For the second week in a row in the NFL, dogs were barking loud and clear. After pups went 10-4-1 ATS in Week 8, they followed it up by going 9-4 across the first 13 games in Week 9 with Monday Night Football pending. We even saw outright upsets from the Broncos and Jaguars as double-digit underdogs.
It feels like that time of year in the NFL. You can only ask good teams to be great so many times before they have a letdown performance and the below average teams are desperately trying to salvage what is left of their seasons. Maybe we need to factor that into our handicaps a little bit more over the next few weeks.
Here are three early lines I like for Week 10:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-9.5, 51.5) at Washington Football Team
The Raiders and Ravens both failed to cover on Sunday, sending teams off of the bye to just 3-9 ATS. Both the Buccaneers and Washington are coming off of the bye for this game. The teams coming off of the week of rest just haven’t been in sync offensively and have failed to cover as a result. When you consider that two of the teams faced each other with the Cowboys and Vikings in Week 8, the 2-8 ATS mark looks even worse.
The expectation here is that Brady and the Bucs steamroll Washington. Maybe that does end up being the case, but I’m looking at the under in this one. Washington has only scored a touchdown on 10-of-22 red zone attempts to have the worst success rate in the league. Washington is also one of the league’s worst teams on third down.
The Bucs are better in just about every way, but the lack of polish for teams on extra prep time is concerning for a big spread like this. Instead, I’d rather look to the under and expect both teams to look a bit disjointed. Washington always does anyway. If Tampa Bay does as well, then these teams should struggle to get into the 50s.
Pick: Under 51.5
Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals (-10, 44.5)
The Cardinals got the luxury of letting Kyler Murray rest up and recover from various injuries by sending out Colt McCoy for an emphatic win over the 49ers. This is a divisional sandwich game for Arizona in a big favorite role against Carolina. The Panthers are getting 10 points in a game with a low-scoring expectation against a Cardinals team with the Seahawks on deck.
Obviously the Seahawks aren’t as daunting with Geno Smith at the helm, but Russell Wilson may be ready to go by then and that will increase the importance of that game for Arizona. Carolina is likely to be an afterthought this week, especially with losses in five of the last six games for the Panthers.
Arizona is clearly the better team, but as mentioned above, it is hard to ask a team to repeatedly perform at a high level week after week and this looks like a tricky spot for Arizona in a situation where motivation will be in question, especially with a buffer after the Rams’ loss on Sunday night.
Pick: Panthers + 10
Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5, 51) at Las Vegas Raiders
The final score from Sunday would suggest that the Raiders suffered from the cross-country travel and the tragic situation with Henry Ruggs III. The reality is that the Raiders were better than the Giants, but failed to execute in the red zone and that was the deciding factor in the game.
Las Vegas played really well, all things considered, as QB Derek Carr and interim head coach Rich Bisaccia have displayed tremendous leadership through some very challenging circumstances this season. The Raiders were ready to play. It was just that Carr threw a pick-six and the Raiders went 1-for-6 on their red zone attempts, including a fumble at the Giants 13-yard line on the last drive while trying for a game-tying touchdown. They had six yards per play compared to 4.5 for the Giants and almost 160 more total yards.
The Chiefs were unimpressive once again in beating the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers 13-7. The offense sputtered this time with just 3.8 yards per play, while the usually porous defense picked up the slack. You could make a very strong case that the Raiders look like the better team right now and they’re the one getting points at home.
Pick: Raiders + 2.5