Another solid showing last week, going 3-1 against a shortened slate of games. This week, there are no byes so there is a full schedule ahead, minus the game played on Thursday night. Still, plenty to choose from, so let’s take a look where the value is to be had in week 10.
Houston has been firing on all cylinders recently, even without star wide out Andre Johnson. Their running game has become easily the best in the league at the moment. Last week, they ran all over the Browns, as both Arian Foster and his back up Ben Tate eclipsed the century mark for rushing. With this dynamic running game, the Texans have the ability to control the clock in every game they play, and then still have a very capable quarterback in Matt Schaub to back them up. It is frightening to think about how good they may be once Johnson returns, as he is scheduled to do in week 11. Finally, after several years of false hope, the Texans are going to finally make the playoffs barring some sort of colossal meltdown. Luckily for them, even a massive implosion may not keep them out, as they play in a laughably bad division when Peyton Manning isn’t around. The Texans have won three straight, and although none of those games were against any world-beaters, they have totally dominated all three games, and it seems like are going to be a tough match up for anyone in the AFC at this point. Meanwhile, the Bucs have been the hallmark of inconsistency. Josh Freeman has regressed this year after a great campaign in 2010 (causing tremendous agony for those with him on their fantasy team, such as myself). Mike Williams has also lost his scoring touch from a year ago, having failed to find the endzone since the first week of the season. Tampa are a tough team to figure out, as they have defeated heavyweights like New Orleans and Atlanta, but have also come out flat in a number of games, and have not posted more than 26 points all season. Their tough stretch of games continues next week against Green Bay, so they are definitely in need of pulling out a win here if they are to keep pace in their highly competitive division. The difference in this game will come down to the fact that Tampa’s best run stopper, Gerald McCoy, is out, meaning Foster and Tate should have carte blanche to run all day long. With Freeman looking shaky behind center, the Bucs simply don’t have the firepower to keep up with Houston, nor the defensive prowess to stop Houston’s vaunted offensive attack. Despite being on the road, Houston should be able to coast to a win here by at least a touchdown. The Texans are 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 as a favorite, and 6-1-1 ATS in their last 8 games played on grass. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay are an awful 0-7 ATS a home underdog of a field goal or less, and 1-4 in their last 5 overall. There is no reason to expect Houston to slow down just yet, so ride their momentum to an easy win.
It is not often that 0.5 points makes an otherwise average pick seem super enticing, but that is the case with this game here. While I am not completely sure of the Ravens despite coming out of Pittsburgh with a win last week, they are still head and shoulders above the Seahawks. Baltimore had a lot of question marks surrounding them heading into Pittsburgh, needing a ferocious comeback to sneak by Arizona the week before, and losing to the Jags on Monday night the week before that. Still, a win against the Steelers is enough for any team to be treated with a certain level of respect. The Ravens have now beaten the Steelers twice, Houston and the Jets, so it is clear that they should be considered in the same breath as other Super Bowl contenders. The Seahawks, on the other hand, deserve no such respect from me. They have failed to score more than 13 points in any of their past three games, and have looked all but lifeless in each of them. While they do supposedly play much better at home, as many argue that their home field advantage is the biggest in the league, they have still gotten thrashed twice there already. They simply do not have a worthy starter at quarterback, as Tarvaris Jackson has done as well as could be expected, but he is a game manager at best. They are lacking a true game changing threat at any of their skill positions as Marshawn Lynch showed his first signs of real life last week, and Sidney Rice is too inconsistent to be counted upon. Rookie wide receiver Doug Baldwin has looked good, but he needs a better arm throwing to him. I don’t foresee this game being particularly high scoring, but most of the scoring that will be done will certainly not be coming from Seattle. The Ravens are 2nd in the league, allowing just 16.3 points per game. Meanwhile Seattle is averaging a paltry 15.3 points a game. The combination of these two should indicate that the Seahawks aren’t likely to surpass their high watermark of the last 3 games of 13. In fact, I’ll be surprised if they crack double digits. On the other hand, Joe Flacco shouldn’t have too many issues with a middle of the road pass defense allowing 242.4 yards per game. And of course there is also Ray Rice, who remains one of the league’s premier backs. All told, the Ravens are simply a much more talented team than the Seahawks on both sides of the ball, and that will show on the scoreboard. Baltimore is 5-2 ATS as a road favorite in their last 7, and are 5-0 ATS a week after allowing 250 yards or more. Seattle is 1-4 in their last 5 at home against teams with a winning road record, and are 7-19-1 ATS versus teams with winning records. I can’t promise this will be an especially entertaining game, but I can tell you that the Ravens should win it comfortably.
