Author's Note: Two stats that I will be referencing throughout this weekly matchups column are Yards Per Point (YPP). and DVOA (Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average). The goal of YPP is for an offense or defense to make the most of their opportunities when it comes to scoring points, but there are some important things that YPP doesn’t account for that DVOA does. In fact, DVOA accounts for everything YPP does plus important factors like turnovers, field position (where your drive starts) and special teams. These stats not only play a big part in scoring/preventing points, but they also play a big part in winning/covering spreads. With these statistics, my goal is to help us figure out which are the teams that are the most efficient at scoring AND at preventing points. Now, without further adieu, let’s officially get into our new NFL Week 10 matchup breakdowns column!
A quick primer on YPP and its importance in our handicapping: One of, if not THE most powerful measuring statistics in football, to measure how great an offense or defense is (or isn’t), in my opinion, is Yards Per Point (YPP). Yards Per Point is effective because it measures how many yards an offense gains before they score a point. A different stat that is regularly used by handicappers isYards Per Play, which only takes into account how many yards an offense gains and not its scoring. Gaining yards is a good thing to measure, sure, but in this world, we need to score points, and it does us no favors if a team gains yards without producing those points. This is where YPP will come into play for us. For an offense, the lower the YPP is, the better. Between 10-13 is a very good YPP number for an NFL offense, while 14-15 is average and 16 or lower I consider to be below average for an NFL offense. For defenses, the higher the YPP number is, the better. A defense with a high YPP doesn’t give up a lot of points for the yards that are gained against them. Throughout our weekly matchups column I will reference this stat quite often here.
Broncos (+5.5) @ Raiders**Best Bet**
With the Raiders coming off two straight weeks of being on the road in close games and were fortunate to win last week I think this is a flat spot for them. The Raiders faced a Chargers defense that’s average ranking 16th in overall DVOA while facing the 10th toughest schedule of offenses and were out gained by 120 yards, had 10 fewer first downs and Carr completed less than 60% of his passes and threw for less than 200 yards. Now they’ll face a Broncos defense that is better despite injuries that rank 9th overall in defensive DVOA while facing the 9th toughest schedule of offenses. Drew Lock has developed confidence in his wide receivers (Jeudy, Hamler and Patrick) as he’s targeted Jeudy 24 times for 11 catches 198 yards and a touchdown over the last two weeks and should have another big day against this Raiders defense that ranks 30th in defensive DVOA and 26th against the pass. This look ahead line was Raiders -2 before last weeks games and even though the Raiders won as my best bet they showed me nothing that warrants the line moving 3.5 points in their direction so I think there’s value on the Broncos as a live dog.
Best Bet: Broncos +5.5
Ravens (-7) @ Patriots
The Patriots up against the rest disadvantage as they’re on a short week playing Monday Night now have to face the Ravens on Sunday Night. Credit the Patriots for getting a win when they needed one in the worst way but it still wasn’t impressive against the worst team in the league. The stats indicate that they dominated this game but they only won by 3 with a late field goal at the end while they were being outplayed for majority of the game. Now they won’t be as lucky against the Ravens. The Ravens have the 5th best defense in overall DVOA and a rushing attack that gives every team problems. The Patriots are ranked 31st in defensive DVOA and 31st against the run so the Ravens strength of having a heavy running game should have no problems against this defense and I anticipate they’ll most likely be a popular play for Teaser tickets this weekend. Sign me up.
Like: Ravens (-1) **Tease by 6**
Texans (+3) @ Browns
This is a great spot for the Browns coming off a bye facing the Texans who haven’t covered a game on the road this season going 0-4 and a average margin of victory of -6.2 and failing to meet expectations ATS with a point differential of -3.8. The Browns lost Odell Beckham for the season but will be gaining a more significant piece to their offense back in Nick Chubb. Chubb was not only their lead back but he was also one of the three best running backs in the league and he’s expected to be back this week and strengthen the backfield with Kareem Hunt. The Texans rank 27th in defensive DVOA and 28th against the run so I expect the Browns to get the running game going that’ll lead to opening up the passing game and with OBJ out Baker Mayfield won’t feel obligated to focus on one wide receiver and just find the open man and get them the ball. This look ahead line was Browns -2.5 suggesting the Texans were slightly better and has moved up to 3 which I disagree as I think the Browns are the clear cut better team and I would have them at least two points better on a neutral field.
