NFL Power Ratings Picks: Why Our Expert’s Model Likes 49ers, Seahawks, More Sunday Bets
Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images. Pictured: Kendrick Bourne
NFL Power Ratings Picks
One way I find betting edges is by comparing the odds to my NFL Power Ratings — if there’s a notable difference between, I’ll make a bet. (By the way, you can access mine and my colleague’s NFL ratings in our PRO Projections.)
Each week of the season I’ll highlight the biggest of those edges. We’ve got three for Week 10, so let’s jump right in!
Buccaneers-Panthers Under 50.5
Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET | More Game Info
Everything went wrong for Tom Brady and the Bucs in their 38-3 loss to the Saints in Week 9. The offense abandoned the run early on, and their five total carries set an NFL record for fewest in a game. But I expect Brady to bounce back this week, and the Bucs may make it a point to establish the run early with Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette.
The Panthers’ 24th-ranked run defense in Football Outsiders’ DVOA is much easier to run on than the Saints’ fifth-ranked unit, which should allow the Bucs to run a more balanced, clock-killing offense.
On the other side of the ball, the Bucs defense should also bounce back after getting picked apart by the Saints. The Bucs are the only defense that ranks inside the top three in DVOA against both the run (third) and the pass (second).
The Panthers will be without their most explosive player in Christian McCaffrey, so their offense will likely continue to play at a slow pace (25th in situation neutral per Football Outsiders), and high-percentage throws (Teddy Bridgewater’s 6.7 average intended air yards is fifth-lowest). It sets up for a lower-scoring matchup, which is why I have the projected total at 48.5.
The total has continued to climb with most of the action on the over — 54% of tickets and 93% of the money as of Saturday (see real-time public betting data). I may wait for the number to hit 51, which is a key number for a total.
I’m also eyeing the status of Shaq Barrett and Lavonte David. If both players are announced as probable, I will likely lock in my bet immediately.
Seahawks +2.5 at Rams
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET | More Game Info
Russell Wilson and Jared Goff are both coming off four-turnover games (two interceptions and two fumbles lost), but my money will be on Wilson to bounce back, and I have Seattle projected at -2 for this matchup.
The Seahawks’ defense has been their biggest weakness, but trading for Carlos Dunlap and getting Jamal Adams back should give them a needed boost. Mike Iupati returned to practice this week — getting him back after a four-game absence would be a huge boost for the offensive line and Wilson. Iupati has yet to have a “blown block” (according to SportsInfoSolutions) on 132 pass snaps this season.
The Rams’ 5-3 record can be a bit misleading considering their schedule has been pretty soft. Their five wins have come against all four NFC East teams and the Bears. It feels like the market is overrating them against a Seahawks team that is getting key players back from injury.
I would bet this to Seattle -1.
49ers +10 at Saints
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET | More Game Info
The market seems to be over-adjusting to both the Saints’ 38-3 shellacking of the Bucs on Sunday Night Football and the 49ers’ 34-17 loss to the Packers on Thursday Night Football.
George Kittle’s season-ending injury was a huge loss, not just because of how valuable he is as a receiver, but also as a blocker. However, the 49ers will be getting Trent Williams, Kendrick Bourne and Brandon Aiyuk back this week, which will give their offense a significant boost.
Jordan Reed could help fill the receiving role he left behind. Last week, Reed only played 23% of snaps as San Francisco eased him back from injury. He should handle an increased workload this week, which will give Nick Mullens another weapon in the passing game.
Drew Brees’ arm strength continues to be an issue, and his league-low 5.8 average intended air yards make his margin of error razor-thin. This has made it tough for the Saints to put away inferior teams (like the 49ers) as they beat the Chargers, Panthers and Bears by just three points each in their previous three games before the Sunday night blowout. I see New Orleans regressing to that trend this week and beating San Francisco, but not by double digits.
I would bet this down to +9.