Week 10 picks

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Week 10 picks

Dolphins at Lions – under 43.5

A major misconception about the Lions is that they are an “over” team. Indeed, their recent history and the presence of weapons like Calvin Johnson, Joique Bell and Reggie Bush have only served to underscore that notion. And with all three expected to be in the lineup for the first time in over a month, this total indicates some points will be scored. A closer look, however, reveals that the Lions have morphed into a defense-first team in all respects. Not only are they 6-2 to the under this season, but they boast the best (or close to the best) defense in the league by pretty much every relevant metric: scoring defense (15.8 points per game, first), total yards per game (290.4, first), yards per play (4.8, third), yards per rush (3.3, second) and yards per completion (9.9, tied for third) while ranking No. 1 in total DVOA. Moreover, if they were to ever meet their match, it’s against this Dolphins team, which is No. 2 in total DVOA, No. 1 in yards per completion (9.6) and No. 3 in average points allowed (18.9). Miami has downright throttled teams during its three-game winning streak, holding the Bears, Jaguars and Chargers to a combined 27 points, capped by last Sunday’s blanking of the Bolts. This is shaping up as a contest in which the first team to 17 may come away with the win.

49ers (+5.5) at Saints

After the Seahawks, there’s no team that’s proven to be a tougher matchup for the Saints over the last few years than San Francisco. Since 2010, the Saints are 1-3 vs. Seattle, with the home team winning every game (including a pair of playoff showdowns). In that same time period, the Saints are 2-2 against the Niners, the caveat being San Francisco has found a way to impose its will in the Superdome, prevailing in 2012 (31-21) before losing a fourth-quarter lead en route to a 23-20 defeat last year that was aided by a key personal foul call that negated what would have likely been a game-sealing strip-sack of Drew Brees and ensuing fumble recovery. Despite the reversal, that play was a microcosm of the problems the San Fran defense has caused the Saints, who turned the ball over a combined five times in those two games (including three Brees interceptions) while averaging just 5.05 yards per play and 22 points – far cries from the gaudy numbers they’re accustomed to putting up in the Superdome. While these teams currently appear to be trending in opposite directions – the 49ers have dropped two straight, while the Saints have won two in a row – this is both a gut-check game for the Niners after their embarrassing home loss to the Rams last week, as well as a revenge game given what transpired last time these teams met. Between those situational elements and the general success the Niners have had in New Orleans, getting this many points presents solid value.

Ravens (-9.5) vs. Titans

A big number to lay, but also a good spot for the Ravens, who are coming off consecutive division losses capped by a 20-point shellacking at the hands of the Steelers in primetime. Bettors can expect an angry Ravens team in this one, and there aren’t many more favorable opponents in that scenario than the Titans, who have lost six of their last seven. Tennessee is also no stranger to lopsided scores, as four of its defeats have come by at least 14 points. Baltimore, conversely, has racked up margins of victory of 20, 28, 31 and 22 in four of its five wins. Currently occupying the basement of a fiercely competitive AFC North and heading into their bye, the Ravens know they have to handle their business before gearing up for the stretch run.

Last week: 1-2
Overall: 9-17-2

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