Week 10 of the 2022 NFL season started with the Carolina Panthers knocking off the Atlanta Falcons 25-15 on Thursday night. Sunday features several intriguing games, including the Minnesota Vikings visiting the Buffalo Bills and the Dallas Cowboys heading to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers.
But what does it mean from a betting perspective? And what are the best plays to help you make smart wagering decisions?
Betting analysts Doug Kezirian, Tyler Fulghum, Joe Fortenbaugh, Anita Marks and Erin Dolan; fantasy and sports betting analysts Eric Moody and Andre Snellings; ESPN Stats & Information's Seth Walder; and Football Outsiders' Aaron Schatz offer their insight into the games with tips and picks.
Note: Lines from Caesars Sportsbook unless otherwise indicated.
The Cowboys and Packers face off Sunday afternoon in a battle of two teams apparently heading in opposite directions. The Cowboys have a 6-2 ATS record, covering a league-best 75.9%, while Green Bay is 3-6 ATS, failing to cover in its past three home games. The Cowboys (-4.5, 44) enter the Week 10 matchup as the favorite. Who do you like in this matchup, and why?
Kezirian: Last week was put up or shut up for the Packers, and let's just say they did not put up. Green Bay now has lost five straight games, and while some of those were winnable, the Packers are not executing for a full four quarters. However, I am in no rush to lay points with Mike McCarthy. I will play the under because until I can safely rely on Aaron Rodgers and this Packers offense, I expect them to underperform yet again.
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Schatz: This is a close one with that spread, but I will go with the Cowboys -4.5. They are clearly the better team according to our DVOA ratings. Dallas, surprisingly, is all the way up at No. 3, ahead of even Kansas City in our numbers. The Cowboys are our No. 1 defense so far this season, but their offense (10th) is also rated higher than the Packers' offense (15th). And don't forget about the Cowboys' special teams advantage, where we have them second behind Baltimore, while Green Bay is 30th. It will be cold in Green Bay, but not horrifically cold, and I think the Cowboys will be fine with kickoff temperatures above freezing.
Fulghum: I like the Dallas side in this matchup. Coming off the bye, the Cowboys are in a good spot to travel to Lambeau and match or exceed market expectations. Their dominant defense gets what has been an easy matchup so far this season. The Lions' defense just held the Packers' offense to nine points in a dome last week. Meanwhile, the underachieving Green Bay defense just lost its most talented player in Rashan Gary, making the assignment even less imposing for Dak Prescott and the Cowboys' offense. I also like this game to go under the total.
Snellings: I like Dallas -4.5. The Cowboys are playing very well and are one of the top teams in the league. The Packers are at the opposite extreme. The Cowboys are excellent on the ground, and the Packers struggle to stop the run. The Packers are struggling to pass the ball, and the Cowboys have one of the best pass rushes in the league. Though the NFL season has so many matchup vagaries, this seems like one the Cowboys should cover comfortably.
Marks: Dallas is coming off a bye and is a much healthier team. They also have more talent -- especially on offense. Dallas should destroy Green Bay. However, I'm taking the Packers with the points. Rodgers at home is 65% ATS, and 83% ATS as a home dog, LaFluer can get creative on offense and utilize Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon more in the passing game. Brad Allen heads the officiating crew for this game and home teams this season are 5-2 ATS with them in charge of the yellow flags. His team is also prone to calling unnecessary roughing the passer calls on the Cowboys (twice already this season).
Moody: I would bet on the Packers and take the points. Since the temperature will be in the low 30s, there is a good chance this will be a low-scoring game in which the defenses will shine. The Cowboys have struggled against the Packers, going 2-7 against the spread in their last nine regular-season meetings. Furthermore, the Packers are 11-5 ATS in their last 16 games against a team with a winning record. Rodgers and the Packers will be motivated to make former head coach Mike McCarthy's return to Lambeau Field as unpleasant as possible.
Kirk Cousins and the Vikings travel to Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York, to face the Bills in Week 10. With Bills QB Josh Allen listed as questionable because of a right elbow injury, the Bills are still 3.5-point favorites heading into Sunday's matchup. What are your thoughts on this matchup, the Vikings this season (+550 to win the NFC, +1600 to win the Super Bowl) and Allen's MVP chances (+225) after being overtaken by Patrick Mahomes (+200) this week?
