This is NFL Best Bets, a recurring series in which football experts and handicappers lend us their insights and picks for the most intriguing matchups for each week of the professional football season.
In this Week 10 edition of NFL Best Bets, 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 Mike Golic Jr. of DraftKings share their opinions on five games that will kick off on the first weekend of the second half of the NFL season, including the Jaguars traveling to San Fran to take on the 49ers in what could be a classic AFC-NFC matchup.
You’ve got places to go, people to see and possibly some wagers to make, so let’s get to it. Also, look out for a player doing the chicken dance in the end zone on Sunday after scoring a touchdown, because you’ll be eligible for a free chicken sandwich from Shake Shack if that happens.
Texans (+6.5, O/U 47) at Bengals
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Bengals listed as high as an 8-point home favorite. The public is pounding Joe Burrow and the Bengals minus the points. However, despite receiving 76% of bets, we’ve seen Cincinnati fall from -8 to -7 and some shops are even inching down to 6.5. This signals sharp reverse line movement on the Texans plus the points. Houston is one of the top contrarian plays of the week, receiving only 24% of bets. Burrow as a favorite of 6-points or more is just 4-5 ATS in his career. I’ll take the points with the Texans.
Gable’s Guess: It was an amazing performance by CJ Stroud to lead the Texans to a come-from-behind win against Tampa on Sunday. Sitting at 4-4, Houston has to be feeling really good about their draft choice and their future. Here, Stroud goes up against Joe Burrow, a young QB who feels like an old veteran with his disciplined approach and level of play over the past couple of years. The Bengals have turned around their season and are playing as many expected they would coming into this year. In his last four games, Burrow’s thrown for 1,113 yards and 10 touchdowns. In his first four games, he had only 728 passing yards and two touchdowns. An issue for the Texans is their lack of a pass rush. They have not been able to get to the quarterback much at all this year. When Burrow isn’t under pressure, his accuracy is off the charts. He’s just picking teams apart. I’m going to lay the points at home with the Bengals.
Golic’s Gamble: Joe Burrow and company are officially a problem. We seem to be running into the exact same script we’ve seen from them during his tenure: the beginning of the season can be totally brushed away. CJ Stroud has succeeded against some very seasoned defensive coordinators so far this season, so I’m excited to see what Cincinnati DC Lou Anarumo cooks up for him. Laying the points with Cincinnati.
IH Best Bet: Classic letdown spot for Cincy after last week, but they can’t afford it. Laying the points.
Packers (+3, O/U 39) at Steelers
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Steelers listed as a 3-point home favorite. As of now, 79% of bets and 75% of money is laying the points with Pittsburgh. However, despite this lopsided betting, the line really hasn’t budged off Steelers -3. This signals some sharp line freeze liability on the Packers plus the points. We’ve also seen this total rise from 37.5 to 39. I’ll look to buy low on the inflated total and go under 39. Unders are 83-52 (61%) this season. Non-conference unders are 31-17 (65%). When the total is less than 40, the under is 14-9 (61%). Pittsburgh and Green Bay both rank in the bottom-seven in the NFL in pace of play. I’ll take the under.
Gable’s Guess: These are two bad offensive teams. The Steelers’ winning record has come through smoke and mirrors. They’re still very much in contention in the division and for a playoff spot, but I don’t think they rate anywhere near the other teams in the AFC North. Pickett is a pretty mediocre quarterback, but they have been able to pull out wins that are improbable. At the midway point of the season, it’s become painfully clear Jordan Love is not the long-term solution for Green Bay quarterback. They’ve been missing players, but It doesn’t excuse the failings we’ve seen, which have included a lot of inept passing downfield. They cannot get any chunk plays. I’m going to take the under in this game.
Golic’s Gamble: Signs of life last week for Green Bay! The Packers and Steelers feature two quarterbacks who only seem to hit the “on” switch late in games, which sounds like a recipe for a low total. Each of the last six Steelers games has checked in below the number, and I think we make it seven this weekend. Taking the under.
IH Best Bet: Don’t believe in the Steelers, but trust the Packers even less. Laying the points.
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49ers (-3, O/U 45) at Jaguars
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the 49ers listed as a 2.5-point road favorite. The public is laying the points, with 65% of bets backing San Francisco. This lopsided support has driven the 49ers up from -2.5 to -3. Now that we’ve reached the key number of 3, I’ll look to buy low on Jacksonville as a contrarian home dog. Trevor Lawrence is 4-1 ATS as a home dog since 2022. Kyle Shanahan is just 11-14 against the spread (44%) in his career as a road favorite. The 49ers have only averaged 17 points per game on offense over their last three games, compared to 26 PPG for the Jaguars. Give me the Jags with the points.
