Fade Material: NFL Week 10 Predictions

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison sits alone on the bench on the sidelines during the closing minutes of the Steelers NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore, Maryland September 11, 2011. REUTERS/Joe Giza (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Most writers would be upset with a .500 week but I’m overjoyed. The two wins I mustered in Week 9 were two more than I had in Week 8 so…small victories, people.

The Giants and Dolphins won outright, while the Colts and Chargers pooled their money together to give me a big, fat 2-2 Sunday. That runs my season record to 15-21, which would be good if we were talking about my hits-to-at bats or competitions-to-attempts radios. But we’re not. We’re talking about my hideous record against the spread this season. The same hideous record that would still be hideous even if I went 4-0 this Sunday.

Ah, well. Here are a couple of losers for you on this glorious Sunday:

Saints @ Falcons, 1:00PM ET
Even if my life were dependant on it, I still couldn’t choose a side in this game. I would die starring off into space as the words “Saints” and “Falcons” bounced around in my head. The Saints have enough firepower to blow the Falcons out of the Georgia Dome this weekend but Atlanta is playing good defense at the moment, while New Orleans is not. So again, I’m lost when it comes to the side. The total, however, seems like a no-brainer. The Saints are averaging over 30 points per game and the Falcons have seemingly fixed their issues on offense. Assuming Julio Jones (hamstring) is fine after being added to Atlanta’s injury report on Thursday, I envision a high-scoring game this Sunday. While these two teams played to a 17-14 chess match last year in Atlanta, the over has hit in five of the last seven meetings between these two teams. Light ‘em up again, boys.

Steelers @ Bengals, 1:00PM ET
Had oddsmakers given the Bengals four points or even 3.5, I would have taken a hard look at Cincinnati or laid off the game completely. And had the Steelers actually been able to defend 92 yards and beaten the Ravens last Sunday night at home, I again would have leaned towards the Bengals. But with the spread only sitting at 3 and with the Steelers ticked off from their loss last week, I love Pittsburgh this week. The Bengals’ defense has played extremely well this season and I fully expect that trend to continue. But the last time Andy Dalton faced one of the top defenses in the league, the Bengals mustered just 8 points in a 13-8 loss to the 49ers in Week 3. James Harrison is going to be a monster to deal with on Sunday and I just don’t see Dalton making enough plays to win this game in the end. And if you like the Steelers to win, you like them by a field goal or more so I’m happy to lay the 3.

Giants @ 49ers, 4:15PM ET
Even though the Niners are 7-1 this is a classic letdown game for Tom Coughlin’s team. They’re coming off a huge win in New England and now have to fly cross-country to play a San Francisco team that will certainly be fired up to beat one of the NFC’s top teams. That said, I don’t like laying 3.5 points on the Niners with the way the Giants have played as underdogs this season. If New York was favored or playing some hapless team that has no business being in the game, I’d be all over said hapless team. Instead, I see major value in the total. Both of these teams have the ability to score but Frank Gore is hobbled and the Niners have played well defensively all season. As long as there aren’t a ton of big plays, I like the under.

Patriots @ Jets, 8:20PM ET
I’m probably going to look like a sucker for thinking this way, but I just don’t see Bill Belichick and Tom Brady losing three-straight games. Especially when that third loss would come at the hands of Rex Ryan and the Jets, who are playing great defensively right now but aren’t trustworthy offensively. New England’s defense played well until the final drive against New York last week and you know Brady is going to be as focused as ever. It’s not often that the Pats are underdogs so you might as well take advantage.

Last Week: 2-2
Season: 15-21

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2011 NFL Week 10 Point Spreads & Odds

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan (R) talks to New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick after the Jets beat the Partriots during their AFC Divisional NFL playoff football game in Foxborough, January 16, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Four spreads of note:

Patriots +1 @ Jets, 8:20PM ET
This has got to be the most interesting spread on the board this week. The Jets opened at –1 at some books while others had them listed as a 2.5-point favorite. I would be shocked if the line didn’t flip to Patriots –1 by kickoff because everyone must have the same thought: Bill Belichick and Tom Brady aren’t going to lose three straight games. That said, Rex Ryan’s defense is playing championship caliber football right now. The Bills could do absolutely nothing offensively last Sunday against the Jets, and at home, no less. Plus, this is a revenge spot for Ryan and Co. so again, it’ll be interesting to see where the line moves from here.

