Stuckey’s Week 10 NFL Teaser Guide: Bears, Chargers Highlight Best Options
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Khalil Mack.
The Week 10 slate is riddled with questions surrounding COVID-19, but it also contains an abundance of excellent teaser options, starting on Thursday night and all the way through Monday Night Football.
Before we get to those games, let’s revisit my basic teaser rules for those unfamiliar or for those that just need a quick refresher.
And what is a teaser? You’re essentially paying to move a point spread by six points or more. A two-team, six-point teaser will pay about the same or slightly more than a regular NFL point spread bet.
Rule 1: Cross At Least Two Key Numbers
I personally consider 3, 4, 6, 7, 10 and 14 key teaser numbers. Those are the six most common margins of victory in the NFL. However, 3 and 7 are kings since games end on those two numbers at a significantly higher clip than the rest.
From a purely mathematical standpoint, you can give yourself an edge without taking anything else into account by simply crossing 3 and 7 with both parts of a teaser at -110. You may hear some bettors refer to doing this as the good ol’ Wong teaser (in reference to gambling author Stanford Wong).
In order to break even on a 6-point teaser at -110, you need teams that have a greater than 72.4% chance of covering after being teased. If we look back in our Bet Labs database, all NFL regular season spreads since 2003 covered only 69% of the time if teased six points. Nice, but not nice enough over that sample set of over 8,000 teams.
The story changes if we filter for all teases that would’ve captured both the 3 and 7.
NFL regular season underdogs between +1.5 and +2.5 covered a 6-point teaser 75.2% of the time (322-106). And favorites between -7.5 and -8.5 also covered at a rate of exactly 75.2% (188-62). That gives us a total of 510-168 or 75.2%, which easily clears the 72.4% hurdle rate. For what it’s worth, these teaser pieces have gone 22-4 (84.6%) this season.
Those results are for all teams in those specific spread ranges. If you consider a few other factors (which I’ll get to later), you can potentially improve that percentage. Again, this analysis only applies to teasing NFL sides.
Rule 2: Don’t Ever Cross Zero
Don’t even consider teasing teams like the Eagles (-3.5) or Rams (-1.5) this week.
I see this way too often. You’re simply giving up too much edge by crossing over a dead range that will only include a maximum of one key number.
This is even crazier in the playoffs since games can’t end in a tie. You’re essentially paying for points that don’t matter. Just don’t do it!
Rule 3: Don’t Tease Totals
NFL totals simply don’t fall on certain numbers or within a specific range enough to justify the math. There are key numbers to be aware of when betting over/unders (example: 43 after the extra-point rule change), but they don’t hit frequently enough for a tease to make any mathematical sense.
The one possible exception: teasing a side and total in the same game that you believe are correlated (usually underdog/under and/or favorite/over). But that’s a conversation for another day.
Rule 4: Price Matters
Make sure you shop around!
Don’t pay -120 for a 6-point teaser (which would significantly increase your long term hurdle rate) when there are still books out there that offer -110. (Although, they’re becoming tougher to find, especially in the legal markets.) DraftKings and bet365 are two legal U.S. books that offer -120.
Everything I’ve said is predicated on the fact that you have access to a reasonable teaser price (-120 or lower). The break-even point for a 6-point teaser at -130 odds suddenly jumps from 72.4% to 75.2%. Anything over -130 tilts the edge heavily in the book’s favor.
Price focus shouldn’t just be the case for teasers, but for all types of betting. You need to hit 52.4% just to break even at average odds of -110, but that threshold jumps to 54.6% at -120.
Make sure you familiarize yourself with your book’s teaser rules and payouts, as they can vary significantly.
I recommend only using 6-point teasers, as each additional half-point teased away from the original spread becomes marginally less valuable to the bettor. I’d only ever consider a 7-point teaser if you’re teasing a 9.5-point favorite down to 2.5 in order to cross the almighty 3 and 7. The same logic applies for 6.5-point teasers for 9-point favorites.
Also, some books have a “ties win” option, which means you can pay a little extra to win if one part of your teaser pushes. So, why tease a team 6.5 points from +1 to +7.5 for -120 when you can tease that same team 6 points to +7 and pay -115 (instead of -110) for ties win? Make sure you know which options your book has and bet accordingly.
Five or 10-cent differences might not seem like much to a recreational bettor, but they add up. Every cent and half-point matters if you want to take this seriously.
Here are five other factors (some minor) that I at least think about before finalizing an NFL teaser:
- Lower-scoring games: Naturally, teasing an underdog with a low total is inherently more valuable than doing so when the total is high over the long run.
- “Backdoorability”: How will the opposing defense play late and/or how much do you trust your quarterback to drive down the field late in the game for a “meaningless” touchdown?
- Coaching: Do you have a competent coach who will understand kicking down 10 with under two minutes to go is smarter than trying to score a touchdown in the final seconds?
- Special teams: Do you have a special teams edge overall and, more importantly, a kicker you trust? This becomes even more important with the recent extra-point rule changes.
- Parlay payout: If you’re teasing two favorites down to around a pick’em, check the payout for a moneyline parlay. It could pay out more for essentially the same bet.
My Best Week 10 Teaser Options
- Bears +8.5 (from +2.5) vs. Vikings
- Chargers +8.5 (from +2.5) at Dolphins
- Texans +8.5 (from +2.5) at Browns
- Bills +8.5 (from +2.5) at Cardinals
- Seahawks +8 (from +2) at Rams
- Colts +8 (from +2) at Titans
- Ravens -1.5 (from -7.5) at Patriots
The first six options are not only underdogs I’m teasing through both 3 and 7, but I actually also project almost all of them at close to a pick’em. That means I’m getting even more value, according to my power ratings.
The one exception is the Texans, who I do make close to +2.5. And even though the total is fairly high and Houston’s run defense is abysmal, I expect the result to be decided late in the game with heavy winds. I also have a very trustworthy quarterback in Deshaun Watson if I need a late backdoor scoring drive.
As I’ve previously stated in recent iterations of this article, teasing an underdog over 8 has become even more important with more teams going for the two-point conversion after scoring a touchdown when down by 14 late. What used to be a nearly automatic cover for a +7.5 teaser piece now becomes dicier.
Of the four teams I teased over 8, the Bills would rank last, simply due to the very high over/under. Meanwhile, I’d rank the Bears in a prime buy-low spot as the best teaser piece as a result of the lowest total, which presumably makes getting those six points even more valuable in a game where points should come at a premium.
It might surprise you to know the Bears have the fewest losses by four or more points since 2018, despite not being an elite team. Their defense should keep this game within one possession at worst.
Speaking of close games, can we lock in the Chargers game coming down to the final minute again? I’ll happily take the 8.5 points here against a Miami team that has enjoyed as much good fortune as any team in the NFL over the past two weeks, winning two games despite getting clobbered in the box score.
The remaining two underdogs I teased are the Seahawks and Colts. While I don’t get either over 8, I have two quarterbacks that should be able to get me in the backdoor if needed. For what it’s worth, Philip Rivers has historically been a cash cow when teased as an underdog. When teased six points at any underdog spread, Rivers has gone an absurd 65-17 (79%) as a teaser piece. I don’t need to go too deep into why I trust Russ to keep this within 8.
The last piece is the Ravens, who I’m still debating on how I use them. Baltimore should have a field day on the ground against a rebuilt New England front seven that has been atrocious against the run this season.
Here are the three primary teasers I played this week:
- Colts +8 with Seahawks +7.5
- Chargers +8.5 with Bears +8.5
- Bills +8.5 with Texans +8.5