Upsets have become a theme of the season after not one, not two, but three more heavy favorites were beaten a week ago. Being vigilant of apparent landmines will be crucial in sustaining a winning year.
- Over/Unders: 4-3-1
- Spreads: 4-4
- Teasers: 5-3
- Props: 4-4
- Overall Record*: 17-14-1, +0.45 unit
*Each over/under graded to win 2 units; everything else for 1 unit
Kyler or no Kyler? This has been the question raging all week after the MVP candidate missed Arizona’s last game.
Additionally, what about star wide-out DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring)? Even the status of Rondale Moore (neck, concussion) merits factoring into how to bet Sunday’s showdown from the desert.
One thing we can gather no matter what: Kyler Murray and Co. are severely wounded. On top of that, they must also stand opposite a real quality Panthers D.
Did you know Carolina is yielding the fewest total yards per week (293.1) in the NFC? They’ve especially been stingy against the pass, in which they rank first in the conference as well, so this would be as stiff a challenge for the Cardinals as any this year, even if they were healthy.
Murray appears like he’s going to tough it out on the injured left ankle and give it a go, but his condition is actually what helps set up the under nicely. He’ll clearly be at considerably less than 100 percent, and there’s also the possibility he can’t last the whole game, which would make things even more difficult if backup Colt McCoy were needed in relief. I certainly wouldn’t mind if the former Longhorn just started.
But if it’s Murray, based on footage I watched from practice, he doesn’t seem like he can fully plant on his ankle. Figure that should affect his overall foot work and that takes out a major component of what makes him a dynamic playmaker.
As for the other side, P.J. Walker is leading the way on offense. What else needs to be said? The man’s name was just pretty much executed in the public eye after Carolina brought back beaten-down Cam Newton, who was mostly bad last season.
The Panthers have so little trust in Walker that they’ve even considered deploying Newton in certain packages as early as this week. He just inked, uh, on Thursday.
In our victorious Patriots-Panthers under wager last week, you may have observed Carolina force-feeding the ball to Christian McCaffrey in his first game back since September. Despite playing less than 50 percent of the snaps, he still managed 18 touches and I’d expect a similar game plan to eat precious clock.
Of course, we’d be remiss not to acknowledge the extremely good Cardinals defensive unit. They actually rank right behind the Panthers in fewest total yards allowed per game (321.0), but most impressively, they’re giving up fewer points (17.2) than any NFC club. The Cards can keep this lame offense to a lull.
Pick: UNDER 45 (-120)
Spread: Chiefs -2.5/Raiders +2.5
Football is becoming fun again in Kansas City. When that’s the case, watch out.
Just how else is there to describe the current state of the Chiefs after finally — and yes, this is true — winning back-to-back games for the first time this season.
For comparison’s sake, KC had etched two winning streaks of at least four games or more in each of the first three years of the Patrick Mahomes era. I think another such trademark warpath is on the horizon.
Obviously, Mahomes hasn’t looked like his normal self as of late, despite the pair of W’s. He recorded less than 200 passing yards last time out for the first time in two seasons, and before that against the Giants, he looked uncharacteristically human in front of a national-tv audience.
All heroes meet a type of adversity at some point. Entering Week 10, Mahomes has found his but there’s just way too much talent for this to continue. And fortunately for the former Super Bowl MVP he has the right foe to get back into gear.
Sure, Las Vegas might sit in first place in the division at the moment but they’re a franchise that’s been absolutely owned by Mahomes since entering the league, akin to what the Bears are for Aaron Rodgers.
In six career matchups against the Raiders, Mahomes is 5-1 with a superb 105.6 passer rating, connecting on 15 touchdown tosses compared to three picks. Most notably, his offense scored 210 points in those meetings — 210! — or 35 points on average. Ridiculous stuff.
And for their next encounter, the Chiefs are predictably (even while holding a worse record) labeled as favorites with only a 2.5-point spread? Sign me up then.
The Kansas City defense catches a lot of flack but they’ve played respectably in recent weeks. That won’t be good news for Derek Carr and his lifetime 80.1 passer rating opposite the Chiefs, the lowest such mark he’s recorded against any team he’s faced more than two times in his career.
Pick: CHIEFS -2.5 (-110)
NO-TEN U44.5 —> NO-TEN U57.5
Browns +2.5 —> Browns +15.5
Bills -13.5 —> Bills -0.5
DET-PIT U41.5 —> DET-PIT U54.5
Playing teasers has induced quite the heartbreak lately. As alluded to in the intro, big favorites are dropping left and right but even so, we’ll still look to one.
I called the Bills last week a “gimme” in their date with the Jags. Of course, that quite didn’t work out so hot. However, let’s entrust them to be angry following that embarrassing defeat and take it out on the Jets. Mike White-sanity does not exist.
Normally, I’d be inclined to include the Steelers — home favorites against the winless Lions. However, with Big Ben out due to COVID and nasty weather in the forecast, I think it’s wiser to go the under route instead. Jared Goff carries a double whammy of poor splits in precipitation and cold temperatures, and with the other QB in this affair being Mason Rudolph, points are at a premium.
Let’s attach an underdog as well in the form of Cleveland after their statement-making dismantling of the rival Bengals. They are seemingly not phased by the OBJ drama and all we need is them to not lose by more than a pair of touchdowns.
We’ll include an over/under, too. Even in the absence of Derrick Henry, Tennessee still ran their rock a sizable chunk last week and the same can be anticipated of the Trevor Siemian-led Saints. That points to a final score not nearing into the 60’s.
Zoning in on a player prop where said player is coming off a lengthy absence can be dicey. Given that this is Russell Wilson, however, exceptions will be made.
Lambeau Field is set to host two very significant returns in what is arguably the main event of Week 10. Aaron Rodgers, of course, will be back for the Pack after his brief bout of COVID (while also turning the country on its head with his unique medical insight). We also have Wilson back from an injured right middle finger.
And that is where we shall set our focus despite this being the 32-year-old’s first game in five weeks. If anything, the layoff actually may be more indicative of prognosticating Wilson’s performance.
First of all, let’s take note of the incredible fact that these were the first games Wilson ever missed in his career. Nobody is a fiercer competitor.
That leads to the belief that Wilson just gets antsy wanting to be out on the field after inactivity — even if it’s just following a bye week — and that appears to be true when evaluating his outings in such spots.
Such a mindset means wanting to be more in control, and for a scrambling quarterback, that means potentially running more than usual. In his 13 ensuing games (including playoffs) following more than a week of rest, Wilson collectively turned 65 totes into 493 yards, or in other words, 37.9 yards per contest, a number that doubles the number of this prop bet.
That’s also five carries per game, and if Wilson is taking it to the ground at least five times here, he should have no problem exceeding 18 rushing yards. Helping matters is that cold weather is expected in Green Bay and that only further enhances the prospect of Wilson looking to accumulate yards with his feet.
Since entering the NFL nearly a decade ago, the future hall of famer has logged more rush attempts and yards in games featuring temperatures of 40 degrees or lower compared to warmer climates.
Pick: OVER 18.5 Rushing Yards (-115)