Kezirian: I would not worry about an injury costing Allen the MVP. Even last year, Rodgers missed a game, and that ended up helping his MVP case because Green Bay struggled so much without him. The question is not whether playing only 16 games will inhibit Allen's chances, but whether it will limit him physically. I am of the belief that when he returns, he will do so effectively.
Schatz: The Vikings rank only 18th in our DVOA ratings at this point. They are the second-worst 7-1 team we've ever tracked, ahead of only the 2000 Vikings team that eventually got clobbered by the Giants in the NFC Championship Game that season. They are going to win the division, and I even slightly favor them with the 3.5 points against a Bills team that will likely be starting Case Keenum, but they aren't going to win the NFC. Our playoff odds simulation at Football Outsiders suggests those Vikings odds should be closer to +1000 to win the NFC and +2800 to win the Super Bowl.
Fulghum: I really like the Bills and the under in this spot. Minnesota has a nice record, but it's a little bit of smoke and mirrors. Even if Case Keenum is the starting QB, I trust the Buffalo defense to limit Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota offense to an inefficient game. Keenum is one of the most capable backups in the NFL, and the test against the Vikings' defense is far from imposing. The Vikes are allowing 387.1 YPG (28th) and 256.9 passing YPG (27th) this season.
As for the MVP futures market, I now want as much Patrick Mahomes as I can get. Tyreek Hill is likely the midseason award winner for Offensive Player of the Year, so the fact that Mahomes lost a player of that caliber from his offense and has still guided Kansas City to the most efficient and prolific passing attack in the league speaks volumes.
Dolan: Stay away game for me. When a line drops from -8.5 to -3.5, it's alarming. On top of that, I am not sure the Vikings are as good as their 7-1 record reflects. Minnesota's defense ranks 22nd in opponent yards per play, 24th in opponent total QBR and 27th in opponent passing yards per game. The Vikings have been successful this season against back up quarterbacks, but the Bills still have a stout defense. Again, it's stay away for me.
Snellings: I'm also staying away from this game. I just don't know what to expect with Allen this weekend. I will say that his MVP chances will take a serious hit if he has to miss time due to injury or if the Bills start losing while he struggles. So, given what we know today, I'd say Mahomes is likely to overtake Allen in the MVP race.
Marks: I anticipate Keenum to start at quarterback this Sunday and, once that announcement is made, I expect the line to move even more in favor of the Vikings. That's when I will play the Bills. Keenum is one of the best backup quarterbacks in the NFL, with 10 years in the league. He's a "pro's pro" with 64 career starts. He took the Vikings to the playoffs with Stefon Diggs as his wide receiver, and has plenty of offensive weapons to compete against his former team. The Vikings' red zone defense is one of the worst in the NFL, allowing opponents an 80% conversion rate.
What are the most important things our analytics say?
Walder: There are three games for which the FPI disagrees with the betting market, but I'll give you only one here. That's because our number for the Bills is assuming Josh Allen plays, whereas the market is clearly not. And, frankly, our number for the Seahawks-Buccaneers game appears to be wonky, perhaps due to the game location in Germany.
But there's one game for which the FPI is definitely making a call.
FPI prediction: Raiders by 12.7
The FPI's number here will come down because it doesn't yet reflect the news that Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow are headed to injured reserve, and that's hardly trivial. But we'll still be higher than the line, and that's without the FPI knowing that the Colts made a coaching change this week. Ultimately this is about two factors: the Raiders being better than their record -- their offense ranks 12th in EPA per play, for example -- and the Colts starting Sam Ehlinger at quarterback. Because of that, the model believes the Raiders should be heavy favorites.
What is your best bet for Week 10?
Kezirian: Give me the Seahawks +2.5 against Tampa, and I believe they win the game outright. Tom Brady demonstrated some magic in last Sunday's comeback, but this Bucs offense is still pretty weak. Geno Smith still has critics, but I think he has been great this season. Seattle ranks sixth in offensive efficiency, and the playcalling has been tremendous. Tampa has a strong defense, but I am confident in Seattle's offense to get the job done.
Fortenbaugh: Miami team total over 26.5 points. If you eliminate the 2.5 games Miami played without quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the Dolphins are averaging a healthy 27.5 points per contest thanks to an offense that can strike from anywhere on the field. Cleveland is coming off its bye week, but the Browns rank 24th in scoring and 19th in opponent yards per play.
