If I'm placing bets on a Sunday, I'm not looking at full game spreads or totals. Those are efficient markets that have been bet into all week. Instead, I'm looking for the obscure. It's my specialty anyway. It's what I build statistical models around to try to find an edge. If there's an advantage to be found now, it's in small markets.
So come along for the ride and see how we fare diving deep into Sunday props. Results from last week are at the bottom of the story.
Odds via ESPN BET.
Jordan Love over 19.5 completions (-118 at ESPN BET)
It feels dangerous to take a completions over with the worst quarterback in the league in completion percentage and completion percentage over expectation from NFL Next Gen Stats. But Love has been better in recent weeks in those categories, and the Packers are more likely to be behind -- and thus needing to pass -- as an underdog. I forecast Love for 21.8 completions.
Sam Howell under 23.5 completions (-134)
My model forecasts Howell for just 20.9 completions. It's not really about Howell, who has been playing better (even taking fewer sacks!) lately. It's about the team he's playing against: the Giants, who are barely running a functional offense. The Commanders are one of the most passing teams in the NFL, but it's unlikely they would be in a game where they are up big, as the 8.5-point line suggests they likely will be.
Geno Smith over 32.5 pass attempts (-122)
I put Smith's mean pass attempts at 34.8, a pretty sizable gap from the line. The Seahawks are reasonably pass-heavy, ranking ninth in designed pass rate and eighth in designed pass rate when win probability is between 15% to 85% (i.e. the game is still in question). With Seattle favored by just one point, there's a decent chance this game stays close.
C.J. Stroud over 0.5 interceptions (+155)
We've gone to this well twice before this season -- and lost both times. I -- and my models -- are nothing if not stubborn. Stroud has been fantastic at interception avoidance and has the lowest interception rate among all QBR-qualifying quarterbacks. But the reality is that almost all quarterbacks' chances of throwing a pick in a game are tightly distributed around 50%, and while the Texans are a moderate six-point favorite, the times when my model produces a projection to justify a +155 under are usually heavier favorites than that. I make the price +117.
I've noted before the extreme splits on running back receptions against man and zone coverages in that they are targeted less frequently and catch fewer passes when facing man. Since then, I've looked at running back reception props historically and found data suggesting that when facing teams with heavy man coverage histories those under bets have indeed performed well (the inverse effect is less clear).
In other words, it's possible this angle is not baked into the line (yet). Carolina's opponent this week, Dallas, is by far the most man-heavy team in the league, running man coverage 67%.
Cameron Heyward (PIT) under 0.5 sacks (-160)
The Steelers are easing Heyward back after returning from a groin injury in Week 8. He's played fewer than 60% of the defensive snaps in each of the past two games -- down from the 75% he averaged a year ago. He also hasn't produced: The 34-year-old has just a 3% pass rush win rate and no sacks in a small sample. All of this to say this line is too bullish on Heyward, even against Dorian Thompson-Robinson. I make the under -329.
Josh Sweat (PHI) under 0.5 sacks (-145)
Patrick Mahomes has the lowest sack rate in the league among QBR-qualifying quarterbacks (3.2%) and the second-lowest sack-to-pressure ratio (0.12) behind only Josh Allen. He's basically a magician when it comes to avoiding sacks. Sweat is a nice player who can get to the quarterback, but the odds are always stacked against Mahomes' opponents. I make the fair price -183.
DeMarcus Lawrence under 0.5 sacks (-106)
Ed Oliver (BUF) under 0.5 sacks (-150)
Aaron Donald (LAR) under 0.5 sacks (-110)
Chris Jones (KC) under 0.5 sacks (-122)
Maxx Crosby (LV) over 4.5 tackles + assists (+120)
An unusual factor about Crosby is just how much he plays. He's been on the field for 98% of his team's defensive snaps in games he played while no other defensive lineman with at least 100 snaps this season is at 90%. That helps for the over, as does the reason he's on the field so often: He's a strong run defender, tied for second among edge rushers in run stop win rate at the position. He's also gone over this line in eight of 10 games this year and my model puts his projection at 5.0 tackles plus assists.
Bobby Okereke (NYG) under 9.5 tackle + assists (-102)
Jason Pinnock (NYG) over 4.5 tackles + assists (-110)
Devin Lloyd (JAX) under 8.5 tackles + assists (-125)
C.J. Mosley (NYJ) under 10.5 tackles + assists (-125)
Jordan Poyer (BUF) under 6.5 tackles + assists (-102)
Bobby Wagner (SEA) under 9.5 tackles + assists (-122)
Harrison Phillips (MIN) under 6.5 tackles + assists (-140)
QB interceptions: 1-2 (-0.9 units)
Pass completions: 1-0 (+0.8 units)
Pass attempts: 0-1 (-1.0 units)
Sacks: 3-1-1 (+1.4 units)
Tackles: 4-4 (-0.3 units)
Overall: 9-8-1 (Even)
QB interceptions: 10-15 (-3.0 units)
Pass completions: 2-1 (+0.8 units)
Pass attempts: 3-6 (-3.6 units)
Receptions: 1-0 (+1.2 units)
Sacks: 55-40-2 (+13.1 units)
Tackles: 42-29-1 (+10.2 units)
Defensive interceptions: 0-3 (-3.0 units)
D/ST touchdowns: 2-19 (-3.5 units)
Teasers: 2-2 (+0.4 units)
Weekly specials: 0-3 (-3.0 units)
Game props: 0-2 (-2.0 units)
Overall: 117-120-3 (+7.6 units)