Like: Browns (+3) **Tease by 6**
Eagles (-3.5) @ Giants
The Eagles are expecting to get a few key players back from injury this week on both sides of the ball and they should be in great position in the second half of the season to really separate themselves from the NFC East division and it starts Sunday against the Giants. The Eagles are also off their bye and since 2016 when Doug Pederson became the head coach and Carson Wentz was drafted, the Eagles have met expectations coming off a bye with an average margin of victory of +3.6 and a point differential ATS of +1.6. The Giants are coming off two straight covers against the Buccaneers and winning outright against the Redskins last week but over the last three seasons they’re 1-9 straight up and ATS inside the division and the Eagles are 10-3 ATS in the last 13 games played in New York so I expect Carson Wentz to lead the Eagles to another win by at least a touchdown and get the Eagles to a .500 even record.
Like: Eagles -3.5
Bengals (+7.5) @ Steelers
Out of eight games this season the Steelers only gave up 24 points three times so far but it’s come in two of their last three games. The Steelers coming off a flat spot last week playing down to their competition against the Cowboys I expect for them to bounce back and have a better performance against a divisional opponent they’ve dominated over the years going 20-7-1 ATS in their last 28 matchups with the Bengals and 5-2 ATS in the last seven games played in Pittsburgh. Joe Burrow might be a rookie but he’s already gained the confidence of the coaching staff to throw it all over the field with 30 pass attempts this season being the lowest of the year against the Ravens that came in bad weather conditions so I expect another high volume passing day and a minimum of 24 points scored. This total opened up around 46.5/47 and I think the over is in play. I like over 46.5 here.
Like: Over 46.5
Jaguars (+13.5) @ Packers
As we get deeper into the winter months of the year weather conditions start to become a factor in some of these games and this is expected to be one of them with temperatures projected to be around 35 degrees and winds up to 25 MPH so I don’t expect many explosive passing plays downfield and a stronger emphasis will be put on the running game and I like the Packers backfield more being led by Aaron Jones compared to the Jaguars with James Robinson. Over their last three games the Jaguars have given up 180, 135 and 107 rushing yards to teams like the Lions, Chargers and Texans so a team like the Packers that’s one of the better teams in the league should have no problems moving the ball on the ground. Another big factor is the weather like I mentioned before. The Jaguars are not use to playing in these types of conditions being from Florida and playing majority of their games in warm weather or inside a dome with a couple of teams in the AFC South division being dome teams. The Jaguars are 1-1 ATS when they’re an underdog between 7-13.5 points this year but overall they’re 8-10 ATS when the line is between 10.5-14 points so look for Luton to follow up his debut with a struggling performance.
Like: Packers (-13.5) over Jaguars
49ers (+9.5) @ Saints
The 49ers are 3-1 ATS on the road exceeding expectations ATS with a point differential of +14 but these numbers are inflated with the win over the Patriots who are one of the worst teams in the league and the 49ers just keep adding to the injured list with starting safety Jaquski Tartt now going on the IR and Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman ruled out for this game as well. The Saints are coming off a blowout win over division rivals Tampa Bay in a prime time spot that most of America saw and will more than likely be on the Saints again this week as they may have the revenge play on their side from the 49ers going to New Orleans last year and beating them outright as underdogs. With this season being derailed by the amount of injuries the 49ers are dealing with it would be better off if they positioned themselves for a high draft pick and possibly land a quarterback that’s more of a dual threat and can execute Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Jimmy G has been great when he’s been out there (only started 23 out of 48 regular season games in three seasons) but he did benefit from a top 3 defense and running game and playing in the toughest division in football facing Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray four times a year it might be best for the 49ers to go get more of a durable and dynamic playmaker at quarterback.
