Welcome to another exciting weekend in the NFL.
Our VSiN experts -- Adam Burke, Dave Tuley, Will Hill, Wes Reynolds and Matt Youmans, along with Ben Brown of Pro Football Focus -- combine to give their opinions on every Sunday game in Week 9.
Note: Lines are from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Thursday night.
Here are our Week 10 best bets:
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts (-10, 47.5)
Tuley: This is an interesting case study of a double-digit spread. Unfortunately, I didn’t trust the Colts to cover double digits against the Jets last Thursday night and lost (though the Jets nearly pulled a miracle backdoor cover). Now, the Jaguars are coming off a shocking upset of the Bills (note: it was such a surprise that not even yours truly was on that home dog getting more than two TDs!). So, while it’s tempting to take all those points with a team that showed it can do it, I consider the Colts more likely to repeat their performance and roll like they did against the Jets.
Cleveland Browns at New England Patriots (-2, 44.5)
Youmans: The Patriots have finally started to play up to my preseason expectations, winning and covering three games in a row. Bill Belichick’s defense has improved against the pass, and New England’s consistent running attack is complementing quarterback Mac Jones, who has been efficient while completing 68 percent of his passes.
My decision to play the Patriots was made prior to the announcement of the issue with Cleveland running back Nick Chubb, who’s questionable to play after testing positive for COVID-19. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Browns are 13-6 and averaging 27.3 points per game with Chubb the past two regular seasons but 3-3 and averaging 18.8 PPG without him. Betting on Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield is a rollercoaster ride. The Browns were on the upswing last week in a blowout win at Cincinnati, so expect some regression from Mayfield this week, especially if Chubb is ruled out. Either way, lay the cheap price with the Pats.
Pick: Patriots -2
Burke: Not going to be reinventing the wheel or anything here, but the Browns are a great teaser leg this week. You’ve got a total of 45.5 and a spread of New England -2, so taking Cleveland up through 3 and 7 to + 8 makes a ton of sense. The Patriots play such a conservative, vanilla brand of football that creating margin is hard against every team other than the Jets, a team that New England was + 7 in turnover margin against in two games this season.
The Browns may very well win the game outright, but the COVID-19 concerns at the running back position have to factor into the handicap. To accommodate those fears, you can just take Cleveland, add six points, go through some key numbers and put together a pretty strong Wong Teaser.
My play for Thursday night was a Ravens -1.5/Browns + 7.5 teaser (which didn’t come through), but the Browns also pair nicely with a team like Pittsburgh teased down to -2 or -2.5 at the books that have come off of 9. Cleveland also pairs well with Philadelphia teased up to 8.5, the Saints to 8.5, or the Raiders up to 8.5.
Pick: Browns + 8 teased with Raiders + 8.5
Atlanta Falcons at Dallas Cowboys (-9.5, 54.5)
Tuley: I loved the Broncos + 10 against the Cowboys in Week 9, though I certainly wasn’t expecting them to thoroughly dominate and lead 30-0 before Dallas added some garage-time TDs to make the final score look reasonably competitive at 30-16. The Falcons aren’t as strong as the Broncos on defense, but the Cowboys offense hasn’t been that sharp lately (Cooper Rush’s surprising win over the Vikings was only 20-16, and then there was last week’s debacle in Dak Prescott’s return), so they should be able to match Dallas score for score with Matt Ryan spreading the ball around to Russell Gage, Kyle Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson.
Pick: Falcons + 9.5
Buffalo Bills (-12.5, 47.5) at New York Jets
Tuley: I don’t expect the Bills to play as badly as they did in their loss at Jacksonville, but there are a lot of reasons to think the Jets can hang with them. For one, Buffalo doesn’t have the running game the Colts do (which was part of what led to the rout last Thursday night), plus the Jets have a good pass rush to put pressure on Josh Allen and force him into mistakes. Meanwhile, the New York offense somehow has stepped up with Mike White (hey, I didn’t see it coming either). In addition, as bad as the Jets were last year (and as good as the Bills were), Buffalo only won 27-17 and 18-10 in their 2020 meetings, so I envision a similar result in this one.
Pick: Jets + 12.5
New Orleans Saints at Tennessee Titans (-3, 44.5)
Reynolds: Seemingly every week there has been a new top team in the AFC. This week it is the Tennessee Titans that have now been crowned by the national media. Tennessee’s run over the last four weeks has been both impressive and rare. In fact, only 15 times in the last
33 years has a team won outright as an underdog in four straight games. The Titans’ four-game underdog run was capped off in the “fallen hero” spot by going to Los Angeles and defeating the Rams in their first game without Derrick Henry.
