Broadway Best Bets is a weekly NFL betting article selecting the five preferred NFL lines of each week. Note: Sports gambling advice is intended for recreational purposes only. All odds and lines are from William Hill US Sportsbook unless otherwise noted.
Week 10 is here. Double digits. We’re reaching my favorite point of the season, where the stats aren’t warped by outlier performances and the landscape of the league becomes clearer.
This week’s slate brings a lot of appealing lines. I’ve had to narrow down my selection to get to five, as I will have action on a number of games this weekend. So let’s get into it…
Broadway 2020 Season Record: 21-20-4
Washington Football Team at Detroit Lions (-3)
Alex Smith is set to make his first start since suffering his gruesome, life-threatening leg injury almost two years ago, and his opponent should offer little in the way of defensive resistance. The Lions are 25th in defensive DVOA, and while the Football Team is 31st in offensive DVOA, that’s not necessarily representative of how they’ll look on Sunday given the quarterbacks who have played this season. Smith offers them an experienced, steadying presence against a very exploitable defense.
Washington has the number six defense by DVOA. According to Football Outsiders’ metrics, Detroit’s offensive line is 26th in run blocking and 21st in pass blocking. Washington’s front could have a huge day, and with the division title still very much in play, they should be hungry for this win. Detroit is playing for… Matt Patricia’s job? Do the players want Matt Patricia to keep his job?
I’m not worried about the spot for Washington traveling to Detroit; in fact, road dogs are 50-35 ATS this year. Frankly, I don’t see how Detroit deserves to be favored over any team (besides maybe the Jets). I think Washington wins the game outright, but you can get the three points with +105 odds on some books right now. Can’t beat that value.
The Pick: Washington +3
Houston Texans at Cleveland Browns (-4)
I could hit you with a whole bunch of numbers to talk you off Houston, like how they’re 0-5 ATS as an underdog this year, or how they’re 0-4 ATS on the road, or that they’re 1-7 ATS overall, or that they’re 0-5 ATS against teams with winning records, but my favorite one is that the Texans are 2-0 against the Jacksonville Jaguars this season, and 0-5 against everyone else.
This is expected to be another rainy, windy game in Cleveland with winds in the 25-35mph range and gusts of over 50mph. Cleveland just played in a game like this two weeks ago, which they lost 16-6 to the Raiders. It was a weird game in which the Browns only had six possessions and couldn’t do much of anything. This week, guard Wyatt Teller — PFF’s top-rated guard — and running back Nick Chubb will return to the lineup to take on Houston’s terrible run defense.
Passing is going to be very difficult in these conditions, and the Texans lost their starting running back to a concussion (David Johnson is now on IR). If the Browns learned anything from their game in these conditions two weeks ago, this could be a very boring, dominating win for Cleveland.
The Pick: Cleveland -4
Los Angeles Chargers at Miami Dolphins (-2)
I’m very excited for the Justin Herbert vs Tua Tagovailoa matchup. Herbert was of course picked one spot after Tua, adding a potential chip to his shoulder. The Chargers continue to suffer heartbreaking defeats, but the team overall looks explosive under Herbert’s command.
Meanwhile, everything has broken right for the Dolphins over their four-game win streak. In their last two games, the Dolphins have scored three defensive or special teams touchdowns. It just doesn’t feel sustainable. At the same time, the Chargers are the Chargers, and they’re without Justin Jackson and Joey Bosa for this game, which is scaring me off the Chargers moneyline. But I’m taking a chance on Anthony Lynn to save his job, at least for now, with a big win over an ascending team.
The Pick: Los Angeles Chargers +2
Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders (-3.5)
I’ve gone back and forth on this game between taking the over (50.5) and taking the Raiders to cover. I’ve settled on the over for my best bet. Las Vegas games are 7-1 to the over this season. The Raiders offense is playing at a high level (when not suppressed by weather), but their defense is allowing teams to move the ball. Drew Lock has stormed back in the fourth quarter in two consecutive games now.
The Raiders have allowed five opponents to score over 30 points while doing so in four games themselves. Whether because Las Vegas can’t play defense or because the Broncos’ garbage time offense is excellent, I think this game is heading well over the total. It’s Denver’s ability to hit the backdoor cover that keeps me from also making LV -3.5 a best bet.
The Pick: Over 50.5
Lock of the Week
Baltimore Ravens (-7) at New England Patriots
After watching Joe Flacco shred the Patriots in primetime last week, I accepted that New England’s defense simply is not good anymore. While Flacco was able to carve them up, their real weakness is on the ground. The Patriots are 31st in run defense DVOA. The Ravens are the best rushing team in the NFL, and if last week is any indication, Lamar Jackson is becoming more involved in the run game. The Patriots offense is predicated entirely on the run; Baltimore has the number 1 run defense DVOA. This game is as lopsided as it gets when it comes to one team’s strengths vs the other’s weaknesses.