Schatz: I'll go with Detroit +3 in Chicago. We're all excited about the way the Bears have finally unlocked Justin Fields over the past three weeks, and Chicago ranks ninth in offensive DVOA during that time. But the Bears are also 31st in defensive DVOA over that same period. With the trades they've made, losing Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith, their defense has collapsed. And if we're going to be excited about how the Bears have been good on offense for three weeks, shouldn't we also be excited by how the Lions have played good defense for the past three weeks? The Bears love to run, and the Lions held Green Bay running backs to 66 yards on 21 carries last week. They picked off Aaron Rodgers three times! It's more likely that we learn more about these teams from the whole season, not just the past three weeks, and in that case the Lions have overall been better, 22nd in DVOA compared to 28th for the Bears.
Snellings: Give me Browns-Dolphins over 49. The Dolphins' offense is nigh unstoppable with everyone healthy, and Jeff Wilson just gives them another dimension. On the other hand, the Dolphins' defense can't slow down anyone. The combination has already led to several high-scoring games, and this weekend should be another.
Marks: I'll go with Steelers +1.5 against the Saints. Last week, six of seven home underdogs either won outright or covered. If you had the Falcons at +3 or better, we make it a perfect seven of seven. Home 'dogs are 31-23-2 this season and this week we get three more -- the Panthers (who won on Thursday), the Packers (who I took earlier in this column) and the Steelers (my favorite home 'dog this week). Pittsburgh has had extra time to prepare for the Saints, they are expected to get T.J. Watt back on defense, and Mike Tomlin is 13-4 SU as a home dog. The Saints are working on a short work week and are coming off a tough Monday game against the Ravens.
Moody: I'll go with Cowboys at Packers under 44. The Packers have not looked in sync from a film perspective all season, and the statistics reflect that. Green Bay ranks 27th in points per game at 17.1. Rodgers has dealt with multiple injuries to his wide receivers, and now Romeo Doubs will miss time with a high ankle sprain. The Packers will face a stout Cowboys defense that ranks first in pass-rush win rate, led by linebacker Micah Parsons. The Packers defense has also played well this season, allowing only 309.1 yards per game, sixth-fewest in the league. The under is 6-2-1 in the Cowboys' last nine road games, and the under is 7-3 in Green Bay's last 10 games.
What is your favorite player prop?
Fulghum: Saquon Barkley over 93.5 rushing yards (-117). The Texans' run defense is allowing 180.6 yards per game to opposing offenses. That's the highest mark in the league. Barkley should see ample volume and opportunity against this unit with the Giants operating in a delightful home favorite game script.
Dolan: Justin Fields over 58.5 rushing yards (-121) versus Detroit. The Lions give up the most points in the league and rank 31st against the run. Fields has hit over this mark in four straight games and is averaging 69 rushing yards per game. He went off last week on the ground, and I expect him to do so again against this Detroit defense.
Snellings: I also love Fields over 58.5 rushing yards and Saquon Barkley over 93.5 rushing yards, but Erin and Tyler beat me to those. So I'll go Derrick Henry over 106.5 rushing yards (-115). Henry is in his unstoppable mode right now, with five straight games over 100 rushing yards and an average of 135.6 rushing yards over that stretch. The Broncos' defense is weaker against the run, and Henry should get his again this week.
Marks: For me, it's Tom Brady no interceptions (-150). This season has been rough sledding for Brady and there is a very good chance the Buccaneers don't make it to the postseason. However, there is a silver lining for TB12 -- and that is breaking more NFL records -- which we know he loves to do. The record for the most consecutive passes without an interception is held by Rodgers (402 in 2018). Brady has played seven straight games without throwing a pick and is averaging 40 passes a game. He is currently sitting at 373, and only needs 30 more passes to break the record, which he could do on Sunday against a Seahawks defense that plays a ton of zone coverage.
Moody: Darnell Mooney over 41.5 receiving yards (-139). Justin Fields' recent breakout has benefited Mooney, who is averaging 63.3 receiving yards per game since Week 4. During that time, Fields has a passer rating of 111.1 when targeting Mooney. The Lions have allowed the fourth-most passing yards so far this season. Mooney should feast like a medieval king.