: In celebration of the team’s travels to the United Kingdom this coming weekend, they asked that their fans to use the hashtag #CowboysUK until game time. This of course phonetically reads “Cowboys Suck”, which is priceless when you consider how much money someone is being paid to make sure stupid mistakes like that don’t happen. The reality is, we still don’t know which teams are the truth and which teams deserve to be shamed. We don’t have a crystal ball. We might be in possession of something that looks like one, but it’s still going to be a couple of weeks before we know about a lot of these teams. So let’s get in to week ten and smash this crystal ball to shreds.
Thursday Night Football: Cleveland Browns (5-3) +7 at Cincinnati Bengals (5-2-1) (44.5)
I’m torn over this game. On one end, the Bengals seem untrustable but do look great at home and/or when the situation calls for it. The Browns are 5-3 but at the same time have had a cake schedule up until this point. I like Cincinnati to cover here, but it’s hard for me to believe that either of these teams will have any lasting impact when you consider how poorly they play defense.
Bengals 23, Browns 14
Kansas City Chiefs (5-3) EVEN at Buffalo Bills (5-3) (41.5)
It’s kind of funny that both of these two teams are 5-3 at the moment, because it’s the perfect example of a real 5-3 team and one that is straight up toy. The Bills have beaten the Dolphins and the Lions, fair enough. But their other three wins have came against Minnesota, the Jets, and the Bears, all arguably rounding out the bottom 20% of the league when it comes to not having your head crammed up your ass. Kansas City has beaten Miami as well, but also smoked the Patriots 41-14 in a Monday Night game and one of their losses is to the Broncos. Alex Smith is having a great year, but you’d never know it because all of this fantasy football nonsense. I like Kansas City to win here even though it’s a road game for them, and this line will be moving a lot up until kickoff so watch for injury statuses. 26 points for KC sounds about right.
Chiefs 26, Bills 20
Tennessee Titans (2-6) +10.5 at Baltimore Ravens (5-4) (43.5)
After getting shredded on Sunday night against the Steelers, the Ravens will be looking to right that ship against Tennessee and it shouldn’t be an issue. Baltimore should cover, but for some reason I don’t like the spread on this one after seeing them in the Sunday night game. The over’s a dangerous game as well.
Ravens 26, Titans 17
Dallas Cowboys (6-3) -7 at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8) (45)
The Cowboys have lost two straight, and there’s no better team to be facing in that scenario than Jacksonville. Nothing can get you on the upswing towards recently evaporated glory that started with a home L against the Redskins like playing the Jaguars, even if you have to suffer through six hours of jet lag in order to make that happen. There was a great story that leaked Monday night about how Jerry Jones said that Tony Romo would get to sit next to him on the team’s private plane on the way to London, which would of course mean the spot usually reserved for Jerry’s wife would be compromised. This should be an easy win for Dallas. With that being said, how funny would it be if after all that the Jaguars were able to win this game? I’d laugh myself stupid if that were the case, but in all seriousness the worst thing that could happen here would be for Romo to re-aggravate his back. If people really want to see this guy fail, they ought to want to see him fail fair and square. I don’t really have an opinion on it either way, but I would like to see the guy get a fair shot to see if he can actually win the Super Bowl.
Cowboys 31, Jaguars 10
Miami Dolphins (5-3) +2.5 at Detroit Lions (6-2) (44)
Although not the sexiest game in the world, this should prove to be a great matchup. It would probably be even better if it was in Miami, but you can’t win them all. Detroit might not be as big of a scare as Green Bay come playoff time, but if they play their cards right and keep winning they might end up being the least likely team to get a bye since…well, last year’s Panthers. A weakness that Matthew Stafford and his offensive coordinator will be looking to exploit the hole that is whoever will be replacing Dolphins DB Michael Thomas, who suffered a pectoral injury in last week’s blowout win over the Chargers. His season is over, and that’s a huge blow to a Miami defense that has been stifling all year long save the Kansas City game. Detroit playing at home is a huge plus here…The Dolphins won’t have that added benefit of the sun distracting their opponents, and if the Lions win they advance to 7-2 putting a gun against Green Bay’s head to win the night game. I’m picking them to cover but I wouldn’t touch it – this could end up being a very scrappy football game with a lot of good defense being played.
Lions 27, Dolphins 23
San Francisco 49ers (4-4) +4.5 at New Orleans Saints (4-4) (49)
There’s an old Far Side cartoon that shows two escalators transporting passengers to intended destinations of both sides of the afterlife. It shows God headed up to the heavens, and Satan headed downstairs to a pit of fiery hell to listen to a bunch of Dimmu Borgir records. In the cartoon it shows Satan laughing, and God with a pie in his face. I couldn’t possibly think of an image that better represents the directions these two teams are headed than that one. San Francisco is clearly the devil in the drawing – a mischievous, gloating, fire breathing piece of trash that is headed to burn in hell for all of eternity and love it. The Saints are now peeling the cream from that pie off of their faces and headed to the promised land, and it couldn’t happen any sooner for the fans that have the biggest hangover in all of professional sports. In the name of all that is holy, I sincerely hope that the 49ers get blown out and the meltdown really begins on the sidelines. I hope that the turmoil can’t wait to start until the team hits the locker room, and I’m not saying that because I’m being a “hater”. I’m saying it because right now that roster is full of a bunch of insanely talented guys who aren’t listening to their coaching staff, and have their own agenda entirely separate of what should be going on between the sticks. I don’t think that will happen, but I do expect that they are going to cover the spread. And I will say this: The closer this game is, the more frustrating it could be for the Niners if they lose.
