B/R Expert Consensus NFL Picks for Week 10 – Bleacher Report

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    Any chance you missed last week’s installment of this exercise? If so, lucky you. Bleacher Report NFL analysts Gary Davenport, Brad Gagnon and Brent Sobleski will go to their graves thinking about a week of against-the-spread predictions that epitomized Murphy’s law.  

    Whatever could go wrong did go wrong in the worst batch of picks we’ve produced since we started this feature last September. 

    Here’s an updated look at the damage (last week’s horrifying records in parentheses):

    1. Brad Gagnon: 67-67-1 (3-10-1) 

    2. Brent Sobleski: 64-70-1 (3-10-1)

    3. Gary Davenport: 59-75-1 (5-8-1)

    Consensus picks: 62-72-1 (2-11-1)

    Moneyline consensus: 89-45-1 (6-8)

    But in Week 10, a different law could favor our predictors. That’s the law of averages, which indicates a stronger performance is coming after what was clearly an outlier in Week 9. 

    Here are 13 fresh attempts at a correction. 

                 

    Lines from Caesars as of 10 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Nov. 6.

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    Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

    While the Los Angeles Chargers are a strong road team coming off an impressive victory, their roster remains banged up. That’s also the case with L.A.’s Week 10 opponent, but at least the Oakland Raiders are at home. They’ve been better than the Chargers this season, and yet they’re a small underdog.

    The Bolts have lacked consistency all year, while the Raiders have to be taken seriously after three recent victories over the Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions. They’ve played well in two of their three games thus far at the RingCentral Coliseum, and they should be emotionally fired up for one of their last prime-time games in Oakland. 

    That’s enough for all three of our analysts to back the Raiders against an opponent traveling (albeit a short distance) on three days’ rest.

    “The Raiders have been one of the more pleasant surprises in the NFL this year,” Davenport said, “while the Chargers have been the AFC West’s biggest disappointment. If the same Bolts team that throttled the Packers last week shows up in Oakland, the Raiders are in trouble. However, the Chargers haven’t been able to string multiple good performances together all season, and L.A.’s 20th-ranked run defense is going to have its hands full with rookie tailback Josh Jacobs. Give me the home ‘dog in this one.”

    The Chargers have a pair of tremendous pass-rushers in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, which could be problematic considering injuries to Raiders offensive linemen Trent Brown and Rodney Hudson. But both of those veterans could play, which might only exacerbate Oakland’s advantage on the ground. 

    The Chargers remain without safety Derwin James and have been without defensive tackles Justin Jones and Brandon Mebane, and their run D ranks 25th in terms of DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) at Football Outsiders. Jacobs has gone over 120 yards in three of his last four games, and he could be a difference-maker here. 

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: Oakland (+1)
    Gagnon: Oakland (+1)
    Sobleski: Oakland (+1)
    Consensus: Oakland (+1)

    Score Prediction: Raiders 27, Chargers 24

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    The Arizona Cardinals are unbeaten and 4-0 against the spread in four games against teams that currently have losing records. Their Week 10 opponent doesn’t just have a losing record, but the 2-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers have lost four straight games and could be demoralized after a tough overtime defeat in Seattle. 

    That has all three of our experts happy to take four points with Arizona in Tampa on Sunday. 

    “An interesting cat-and-mouse game should ensue between the Buccaneers and Cardinals, because Tampa Bay can take away what’s been successful for Arizona in recent weeks” Sobleski said. “The Buccaneers have the NFL’s top-ranked run defense, whereas the Cardinals’ improved play has been based on spreading the field and running the football. However, the Buccaneers feature the NFL’s 31st-ranked pass D. Expect Kliff Kingsbury to scheme easy completions for quarterback Kyler Murray to establish an edge.”

    It could help that Kingsbury has had extra time to prepare for the Bucs D, which struggled to stop Seahawks running back Chris Carson and got dominated by Russell Wilson through the air. Cornerback Carlton Davis’ hip injury looms large. 

    Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston is coming off a strong performance, but that came against a Seahawks pass rush that ranks 31st leaguewide in adjusted sack rate. Arizona can bring more pressure with Chandler Jones and Terrell Suggs, which could make it tough for the notoriously inconsistent and careless Winston to avoid a turnoverfest. 

    Take the points and run.

