NFL Week 9 Best Bets: Matchup angles to bet, including Texans QB C.J. Stroud against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense

2T1XPCD USA. 15th Oct, 2023. October 15, 2023: Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) prepares for a play during a game between the New Orleans Saints and the Houston Texans in Houston, TX. Trask Smith/CSM/Sipa USA (Credit Image: © Trask Smith/Cal Sport Media/Sipa USA) Credit: Sipa US/Alamy Live News

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: C.J. Stroud elevates the Houston Texans offense and dominates from a clean pocket

We are returning to the well with Stroud and the Houston Texans in this matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Buccaneers have struggled to generate pressure this year, ranking sixth-worst in quick pressure and fifth-worst in pressure rate. This is especially relevant against C.J. Stroud, who has seen few clean pockets this season but has been dominant when he's been able to pass without being pressured.


Only Brock Purdy and the San Francisco 49ers have generated more expected points added (EPA) from clean pockets than Stroud and the Texans. And if he is given time to throw, Stroud should be able to maximize their best weapon within the deep passing game.

Stroud and the Texans have excelled in the deep passing game, where they are by far the best team from an EPA standpoint.

The matchup lends itself perfectly for the Texans, as the Buccaneers have allowed the sixth-highest rate of explosive plays. Further, teams pass against them 5% more than expected because they are far better against the run than the pass.

This will leave Stroud with plenty of opportunity to attack the weakness of their defense and elevate the Texans offense.

Bets to place: Stroud passing overs, Texans -3, Texans team total overs and same-game parlays (which can be found here).

Matchup angle: Justin Herbert’s scrambling mitigates the effects of the New York Jets defense.

In our piece on QB scrambling, we discussed how a quarterback's ability to scramble can mitigate the effects of a defensive matchup advantage.

Herbert has been one of the better scramblers this season. His numbers look even better if you account for the larger sample of his entire career, where he is behind only Patrick Mahomes in EPA scrambling.

Whereas last year Herbert scrambled less as a result of a rib injury, he is back healthy scrambling this year, getting ever closer to the top right of this graph, where QBs are the most matchup agnostic.

The Chargers signal-caller has three games with a scramble rate above 16% this season after failing to do so in any game after his injury last season.

While the New York Jets defense has been terrific for a few years running, this is still a team that has struggled to defend the pass. Before their game against a Tommy DeVito-led Giants, the Jets pass defense ranked 24th in EPA allowed per pass. Now, plenty of that was a function of facing a terrific slate of passers, but Justin Herbert very much falls into that category. 

While the market is pricing a steep discount on Herbert’s props and the Chargers offense, his ability to scramble to extend plays on his own should mitigate (at least more than the market is giving credit for) the Jets pass rush and allow for extra time for his receivers to defeat the Jets secondary, mitigating their effect on this game.

Bets to place: I’ll be betting on Herbert over 251 passing yards, as well as some Chargers spread and team total overs.

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