Pick of the Week
High Confidence Picks
Medium Confidence Picks
Low Confidence Picks
No Confidence Picks
Pick of the Week
High Confidence Picks
Medium Confidence Picks
Low Confidence Picks
No Confidence Picks
New Orleans Saints (4-8) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6)
The Saints are just 4-8, but they’ve played better than their record suggests, ranking 15th in schedule adjusted efficiency. Their biggest problem has been the turnover margin, with a league worst -14, but turnover margins tend to be highly inconsistent on a week-to-week basis. In fact, when a team faces an opponent with a turnover margin that is at least 15 points better than theirs (-14 vs. +2 for Tampa Bay), the team with the significantly worse turnover margin entering the game covers the spread at a 54.1% rate.
The Saints are also getting healthier, after being among the most injury affected teams in the league to begin the season. They still remain without top wide receiver Michael Thomas (9 games missed) and talented starting center Erik McCoy (3 games missed), but feature back Alvin Kamara (2 games missed), starting wide receivers Jarvis Landry (5 games missed) and Chris Olave (1 game missed), starting offensive linemen Andrus Peat (4 games missed) and James Hurst (1 game missed), stud edge defenders Cameron Jordan (1 game missed) and Marcus Davenport (2 games missed), as well as talented safety Marcus Maye (4 games missed) have all missed time this season and have since returned, while talented linebacker Pete Werner (3 games missed) and top cornerback Marshon Lattimore (7 games missed) could also return this week.
The Buccaneers, meanwhile, seem to be going in the opposite direction injury wise, missing stud right tackle Tristan Wirfs for the first time this season, while their defense remains without top edge defender Shaq Barrett and will likely also be without their two starting safeties Mike Edwards and Antoine Winfield, which is especially a big deal because the latter is one of the best players in the league at his position. My roster rankings have the Buccaneers just a half point better than the Saints, given the current state of both teams, meaning they should be no more than field goal favorites in this game, if not favorites of less than a field goal.
This line is only 3.5, which might not seem like a big deal, but with 1 in 4 games decided by 3 points or fewer and 1 in 6 games decided by 3 points exactly, getting this line on the other side of three is very significant, especially since the Buccaneers probably deserve to be favored by less than a field goal. I see this being a relatively close game, even if the Buccaneers can win, with the two most likely outcomes being either team winning by exactly a field goal, both of which would cover this spread, so the Saints are worth a bet at +3.5.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19 New Orleans Saints 17
Pick against the spread: New Orleans +3.5
Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)
A week ago on the early line, the Chiefs were favored by a field goal in Cincinnati, but this line has since fallen down to two, a significant shift, given that one in six games are decided by three points exactly. That line movement seems like an overreaction to a single week of play and a strange one at that, with both the Bengals and Chiefs both barely covering the spread last week, hardly results that would seem to result in a line movement.
I don’t think the line should have moved, especially since a Kansas City win by a field goal seems like the single most likely outcome of this game, with the Chiefs being the better team and a field goal deciding about 1 out of every 6 games. The Bengals are better than their record, with three of their four losses coming by three points or fewer and a +54 point differential that ranks 6th in the NFL, but they’re still significantly behind the Chiefs in point differential (+83) and in schedule adjusted efficiency, with the 2nd ranked Chiefs holding a 4-point edge over the 6th ranked Bengals.
The Bengals are getting healthier, with stud interior defender DJ Reader returning a few weeks ago and top wide receiver JaMarr Chase expected back this week, but the Chiefs are about as healthy as a team can be at this point in the season and also hold a 6-point edge in my roster rankings over the Bengals. There’s not enough here for the Chiefs to be worth betting, but we’re getting at least some line value with them and they seem like the better pick for pick ‘em purposes.
Kansas City Chiefs 34 Cincinnati Bengals 31
Pick against the spread: Kansas City -2
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7) at Detroit Lions (4-7)
This is another one of my lowest confidence picks of the week. My calculated line has the Lions just slightly favored to win this game, but it also has the Jaguars covering this 1-point spread, which is how close this one is for me. Making it even tougher, there also aren’t any situational trends affecting either side. I’m taking the Jaguars for pick ‘em purposes because we’re technically getting some line value with them, but this 1-point spread doesn’t give us much room to work with and the most likely outcome of this game might be a push.
Detroit Lions 34 Jacksonville Jaguars 33
Pick against the spread: Jacksonville +1
Indianapolis Colts (4-7-1) at Dallas Cowboys (8-3)
This is one of my lowest confidence picks of the week. This line is at Dallas -10.5, which is right where my calculated line has it, favoring the Colts just slightly against the spread at this number, and there also aren’t any situational trends affecting either side. I’m taking the Colts purely for pick ‘em purposes, hoping they can at least get a backdoor cover against a big spread, but I can’t be at all confident in either side in this one.
