I went 0-2 on sides pick in this article last week with losses by Seattle and Arizona. This is unfortunate as those were my only two losses out of 8 selections I made last week as my Twitter recommendations. I am currently hitting on 57% of my picks for the season. Follow my handle for a full roundup of weekly picks.
I talked about it last week, but underdogs continue to stay hot with an 8-5 ats week (Baltimore/IND closed as a PK so not counting it). Underdogs are now 76-56 ats (58%) and specifically, road underdogs of less than seven points are now 37-19 ats (66%). Those dogs of under seven points are an incredible 28-27-1 straight up on the road! Road underdogs of six points or fewer and with totals at the lowest end of the range (under 45 points) are 10-0 ats. So tight games, with a low number of points expected to be scored, have produced the best subset of underdog spread winners.
Road teams, in general, are really the story here as they’ve gone 71-62 ats (53%) this season but 67-66 straight up and home teams have an exact one-point margin on the season. To put this in perspective, road teams were 124-136 straight up last year and 104-157 in 2018. We thought that there would be a reduced home-field advantage, but up until this point, it looks like we shouldn’t be giving home teams any advantage whatsoever.
Week 10 Best Bets
Tampa Bay Buccaneers -5 vs Carolina Panthers
The theme this week is clearly bounce-back week. The whole world saw the Saints destroy the Bucs on national tv, and one of the better angles I have played while paying attention to the NFL is backing good teams off embarrassing national tv losses.
Nothing went well for Tampa but clearly, the gameplan of dropping Tom Brady back on almost every snap was a mistake. Brady has always struggled with pressure in his face and not having one of the best guards in the NFL last week in Ali Marpet, was a killer. Prior to the games last weekend, we talked about the value and impact of losing Marpet. He had not allowed a sack this season and last Sunday without him, they allowed 30 pressures on 50 dropbacks, including 3 sacks and 8 hurries. He is still questionable but did practice on a limited basis Wednesday and signs are pointing towards him coming back this week.
It also helps that the Panthers are only 29th in pressure rate so this shouldn’t be an issue. Brady’s splits between facing pressure versus having a clean pocket are among the 10 biggest in the NFL. Brady has the fourth-largest gap in YPA, seventh-largest gap in TD%, and ninth-largest gap in passer rating between having a clean pocket and facing pressure. Going up against the Panthers and no pressure will be a welcome sight after last week.
It goes without saying but expect a strong, focused effort from Brady and this Tampa team overall. Brady-led teams have lost by double digits 20 times since 2003. In the following game, he is 18-2 straight up and 17-3 ats with a margin of victory of 14 points per game. In his career, following a loss and favored by seven or less, Brady is 24-3 ats the next game. Ironically, we already saw this exact same scenario in Week 2 when the Bucs lost to the Saints by 11 then came back the next week against this same Panthers team and beat them by 14. In that game, the Bucs had a 21-0 lead before letting Carolina back into the game. Now add in the fact that Christian McCaffery played in that game and is out for this Sunday and the Bucs should have the big advantage.
As great as Teddy Bridgewater has been this season, he is 26th in passer rating against pressure and the Bucs are second in the NFL in pressure rate and first in blitz percentage. In their first matchup, Bridgewater was excellent when he had a clean pocket but went 8/12 for 91 yards, 1 INT, and a 54.5 passer rating when he was pressured.
San Francisco 49ers +10 vs New Orleans Saints
This is a clear letdown spot for the Saints and they have to face a team in the 49ers off an embarrassing loss themselves. The Niners will have a rest advantage coming off a Thursday night home game against a Saints team off a big Sunday night game. San Francisco gets back two huge parts of their offense with the return of left tackle Trent Williams and rookie starting wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.
The dropoff from Williams to last week’s starter, Justin Trule, is enormous. Williams is PFF’s No. 2 overall graded tackle, fourth-best pass blocker, and fifth-best run blocker this season. He has allowed only eight total pressures on 313 dropbacks. Trule got destroyed last week, allowing six pressures on only 38 dropbacks alone. Getting Williams back is a welcome sight.
While Deebo Samuel is iffy for Sunday, getting Aiyuk back to pair with last Thursday’s star Richie James at least gives the Niners some real weapons.
Defensively, the Niners match up well with Drew Brees and this Saints short passing game. The Niners are second-best in the NFL by DVOA against short passes. With stud coverage linebackers Fred Warner (PFF’s No. 2 rated coverage LB) and Dre Greenlaw (No 22 rated coverage LB), the Niners perform well against teams who often target the underneath part of the field. Let’s add in the fact that Kyle Shanahan typically performs well in these situations as he is 13-8 ats as a road underdog since leading the Niners.
Texans +9.5/ Chargers +8.5 Tease
All the Chargers do is play close games. They somehow have a 2-6 record with a -11 point differential on the season. With Justin Herbert continuing his great play and Joey Bosa back this week against a poor Miami OL, the Chargers should be able to stay within the 8.5 points. The Chargers have not lost by more than seven points all season.
The Texans will have a clear pass game advantage over the Browns this Sunday. The Browns have faced one top-15 DVOA passing offense (Raiders) this season and that was in the worst weather of the season. Houston comes in ranked 10th in pass offense and will go up against a Browns defense that ranks dead last in the NFL in points per drive allowed on non-turnover drives. There is no reason the Texans shouldn’t stay under 10 points here.
Best Bets Record YTD: 8-10-3 (44%)