This is NFL Best Bets, a recurring series in which professional sports handicappers lend us their insights and picks for the most intriguing matchups for each week of the professional football season. Here are our Week 10 NFL picks.
You’ve got places to go, people to see and possibly some wagers to make, so let’s get right to it with some help from Thomas Gable, the director of race and sportsbook at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, sports betting reporter Josh Appelbaum of VSiN and Odds Assist CEO Dave Rathmanner.
Seattle Seahawks (+2.5, O/U 44.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Bucs listed as a short 1.5-point neutral site favorite (the game will be played in Germany). The public thinks the wrong team is favored, and they’re rushing to the window to grab the points with the trendy dog Seahawks. However, despite this lopsided betting, we’ve seen the Bucs move from -1.5 to -2.5. They even touched -3 throughout the week. The books seem to be begging you to take the Seahawks. I’ll fade the trendy dog and back Brady as a sharp contrarian favorite. Give me Tampa Bay -145 on the moneyline.
Gable’s Guess: The Buccaneers are still struggling on offense. They have no explosiveness whatsoever. But, they may back their way into the playoffs by winning the poorest division in football. The Seahawks, for me, have been the story of the first half. They dumped Russell Wilson and were expected to finish last in their division and now they’re in first place in the NFC West. Geno Smith is playing like a top-five quarterback in the league. Rookie running back Kenneth Walker has also been impossible to stop. Pete Carroll is a candidate for Coach of the Year. When you look at Tom Brady’s career, he’s undefeated at 3-0 in international games. He’s dominated in those games. That being said, with this being on a neutral field in Germany, I make this a pick ’em game. I’m going to take the points with Seattle.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: The NFL takes the show on the road to Germany for a matchup between the overachieving Seahawks and the underachieving Buccaneers. This is a lot of travel for Seattle and the game will be played on a body-clock time of 6:30 am Pacific — not ideal. Seattle didn’t land until Thursday afternoon, so there will not be a ton of time to adjust to the time difference. This is a good matchup for Tampa Bay overall. While they’ve had some offensive struggles, the defense is allowing only 18.2 points per game and is top-five against the pass. They should be able to contain Geno Smith, Tyler Lockett, and DK Metcalf. On the other side, Tampa’s offensive struggles won’t look as bad against a Seattle defense that ranks toward the bottom of the league in yards and points allowed per game. Tampa at -3 or less is the play in this one.
Our Pick: The Seahawks are a great story but they’re due for a slip-up. Laying the points with Brady and the Bucs.
Minnesota Vikings (+3.5, O/U 43.5) at Buffalo Bills
Appelbaum’s Assessment: We’ve seen massive line movement in this game due to Josh Allen’s elbow injury. The Bills opened as 9.5-point home favorites and have fallen all the way down to -3.5 with Allen possibly missing this game due to injury. Much of the value is now gone, but I’ll still take the Vikings plus the hook. Sweet spot dogs +3.5 or more are 52-28 ATS (65%) this season. Kirk Cousins is 58% ATS as a dog of 3-points or more. If Case Keenum starts, I’d expect this line to fall below the key number of 3. I’ll take Vikings +3.5.
Gable’s Guess: Shops have been hedging against the Josh Allen news all week which is reflected in the line. The Vikings have won six in a row. They seem to lose the lead in every game only to come back and win. The Bills lost to the Jets and there is concern about Allen’s injury, but I still think Buffalo is the best team in the league. Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins has never won a game with the Vikings where he is an underdog of six points or greater. I think you have to look at the Vikings-Eagles game earlier this year, which is the lone loss for Minnesota. The Eagles’ offense is very similar to Buffalo’s. Let’s see if the Vikings can step up in class and compete, because they couldn’t do it in Philly. I’ll lay the points if Allen is playing. If it’s Case Keenum at quarterback for the Bills, I’m going to take the Vikings.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: This is a tough one to handicap given the very uncertain status of Josh Allen. If Allen does play, the Bills won’t ask too much of him and should focus on the run. If it’s backup QB Case Keenum who starts, the Bills also won’t ask too much of him either. The Vikings’ strength is their run defense, so the Bills will have to work hard to establish a ground game. The Bills have one of the top defenses in the league and are allowing less than 300 yards per game and a league-best 14.8 points against per game. The weather does not look great in Buffalo Sunday. It will be cold with winds gusting up to 30 mph. The Bills have gone under in 7 of their last 10 and the Vikings have gone under in 3 of their last 5 on the road. Playing the under in Buffalo on Sunday.
Our Pick: Gusting winds and a shaky quarterback situation could lead to a lack of offense. Taking the under.
Dallas Cowboys (-4.5, O/U 43) at Green Bay Packers
Appelbaum’s Assessment: The Cowboys opened as a 3-point road favorite and got steamed up all the way to -5 before some Packers buyback dropped the line back down to 4.5. Dallas has a major rest advantage coming off a bye. Favorites off a bye are roughly 57% ATS over the last decade. Road favorites off a bye are even better, covering at a 65% clip. I’ll back the rested Cowboys against a Packers team that looks to be in freefall and lay the points with Dallas.
