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Misperception in the NFL – Week 10

by: Staff Writer - posted on: 08-Nov-2013

At this point in the year, you have to look at these teams and consider psychology as well as actual roster makeup and trends. For example, the Thursday night game this week, featuring Washington and Minnesota, has the majority of public gamblers heavily backing the road favorite in the Redskins.

The ‘Skins are not a very good team in my mind, and so you look at that factor and perhaps consider a play on the home dog. Still, Minnesota’s season is finished, and they are also coming off a crushing last minute defeat to Dallas. They are playing a quarterback who loves the spotlight. They are also playing against him in a dome, where the Washington team speed could be magnified.

There are countless teams who, seven or eight games into their season, have to know it’s over. Yes, they are still playing for a variety of other factors, but the idea that their season means anything has flown out the window. Keep that in mind when you pick your spots this weekend.

Tennessee Titans

Let me start by saying I have zero intention of backing Jacksonville in any spot. Still, the Titans being 12.5 point favorites versus anyone is a little questionable. Jacksonville’s defense is putrid, but I still see offensive question marks surrounding Tennessee that should make it difficult to cover a nearly two touchdown spread against a divisional opponent coming off a bye.

I like what the Titans are slowly building, but their wins are not impressive. Their best W came against a Charger team that was coming off extensive travel, and I still question their ability to generate offense on defenses like Indy, Arizona and Houston, which makes up half of their remaining schedule.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts have probably the biggest difference maker in football right now and are coming off an enormous come from behind win against the team that has dominated their division for years.

Betting against Andrew Luck is more or less foolish regardless of situation, but I still see some major issues with this team. Their defense is up and down and their secondary, when tested, doesn’t necessarily hold up all that well.

Pieces of their offensive line are problematic, and they lose their second best offensive player in Reggie Wayne, a difference maker who was also a major locker room presence. All of that could spell trouble for the Colts in the coming weeks.

As for their Sunday date with St. Louis, I think the Rams should be able to run the ball effectively against them. That could wear down the clock and enable Jeff Fischer’s team to hang around. That being said, the St. Louis secondary has serious issues and Kellen Clemens on the road is not an alternative I wish to back.

Baltimore Ravens

To say the Baltimore offense is bad would be a huge understatement. Their offensive line, and in particular the left guard and center positions, have not played up to previous year standards. Losing Dennis Pitta and Anquan Boldin has also proved extremely problematic for Joe Flacco.

But looking ahead, the Ravens have a somewhat manageable schedule coming up. Games against Chicago, New York Jets, Pittsburgh and Minnesota all provide them with winnable opportunities.

This group has made the playoffs the last five years. While they lost a lot of key members from 2012’s Super Bowl unit, I still think they have a level of pride which should enable them to finish this season off reasonably well. They sit at 3-5, and I look for them to get back on track starting this weekend against a Bengals team that is probably a bit overvalued right now.

Carolina Panthers

Similar to Tennessee, the Panthers have benefited tremendously from the schedule makers. Their four game win streak comes at the hands of Minnesota, St. Louis, Tampa Bay and Atlanta.

Their upcoming slate goes as follows: @ SF, vs. NE, @ MIA, vs. TB, @ NO, vs. NYJ, vs. NO, @ ATL. I could easily see them losing four of those games, and getting into the playoffs in the NFC at 9-7 won’t be a guarantee.

For the record, I do buy their hype to an extent. Their offense looks unstoppable at times and the play of Ted Ginn has been nothing short of amazing this season. But teams like SF and NE can make them one dimensional because they boast excellent run defense. Cam doesn’t have great history in one score games, and I think he’s going to be involved in a few of them coming up in the next month.

Dallas Cowboys

While it would not surprise me if Dallas lost the division lead to a team like Philly or Washington, I do not expect it to happen. The sideline tirade initiated by Dez Bryant two weeks ago was what I view as a positive thing for this team.

The Cowboys have come up on the short end of things far too often. They need to close the deal on games, and Detroit was a rude awakening for a team that has sufficed to the meltdown trend on many an occasion.

Getting that situation out of the way in week eight is a lot better than if it were to happen in week 17. For those with good memory, they had a late game brain-fart in week 17 a year ago, and it cost them the playoffs.

They have to go to New Orleans this week. Should they lose and the ‘Skins win, they’d be only a game up, but would also own the tie breaker as of now.

The key will be their divisional games, which account for three of their final seven. This could easily be a 10 win team if they grab the W in two of those three matchups. When I look at them on paper, I view their roster as significantly better top to bottom as anyone else in the division. It’s just a matter of closing things out, as usual.