Lessons learned from NFL Week 10

November 17, 2021 05:58 PM

One exercise that has always been useful to me in betting has been evaluating how the market perceives teams, then jumping on teams that are undervalued and fading teams that are overvalued. If a bettor can find a team that is on either side of that spectrum, there is a ton of value to be found, as the betting market tends to be slow in adjusting its ratings. This week let’s look at two hot teams, Tennessee and New England, which are at the peak of their ratings after being undervalued by the betting market. All good things must come to an end, and that seems to be the case for both of these teams’ betting value.

Patriots At Their Peak

It has been quite the run for the Patriots over the last month. Since falling to Tampa Bay in Week 4, New England is 5-1 SU/4-2 ATS and on a 4-0 SU and ATS run heading into its meeting with Atlanta on Thursday night. Over the four-game winning streak, the Patriots have outscored their opponents 150-50, and their last two opponents, the Panthers and Browns, have combined for 13 points. Sunday marked the fifth consecutive week in which I have bet on New England myself, but it is now time to jump off the train as the market has finally caught on to how good this team is.

The lookahead line posted last week by the Westgate Superbook for Patriots-Falcons had New England -4, but as of Tuesday the Patriots were up to -7 with altered juice on the underdog. In a lot of my work on VSiN I talk about the betting market adjusting, and this another example of that. Did New England get three points better, or Atlanta three points worse, after the results of the previous weekend? Of course not, but oddsmakers realize there will be support for the Patriots in a standalone spot, and an overcorrection is made on the line. I wrote last week of the market’s overcorrection on San Francisco’s struggles, and look what the 49ers did Monday night. New England is a very solid team that has playoff aspirations, but if you’re looking to play the Pats now that they have covered four straight, you’re buying at a market high, something you cannot do in betting the NFL.

There is certainly a universe in which New England blows out Atlanta, just as it has against previous opponents, but you as a bettor are getting no value in this line. In Week 5 the Falcons were in London facing the New York Jets and covered as 2.5-point favorites on a neutral field. This week Atlanta is catching seven points at home, the same number New England laid to New York just three weeks ago at home. Are the Falcons power-rated lower than the Jets? Of course not. Matt Youmans and I always joke that no show on the network loves the Patriots more than “The Edge,” and that is true, but it’s time to get off the train as a bettor this week.

Titans On The Edge

The cliche in football, coined by the great Bill Parcells, is you are what your record says you are. If that is the case, the Tennessee Titans are the one of the best teams in football, standing alone atop the AFC at 8-2. But what if I told you the Titans were actually the 18th-best team in football? That seems somewhat extreme, but 18th is where Tennessee ranks in Football Outsiders’ overall DVOA metric. As defined by Football Outsiders, DVOA measures a team’s efficiency by comparing success on every play to a league average based on situation and opponent. By their evaluation, the Titans are just 0.7% better than an average team, and now injuries are starting to take their toll, but the betting market is not budging.

Tennessee opened -10 at home over Houston, and multiple shops were up to -10.5 as of Tuesday. It is not surprising to see support for a team that is 6-0 SU/5-1 ATS in its last six games, but the last two weeks have made it clear that this team is on fumes offensively. The Titans defeated the Saints 23-21 on Sunday by turning away a late two-point conversion that would have tied the game and potentially forced overtime. Tennessee was outgained 373-264. The Titans’ lone touchdown drive of the second half came on a short field after Deonte Harris fumbled on the opening kickoff, and the offense was limited to four three-and-outs. If you include the win over the Rams, the Titans are averaging 20.8 yards per drive and 4.1 yards per play over the last two games. Those are numbers of a team hardly worth laying double digits in the NFL.

The Titans are 4-1 SU in single-possession games this season, and their point differential of + 46 is only eight points better than the division rival Indianapolis Colts. Derrick Henry and Julio Jones are on injured reserve, and their offense has been dreadful as a result, but the betting market is not shying away from laying these large numbers. It is clear to me that the Titans have been living life on the edge, and a slump against the number is here with their failed cover against New Orleans last week. Be wary if you’re running to the window to lay the points this weekend with the Titans.

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