In the timeless words of Crash Davis, a player on a streak has to respect the streak. While baseball - not to mention a little love interest in Susan Sarandon - inspired his wisdom, it applies beyond the diamond as well. In this case, it takes us to Week 10 on the gridiron.
Over the last three weeks, "Pigskin A Blanket" picks have gone 8-1, including two posts that went a perfect 3-0. Continuing to win at that rate is simply unsustainable, as a long-term success rate of 55 percent would be worthy of a wiseguy card. So, much like placing bigger plays in order to dig out of a hole is a good way to end up buried, this is the time to make sure confidence remains just that and nothing more.
Even with expectations in check, few things feel better than a hot stretch. This week's mission is to keep the streak going strong. After all, as Crash said, they don't happen very often.
Washington +2 vs. New Orleans
Picking against a two-point spread essentially entails choosing the winner, and in this one it looks as if the wrong team is favored. With money trickling in on the home underdog at publishing time, the market may have this corrected come kickoff, although even a far-fetched flip from +2 to -2 wouldn't suck all the value out of Washington.
It takes some straining to buy into the Saints as a road favorite against anyone in the NFL. Their defensive issues were documented last week, and their home loss to the Titans did nothing to quell the concern on that side of the ball. New Orleans historically is also a different team away from the Superdome, a trend furthered by the Saints' 1-3 road record thus far in 2015.
Washington also brings a significant home/away split to the table, with all three of its wins having come at home. A couple of those seem particularly impressive looking back now, having taken place over solid competition in the Rams and Eagles. Against a New Orleans defense allowing the most yards per play in the league, Washington should continue to see success at FedEx Field on Sunday. The matchup is favorable to establish the ground game early and open up the passing attack shortly thereafter. With DeSean Jackson working his way back from injury and providing a viable deep threat, the setting is ripe to see what kind of moves Washington has upon reaching the end zone.
Teaser: St. Louis -1 vs. Chicago, New England -1.5 at New York Giants
Todd Gurley is a one-man wrecking ball for the Rams. The Bears can't stop the run. In trying to do so, they'll probably open up the passing game enough for Nick Foles to play uncharacteristically well.
St. Louis' defense, stout to begin with, takes it to another level at home. Chicago's top weapons on offense, Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery, will either be sidelined or playing at less than full strength. The Bears are also on a short week entering their second straight road game and fourth out of five away from Soldier Field. An outright win for the Rams is most likely in order and most likely gets the cover.
Similarly, a Patriots win means a cover in all probability. For a couple key reasons, teasing them this week is far more tolerable than laying a touchdown on the road. First, the loss of Dion Lewis is a bigger factor than many are projecting, his unique skill set within the offense not replaceable with the personnel on hand. Second, the Giants have quite a history against New England and won't be intimidated the way most teams are when taking on the vaunted duo of Brady and Belichick. That said, New York's Super Bowl 42 and 46 wins relied on pass rushes far superior to what they currently have, in addition to two of the more miraculous passing plays in memory. If the G-Men can again get to Brady consistently and make a clutch magical play through the air then they'll deserve a win. Odds are, however, that we'll see New England take a step toward conquering its kryptonite.
Pick of the Week: Tennessee +7 vs. Carolina
While Titans +7 was a shocking find, Tennessee still holds a little value in the widely available range of +4.5. First and foremost, it's a great spot for the Titans, as they draw a pack of Panthers up against a rare element of vulnerability: Road teams favored over non-divisional opponents after three consecutive home games have covered just 16 of their last 50 against the spread. This may sound convoluted, but the logic adds up, with a disruption to the routine of playing at home and the unfamiliarity of a rarely seen opponent and venue thrown in for good measure.
Location aside, Carolina is also in a letdown spot. They'd be at no fault for running on fumes after sweeping a grueling four-week stretch that featured a last-minute win in Seattle, back-to-back max-effort primetime games including a prolonged overtime against the Colts, and a furious second-half rally by the Packers that forced the defense to dig deep down to the wire. Sitting pretty at 8-0 and with a relatively less meaningful matchup on tap given the non-conference opponent, the stage is set for the Panthers to exhale enough to keep this one close.
Tennessee will aim not only to keep it close but to win outright, and they'll do so with a surprising sense of legitimacy considering where they were two weeks ago. The Titans looked rejuvenated under new coach Mike Mularkey last Sunday, and the news of Andrew Luck's extended absence has blown the AFC South wide open, further fueling their faith in a potential playoff run.
Hanging heads have suddenly become high fives and helmet slaps in Tennessee, where compared to Carolina, the energy level is trending in the opposite direction.
Week 10 Record: 1-2
Picks of the Week: 6-2