The NFL picks market is full of small sample sizes. Often, we see the majority of NFL bettors decide their picks against the spread based on what they saw the previous week. Seeing as how the NFL is riddled with small samples, it’s easy to fall prey to recency bias. So how can we distance ourselves from the pack and make smart wagers? By determining which teams might have gotten lucky by using regression to the mean in some statistical areas. I’ll attempt to pinpoint teams who are worth a play and those who are worth a fade in the sports betting market going forward. Using these analytical metrics, we can put together our NFL Week 10 betting guide for picking against the spread.
After a miserable stretch where it felt like breaking even was impossible, I managed to fight my way to a small profit in Week 9. You can read about all of our successes and failures in the weekly Sheep Report. Christopher Smith and I cashed on our (+563) underdog money-line parlay, titled Sundays are for the dogs. We each pick our favorite underdog of the week and combine them in a money-line parlay.
On top of the underdog parlay, I hit on the Minnesota Vikings/Kansas City Chiefs total and the Sunday Night affair, which saw the Baltimore Ravens crush the New England Patriots. As always, I’ll talk about my losses below before we dive into our NFL Week 10 betting guide.
Week 9 NFL Picks Recap
San Francisco 49ers (-8.5) (-105)
I don’t think my process was terrible here; the 49ers had an advantage in the trenches on both sides of the ball and a coaching advantage. The superior team has a better track record of covering on Thursday nights due to the inferior team having less time to prepare. The fact that this was Kliff Kingsbury’s first Thursday Night game made me like that angle even more.
The cover was within range until Kyler Murray hit Andy Isabella for what would be an 88-yard touchdown pass. Kenyan Drake also killed the 49ers in the running game, finishing with 110 rushing yards on 15 carries. Sometimes you lose games like this, but I thought my process was sound here. We beat the closing line as well, which hasn’t panned out this year, but it is still something you should aim to do.
Indianapolis Colts (-1) (-110)
I would make this bet ten out of ten times if I could do it again. The Colts lost Jacoby Brissett mid-game, suffered a pick-six at the Steelers four yard-line, missed a two-point conversion, and missed a field goal at the end of the game, which would have given them a one-point lead. We ended up on the wrong side of the closing line, but the difference between (-1) and (+1) is negligible.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+5.5) (-110) & Money line (+200)
I have mixed feelings about this pick. On the one hand, I missed out on the opener of (+6.5) because I thought I could get a (+7). That was wrong, as the spread closed at Seattle (-4). On the other hand, I was correct in that the spread was too big. Jameis Winston moved the ball up and down the field, and Tampa Bay just lost to the heroics of Russell Wilson. The process was sound as we beat the closing line but lost the bet.
Philadelphia Eagles Alternate Spread (-15.5)
This was a stupid selection. I figured the Chicago Bears were dead in this game and wanted to get good odds on a blowout. I saw the Eagles were up big, which is what I expected coming into the game, so I tried to capitalize on it. I took a live bet on a game I wasn’t invested in to try and make up for not getting down on it throughout the week.
Michael Gallup O 4.5 Receptions
I think my process for this player prop pick was sound; it just didn’t go our way. Gallup received two fewer targets than he usually gets, as Dallas started the game in a funk. In all honesty, I blame Jason Garrett’s lack of preparation during the bye week and the black cat.Through 14 weeks of the NFL season (minus MNF on 12/9), the PFN betting group has over 25 units of profit (~625$). With your All-Access Pass, you have an exclusive look at our running record of best bets, not to mention 24/7 availability of the betting group should you have an individualized question. Sign up for the All-Access Pass that'll pay for itself and more.
Week 10 NFL betting guide
Let’s see what value bets we can find for Week 10.
Seattle Seahawks/San Francisco 49ers
This game will be the toughest test for the San Francisco defense to date. They have been dominant so far, ranking 2nd in defensive yards per play allowed and 1st in Football Outsiders adjusted sack rate. That said, they have not played a QB the caliber of Russell Wilson. Matchups be damned, Wilson can beat any defense.
I expect the 49ers to have success moving the ball on Seattle’s terrible defense. As I mentioned last week, they can’t cover anyone (21st pass defense DVOA), can’t rush the passer (31st in adjusted sack rate), and have a below-average run defense (22nd DVOA). Kyle Shanahan, having extra time to prepare, will be able to exploit all of these inefficiencies. Once San Francisco establishes a lead, it will force the Seahawks to pass. Good things happen when Wilson drops back to pass.
We have a pace advantage in this matchup, as well. The point spread has the 49ers as a six-point favorite. San Francisco ranks 15th in pace when leading by seven or more, 15th when the score is within six and 10th in neutral situations, according to Football Outsiders. Seattle ranks 11th when trailing by seven or more and 12th when the score is within six. If the sportsbooks spread holds, it will be a pace up game which bodes well for the over.
