The NFL is a week-to-week product and coaches have beaten “one game at a time” into the mindframe of every player and viewer.
But take a good look at this week’s schedule. Now take a look at the league schedule over the next couple weeks.
The casual viewer (and bettor) probably hasn’t caught on to how important this week’s games are. Thursday’s AFC West battle between Oakland and the LA Chargers is a “must not lose” contest for both teams. Carolina-Green Bay, Minnesota-Dallas and Seattle-San Francisco could all be playoff previews in the NFC. The Rams and Steelers are both clawing to get back into the playoff mix in their respective leagues.
These head-to-head matchups in Week 10 will shape how the playoff picture shakes out for the rest of the season.
Now, look at next week’s schedule. Using current records, if the playoffs started today, there is only one game between potential playoff teams next week: Baltimore vs. Houston. That’s it.
You really can’t overstate how important this week’s results are for nearly half of the league’s teams. If you’re anticipating that same kind of playoff-level energy this week, you almost have to treat these contests as modified playoff games and not your standard Week 10 regular-season games.
How will coaches handle these spots? Will they play to win, or will they play not to lose?
Dallas -3 vs. Minnesota
If Minnesota and Dallas met in the playoffs in a few weeks, would we see a total of 47.5? I don’t think we would. Yet that’s the number we’re looking at on Sunday night.
Adam Thielen is battling a hamstring injury and without him in the lineup, the Minnesota offense is a different beast. Dallas’ defense held Saquon Barkley to 28 rushing yards on 14 carries on Monday night. That’s a great boost of confidence going into a game against Dalvin Cook and the Vikings’ rushing attack.
Courtesy of The Gold Sheet: Since late 2017, the under is 18-9-2 in Minnesota’s contests.
LA Rams -4 at Pittsburgh
Jared Goff has to face his enemy this week. No, I’m not talking about an aggressive defense that can pressure the quarterback and create turnovers. I’m talking about the thermometer.
The California quarterback has had issues with poor-weather games in the past. Early forecasts are calling for temperatures in the low-40s with rain on Sunday afternoon.
Every Steelers game this season has either been a blowout or a nail-biter. Pittsburgh has been involved in games that were decided by 30, 24, and 13 points. They’ve also been involved in games that were decided by 2, 4, 3 and 2 points. Pittsburgh is 5-1 against the spread since Ben Roethlisberger went down in Week 2.
Baltimore -9.5 at Cincinnati and New Orleans -12.5 vs. Atlanta
Tough to recommend a pregame bet in these two contests, but they might provide good in-game betting opportunities.
The Bengals and Falcons are both coming off a bye week. It’s not easy to take a week off, go on some form of vacation with your family, then go back to putting your body on the line for a team that has no shot at reaching its goals this year.
You should know pretty quickly how these teams will respond after their bye week. Cincinnati hasn’t covered a game at home this season and the Falcons are 0-5 against the spread in their last five road games.
If the Bengals and Falcons show some fight in the first quarter, tip your cap to them and change the channel to a better game. But if they don’t show any willingness to battle, don’t be afraid to jump in with a live bet on the favorites at an increased price.