Cowboys underdogs, Giants favorites on NFL Week 10 betting lines

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Ben Roethlisberger is suiting up, but whether the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback is healthy enough to have a full game plan against the Dallas Cowboys in a Week 10 matchup remains to be seen.

The Steelers are the slim 2.5-point favorite against the Cowboys, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. While Roethlisberger’s play against Baltimore on Sunday showed he is not 100 percent, the Steelers are 7-2 SU in their last nine games after losing as a favorite. The NFC-leading Cowboys are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 road games against the AFC.

The New England Patriots are the seven-point favorite against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night. New England, which is 4-1 SU and ATS in its last five games as a favorite of 7.0 or less, has had a bye week to develop a run-pass balance to throw at Seattle’s defense. Seattle QB Russell Wilson delivered a win in Week 9 with no running game, but that’s unlikely on the road in New England.

The Atlanta Falcons are in a pick’em betting matchup on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles. Atlanta QB Matt Ryan and WR Julio Jones have seldom been slowed down in the passing phase, where the Eagles have been prone to allowing big plays lately. Eagles QB Carson Wentz’s propensity for slow starts might hamper his team’s capacity to trade touchdowns with a league-leading opposing offense.

The New York Giants are the 2.5-point favorite against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night. The Giants’ much improved defense, particularly CBs Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins, will have to limit big plays by Bengals WR A.J. Green. The Bengals’ 25th-ranked defense will have new personnel and looks to throw at QB Eli Manning, who will not have LG Justin Pugh (knee) blocking for him.

The Washington Redskins are favored by three against the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota, which has lost three in a row, will try to ease the load on QB Sam Bradford by taking advantage of Washington’s leaky rush defense. Washington QB Kirk Cousins will be facing one of his toughest tests of the season against Minnesota’s third-ranked defense. The favored team is 3-9 ATS in its last 12 games in this matchup.

And the Houston Texans are the 1.5-point road favorite against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Texans, who are coming off their bye week, will try extending their trend of being 7-0 SU and 6-0-1 in their last seven games against the AFC South. Jacksonville is weak against the run which should help RB Lamar Miller, but Texans QB Brock Osweiler will have to curb his mistakes against CB Jalen Ramsey and an underrated Jaguars secondary.

NBC Sports’ Josh Norris attempts the combine

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The lengths I go to entertain you.

Since I attempt to evaluate these prospects’ athleticism, my friends at NBC Sports thought it was only fair if I went through the same circuit of drills and tests as the future NFL players.

So what did I learn? I learned that I am no longer an in shape 18-year-old. I learned how important flexibility is for every single drill. I can’t even touch my toes, which does not help with the broad jump or turning the corner on a three cone. And I’m jealous of the rest these prospects get between their attempts.

For more of Josh’s drills, check out the full lineup here

T.O. controversy underscores need for Hall of Fame transparency

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I started down the T.O. Hall of Fame time out rabbit hole a week ago due primarily to concerns regarding a lack of transparency in the selection process. After a week of arguments, counterarguments, and a few condescending comments from voters who resent being questioned or criticized by people who don’t know the inner working of the process, I’m back to where I started.

Those who criticize the process indeed don’t know the inner workings of the process because the process is kept completely secret. And the T.O. case proves that the time has arrived for transparency.

As Peter King of TheMMQB.com pointed out earlier this week, those who voted against Owens largely have slipped into hiding.

The fact that Owens didn’t make it from the final 15 to the final 10 suggests that the nays are more plentiful than necessary to transform him from one of the final five into a Hall of Famer. Don’t underestimate, however, the possibility that the voters collectively realized that enough of them would never get behind Owens on the final ballot (where it takes only 10 to put the kibosh on Canton) to make pushing Owens to the final 10 or the final five an exercise in futility.

It ultimately may be only 10 people who are anti-T.O. Maybe there aren’t that many; maybe the handful was loud enough and zealous enough that they managed to convince enough of their peers to think that pushing Owens through to the final five would set the stage for an ugly filibuster at best or a complete waste of time (and a spot that could have gone to someone else) at worst.

The only obvious “no” votes currently known (by me) are Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News (he wrote a column about it), Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (ditto), Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts (he made his case against Owens in a radio interview), and Dan Pompei of Bleacher Report (his Twitter account makes his position clear). All of the “no” votes should be known, and those who have kept quiet while the process has been challenged generally and a small handful of their colleagues have been attacked specifically should speak up.

Even if all the “no” votes were known, we still won’t know everything that needs to be known. Those voters who have chosen to disclose their position on Owens refuse to disclose the identity of other Hall of Famers, players, and/or coaches who have privately said that Owens doesn’t belong. Setting aside the question of whether these non-voters should have so much sway over the process, the refusal to name them makes the process even harder to accept.

It’s one thing to gather facts anonymously. Gathering opinions anonymously allows for those anonymous opinions to be tainted by personal animus. Also, it makes objective assessment of the basis for the opinions impossible, allowing for all sorts of subjective factors to be twisted and warped — and for the voters to abdicate their responsibility to assess the candidate to the whispers of those who, given the benefit of secrecy, are far more likely to yield to the temptation of human factors.

The broader concern is this: When evaluating a player based on what he did on a 100-by-53-yard patch of grass or FieldTurf or green cement, it’s easy to assess the opinions of the voters and to develop opinions on the accuracy of the outcome of the votes. When things that happened from the sideline to the parking lot become relevant to the process, it becomes impossible to know what is being considered, why it’s being considered, which others have made it through despite similar concerns, and whether those standards will be applied to future candidates.

There can be no consistency without transparency, and with no transparency it’s impossible for those who view Owens as a knee-jerk Hall of Famer to understand his omission for a second straight year. The voters who oppose Owens can either sneer at those of us who think they got it wrong or they can heed the criticisms, lobby for meaningful change, and bring a different approach to the process in 2018.

If it’s the former, there will be more sneering at those of us who think they got it wrong, both as to Owens and as to others who seem to pass the Hall of Fame eyeball test but can’t get in.