We’re just past the halfway mark, so it’s time for the biggest surprises from both conferences.
Sure, it’s easy to pick on the Cleveland Browns in the AFC and the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC, but it’s no big revelation that these two teams are winless this season.
In the AFC, the biggest surprise is the 5-3 start of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Year after year, Blake Bortles is among the league leaders in interceptions. This year, No. 5 has thrown for 10 TDs against five picks, which is a huge improvement.
The Jacksonville defense ranks first in fewest points allowed and sacks. This unit is the main reason for the turnaround from 3-13 last year. The Jaguars were 100-1 in the preseason to win the Super Bowl. Now, they are 25-1.
In the NFC, it has to be the play of the Philadelphia Eagles (8-1), although the Los Angeles Rams (6-2) deserve props this year as well.
The Eagles have finished the last two seasons at 7-9. Second-year quarterback Carson Wentz, who leads the league in touchdown passes (23), is the biggest reason why Philadelphia is looking to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2013. The Eagles were 50-1 in preseason to win it all. They’re at 5-1 now.
VGB’s Week 9 record against the spread: 7-3-1
Baltimore, Kansas City, Oakland and Philadelphia are off this week with a bye.
Here are the picks for Week 10 (odds provided by Bovada).
Seattle at Arizona — The Seahawks (5-3) must rebound Thursday night from a disappointing loss at home last weekend. They had better pile up the wins now because December’s schedule will not be easy as Seattle makes a push for the playoffs. They are 2-2 against the spread (ATS) on the road. How are the Cardinals 4-4? They have been outscored by 62 points in eight games and they are just 2-6 ATS.
VGB’s pick — Seattle (-6.5), Over (41.5)
Green Bay at Chicago — The Packers (4-4) scored just three points in the first three quarters of their game last weekend. They scored two touchdowns in the fourth when the contest was out of reach. Green Bay will be lucky to win a few more games this season, that’s how valuable Aaron Rodgers is to this team. The Bears (3-5) are not overwhelming their opponents either, but they have a Top 10 defense.
VGB’s pick — Chicago (-6), Under (38)
Pittsburgh at Indianapolis — The Steelers (6-2) are one of five teams favored by more than a touchdown this week. This is the fifth time Pittsburgh has been favored by seven or more points, and they are 2-2 ATS in those games. They’ve had a week off with the bye, while the Colts (3-6) continue to struggle without Andrew Luck. They are 5-4 ATS and have only been favored once this season.
VGB’s pick — Pittsburgh (-10), Over (44)
Minnesota at Washington — The Redskins (4-4) return home after a huge win in Seattle. They are 3-5 ATS and have only been favored once this year. Now they face one of the best defenses in the league. The Vikings (6-2) have won four straight with Case Keenum enjoying a career year. He’s only passed for seven TDs, but he’s limited his mistakes with just three interceptions. Minnesota is 5-3 ATS.
VGB’s pick — Washington (+1), Over (42.5)
Cleveland at Detroit — For the first time in more than 35 years, the Lions (4-4) did not have to punt the entire game in last week’s rout over the Packers at Lambeau. But here’s the problem: Detroit is 1-3 at home. That record has to improve if the Lions hope to make the playoffs. Cleveland? It’s in the race for the first draft pick again. Heck, the Browns (0-8) can’t even make a trade properly.
VGB’s pick — Cleveland (+12), Under (44)
Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville — The Jaguars (5-3) run the ball well and play great defense. Winners of two in a row, they are also 5-3 ATS. The Chargers (3-5) lost their first four games to start the season, but they have won three of their last four. They are 3-4-1 ATS. But it’s hard to pick against the Jacksonville defense, as they’ve only allowed seven points in their last two games.
VGB’s pick — Jacksonville (-4), Under (41)
Cincinnati at Tennessee — The Titans (5-3) are headed for a showdown with Jacksonville on New Year’s Eve if both AFC South leaders can stay in the race. Here’s an odd stat for the two division leaders: Point differential for Jacksonville (+89), for Tennessee (-12). The Bengals (3-5) are 1-3 on the road, and yet they’ve been favored in five of eight games this season. Cincinnati is 0-3 ATS in its last three games.
VGB’s pick — Tennessee (-5), Over (40.5)
New York Jets at Tampa Bay — There seem to be a lot of bad teams playing each other this week. This game opened as a pick, but the line has slid in favor of the Jets (4-5). The Jets are 6-2-1 ATS and looking to get back to .500 against the Bucs (2-6), who have lost six straight and are now without Jameis Winston (injury) and Mike Evans (suspension). Tampa is 1-6-1 ATS and pretty much done for the year.
VGB’s pick — New York Jets (-2.5), Under (43.5)
New Orleans at Buffalo — The Bills (5-3) are just too inconsistent on the road to call them a good team, but they’re 4-0 at home. This is their biggest test of the year as the Saints (6-2) are making some serious noise in the NFC. Drew Brees and company have won six straight and they’re 3-1 on the road. The Bills are 1-2-1 in the last four ATS. The Saints are 5-1 ATS in their last six.
VGB’s pick — New Orleans (-3), Under (46.5)
Houston at Los Angeles Rams — The Texans’ season went down with rookie Deshaun Watson. Here’s another team that will be lucky to win one or two more games this season. The Texans (3-5), in their first game without Watson, lost at home to the lowly Colts. This road game in L.A. will be even worse. It must be years since the Rams (6-2) were a double-digit favorite.
VGB’s pick — Los Angeles Rams (-12), Over (46)
New York Giants at San Francisco — Will this be the week the 49ers (0-9) finally put one in the win column? This appears to be their best chance for the rest of the season, except maybe when they meet the Texans in Houston. San Fran is 4-5 ATS. The Giants (1-7) have probably been the biggest disappointment this year. They are 3-5 ATS and their defense gives up almost 400 yards a game.
VGB’s pick — New York Giants (-3), Over (42)
Dallas at Atlanta — After starting the season 2-3, the Cowboys (5-3) have won three straight. The Falcons (4-4) are 1-2 in their new stadium. Their wounds from last year’s Super Bowl collapse have obviously not healed. They’ve lost four of their last five, while going 0-5 ATS in those games. If Ezekiel Elliott plays for the Cowboys (a question that’s asked every week), Dallas should have the firepower to win this one.
VGB’s pick — Dallas (+3), Over (50.5)
New England at Denver — What a waste of a great defense. The Broncos (3-5) can’t find any rhythm on offense no matter who they use at quarterback. Now they host the Patriots (6-2), who are coming in off a bye week and should be healthy. The Broncos are 3-5 against the spread but return home after playing three straight on the road. They have lost four in a row.
VGB’s pick — New England (-7.5), Under (46.5)
Miami at Carolina — No doubt the Panthers (6-3) should win this game, but they’re giving a lot of points against the spread. They have won by more than nine points twice this year. The Dolphins (4-4) have been outscored by 63 points this season. Their last time on the road, they were crushed 40-0 in Baltimore. The Panthers’ defense, rated the best in the league, keeps opponents to less than 18 points a game.
VGB’s pick — Carolina (-9), Under (40)