Dallas Cowboys 23 Indianapolis Colts 13
Pick against the spread: Indianapolis +10.5
Washington Commanders (7-5) at New York Giants (7-4)
This is one of the least interesting games to me from an against the spread perspective this week because this line, favoring the visiting Commanders by two points, is right about where it should be and there are no situational trends affecting the game. The Giants are not as good as their 7-4 record, but the public and oddsmakers seem to know that, resulting in this line being right where it should be. My calculated line says the Giants are the slightly better pick at this number, but there’s not nearly enough here to be confident in either side.
Washington Commanders 21 New York Giants 20
Pick against the spread: NY Giants +2
New York Jets (7-4) at Minnesota Vikings (9-2)
The Vikings are 9-2, but they have needed an 8-0 record in one score games to get there and they have just a +5 point differential. However, this seems to be well known, as they are only 3-point home favorites against the Jets. The Jets have a significantly better point differential (+34), but they’ve been much more defensive oriented (12th in schedule adjusted efficiency), while the Vikings have been more offensive oriented (3rd in schedule adjusted efficiency), which tends to be more predictive of future success, and the Vikings hold the edge in my roster rankings as well. If anything, we’re actually getting a little bit of line value with the Vikings at -3, so they seem like the better side for pick ‘em purposes, even if there’s not enough here for the Vikings to be worth betting.
Minnesota Vikings 23 New York Jets 19
Pick against the spread: Minnesota -3
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-7) at Atlanta Falcons (5-7)
I think both of these teams are underrated, so I’m disappointed they’re playing each other, as there isn’t an obvious side to pick in this one. The Steelers are just 4-7, but they’ve arguably faced the toughest schedule in the league, with eight of their eleven games being against teams that are currently .500 or better, with two of the exceptions being the Browns and Saints, who are both better than their records would indicate. In terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, the Steelers rank 18th, about one point below average, and that’s despite the fact that they have been without their top defender TJ Watt for much of the season. He returned a few weeks ago, giving them a big boost on that side of the ball.
The Falcons, meanwhile, actually rank 13th in schedule adjusted efficiency, about one point above average and two points ahead of the Steelers. My roster rankings suggest the Falcons have overperformed their talent level, but they still are only about a point behind the Steelers in my roster rankings. My calculated line gives the home team Falcons a slightly better chance to win this game and, as a result, cover this even spread than the Steelers, but only barely, so this is one of my lowest confidence picks.
Atlanta Falcons 24 Pittsburgh Steelers 23
Pick against the spread: Atlanta PK
Miami Dolphins (8-3) at San Francisco 49ers (7-4)
The Dolphins have a 8-3 record, among the best in the league, but they’re even better than that, as they’ve won all eight games started and finished by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Despite that, they are 4-point underdogs this week in San Francisco. The 49ers are one of the better teams in the league, ranking 5th in point differential (+76) and 4th in schedule adjusted efficiency (about 5 points above average) and they are arguably even better than that, as they are healthier and more talented than they were earlier in the season, but it’s hard to justify them being favored by this many points against a team as good as the Dolphins.
There’s not quite enough here for the Dolphins to be worth betting and they will be without talented left tackle Terron Armstead, but the 49ers could be without one of their best offensive playmakers Deebo Samuel and, overall, my calculated line has the 49ers as favored by a field goal at most, which is significant line value, given that about 1 in 5 games are decided by 3-4 points exactly, so the Dolphins should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes, even if they’re not quite bettable.
San Francisco 49ers 23 Miami Dolphins 20
Pick against the spread: Miami +4
Cleveland Browns (4-7) at Houston Texans (1-9-1)
Before the season, I thought the Browns had the potential to be the best team in the league with Deshaun Watson, adding an elite quarterback to one of the more talented rosters in the league, but I’m not sure if the latter is true anymore. Watson will make his debut this week and should further boost an offense that ranks 5th in schedule adjusted efficiency, but the Browns’ defense has underperformed significantly, ranking 21st in schedule adjusted efficiency, in part due to injuries to their two best linebackers Anthony Walker and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. The Browns have been better than their 4-7 record suggests, with four of their seven losses coming by three points or fewer and a -23 point differential, but they also don’t seem like they’re truly an elite quarterback away from being an elite team.
It’s also tough to be confident in how Watson will play in his first game with his new team, close to two full years since his last meaningful action. He was one of the best quarterbacks in the league in 2020 and is still in his prime in his age 27 season, but there’s uncertainty with him returning to the game after an extended absence, in a new system with new teammates. It helps that he’ll make his return against a Texans team that looks like the worst in the league, especially now with the horrendous Kyle Allen under center, and my calculated line has the Browns favored by 10, giving us some line value with the Browns at -7, but there’s too much uncertainty here for the Browns to be worth a bet.
Cleveland Browns 27 Houston Texans 17
Pick against the spread: Cleveland -7