Gable’s Guess: Both teams are coming off their bye weeks, but they entered them in different sorts. The Jaguars were on a pretty hot run, but we’ll see if they can maintain that momentum. The Niners just suffered a few losses there and the bye could not have come at a better time for them. Brock Purdy has not looked the same since he suffered a concussion in Week 7. The week off could help the Niners regain their early-season form when they looked dominant. One area where the Jags have been susceptible is their passing defense. While the Jags are a good team, I don’t think they’re in the same class as a healthy 49ers team. I’ll lay the points with San Francisco.
Golic’s Gamble: While star left tackle Trent Williams will likely still be sidelined, the return of wide receiver Deebo Samuel should go a long way in helping the Ninver offense look more like itself with another quality outlet for Brock Purdy. This is a great test as the 49ers added Chase Young to their pass rush arsenal and they’ll attack a Jaguar offensive line that’s allowed the fifth-fewest pressures in the league. Trevor Lawrence also averages the fourth-fastest time to throw in football. I think the 49ers get back on track and win a tight one but cover the number. I’ll lay the points with San Fran.
IH Best Bet: Could see this one going either way, but betting on points regardless. Taking the over.
Browns (+6.5, O/U 38) at Ravens
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Ravens listed as a 5.5-point home favorite. Currently 60% of bets and 67% of money is laying the points with Baltimore. This sharp and public support has pushed the Ravens up from -5.5 to -6.5. The last two times the Ravens saw line movement in their favor at home they crushed the Lions 38-6 and destroyed the Seahawks 37-3. However, I am always wary of laying points in divisional games. Just to be safe, I’ll tease down the Ravens from -6.5 to -0.5 and I’ll pair them with the Bills -7.5 to -1.5 at home against the Broncos on Monday night.
Gable’s Guess: This is a battle between two of the best defenses in the NFL. The Browns’ defense ranks first in allowing 234.8 yards per game while Baltimore’s defense has given up the fewest points in the NFL this year. While the two defenses should match up well, I think the difference here will come down to Lamar Jackson, who has emerged as a serious MVP candidate this season. He leads the NFL in completion percentage at 71.5% and he also has more yards rushing than any other quarterback this season. It’s kind of unusual to see the same quarterback doing both of those things. Baltimore comes into this game very hot, but it’s a lot of points to lay in a division game. I’ll take the points with Cleveland.
Golic’s Gamble: I know these two teams already played and it was a blowout for the Ravens, but that was Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s first action as a starter subbing in for Deshaun Watson against a galaxy-brain Baltimore defense. I think the AFC North will do AFC North things this weekend when two of the best defenses in the NFL square off. The game should be tightly contested, feature very few points and have everyone limping to the ice bath on Monday. Give me the Browns with the points.
IH Best Bet: The Ravens feel like a Super Bowl team. Cleveland doesn’t. It’s a lot of points, but laying ’em.
Lions (-3, O/U 48.5) at Chargers
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened at roughly a pick’em, with some shops even posting an opener of Chargers -1.5 at home. Since that time, we’ve seen a steady dose of sharp money hit the Lions, flipping Detroit to a 3-point road favorite. Currently 79% of bets and 91% of money is backing Detroit, signaling a heavy Pro and Joe bet split. Road favorites off a bye are 64-37 ATS (63%) over the past 20 seasons. Dan Campbell is 6-2 ATS this season and 29-13 ATS (69%) as coach of the Lions. Now that we’ve reached the key number of 3, I’ll avoid a possible push and instead back the Lions on the moneyline -160.
Gable’s Guess: The Chargers got the win and the cover over the Jets on Monday Night Football, but they only had 191 yards of offense. Their offensive line has allowed pressure on 54.1% of Justin Herbert’s dropbacks. The Lions will come in well-rested and as healthy as they’ve been all season. David Montgomery should be back in the lineup to complement Jahmyr Gibbs. A healthy offensive line will also be ready to keep the Chargers’ defense in check. The Chargers are tied for second in the NFL with 31 sacks, so having the entire O-line back for Detroit will be big. With the Lions having plenty of prep time and the Chargers on a short week, I’ll lay the points with Detroit on the road.
Golic’s Gamble: I can’t trust these Chargers. Their defense has been able to feast against porous offensive lines and use turnovers to compensate for an offense that still just doesn’t look right. I think the Lions offensive line is a different animal that won’t allow LA’s pass-rushing trio to get many chances at disrupting the game. Will take Detroit and lay the points.
IH Best Bet: This could end up being a home game for Detroit. Restore the roar and lay the points.
Last Week: 4-1; This Season: 23-21-1
Editor’s note: Betting lines fluctuate based on injuries, the weather and other factors. Double-check the odds before betting.