Steelers –3 @ Bengals, 1:00PM ET
I’m really surprised that the line for this game didn’t open at 3.5. I know the Bengals are at home and are 6-2, but the last time they played a top-notch defense they were held to 8 points at home by the 49ers. Judging by the public betting numbers that are listed at sites like The Spread.com, it appears everyone is on Pittsburgh and why not? They’re the more experienced team and they’re coming off a loss to Baltimore so you know Mike Tomlin and Co. are ticked off. Unless oddsmakers are assuming this will be a three-point game either way, why not put the line at 3.5 and try to generate more two-sided action? In other words, I like the Steelers because I don’t have to worry about the hook. There’s very little value in Cincinnati outside of the fact that they’re a home dog.

Saints –1 @ Falcons, 1:00PM ET
The Saints opened as 2.5-point favorites at most books and now the game is down to a pick’em at some places. New Orleans is still the better team on paper but Atlanta has won three straight, are at home, and the Saints are just 2-3 on the road this year. Also, the Falcons still have a bad taste in their mouths from when several New Orleans players took photos on Atlanta’s logo after the Saints won in the Georgia Dome last season. This game should tell us a lot about the direction of the NFC South and I’ll tell you what, the Falcons’ defense has played very well the past couple of weeks. Don’t assume that Drew Brees is going to light them up in thier own house. This should be a great game.

Giants +3.5 @ 49ers, 4:15PM ET
Unlike the Steelers-Bengals game where I thought the line should be 3.5, I’m wondering why this spread isn’t 3 on the nose. Is this is a trap game where oddsmakers want you to overvalue New York because of the hook? The Giants are coming off a huge win against the Patriots and some are waiting for the 49ers to fall, so why is there extra motivation to take New York (i.e. if you take the Giants, you also get the hook so why not ride Big Blue)? I don’t get it. Either way, I see more value in the total. I have a hunch this is going to be a low-scoring game. I could see Eli Manning struggling against a stingy San Francisco defense and New York’s D answering the challenge of slowing a hobbled Frank Gore. The total (42.5) is set right based on how these two teams have scored this season, but I like the under.

2011 NFL Week 10 Point Spreads:

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Saints’ defense comes alive, shuts down Falcons

Here are five quick-hit thoughts on the Saints’ 17-14 win over the Falcons on Monday Night Football.

1. Gregg Williams’ defense steps up big-time.
On a night when the offense largely sputtered, Williams’ defense stepped up and won a game for the Saints. Outside of one 27-yard run by Michael Turner in the first half, the run defense was outstanding. This was a unit that has largely been gashed on the ground, which includes giving up over 100 yards last week to Ray Rice. Jonathan Vilma and Co. didn’t do anything special Monday night to shut down a potent Falcons’ rushing attack. They simply filled gaps, won in the trenches and got pressure up field. They dared the Falcons to beat them with the pass and while Matt Ryan was able to hit a few plays to Michael Jenkins throughout the game, this contest was largely won on the strength of New Orleans’ run defense (something that has often cost the Saints games this season).

2. The Falcons offense owes its defense an apology.
The reason I mentioned the Saints’ defensive effort first was because I didn’t want to take anything away from their effort. And I still don’t. That said, what a putrid effort by Mike Mularkey’s offense. They got zero push up front in the running game, center Todd McClure cost his team seven points with one of the worst snaps you’ll ever see and Turner put the ball on the ground at the goal line when the Falcons had seized momentum. And this came on a night when Atlanta’s defense held one of the most explosive offenses in the league to just 17 points. The effort that Jonathan Babineaux and John Abraham gave up front along the defensive line was outstanding. Yes, they missed Drew Brees on a handful of plays but they largely dominated the Saints’ offense with their aggressive play. Defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder deserves high praise for putting together a game plan that should have won the Falcons the game. How frustrating.

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Reason No. 4,049 why I don’t get some athletes

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Falcons’ defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux was arrested Thursday night for possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute. He was also nailed for having suspended tags and driving without a license.

This is devastating news for an Atlanta team that 1) is hosting the best team in the league on Sunday and 2) is already crippled by injuries to Matt Ryan, Michael Turner and three-fifths of their offensive line. Babineaux might not be a household name, but he’s been far and away the Falcons’ best defensive linemen this season and the only one that provides a consistent rush at the quarterback.

Babineaux is the same player that was arrested a couple years ago for allegedly killing his girlfriend’s dog (what’s with dog-killers in Atlanta?), Kilo. Given his most recent arrest, “Kilo” is an awfully ironic name for the dog.

With the Saints coming to town, one would think that Babineaux would be a little more focused – especially considering the Falcons’ playoff hopes are on life support. Instead, he’s out trolling the streets with expired tags, no license and enough pot on him for the cops to charge him with intent to sell.. I’m shocked the moron didn’t have a sign outside his window that read: I’M HAVE POT IN THE CAR.

I just don’t get it. And the sad part is, we’ve heard a similar song and dance before when it comes to athletes.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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