• Bet Browns -7 at Texans: Ceiling on Cleveland offense ranked 5th in PFF grade with Jacoby Brissett only heightens with Deshaun Watson.
• Bet Giants +2.5 vs Commanders: Washington QB Taylor Heinicke has the highest Turnover-Worthy Play Rate among current NFL starters.
• Bet Eagles -5 vs Titans: 83% of bets as of writing on Tennessee to cover; the line is a trap, not a gift, so back one of NFL's best teams.
Last updated: Nov. 30, 8:30 p.m.
Estimated reading time: 6 min
There's arguably no sport more difficult, nor exciting, to bet on than NFL football. Information is both scarce in utility, and abundant in opinion. Markets are so finely tuned and so heavily wagered that there are few opportunities to gain an edge over the oddsmakers.
Enter a model capable of making ATS picks with long term success.
A majority of the most profitable NFL bettors use some kind of projection tool to help guide their wagers. Such a tool will be provided to the reader today, and for the rest of the NFL regular season. It is important to note that these projections are not a gospel, but merely a compass toward identifying an edge in a razor-thin market that is betting NFL spreads.
The purpose of this article is to identify model picks which coincide with current trends, and mismatches on the field. The hope is that in deliberately doing so, long term profitability will follow.
Week 13 Best Bets
3 teams shouldn’t be favored
Model Line– Raiders (-2.5)
• The appeal of the Chargers is obvious, but they are undeserving of being a road favorite here: Their offense has been one of the most disappointing units in the NFL (23rd in Weighted DVOA), and this crutch prevents the team from winning comfortably — in their 6 wins, the Chargers have an average margin of victory of 4 points.
• Chargers run ‘D' is inexplicably bad (29th in DVOA, 28th in EPA / Play), an ideal matchup for Vegas after Raiders plowed for 283 rush yards: The Chargers aren’t capable of beating the Raiders to the point that this number is out of reach, nor will they be able to stop RB Josh Jacobs on the ground. Back the Raiders in a crucial divisional matchup.
Bet: Raiders +2
Model Line — Giants (-2.5)
• Commanders QB Taylor Heinicke has the highest Turnover-Worthy-Play Percentage among current NFL starters: Heinicke can't be trusted as a road favorite. The Commanders were on the cusp of losing to Atlanta in Week 12, and their current streak (6-0-1 ATS since Week 6) is unsustainable
• Giants have fallen out of favor the past month: But should be able to challenge Washington in a similar fashion as Atlanta. With the advantage of playing at home on extended rest, Big Blue is a good bet here.
Bet: Giants +2.5
Detroit Lions (+1.5) vs Jacksonville Jaguars
Model Line — Lions (-2)
• The Jaguars’ come-from-behind victory over Baltimore was commendable, but it has influenced this line the wrong direction: It feels eager to assign Jacksonville the edge here, and these two teams grade out as remarkably similar:
• Detroit 17th in Weighted DVOA, Jacksonville 20th
• Detroit 27th in PFF Power Ratings, Jacksonville 28th
• Detroit 27th in ELO, Jacksonville 25th
• Back the home team on the short number: Detroit has played well recently, and (like New York), the Lions have the advantage of playing at home on extended rest.
Bet: Lions +1.5
Fadeable so please try to fade these 2 teams
Model Line — Ravens (-9.5)
• Huge number: And almost enticing enough to back Denver. Baltimore has habitually crumbled, leading by more than a touchdown in all four of its losses but there is nothing about this Denver team which excites. The Broncos have been competitive on the merit of their defense, but it stumbled a week ago versus, of all opponents, Sam Darnold and the Carolina Panthers.
• If Denver's defense doesn't show, this won’t be close: The Broncos have the lowest-graded offense in the NFL per PFF, and the team is signaling it might be folding on a lost season. Bet Baltimore to rebound at home — and to hold onto a double-digit lead.
Bet: Ravens -8
Model Line — Browns (-7.5)
• Awkward number considering we have not seen Deshaun Watson play in nearly two years: But it's a comfortable spot for Cleveland’s new QB to regain his rhythm. The Texans are comfortably the worst team in the NFL, and have only regressed as the season goes on. The team’s decision to start QB Kyle Allen perhaps was ill-conceived, as he had a league high Turnover-Worthy-Throw Percentage in his first action last week.
• The Browns offense rated among the best in the NFL (5th in Weighted DVOA) with Jacoby Brissett: And Cleveland's ceiling only heightens with Watson. Even if he initially struggles, the Browns will be able to lean on their elite run game en route to victory.
Bet: Browns -7
1 Contrarian Bet
Philadelphia Eagles (-5) vs Tennessee Titans
Model Line — Eagles (-5.5)
• This line stinks in every sense: The knee-jerk reaction is to back Tennessee in this spot — the Eagles have struggled to stop opposing run games, and the Titans bring with them to town perhaps the NFL's best back in Derrick Henry. The Titans had covered eight straight prior to their Week 12 loss to Cincinnati, and have historically thrived in this spot under HC Mike Vrabel. However, it is never so easy, and the sportsbooks are not giving away money with this line.
• First and foremost, the Titans’ advantage on the ground is overblown: Philly’s run defense has been, at best, marginal this season (24th in DVOA), but the unit will get a boost with the anticipated return of rookie DT Jordan Davis. Additionally, the Titans' potency in running the ball is highly exaggerated (27th in EPA / Rush) due to the stature of their running back. If the Eagles stall Henry on the ground, what answers will the Titans have on offense?
• Too, Tennessee has been tested by mobile quarterbacks twice this season: A Week 1 loss to the Giants in which New York ran for 238 total yards, and a Week 2 blowout in Buffalo. The Titans defense rates among the best in the NFL against the run, but the dilemma of facing a mobile quarterback may negate this edge.
• As of writing, 83% of bets have been placed on the Titans to cover the spread: But I suspect that most are blind to Philadelphia’s advantage in this game. We cannot both claim the Titans are the benefactors of a favorable schedule, yet rush to bet them in this spot. This line isn’t a gift, it’s a trap, and this is an opportune moment to be a contrarian and back one of the best teams in football.
Bet: Eagles -5
Tommy's ATS bets are 21-22 this season (-1.1 units).
How PFF contributor Tommy Jurgens' Projections Work:
A myriad of both objective, and subjective ratings are employed in a logistic regression model to determine the likelihood that each team will win the game outright. By this determined win-probability, a spread is assigned to each game and compared to the consensus line.
This model has successfully identified the outright victor at a near 67% rate, and has chosen the ATS winner at an efficiency greater than 53% since 2006.
One can find all of the projected picks for Week 13 here.