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Underdogs and road teams. That’s what’s paying off in the NFL this season.
Underdogs are 76-57 against the spread. Road teams are 71-62 against the number. Oddsmakers said they wouldn’t be adjusting lines, figuring the records would regress to the mean, but we can see a few lines this week that seem a bit shorter than you’d expect for the home favorites.
One of them is the Tennessee Titans.
The Titans and Indianapolis Colts play one of the better Thursday night matchups you’ll find. The Titans are 6-2 and the Colts are 5-3. Either the Titans will have a two-game lead in the AFC South or the Colts will score a huge road win with the rematch coming at Indianapolis in two weeks.
Not many games on the schedule have a bigger impact on the playoff picture. The winner on Thursday night will feel very good about its chances of winning a division title.
The Titans are just 2-point favorites, which seems a bit short. The Titans and Colts are both good teams with some faults. The Titans defense hasn’t been great and struggles on third down. The Colts surprisingly can’t run the ball and that puts too much on Philip Rivers, who has run hot and cold all season. But they’re still two well-coached teams who aren’t what we expected, but still very good. The Titans are an explosive offense that thrives on play-action passing and Derrick Henry. The Colts defense has been way better than expected.
Normally you’d expect a field-goal spread in a game like this. But there’s no home-field advantage in 2020. I’ll still take the Titans. I trust their offense to make some splash plays against a very good defense, and I have no idea what we’ll get out of Rivers. Either way, this should be a great Thursday night game.
Here are the Week 10 against the spread picks, with lines from BetMGM:
Browns (-3.5) over Texans
There’s not a lot of faith in the Browns with this line. Their last loss, to the Raiders, was in a windstorm. Their struggles were excusable. They’re likely getting Nick Chubb back. And they’re simply a much better team than the Texans. I don’t get why the line isn’t closer to a touchdown.
Jaguars (+13.5) over Packers
Most weeks I’ve picked against the Jaguars, and that has been the right move. Finally we’re seeing point spreads that reflect how bad Jacksonville is. Any underdog can be a good play if the line is high enough.
Giants (+3) over Eagles
The Giants were plus-5 in turnover margin and beat Washington by only a field goal. This isn’t a good team. The Eagles aren’t a good team either. The 2020 NFC East is something.
Buccaneers (-4.5) over Panthers
I don’t believe the Bucs were exposed last week. The Saints are a good team that had a phenomenal performance. It happens. Tampa Bay will be focused after getting run off the field like that.
Broncos (+5) over Raiders
If Denver could bottle up what they do when they’re down by a few touchdowns they’d be fine. Against the Chargers and Falcons they fell way behind and then rallied when the other team let up. I believe in the Raiders — this team is going to the playoffs in a tough AFC — but as we know, underdogs and road teams are the best bet going this season.
Bills (+2.5) over Cardinals
What would this line be if not for last week? The Bills looked great in blowing out the Seahawks. The Cardinals lost at home to the Dolphins. There’s a lot of respect for the Cardinals from oddsmakers apparently, but the Bills deserve some too.
Dolphins (-2.5) over Chargers
The Chargers are the 2-6 team everyone loves to bet. I get it. They’re masterful at losing close games. Usually that’s not predictive and will regress to the mean. But the Chargers have lost so many close games the past few years, it seems like more than bad luck. The Dolphins are a pretty good team, with a strong defense and an offense that can move the ball with Tua Tagovailoa.
Rams (-1.5) over Seahawks
Seattle just can’t cover receivers. It’s scary to pick against Russell Wilson, but it feels everything has to go exactly right for the offense to make up for the defense giving up barrels of point and yards. Sean McVay had an extra week to prepare and I think the Rams offense will feast.
49ers (+9.5) over Saints
Maybe the Saints just play up or down to the competition. The Saints have had two impressive performances all season and both came against the Buccaneers. The other games they seem content to let teams hang around. The 49ers are decimated, but this is a letdown spot for the Saints.
Ravens (-7) over Patriots
Five of the Ravens’ six wins have been by 14 or more points. The Patriots should have lost to the winless Jets, but the Jets found a way to lose. It’s really odd to see the Patriots getting a touchdown at home, but this Pats team has no resemblance to the championship teams we’re used to seeing. The Ravens will be in every single teaser this week.
Vikings (-2.5) over Bears
This line looks odd at first glance. The Bears are 5-4, the Vikings are 3-5. There are no significant injuries. Yet the Vikings are favored. If there’s one line that could be a sign the books are finally reacting to the lack of home-field advantage, this seems like it’s it. And it’s not unjustified. The Bears offense is terrible, and the Vikings are getting hot thanks to Dalvin Cook.
Off the board: Washington-Detroit, Bengals-Steelers
Some injury and COVID-19 concerns with these two games, but I’m anticipating being on Washington and Cincinnati as road underdogs.
Last week: 5-9
Season to date: 65-64-3
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