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Early leans & analysis Wk 10
Early leans & analysis

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Posted Friday, November 8 at 2:30 PM EST

NFL 2019

Week 10

What you see below is our early leans. Many of the selections below will stay the same and some will be moved into official plays with wagers on Sunday. However, there is also the possibility that we see, read or get a sense that something is not right with one of our selections and change our pick. There are several different criterion we use to grade a game and make it an official play and a lot of things can happen or change between Friday and Sunday.

We’re intent on providing our readers with the best possible selections and doing so on Sunday instead of Friday just makes more sense. We made that change last year and ended up going 81-57. Again, we’ll have all write-ups (except Monday Night Football) posted on Friday but our actual wagers won’t be posted until Sunday morning between 10 AM and 12:00 PM EST.

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N.Y. JETS +2½ +100 over N.Y. Giants

1:00 PM EST. The Daniel Jones hype train has flown off the tracks after five straight defeats with last Monday's blowout loss to Dallas being the proverbial cherry on the shit sundae. In any other week, we'd value the market's perception of a two-win team coming off a high profile prime time loss, but believe it or not; there was a professional football team just across the hall that had a more embarrassing week than the G-Men.

While the Giants are in the midst of their own struggles (five straight defeats), they have one big edge over the Jets in this market and that's the fact they are not coming off a loss to the lowly Dolphins. Gang Green was heavily bet last Sunday spotting points on the road and they pretty much no-showed in that 26-18 defeat. Anyone that bet the Jets last week is going to have a hard goddamn time backing them here after losing their lunch money. It sets up the perfect zig-zag scenario, which is a situation we are always mindful of week to week.

The Battle of New York rages on. Just to recap — the 2-7 Giants are fresh off their beating on Monday night and lost their last five games. The 1-7 Jets are fresh from their defeat TO THE DOLPHINS and lost their last three games. This is a coin flip and depends on which team has the most mistakes and turnovers. So truly, it could be either team. One of those, "last team to lose the ball" sort of matchups that we want mo part of.

TENNESSEE +6 -110 over Kansas City

1:00 PM EST. The prodigal son makes his return to the field this week for the Chiefs and the market cannot wait to jump back on the bandwagon after breaking its ankles last week, fading Kansas City at home against the Vikings. Just to give you an idea of how over inflated the impact of Patrick Mahomes' return to the lineup is, the Chiefs were a five point pooch at Arrowhead and now they are spotting a touchdown on the road. That's an 11-point swing in just one week and might we add that Matt Moore was more than capable in his two starts against the Packers and Vikes, two teams that are considered contenders in the NFC. Is Mahomes a system QB, of course not, but he was not missed as much as you might think. The initial diagnosis of his injury suggested a six-week recovery time and now he's back in just three. Even if this line wasn't inflated, there has to be some concern about rushing the reigning MVP back too soon. K.C. is 6-3 and it is in no real danger to be dethroned by the Raiders, Chargers or Broncos, so what's the harm in giving Mahomes another week and starting him against the Chargers on Monday Night Football? That prime time affair could present a potential lookahead spot here against the 4-5 Titans.

We faded the Titans last week at Carolina in part because of the line (Panthers -3½, was what we call a "favorite" number). That double digit defeat will likely have the Titans looking much less appealing than if they had beaten the Panthers or even covered. Oddsmakers often encourage action on one side or another, which is why a line like this could be considered an "underdog" number.

This one doesn’t need a lot of analysis. Every NFL preview show on Sunday will open with Mahomes’ face in the background. It’s the return of Mahomes week and it’s going to get played up to the max. It will also inspire the millions watching said preview show to open up their sportsbook app and click Kansas City -6. Hell, we’d be shocked if this number doesn’t hit -7 by game time when all that money comes pouring in.

Cashing a ticket on a converted touchdown with the Chiefs is going to look very appealing with Mahomes’ face in the background but beware, as this number suggests to us that the Titans are going to be a tough out in this spot. The contrarian approach is the right approach here and when this line inevitably hits 7 on Sunday morning, it’ll very likely be our prompt to move in.

CLEVELAND -2½ -110 Buffalo

1:00 PM EST. This line stuck out to many, seeing as the 2-6 team is favored over the 6-2 team. It stuck out to us too but for different reasons. Buffalo has faced one of the easiest schedules to date while the Browns have faced the toughest. Cleveland lost to Brandon Allen and the Broncos this past Sunday, while Buffalo won and covered against Washington. However, if you look deep into the boxscore in Cleveland’s loss to Denver, it was revealed that the Browns had eight more first downs than the Broncos. They ran 30 more plays. They had the ball for 11 more minutes. Cleveland won the turnover battle. It's hard for a team doing all of that to lose a football game. Six trips inside the red zone and another inside the Denver 25-yard line resulted in 19 points, and that was the difference in the game. Meanwhile, Buffalo’s 24-9 cover last week was more impressive on paper than on the field, as the game stats were almost dead even.