Lean: Saints -9.5
Washington (+4.5) @ Lions
In eight games played this year Antonio Gibson has gone over 10 carries four times with his game against the Cowboys being his best performance with 20 carries and 128 yards and with Alex Smith making his first start since his gruesome leg injuries leaning on the running game against a weak Lions rush defense should help out the veteran quarterback. With the Lions giving up 197 rushing yards per game over the last two weeks and Dalvin Cook running wild to a historic day last week Gibson and the rest of Washington’s backfield should have a big day. A set line for Gibson’s rushing yards is at 52.5 laying -122 and I think he goes well over that.
Like: Gibson over 52.5 rushing yards
Buccaneers (-5.5) @ Panthers
The Panthers have been one of the better teams to bet on so far this year but that’s come when they’ve been on the road as they’re 4-1 ATS this year but at home it’s a different story going 1-3 ATS and failing to meet expectations ATS with a point differential of-1.6. After the Buccaneers were blown out Sunday Night against the Saints I wouldn’t want to bet against them with Tom Brady ready to go into psycho mode after the worst loss in his career. These teams played back in week two and the Bucs won by 14 covering the spread when everything was still fairly new to Brady. Now with multiple weeks and a bevy of practices under his belt, he should feel more comfortable compared to earlier in the season, and I expect Brady to revert back to his rock solid performances before the blowout against New Orleans.
Lean: Buccaneers -5.5
Chargers (+2.5) @ Dolphins
Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa are off to great starts for their teams and this matchup has the potential for another shootout. The Chargers averaging 31.6 PPG over their last three and the Dolphins averaging 31 PPG in Tua’s starts makes for a strong play to the over with a low total of 48 that opened at 47. I never bought into or understood the take the media was pushing that the Dolphins starting Tua was an audition to see if he’s good enough when he produced back to back seasons of 90 or better PFF grades and if it wasn’t for injuries he more than likely would’ve been the 2020 number one overall pick.
Like: Over 48 points
Bills (+2) @ Cardinals
This is another matchup of teams and quarterbacks that can and should put up points with Kyler Murray and Josh Allen. This total opened at 49 and has skyrocketed to 56.5 but I’m gonna follow the money and be square and take the over still as I have this total set around 60 and both teams have averaged 28 points or more over their last three games. Also both teams play to the over with their games going over at least 50% of the time in the home/road splits and the Bills are 6-0-1 to the over in their last 7 games following a win. I like over 56.5 here.
Like: Over 56.5
Seahawks (+1.5) @ Rams
Over the last few weeks it’s become clear that the Seahawks are all “Russ or bust” and against solid defenses with good quarterbacks they’ve lost those games outright against the Cardinals, Bills and Vikings and the Rams can pose similar problems. With the Rams not being as dynamic in the passing game this year a game plan to run the ball and lean on the defense while taking a handful of shots in the passing game seems like their path to victory but it didn’t take long for Wilson to find DK Metcalf or Tyler Lockett. Wilson’s total passing yards is set around 292.5 which seems high but in comparison to him averaging 327.6 yards per game there’s value in playing that number over. Even with Wilson struggling with four turnovers last week he still managed to throw for 390 yards and I expect him to take better care of the football but even if he doesn’t he’s shown he’s still capable of putting up big numbers as the success of the Seahawks depends on his arm.
Like: Wilson over 292.5 passing yards
Vikings (-2.5) @ Bears
After a slow start to the season due to a lot of turnover in the roster with young guys and limited practice time due to COVID-19 the Vikings seem to be hitting their stride over the last couple weeks with two division wins against the Lions and Packers who lead the division but now they have to deal with the Bears defense and they’re legit. The Bears face the issue of not having a quarterback that can consistently make plays downfield. Their defense has given them a chance to win every game but the offense has not produced enough. With Nick Foles and Mitch Tribusky not being much better than each other I think it would be best for the offense if they made a move back to Tribusky. The Bears offensive line isn’t that great and Tribusky does bring some mobility to scramble around to either keep plays alive for his receivers to get open downfield or to move the chains with his legs something that Foles can’t do.