NFL Week 10 Picks
By Zach Zaffos (Twitter: @zachzaffos)

Season To Date Against the Spread (ATS):
Best Bets: 7-2 (78%)
Units: 22.5-11 (67%)
All Bets: 15-9 (63%)

Week 9 Recap:

1.5 units (Best Bet): Tennessee (+6.5) OVER DALLAS

It’s safe to say we absolutely nailed this handicap. Marcus Mariota looked like his old self after having the bye week to heal up, and Tennessee’s coaching edge was a clear difference with 15 days to prepare. After two costly Titans fumbles got this game off to a bad start for our best bet, we ultimately covered the spread by a whopping 20.5 points.

1.5 units: Pittsburgh (+3) OVER Baltimore

This one was never in much doubt either. Big Ben and the Steelers looked great once again, but it was the underrated Steelers D that stole the show, holding a solid Ravens offense to 16 points. Pittsburgh is trending upward.

1 unit: Houston (+1) OVER DENVER

Would ya look at that – we got a 3-0 clean sweep last week! Though not quite as easy as the first two wins, Houston jumped out to an early lead, and did just enough to hold on for the victory.

Before we get to the Week 10 picks, it’s time to introduce our theme of the week. In last week’s article, we highlighted how situational advantages such as rest, cluster injuries, and motivation are substantial factors that lead us to our best bets. However, our second point was to fade any overreactions the public was having based on the prior week.

Let’s key into that second factor – overreactions. Last week, favorites won at an alarming rate. In fact, the public truly cashed in, as only one team with fewer than 50% of spread bets did not cover. (That, of course, was our best bet – Tennessee).

Now, I’m going to explain why last week was the best thing that could happen to all of us.

Just think of casual gamblers at a blackjack table. They’re up $300. What are they going to do – leave the table immediately, or press?
So given what we know about the public’s tendencies (betting more when they’re already up money; betting on teams they love rather than profitable spreads), we are going to get some significant value in Week 10, as lines are going to move more than they really should.

I’ve identified three games in which we are getting incredible value by fading the public’s overreactions. Let’s get to it. (HOME teams in caps).

BEST BET

Detroit (+7) OVER CHICAGO – 2 units

There are so many reasons to love the Lions side in this one, but let’s start with the obvious: The look-ahead line. Prior to last week, Chicago was a four-point favorite coming into this game. And, I get it – Detroit stumbled in Minnesota while Chicago trounced Buffalo on the road. However, a three-point movement is gigantic at this stage in the season, and here are some explanations why we don’t believe it is justified:

• Chicago’s Soft Schedule: In five of its last six games, the Bears have faced the following quarterbacks: Sam Bradford, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brock Osweiler, Sam Darnold, and Nathan Peterman. So hold your horses on the Bears as a juggernaut.
• Detroit’s Motivation: Face it – the Lions are 3-5, and if they lose this week, their season is likely over. Many call this scenario ‘The Kitchen Sink’ game. Expect Detroit to come in extra focused.
• Turnover Margin: The Bears are second in the league in turnover margin. Mitch Trubisky is their quarterback. Can you say “regression to the mean”? Side note: Detroit is 21st in the league in turnover margin.

Remember – Detroit has been in this position before, and it crushed New England following a 0-2 start earlier in the season. Give me the better quarterback and the more motivated team with a highly inflated point spread.

OTHER BETS I’LL DABBLE WITH

CINCINATTI (+6) OVER New Orleans – 1.5 units

Before you dispute this pick, I’ll recognize that I’m aware A.J. Green will miss this game, and I’m aware that New Orleans just beat the Rams.

But that’s the point.

By making the spread six points in this one, Vegas is inherently saying that the Saints would be 12-point favorites if this game were to be played in New Orleans.

That is absolutely ridiculous on the surface, but even moreso after considering how much of a home-run spot this is for Cincinnati.

First, let’s talk New Orleans. The Saints are coming off three straight dogfights at Baltimore, at Minnesota, and at home against the Rams. It would be only natural to come down against an A.J. Green-less Cincy team.

Conversely, while the Saints are coming off a brutal stretch of games, Cincinnati is well rested off a bye, and getting some of its key cogs back.

One last point: Weather will be a key in this one, with the temperatures expected in the 40s. And we all know the story of Drew Brees in the cold – he generally freezes up.

This spread is a blatant overreaction to the Saints recent stretch of close wins. Seriously – if Justin Tucker doesn’t miss an extra point, or if Adam Theilen doesn’t fumble, the Saints may not be 7-1 coming into this one, and they certainly wouldn’t be six-point favorites. The Bengals are an easy pick here.

PITTSBURGH (-3) OVER Carolina – 1 unit

The look-ahead line had Pittsburgh by six in this one, and both teams won impressively last week.

So – why the change?

Clearly, this is an overreaction to Carolina, which put up 42 points last week on the lowly Buccaneers D. While impressive, I believe the Steelers 23-16 win in Baltimore was equally, if not more, notable.

Additionally, as we’ve preached multiple times throughout the season, Thursday Night is no time to back a road team. Road teams are 20-31-1 (39%) against the spread on Thursday Nights over the past three seasons.

Teams typically get three points for home field, so Vegas is essentially calling these teams even. Give us the Steelers on the pure value play.

And that’s a wrap for our Week 10 picks. It’s time to build on our positive momentum from last week, and get some wins!

“Money won is twice as sweet as money earned.” (The Color of Money). Good luck this weekend and may the picks be with us.

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Zach Zaffos
Zach is a South Florida native who doubles as a CPA and semi-professional poker player. He is also an avid sports bettor, with a specialty in the NFL. Known to be a bit of a contrarian, Zach provides insight into trends on the field not typically noticed by the casual fan.