Week Ten is upon us and we are driving right up against the midseason grind, but this is the time where we stay focused and continue to try to throw away less money than we did in the previous weeks. Last week, I felt a little perplexed by the lines but still managed to squeeze out a third consecutive winning week. This week the lines look a little juicier, which could mean that “pride cometh before the fall” or it could mean another positive week.
Tier 1: Teams to Bet Against (Season Record: 13-11-1)
Cowboys -5 over Packers
Seahawks +3 over Bucs
Rams -1.5 over Cardinals
Over the course of an NFL season, you tend to find a few teams that you feel comfortable betting on and a few that you really want to bet against on a regular basis. The Packers, Bucs and Cardinals have all entrenched themselves firmly in the latter camp. Honestly, the Rams are close to that camp too, but playing against the Cardinals at home in, what amounts to, a pick ‘em makes me feel as good as I’m going to feel about the Rams. Matt Stafford is in concussion protocol, which might bring some trepidation, but at the end of the day I’ll bet on Sean McVay over Kliff Kingsbury at every opportunity. The fact that Dallas is being put in the “Vegas zone” on a trip to Lambeau speaks to: a) how little the public realizes about how bad the Packers have been and b) how little faith people have in the Cowboys offense being able to travel to a northern outdoor stadium. Seattle is the one team in this category that lands itself in the first camp. They are 6-3 against the spread for the year but have won four in a row against the spread. On the other hand, Tampa Bay pushed last week, but hasn’t outright covered a spread since the second week of the season. Tom Brady might be the quarterback I’d most like playing in a game on foreign turf due to his vast experience with wonky gametime preparation, but this Bucs team isn’t good and the fact that they are favored by a field goal is a market inefficiency.
Tier 2: Favorites to Ride (Season Record: 7-20)
Falcons -2.5 over Panthers
Eagles -10.5 over Commanders
Titans -2.5 over Broncos
Betting underdogs has been, in general, the smarter play for the season, but this week there are several favorites with beneficial lines. Had you told me at the beginning of the season that the Atlanta Falcons would be favored in a road game in November, I probably would have told you to hammer the home dog. However, Marcus Mariota has this ground game moving the ball, and Cordarelle Patterson is back. The Falcons played the Panthers two weeks ago and were a ridiculous Hail Mary away from covering in regulation. The wheels completely fell off for Carolina last week, and they will still be reeling heading into tonight’s game. The Eagles may have failed to cover a big spread last week, but we saw what Baltimore was able to do with the Thursday night-to-Monday night preparation schedule and I expect something similar from Philadelphia. Tennessee is really playing well lately and took the Chiefs to overtime on Sunday night. Derrick Henry is a great cheat code against a Denver defense predicated on a strong pass rush and secondary.
Tier 3: Favorites to Ride: Redux (Season Record: 14-15)
Saints -1.5 over Steelers
Chiefs -9.5 over Jaguars
Giants -5.5 over Texans
Here’s another batch of favorites I like for the week, but maybe not as much as the three before. New Orleans has been “Jekyll and Hyde” this year and are playing a Steelers team coming out of their bye week, but I still like this Saints defense against a Pittsburgh offense that isn’t very good. I also suspect that New Orleans might be this year’s “good bad team” and the Steelers are just a bad team. Jacksonville finally ended their one-score game drought last week, but they may not even get a chance to lose a one-score game this week. I just don’t think they can keep up with the Chiefs in Arrowhead. New York’s football teams have been the feel-good stories of the NFL so far. The Giants haven’t necessarily won many games convincingly but I think they can beat this Texans team by at least a touchdown, especially coming out of a bye week.
Tier 4: The Weekly Special (Season Record: 14-11-2)
Dolphins -3.5 over Browns
Colts +4.5 over Raiders
Miami has been a good team this season for as long as Tua has been healthy, and they’ve been especially proficient offensively. Cleveland can run the ball, but otherwise they have been mostly a disappointment. There is a scenario where Nick Chubb runs wild and Cleveland can play keep away and keep the game close, but that doesn’t seem like the most likely scenario. Admittedly, betting on Indianapolis feels like a waste of money, especially in the wake of Frank Reich’s firing. We already saw this once earlier in the year when Matt Rhule was fired in Carolina. The Raiders have not been a good team this year and they blew a monster lead against Jacksonville last week. These teams feel like they are already facing lost seasons and betting a close, sloppy game seems like the play. If you don’t want to bet these games, and I highly recommend you don’t, then there’s a beautiful FanDuel special that can keep you interested: Both Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill 100+ receiving yards at +500. Five-to-one feels low. Davante Adams has gone over 100 yards in three of his last five (and went for 95 yards in one of the others) and this Colts secondary doesn’t seem equipped to put the clamps on him. Likewise, Tyreek Hill has 331 receiving yards in his last two games and, even with Denzel Ward coming back, this Cleveland defense has not been a juggernaut.
Tier 5: Stay Away (Season Record: 18-8-1)
Bears -3 over Lions
Chargers +7 over 49ers
Vikings +3.5 over Bills
Based on season results, maybe these are the games you should feel the most comfortable betting. At surface level, Buffalo only laying 3.5 against the Vikings feels like a pretty low line, but Minnesota just went to 7-1 on the year and Buffalo could be facing the prospect of starting Case Keenum instead of Josh Allen. The Bills defense is also having its own injury problems, even with Tre’Davious White nearing his readiness to return to play. While New York teams have been the feel-good story of the year, Los Angeles teams have been some of the bigger disappointing teams of the year. The Chargers just haven’t seemed to get going and be the AFC favorite many thought they may be in the preseason, but I think spotting them a touchdown in a game being played on the West Coast is a favorable play. Justin Fields finally seems to be figuring out life in the NFL and Detroit’s defense has mostly been a sieve this year. The Bears feel like a reasonable bet at home, but the better bet is Justin Fields 300+ combined rushing and passing yards at +350.
Last Week’s Record: 7-4-2
Season Record: 66-66-4 (Yet again last week I made a season record typo. I incorrectly stated that I had won 58 games, when I’d won 59 games. This week I promise it’s correct.)
Prop record: 3-6