NFL Football Best Bets: Week 9 (2021)
Ryan’s Season Totals
Best Bets: 15-8, Up 858%
We have a healthy mix of bet types this week, from Team point totals to NFL Win Futures to consider.
Best Bet #1: Chicago Bears UNDER 16.5 points (-110)
This is one of those games where there are just too many tactical and situational advantages on one side of the ball to ignore. And as much as we would rather this be across 17 (at 17.5), there is still value in playing the “the Bears Offense to fail” this Monday.
First of all, there are strong Home/Away splits for BOTH teams, heading in the same direction (for Pittsburgh). Although I have been steadfast in my belief that home field advantage is a product of referee “variables”, there is too large a sample here to ignore: Based on DVOA, since 2015 the Steelers have ranked 1st, 4th, 2nd, 3rd and 10th (excluding the non Big Ben year) at home, vs 5th, 10th, 5th, 11th, and 27th on the road. There has been some regression this season, but given this trend, along with the fact the Bears have the 3rd worst Home vs Road DVOA split (-9.9% at home vs -30.8% on the road), I believe there is a legit advantage for the Steelers here.
One other tactical split that jumps off the page is how often the Steeler have lined up in Dime this season (40% 2nd most in NFL according to SIS), a personnel the Bears have been horrendous against: #32 in the league according to SIS. In fact, the Bears offense has actually been average vs Base personnel, coming in at 14th by EPA/play, but 30th vs. Nickel and the aforementioned last vs. Dime. Based on this usage, there is a strong advantage towards the Steeelers defense. Between this and the strength of the Steelers outside pass rush (vs. a Bears team better suited against the inside rush) it’s hard to see the Bears putting up many points.
Bet: Chicago Bears UNDER 16.5 points (-110)
Best Bet #2: Houston Texans OVER 3.5 Wins (+160)
We did a deep dive on playoffs, win totals and division winners recently and found an odd, but strong play: Houston winning. Here is how this play works out: according to Football Outsiders, the Texans are still projected for 3.9 wins (or 2.9 more than they have). This is mainly propped up by a major shift in strength of schedule: the Texans go from the hardest schedule in the first 8 weeks (10.9 % DVOA) to the 30th ranked schedule (-6.5% DVOA) for the remainder of the season.
This on its own it’s fairly strong, but finally and possibly most importantly, Tyrod Taylor SHOULD be back this week. And although he’s no world-beater, it’s impossible to say the Texans are not far better without Tyrod Taylor at QB.
Bet: Houston Texans OVER 3.5 Wins (+160)
Best Bet #3: New England Patriots -3.5
This pick is slightly unusual as its genesis is NOT based on our models, as our process usually takes us (from model, to the subjective elements). However, this play is based on one simple fact: We believe that the Patriots are a far better team than the Panthers, and an absolutely better coached team and without QB Sam Darnold the Panthers should be in trouble.
Mind you, for whatever you think of Darnold, according to the SIS ON/OFF report, he adds .31 EPA play when he is on the field vs. off. And given how well Belichick has schemed vs young/new QBs in his career, we see this being a lopsided game.
Bet: New England Patriots -3.5