Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023 | 2 a.m.
Bookmakers spent most of last week enthusiastic about the NFL slate ahead, one that had three extremely high-profile games sure to garner large betting interest on Sunday.
They couldn’t have possibly ended it with the same vigor. All three favorites in the aforementioned games won and covered — the Bengals over the Bills, the Eagles over the Cowboys and the Chiefs over the Dolphins — to play the biggest part in handing sports books their biggest loss of the season.
Throw in another couple favorites cashing in stand-alone games — the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football and the Los Angeles Chargers over the New York Jets on Monday Night Football — and the betting public saw a windfall in Week 9.
Unfortunately, I was more aligned with the house. The pick’em fell to its first losing record in plays since Week 5.
And, unlike the house, I don’t have a season’s worth of profit to fall back on. It hasn’t been my best NFL season so far — closer to the worst — but the halfway mark just passed.
There’s a lot of time left to get back on track, and hopefully be on the winning end the next time everyone is celebrating putting a dent into the casino’s bottom lines.
Read below to find picks on every Week 10 point spread. Games are labeled in three separate confidence categories — plays, leans and guesses — with individual records attached. Lines are the best available in Las Vegas on the chosen side at publication time. The record for the year stands at 65-70-1.
Pittsburgh Steelers -3 vs. Green Bay Packers Green Bay has fielded one of the worst offenses in the league despite facing a weak slate of opposing defenses over the first half of the year. That changes against a Steelers’ stop unit ranked seventh by the DVOA ratings that should be able to wreck the Packers if not add a score of their own as they’ve so commonly done this season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers -1 vs. Tennessee Titans Committing to rookie quarterback Will Levis for the rest of the season was the right choice for the Titans with how promising he’s been in his first two starts, but those showings might be slightly inflating his value. Progression isn’t linear and Levis is lucky to have only thrown one interception in the first place as defenses have dropped a few others.
New England Patriots +1.5 vs. Indianapolis Colts in Frankfurt, Germany The Colts have done an admirable job of navigating through their litany of injuries to remain competitive, but at some point, all the absences are going to catch up to them. They didn’t play nearly as well as the final score in last week’s 27-13 win over the Panthers as 2-point favorites indicated considering they only gained 3.5 yards per play and relied on a pair of Bryce Young-gifted interceptions returned for touchdowns by Kenny Moore.
Cincinnati Bengals -6.5 vs. Houston Texans This spread is trimming because of injury uncertainty with Bengals star receiver Ja’Marr Chase, but perhaps no team in the league is better positioned to absorb the absence of their best playmaker than the Bengals. With the way now-healthy quarterback Joe Burrow has played in four straights wins and covers, wide receivers Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd should more than suffice in the event Chase can’t play.
Atlanta Falcons -1.5 at Arizona Cardinals Kyler Murray has gone from the frequent butt of jokes to a player coming off a near year-long absence who has enough respect to move a line 1.5 points off the most important number in the NFL, 3. Murray is a rare talent who probably doesn’t deserve all the ridicule extended his way but expecting him to pick up right where he left off after an ACL tear is misguided. The Cardinals probably don’t have enough around Murray to maximize his talent in general, let alone in his first game back.
Carolina Panthers +4 at Chicago Bears The Bears were worth a bet when this line opened as low as -1.5, but it’s since moved too far. The vast majority of statistical measures rate both these teams as two of the five worst in the league, meaning neither side should be favored by more than a field goal.
Buffalo Bills -7.5 vs. Denver Broncos Despite the Bills’ dwindling overall effectiveness in a disappointing 5-4 straight-up, 3-6 against the spread season, quarterback Josh Allen still leads the league in most advanced statistics including QBR and DVOA. Playing at home, Allen should be more than capable of cracking a Denver pass defense that’s still vulnerable despite recent improvements.
Los Angeles Chargers +3 vs. Detroit Lions There’s arguably been too much concern expressed for the Chargers’ offense — which has a long track record indicating it will find its level — and not enough notice of their improving defense. Long one of the worst units in the league, the Chargers’ defense has now played well in three of its last four games. Detroit has been great on the year but there’s more upside on Los Angeles if it’s finally figured out its defense.
Washington Commanders +6.5 at Seattle Seahawks The Seahawks are continually overvalued by the betting market considering they haven’t covered a closing spread in four straight weeks. Their last two cashes were against the Panthers and Giants, perhaps the two worst teams in the league. This should be a good spot for them, with a mediocre Washington team traveling across the country for the first time, but the asking price is too prohibitive.
New Orleans Saints -2.5 at Minnesota Vikings Josh Dobbs’ late-notice relief performance to lead the Vikings to a 31-28 upset victory over the Falcons last week was memorable, but the quarterback is not set up for success in the immediate future with his third team this season. Minnesota is dealing with a cluster injury at wide receiver as well as the prolonged injury absence of left tackle Christian Darrisaw, factors that should be affecting its market rating more negatively.
Jacksonville Jaguars +3 vs. San Francisco 49ers The number is fair but it still feels like Jacksonville isn’t getting the full credit it deserves for being the hottest team in the league with five straight wins and covers. The Jaguars have been extremely undervalued, covering in all five of those games by at least a touchdown and tying the Lions with the best against the spread record in the league at 6-2.
Las Vegas Raiders +1.5 vs. New York Jets Is the offensive improvement the Raiders showed in a 30-6 blowout victory over the Giants as 1-point favorites last week for real? It’s too early to say. But it’s not too early to say that they have a higher offensive ceiling than the Jets if rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell keeps improving at high rate, something counterpart Zach Wilson hasn’t been able to achieve.
Cleveland Browns +6 at Baltimore Ravens There’s little debate Baltimore has been the best team in the league after another blowout victory last week against another current playoff team, 37-3 over Seattle as 6.5-point favorites, but this is a lot of points for a divisional game. It’s especially a lot of points for a divisional game against a defense performing at a historic level as Cleveland leads the league in both DVOA and expected points added (EPA) per play defense.
Dallas Cowboys -16.5 vs. New York Giants It’s impossible to confidently lay a number this large in the NFL, but this situation might be as close as it gets to it. Giants undrafted rookie quarterback Tommy DeVito has shown no indication he’s a capable starter and now has to face a devastating Dallas defense rated third in the league by EPA per play.