After underdogs went 10-4 against the spread in Week 9, including seven outright upsets, they’re 75-56-1 ATS on the season. For context, a $100 bettor would be up $1,218.25 — solely wagering on underdogs. Road ‘dogs are also 19-9 ATS over the last two weeks. So how does that play into my Week 10 NFL best bets?
Don’t blindly follow trends to dictate your bets, including how underdogs have performed thus far. Allow the betting market to help exhibit where the value lies instead. Here is a breakdown of my plays, and they’ll be updated throughout the week (37-23 overall, +10.25 units).
Week 10 NFL Best Bets
Cleveland Browns @ New England Patriots
The spread has dipped as many as two points as of Monday, with Bill Belichick’s team now a short favorite despite its victory in Carolina.
We’re not getting the best possible number, but I agree with the market’s sentiment on Kevin Stefanski’s bunch. This isn’t an overreaction to the Browns generating 7.8 net yards per play (YPP) in Week 9 — tied for their second-highest mark in the 2021 campaign. Cleveland is the healthiest its been since the beginning of the season, and it can take advantage of New England’s defense.
Over the last four games, Belichick’s unit is letting up the sixth-fewest expected points added (EPA) per carry. But during that stretch, the Patriots faced the Cowboys, Jets, Chargers and Panthers, all of which have a high passing percentage or faced a negative game script in the second half of those matchups.
- EPA is calculated by expected points scored based on the down, distance, and field position at the start of a play — juxtaposed with the play’s conclusion.
Although New England deserves credit for its overall improvement, it yielded the 12th-highest EPA per carry during its first five contests. Even without stud right tackle Jack Conklin (IR), Browns running back Nick Chubb & Co. accrued the fourth-highest EPA per rush attempt on Sunday. Look for Cleveland to assert itself at the line of scrimmage once again, setting up Baker Mayfield and Cleveland’s passing game.
Moreover, Stefanski’s defense looked lethal versus an explosive Bengals’ aerial attack, surrendering the second-fewest EPA per dropback. With cornerbacks Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome and safety John Johnson all active, their sound play positioned the Browns’ defensive line to tee off on Joe Burrow, notching a 10.6% sack rate.
Given Patriots tailbacks Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson both suffered head injuries against Carolina, Josh McDaniels’ game plan could be more reliant on rookie Mac Jones. That wouldn’t set up well versus the league’s sixth-highest pressure rate.
If you’re able to grab Cleveland at a pick’em or better, add it to your card against a slightly overvalued New England team.
- Update: With Nick Chubb testing positive for COVID-19, I’d wait to see how the market reacts before wagering on the Browns. This line could surge a little, but Stefanski still presents a capable backup in D’Ernest Johnson if Chubb doesn’t play.
Week 10 NFL Best Bets: Browns +1.5 (-110 on PointsBet — placed at 8pm ET on Monday, Nov. 8)
Best Available Odds: Browns
Result: Loss (-1.00 unit)
Carolina Panthers @ Arizona Cardinals
Similar to Browns-Patriots, the look-ahead line was Cardinals -6 before the spread reopened 3.5/4 points higher. Neither quarterback Kyler Murray (ankle) nor wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring) suited up in their win over the 49ers.
On the flip side, Panthers signal caller Sam Darnold tossed three interceptions vs. the aforementioned Pats, leading to a 24-6 loss. Darnold is reportedly dealing with a shoulder injury, but whether he or backup P.J. Walker starts this week, the spread is inflated — especially if Murray remains out.
For one, Arizona has forced the most fumbles on defense while recording the most fumbles on offense. Nevertheless, Kliff Kingsbury’s team has recovered a league-high 79.0% of its fumbles. That’s an unsustainable rate, specifically from an offensive perspective. Both occurred against Kyle Shanahan’s team.
Additionally, Vance Joseph’s defense is conceding the NFL’s 13th-highest rushing success rate (SR) and will be without defensive end J.J. Watt (IR), its best run stopper, for the remainder of the season. The Cardinals finished below-average in that metric vs. San Francisco too.
- SR showcases whether a play is successful if a team gains:
- 50 percent of the yards needed to move the chains on first down
- 70 percent of yards to gain on second down
- 100 percent of yards to gain on third or fourth down
With Darnold’s turnover issues, Carolina is at its best when the ground game is utilized most. The Panthers rank No. 14 in rushing SR, and the reemergence of tailback Christian McCaffrey gives them an opportunity for more explosive plays. Albeit McCaffrey’s reported pitch count after missing six straight games with a hamstring injury, he ended up out-touching rookie Chubba Hubbard (18-4) in Week 9.
Back the road underdog in this spot at +9 or better. Carolina’s defense, ranking top five in both SR and EPA per play, will be up for the challenge against Murray or backup Colt McCoy.
Week 10 NFL Best Bets: Panthers +10 (-110 on FanDuel — placed on 8pm ET on Monday, Nov. 8)
Best Available Line: Panthers
Result: Win (+0.91 units)
Kansas City Chiefs @ Las Vegas Raiders
You can find this bet in my underdogs column.
Result: Loss (-1.00 unit)