© Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Week 10 saw the NFL's last undefeated team, Philadelphia, fall on Monday Night Football. While the Dolphins, Chiefs, and Titans were able to take advantage of Buffalo's loss to rise in the AFC playoff seedings. There were also surprising victories for Arizona, Carolina, and Detroit against stronger opposition. This week's focus is on teams coming off a bye week refreshed and ready for another tilt at the playoffs.
© Chris Pedota, - USA TODAY Sports
New York Jets @ New England Patriots
Spread: Jets +3, Patriots -3,
Total: Over/Under 38.5
Money line: Jets +140, Patriots -165,
The AFC East is arguably the most interesting division in football right now. Sunday's results had major implications on playoff projections. A loss for the Bills saw them fall to 3rd place as the Dolphins leapfrogged them, and the Jets rose to the top. The Jets remain in second place but must be acutely aware that every game counts. The Dolphins are on a bye week, so a win here would put them on top as they hold the tiebreaker over both divisional rivals.
However, New York will curse the schedule as they face a tricky trip to Foxborough to face old foes. New England's winning hold over them stretched to 13 matches after a close Week 8 victory. The Patriots remain bottom of the AFC East due to early-season struggles. However, they have won 4 of their past five games. It's a case of the sum being more significant than the individual parts, as Rhamondre Stevenson has been solid at running back, and Mac Jones is making fewer mistakes. Hunter Henry is even becoming more involved.
Zach Wilson presents Bill Belichick's defense with an interesting challenge; they picked him off three times in Week 8, although he was able to achieve a season-high 350+ yards, 100 more than any other quarterback they have faced. 2022 No. 10 overall pick wide-receiver Garrett Wilson has been a crucial element of the Jets' offense in recent weeks, averaging 100+ yards against the Patriots and Bills. He's really performed and has been willing to put his body on the line; he will need to do so again here.
In some ways, the uptick in passing yards has been forced by losses on the rushing side of the offense. Breece Hall tore his ACL, forcing GM Joe Douglas to work quickly to bring in James Robinson from Jacksonville. Robinson has not had an immediate impact in his new home; though his workload has increased week-on-week, he's not making the yards per carry he managed early in the season with the Jaguars or finding the end zone as freely.
I expect the Patriots to win this game comfortably yet unspectacularly. The Under feels low here, so back the Patriots and the Over.
© Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Vikings @ Dallas Cowboys
Spread: Vikings +1, Cowboys -1
Total: Over/Under 47.5
Money line: Vikings -110, Cowboys +110
Minnesota travels to Dallas after requiring overtime to get by the Bills last weekend.
Although they look vulnerable at times, the Vikings are 8-1 and on track for a memorable season. They have had to rely on field goals to get a win in their past two games after being behind late in those games. Defensively, they've failed to keep a team to a single touchdown since Week 1 and look vulnerable in the passing game.
Offensively, however, Minnesota is a juggernaut. Justin Jefferson gained almost 200 yards against Buffalo, including one mercurial grab. Dalvin Cook now has six touchdowns and managed a season-high 8.5 yards per carry in a dominant display on the ground. Expect Cook to be featured heavily here against a defense that gives up 140+ rushing yards per game.
Dallas is most likely licking their wounds after a bruising loss to Green Bay. Dak Prescott connected well with Ceedee Lamb. He is living up to his elite billing in 2022, racking up an average 100-yard and an endzone visit in his last three games - an average of 70 yards per game. Dalton Shultz is the other crucial element of the Cowboys' receiving core. However, outside of this pair, options are limited.
The ground game remains key for Dallas; Ezekiel Elliott was inactive for Week 10, with Tony Pollard again stepping up with 22 carries and six pass targets. Pollard has now gone for 80+ yards in 5 of the last seven games, furthering his case to be the starter in Dallas. It will be interesting to see how the workload is split, with Zeke expected to return against Minnesota.
I expect this game to be incredibly close, with small margins of error accounting for victory or defeat. Except for last week's display, the Dallas Cowboys' defense is confident defending against the pass, and this should be the factor that gives them a home win. Either way, back the Over, as both teams should score 25+ points.
© Michael Longo - USA Today Sports
Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Spread: Bengals -5, Steelers +5
Total: Over/Under 41
Money line: Bengals -215, Steelers +185
5-4 Cincinnati returns from a Week 10 bye with a trip to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers Sunday. For some players, that Bye week came at a good time, allowing nose-tackle DJ Reader and corner Mike Hilton additional time to push for a Week 11 return. Joe Mixon is undoubtedly wanting to get back on the field as soon as possible, looking to build upon a Week 9 performance that saw him score five touchdowns and achieve 200+ total yards in a career-high performance. For much of the season to date, the Bengals receivers have carried the offense, averaging 260+ yards per game. Ja'Marr Chase suffered a hip injury in Week 7, and Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd spread the workload in his absence. There is potential for Chase to return here. However, if he does, his snaps will be limited.
The Bengal's offensive line has given up 30 sacks across their first nine games and should expect a challenging day on Sunday. Now that TJ Watt is back, Pittsburgh once again possesses an elite pass rush. It will be his second game since the injury; they are glad to have him back. The Steelers held New Orleans to 4 yards per play in Sunday's victory and have accumulated 12 forced turnovers thus far in 2022.
With rookie QB Kenny Picket at the helm, Pittsburgh's offense showed signs of improvement in Week 10 but is struggling this season. If there is a single reason they are 3-6, it's worth noting that they've yet to score more than two touchdowns in a single game. They have primarily relied on their defense to limit the opposition to a single score. Against the Saints, Pittsburgh altered their approach a bit; Najee Harris rushed for a season-high, Jaylen Warren saw an elevated usage, and quarterback Kenny Pickett started to run more. It wasn't a performance that generated any playoff buzz, they are most assuredly playing for the future at this point, but there was evidence that the young unit is developing a sense of identity.
Considering the above, this will be a close game. I expect the Steelers to achieve a season-high in terms of points scored. However, it probably won't be enough to see the Bengals lose here. As a result, it is sensible to back the Over here.
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