Every week I make NFL Picks here at The Props Network.
What we learned in NFL Week 9…
How ‘bout them Cowboys?!
Anyone else get their ass saved when Dallas picked up the loose ball and scored a touchdown with like six seconds left to hit the over and complete a parlay? Yeah, baby. Dallas finally looked like a decent version of themselves, albeit against another bad team that’s going nowhere. This is a game that was a lot closer than the final score indicates. But it was also one that the Cowboys absolutely needed. They have a brutal stretch coming up against the Vikings, Lions, Pats, and Bills.
The Colts are still okay without Brissett.
But Hoyer’s pick six from deep in Steelers territory set the tone for an awful day for a lot of people. That and Viniatieri shanking a potential game-winning field goal started a brutal day where home favorites just crushed it. Squares cleaned up and pros got their asses handed to them. The afternoon slate was especially rough with home teams cleaning up. Not one road dog hit on Sunday in the whole NFL. It happens about once a year, so it’s nice to see the universe get that one out of its system.
Minshew Mania is over for now and I get it.
Getting your ass handed to you and throwing a couple of picks against Houston, of all NFL teams, makes it easy for Marrone to give Foles his starting job back. Something to keep in mind with Minshew is that while he does have good pocket presence and moves away from primary pressure with aplomb, he can sometimes screw it up when a pass rusher breaks off and tracks him from behind. I had to double check this, but he took 21 sacks and fumbled 11 times with 10 of them being lost. Makes his 13 TDs to 4 INTs look not so good anymore. Jockstrap King is my guy. But my guy needs to get his act together when it comes to protecting the ball, if he wants to be a starter in the NFL.
Mitch Trubisky is probably the worst starter in the NFL
It’s not entirely his fault since Nagy and company seem either unwilling or unable to mold an offense around his talents as opposed to asking him to do things he clearly cannot. You know, like read a defense, deliver the ball downfield, or identify open spaces. Just remember, the Bears traded up for this guy and passed on DeShaun Watson who was a clearly superior player and beat Bama. Talent evaluation like this drives me absolutely bonkers.
Freddy Kitchens is probably the worst coach in the NFL.
As I was doing some research on the afternoon games a friend of mine sent along this quote from Freddy Kitchens in response to questions about Baker Mayfield’s 58.7 percent completion rate. “I truly don’t look at stats.” Bruh, that’s a fireable offense.
Seriously, one of the most important things a coach can do is at least understand the basics behind analytics, probability, and statistics, and while I get the gist of what he’s saying, which is probably that he is trying to measure Baker’s development on more than just numbers, but dude, seriously? Saying that is just tone deaf to the reality of how shitty of a job you’re doing right now. You’re literally giving everyone ammunition to mock you and keep calling out the fact that you’re a position coach who was promoted too soon. For reals, call Andy Reid and see if he’ll give you a job after this debacle of a season.
Can someone tell me where this version of the Chargers has been all year?
That game against Green Bay is a perfect example of the talent hidden beneath the veneer of garbage that everyone sees on a weekly basis. Put a decent NFL coaching staff in there and the Chargers would win between 11-14 games every year.
I told y’all the Ravens could do it.
I was dead wrong about the under, but the Ravens proved a couple things: The Pats are not infallible, Brady is getting old fast, and Matthew Judon has a body built by Taco Bell.
ON TO DICK’S NFL PICKS (my middle name is Richard)
Sean’s Week 10 NFL Picks
All lines are from Caesars
Cardinals +5 points @ Buccaneers
The fellas and I were talking about whether Kliff Kingsbury should keep his gig or not and we all agree that the dude should get at least three years to see if this works. One thing’s for certain, even with one of the shittier rosters around this team plays its ass off. He still makes some boneheaded mistakes like calling a timeout just as his defense is stopping a crucial 4th and goal play, but overall, he’s coming up with imaginative game plans and consistently covering spreads. Fun fact: The Cards are 6-3 ATS.
Kyler Murray is kind of a joy to watch. Seeing him make the Niners defense miss was pretty rad and seeing the Cards hang 28 on one of the league’s best defenses made me very happy that I laid off the under like I had originally planned. Yes, sometimes I lay off. Anyways, Murray is averaging 7.1 yards per attempt, but he’s getting 11 yards per completion. Not bad for a rookie.
