Danny O’Neil’s Week-10 NFL picks: Seahawks head to New England as biggest underdog in 4 years
Nov 10, 2016, 8:29 AM | Updated: 10:50 am
It has been a while since the Seahawks have been doubted this much, at least when it comes to the line.
They are touchdown underdogs in New England, which is the biggest betting line against Seattle since Week 7 of Russell Wilson’s rookie season when the Seahawks were 4-2 and coming off a victory over New England to play in San Francisco on a short week.
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That’s the Sunday night highlight of an exceptionally interesting lineup:
Cleveland at Baltimore (Thursday)
First, the Cavs won Cleveland’s first major-sports championship in 53 years. Then, the Indians reached the World Series. You didn’t really think the sports gods were going to let Cleveland off the hook entirely, did you? The Browns’ winless misery is the price that is being exacted upon the city of Cleveland for the success of the city’s other two major franchise. And now, just to make it more painful, the Browns will go play against the franchise that ditched Cleveland, headed to Baltimore and promptly won two Super Bowls. Oh yeah, and the Ravens have won four of the past five meetings between these teams.
Pick: Ravens 23, Browns 13
Kansas City at Carolina
The Chiefs have won four in a row overall and four in a row against NFC opponents. They’ve also activated Justin Houston, who should be their best pass rusher. They’re the 6-2 team that has gotten the least amount of attention, partly because they are sandwiched between the 7-2 Raiders and the 6-3 Broncos in their own division, and partly because Andy Reid is so freaking boring. They’ve also got a bit of quarterback uncertainty on their hands with Alex Smith coming back from a concussion after having him sit a week. This is a situation that bears watching.
Pick: Panthers 20, Chiefs 17
Houston at Jacksonville
Texans coach Bill O’Brien is 4-0 against the Jags, and as mediocre as Brock Osweiler has been as the $18 million-a-year man, he is 2-0 against teams in the division this season. Jacksonville is 2-6, which actually matches the best record Gus Bradley has had at the midway point in any of his four seasons as Jaguars head coach. At this point, he might need a win to keep his job for the rest of the season.
Pick: Texans 27, Jaguars 20
Denver at New Orleans
This might be the most interesting game of the week. The Saints are averaging a league-best 326.4 passing yards and they’re officially a factor if they win this game. The Broncos are allowing a league-low 183.3 passing yards, and if they lose this game, people will start to wonder whether it’s time to change quarterbacks. The Broncos have 28 sacks, second-most in the NFL. The Saints have given up just 12 sacks, which is tied for the fourth-fewest. This is going to be supremely interesting.
Pick: Saints 34, Broncos 24
Los Angeles at New York Jets
The Rams average a league-low 16.3 points, which means the Jets offer a ray of sunshine. See, the Jets have held only one opponent to fewer than 16 points. So there’s hope, Los Angeles. Unless the Rams keep playing Case Keenum. Then, not so much.
Pick: Jets 23, Rams 18
Atlanta at Philadelphia
The Eagles have lost four of five, and the temptation is to say that rookie quarterback Carson Wentz has tailed off. That’s not entirely true, though. While his pair of interceptions last week hurt his team’s chances against the Giants, the Philly defense is what has tailed off. The Eagles allowed just nine points per game during their 3-0 start. They’ve given up 23.6 points over the last five games, and now they have to face the league’s top scoring team in the Falcons. Good night. And good luck.
Pick: Falcons 34, Eagles 26
Chicago at Tampa Bay
The Weekly Eyesore. It’s a new category I’m creating here on our picks. A label that is to be applied to the one game on the schedule that is the least enticing and best explains an overall decline in the league’s ratings. This week, it’s the Bears – who rank No. 31 in scoring at 16.4 points – against the Bucs, who’ve lost five of their last seven games. These two teams have one trait in common: Each fired Lovie Smith. Wait. They have two things in common because each fired Lovie Smith and they’re both worse off for having done so.
Pick: Bucs 17, Bears 15
Green Bay at Tennessee
The Packers are the single toughest team in this league to figure out. They’re 4-4, but three of the four defeats have been by five points or fewer. They’re also playing a wide receiver (Ty Montgomery) at running back right now, but should get better once Eddie Lacy returns. Oh wait. He’s probably not coming back from that ankle injury that required surgery. But that’s only part of the reason for the offensive inconsistency that has seemed to coincide with Mike McCarthy resuming play-calling duties for the Packers.
Pick: Packers 23, Titans 17
Minnesota at Washington
The Vikings allow 15.8 points, fewest in the league. The problem is that they’ve scored an average of 12 points over the past three games, losing them all. And for as mediocre as Washington has been, the Epithets have yet to score fewer than 16 points in any game this season. That’s bad news for the Vikings, who are very much in the midst of a free fall.
Pick: Epithets 24, Vikings 20
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Miami at San Diego
The Dolphins and Chargers are two teams that have picked up the pieces from a 1-4 start to mount a surprisingly credible season. The Dolphins have won three in a row with running back Jay Ajayi becoming a league mainstay while the Chargers have won four of five to try and become relevant again. The winner of this game gets to hold onto a fig leaf of respectability in the AFC playoff chase while the loser will start wondering if it would have been better to tank the year for a better draft pick.
Pick: Chargers 27, Dolphins 24
San Francisco at Arizona
Defense wins championships. It also separates the teams in this game. Arizona is allowing 297 yards of total offense, fewest in the league. San Francisco gives up 428, a league-high. The 49ers are allowing a league-high 32.5 points per game, which is truly remarkable when you consider that San Francisco is one of three teams to have shut out an opponent this season. That was way back in Week 1, though, when the 49ers beat the Rams 28-0. Since then, San Francisco hasn’t held an opponent to fewer than 24 points while losing seven straight.
Pick: Cardinals 45, Niners 20
Dallas at Pittsburgh
Sounds like a Super Bowl matchup, doesn’t it? And no, we’re not talking about this season’s game in Houston, but the pair of Super Bowl meetings these teams have had in their past. And while the Steelers were considered one of the top candidates to reach the Super Bowl before the season started, they’ve lost three in a row and failed to score in the first three quarters last week in Baltimore where Ben Roethlisberger returned from a knee injury. The Cowboys are cruising along so well that not even Tony Romo’s return can derail things. Well, at least not as long as he stays on the bench behind rookie Dak Prescott. That’s what will make this Cowboys’ loss so interesting: the repercussions.
Pick: Steelers 31, Cowboys 27
Seattle at New England
The Seahawks haven’t been this big of an underdog since they went on the road to play San Francisco in Week 6 of 2012, which was Russell Wilson’s rookie year. Since that season, Seattle has lost only two games by more than eight points: a nine-point loss at San Diego in Week 2 of 2014 and a 10-point loss in Green Bay in Week 2 last year. New England is coming off a bye while the Seahawks played on Monday night in a game that went down to the very final minute. Everything adds up to a fairly convincing win for New England, but the Seahawks are the team that will bring more emotion into this game. Not only that, the Seahawks are a team that thrives on their emotion. Will it be enough on the road against the team considered by most to be the best in the league?
Pick: Patriots 34, Seahawks 24
Cincinnati at New York Giants (Monday)
There’s an argument to be made that the Bengals are the single most disappointing team in the league. They’ve won only three games, none against a team that currently has a winning record, and at this rate, they’re not going to get a chance to suffer what is now an annual loss in their first playoff game. Meanwhile, the Giants are quietly 5-3 despite averaging a league-low 68.3 yards rushing.
Pick: Giants 28, Bengals 27