This may be the best chance for the Colts to win a game this season, but that doesn’t mean its actually going to happen. In fact, Jacksonville are a considerably tougher team than their record may indicate. Their defense has improved by leaps and bounds this season, and if they had a credible offense there is a good chance they would be battling Houston for the AFC South crown. While Jack Del Rio is likely to lose his job after this season barring a miraculous run by the Jags, his team still plays hard for him. The same can not be said for Jim Caldwell, whose Colts have looked absolutely defeated the past couple of weeks. While earlier in the season the Colts were keeping games competitive, they have lost the past three weeks by a combined score of 120-24. That’s beyond abysmal. The most fascinating part of the Colts season is if they draft Andrew Luck with the number one pick, which they seem destined to receive. That doesn’t mean much this week against the Jags, who have actually put up a decent fight in every game since week 2, and managed to stun the Ravens with a Monday night upset. Let’s not kid ourselves, their offense is atrocious. Blaine Gabbert is not ready to be a starting quarterback, and he may never be. But Maurice Jones-Drew is still a beast, and the Jags defense is rock solid. Despite Gabbert’s struggles, there is still a strong chance that the Colts defense can make him look good, as that is their specialty. Look for Gabbert to get some confidence in this one, as Mike Thomas, Jason Hill and Marcedes Lewis should have a productive game. Really though this game will belong to Jones-Drew. Indy is 2nd worst in the league at run defense, and Jones-Drew has been getting the job done despite facing stacked boxes throughout the year. I wouldn’t bank on a ton of points being scored, but Jones-Drew could rush for close to 200 yards conceivably, which should be enough to get the Jags down the field a handful of times. The Jags do quite well as the favorite (although it doesn’t happen too often), as they are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 when they are favored to win, and are 4-0 ATS when they are a favorite of a field goal or less. Meanwhile, Indy is 0-8 ATS versus teams with a losing record, and 0-5 ATS in their last 5 overall. I don’t recommend watching this one, just cash your winning ticket after.
This is the perfect type of game for me. The public is drinking the Kool-Aid with Denver after their big win against Oakland last week, and the Chiefs are fresh off a thrashing at the hands of the previously winless Dolphins. I’m not buying either. Denver’s win was a lot luckier than first glance. They had a punt return touchdown, and the Raiders were ill prepared for Denver’s read-option offense. The Chiefs have had a week to prepare, and should be able to handle Tebow much better. While there is no real excuse for the Chiefs getting destroyed by an awful Miami team, I am not giving up on them after a one week anomaly. They are still winners of 4 of their last 5, and the Broncos are still the Broncos. Matt Cassel has been playing consistent football for the most part, and the Chiefs have quietly assembled quite an impressive cast of wide receivers in Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston and impressive rookie Jonathan Baldwin. Although they do miss Jamaal Charles, Jackie Battle has done a decent job in his stead, and Dexter McCluster is a decent change of pace back. Despite looking way better last week, Tim Tebow is still not an NFL quarterback in my opinion, and if the Chiefs can work on stopping Tebow’s legs from causing too much damage, they should have no problems taking the Broncos down. Denver is allowing 28 points per game, which is 2nd worst in the league. They are also giving up 258 passing yards per game, so this should be a good week for Cassel and company. This is actually a big game as far as the AFC West goes, as the Chiefs are only a half game out of the lead, while Denver would only be a game back with a win this week. Despite the standings being so close, Denver is a considerably worse team than anyone else in that division, and the Chiefs are much better coached to boot. Take advantage of the public fawning over Tebow and deserting the Chiefs’ bandwagon after last week and take the Chiefs who should easily take this by well more than three points. KC is 5-1 in their last 6 ATS, and are 4-1 against the AFC. Denver meanwhile are 1-9-1 ATS in their last 11 following an ATS win, and are just 7-21-1 in games following a week where they scored more than 30 points. I like the Chiefs to return to their form of the last few weeks before their speed bump against Miami, while Denver should revert back to the doorstop that they are. Go with the Chiefs.