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Against the Spread: 2011 NFL Picks: Week 10

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- After my own personal bye week, I'm back with my Week 10 NFL picks against the spread. I'm thinking I can improve this week; I wish I could say the same for the New England Patriots defense.

Last week, my column was M.I.A. as I was in San Francisco all week long for an investment conference. I hate it when work gets in the way of NFL wagering. But I'm back this week with my picks against the spread, hoping to turn the tide on what has been a miserable showing so far this season. The record currently stands at 15-23 with two ties, good for a miserable winning percentage of 37.5% in the 40 games I've picked so far. Hopefully the week off will do my picks some good.

Andy Dalton, quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals

If you're feeling like me, you're not alone. I'll describe the symptoms: You have a hard time guessing the lines, you have no idea how to characterize some teams, and you feel completely lost when a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers travels on the road to play the Cincinnati Bengals when the line is +3. It turns out that the professionals in Vegas feel the same way.

"It's been a strange year," says Bryan Leonard, a professional sports handicapper with Pregame.com who is also part of the Tuesday Group, a collection of professional bettors in Las Vegas who get together to handicap the games each week.

"It usually averages out, but it's not working out," Leonard says. "I'm throwing my arms up in the air. It's been such a tough year and I don't know of anyone who is gambling and is making the money we used to make. This year, you know Green Bay is going to win and you know Indianapolis is going to lose. Everything else is a crapshoot."

Leonard cites a bad beat he had last weekend with his pick of the Buffalo Bills over the New York Jets. "In the NFL, you can usually figure out where it will be within a point," he says. "But last week, with Buffalo/Jets, the line moved all week long, and the Jets still killed them."

Paul Bessire, the general manager and creator of the Web site PredictionMachine.com, had a similar bad beat last weekend. His Prediction Machine is a quantitative way to break down NFL games as it simulates each contest 50,000 times to come up with a pick against the spread.

"If you want to talk about a bad beat situation, look at the Patrick Peterson 99-yard touchdown in overtime," Bessire says, referring to the play that won the game for the Arizona Cardinals in Week 9 and covered the 3.5-point spread against the St. Louis Rams.

Given the recent upheaval in the global equity markets due to volatility sparked by the European debt crisis, Bessire is more than happy to stay in the realm of NFL probabilities. "One major difference between the sports market than the financial market, is that the sports market is so definitive. It's either a win or a loss," he says. "The immediacy of the sports market allows you to move on and shake it off."

With that, I'll try to shake off my own record and move on to the picks for Week 10 of the NFL season. As I'll remind you through the entire season, these are for entertainment purposes only. As always, I have enlisted the help of PredictionMachine.com's Paul Bessire, who offers analysis of the data his model provides for the games I've picked this week.

I have also collected commentary from Bryan Leonard, whose analysis focuses on the spread movement by Vegas oddsmakers to determine where the public and professional money is moving on each game. These trends prove to be critical for bettors who are on the hunt for inefficiencies and value.

Read on for the first game pick for tonight's game, where the Oakland Raiders travel to play the San Diego Chargers. And as always, I encourage you to leave comments below with your favorite picks against the spread this week.
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