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: Arizona (+4)
    Gagnon: Arizona (+4)
    Sobleski: Arizona (+4)
    Consensus: Arizona (+4)

    Score Prediction: Cardinals 26, Buccaneers 24

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    At home against an Atlanta Falcons pass defense that ranks 30th in DVOA, the New Orleans Saints look as though they’ll have Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara in the lineup together for the first time since Week 2. 

    With two weeks’ rest following a blowout victory over a much more competitive Cardinals team, the majority of our panelists are willing to lay nearly two touchdowns with the Saints on Sunday. 

    With that said, there’s little doubt that a 13-point spread is dangerous. 

    “I won’t pretend that the backdoor cover isn’t a huge concern here,” Gagnon said. “The Falcons could have the offensive firepower to hang around and sneak in late, which is why I wouldn’t put money down on this game. Still, I’m not going to pick a team based on backdoor potential, especially on the road. And while at least the Falcons have had two weeks to prepare, New Orleans has as well.”

    The toothless Falcons defense has only one takeaway and three sacks since Week 3, and the offense turned it over six times in consecutive losses to the Los Angeles Rams and Seahawks before the bye. Quarterback Matt Ryan is expected to return from an ankle injury, but he was limited in practice Wednesday and won’t be 100 percent against a D that has the league’s third-highest pressure rate.

    It’s probably for the best that we lack a unanimous consensus here, but given the circumstances, it’s hard to justify picking a Falcons team that has covered only seven spreads since the start of the 2018 season. 

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: Atlanta (+13)
    Gagnon: New Orleans (-13)
    Sobleski: New Orleans (-13)
    Consensus: New Orleans (-13)

    Score Prediction: Saints 34, Falcons 17

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    Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

    Before posting a line here, Caesars is presumably awaiting more clarity on the status of injured Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. But several books have the Chiefs laying four points for Sunday’s road matchup with the Tennessee Titans, which is likely a reaction to news that Chiefs head coach Andy Reid is increasing Mahomes’ workload this week at practice (he was a full participant Wednesday).

    Considering that the Titans are 0-3 with an average margin of defeat of 6.3 points against winning teams this year, our guys just can’t get behind Ryan Tannehill and Co. against Andy Reid, regardless of who Kansas City runs out there under center. 

    “Until you know for sure that Mahomes is playing, this is admittedly a big gamble,” Gagnon said. “But if he does indeed suit up, you’re getting some value out of the Chiefs. The Titans were extremely lucky to win their last two home games against the Chargers and Bucs, and thus are extremely lucky not to be on a five-game losing streak. They’re a bad team that was dominated by the Panthers, Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half of the season.

    “What’s more, we can’t overlook how well the Chiefs have fared without Mahomes. They’ve scored 80 points over the last three weeks, and the steady Matt Moore has a triple-digit passer rating.”

    In other words, even if Moore starts again and the line drops closer to pick’em range, the Chiefs could certainly cover four points against a limping Titans defense anyway.

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: Kansas City
    Gagnon: Kansas City 
    Sobleski: Kansas City
    Consensus: Kansas City

    Score Prediction: Chiefs 28, Titans 20

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    Alika Jenner/Getty Images

    The Baltimore Ravens defense struggled mightily in September after going through a tremendous amount of change in the offseason. But amid all the Lamar Jackson hype, Baltimore’s D has quietly turned a corner.

    The Ravens have given up 20 or fewer points in three consecutive games and have seven takeaways in their last four. And they now get to tee off on a rookie quarterback making his NFL debut when they take on Ryan Finley and the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday in Ohio. 

    Against the league’s last winless team, the majority of our experts figure Baltimore can continue to ride the momentum it established Sunday night against the New England Patriots with another blowout victory. 

    “This meeting is a classic trap game for the Ravens,” Sobleski said. “Baltimore just beat the NFL’s best team only to face the league’s worst a week later. With that said, the Ravens are too good to stumble against an awful Bengals squad, especially with a rookie first-time starting quarterback taking over Cincinnati’s offense. Expect Lamar Jackson to shred the NFL’s worst defense.”

    But there’s certainly a possibility that this is a trap, especially with a tough string of games lying beyond Week 10 for the Ravens. Might they overlook a familiar foe? It’s worth pointing out that Cincinnati covered a 10.5-point spread in a six-point road loss against Baltimore last month, and the element of surprise with Finley could be problematic for the Ravens. Plus, the Bengals finally might have top receiver A.J. Green back in the lineup. 

    Exercise caution, but a Baltimore blowout still seems to be the most likely outcome. 

