NFL Week 10 Preview
Wholesale quarterback changes are on the docket for Week 10 of the NFL season. Rex Grossman is definitely in; Byron Leftwich and Daunte Culpepper might be joining him. But the most bizarre situation is in Cleveland, where it’s as plain as day that coach Romeo Crennel is not calling the shots. The Browns will start Brady Quinn on Thursday, and that’s where we start our preview of the week’s three most important matchups (for current lines, visit Bodoglife.com).
Denver at Cleveland
Cleveland Browns Stadium, Cleveland
Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET, NFL Network
15% chance of rain, 55 degrees, light winds
Denver: 4-4 SU, 1-6-1 ATS, Over 4-3-1
Cleveland: 3-5 SU, 5-3 ATS, Under 5-3
Handicappers have been fading the Broncos all year with great success. Denver’s offense is outstanding when everything works; however, QB Jay Cutler has come back down to earth the past few weeks, throwing five touchdowns and six interceptions in his last three games. The running attack (4.4 yards per carry) has kept Denver on top of the weak AFC West. So has a league-high 17 first-downs via penalty.
We can blame the Broncos’ defense for the team’s miserable ATS record. Denver is No. 29 in the NFL with 6.0 yards allowed per play, and second-last in rush defense at 5.1 yards allowed per carry. Cutler started the season so hot (eight TDs, two INTs) that he masked a lot of Denver’s defensive problems. Those problems have come to roost at 0-6 ATS since Week 2.
The Browns have also been disappointing, but not nearly as much as their 2-5 record would suggest. Coach Crennel has rightly pointed out that QB Derek Anderson (68.9 passer rating) has been the victim of a multitude of dropped passes. Cleveland is getting just 3.6 yards per carry out of RB Jamal Lewis, and the defense is allowing 4.7 yards per attempt on the ground. Putting Quinn behind center (presumably at the behest of GM Phil Savage) will not solve those issues.
Cleveland is a 3-point home favorite at –120. The Browns have the top-rated special teams unit in the NFL (Josh Cribbs has been electric on kick returns), while Denver’s kicking and punting have been below average. That’s a critical difference in a close matchup like Thursday’s.
N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia
Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia
Sunday, 8:15 p.m. ET, NBC
15% chance of rain, 45 degrees, light winds
New York: 7-1 SU, 6-2 ATS, Over 5-3
Philadelphia: 5-3 SU, 6-2 ATS, Under 5-3
The Sunday nighter features the two best teams in the league according to efficiency. Philadelphia is third in the NFL in point differential at +76 and second in Estimated Wins at 6.7. New York is first in both categories at +97 and 7.2. One major factor is in the different SU records: Philadelphia lost 41-37 at Dallas (-6.5) in Week 2, while the Giants (-9.5) creamed the Tony Romo-less Cowboys 35-14 on Sunday.
The underdog has covered in six straight meetings between these NFC East rivals. The Giants are 3-point road dogs in their latest encounter, with the juice set at –125. The special teams units are strong for both New York (Jeff Feagles has had only 11 of 30 punts returned) and Philadelphia (DeSean Jackson is one of the top punt returners in the league). This should be an outstanding football game.
San Francisco at Arizona
University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
San Francisco: 2-6 SU, 2-6 ATS, Over 4-3-1
Arizona: 5-3 SU, 6-2 ATS, Under 5-3
Making the switch to coach Mike Singletary did not give the 49ers the morale boost you’d expect from a Super Bowl hero. Instead, Singletary has underlined the difference between how good his Bears teams were (blue-collar work ethic) and how awful the current 49ers team is (dispassionate, entitled). Dropping trou during his halftime speech against Seattle didn’t seem to get his point across; they lost 34-13 as 5-point home faves to sit at 0-5 SU and ATS since Week 3.
Arizona’s decision to start Kurt Warner over Matt Leinart is paying off in spades – the two-time MVP is having one of the best seasons of his career (16 TDs, six INTs, 104.2 passer rating). Starting Tim Hightower at RB over Edgerrin James is the latest masterstroke in Glendale; Hightower rushed for 109 yards on 22 carries against the Rams (+3) in a 34-13 road victory, the fourth straight cover for the Cardinals. Arizona is a 9.5-point chalk on Monday night.