What’s even better is that he has only four picks on 316 attempts. Kliff is putting his star pupil in position to succeed and grow. Kyler is not being asked to do too much. And even with replacement level running backs he’s able to keep the ground game going. At first blush I hated the Kenyan Drake trade, but after mulling it over I think it was made to keep the team’s morale up. Arizona is not looking to tank and it’s pretty clear that they don’t want a wasted season during Murray’s rookie year. Also, Drake hung 115 on the Niners. Not bad at all.
Tampa is coming off a heart-breaking loss up in Seattle. You can’t leave Russell Wilson with any room, guys, or he will rip your heart out. I don’t care how good you are, you have to get up on Seattle early and keep going until you’re up by three scores or else you have a good chance of him stealing the game from you. I love Bruce Arians, but the Bucs are 2-6 and on the verge of the season becoming a washout. It’s not like Winston is going to have a massive bounce back game after a maximum effort where he didn’t turn the ball over.
There’s no way I can back Tampa again and as I said about the Cards, they are playing for something: Respect and proving to everyone they’re not as bad as the roster looks. Gimme the Cards all day.
THE PICK: CARDINALS +5
Lions + 2.5 points @ Bears
So, we’ve got the Lions coming off a tough road loss and the Bears coming off an atrocious showing against Philly. Like I mentioned, Trubisky makes the offense worse and the defense can’t do all of the heavy lifting. The guy is completing only 59.4 percent of his passes and is only averaging 6.6 yards per attempt a massive drop off from last year when he was 66.6 percent and averaging 7.4 yards per attempt. That tells me he is throwing to a lot of guys underneath and still missing them. It’s a disaster under center and he shows no signs of improving.
Meanwhile, Matt Stafford has been dealing with hip and back problems all year and is putting up some of the best numbers of his career. He’s averaging 9.1 yards per attempt, 312.4 yards per game to lead the league, and 13.4 yards per completion. That’s off the charts good. I’m still not completely sold on Patricia, but the Lions are playing hard if nothing else. They took Kansas City the distance and barely lost to the Pack, so they show up against quality teams. The only real blemish on their mediocre record is the tie against the Cards, but the Cards have turned out to be tougher than everyone thinks.
Sure, this is a bounce back spot for the Bears and the Lions are not the strongest road team around, but give me Stafford and the points any day of the week. I know the Bears defense is ranked ninth overall, but again, they can’t do all of the heavy lifting.
THE PICK: LIONS +2.5
Rams -3.5 points @ Steelers
Normally road teams laying points is a garbage play, especially when it’s over a key number like three. Normally fading the Rams would be my play here because they are suffering from the Super Bowl hangover. Their defense is still meh, ranking 12th overall. Also, the offense is going to be missing Brandon Cooks who is likely out with another concussion. Look, no one is going to confuse Jared Goff with an all-time great. However, he is demonstrably better than Mason Rudolph.
Also, and this is key, the Rams are coming off a bye. Say what you will about them, but Sean McVay has them 3-0 ATS off the bye since he took over. He’ll have these guys prepared and ready to play. Conversely, this is the sort of game Tomlin generally thrives in. Home dog, no one really expecting much, and having to come up with some way or another to win and keep hope alive in the AFC North.
The Steelers have a really bad offense. And the reports coming out that they looked into reacquiring LeVeon Bell says a lot. Like, they suck and they know it. They got really fortunate against Indy last week in a game that by all accounts they should have lost. Had Brissett played the whole game or if Viniatieri weren’t in decline, they’d have lost by a touchdown even with the pick six.
So, just running it down real quick, the Rams are 8th in scoring offense and the Steelers are 18th. The Rams are 15th in points allowed and Steelers are 13th. But the Steelers are +11 on turnovers while the Rams are even. That turnover margin is huge and could be a surprise factor since Goff can be pressured into bad decisions. Now, the Rams do get Clay Matthews back, so with him and Dexter Fowler rushing off the edges I can see the Rams getting considerable pressure on Mason Rudolph.
Gimme the Rams in a close one.