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: Baltimore (-10)
    Gagnon: Cincinnati (+10)
    Sobleski: Baltimore (-10)
    Consensus: Baltimore (-10)

    Score Prediction: Ravens 30, Bengals 17

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    On the surface, it’s odd that the 6-2 Buffalo Bills are getting 2.5 points from the 2-6 Cleveland Browns. But Buffalo has feasted on a weak schedule and the Browns are likely desperate to save their season, so you have to imagine Cleveland is due for a home victory. 

    With that in mind, two of our three experts are fading the public and siding with a Browns team that was widely considered to be more talented than the Bills prior to the season. 

    “Cleveland’s turnaround will happen sooner or later, right?” Sobleski said. “Maybe. OK, who knows? If something positive doesn’t happen soon, the entire organization could implode. The 6-2 Bills, meanwhile, don’t look like the caliber of squad that the undisciplined Browns should beat. Even so, the Bills’ vaunted defense is susceptible to strong ground games. Buffalo ranks 19th against the run, while Nick Chubb is one of the league’s elite backs and Kareem Hunt returns this weekend after his eight-game suspension.”

    Chubb has gone over 120 yards on the ground in three of his last five games, while Buffalo’s run D has been gutted as of late by backs such as Adrian Peterson, Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders and Mark Walton. That matchup could be a problem, as could the fact Cleveland’s pass rush is better equipped to fluster Buffalo’s second-year quarterback than Buffalo’s is to fluster Cleveland’s second-year quarterback. After all, Myles Garrett leads the AFC in sacks, and the Browns have superior sack and pressure numbers.

    The Browns hung with the Rams and Seahawks in their last two home games, while Buffalo has been away from home only once since Week 2. This feels like a potential letdown game for a team that hasn’t beaten a high-quality opponent yet and might lack the teeth on defense to take advantage of Cleveland’s frequent mistakes. 

    That said, we don’t have a unanimous consensus here. It’s hard to fault Davenport for lacking trust in Cleveland laying points against a winning team, and it’s worth noting that those picking against the majority as lone wolves are 42-36-1 this season.

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: Buffalo (+2.5)
    Gagnon: Cleveland (-2.5)
    Sobleski: Cleveland (-2.5)
    Consensus: Cleveland (-2.5)

    Score Prediction: Browns 23, Bills 17

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    The Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears have combined for one victory since the end of September, but it’s Detroit that has that win. The Lions have been far more competitive as of late, can at least move the ball on offense and have the significantly more reliable quarterback. 

    So in a potentially volatile matchup, the majority of our analysts are siding with Detroit with 2.5 points in their back pocket. 

    “The Lions aren’t particularly good,” Sobleski admitted. “In fact, Detroit has lost four of its last five games. However, Matt Patricia’s squad has averaged 27.4 points per game during that disappointing stretch. The Bears have managed to score 27 points only once this season. Chicago’s offense can’t move the ball with any consistency, and Mitchell Trubisky is the league’s worst starting quarterback at the moment.”

    That’s fair. It isn’t easy to bet on Trubisky right now. The 2017 No. 2 overall pick is averaging only 5.6 yards per pass attempt, which is more than a half-yard lower than the second-to-last-ranked qualified quarterback in that category

    But it’s no surprise that there’s a dissenting opinion in a game between two cold, untrustworthy teams. Gagnon figures the Bears eventually need to rebound a bit on offense, and it would make sense for that to happen at home against a Lions D that looks to be falling apart. Plus, that Chicago D remains stacked.

    “The Lions still make too many mistakes on offense, and the Bears defense is by far the best unit in this game,” he said. “They’re due to make a big play or two against a team that has turned it over four times in the last two weeks. And while Chicago has been a mess, the Lions locker room doesn’t look like a functional environment right now.”

    This might be one to avoid. 

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: Detroit (+2.5)
    Gagnon: Chicago (-2.5)
    Sobleski: Detroit (+2.5)
    Consensus: Detroit (+2.5)

    Score Prediction: Lions 23, Bears 20

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Do we have to? 

    We do, because it’s our mission to predict which team will cover every game. But although all three of our analysts are taking the New York Giants to cover a 2.5-point spread as a “road” favorite against the New York Jets, nobody here will recommend you to spend anything but Monopoly money on that. 

    It’s simple: The Giants are awful and the Jets are awful. But Gang Green is a special kind of awful right now. They’re far less competitive than their MetLife Stadium co-tenant, and they’re coming off a decisive loss to the tanking Miami Dolphins. 

