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Kibbles and Picks 2021 - Week 10

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And at the halfway point – ish – of the 2021 season, I find myself … in the lead?

Yep. I’m as surprised as you are.

Now, it’s not like it’s a big lead. I outpicked Stella by just one last week – 8-6 to 7-7 – to inch ahead from our two-week tie. It seems as though I am deriving a bit more benefit from the unpredictability that we’ve seen so far this season. Basically, what I’m saying is that I’ve been lucky.

We’ll see if that luck continues here in Week 10. Stella and I are at odd in six of the week’s contests, which certainly allows for some significant movement in our respective records. I can’t shake the feeling that Stella’s sandbagging a little bit, trying to lull me into a false sense of security before really dropping the hammer.

Anyway – let’s see what we’ve got.

First up is the New Orleans/Tennessee matchup. It’s a gut pick – I recognize that the Saints are in a bit of turmoil and have some questions, with Alvin Kamara dealing with some injury issues. However, this is more an expectation that the Titans are due a regression game; Tennessee is bound to feel the absence of Derrick Henry at some point – I’m betting it’s now. Stella understands my impulse, but thinks it’s ultimately misplaced. She’s of the mind that even without Henry, the Titans offense will be OK – she expects Ryan Tannehill to hit A.J. Brown and/or Julio Jones often enough for reasonable production. She also figures that the Tennessee run defense can handle a less-than-healthy Kamara or whoever else the Saints put in the backfield.

Next, Stella continues to troll me. I’ve got the Patriots winning at home against Cleveland. I’ve liked the slow and steady growth that we’ve seen from Mac Jones as an offensive player; he’s not been spectacular, but he’s playing well enough to win. This bend-don’t-break defense matches up well against the Browns, particularly when Cleveland is dealing with so many injuries on offense. Stella recognizes that the Patriots have looked good in recent weeks, but she expects the Browns to surprise. Yes, the loss of two star backs and the hobbling of QB Baker Mayfield hurts, but Stella expects the other skill players to step up. She also thinks that the Browns defense will be able to get to Jones and force the rookie to make mistakes. Those mistakes will be the difference in what she’s predicting will be a low-scoring affair.

From there, we’re off to the City of Angels, where I have the Chargers defeating the visiting Vikings. I’m still bullish on the Chargers, even with their recent struggles. Justin Herbert is due to bounce back in a big way; I also like L.A. to lean on running back Austin Ekeler both on the ground and through the air. Keenan Allen or Mike Williams will find the end zone (and both might). Stella is going with Minnesota here. She’s counting on a wideout bounceback from both Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen; they’re almost certain to rebound from last week’s poor production. She believes that Kirk Cousins can do what needs doing to make that happen. She does think that the Vikings D might struggle a bit against the Chargers, but expects the Vikings to score enough to pull it out.

Another gut pick here: I’m picking the Eagles to get the win on the road against Denver. While Jalen Hurts has been inconsistent under center, I think he can put up a big game against the Broncos. Expect consistent production with the legs, thanks to the presence of Jordan Howard, and a couple of explosive big plays. That should be enough to outscore the relatively anemic Denver attack. Stella wonders if I saw Denver’s systematic dismantling of the Cowboys last week – a team that is much better than the Eagles. She expects the Broncos D to mark Hurts and limit his capacity to run – Denver’s been solid against the rush – while forcing a turnover or two. She also likes Teddy Bridgewater to pick apart this Eagles secondary, moving the chains with impunity. She’s all Broncos here.

Next, I’ve got Seattle going into Green Bay and knocking off the Packers. Obviously, we don’t yet know if Aaron Rodgers will be available to play, but I’m comfortable with the pick either way. I’ve been waiting for Russell Wilson to get back to it and things are looking good for him to do it this week. D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are going to get theirs against an iffy Green Bay secondary. And I think this Seahawks D can handle Rodgers (and they’ll annihilate Jordan Love). Stella’s much less convinced with regard to the Seattle defense, though she concedes that her pick is far dicier if Love is under center. She’s counting on Aaron Jones to help the Packers right the ship on offense, and she doesn’t think that a returning-from-injury Wilson will have the juice to effectively push the passing attack. Of course, she likes this pick more with Rodgers at QB, but she’s sticking with it either way.

Lastly, we come to the Monday night contest. I’m going with the Rams to take down the 49ers in San Francisco. I’ve liked what I’ve seen from this offense – they’ve been up-and-down, but prolific – and I think that trend will continue against the Niners. The Matthew Stafford-Cooper Kupp connection is top-tier, with plenty of other great skill players touching the ball as well. And of course, there’s always the marauding presence of Aaron Donald on the D-line. I think the Rams win handily. Stella admits that this pick is on the hunchy side, but she’s got a good feeling about the 49ers this week. She thinks that the return to form of George Kittle will go a long way toward opening up that S.F. offense, while she’s counting on the Niners D to keep the Rams in check just enough to win.

And there we have it – half-a-dozen games. Let’s see if I can extend my lead. Or perhaps this week marks the beginning of Stella’s inexorable march to victory. Either way, we’re going to have some fun.

(winners in caps)

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ALLEN’S PICKS

Thursday, Nov. 11

BALTIMORE at Miami

Sunday, Nov. 14

Atlanta at DALLAS

NEW ORLEANS at Tennessee

Jacksonville at INDIANAPOLIS

Cleveland at NEW ENGLAND

BUFFALO at NY Jets

Detroit at PITTSBURGH

TAMPA BAY at Washington

Carolina at ARIZONA

Minnesota at LA CHARGERS

PHILADELPHIA at Denver

SEATTLE at Green Bay

KANSAS CITY at Las Vegas

Monday, Nov. 15

LA RAMS at San Francisco

Week 9 record: 8-6

Season record: 84-52

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STELLA’S PICKS

Thursday, Nov. 11

BALTIMORE at Miami

Sunday, Nov. 14

Atlanta at DALLAS

New Orleans at TENNESSEE

Jacksonville at INDIANAPOLIS

CLEVELAND at New England

BUFFALO at NY Jets

Detroit at PITTSBURGH

TAMPA BAY at Washington

Carolina at ARIZONA

MINNESOTA at LA Chargers

Philadelphia at DENVER

Seattle at GREEN BAY

KANSAS CITY at Las Vegas

Monday, Nov. 15

LA Rams at SAN FRANCISCO

Week 9 record: 7-7

Season record: 83-53

Last modified on Thursday, 11 November 2021 08:42

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