However, Tennessee only rushed for 69 yards in Henry’s absence. The Titans offense only gained 194 yards and a paltry 3.5 yards per play. Two first half pick-sixes put the game on ice for Tennessee.
Meanwhile, New Orleans came off defeating the reigning Super Bowl champion Bucs with Trevor Siemian coming off the bench for an injured Jameis Winston. Siemian had not started since 2019 and it showed early as the Saints offense only generated 87 yards and zero points in the first half vs. Atlanta.
Nevertheless, Sean Payton once again pushed the right buttons with second-half adjustments and New Orleans took the lead (they were down 24-6) with only a tick over a minute left to play. Unfortunately for the Saints, they gave up a 64-yard pass from Matt Ryan to Patterson to set up the game-winning field goal for the Falcons.
New Orleans is 23-5 in its last 28 road games during the past four years and has covered seven of its last eight as a road underdog. Credit to the Titans for an outstanding run over the last four weeks, but now the roles are reversed and they become the hunted instead of the hunters.
Pick: Saints + 3
Brown: New Orleans has the fourth-best defensive ranking and unit coverage grade. The Saints' coverage unit is a community-based approach, as Marshon Lattimore takes on the hardest matchup in shadow coverage. Lattimore has shadowed the other team’s best wide receiver in four of seven games this season, and his coverage grade is impacted by the difficult weekly assignment. Lattimore typically has safety help over the top, as the Saints rely on Cover 1 most often.
Sustained offensive drives aren't likely in this game, as the 44.5-point total dropped five points from the preseason expectation. PFF’s betting model finds some value on the under on that number, meaning this game is set up to be a defensive struggle.
The Saints’ goal will most likely be to contain Brown on intermediate throws, which has been where the majority of his early-season success was derived. If New Orleans focuses on this as the key to stopping the Titans offense, then we could see Tennessee feature Julio Jones in this matchup. Even if this only plays out part of the time, Brown will still fall short of six receptions, making the plus price a worthwhile opportunity.
Pick: A.J. Brown Under 5.5 Receptions (+ 110)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-9.5, 51.5) at Washington Football Team
Burke: Teams coming off of the bye are 3-9 ATS on the season. The Buccaneers used their bye week last year as a springboard to go 8-0 en route to winning the Lombardi Trophy at Super Bowl LV. I don’t know if they’ll have the same results off of the bye this season, but what I do know is that teams, especially the good ones, have looked really disjointed on offense.
That would be my fear here with Tampa Bay. I don’t really have any fears about the Bucs winning the game. Winning it by margin might be a bit trickier, but the Washington offense is so bad in so many key areas that the Bucs could play a less-than-stellar game on offense and take care of business.
That brings me to the total. The Bucs are 11th in points allowed per drive and Washington is 23rd in points scored per drive. A big reason why is because the Football Team has been terrible in the red zone, coming into action this week 31st in red zone efficiency. Washington is also a bad third-down offense, coming in at 34.7 percent on the season.
This feels like a pretty methodical game for the Bucs and a good opportunity for the defense to shine. Given what we’ve seen from other offenses off the bye, it wouldn’t be a shocker to see Tampa Bay a little out of sync.
Pick: Under 51
Detroit Lions at Pittsburgh Steelers (-8.5, 42.5)
Tuley: The Lions were on a bye last week, which was good as they certainly looked awful in their 44-6 loss to the Eagles on Halloween. Even though they’re the NFL’s lone winless team at 0-8, they’re 4-4 ATS and have been competitive at times (they should have beaten the Ravens, and also covered vs. the 49ers, Vikings and Rams). The fact that the Steelers couldn’t put away the Bears, the Lions’ NFC North rival, certainly bodes well for Detroit here. I’m not worried about the Steelers scoring a ton of points (they still average just 20.1 PPG), so the Lions should be able to stick around and get the cover like those other games.
Pick: Lions + 8.5
Reynolds: Winless Detroit comes in off a bye to take on a Pittsburgh team that just got taken to the brink on Monday Night by Chicago. That straight-up win but ATS loss dropped the Steelers to 0-4 ATS this season as a home favorite.
The Steelers are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games following Monday nighters.
