NFL Week 10 Best Bets: Matchup angles to bet, including QB C.J. Stroud against the leaky Bengals pass defense

2RXBXPN Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) throws before an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Throughout the years, PFF data scientists have developed and conducted numerous studies to better understand and predict performance.

While many of these seminal works have furthered the conversation and certainly linger in the background, the goal is to identify how the findings manifest in particular weekly matchups and to source the matchups or interactions the betting market has overlooked.

Some bets will track traditional markets, but others will look to more exotic markets to ensure we utilize the best market for the particular thesis or angle. 

Matchup Angle: Will Levis’ traits allow him to excel against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense

While we only have a small sample size for Levis, we can begin to tease out his playstyle and traits, allowing us to identify the types of matchups he best suits.

Of course, massive uncertainty is involved here, but that uncertainty is also our source of value, as the market is unlikely to have accounted for some of the data.

Last offseason, PFF explored how QB traits and scrambling can mitigate or heighten certain matchup advantages and how certain QBs will be more or less prone to their situations.

Levis — as seen on his spot toward the bottom left of this graph — fits the mold of the type of quarterback who is rather situation-dependent. Matchups matter far more to him than a QB like Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes.

The Buccaneers present one of the best matchups for a quarterback with Levis' traits, as they generate pressure at the fourth-lowest rate and rank 26th league-wide in expected points added (EPA) allowed per pass.

 Levis has also made a habit of throwing deep, doing so on 28% of his attempts so far, a rate 10 percentage points greater than the next-closest quarterback.

 Against a Bucs defense that ranks last in the NFL in defending the deep pass, Levis should have ample opportunity to rack up yards and take advantage of arguably the Bucs' biggest weakness.

Bets to place: I’ll be playing Levis passing yards alts and Titans alts, parlaying the two. I'll also be targeting the Titans' team total overs.


Matchup Angle: Derek Carr’s outlook is boosted in a matchup against a Minnesota Vikings defense that is struggling to generate pressure

One of PFF's seminal studies found that plays without pressure are far more stable and predictive of future QB performance than plays with pressure.

 For a quarterback like Derek Carr, who rarely scrambles, his surroundings and matchups matter more. Carr has been one of the better signal-callers from a clean pocket this year, generating 0.23 expected points added (EPA) per play from a clean pocket and -0.28 EPA per play when pressured.

Enter a matchup against a Minnesota Vikings team that is toward the bottom of the league at quick pressure and ranks 28th in quick pressure rate despite leading the league in blitz rate.

Carr's performance doesn't drop off dramatically vs. the blitz — in fact, there are no significant splits compared to dropbacks with no blitz — suggesting that this matchup plays right into his strengths.

Bets to place: I’ll be looking at Saints -2.5, as well as some Carr passing props and same-game parlays combining the two.


Matchup Angle: C.J. Stroud continues his success throwing deep against a leaky Bengals pass defense

In a 2022 study, we explored how explosive plays are integral to offensive success in the modern NFL, especially considering their impact on the drive level.

C.J. Stroud has been dominant on deep passes early in his career, generating the most EPA per deep pass of any quarterback this season.

Stroud will have a terrific matchup against a Bengals defense that has allowed explosive passing plays of 15 or more yards at the third-highest rate in the NFL.

Bets to place: I’ll be looking to bet Stroud's longest-pass props, game total overs, and some same-game parlays that build on this story.

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