Four consecutive losses and a 0-3 mark at home only build the frustration for the Browns. Freddie Kitchens might not make it to 2020 or even the end of this season. Thing is, the Brownies stock is so low and they’re not that bad. In that slopfest lost to the Patriots in which they turned the ball over three times early in the game, they were only outgained by 8 yards. In the Browns 40-25 win over Baltimore, they outgained the Ravens by 135 yards. For Cleveland, it’s been a season of miscues, turnovers at the worst time and the inability to finish drives off and that could continue here but we’ll take our chances when its stock is this low and when the oddsmakers have dangled a proverbial carrot in front of Buffalo’s name.

One side note to this game is that Browns wideouts Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry were forced to change their cleats at halftime of Cleveland’s Week 9 contest in Denver. The receivers were wearing custom-painted shoes that did not conform with the NFL’s uniform policy. In fact, the Browns were told the receivers would not be allowed to play in the second half if they returned to the field wearing the shoes in question. While that may not seem like anything to significant, when a team is losing, it matters a lot. It represents individuality and not team unity. We’ll see where the price ends up on Sunday but if we pass on the Browns, that’s why.

CHICAGO -3 -105 over Detroit

1:00 PM EST. Do we like Chicago? F**k no, we hate them like everyone else does. Do we think Mitch Trubinsky is going to snap out of it? F**k no, we think he’s going to be deservedly benched as soon as the Bears get an adequate replacement. Mitch Trubisky resides in Bortles Valley. The Bears are basically using Steve Fuller at QB. Trubisky genuinely does not know how to play quarterback for the first three quarters of every game. He can occasionally throw dimes in crunch time, but it’s often in service of a comeback that his ineptitude forced him to stage in the first place. Bob Barker has a better chance of winning a foot face over Lamar Jackson than Trubisky does of winning a game all by himself. Furthermore, Matt Nagy’s psyche has completely and visibly deteriorated since the final game of last year when Cody Parker missed a 43-yard FG that would have sent the Bears to the next round of the playoffs. Nothing has changed other than the Bears have turned into a panicky, fragile mess and nobody wants any part of them.

Matt Stafford v Mitch Trubinsky is a mismatch of mammoth proportions. The Bears stock is so low that the market will find this QB mismatch makes the Lions worth getting behind. However, we’re not on board with jumping ship on a team that nobody wants any part of. That’s usually the best time to step in. You see, the Lions just lost in Oakland and their defense seems to be getting worse. There's no more pretense that rushing the ball matters but even Matt Stafford cannot quite keep up with what his defense gives away. Mitch Trubinsky just needs to dump some passes off and hand the ball off. Hell, even Steve Fuller could do that. For whatever reason, the Lions always seem to bring the best out of the Bears. Additionally, Chicago probably should have beaten the Eagles last week in Philadelphia but it is this week to be sure that the Bears are one of the bargain favorites on the board.

INDIANAPOLIS -11½ -110 over Miami

4:05 PM EST. Mystery surrounds whether or not Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett will play but this line suggests to us that oddsmakers could give a flying monkey turd who lines behind center on Sunday. We do suspect the market may and when a decision is made, this line will likely move. If Brian Hoyer gets the nod, this number may come down and if Brissett takes the wheel, the action will likely be on the Colts.

Playing over and under reactions are a big part of our process and so we'll be waiting to see where this line moves before deciding to make a move. We're pretty sure the market will be much more comfortable spotting double digits with Brisset because he's been a proven winner so far this season. If we had our choice, we'd take Hoyer and a drop in price because he is undervalued based on that game in Pittsburgh last week. In relief, Hoyer put his team in a position to win and if not for a few bounces that went against them, the Colts would not have had to rely on a potential game winning field goal from Adam Vinatieri, which he missed. Even with Brissett, the Colts are not considered one of the upper echelon teams in the NFL, which is why they might be an unappealing bet at a big price like this, even against the Dolphins.

The Fish finally got off the schneid last week against the Jets and we were glad to cash that ticket, but we're not ready to ride that wave here in Week 10. It's one thing to get up for a division game at home against your former coach and quite another to parlay that into solid road effort against a quality outfit like the Colts. Miami also has the pressure to about their second 11-game road losing streak this Millenium (2006-08). Although it was just one win, the Fish's stock is trading higher than it should be. After all, only two weeks ago, on a Monday night in Pittsburgh, Miami was a14-point pooch to the Mason Rudolph led Steelers. They cannot be spotting a smaller price here to the Colts regardless of who the quarterback is. 

L.A. Rams -3½ -104 over Pittsburgh

4:25 PM EST. The Rams are coming off their bye week and by not playing last week, the focus has been on their perceived weak schedule. On paper, it's easy to say Los Angeles is suffering from a Super Bowl hangover. The Rams are 5-3 with their last two victories coming against the Bengals and Falcons, respectively. In fact we're going to use much of that same logic to poke holes in the Rams competition this week, but the difference is, L.A. blew both of those bottom feeders out of the water. The Rams have been off the radar for a few weeks, but they could be one of the more undervalued teams in the second half. If you're looking for a Super Bowl future, you could do worse than the Rams at 25-1. 

