- The Bengals are looking to hand the Steelers their first loss of the season on a short week of prep for Big Ben
- Wow, a 2-0 Week 9 netted us 5.67 units! We’re up to +13.32 on the season
- See below for a breakdown and preview of our Week 10 upset picks
As someone who loves giving up on things, it’s amazing how few times in life I’ve actually quit while I’m ahead. That’s what made writing this week’s upset picks such a struggle. On the one hand, it’s a lot of fun to come with new ways to extoll the virtues of mediocre teams like the Carolina Panthers. On the other hand, look at all that money we’ve made. Is it maybe time to walk away from the table?
After looking at the NFL’s Week 10 odds, the answer to that question is an emphatic, no! Here’s two more underdogs I love to pull off the upset and keep our good times rolling.
NFL Week 10 Upset Picks
|Cincinnati Bengals vs Pittsburgh Steelers||PIT – 7||+265||Bengals||1.5|
|Houston Texans vs Cleveland Browns||CLE -4||+190||Texans||1.5|
Odds taken Nov. 14 from DraftKings and FanDuel
Steelers Due for a Setback
After a scare from the undermanned Cowboys, the Steelers ran their record to 8-0. That officially kicked off discussions of whether Pittsburgh will go 16-0. And while many will look at their upcoming schedule and see guaranteed wins until Thanksgiving, Steelers fans know that this is the most dangerous stretch of the year.
Mike Tomlin’s bunch have made a habit of losing games they shouldn’t over the last decade, making this weekend’s seven-point underdog Bengals a sneaky good play.
Friendly reminder that the Steelers are generally hot garbage when they’re big favorites (especially on the road)
— Rob Joyce (@r_joyce34) November 8, 2020
Since 2017, Pittsburgh is 5-10 ATS when favored by seven or more, with four straight up losses in that mix. That should make yellow and gold backers nervous, even before you consider that the Bengals aren’t just any bad team: they’re one of the best bets of 2020.
— John Ewing (@johnewing) November 10, 2020
Joey Covers is 6-2 against the number and makes Cincinnati actually fun to watch for the first time in… maybe ever? Perhaps his greatest trait is his ability to survive the huge hits he takes behind this bad Bengals offensive line. So while the Steelers are sure to get a few licks in, Burrow will keep getting up.
Patrick Queen never got to hit Joe Burrow in college.
Fast forward to 2020… pic.twitter.com/4rMBtNqrGe
— Shea Dixon (@Sheadixon) October 11, 2020
The numbers say that this should be a walkover: Pittsburgh is fourth in total DVOA while Cincy is a tick off the bottom at 31st. But I don’t care! The Steelers had a difficult time putting away the Cowboys, Eagles and Broncos, who rank 27th, 28th and 29th in DVOA respectively.
THE DALLAS COWBOYS HELD A BIG LEAD AND THEN THE NFL KEPT FINDING POINTS FOR THE STEELERS AND THEY STOLE THE GAME. #StopTheSteal pic.twitter.com/IVOTOcUUUS
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) November 9, 2020
Throw in the fact that COVID contact tracing kept Big Roethlisberger from practicing all week, and you’ve got to feel better about the Bengals chance at the upset.
No team embodies “playing to the level of your opponent” more than this era’s Steelers. So much so that in the event Cincy doesn’t get it done this weekend, I’ll be doubling down on the Jaguars to upset them next week. (Possible spoiler-alert for Week 11’s column!)
Texans Tackle Browns
It’s a Romeo Crennel revenge game! Granted, the last coach to oversee a winning season for the Cleveland Browns was fired 12 years ago, so he’s probably over it by now. But that should stand as a reminder of the historical baggage this year’s Browns are looking to overcome.
Sitting at 5-3 with five remaining games against teams with a losing record, Cleveland looks poised to end an 18-year playoff drought. But because this is the Browns, you still have to be nervous about their chances every week, even as four-point favorites over the hapless Texans.
Up next: The Houston Texans pic.twitter.com/1ttTbIty7Y
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) November 14, 2020
Part of the reason for Browns fans to be apprehensive is that they have no idea what version of their offense will show up on a given day. In their last four games they’ve scored 32, 7, 37 and 6 points respectively. Meanwhile, their defense consistently allows opponents to move the ball, giving up almost 30 points a game.
In case you haven’t paid attention to Houston after their dreadful start, you might not have noticed that Deshaun Watson is having the best season of his career.
Deshaun Watson: only QB in the NFL with zero passing game grades under 60 this season. pic.twitter.com/JGe2sct884
— PFF (@PFF) November 13, 2020
Watson will be by far the greatest offensive player on the field, even with Nick Chubb returning to help elevate the Browns run game. The Texans should be able to score often on this bad Cleveland defense, and I don’t anticipate Kevin Stefanski’s rush-heavy offense to keep pace.
Also, I know I said to throw out DVOA in the previous section, but now it helps my case, so I’m going to bring it up. The Texans are 18th overall in total DVOA, while the Browns 23rd. Yeah, it’s not a huge separation, but it’s funny all the same.