NFL Picks Week #10 (2021 regular season)
NFL PICKS (WEEK #10)
BY PROFESSOR MJ
Written Wednesday November 10th, 2021 at 10 AM Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)
We posted a 1-2 record with the NFL picks against the spread in Week 9, which dropped our season record to 19-11-1. That’s still a 63.3% winning percentage!
I’ve got something special for you in Week 10. Not only do I have three official NFL picks (including a 5-star play!!!), but this time instead of giving you some leans I’ll tell you about a bet I placed on a specific team to win the AFC title. Stay tuned until the end to find out which team I picked, and why.
Let’s rock and roll!
PICK #1 (5 STARS): DETROIT LIONS +9.5 AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS
We are observing a rare phenomenon on this game. At the time I wrote this article, Wednesday morning, I am seeing point spreads that range between 7.5 (Bet99 sportsbook) and 9.5 (Bookmaker and Unibet). That’s a pretty wide range for a NFL game! Obviously, I placed my bet with the highest spread, Lions +9.5 points, at -110 odds with Bookmaker.
There is a lot to like about this betting pick, in my humble opinion. First of all, the rest factor gives Detroit a big edge. Indeed, they are coming off their bye week while the Steelers just played the Monday nighter, which means they lose one day of preparation.
Secondly, I remember reading about a statistical study that showed how winless teams coming off their bye week tend to do very well in their return to action. Unfortunately, I cannot find the source anymore, but I have kept this betting strategy in my mind for years, and it has done wonders for me. I like it even more considering the Lions got their butt whipped in their last game: an ugly 44-to-6 home loss against the Eagles. I have the firm conviction that they will come out firing in this game.
There are also many trends that recommend NOT betting the Steelers:
- Pittsburgh has failed to cover the spread the last seven times they were home favorites;
- Pittsburgh has failed to cover the spread the last four times they played a team with a losing record;
- Pittsburgh holds a 2-5 record against the spread (ATS) following a straight up win.
To me, the Steelers did not pass the eye test last Monday against the Bears. I don’t want to get into conspiracy mode, but the referees clearly gave them a huge boost in this matchup. They kept calling critical and suspicious penalties to Chicago, who deserved a much better fate.
The Steelers were really bad on offense. I’m sorry, but Big Ben looks done. His arm has gotten very weak. They have good weapons at the running back and wide receiver positions, but QB play is bad and their offensive line is atrocious as well. I don’t see them beating the Lions by 10 points or more.
One more betting strategy points in Detroit’s direction. It goes like this: Bet a road team as a road underdog of more than seven points if they have been underdogs in each of their last four games. This system has yielded a record ATS of 63-45-1 over many seasons, a 58% winning rate.
The Steelers have won five games this year, but their largest margin of victory has been eight. I am aware that they are now facing a weaker opponent at home, but it still shows they don’t have the firepower to crush their opponents. They would need their defense to score one or two touchdowns.
One final note: the Lions are 14-6 ATS after suffering a double-digit home loss.
For all of these reasons, I am confidently taking the Detroit Lions +9.5 points as a five-star pick this week.
PICK #2 (3 STARS): CLEVELAND BROWNS +2 AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Most bookies have a 1.5-point spread, except Bet99 and Unibet who gave me a better line on this AFC matchup.
Star running back Nick Chubb may miss the game, but I still like the Browns. Their running game remains effective no matter who plays in the backfield because of good schemes and elite offensive line play. D’Ernest Johnson has proven he can be very good in the Denver game when he rushed for 146 yards.
Cleveland holds an impressive 5-1 record ATS as road underdogs. Meanwhile, the Pats are 4-11-1 ATS after a straight up win. However, I’m a bit worried about New England’s recent success against Cleveland, as shown by their 4-1 record ATS at Gillette Stadium against them.
The Pats defense is especially good at shutting down the passing game. They rank second in the league in terms of passer rating allowed. They are not as great defending the run, albeit still above-average, which happens to be Cleveland’s strength on offense.
Meanwhile, the Pats offense is below-average and not very explosive. They prefer to run the ball and avoid asking rookie Mac Jones to throw the ball 40 times, but Cleveland’s run defense is very stout. Indeed, they are second in the NFL in yards-per-carry average.
One final argument, which will allow me to present to you another NFL betting system I read about. Suppose a team intercepted at least three passes in their previous game. If, in their next matchup, they are either underdogs or small favorites, bet AGAINST them. This strategy has led to an 81-62 ATS record, a 57% winning rate.
As a result, I’m going with Cleveland as a 2-point underdog in this matchup.