Meanwhile, Detroit took Baltimore, the LA Rams, and Minnesota to the wire this year. The Lions are a bad team, but not historically bad.
Pittsburgh has this game after the close win on MNF, and then has another prime-time spot on Sunday Night in L.A. to take on the Chargers before two consecutive divisional games at Cincinnati and vs. Baltimore. This has the look of a just-get-through-it type of game.
Pick: Lions + 8.5
Brown: There is simply no way that Ben Roethlisberger’s 6.9-yard average depth of target (aDot) is extending a lead on any team, especially not the Dan Campbell-led Lions coming off a bye week. Detroit looks like an enticing bet, where its 4-4 ATS record signals that the Lions won't stop until the very end. If things stay tight throughout, there is no better bet in this matchup than Swift going over his carries prop.
Swift is the Lions’ offense and has played exactly 70 percent of the snaps over the past five weeks. The usage is consistent, as Swift is expected to see 60 percent of the rush attempts on Sunday. Pittsburgh ranks sixth in run-defense grade and has been more susceptible through the air if its pass rush doesn’t get home. Detroit countering with screens could allow the Lions’ overall offense to produce better than expected. Anything that leads to one or two additional rushing opportunities for Detroit will help, as Swift will easily eclipse 12 carries on Sunday if the team has 20 rush attempts total.
Pick: D’Andre Swift Over 11.5 Carries (-135)
Minnesota Vikings at LA Chargers (-3, 52)
Brown: Injuries have decimated Minnesota’s 10th-ranked defense, which looked like a shell of its early-season self in allowing 34 points to Baltimore last Sunday. The lack of organic pass rush forces Mike Zimmer’s defense to dial up the blitz, opening up holes for chunk plays on any manageable down.
Now might be the perfect time to buy low on the Chargers offense, as Justin Herbert failed to go over this passing touchdown prop number in the past three games. The Chargers offense was back to its early-season performance last week after two disappointing performances. Herbert ran for a touchdown while throwing for two through the air. Herbert going over 2.5 passing touchdowns at + 175 is the best player prop offering on Sunday given the outside circumstances that aren’t yet baked in.
Pick: Justin Herbert Over 2.5 Passing TDs (+ 175)
Tuley: These teams are at a crossroads as we head into the second half of the season. The Chargers are 5-3 and tied with the Raiders atop the AFC West with the Chiefs and Broncos both just a half-game behind. The Vikings have a bunch of tough losses and are 3-5 and 3.5 games behind the Packers, but they’re only one game out of the last NFC wild-card spot. This should be another close game -- the Los Angeles tends to also play close games -- but the line’s a little short for me to take the underdog Vikings as I believe this line should be Chargers -4 or -4.5. However, since Minnesota should stay within one score, I’ll use them in six-point teasers (where you can move the line six points in your favor to + 9, but have to win two or more games to win the bet). Sunday’s other candidates are to use the Browns teased from + 2.5 to + 8.5 at the Patriots or the Raiders teased from + 2.5 to + 8.5 vs. the Chiefs.
Pick: Vikings in teasers
Brown: Osborn’s role continues to diminish in the Vikings’ offense -- he saw his lowest percentage of offensive snaps played, routes run per dropback and team target share on the season last week. Kirk Cousins appears more comfortable with Tyler Conklin as the third receiving option in this offense.
The matchup could be difficult against Chris Harris Jr., as PFF projects at least 25 snaps lined up against Osborn. Harris Jr. struggled after the Chargers' bye week, posting back-to-back coverage game grades in the low 40s. If he returns to his early-season (and career) form, Osborn will once again turn into little more than a decoy on Sunday. Expecting over three targets for Osborn is difficult, so going under 2.5 receptions at a plus price is simply too enticing to ignore.
Pick: K.J. Osborn Under 2.5 Receptions (+ 120)
Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals (-10, 44.5)
Hill: PJ Walker starts Sunday for Carolina, great news for Panthers backers and/or anyone who has watched Sam Darnold play football recently. Last week Darnold threw three interceptions against the Patriots, including one for a touchdown, and he now leads the league with 11. Christian McCaffrey returned last week, and will be going against a run defense that allows 4.8 yards per carry, 31st in the league.
