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For The Win: Week 10

NFL Picks Against the Las Vegas Lines

Here I am again this year, back for more NFL picks. Just like last season, I will still be picking all of the NFL games each week, but I will try and help some of you with some confidence and rankings of the selections - which also may assist those of you with Las Vegas trips. I tend to rate games that I like (and some extras like Over/Unders) with 1-3 "Stars", which basically highlight my best bets for the week. Those games which have zero stars I don't truly like one way or the other, but will select to help those trying to get some advice for their weekly office pools or other contests that they may be participating in either this week or this season.

Not a great week last week, but that’s how it goes sometimes.  You publish an article, a quarterback goes down – it happens.  Teams get upset as well, but you just plug along.  I am starting to notice that one pick can torpedo my Best Bets, so I may start to include a hedge or two going forwards just in case a remarkable upset happens (case in point – a “For the Win” of Washington might have helped a bit last week).  Anyway, there are several things I’m noticing as I look at Week 10 and attempt to go back to the “K.I.S.S.” well.  Here are two principles I am likely to refer to quite a bit for this week:

  1. I have mentioned this before, but most years the point spread DOES NOT MATTER in picking games.  That’s right – it is pretty remarkable, but the numbers hold true.  We have had 132 NFL games so far – more than half the season – and two games fell right on the point spread (for the numbers I use).  So with 130 games to consider, the favorite has won and covered the spread 68 times (52.3%), so just going with that you would be fine against sportsbooks this season.  Going further, underdogs have won outright 39 times (exactly 30% of the time).  That leaves 20 games where the favorite won but did not cover the number – less than 16% of the games.  So the takeaway is this – pick winners and ignore the point spread.  If you can pick the winner, you will win your wager over 80% of the time.  This is important this week with some big point spreads on the big boards for Week 10.
  2. Byes are starting to wrap up, but we can get some interesting data for the year by looking at how teams have performed after two weeks of rest.  We have 16 teams (half) in this category, and they are 9-7 (with the Rams and Giants facing each other last week).  Digging in more though I found this nugget – of the nine teams that have won, all of them are at .500 or better, and most (7 of 9) are 5-3 or 6-2 on the season at this point.  Additionally the nine winners were also 6-2-1 against the spread. Conversely, the seven teams that have lost right after a bye are a relative train wreck, with just three teams at 4-4 (Atlanta, Green Bay, Detroit) and the rest all at 3-5 or worse (the Giants, 1-7).  So takeaway #2 for me is that good teams on long periods of rest appear to be good picks.  Shocking, I know, but we do have six teams coming off the bye week this week.

Ok, with those two rules in mind, let’s dive into Week 10.  Here we go:

Note that the lines and Over/Unders are taken from VegasInsider.com.

Teams on a Bye Week – Baltimore, Kansas City, Oakland, Philadelphia

Teams coming off of a Bye Week – Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota, New England, Pittsburgh

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