Givin Futures: Before NFL Week 11

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) warms up prior to the game against the Minnesota Vikings at M&T Bank Stadium
Image Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Each week, BetPrep Sharp and NBC Sports Betting Analyst Brad Feinberg discusses expected win totals, division odds, Super Bowl favorites, and potential award winners with host and BetPrep Editor Michael Salfino of The Athletic and FiveThirtyEight. It’s the official futures podcast of BetPrep, a free sports betting research site that empowers bettors with the same tools both the sharps and the sportsbooks use.

Here are some highlights from the latest episode of the Givin’ Futures Podcast.

Raiders Under 8.5 wins. This is a team that we’ve talked about in the past. So why don’t you explain a little bit why you’ve changed your take on the Raiders.

Just because you think something one day or one week, things always change and you have to be adept and not be stubborn in your thoughts. Two weeks ago on this show, Michael, we gave out Oakland, Over 8.5 wins. What happens? They lose two straight games and the over/under is still 8.5. Which reaffirms to me what an amazing play we made when we took them Over 8.5 two weeks ago because their win share lost since then was probably about 1.1 expected wins. And we’re still able to get out of this bet. No harm no foul.

But let me be clear: I like this on its own merits. When I liked them Over 8.5, the Henry Ruggs tragedy had not happened. The Damon Arnett situation had not happened.  And I look at their schedule: Bengals at home, at Dallas, at the Chiefs, at the Browns, Denver at home, Colts at home, Chargers at home. The only thing you could call a free square is Washington at home. So to me with that schedule, with all the upheaval, give me the Under. But if you did bet this Over 8.5 with us, you can get out of it. And you’re just going to lose a few pennies on the juice — not not a horrible thing.

Next, Ravens minus-130 to win the AFC North, coming off maybe their worst game of the year against Miami.

This isn’t one where the math is necessarily in my favor. If you go to FiveThirtyEight, they’re probably going to have the Ravens right around 55% which would make this technically not a good bet. But I just think their odds are better and this is more of a bet against the rest of the division. Pittsburgh stinks; they’re a worse version of the Saints. Cleveland right now looks like a mess — Baker Mayfield has clearly shown me he’s a below-average quarterback.

The Ravens have a game lead over Cincinnati, which did beat them head to head. When I did my projections, I had Baltimore about 10.5 wins. All the others were around 8.5 with Pittsburgh the lowest at 8.1 or 8.2. I am about two wins ahead of all these other teams, laying $1.30. Clearly, Lamar Jackson is the safest quarterback in the division and a MVP candidate. Baltimore wins this division by at least a game. I don’t think it’s going to be a tiebreaker situation even.

Dalvin Cook at 20/1 to win the rushing title.

I’m putting in bets all the time that I think are going to lose. Yeah, I absolutely think this will lose. But do I think Cook wins the rushing title just once out of 20 times playing this season out from Week 10?  Easily. First of all, using BetPrep, we see he’s averaging 92 yards a game. Taylor’s played more games due to Cook’s injury and bye weeks. And of course you have Nick Chubb, too. But with his missed games,if I give Cook his average going forward, he actually finishes ahead of Chubb at his average. So Cook really is in second place in the rushing race right now. But his odds are like he’s in seventh, which is ridiculous. Other than those three, who is going to win it? Cook is about 197 yards behind Taylor, when I factor in the game he’s going to get from Taylor’s bye. That’s about 28 yards a game. That’s a lot. It’s not going to be easy. But if Cook has one of his 160-yard games and Taylor a pedestrian 58-yard game, it’s a different ballgame suddenly. I actually expect Cook to average seven yards more per game than Taylor because Cook has a higher ceiling in carries each week. Plus, injuries do happen.

Steelers Under 8.5 wins.

This is the .5 we get because casinos will not accept ties. This should be 8.0, I think we would agree. But it’s 8.5 because they can’t drop it to 7.5. So here’s their schedule: at the Chargers without Big Ben. At the Bengals. Ravens twice. At the Vikings. Titans at home. At the Chiefs. Browns at home. They have no free squares. I’m just giving it to you straight. I don’t see them going 4-4. I think that’s a big, big, big, big, big ask for this team to get nine wins with that schedule. The Steelers have a much better chance to go 3-5. This is about a 64% winning bet at least.

Last week, you gave Mike Vrabel at +750 as Coach of the Year and, after the win against the Saints, making them 7-0 this year against 2020 playoff teams (unreal), you still like this bet at +450.

If Tennessee gets to 13 wins, this bet is a lock. That means they have to go 5-2. Texans this week at home, probable win. Jaguars at home. Niners at home. At the Steelers. Dolphins at home. At the Texans. The other game is at the Patriots. Even at 4-3, Vrabel probably wins it. And 4-3 you can get to even if you think the Titans are just a lucky team. It’s so easy. They’ve run through the gauntlet already and won those games. I think he’s 50/50 to win it. You’re giving me +450? Oh my god. They’re saying Vrabel has an implied 18% chance. This is still so mispriced.

For the rest of Brad’s picks, including NBA futures, listen to the latest episode of the full podcast here.