NFL Pick: SF/SEA Over 46.5 (-110) 1U
The Sunday Night Football affair features two of the better, yet more underrated teams in the NFC; underrated being a relative term considering they play in the same conference as the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers. Unfortunately, the Minnesota Vikings are coming in at less than full strength, with wide receiver Adam Thielen expected to miss this game after re-injuring his hamstring last week against the Kansas City Chiefs.
In the two games (vs. Washington, at Kansas City) Minnesota played without Thielen, the Vikings offense ranked 26th in success rate, 24th in passing success rate, and 25th in rushing success rate according to Sharp Football Stats. That is a far cry from the seven games with him where they ranked 13th, 5th, and 19th, respectively. Dallas is bottom third in the league in rushing and passing success rate on defense, but I still expect them to struggle to move the ball without Thielen.
As for the defense, they have surprisingly struggled on early downs this year. You wouldn’t think it from looking at their DVOA metrics, but they rank 27th in both early-down passing and rushing success rate. This does not bode well going up against a Cowboys offense, which ranks 1st and 4th, respectively. Minnesota does own the 4th ranked defensive line in adjusted sack rate, so they should be able to stall some Dallas drives. I expect those to be few and far between, however.
When the Cowboys offensive line is healthy, they can beat any team in the league. Their unit ranks 1st in adjusted line yards and 4th in adjusted sack rate according to Football Outsiders. They should be able to open running lanes for Elliott and give Prescott a clean pocket against the Vikings defensive line, which ranks 22nd and 4th, respectively.
Yards per play has the Cowboys as three points better on a neutral field, which equated to roughly 5.5 after you factor in home-field advantage. I give the QB edge to Dallas, while Minnesota has the coaching edge, though Zimmer can make sub-optimal decisions at times.
I’m hesitant to take the point spread, as I know wide receivers aren’t worth much, if at all, to Vegas numbers. That said, the knock-on Dallas has been their easy schedule thus far. While Minnesota is arguably the best team they have played all season, we can see how their defense can be exploited. The Cowboys offensive line is healthy, while the Vikings will be without defensive tackle Linval Joseph. Ezekiel Elliott should have success on the ground, while Prescott should have success moving the ball against this somewhat overrated secondary.
I’m going to be looking at the over for Dak Prescott touchdowns, and possibly over Dallas total touchdowns in this game. I would lean towards the full game over as well, though I’m not sure if we will see an effective offense from Minnesota.
Betonline has options to make your own player props, where you can give yourself some favorable odds. I’ll touch more on those below. For the game, I’m going to lean Dallas (-3). I think the losses of Joseph and Thielen will be enough to sway this game in the Cowboys’ favor. While I believe Minnesota is better than the consensus does, their defense doesn’t match up well with the Dallas offense. The Cowboys offensive line should be able to control the line of scrimmage, while they can neutralize the Vikings strength (pass rush) to allow Prescott to take advantage of an overrated secondary.
NFL Pick: Lean Dallas (-3). No official pick. Skip to player props for official picks
Detroit Lions/San Francisco 49ers Teaser
The yards per play model has the 49ers as a significant value (after factoring in home-field advantage) and the Lions as a value as well. The Lions are two points better than the Bears on a neutral field, and after you give Chicago a full three points for home-field advantage, they should be a one-point underdog.
We’re only crossing one key number with the 49ers, which isn’t ideal. However, with the extra time Shanahan has had to prepare as well as the 49ers’ pass rush’s drastic edge over the Seattle offensive line, I expect them to make enough plays when it counts to come out with the victory.
As for the Lions, we’re getting over a touchdown with the better team and better QB. I won’t say the better head coach as well, though the gap between Matt Nagy and Matt Patricia can’t be too wide this season.
Detroit is a (+2.5) underdog at the moment, which makes the teaser even better as we pass through three and seven. I don’t think the Monday Night football spread will exceed seven, so there’s no advantage in waiting.
NFL Pick: SF (PICK)/DET (+9) 6 point teaser, (-120) 1U
NFL Week 10 Player Props
While I’m going back and forth on the point spread, I do like several player props that BetOnline is offering.
Dak Prescott at least 2 passing touchdowns: (-125) 1U
Amari Cooper at least 91 receiving yards: +114, 1U
Ezekiel Elliott at least 110 rushing yards: +114 1U
Stefon Diggs at least 106 receiving yards: +134 1U
And why not go all in?
Dak to have 270+ passing yards, Elliott to have 100+ rushing yards, Cooper to have 80+ receiving yards: (+241) 0.5U
That’s it for your 2019 NFL Week 10 betting guide. Good luck, and let’s hope we can turn a profit this week. Be sure to follow the PFN All-Access Twitter account (@PFN365AA) for live updates, Ben Rolfe’s totals article, Chris Smith’s article, Jason Sarney’s player props article, and listen to the Against the Spread podcast with Jason Sarney and Ryan Gosling for more NFL picks!
James Aguirre is a writer for PFN covering NFL betting and Fantasy Football. You can follow him on Twitter @PFN_James.