This trip to Jacksonville does not come at a good time for the San Francisco 49ers.
The 49ers were undisputedly the best team in the NFL through five weeks. Then it suddenly changed. They lost three in a row. The Seahawks jumped them in the NFC West standings. They’re reeling a bit.
Now they face the team with the longest winning streak in the NFL.
The Jaguars’ season has been the opposite of the 49ers. They started very slow, and through three weeks it looked like they might be one of the NFL’s bigger disappointments. They haven’t lost since. A two-game trip to London was huge for the Jaguars’ season, and they’ve kept the momentum going once they got back to the United States. They’ve won five in a row while everyone else in the NFL seems to struggle to win two straight.
The 49ers could have used a game against the Cardinals or Rams to get back on track. Not a trip all the way across the country for an early start against a very good Jaguars team that is also off a bye and still feeling quite good about itself.
The betting market hasn’t changed its opinion much on the 49ers. San Francisco is a 3-point road favorite at BetMGM. That’s either not a lot of respect for a good Jaguars team or a ton of respect for the 49ers, depending on how you look at it.
If the Jaguars win on Sunday, we’ll have to start wondering if they’re Super Bowl contenders. With a win they’d move to 7-2 and they play in the least competitive division in the AFC. Their chances of getting a No. 1 seed would increase greatly. They’d also validate everything they’ve done. The offense is capable of being one of the 10 best in the NFL and the defense is already No. 3 in DVOA. Beat the 49ers, and we’ll spend next week talking about how the Jaguars are this year’s surprise contender.
I’m not there with them yet. I’m going to take the 49ers -3. I don’t think a team as good as San Francisco is losing four in a row. If they do lose their fourth straight, the Jaguars aren’t the only team we’ll be talking about next week.
Here are the picks against the spread for Week 10 of the NFL season, with odds from BetMGM:
Panthers (+3.5) over Bears
The less said about this game, the better. Though there is the breakdown of it in The Daily Sweat, if you’ll watch any NFL prime-time matchup no matter how bad it is.
Colts (-1.5) over Patriots
It’s a Germany game and that can get wonky. It’s impossible to tell how the travel will affect this game but it’s pretty obvious the Colts are the better team, even though they’re flawed too.
Bengals (-7) over Texans
The Bengals are starting to get hot and it’s troubling to see Houston have 23 players on the injury report. I’m all in on the C.J. Stroud story. He’s the best thing the NFL has going this season. But this seems like a down spot for a young team coming off a highly emotional win.
Saints (-2.5) over Vikings
The Joshua Dobbs story last week was great. But let’s not go too crazy. It’s a team using a quarterback who has been around a week-and-a-half, and had just been benched by the terrible Cardinals. Justin Jefferson also seems unlikely to play, though he has returned to practice from a hamstring injury. The Saints are untrustworthy, but buying the Vikings seems like an overreaction to a cool story.
Steelers (-3) over Packers
At some point, the Steelers will regress. They somehow have a winning record despite being outgained in every single game this season. But it’s really hard to trust Jordan Love against a defense that can rush the quarterback like Pittsburgh can.
Titans (+1) over Buccaneers
It’s unexpected, but the Titans are a much better team with rookie Will Levis at quarterback. They’re smart to stick with him the rest of the season over Ryan Tannehill. The Buccaneers are fading and coming off a rough loss at Houston. It seems like Tennessee has a little more momentum.
Browns (+6) over Ravens
The Ravens are a really good team, but the Browns are a familiar opponent (Lamar Jackson‘s ridiculous record against the NFC isn’t just an odd coincidence, and it’s telling the Ravens’ two eye-opening blowouts this season have come against NFC teams) and they have the defense to keep this interesting. If the Ravens blow out Cleveland, their claim as the best team in the NFL will be pretty solid.
Falcons (-1.5) over Cardinals
The Cardinals have looked terrible and what can we really expect in Kyler Murray‘s first game back from an ACL tear? If the Falcons lose this one, the heat on Arthur Smith will be too obvious to ignore.
The Lions are better, rested off a bye, and the Chargers just played on Monday night in New York. The schedule/travel advantages aside, the Lions are the far better team and the Chargers have no home-field advantage to make up for it.
Giants (+16.5) over Cowboys
I’ve been doing these picks for a while, and I don’t know how many times I’ve picked a favorite giving 16.5 or more points. It’s not often, though I considered it here. The Giants are drawing absolutely dead.
Seahawks (-6.5) over Commanders
When good teams get embarrassed, I like them to bounce back in their next game. The Seahawks got obliterated by the Ravens last week. The Commanders did win after trading two of their best defensive linemen, but that was against the Patriots. This is a different challenge.
Jets (+1) over Raiders
It’s common to see teams have a great game when they fire their coach or need to rally around a backup quarterback. The question is what happens in the second game? The Raiders were awesome last week, and they obviously wanted to stick it to fired coach Josh McDaniels. I called that out in last week’s picks. And now it’s a team on a letdown from that bounce, with a rookie quarterback against one of the NFL’s best defenses. It’s not fun backing the Jets but I’m doing it again.
Broncos (+7.5) over Bills
Maybe the Broncos are actually going to be decent the rest of the way? They’ve played much better the past three weeks and are coming off a win over the Chiefs. The Bills just look mediocre. Maybe they’re much better than mediocre and we’ll see that, but I’m not laying more than a touchdown with them.
Last week: 7-7
Season to date: 65-68-3