NFL Week 10 best bets: Are teams desperate at season's midway point?
Earlier this week, we acknowledged that Texans bettors didn't suffer a bad beat on -2.5 against the Buccaneers last Sunday, but they probably deserved better. The same could be said for the Cowboys (+3) at Philadelphia, which required Dallas to go out of its way not to cover that number.
Alas, we fall to 64.1% on the season against the spread, still well above any reasonably acceptable pace.
Best bets ATS
We've already discussed the five underdogs with a shot to win outright relative to their price, and as always, they're worth a look against the spread.
Maybe times aren't desperate for San Francisco, but after three straight losses before its bye, the team might call for desperate measures within the organization. Chase Young's on board, and rumor has it that Jaylon Johnson almost was as well. But getting Trent Williams back is potentially the most pressing personnel issue. He might sit another week, but we'll expect the 49ers to play near the top of their range.
The question for Jacksonville: If the team plays to the top of its range, is that good enough to beat the 49ers? Five wins in a row is an impressive feat - an upset win over Buffalo in London is the best of that bunch - and a 6-2 record might be creating value for a bet on San Francisco, especially if Williams is back.
Pick: 49ers -3
Atlanta's allowed the sixth-fewest pass yards per attempt (YPA), and the Steelers' defense in Pittsburgh is scary. Will Levis impressed in both those scenarios, and now the Titans face the Buccaneers, who are coming off a game in which they allowed 470 to another rookie - something characteristic of a banged-up secondary that's allowed the second-most YPA in the league. Tampa Bay has lost four straight games, and this pick'em line asks the team to snap that skid. But against the Titans - offensively rejuvenated by their new QB - we won't expect that.
Pick: Titans +1
There wasn't one minute of the NFL season before this week in which the Falcons would've been considered just 1.5-point favorites at Arizona. Dropping the Falcons' rating for recent play and using the Cardinals' rating before the Clayton Tune experience would make Atlanta favored by more than three points.
The obvious thing to ponder is whether Kyler Murray's return can give the Cardinals that big of a boost to make this closer to a 50/50 outcome. I doubt that Murray, in his first game in a year, is a significant upgrade on Joshua Dobbs.
We're also buying the Falcons at their low point. But unlike most scenarios where we do that, there's a very obvious route to improvement.
Give Bijan Robinson the ball.
Arthur Smith was staunch that Desmond Ridder wasn't the problem until he benched him days later. Now, he's praising Robinson for being a great decoy. It won't be surprising if he turns the No. 8 overall pick loose, and, as a result, the offense looks better against a bad Cardinals defense.
Pick: Falcons -1.5
Here's a list of teams in the top five of both offensive and defensive DVOA: The Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens' market rating has been steadily rising each week, which normally means they should be faded. But they keep covering with ease. That tells us there's still room for Baltimore to be rated higher as a Super Bowl contender on par with the Chiefs, Eagles, and 49ers. The team's metrics certainly back that up.
What did we learn from Deshaun Watson's return in a shutout win over Arizona? Nothing. Despite short fields and quick Cardinals possessions, the Browns needed a ricochet passing touchdown to stretch the lead. Cleveland's getting too much credit in its rating, and the Ravens can win convincingly again.
Pick: Ravens -6.5
I bet the Lions' moneyline at -120 early in the week, but now that this line is up to a full field goal - presumably because of a pro-Lions stance - I'll be betting back on the Bolts. If nothing else, Los Angeles has played cleaner since the loss to Kansas City, and this game should go down to the wire on Sunday.
Pick: Chargers +3
Moneyline upset of the week
Broncos (+275) over Bills
We've discussed this in the round-robin moneyline parlay and will dig deeper on Monday, but the Broncos have the best chance of any below-average team to play to the top of its range, and we still don't have a stable understanding of the Bills' range.
Best 6-point teaser / Alternative spread parlay
Patriots (Alt line: +8.5) / Packers ML (+100)
We'll turn the premise on its head this week, showing that you don't have to tease two games to manipulate the spread in a valuable way.
Instead of waiting for the Colts to get up to -2.5 to tease the Patriots up through all the key numbers and force another teaser leg, we'll use the Patriots' alternative line of +8.5 to take the spread out of play in Pittsburgh.
Maybe Mac Jones throws a pair of pick-sixes, but the New England offense has improved since a disastrous stretch, and the Colts aren't built to stretch a lead without outlier events. Meanwhile, betting against the Packers to win a road game is exactly where we want to be.
Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on social media @mrussauthentic.
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