The Professor’s NFL Week 10 Best Games to Bet column profiles four games that the Professor is betting on this weekend. All spreads and totals are provided by DraftKings.
Minnesota Vikings at Los Angeles Chargers (LAC -3, Total 53)
Model Projection: Los Angeles Chargers 27.34 – Minnesota 24.25 (LAC -3.09, Total 51.59)
BET: LAC -3, 3 units
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert was in a rhythm as Los Angeles converted multiple fourth downs on their game-winning drive against Philadelphia. Some would say they were lucky to get those conversions, but the game was only close because Los Angeles failed on two first-half fourth downs in scoring range; it was a die by the sword, live by the sword game for the Chargers.
Minnesota will have to make a trip west to Los Angeles after losing a heartbreaker in overtime on the road in Baltimore that dropped them to 3-5 on the season. It was the type of game the Vikings needed to win; Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson threw two interceptions while Vikings running back Kene Nwagwu opened the second half with a kickoff return, but it wasn’t enough. Quarterback Kirk Cousins drove the team down the field to tie the game and force overtime but did not get his team on the board in the extra period.
The Vikings are now dealing with a COVID outbreak in the facility; reserve offensive lineman Dakota Dozier is in the hospital with complications. The outbreak has affected center Garrett Bradbury and safety Harrison Smith, who missed Sunday’s game. The travel, the recent losses, the COVID complications, and their recent injuries may be too much for Minnesota; they appear to be on the downslide while the Chargers are on the rise.
This would have been a four-unit bet with the Chargers at -2.5, but the line has moved to -3. I will put three units on the Chargers at -3.
Philadelphia Eagles at Denver Broncos (DEN -2.5, Total 45.5)
Model Projection: Philadelphia 23.6 – Denver 22.91 (PHI -0.69, Total 46.51)
BET: PHI +2.5, 2 units; 2 unit 6-point teasers: PHI +8.5 and DAL -2, PHI +8.5 and LVR +8.5
Philadelphia has implemented a run-heavy formula around Jalen Hurts that suits the quarterbacks’ strengths in recent weeks; the results have been positive in a blowout of Detroit and a close loss to the Chargers.
The Eagles watched running back Miles Sanders struggle for weeks in an offense that made little sense; Sanders has been out since the schematic shift, but backups Jordan Howard and Boston Scott have thrived in his absence due to the extra attention Hurts draws when he is involved in the run game. It doesn’t hurt that the offensive line has had some semblance of continuity after early-season injuries plagued them. The left side of tackle Jordan Mailata and rookie left guard Landon Dickerson is an intriguing tandem to watch and tackle Lane Johnson has regained his rhythm on the right side.
Denver blew out the Cowboys in a performance that saw the Broncos shut down the Dallas offense in fourth down situations, which factored heavily in the outcome. It also helped that quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was in a rhythm, dropping absolute dimes to receivers Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick in the win. The run game is rolling with Melvin Gordon and rookie Javonte Williams, who have continued to thrive despite injuries on the offensive line. Denver was in a bad spot a few weeks ago but wins over Washington and Dallas have them back in the thick of the AFC Playoff race; it will be interesting to see whether they can maintain that momentum.
The model has Philadelphia as a slight road favorite; I will place two units on the Eagles at +2.5 and will also include them in a pair of two-unit, six-point teasers, moving them up from +2.5 to +8.5 and pairing them with Dallas at -2 and Las Vegas at +8.5. If you can still find Philadelphia at +3, that is even better.
New Orleans Saints at Tennessee Titans (TEN -2.5, Total 44)
Model Projection: Tennessee 24.76 – New Orleans 22.24 (TEN -2.52, Total 47)
BET: TEN -2.5, 3 units
Tennessee lost running back Derrick Henry for the rest of the NFL season, but the team that came out on Sunday Night Football against the Rams had already reinvented itself. The top storyline was Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford throwing a pair of brutal interceptions but the performance of Tennessee’s defense, most notably defensive linemen Jeffery Simmons and Denico Autry, should not get lost in the shuffle.
The Titans have fielded one of the NFL’s worst defenses in recent years, but their latest performance showed that this unit has the talent to be a solid group in the second half. They did have a less impressive performance against the Colts a week earlier, so NFL fans shouldn’t get carried away with the Rams game, but they shouldn’t ignore the talent on display either. Safety Kevin Byard is putting together a standout season and if edge rusher Bud Dupree can continue to progress as he gets further away from last season’s ACL injury, the Titans’ formula could be quality quarterback play with a decent run game and solid defense.
New Orleans continues to play well on defense, but it took the offense until the fourth quarter to get going against Atlanta. The running back duo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram played well, but the unit isn’t the same with Trevor Siemian at quarterback. Taysom Hill was able to spark the Saints when he took some snaps at quarterback; it would not surprise to see his role expanded in this game.
Derrick Henry is a heck of a player, but NFL fans saw last week that Tennessee is more than their superstar back; I was hesitant at -3 but will put three units on Tennessee at -2.5.
Detroit Lions at Pittsburgh Steelers, (PIT -8, Total 42.5)
Model Projection: Pittsburgh 25.66 – Detroit 17.41 (PIT -8.25, Total 43.07)
BET: PIT -8, 2 units; First Half Under 22, 2 units; Round-Robin Teaser with Cleveland and Baltimore
Pittsburgh looked finished after a 1-3 start that saw quarterback Ben Roethlisberger play mediocre (at best) football. The fact that they have persevered to get to 5-3 entering this game with the Detroit Lions is a credit to head coach Mike Tomlin, Roethlisberger, and the rest of the leaders on this team.
The Steelers are now in the thick of a tight playoff race and seem unlikely to lose their focus in this matchup with the Lions, who were downright pathetic in their game against Philadelphia before the bye week. Quarterback Jared Goff is not playing with a particularly competitive mindset, which has shown up most prominently on the fourth-down balls he has thrown away in recent weeks but bleeds over to other areas of his game. The Lions lack receivers, have lost their best offensive player in center Frank Ragnow, and have not had left tackle Taylor Decker all season. It’s been a disaster and there is no reason for optimism coming out of the bye.
The Lions have made some second-half garbage-time rallies; I will avoid garbage-time by placing two units on the first-half under 22 and will also place two units on the Steelers at -8. The Steelers are also included in a round-robin teaser with Cleveland and Baltimore.
This article previewed four prominent NFL matchups for the coming week and talked about how to bet them. For more content from The Professor, including the rest of his game previews and his fantasy content, check out The Professor on BeerLife Sports!
Steven Clinton, better known as "The Professor", is a former D-1 Quality Control Assistant (Northwestern, Toledo) who holds a B.A. in Economics and M.S. in Predictive Analytics from Northwestern University. He maintains an end-to-end NFL game projection model and is a film junkie who breaks down the tape of every NFL game.
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