    At what is essentially a neutral site, how could anyone get behind a team that has been outscored 88-33 over the last three weeks, with two of those losses coming against opponents with losing records? To boot, the Jets are plagued by injuries, with both Le’Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley sitting out of practice Wednesday.

    “This pick says a lot less about the Giants being good than it does about the Jets being bad,” Davenport said. “Sam Darnold might be the only quarterback in the NFL more likely on a given play to turn it over than Daniel Jones. There isn’t a single facet of the game where the Jets aren’t a complete mess right now, while the Giants at least have Saquon Barkley. It’s going to take more points than this before I’m going anywhere near Gang Green. Giants cruise and cover easily.”

    Gagnon and Sobleski are less sure, but we have a unanimous consensus. And at the very least, our experts are willing to guarantee that a New York team will cover here. 

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: Giants (-2.5)
    Gagnon: Giants (-2.5)
    Sobleski: Giants (-2.5)
    Consensus: Giants (-2.5)

    Score Prediction: Giants 23, Jets 20

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    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    The Miami Dolphins might have only one win this season, but they’ve been surprisingly competitive ever since their Week 5 bye. Miami is 4-0 against the spread in its last four outings—a stretch in which it beat the Jets, lost by only one point to Washington and held second-half leads in Buffalo and Pittsburgh. 

    With Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett dealing with a knee injury, the majority of our experts figure the Dolphins can stay within 10 points of Indy on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. 

    “The Dolphins are playing hard,” Gagnon said, “And the Colts have outscored their opponents by only 1.3 points per game at home this season. In fact, Indy hasn’t won a game by more than seven points all year. With the backdoor cover also in play, I just don’t know how you can take the Colts in this spot.”

    But the Dolphins are still the Dolphins, and the Colts might be looking to send a message against a team that probably prefers losing to winning. Davenport has a dissenting opinion. 

    “This feels like a good time to mention that my record this season has been abysmal,” he said. “That caveat looms over this contest almost as much as a double-digit point spread and the possibility of Indy starting veteran journeyman Brian Hoyer at quarterback. Still, Hoyer almost led the Colts to a win in Pittsburgh last week, and Miami’s record this season is even worse than mine. The Colts shake off last week’s heartbreak, while the Dolphins remember they’re, you know, the Dolphins.”

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: Indianapolis (-10.5)
    Gagnon: Miami (+10.5)
    Sobleski: Miami (+10.5)
    Consensus: Miami (+10.5)

    Score Prediction: Colts 27, Dolphins 20

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    It might have only been a 10-point margin of victory, but the Carolina Panthers dominated the Tennessee Titans at home last week. And they might have technically been on the road, but the Green Bay Packers were surrounded by their own fans in a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Chargers last week. 

    It’s possible both teams will move closer to the mean when they meet in Week 10, but two of our three predictors feel Green Bay is laying too many points as a five-point favorite. 

    “Don’t get me wrong,” Davenport said. “I expect the Packers to win here, as they must be seething after a listless performance in Los Angeles last week. I remain skeptical that the Panthers are as good as their record, too. But the Panthers should be able to at least keep this close. Christian McCaffrey could be in for a monster day against a Green Bay run D that’s allowing more than 125 yards a game.”

    Sobleski agrees, but we lack a unanimous consensus because Gagnon figures the Packers will be inspired to bounce back at home after an embarrassing showing in L.A. 

    “That was a speed bump for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers,” he said, “and now they should roll back at Lambeau against a team that has been up and down ever since beating the Bucs in London a few weeks ago. McCaffrey could spoil that party, but the league has figured out Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen, who has completed only 55.7 percent of his passes and has a 73.9 passer rating since Week 5. I don’t believe in the Panthers enough to spot them five points here.”

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: Carolina (+5)
    Gagnon: Green Bay (-5)
    Sobleski: Carolina (+5)
    Consensus: Carolina (+5)

    Score Prediction: Packers 24, Panthers 23

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    Alika Jenner/Getty Images

    The Pittsburgh Steelers remain competitive despite the absence of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. But is that sustainable? By no means has Pittsburgh been winning convincingly, and now it runs into an experienced Los Angeles Rams team that has had two weeks to prepare. 

    The majority of our panelists don’t trust Pittsburgh under those circumstances. 

