TALLAHASSEE, November 12, 2015 — The NFL 2015 season has now reached the midpoint. Rather than give each team a letter grade that will be meaningless by February, it is better to focus on some overall developing trends.
Despite complaints about parity, this is the year where there has been wide divergence between the great teams and the also rans. In the AFC, three of the four division races are pretty much over. For the first time in league history, three teams are 8-0. The New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals and Carolina Panthers are all unbeaten. In 1990, the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers both got to 10-0 before losing in Week 11 and facing each other in an epic Week 12 Monday Night Football matchup and an even more thrilling NFC Title Game.
In addition to the three 8-0 teams, the Denver Broncos are 7-1, having only lost last week. The Green Packers began 6-0 but have lost two straight. However, those losses were to Denver and Carolina. Despite two losses, the Arizona Cardinals have an offense that can score at will.
While injuries take place every year, this year it seems more superstars are going down, especially at the quarterback position. Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, and Tony Romo are all out for several weeks.
The game is not too big for the new young guns. Quarterbacks used to be given a clipboard. Now they are often thrown in the mix right away. Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr have their teams moving in the right direction. Blake Bortles has little help, but he is playing well enough. Jameis Winston has shown plenty of promise and Marcus Mariota is for real.
The new extra point rule is clearly working. By moving the ball from the one to the fifteen yard line, 33-yard extra points are being missed.
The NFL, as Jerry Glanville reminds us, still stands for “Not For Long.” Miami and Tennessee fired their coaches before the halfway mark, while Detroit fired its team president and general manager. This was after Detroit fired some assistant coaches. Indianapolis let their offensive coordinator go. Five-year plans that became three-year plans are now turning into 1.5 year plans. This can be lamented, but it is what it is.
The only constant is that the game itself is as strong as ever. Fantastic finishes and shocking upsets happen every week. For those who love football, this is what matters most.
With that, here is the NFL 2015 Week 10 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with all times Eastern and point spreads provided by FootballLocks.com
Thursday, November 12, 2015, 8:30 p.m.
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets (-2.5) — Rex Ryan badly wants to win this one, but so does the entire Jets organization from Woody Johnson on down. Both teams have better defenses than offenses, and the home field will provide the difference. Jets cover.
Sunday, November 15
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers (-11.5) — The Packers have lost two straight after 6-0 start, but those were both against other unbeaten teams and the Packers were on the road. Now they are at home against a Lions team that has just blown up its front office. Martha Ford can demand improvement, but she will not get it this week. The Packers are struggling on offense but if ever there was a week for them to get out all of their frustrations, this is it. Packers cover.
Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1.5) — The Cowboys cannot win without Tony Romo. The Buccaneers are finally starting to improve. Jameis Winston has shown an ability to lead. This is the week to give the Bucs a chance at home. Buccaneers cover.
Carolina Panthers (-5.5) at Tennessee Titans — Yes, the Panthers are 8-0, but they have barely survived against far weaker teams the last couple weeks. Yes, The Titans are a bad team, but Marcus Mariota is for real. This could be the upset of the year so far. Upset special, Titans win outright.
Chicago Bears at St. Louis Rams (-7.5) — The Rams have a defense, but they lack the firepower on offense to justify such a high spread. Jay Cutler is playing much better than last year. He led a stirring comeback on the road last week. Rams win but fail to cover.
New Orleans Saints (-1) at Washington Redskins — The Saints are underachieving but the Redskins do not inspire confidence at all. Drew Brees has been torching defenses, and the Redskins do not have a good defense. Saints cover.
Miami Dolphins at Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5) — The early glow over Miami’s coaching change has faded. Meanwhile, the Eagles are wildly inconsistent. The spread is too high, even though Miami lost on the road by 16 last week. Eagles win but fail to cover.
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers (-4.5) — Ben Roethlisberger is out injured for a few weeks. Landry Jones was the hero last week. Meanwhile, Johnny Manziel gets another chance to show what he can do. Cleveland tends to play Pittsburgh tough, and Pittsburgh is wounded. Steelers win but fail to cover.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Baltimore Ravens (-5.5) — Blake Bortles has been playing well enough to keep Jacksonville within striking distance of bad teams. Baltimore is a bad team. Ravens win but fail to cover.
Minnesota Vikings at Oakland Raiders (-3) — Both teams are vastly improved over last year. Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr are the future of the league. The Raiders have an awful pass defense, but Bridgewater has not stretched the field like Carr has. When everything appears equal, go with the home field advantage. Raiders cover.
New England Patriots (-7) at New York Giants — Tom Brady and Bill Bellichick have dominated everybody over the last 15 years except for Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning. The Patriots always seem to be the better team, but the Giants have a tendency to play to the level of their competition. Patriots win but fail to cover.
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos (-6.5) — The Broncos loss last week to get knocked from the unbeaten ranks should not lead to an overreaction. The Chiefs are a mess. Without a running game, they do not have the talent to make this a close game. Broncos cover.
Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks (-3) — The Cardinals are the better team but Seattle will be desperate at home. Arizona’s offense is as good as it gets, and the Legion of Boom is not what it was. Arizona beat the best Seattle team in Seattle, but Seattle fighting for its survival is dangerous. Seahawks cover.
Monday, November 16, 2015, 8:30 p.m.
Houston Texans at Cincinnati Bengals (-10.5) — Sometimes a bad team goes on the road and shocks a good team. This is not that game. The Bengals could have this blowout completed by halftime. The undefeated Bengals have an explosive offense and the Texans have J.J. Watt and little else. Bengals cover.