Saints 30, 49ers 22
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3) -4.5 at New York Jets (1-8) (45.5)
I’ve been waiting for the “straw that break the camel’s back” moment to come for the New York Jets for quite some time now, and hopefully after the game is where it happens. If they lose this one, they’re 1-9. So much playoff aspirations, eh? Artie Lange had a great Facebook status update on Monday that simply read: “Jets’ doctors early report on status of Vick: He sucks at football”. This was shortly followed by a comment about how the same doctors were able to determine that he’s been right handed the whole time. Obviously Artie’s week went downhill from there. I really, really like the Steelers to cover here and by a mile.
Steelers 36, Jets 13
Atlanta Falcons (2-6) EVEN at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-7) (45.5)
I can definitely tell you that I won’t be watching this football game. I will say this though – if Atlanta blows this one and it’s convincing enough, heads are going to have to roll. That franchise has spent unspeakable amounts of money to get to the Super Bowl and their fans have been subjected to two straight years of whatever the hell it is you call that they are currently putting on the field. Taking a look at this game, I had an idea. I should start a line of clothing for magicians and call it “Fabricadabra”. I guess what I’m really trying to say is that I’m out of jokes for games like this by week ten. I’m taking Tampa for no other reason than to see how Arthur Blank responds to this loss with regards to the future of the Falcons. Fitting that the spread is even because there couldn’t be a game this week that’s anywhere near as meaningless as this one.
Bucs 24, Falcons 20
Denver Broncos (6-2) -12.5 at Oakland Raiders (0-8) (49)
Would you believe that the team who came closest to winning last week against a team that’s a Super Bowl contender was actually Oakland? I doubt it, because let’s get real – we’re not hearing about the Raiders a lot this year. We might hear more about them after this week, because there’s always the possibility Peyton Manning might hit another ridiculous milestone when it comes to touchdown passes. Coming off of the brutal defensive front he faced in the New England game, this week is going to be like a vacation for him. Early November in the Bay area against the Raiders is almost like getting a second bye week. I like Denver to cover the spread after feeling like they got embarrassed in Massachusetts last Sunday. And I know I said to avoid the over in all Raiders games, but I’m backpedaling on this one…I like taking the over on the point total here.
Broncos 37, Raiders 16
New York Giants (3-5) +10 at Seattle Seahawks (5-3) (44.5)
After watching the Giants score all but three of their points against the Indianapolis Colts in garbage time on Monday Night, as a fan it’s very difficult for me to take anything that Big Blue is doing seriously. Before that game I read this piece on Bleacher report that cracked me up even though Steve Weatherford is a pretty incredible physical specimen. Imagine that…a New York Giant dropping something. As hard as that isn’t to believe, what’s difficult to fathom is the fact that the Giants are less than two touchdown favorites in the Terrordome. But the oddsmakers may be onto something here: Russell Wilson’s offensive production has slowed significantly since their week one victory against the Packers. It’s amazing what happens when you don’t get a Super Bowl ring every week and all of a sudden Soundgarden isn’t opening up for you. But the Giants are so bad it’s not going to matter, and Seattle beats the spread.
Seahawks 31, Giants 16
St. Louis Rams (3-5) +8 at Arizona Cardinals (7-1) (43)
The Rams are America’s favorite “trap game” team. With wins this year against the Seahawks and now the Niners, they can prove that although it’s pretty much a lock they won’t play in January – at least they can prevent other teams from doing the same thing. This week it won’t be so easy, as they stay on the West Coast and travel to Glendale to face Arizona. If the Cardinals lose this game, you have every right to “go off” on me like Wartman at a Crosscheck show in 1995. You have every right to say things like “I told you so” or “I told you so, stupid”, or even “Hey, maybe it’s time to start closing your drapes and not disrobe in front of your living room window”. Arizona beats the Rams and keeps rolling in this one.
Cardinals 20, Rams 17
Sunday Night Football: Chicago Bears (3-5) + 8 at Green Bay Packers (5-3) (53.5)
By the time this article goes to press, I will have skimmed over hundreds of Facebook posts from fans of both teams talking about how superior they are to the opposition. These status updates are littered with grotesque misspellings that are almost impossible to fathom, making statements about both teams’ Super Bowl potential that are both unrealistic and incredulous. That being said, I am much more likely to listen to the plight of Packers fans than that of Chicago’s. This game is in primetime and will be held at Lambeau Field. Conversely, those two facts also mean that Jay Cutler will be playing a road game in front of the eyes of the whole world. The last time he did, he went apeshit in the second half of San Francisco’s stadium opener and shocked the world, but given what we know now about the 49ers maybe it wasn’t nearly as earth shattering of an upset as we previously thought. What we do know now is the Packers are the better team, so I like them to win. Spread on this one makes me nervous though, because their defense is still pretty haggard.
Packers 34, Bears 29
Monday Night Football: Carolina Panthers (3-5-1) +7 at Philadelphia Eagles (6-2) (48)
I’m sure when this game was scheduled back in April, this appeared to be a doozy. That’s no longer the case due to the Panthers hardly living up to the team who got a bye in last year’s NFC. But hold the phone: Eagles quarterback Nick Foles is out with a broken collarbone, leaving a very promising Philadelphia franchise at what I’m sure are the very well-groomed feet of one Mark Sanchez. Carolina is one of the last teams in the NFL to get a bye, and that’s a drag for them because they could have really used it some time around week five. Since we haven’t seen Senor Sanchez salsa his way through an entire sesenta minutos in two years, it’s impossible to feel confident putting any real scratch down here. The spread makes me nervous and I guarantee you’ll see it decrease. Stay away. Foles hopes to return in six to eight weeks.
Eagles 27, Panthers 23
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