We're halfway through the NFL season and everything is exactly as we thought it would be at the midway point: the Green Bay Packers are 3-6, Jeff Saturday is the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, and Geno Smith has the sixth-shortest odds for MVP. We're officially living in a (Madden) simulation. That won't be any consolation to the 13.8% of survivor pool entries that glitched out in Week 9.
Will the code that governs us be unkind in a Week 10 where the two most popular picks represent 73.8% of entries?
Before we plug in for this week's selections, let's take a look at the pills we chose last week:
Week 9 picks
Best Bets: 2-1 (YTD: 9-8)
Leans: 1-0 (YTD: 11-2)
Traps to avoid: 0 eliminations avoided (YTD: 12)
On to the Week 10 picks!
Dallas Cowboys (-5) at Green Bay Packers
The mystique of Lambeau Field and Aaron Rodgers is fading away like a canceled D-list celebrity. Rodgers and company cobbled just nine points against an awful Lions defense in Week 9. Any Wisconsin pizza joint that ran a "If the Packers don't score in the first 39 minutes of the game, your pizza's free" promotion is filing for bankruptcy right now. Green Bay's offense is broken, and they don't have the tools to fix it. Their offensive line has more question marks than Matthew Lesko's suits, the receiving corps is a bottom-tier unit, and Rodgers' weekly miscues have torpedoed him all the way down to 27th in QBR. Four weeks after losing to the visiting Jets by three scores, they'll return to Lambeau, hoping they can end their five-game skid.
Former Packers coach Mike McCarthy is 11-4 coming off a bye in his coaching career, and 2-0 with the Cowboys. Dallas allows the second-fewest points per drive, while Green Bay scores the fifth-fewest. Dan Quinn's defense has been exceptional this year, leading the NFL in QB pressures per dropback (30.5%). When you've been flummoxed by the Giants' and Lions' defenses, the Cowboys aren't the team you want to face. Dallas runs all over a Packers defense ranked 29th in rushing EPA, discount double-clamps Rodgers, and hands Matt LaFleur his sixth consecutive loss.
Only 2.56% of entries are on the Cowboys, making them the ninth-most popular pick this week. Their future value lies in home games versus the Colts and Texans.
Las Vegas Raiders (-6) vs. Indianapolis Colts
This is the beginning of the end for Indy, as Colts owner and Raquel Welch-admirer Jim Irsay attempts to clear up an organizational trainwreck by crashing more trains into it. Shortly after firing head coach Frank Reich, Irsay named Jeff Saturday interim head coach. Saturday has never coached at the college or professional level, and holds a record of 20-16 as a high school football coach. His offensive play-caller for Sunday's contest will be assistant quarterbacks coach Parks Frazier, who's never served in a play-calling role. The pair won't be able to save a Colts offense that's second-worst in EPA per play and has allowed a league-high 35 sacks. Josh Jacobs and Derek Carr will get the job done against an Indianapolis defense that ranks 26th in success rate.
The Raiders are the seventh-most popular pick this week, at 3.36%. This is likely the last week this year you'll be able to use them.
Philadelphia Eagles (-11) vs. Washington Commanders
Philadelphia is on the verge of claiming squatters' rights in this weekly column. They rank first in overall DVOA, third in points scored per drive, and fourth in points allowed per drive. This 8-0 team is pretty good! The Commanders defense has gradually improved throughout the season and they're fairly stout against the run, but the Eagles are as dangerous through the air (third in EPA per dropback) as they are on the ground (first in rushing EPA). Nick Sirianni remains masterful at game-planning and making adjustments, so you can count on a Philly squad with three days' extra rest taking advantage of all opportunities afforded to them by Washington. Philadelphia's defense leads the league in success rate and EPA per dropback, which means Taylor Heinicke's aggressiveness will not stand, man.
Just 4.16% of entries are taking the Eagles, who are this week's fourth-most popular pick. They still hold tremendous future value.
TRAPS TO AVOID
New York Giants (-5) vs. Houston Texans
There are four teams playing this week who are bigger favorites than the Giants, yet an absurd 41.77% of entries are locking New York in. The game theory gods are having a conniption fit right now. Implied odds say there's a 31% chance the Giants lose this game. That's a 31% chance that nearly half of your pool gets knocked out on this one game. You shouldn't really be taking any team this highly-owned, even if they're a three-score favorite. You absolutely shouldn't be taking a highly-owned five-point favorite. New York allows the second-most yards per carry, setting up for another monster Dameon Pierce performance.
Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Kansas City's weakness on defense plays directly into Jacksonville's strength on offense — the run game. Travis Etienne Jr. finds himself in a great spot to make it four consecutive outings with at least 109 rushing yards. Trevor Lawrence isn't afraid to sling the ball and has the tools to torch a Chiefs secondary ranked 19th in EPA per dropback.
The Chiefs are the second-most popular pick this week, at 32.03%.
Tennessee Titans (-2.5) vs. Denver Broncos
Ryan Tannehill is in danger of missing a third straight game with an ankle injury. Tennessee threw for a combined 97 passing yards in Malik Willis' two starts. Denver's defense leads in the NFL in EPA per play and allows the fewest points per drive.
Just over 3% of entries are on the Titans, who are the sixth-most popular pick.
Stats provided by Pro Football Reference, teamrankings.com, Football Outsiders, ESPN, and rbsdm.com (garbage time removed).