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.
Dolphins (-3.5) @ Broncos **Best Bet**
During the offseason one team that I picked to make the playoffs this year that didn’t make it last year were the Dolphins because how they finished the end of the 2019 season and the biggest factor was them drafting Tua Tagovailoa and not only are they on track to make the playoffs but they also have a shot at winning the AFC East division with the last game of the season against the Bills. The Dolphins were 3-3 when Tua was named the starter in Week 8 but since then the Dolphins have gone 3-0 SU and ATS winning by 7.3 PPG and exceeding expectations ATS with a point differential of +22.5 while the offense is scoring 30.3 PPG which ranks 5th in league during that time. The Dolphins winning formula over the last few weeks have been to take advantage of short fields that their defense has given them them with 2 takeaways a game and I think that formula works for at least one more week against the Broncos coming off of last weeks game with 5 turnovers in a blowout loss to the Raiders. Drew Lock is also dealing with an injury to his ribs that has him listed as questionable and he could possibly miss this game but even if he does play he won’t be 100%. This look ahead line was a PK and is now up to 3/3.5 but I think the Dolphins win by at least a touchdown and this line is likely to continue climbing so grab the 3/3.5 while it’s still available.
Best Bet: Dolphins -3.5
Patriots (-2.5) @ Texans **Teaser**
This line opened with the Patriots being a 3 point road dog but after seeing how the Patriots performed Sunday Night against the Ravens and how the Texans performed against the Browns the line moved in favor of the Patriots to be a 2/2.5 road favorite. With the help of some bad weather conditions Bill Belichick put together a great game plan to limit the strength of the Ravens offense which is the run game by only allowing 115 rushing yards and the longest run by an ball carrier for the Ravens was only 11 yards. I think he’ll be able to use a similar game plan against Deshaun Watson and the Texans as he’s at his best when he gets out of the pocket and keep plays alive with his legs by either gaining yards as a rusher or giving his receivers more time to get open downfield. The Texans already had a cluster of injuries at the linebacker position which hurts their rush defense even more than it already is and after their game with the Browns they had to add a couple more injuries to that position plus they’ll still be without starting running back David Johnson. The Texans have the worst rush defense in the league giving up over 150 yards on the ground a game and last week against the Browns they gave up 231 yards with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt both going over 100 yards and the Patriots will look to do the same thing led by Damien Harris, Rex Burkhead and Cam Newton.
Like: Patriots +3.5 (**Tease by 6**)
Jets (+8.5) @ Chargers **Teaser**
The Jets are in a great spot for Teaser tickets and I even like them this week with the points. They’re coming off their bye week but before that they played their best game of the season against the Patriots and probably feel like they should’ve won that game. The Jets have the highest percentage of landing the first pick in the draft with 82.4% and the 2nd best is the Jaguars with 10.5% so winning a game or 2 shouldn’t hurt their chances of landing the top pick and during their bye week I’d be willing to bet their were some conversations amongst players that they don’t want to go 0-16 and this week is their best chance to get a win because after this week every team left on their schedule is at least 3 games over .500 except the Patriots. I haven’t seen many teams in this league that are 2-7 and favored to win by more than a touchdown so this is a strong play against the Chargers as well.
Like: Jets +14.5 (**Tease by 6**)
Steelers (-10) @ Jaguars
This line opened at 10 and has stayed there pretty much all week even with the Steelers receiving more than 2/3 of the money. Ben Roethlisberger seems to be finding his rhythm throwing the ball coming off his best performance while throwing for over 300 yards and four touchdowns and the week before last throwing for 300 yards and three touchdowns and he’s in another favorable spot to have another big passing day as the Jaguars defense gave up 325 yards and 2 touchdowns to Aaron Rodgers. The Jaguars are also banged up on the offensive line with a couple guys banged up and listed as questionable which isn’t good going up against this Steelers pass rush that ranked 1st in the league in sacks with 36. The Steelers do play the Ravens next week but Mike Tomlin has came out and said they’re not looking past the Jags so I think they follow up last weeks blowout win over the Bengals with another one this week.
Like: Steelers -10
Cowboys (+7) @ Vikings
This line opened at 9 and is quickly moving to the Cowboys as it’s at 7 now and I like it all the way down to 4. The Cowboys will have the rest advantage on their side as they’re coming off their bye and the Vikings are on a short week playing Monday Night. Before their bye week the Cowboys played well against the Steelers as double digit home underdogs while out gaining a significantly better team in yardage and had a chance to win that game straight up. Garrett Gilbert played a good game but Andy Dalton is expected to return this week and he was the highest paid backup quarterback for a reason. One of the Cowboys key pieces on the offensive line Zack Martin is listed as questionable but expected to play as well as a key pieces on the defensive line Randy Gregory. The Vikings have been the hottest team in the league over the last month but their win Monday night seemed to be a little gifted with the Bears offense only able to gain 149 total yards. During his tenure in Green Bay as the head coach from 2006-2018 Mike McCarthy covered the spread over 60% of the time coming off a bye so I’m looking for him to have a similar impact with the Cowboys.
Lean: Cowboys +7
Titans (+5) @ Ravens
The Titans are coming off a mini bye and both teams coming off losses. This is a rematch from the playoffs when the Titans won 28-12 as road underdogs. With both teams not playing as well lately it’s hard for me to back a side but a play on the total is a stronger play. Both teams are dealing with injuries on defense with key guys being banged up and listed as questionable or out for this week. The total opened at 48.5 and moved up to 49.5 and I still think there’s value as I have this line set at 50. Last week against the Patriots defense the Ravens were only able to score 17 points but I think a large part of that was due to the horrible weather conditions. The Titans like to establish the run to set up the pass and last week against a Colts defense that’s pretty good they were able to rush for 157 yards but Ryan Tannehill didn’t play well with only 147 yards when he normally averages 236 so I expect him to have a bounce back performance against the Ravens secondary dealing with multiple injuries led by one of their best defensive backs Jimmy Smith.
