Each week, BetPrep NFL Sharp “Tommy The Hitman” discusses every game through the eyes of a professional sports bettor with host and 30-year sports talk radio vet Jody McDonald of CBS Sports Radio.
Here are some recent highlights from the latest episode of Hot Read Hits, the official NFL podcast of BetPrep:
Here are Tommy’s best bets for NFL Week 10:
Lions +8.5 at Steelers, Sunday 1 p.m. ET
I have Pittsburgh eight points better. There’s not a big difference between these two offenses: Steelers are 27th in yards per play and the Lions are 28th. The Lions are coming off a bye and the Steelers off an emotional win on Monday Night. So Detroit is the more rested team.
The Steelers are 0-4 against the spread as favorites this season, the only team with winless against the spread with multiple games as a favorite. Since 2018, Steelers are 13-22-1 against the spread (ATS) as a favorite. Their receiving corps are banged up. JuJu Smith-Schuster has been out for weeks and will not return. Now Chase Claypool is also out.
Not covering as a favorite has been a recurring theme during the Mike Tomlin Era for the Steelers. The situational spot favors Detroit, as they are a winless team off a bye and the Steelers are coming off a short week and an emotional hard fought MNF win. The Steelers given injuries are even weaker on offense than they have been all year. This is more of a fade against the Steelers than it is a play on Detroit, but I like the Lions catching the nine.
Browns +2.5 at Patriots, Sunday 1 p.m ET
My power ranking has this game as a pick ‘em. Baker Mayfield is not playing as bad as some think: Mayfield now is third in the NFL in yards per completion (12.8 yards) and fifth in yards per pass attempt (8.5 yards). Mayfield completed 14-of-21 passes for 218 yards (10.4 Y/A) and a pair of touchdowns last week, bouncing back from two down weeks and a week off, as well as off-field turmoil surrounding his relationship with now-departed Odell Beckham.
Cleveland can stop the Pats run game, which is New England’s bread and butter. Cleveland has steadily been a strong run defense, allowing 3.7 yards per carry to backs (fourth fewest). Mac Jones struggling vs. pressure and the Browns bring it. Even in their down games, the Jekyll and Hyde Cleveland defense has been consistently good at getting pressure on quarterbacks, ranking second in pressure rate (28.4%). Under pressure, Jones has a 56.4% completion rate and 5.5 yards per attempt compared to a 72.1% completion rate and 7.7 YPA when kept clean.
RB Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson are in concussion protocol as of Thursday. Nick Chubb is very questionable for the Browns. My power rating has the Browns the better team, so I like them at any price as an underdog.
Vikings at Chargers (Over 53), Sunday 4:05 p.m. ET
Neither team can stop the run: The Chargers rank 32nd in expected points added via their run defense (-37.2) while Minnesota is 31st (-32.5). The Chargers are playing better on early downs offensively. After the bye, Coach Staley said the team worked on being more efficient on early downs. In the two games since, they are averaging 0.18 EPA per play on these plays.
Kirk Cousin is excellent when passing deep, ranking second in the NFL in EPA per pass on throws 10+ yards from the line of scrimmage. Additionally, the Chargers have cluster corner injuries. The Vikings are playing faster: They do not operate at a notably fast situation-neutral pace, although they’re not nearly as plodding as last year’s fourth-slowest finish. Minnesota ranks 18th on the season, but fifth fastest during the last month. In 2020, they passed at the fourth-lowest rate while games were close (52%). This year, they’re at least mid-pack (57%; 18th).
Chargers throw often and operate at the league’s sixth-fastest situation-neutral pace. Their games average the sixth-most combined snaps (128.6) and seventh-most total points (50). Los Angeles passes at the second-highest rate while games are close (66%), which this matchup is projected to be (LAC -3).
As for the applicable trends, all four of Minnesota’s games on the road have gone over the game total while all four at home have gone under. Both teams are banged up with the Vikings down DE Hunter, DT Pierce, S Smith and CB Peterson. Minnesota is quickly becoming the Over team that they were last season. The Vikings are without three of their top five defensive players. Last year when injuries struck their defense, they allowed nearly 30 PPG. We began to see signs of the Vikings defensive decline this past week as they allowed Lamar Jackson to torch them, and Baltimore kept Minnesota on the field for 89 plays. Justin Herbert should have a field day against a pass defense ravaged with injuries. The Chargers defense over the last month is rated dead last in success rate, 29th in EPA, and is also dealing with injuries to their top three corners. The Vikings possess an offense that can run on the Chargers, and two star wide receivers that can take advantage of the Chargers cornerback injuries. Two teams with high powered offenses and regressing defenses, so bet the Over.