THE PICK: RAMS -3.5 (and praying it drops to 3 By Sunday)
Vikings + 3 points @ Cowboys
Dallas won a game they had to in The Meadowlands and the Vikings blew a winnable game in Kansas City. Let’s get the recency bias out of the way and address a couple more salient points. The Vikings are capable of looking absolutely ferocious on both sides of the ball. There are weeks where Cousins shoves all the criticism back in every doubter’s face and the run game trounces opposing defenses. Their defense sometimes looks all-world. But they just can’t string together enough performances in a row to make you believe in them.
The Cowboys have similar issues. Remember that absolute turd they dropped against the Jets? That sort of shit comes from a lack of discipline and focus. Dallas started off hot and I was calling them a contender prematurely because I was so hyped that I failed to consider the absolute garbage teams they were playing. The game against the Giants was a microcosm of them as a team. A pick on the very first play of the game, a stupid holding penalty to negate a touchdown, and a missed field goal to keep an inferior team in the game. But then, BOOM, a stifling running game, a few big plays from Dak and company, and the defense clamps down on a rookie QB.
So, which of these maddeningly frustrating teams do you take? Do you take the Cowboys and their 1st ranked NFL offense and 6thranked defense? Who knows since their adjusted strength of schedule is in the bottom third of the NFL. Minnesota has played much tougher competition and it shows with them ranked 8th on offense and 7th on defense. Minnesota is ranked 8th against the pass and 9th against the run. The Vikings are so run heavy, but it’s because Cousins wasn’t getting much trust from Zimmer earlier in the season.
Speaking of Cousins, can you find it in your heart to trust him in prime time? Seriously, he’s garbage in prime time. He’s 7-13 bad in prime time. Last time he was in prime time was against the Redskins. This time he is on the road in Dallas. Are you really considering taking Cousins and the points? Are you drunk? Don’t do this to yourself.
THE PICK: Cowboys -3 points
Seahawks +6.5 @ 49ers
Oh, man, this should be good. And I say should because we don’t know what’s going to happen, but on paper I love this game. Seattle is not all that great when you look at their overall roster, but Russell Wilson just makes things happen. He senses pressure better than almost anyone and his escapes can open up seams in defenses. It’s really a joy to watch him, but if you can get on top of Seattle early you can take them down just like New Orleans did. You also need them to make some mistakes like they did against New Orleans. Every game is seemingly a close call, except for that New Orleans game. But, the Niners are favored by almost a touchdown for a reason.
The Niners are 7th on offense and 1st on defense in the whole NFL. They’re 22nd in passing and getting better every week and 2nd in rushing with four starting quality running backs. Their offensive line is excellent and even though Robbie Gould is now hurt and under performing, they have mainly been asking him to kick extra points instead of 50-yard field goals anyways.
Look, the Seahawks have a bad offensive line but still rank 4th in total offense. Why? Because Russell Wilson is a god on the football field. Also, it helps that Chris Carson is on pace for 1200-plus yards. And Tyler Lockett has mind-melded with Wilson. And now Josh Gordon enters the fold.
The one place where these teams are matched up evenly is defense against the run with both teams allowing 102 YPG. Otherwise, San Francisco has all the stats. Some good bettors I know and agree with a lot are predicting a blowout for the Niners. That could happen. What I see happening is the Niners benefitting from the extra rest and being in good shape for the game. I see their run game getting its freak on and Jimmy G completing some nice passes. Also, Kittle getting in the end zone seems likely.
I can also see Seattle jumping out to an early lead and forcing the Niners to throw the ball more. Jimmy G is really slinging the ball well, but I have a hunch Seattle is going to try and clog up the running lanes and make Jimmy G beat them. Maybe he does. Maybe he keeps torching inferior defenses and does so in a divisional game. Perhaps the Niners move to 9-0. Or maybe Seattle finds a way to hang around and nag the Niners and maybe get a turnover or two themselves. Their defense is shit, but football’s a funny game. No one counts on the weird bounces and bizarre shit that can happen in a rivalry game.
I’m hoping we get to see Richard Sherman tell Wilson he’s soft as baby poo. But I’m also hoping Wilson tunes it all out and finds a way to keep it close. If this were the playoffs, I’d take the Niners and feel okay, but in a regular season NFL game and the Niners trying to stay unbeaten? No way. Give me the Seahawks and the points.
THE PICK: SEAHAWKS +6
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