The Steelers come into Week 10 on a roll after winning their third game in a row and fourth in five tries after starting the season 0-3. At 4-4, Pittsburgh is two games back of both the final Wild Card spot and the Ravens, who are atop the NFC North. The story of the Steelers overcoming the loss of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is inspirational to be sure, but it's built on a house of cards with wins over dregs like the Bengals and Dolphins, while also disposing of the sub .500 Chargers and Colts. The Colts lost Jacoby Brissett early in the second quarter of last Sunday's bizarre two point victory. The Colts had a shot at a game winning field goal, but Adam Vinatieri's struggles continued. It's worth noting that despite picking up the wins against L.A. and Indy, the Steelers were outgained in both contests, which will catch up to them. Make no mistake that extreme luck was on Pittsburgh’s side last week against the Colts in which 1000 things had to go right for Pittsburgh to win. The Steelers on a roll is resonating news in the NFL. The Steelers making a run at a playoff spot gets lots of coverage and positive press but it is the Rams that are the vastly superior team by a wide, wide margin and it is the Rams spotting deflated points here that truly has our attention.

GREEN BAY -5 -110 over Carolina

4:25 PM EST. The Panthers put an end to the "will he, won't he" circus that has surrounded quarterback Cam Newton after placing the former first overall pick on injured reserve with a foot injury ending his season. While few would have predicted that the Panthers would be better with undrafted free agent Kyle Allen at the league's most important position, here we are. Allen and Christian McCaffery specifically ran all over the Titans last week 30-20. That was the Panthers' fifth win with Allen as the starter in six starts and their only blemish came at still undefeated San Francisco in Week 8. Going down in defeat to a conference powerhouse isn't likely to put a chink in the ‘Cats armor, but it was no "good" loss. Carolina was beaten pillar to post by the 49ers, 51-13. It was a great example of what happens when you play a team with a winning record. Of Carlina's five victories this season, only Houston (6-3) posts a plus .500 mark. Whether or not the Panthers are legit might not be decided this week in Green Bay, but we will know if their stock is trading higher than is should be. This appears to be a great "buy low, sell high" situation, especially when you consider Green Bay is coming off the wrong side of a double-digit defeat.

Readers of this space know that we've been quite critical of these Packers for weeks and it now appears the market is finally catching on after Green Bay was seemingly exposed by the Chargers last Sunday afternoon. Now while we may have been down on the Pack, we also recognize that there is going to be a big overreaction to that 26-11 drubbing the Southern California sun. The market heavily backed Green Bay on the road and now they are jumping ship this week. When the market zigs, we zag and so we'll be looking at Green Bay this week as an undervalued home favorite. For some perspective, in Week 7, the Packers were priced in this same range against the Raiders. The result was a 42-24 romp in favor of the home town Pack. We suspect if Green Bay had taken care of business in L.A., it  would have been a touchdown or better chalk in this spot. We expect this number to continue to come down and if it does, this game will very likely make our board Sunday morning.

DALLAS -3 over Minnesota

8:20 PM EST. This is the late game on Sunday. The 6-3 Vikings are 2-3 on the road and come off a close loss in Kansas City. The 5-3 Cowboys handled the Giants last week and are 3-1 at home. The Cowboys own five victories against opponents with a combined record of 9-26 and three losses against quality opposition in the Saints (7-1) and Packers (7-2) as well as a humiliating defeat against the open sewer pipe that is the Jets (1-7). It’s hard to believe that Dallas lost to the Jets but they did.

We hear and read the same things as everyone else does. The narrative here is that Dallas can’t beat good teams but we’re not sure about that. We’re also not so sure about Minnesota being a good team. The Vikes lost to K.C.’s second string QB last week, not to mention that dumpster fire of a defense. Kirk Cousins threw five picks last week on the heels of this big showdown. The Vikes are also without Adam Thielen. Cousins was on a three-game streak of 300-yard, multiple-touchdown games through Week 7 but the last two weeks without Thielen left him with only 285 yards and no TD’s versus the Redskins and then 220 yards and three touchdowns at the Chiefs. Not having Thielen drops the passing offense down several notches.

The ‘Boys have won two in a row. They whacked Philadelphia 37-10 the last time they were at home and they were the exact same price against the Eagles as they are here. When they Cowboys lost to the Pack, they outgained then by 230 yards. In the end, one always has to wonder what kind of performance Kirk Cousins will deliver in the second of back to back tough road games. We don’t trust him but we do trust the Cowboys to keep firing on all cylinders. Dallas was a -3 over the Eagles and whacked them. They’re similarly priced here and will likely do the same.

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