The Cardinals may or may not have quarterback Kyler Murray and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins back after both players missed last week. With an 8-1 record and a win in hand against the Rams, they lead the NFC West by 1.5 games and will likely exercise caution regarding Murray. And if Murray is to play, an ankle injury for a player who relies on mobility is significant, especially for a team laying double digits. The Panthers need this game badly, since at 4-5 they are still very much in the mix for what is a wide-open NFC Wild Card race. At 5.0 yards per play allowed on defense, they are second in the league, and should come with their best effort with McCaffrey back and a quarterback in Walker who will be less charitable with turnovers. Flat spot for the Cards, let’s take the points.
Pick: Panthers + 10
Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers (-3.5, 49.5)
Tuley: It’s expected that we’ll get Russell Wilson vs. Aaron Rodgers for this matchup. Everyone is expecting both offenses to get a boost, but I believe we’ll see more from the Seahawks. They’ve found a running attack during Wilson’s absence, so whether it’s the return of Chris Carson or Alex Collins continues to carry the load, I expect the Seahawks to have a more balanced attack. I’ll gladly take the points here with Seattle at anything over a field goal, as it certainly could come down to a late FG (and Mason Crosby has been becoming less reliable).
Pick: Seahawks + 3.5
Philadelphia Eagles at Denver Broncos (-3, 44.5)
Youmans: If there was an NFL version of the TV show “Unsolved Mysteries,” the next episode would explore last week’s Broncos-Cowboys game. How did the pedestrian Broncos race to a 30-0 lead in Dallas, and why was injury-plagued Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott still on the field piling up garbage-time stats in the final five minutes? After the trade of Von Miller, how did the Denver defense dominate one of the league’s top offenses? Whatever the reasons, the spread result should not come as a stunner when considering Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is now 19-3 ATS in his career as a road underdog. He’s a home favorite in this one, however. It’s usually a good idea to bet against a team that greatly overachieved in all areas the previous week, so call it a letdown spot, if you will.
The matchup is favorable for the Eagles, who are using a ground-based offense with quarterback Jalen Hurts and rotating running backs. Denver’s run defense has been springing leaks, allowing 5.1 yards per carry in the past three games. This has the look of a low-scoring game. With Circa and a few other books offering + 3, make sure to get a good number.
Pick: Eagles + 3
Reynolds: The Broncos were in a very good situation with Dallas being priced at the very top of the market having covered every game this season. Denver ran the ball 41 times for 190 yards and dominated the time of possession battle (41:12-18:48). They had a 30-0 lead in the fourth quarter until giving up two garbage-time touchdowns. The offensive line (down three starters by the end of the game) and the secondary are both banged up for Denver, and this is where those injuries could show.
Meanwhile, the Eagles continued their home woes as last Sunday’s loss to the Chargers dropped them to 0-4 at Lincoln Financial Field this season; however, Philly is 3-2 on the road.
Denver is just 8-16 ATS as a home favorite in games after winning straight-up the previous week as an underdog. Here they are off dominating one of the best teams in the NFL on the road and now lay 3 or even slightly less at home to a Philadelphia team still trying to find its identity under first-year head coach Nick Sirianni? Dallas was the sell-high team last week and Denver is in the sell-high spot here.
Pick: Eagles + 3
Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5, 51.5) at Las Vegas Raiders
Burke: The Raiders are in a position to do some special things this season, but Sunday’s game against the Chiefs is enormous. The schedule really ramps up now with KC, Cincinnati and Dallas over the next three games, with that Cowboys clash coming on a short Thanksgiving week.
I happen to like the Raiders this week against the Chiefs. It seems to be the opposite side of most people, but last week’s loss to the Giants doesn’t faze me that much and Kansas City is still a deeply-flawed team with major problems.
Las Vegas was 1-of-6 in the red zone last week against the Giants. It was a game that was very winnable, despite the circumstances with Henry Ruggs and the long travel to the east coast for an early kickoff, not to mention the lookahead spot to this game. The Raiders had a big edge in yards per play, holding the Giants to just 4.5 YPP.
If you stacked these two teams up side-by-side, could you definitively say that the Chiefs were the better team? The Raiders have more yards per play on offense and have allowed over a full yard per play fewer on defense. Las Vegas actually has a top-five defense in that department. Kansas City has played a tougher schedule to be sure, but this defense is still awful and the turnover problems don’t appear to be going away.
In my mind, the better team, at least right now, is getting points at home. That’s enough for me to take a shot. As mentioned above, the Raiders + 8.5 is a good teaser complement with the Browns, but I also like the Raiders with a straight wager as well.
Pick: Raiders + 8.5 teased with Browns; Raiders + 2.5