Sports gambling column: Week 10

Week 10 of the NFL season wasn’t the best, at least entertainment-wise. Except for Sunday’s contest between the Seahawks and Rams, most of the games that were supposed to be marquee matchups fell short. What fans got instead was a little bit of clarity concerning the league’s playoff contenders. For me, I learned something about each of the four teams I bet on this season, and everything I learned scared me a little bit.

1: The Patriots aren’t a top-three contender in the AFC

If I told everyone who is going to read this column that the final score of the Patriots-Titans game was 34-10, how many of you would have thought the Patriots had won the game? All seven of you? You would all be wrong, but I would have thought the same thing. This was the type of game that a disciplined team like the Patriots almost always win, but I’m beginning to believe that the Patriots team this year isn’t like the Patriots of old. It may be because they just don’t have the talent anymore, or just that this was a bad matchup for them, but it’s concerning that this is the second time that head coach Bill Belichick has been outcoached by a former assistant. The Patriots’ offense sputtered in this game, and if that happens in the playoffs, even before a potential Super Bowl, they are doomed against high-octane offenses like the ones of the Chiefs, Steelers and Chargers, three AFC teams that look better than the Patriots right now. Quarterback Tom Brady looked like a man in his 40s for one of the only times in his career, completing only 21 out of 41 passes in this game. The fact that the Patriots couldn’t establish a run game didn’t help, even though rookie running back Sony Michel returned from injury in this game. The Patriots defense was fooled by the Titans’ play-action offense, which is not a characteristic of a typical Belichick defense. However, there is hope for the Patriots, because they beat the Titans 35-7 in the playoffs last year and oh yeah, they’re the freaking Patriots.

2: The Rams’ defense is just as suspect as we thought

In recent weeks, the Rams’ defense has been the center of coverage surrounding the team. Despite all the talent on defense, the Rams make too many mistakes on that side of the ball, and it almost cost them a win on Sunday. The Seahawks, who have improved on offense but aren’t great, put up 31 points on the Rams both times they’ve played this year. Despite the Rams having two of the best interior defensive linemen in the league in Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh, the Seahawks were able to rack up 273 rushing yards in this game, and that was without Chris Carson, the usual starter at running back. Even though the Rams were able to cause a turnover that they turned into seven points, it was disconcerting to me that this game was as close as it was. Unlike the Saints, the other top-tier contender in the NFC, the Rams aren’t blowing out teams that aren’t awful, which is weird coming from a team that typically holds nothing back. We’ll find out what the Rams defense is made of when they face the Chiefs on Monday night.

3: The Chiefs might not be able to afford to take a game off

The Chiefs beat the Cardinals 26-14 on Sunday, but I doubt anyone in the Chiefs organization felt good about the result. They didn’t really win convincingly against the Cardinals, you know, the same team that lost to the Broncos 45-10 earlier in the season. Cardinals running back David Johnson played his best game I can remember in this one, and the Cardinals had a chance to win it in the fourth. This may just have been the Chiefs being focused on next week’s matchup with the Rams, but their run defense really struggled in this game. The Chiefs have a somewhat easy remaining schedule, with two games against the lowly Raiders, but they will have to work hard if they want to win the AFC West.

4: The Bengals aren’t winning the AFC North

I probably should’ve realized this already, but I was still holding out some hope before the Bengals’ horrendous home loss to the Saints last week. The Bengals are now 5-4 and have an 11 percent chance to win the AFC North according to FiveThirtyEight. While I certainly didn’t expect them to beat the Saints, I thought they would put up more of a fight. This season, the Bengals have been ravaged by injuries to two of their top offensive weapons, A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert, but there is no way of predicting injuries, so I made the bet on them to win the division. The Bengals’ loss was made even worse by the Steelers’ 52-21 of a good Panthers team on Thursday Night Football, and while sometimes games played on Thursdays are outliers, the Steelers’ offense is really hitting its stride and doesn’t mind the news that running back Le’Veon Bell will not be returning this season. Next, the Bengals have a borderline must-win game against the Ravens.

As for gambling advice for this upcoming week, I would take the Vikings’ +125 money line to beat the Bears on Sunday Night Football. The Bears haven’t beat a team with a .500 record or better all year, and even though they’re at home for this game, I have no idea why they’re favored. The Vikings will be well-rested coming off a BYE week, and they should win this game. I’m gonna put $10 on the Vikings, too.


Money spent to date: $80

Winnings to date: $0