PICK #3 (1 STAR): NEW ORLEANS SAINTS +3 AT TENNESSEE TITANS
Quick tip: if you plan to bet the Saints, I recommend waiting until later in the week for a potentially better line.
Why? The Saints hosted three free agent running backs on Tuesday and there are whispers that Alvin Kamara could be more banged up than we think. If he misses the game, the line will improve to 3.5 or 4. If he plays, the line will probably stay the same. So, in my opinion, you don’t have much to lose by waiting.
Trevor Siemian had a mediocre performance against the Falcons last week, while Taysom Hill was back on the field on a limited basis. I expect Sean Payton to go with Hill under center in Tennessee, or at least get him much more involved in the game. That should give the Saints offense a nice boost.
Tennessee’s defense has been surprisingly good recently, including Jeffery Simmons who has been a true beast! Still, New Orleans’ defense is a notch better, both against the run and the pass.
The Saints also have the better offensive line. They have also turned the ball over less often than the Titans. And with Derrick Henry hurt, I’m not sure we can argue that the Titans running game is better than New Orleans’.
The Saints are 12-4 ATS in their last 16 games on grass, and 21-7 on the road against teams with a winning record. Sean Payton’s team is clearly up to the challenge.
Tennessee has beaten the spread in each of their last five games, including big wins over the Bills, the Chiefs, the Colts and the Rams. It cannot last forever, right? I am banking on this nice streak to end this weekend.
FUTURE BET: TEAM TO WIN THE 2021 AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
I don’t know if you will agree with me, but the AFC conference seems wide open right now. I don’t see any team that is so dominant that other teams would have almost no chance of winning.
Before the season began, the Chiefs and the Bills were ahead of the pack. So far in 2021, these two teams have been disappointments.
On one hand, you’ve got the Bills sitting on a 5-3 record, including an ugly 9-6 loss in Jacksonville last week. The offense does not look the same as last year.
Similar comments could be made about Kansas City, whose record is 5-4. But in their case, the defense is atrocious, whereas the Bills at least have performed very well in that department.
I’m not saying neither of these teams will win the AFC. My point is they have shown much more weaknesses than anticipated, which opens the door for other teams to make it to the Super Bowl.
The Patriots are 5-4, but I don’t see them going that far with a rookie quarterback. The Steelers have a bad offensive line and an aging QB whose play has declined significantly. The Bengals have made some nice strides this year, but they are inconsistent and are not ready to take the next step, in my opinion.
Maybe the Ravens? I do believe they have a shot, but at +500 odds I'm going to stay away.
In the AFC South division, I wouldn’t bet the Colts to win the AFC title either. Their pass defense is abysmal and Carson Wentz is too inconsistent. Maybe the Titans? I believe they have a shot, but I won’t take them at +500 odds. That’s too low for my taste.
In the AFC West, I have already discussed the Chiefs. The Raiders are 5-3, but they seem on the decline after Jon Gruden, Henry Ruggs and Damon Arnette had to leave the organization for shameful reasons. The 5-3 Chargers are a sexy team to pick because of the rise of Justin Herbert. But I don’t believe he’s ready yet, their run defense is last in the league and they have a negative point differential despite the good record. Finally, the Broncos are an underrated team, in my opinion, but not solid enough to go to the Super Bowl.
That leaves us with my pick to win the AFC championship: the Cleveland Browns at +1600 odds! To me, that is the team that provides the most value right now.
They have been hit by the injury bug so far, but many players will come back eventually. The general public underestimates the importance of good offensive line play, and the Browns have one that is top notch. Their running game is very effective. Baker Mayfield is not the best QB in the league, but when given time, which happens often considering how good his OL is, he can hurt opposing defenses.
On defense, they have what may be the best player in the league with Myles Garrett. He can take over games by himself. They rank second in yards-per-carry average allowed. Only their pass defense worries me, but again they have had many guys injured this season.
The Browns also gained playoff experience last year. I know this is more of a passing league now, but you have heard many people argue that in the playoffs it helps a lot if you can run the ball, and be stout defending the run. That turns out to be a big strength for Cleveland.
I can’t believe they have the same odds as Pittsburgh, who seem like a much weaker squad to me. The Patriots have lower odds than the Browns, which boggles my mind. There is no way that New England has a better shot at reaching the Super Bowl than the Browns.
So, after looking at the AFC championship odds, I believe we get the best bang for our buck by taking the Cleveland Browns. I think it’s worth taking a stab.
Thank you so much for reading this article, I appreciate you my friend! See you next week!
(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)