Gable’s Guess: This is basically a revenge game for Dallas coach Mike McCarthy. Ironically, one of the reasons he was fired by Green Bay was the offense had gotten stale and he wasn’t getting along with Aaron Rodgers. It sounds kind of like what’s going on now. The Packers would almost have to win out to have a legitimate shot at the playoffs. It just doesn’t feel like a good spot for Green Bay against this Cowboy defense. They’re third in the NFL in points allowed. The Packers also lost Rashan Gary to a torn ACL and he was their best pass rusher. The Cowboys are gonna be well-rested and they seem to be the favorite to sign Odell Beckham. I’m not comfortable laying the points though, so I’m going to take the under.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: The Packers simply do not have enough talent to match the Cowboys in this one. With Tony Pollard looking like a lead back and Ezekiel Elliot likely back from a knee injury to still play a key role, the Cowboys should have no trouble moving the ball against a Packer run defense that is seventh-worst in the league in allowing 138.6 yards per game. The Packers have had no success offensively and have looked completely out of sorts for long stretches of time. That likely won’t improve against the Cowboys who allow just 16.6 points per game. I’ll take the Cowboys -5.
Our Pick: This seems like a smash spot for Dallas. Since it’s -5 instead of a touchdown, we’re laying the points.
Arizona Cardinals (+1.5, O/U 40.5) at Los Angeles Rams
Appelbaum’s Assessment: Another big line move due to a quarterback injury. This line opened with the Rams listed as a 3-point home favorite. We’ve seen Los Angeles fall from -3 to -1.5 due to Matthew Stafford dealing with a concussion. Kyler Murray is 19-10 ATS (66%) in his career as a dog. Arizona also has value as a divisional dog (57% ATS this season). Dogs that failed to cover the previous week, like the Cardinals, are 32-20 ATS (62%) this season. I’ll tease the Cardinals up from +1.5 to +7.5, which goes through the key numbers of 3 and 7. I’ll pair them with the 49ers -7 to -1, who also fit the favorite-off-a-bye-system match.
Gable’s Guess: Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury is on the hot seat in Arizona. The team never looks prepared, and they’re constantly committing costly penalties and turning the ball over. That says something about the kind of discipline Kingsbury has instilled or the lack thereof. it doesn’t help that Kyler Murray just won’t throw the ball downfield. The offense isn’t explosive at all. Their opponents in this one aren’t explosive either as the Rams are averaging only 16.4 points per game. They’ve scored only 131 total points so far. At this point last season, they’d already scored 245. They can’t run the ball and Sean McVay’s offensive scheme looks completely broken at this point. The question is: Which of these bad teams are you gonna take? I’m going to take the points with the Cardinals.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: The Rams have had their way with the Cardinals in recent meetings, winning 10 of the last 11 games between the two teams, so it’s a great opportunity for the Rams to get back on track. The Rams’ defense continues to be strong, allowing just 312.4 yards per game, good for eighth-best in the league. The Cardinals and their 25th-ranked pass defense will have trouble containing one of the best receivers in the league in Cooper Kupp, who has 27 catches for 292 yards and 2 touchdowns in his last 4 games against the Cardinals. Look for the Rams to continue the success they have had against the Cardinals and take them on the moneyline at around -120 on Sunday.
Our Pick: Stafford on the bench for a week might not be a bad thing. Laying the points with the NFL champs.
San Diego Chargers (+7, O/U 45.5) at San Francisco 49ers
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened as low as San Francisco -3.5 at some shops. It has quickly risen to 49ers -7. It feels like all the value is gone with San Francisco since the line moved so much. Even though favorites off a bye have done well, so have primetime dogs (60% ATS). I’ll look toward the total instead. It opened at 47.5 and has fallen to 45.5, signaling some sharp under money. Unders that fall at least a half point are 42-25 (64%). Primetime unders are 18-10 (66%). I’ll sweat the under at 45.5.
Gable’s Guess: The 49ers are coming in off their bye week and they’ll also be getting a few players back from injury, including running back Elijah Mitchell. It’s good news all around for San Francisco in this one. The Chargers probably have more injury problems than any other team in the league this year and they’re fortunate to have that winning record and be in the playoff picture here. In three of their five wins, luck has been a major factor. The 49ers have been a bit Jekyll-and-Hyde themselves, but big things will be expected out of this team in the second half of the season. They have one of the best defenses in the league and they’ve demonstrated they can dominate games when they don’t turn the ball over. I think they will be able to run all over this Charger defense. I’m going to lay the points with San Francisco.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: This is a tough spot for the Chargers, playing for a second consecutive week on the road coming off a trip to the east coast. The 49ers’ defense will make it tough for the Chargers to get points, as they allow only 18.4 points per game. Meanwhile, the 49er offense continues to get better and healthier as Deebo Samuel is going to return from injury. They should have success getting points against the Chargers, who allow a third-worst 25.8 points per game. Look for this to be a comfortable win for the 49ers. Playing them at -7 or less.
Our Pick: It’s a big number. Both of these teams are inconsistent. Gonna roll the dice and go with the over.
Last Week: 1-2-2; This Season: 19-24-2
Editor’s note: Betting lines fluctuate throughout the week based on injuries, the weather and other factors. Make sure to double-check the odds before making your own Week 10 NFL picks.