    “The Steelers at home with an opportunistic defense and 3.5 points in their favor seems like the logical play,” Sobleski said. “However, the Rams are a better all-around team, and Sean McVay had two weeks to prepare for this game. McVay’s squad is 10-1 straight-up and 8-2-1 ATS when it has extra time to prepare for opponents, whether that’s after a bye or a Thursday Night Football appearance.”

    The Pittsburgh D should put up a fight, but the Rams offense appeared to be coming around with 61 points in back-to-back turnover-free wins prior to the bye. The defense has also looked stronger since Jalen Ramsey joined the fray, and Roethlisberger replacement Mason Rudolph has generally struggled. 

    But those pre-bye wins from L.A. came against teams that are a combined 1-15, so Gagnon isn’t convinced the Rams are back to their 2018 form. 

    “Jared Goff has the worst bad-throw rate in the NFL,” he said, “and Pittsburgh’s killer defense has the highest pressure rate in the AFC. That’s a bad recipe for the Rams on a long-distance road trip, even coming off the bye week. The Rams crush bad teams and play good teams close, and the Steelers haven’t lost in regulation since Week 3, so it’s fair to consider them a good team. In seven games sans Roethlisberger this season, they’ve yet to lose by more than four points. At home, they can at least keep this within a field goal.”

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: Los Angeles (-3.5)
    Gagnon: Pittsburgh (+3.5)
    Sobleski: Los Angeles (-3.5)
    Consensus: Los Angeles (-3.5)

    Score Prediction: Rams 26, Steelers 20

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    Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

    With Dak Prescott under center, the Dallas Cowboys are 4-0 against teams featuring Kirk Cousins at quarterback. Prescott has shined in prime time (the Cowboys are 14-5 in night games with Prescott at quarterback) as well as against stuff competition (he has a 105.9 passer rating against top-five scoring defenses, per NFL.com’s Gil Brandt), while Cousins is essentially the opposite (6-14 in prime-time starts, and 6-29 against opponents with winning records). 

    What’s more, Dallas is 7-1 straight up and 6-2 against the spread in its last eight home games, while Cousins is just 15-27-2 in his career on the road. 

    I guess you can see where we’re going with this.

    “Throw in Adam Thielen’s injury, and Dallas minus merely a field goal at home Sunday night is a no-brainer,” Gagnon said. “The Cowboys run defense just shut down Saquon Barkley on the ground, so Dalvin Cook likely won’t be able to carry Cousins here, and I don’t trust the veteran Vikings quarterback at all in a big prime-time road game against a high-quality defense. I’ve learned my lesson there.”

    Davenport apparently hasn’t learned the same lesson, or he’s gambling that there’ll be some regression to the mean with some of those historical trends. And that’s fair, because the Cowboys have yet to beat a team that had a winning record when they played them, yet they’re laying a full field goal against a team that hasn’t lost by more than three points since September.

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: Dallas (-3)
    Gagnon: Dallas (-3)
    Sobleski: Minnesota (+3)
    Consensus: Dallas (-3)

    Score Prediction: Cowboys 26, Vikings 20

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    Beware, 1972 Miami Dolphins. The San Francisco 49ers are halfway to 16-0, and they’re getting healthy. Key offensive cogs Joe Staley and Kyle Juszczyk are aiming to play Monday night against the Seattle Seahawks, which could give another edge to a 49ers team that has already benefited from extra time to prepare for a pivotal prime-time matchup. 

    But even at home, the majority of our analysts aren’t willing to give up six points with San Francisco. 

    “The Cardinals gave the Niners all they could handle last week,” Davenport said. “Now the NFC’s best defense will be tasked with trying to slow down a red-hot Russell Wilson, who is the front-runner for MVP nine weeks into the season. The Seahawks are capable of winning this game outright, but even if they don’t, Wilson should at least be able to keep them close enough that laying almost a touchdown is too rich for my blood.”

    This is hostile territory, but Seattle is a perfect 4-0 on the road this year and is 11-2-1 in 13 prime-time games since the start of the 2016 season. The Seahawks have more big-game experience than this San Francisco team, and Wilson certainly has an edge over Jimmy Garoppolo (and arguably everyone else in the league right now). 

    The Seahawks have lost by more than six points only three times in their last 27 games and once in their last 19 road games. They play pretty much everybody close, and this should be no different. 

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: Seattle (+6)
    Gagnon: Seattle (+6)
    Sobleski: San Francisco (-6)
    Consensus: Seattle (+6)

    Score Prediction: 49ers 24, Seahawks 21