We’re by the halfway pole with this Sunday’s 2023 NFL Week Ten schedule and, as such, we’ve got enough information to be able to make some designations. Who are the real contenders, the ones that we could easily see in the Super Bowl come 2024? Who are those that don’t quite reach that level? And who are those who are pretending, playing to see what draft pick they get next spring?
This has nothing at all to do with gambling, it should be noted. Just because a team is considered a “contender,” that doesn’t mean that a lowly one- or two-win team can’t cover a spread or earn an outright win. While it may hurt their draft potential, all these teams in the NFL have a certain level of professionalism and they bring that every week.
Here’s a breakdown of the REAL “Contenders and Pretenders” for the 2023 NFL Season:
CONTENDERS: Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles
I would have liked to have added a second team from the NFC, but there isn’t another squad that I can see who, needing one win to save Planet Earth, I would put my wholehearted trust in. The Ravens, Chiefs, and Eagles have demonstrated that they have powerful offenses, lockdown defensive sides (the Ravens are only giving up 13.7 points per game), and they are battle-tested. Both the Ravens and the Eagles have some difficult schedules (the Chiefs got the Raiders TWICE), but I think they’re for real.
CONTENDERS?: Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers
Here’s the thing with these teams – they are one major injury, or a three-game losing streak, from being down in the “maybe next year” category. These teams have all shown themselves to be excellent organizations…when things go for them. You can look at every one of these teams’ prior performances and find at least ONE game where they stunk up the joint. It’s tough to get behind one of these teams, especially when discussing the Super Bowl.
MAYBE NEXT YEAR: Washington Commanders, Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets, Houston Texans
All these teams have two things: loads of heart and loads of question marks. You may see the Saints win the NFC South and Cleveland and Cincy both get in through the Wild Card, but they won’t go much further. The others need to get a little retooling and they could be very dangerous come 2024.
PRETENDERS: New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams, Arizona Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers, Las Vegas Raiders, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, New England Patriots
All these teams have major issues that need to be rectified before they can even consider climbing out of their doldrums. Whether it is coaching (could Dark Hoodie retire from the Pats? What about former Super Bowl champion Sean McVay?), players (the Giants and Pack both have severe quarterback concerns), or other matters (the Raiders overall), these teams will not be doing anything but playing out the season – and that makes them dangerous.
We’ve got some picks for you now, and we certainly hope that they work out better than last week’s choices did (let’s just say that the Dolphins pick wasn’t the way to go, considering they haven’t beaten a winning team all season!). As always, all advice is offered for entertainment purposes only, but be ensured that a significant amount of thought has gone into each selection (home team in ALL CAPS).
Houston Texans v. CINCINNATI BENGALS (-6.5)
If you can find this game at its opening -7.5 for the 2023 NFL Week Ten schedule, then snatch that up quickly. Texans QB C. J. Stroud impressed me last week in leading the Houston squad to a come-from-behind win against the Buccaneers. While the Bengals are going to win this game, I think the Texans are going to keep this game extremely close, perhaps a three- or four-point final, which would give the Texans the checkmark with the current spread.
PICK: Texans +6.5
New York Giants v. DALLAS COWBOYS (-17.5)
This is an example of a bet that you make simply because the spread is too large. There are too many components to an NFL contest for one team to crush another by more than two touchdowns. Even though the Giants are going to be going with an unknown quantity at quarterback (seriously, has anyone ever heard of Tommy DeVito?), there’s enough talent to keep the Giants within that massive spread.
PICK: GIANTS +17.5
Detroit Lions v. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (O/U 48.5)
This is going to be an up-and-down-the-field affair. Detroit is looking to reestablish themselves as a force in the NFC, while the Chargers also have hopes of climbing into the playoff picture (they are only two games back of the Chiefs in the AFC West). Goff-to-Brown is going to be something you hear a lot of, as you will Hebert-to-Allen, it will come down to who has the running game to impose their will – do you bet on Chargers RB Austin Eckler or Lions RB David Montgomery? Either way, this is going to be entertaining and will go OVER the suggested line.
PICK: OVER 48.5