The only reason this line isn’t higher is because of the aura of the Bill Belichick-led Patriots, who haven’t gotten this many points as a home underdog since 2001. The truth is the line should be double digits, but casual bettors tend to give more credit to Belichick so the line is only at seven. I haven’t felt this confident in a lock yet this season… which seems like a bad sign… heh!
The Lock: Baltimore -7
Bonus: Other lines I like, but not enough to make them best bets
Philadelphia Eagles (-4) at New York Giants
I’m playing a trend here, courtesy of Allan Bell (shout-out also to Broadway’s Zach Lyons).
The Eagles are coming off their bye, getting a lot of players back healthy, and face an important division game against the Giants. If the Giants win, they’re very much in the hunt for the division. I could see this game starting slow with a lot of second-half scoring. This is one of my favorite lines to tease this week; I think this game is a lock to go over 40 points. But I’m not quite as confident it makes it all the way to 44.5, so it’s not a best bet.
The Pick: Over 44.5
Jacksonville Jaguars at Green Bay Packers (-14)
This is another game expected to be impacted by wind and rain, but Aaron Rodgers can play in the elements, especially against a defense as bad as Jacksonville’s. This game could resemble the Thursday Night beatdown we saw a week ago when the Packers dismantled the 49ers’ backups. Aaron Jones is going to be the chalk of the week in DFS lineups, and for good reason.
This line has moved back and forth from -14 to -13.5, but it currently sits at the two touchdown mark. I’ll be watching it to see if I can get -13.5 before kickoff, but if I can’t, I’ll still lay the 14 points with Green Bay. Jake Luton was surprisingly not bad in his first game, but heading up to Lambeau for his second career start doesn’t seem like a great spot. If the Packers show up for this game, they should blow the Jaguars away.
But the Packers don’t always show up for these games. Just two weeks ago we saw them walk sleepy-eyed into a matchup with the Vikings and lose the contest. This line is awfully large, which is scary given how the Jaguars were able to backdoor cover last week. I’m okay to bet a little bit laying the points with Green Bay, but I’m leaving this game out of my parlays and teasers because I just don’t feel good about it.
The Pick: Green Bay -14
Minnesota Vikings (-3) at Chicago Bears
This is a pure value play. In last week’s games, the Bears were 6.5-point underdogs, while the Vikings were 3-point favorites. The Bears went on to lose by 7, while the Vikings won by 14. Sure, Minnesota wasn’t “supposed” to win by two touchdowns, but in general, the outcomes as predicted by the sportsbooks’ models were largely accurate. Those same models had Chicago as 2.5-point favorites in the look-ahead lines (the lines that were set before last week’s games). What changed so drastically from then to now to flip the line to Minnesota -3? A big win over a terrible Lions team who couldn’t practice with their starting QB all week due to COVID protocols?
The models didn’t cause this massive shift in the line, public perception did. And the public is way too high on the Vikings after Dalvin Cook exploded for a pair of monster games. The Packers are 20th in rush defense DVOA, the Lions are 25th. The Bears, however, are 7th in rush DVOA defense. Chicago’s defense stands a good chance to stifle Cook and force Kirk Cousins to beat them. That’s what they want; Chicago’s pass defense is 4th in DVOA.
I would make this a best bet if Chicago’s offense wasn’t so putrid. But the Bears desperately need a win to end their three-game skid, and Bill Lazor will be calling plays in this game, which adds an element of unpredictability. So ultimately I will be placing a little bet on Chicago, both to cover the three points and on the moneyline, but I’m going to do so with much confidence.
The Pick: Chicago +3
For what it’s worth, I have a seven-leg, six-point teaser I’m playing this week using all of the above picks except Green Bay and Chicago.
How Betting Lines Work
A quick reminder for anyone unfamiliar with betting lines. “Favorites” are listed next to a negative number, which represents how many points they must win by to “cover the spread.” Titans -2.5, for example, means that Tennessee must beat the Broncos by 3 points or more for bettors to win. Gamblers can also bet on the game’s “total,” betting on whether or not the teams’ combined score in the game is over or under a pre-selected number of points.
“ML” or “moneyline” is not against the spread, just picking the winner of the game. Many people refer to the moneyline as “straight up,” but this can be confusing, because if you’re ever at a betting window in Vegas, a “straight bet” means you are betting on the point spread. Instead of saying “straight up,” you’d want to say “moneyline” when you mean to pick the winner of the game regardless of the point spread to avoid any possible confusion.