Ramblin’ Fan’s NFL Picks and Predictions: Week 10


Like the Rams, I am coming off one of the best weeks of the season going 10-3 both straight-up and against the spread. Week 10 is highlighted by several divisional games and with the playoffs rapidly closing in, each contest means more than ever.

What is the spread? In the gambling world, a “spread’ is a term used to handicap games by allowing a team to lose or win by a certain number of points while still winning for a bettor. If the Rams are +3 against the Seahawks, that means that the Rams could win outright or they could lose by two points and still be a victory for a bettor. In the same situation as above, the spread could also read as the Seahawks -3 which again would mean they have to win by three or more points to cover the spread.


Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (-6)

Even though the last five games have not been against the best competition, the Browns are 4-1 and in the AFC Wild Card hunt. The offense is getting it done every week with a new hero, but it’s the defense that has been really stepping up. Cleveland is only allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 60 percent of their passes, sixth best in the league, while only letting opponent’s score in 46.15 percent of red zone visits. Cincy has recovered after their midseason winless streak to win the last two, however; the Bengals biggest challenge is still ahead. Cincinnati is 5-2-1 this season with a 4-0-1 record at home, but a 1-2 record on the road. Five of the Bengals last eight games are on the road with three in a row after their meeting with the Browns. Both teams know the significance of this game especially in the competitive AFC North, but the Bengals have been too good at home this year to deny. Bengals win 24-21 (Browns cover)


Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills (+1.5)

The Chiefs continue to dominate teams outscoring opponents 81-37 since their bye three weeks ago. A big reason for this domination is the ball safety the team is demonstrating. Taking after Alex Smith this team has only one turnover in the past three contests. It seems that Kyle Orton is the temporary savior of the Bills franchise. Since taking over starting duties, the Bills are 3-1 while Orton has tossed nine touchdowns. The offense has simply not lost games, unlike when E.J. Manuel was at the helm, which has allowed the strong defense to win games. Whoever wins the turnover battle will win Sunday and with cold rain forecast for Buffalo, I expect the Bills to just pull out a win in this one. Bills win 20-13 (Bills cover)

Miami Dolphins at Detroit Lions (-2.5)

The potential of the Dolphins looks like it is starting to get reached. Thanks to exceptional secondary play, especially from Brent Grimes, the front four have been given the extra time to pressure opposing quarterbacks and make the difference in games. In the past three games, the Fins have 11 sacks and six interceptions. The Lions bye came at the perfect time to prep them for their remaining schedule. The next three games have the Lions hosting the Dolphins then they travel to Arizona and New England. Combined the Lions next three opponents have a 19-6 record and coming away with a couple of wins will be a huge accomplishment. The Dolphins play has gotten a lot of people believing that they are a quality team and their defense should feast on the Lions who may still be without top offensive weapons. Dolphins win 24-14 (Dolphins cover)

Dallas Cowboys at Jacksonville Jaguars (OTB)

It has become clear that Tony Romo is one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. As soon he went down to injury the Cowboys were completely different. Brandon Weeden’s presence scared absolutely nobody and that allowed defenses to stack the box and shut down DeMarco Murray as much as possible this season. If this team is without Romo again, Weeden will to develop some chemistry with the receiving core which was simply not there. The Jaguars compete level has made them a much more entertaining team this season. Jacksonville took the Bengals to the limit last week and has rarely been blown out like we were so accustomed to seeing. This game is difficult to call until we get the sure call on Romo. If Romo plays than the Cowboys should win and cover easily, but if he is out I expect the Jaguars to at least cover and maybe win outright. Cowboys win (OTB/No play)

San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints (-4.5)

As the season progresses it has become more and more apparent that the coaching staff is a problem in San Fran. After being demolished by the Broncos in their previous games, the 49ers looked dreadful against the Rams. It comes down to poor play calling and Greg Roman trying to be too cute in the worst time for San Fran. The Saints season is on the line in the next three weeks. New Orleans will play the 49ers, Cincinnati and Baltimore. Fortunately for the Saints all three games will be in the Big Easy where they are 3-0 this season. New Orleans has outscored opponents 101-63 at the Superdome. The 49ers have given no reason to trust them this season, especially against a highly motivated and deadly New Orleans team. Saints win 24-21 (49ers cover)

Tennessee Titans at Baltimore Ravens (-10)

If there is one thing that would define the Titans roster this season, it is uncertainty. Coming out of their bye week the Titans are going to be starting a rookie quarterback, running back and left tackle. It has become apparent that this team has begun auditioning for next season and it has been an okay experiment so far. Lewan has looked good, Sankey has been solid yet unspectacular and Mettenberger can’t be worse than any other Titans starter this season. The Ravens have been a giant question mark this season. At times they’ve looked like one of the top teams in the AFC and then they allow Big Ben to toss six touchdowns. The Ravens are entering their bye in desperate need of a win and as inconsistent as they’ve been it would be foolish to expect a Titans win straight-up, but +10 is tempting. Ravens win 27-17 (Titans cover)

Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Jets (+4.5)

Big Ben is good. It’s that simple. Over the past two games the Steelers pivot has thrown for 12 touchdowns and no interceptions. Pittsburgh’s secondary has been suspect, though the addition of James Harrison has helped the front seven mask those deficiencies, they won’t matter until the offense dries up. One of the biggest killers for the Jets this season has been the lack of any ability from the coaching staff to use them properly. There is no doubt that Gang Green has top quality receivers, but all these pass catchers are short yardage guys who have not had their skills optimized. There should be no doubt in this one, though Big Ben is not as great on the road compared to at home. Steelers win 28-16 (Steelers cover)

Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+1.5)

It seems like a distant memory that the Atlanta Falcons were a legitimately scary team, but five consecutive losses heading into their bye week has made them an afterthought. Through the first three games the ‘Dirty Birds’ averaged 33.3 points per game, but have since not managed to break the 30 point mark once. You know it’s a bad season when the best thing anyone can say about your team is that they rank 18th in rushing defense. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are simply a disaster this season. Though some scores have looked close, the Bucs have barely looked competent enough to be playing football at a university level this season. As much as the Falcons have hit the skids, expect Matt Ryan to torch a secondary that ranks 31st in the NFL in yards allowed. Falcons win 28-16 (Falcons cover)

Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders (+11)

If there is one thing we learned from the Patriots-Broncos game last week, it’s that the AFC runs through Foxborough. The Broncos are still a Super Bowl contender, but the Pats and Seahawks have laid out the strategy to take out the Mile High Club. Big physical corners that can jam Broncos receivers and creating timing issues in routes will simply make Denver look bad. The Raiders almost beat the defending Super Bowl champs and that should spell some good things in Oakland. Derek Carr is getting better protection and though he is not completing passes for huge chunks, he has been looking better with each passing contest. The Broncos will win this game and even though the Raiders will get a lot of points from books they simply don’t have the corners needed to stop Denver. Broncos win 35-13 (Broncos cover)

St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals (-7)

I guess the Rams decided to give the rest of the league a head start in sacks this season. St. Louis took last week’s hard fought game against the 49ers thanks in large part due to their defense that tallied eight sacks. It has also become clear that Aaron Donald is a huge difference maker even if he is not raking up stats, which he is. Ever since Donald became the full time starter at defensive tackle, the Rams defensive front has reverted back to their ‘Sack City’ days. Offensively, last week was game to forget for the Rams. Austin Davis is still wildly inconsistent, the offensive line has been unable to help the running game and receivers were beat constantly. The best coached team in football today is the Arizona Cardinals. You look at the team roster and you marvel how they can be competitive, let alone the class of the NFC right now. You can argue that the Cards have yet to hit the tough part of the schedule, but the time for excuses are over. It’s become pretty obvious that Jeff Fisher will always have the Rams ready to play NFC West games and this will be a tall order. Cardinals win 24-17 (Rams cover)

New York Giants at Seattle Seahawks (-10)

There was a three week span when the Giants were looked at as a rising team in the NFC. But after that streak, the Giants have been outscored 98-45 and have shown little improvement. The offensive line has done nothing to help the running game and the defense has been as stable as Jell-O in house construction. Many in the media are ready to jump back on the Seahawks Super Bowl train. Yes, Seattle has won two straight games, but by a combined 10 points against teams with a combined record of 3-13-1. The Seahawks still have a lot of work to be done especially on the offensive side of the ball. Life is not going to get easier for the Seahawks after they face New York five of their final seven games are within the NFC West. This is a must won for both teams, but I have little faith in the Giants. Seahawks win 20-17 (Giants cover)

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-7.5)

Entering their bye week, the Chicago Bears had lost four of their previous five games and had completely fallen apart. If this team wants to make the playoffs this season they will need to win this week against the Packers and against the Vikings next week. The Bears have become the opposite of what we expect from a Bears team under Marc Trestman, namely soft. They will need to correct that fast. The Packers are looking at a very winnable stretch entering their second half of the season, but with the playoffs in sight they need to fix a few things. Green Bay ranks dead last in rushing defense (153.5 yards per game), which will need to be corrected come the frigid windy games of January. I don’t see the Bears making enough corrections to adjust, especially after the Packers thumped them once this season. Packers win 42-24 (Packers cover)


Carolina Panthers at Philadelphia Eagles (-6)

The Panthers have a lot of really good pieces, but unfortunately everyone knows that. It became evident in their last matchup against the Saints when Cam Newton constantly forced passes to Kelvin Benjamin despite double coverage. Without more balance, the Panthers season may be done already. Can Mark Sanchez really lead the Eagles? It’s a question everyone is asking, but let’s be honest; the Eagles offense was not running perfectly with Nick Foles. Though the Eagles are 6-2, they seemed to have become stagnant and it’ll be interesting to see what the ‘Sanchize’ does. I think the Eagles walk away with the win in this game, but it will be because they will key in on Benjamin and take away the entirety of the Panthers offense. Eagles win 31-17 (Eagles cover)