Like: Over 49.5
Lions (+1.5) @ Panthers
This matchup is going to come down to which teams key players will be healthy enough to play because both sides have key guys banged up and limited through practice. It’s unclear if Teddy Bridgewater is going to play as well as Matt Stafford. A bright spot this year for the Lions has been rookie running back DeAndre Swift when they’ve properly featured him in the offense. He’s only started one game but played in nine and when he’s gotten 10 carries or more he’s rushed for 60 yards or better and the Lions record in those games are 2-1 so moving forward I’d expect them to continuing featuring him in the offense and if he’s healthy enough to play I like his player prop to go over rushing yards as the Panthers rush defense is bottom 10 in the league giving up over 120 yards on the ground. Update: DeAndre Swift has been officially ruled out with a concussion for this game. Expect Adrian Peterson & Kerryon Johnson to shoulder the load, in addition to newly-signed practice squad running back and former Colt Jonathan Williams.
Eagles (+3) @ Browns
Last week was the healthiest the Eagles had been in a long time and getting a bunch of guys back on offense all at once seemed like they needed an adjustment period and playing a familiar opponent within the division with Giants were able to take advantage of the Eagles rust but I think the Eagles are ready to have a better performance on offense as they are also expected to get back Zach Ertz who’s the best weapon for the Eagles and Wentz’s most reliable weapon. The Browns have played two straight home games only scoring 13 PPG during that time but it was due to terrible weather conditions with winds of 20 MPH or higher in those matchups and this week winds are projected to be less than 10 MPH so I’m expecting more scoring from the Browns this week as well as the Eagles. The total for this game opened at 47 and moved to 47.5 and I’ll play the over up to 50.
Like: Over 50
Falcons (+4) @ Saints
The look ahead line for this matchup was Saints -7.5 and then the Drew Brees news came out. The Saints offense is built on the precision and accuracy of Drew Brees and replacing him with Jameis Winston who lost his job last year because of being to accurate throwing the ball to the other team or the gimmicky weapon of Taysom Hill won’t be good enough to keep up the scoring pace that the offense was scoring 30 PPG. The Falcons are 3-6 SU but they’ve been playing much better under Raheem Morris going 3-1 SU and ATS over the last month and over their last three games they have a +4.7 margin of victory that ranks top ten. It’s also being reported that Alvin Kamara is listed as questionable dealing with an injury to his foot and he’s been their most reliable weapon this year and possibly the best weapon in football. The Saints most important offensive lineman Ryan Ramczyk is also banged up and listed as questionable with a knee issue and he’s one of the five best offensive tackles in the game.
Like: Falcons +4
Bengals (+1) @ Washington
In nine games this year the Bengals have scored 20 or more points six times and two of the three times they didn’t came against the top two teams in their division against the Steelers and Ravens. The other game they scored less than 20 came in the first game of the year against the Chargers so this is another great spot for them to score 20 points or more. The Bengals have also given up 23 points or more in eight of the nine games played so a strong play on the over as Alex Smith makes his second start and he helped lead the Washington offense to score 27 points last week against the Lions throwing for nearly 400 yards.
Lean: Over 47
Packers (+2.5) @ Colts
Aaron Rodgers has been having a great season and the Packers opened as 2.5 point favorites and are now 2.5 point dogs and since last year the Packers are 5-2 ATS exceeding expectations ATS with a point differential of +3.8 as underdogs. The Packers are dealing with some injuries to key guys on both sides of the ball with Davante Adams being their best wide receiver and Jaire Alexander their best cornerback still in concussion protocol and both listed as questionable. The Colts are off a mini bye playing last Thursday getting an impressive win over the Titans and they seem to be peaking at the right time and getting healthy. Phillip Rivers also looks like he’s living up to preseason expectations now with how he’s producing with the offense. In his last four games he’s thrown for 250 yards or more three times and threw for three touchdowns in a game twice and is in another good spot to have a similar performance against the Packers defense dealing with some key players banged and could possibly miss this game.
Lean: Colts -2.5
Chiefs (-8) @ Raiders
Patrick Mahomes has emerged as the front runner for the MVP by averaging nearly 300 yards per game with an amazing 25:1 TD:INT and should take advantage of the Raiders secondary that ranks in the bottom 10 and has a 14:7 TD:INT and with all the chatter during the week between these two teams I expect the Chiefs to play with added motivation and the revenge factor on their side and Andy Reid may look to run the score up to send the Raiders a message. Reid is already proven to be one of the better coaches in football but he might be the best coming off a bye as he’s 24-5 SU (including playoffs). Tyreek Hill is one of the most dangerous weapons in all of football and should have a big game against this secondary that allows 14 yards per catch.
Like: Chiefs -8
Rams (+4) @ Buccaneers
The Rams come into this matchup with the number one passing defense being led by their secondary. They’ve only faced two worthy pass offenses with the Bills and Seahawks but the Bucs being led by Tom Brady is more of a stationary pocket passer that doesn’t come with the same threat as Russell Wilson and Josh Allen so it should be a little easier defending Brady with not having to deal with the threat of him running downfield. With Brady’s prop for passing yards set at 287.5 I would look to play that under as the Bucs also look to establish the run to open up the passing game and take pressure off of Brady. Also the Bucs aren’t to far removed from being blown out against the Saints and they only ran the ball four times. They followed that up last week with 31 rushes coming out of the backfield to be more balanced and I think they’ll do more of the same.
Like: Bucs -4